The Complete and ESSENTIAL Terry Hall
©"Farmyard Connection" art by Ryan Kelly
In some ways, Terry Hall is like Gwen Stefani. He has a vastly influential musical career despite not playing a single instrument, He started off his career in a ska band, and his chronology is marked by numerous collaborations with a diverse wave of musicians that seek his “mark” on their work. The major difference here is that I’m not interested in Gwen Stefani’s music, and I’m very INTERESTED in everything the voice of Terry Hall graces (Gwen Stefani appeared in his video for “Ballad Of A Landlord.).
In the strictest sense, Terry Hall isn't a musician. He doesn't play an instrument and his singing is generally flat and detached. But Terry Hall is a great pop star, with a perfect look, a cooly laconic voice, and a knack for anticipating pop trends. As the frontman for the Specials, Hall shot to stardom in Britain in the early '80s, singing such classic ska-revival singles as "Gangsters," "Nite Klub," and "Ghost Town" before leaving with the group's other vocalists to form the new wave pop group the Fun Boy Three. That trio began a long line of projects Hall pursued over the next decade. None of his groups recorded more than two albums, and each had a taste of British success.
Terry’s influence on the popular music we listen today is enormous and cannot be truly gauged. I’m comfortable saying that we wouldn’t have Massive Attack, Tricky, Blur, Gorillaz, Sublime, The Streets, or Lily Allen today if not for the musical existence of Terry Hall (Daman Albarn has pretty-much modeled his entire style and delivery after Terry’s "Laconic, dry-wit" style). I can’t forget to mention we probably wouldn’t have the army of OC, pop-punk driven 3rd wave ska in the 90’s if not for the fiery energy of Terry’s legendary first band, of course, The Specials.
Tricky, from a 1995 interview:
"I've been listening to Terry's stuff for years - since I was 15. I've got more in common with him than I have with most. He's very real, and there's not many real artists out there, is there? He relies mostly on talent and he'll only prostitute himself so much. I respect that. I didn't really get into 2-Tone - just The Specials. There ain't been real music since The Specials. Everybody's living a lie now. Everybody's pretending. Everybody wants to be a lad. Everybody wants to be street. Writing lyrics about stuff they couldn't even know about. I can see right through it. Why are these people so ashamed of going to art school and music college? Terry and The Specials wrote about things they knew. They came from those streets. Was 'Ghost Town' number one during the riots? That's amazing! I never knew that."
While many musicians of that era hit their peak, and slowly dropped off when new styles surfaced-grunge, techno, etc, Terry stayed tapped into music, progressed, and always moved forward. His musical output can be tracked in many ways—
Respectable (Specials, Fun Boy Three, The first Colourfield album) to Not So Great (2nd Colourfield album, Vegas, Terry, Blair, and Anouchka) to Respectable Again (3 Solo Albums, the Collaborations).
Or this way—
Legendary 2nd-wave ska to eccentric New wave and political Pop (Specials, Fun Boy Three), mature romantic 60’s-inspired Shoegazer Indie rock (The Colourfied, Terry, Anouchka, Blair, Lightning Seeds, The “Home” album) to Genre-Bending Neo-classical ska and dub revival (Tricky, Dub Pistols, Gorillaz, Mushtaq album).
Heck, he introduced Bananarama to the world and co-wrote the “Our Lips Are Sealed”, popularized by the Go-Go’s on the American charts and broke up The Specials by leaving to form a band with 2 other ex-Specials, only one of which played an actual instrument. Very bold.
Last month birthed the release of “Speakers and Tweeters” by the Dub Pistols with 4 songs sung by Terry including the single and Blondie cover, “Rapture” as well as the remake of the Specials seminal hit, “Gangsters”. Thus, It’s time to do this….
What I present to you represents 6 years of tireless record collecting and assembling of official releases and hours of careful track consideration and Itunes mixing. Available only here, for a one-time offer, is a 3-CD set thoroughly covering EVERY aspect of Terry’s masterful and transient 30-year career in popular music. What you get here is 60 F-ing tracks of music. It’s roughly in order of the date the track was released. 30 of the songs are devoted to The Specials, Fun Boy Three, and The Colourfield (I think that’s fair).
Careful consideration was placed on RARE, hard-to-find, and one-shot songs such as “911”, the pouncing-post-9-11 song by Gorillaz, Terry Hall, and the Detroit rap group, D12; The version of “Monkey In Winter” with Sinead O’Connor, A live, truly nightmarish version of “Ghost Town” with Tricky, and songs from the immaculate “Virgins And Philistines” album by The Colourfield, an out-of-print CD that is SO hard-to-find, it goes for $100 on eBay USED! Yes, It’s VERY good.
I admit a lot of my attention was put on that Virgins And Philistines” album. But, His best songs are his best songs. I think most Terry Hall enthusiasts will agree that his best work are the two Specials albums, Fun Boy Three’s “Waiting” with David Byrne, Virgins and Philistines, his first solo album “Home”, and the jaw-dropping, “The Hour of Two Lights” with Mushtaq.
On these songs you will get musical and writing contributions by Chrissie Hynde, Elvis Costello, Sinead O’Connor, Damon Albarn, Bananarama, The Monkees, David Byrne, Andy Partridge, members of Echo and the Bunneymen, Bob Dylan, Ian Broudie, Dave Stewart, Jane Weidlin, George Gershwin, Gorillaz, Toots and the Maytals, Tricky, etc, etc……
So here it, the most profound 3-CD oeuvre of music assembled by one single human being and possibly the greatest damn single assemblage of sounds our civilization has ever witnessed. There are THREE commercially offered Terry Hall “greatest hits” albums and numerous and official “FB3/Coloufield” collections. But they are all squished like an ant under the massive boot of what I have created. Bask in my man-crush for Terry Hall.
Bow down and Behold at my creation, puny Goldfinger listeners!:
Essential Terry YouTube listening:
The Specials,"Ghost Town" video
Fun Boy Three with Bananarama, "It Ain't What You Do.."video
The Colourfield "Thinking Of You", Live video
Tricky "Poems" video with Terry Hall and Martina
Terry Hall, "Ballad Of A Landlord" video
Terry Hall and Sinead O'Connor, "All Kinds Of Everything" video
The Dub Pistols featuring Terry Hall, "Rapture" video