Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Specials: The Specials [Chrysalis, 1980]
If it takes longer than you'd figure for these jingles to get across, that's partly because the ska they don't quite reinvent tends to skip where the reggae that succeeded it dug in, but also partly because their sound, especially their vocal sound, is just to thin to make an immediate impression (compare their "Monkey Man" to Toots's if you dare). In the end, though, there's a jaunty confidence to this music that's a lot less forced than power pop's. And there's no gainsaying their commercial messages--promote racial harmony, use contraceptives. A-