A feature in this month's Mojo magazine was an interview with the band conducted on the back of the band's excellent Maida Vale gig in December, recorded for BBC 6 Music and available here. This started me thinking about the upcoming tour and The Specials in more general terms.
The short article contained two revelations:
1) The Specials have penned 3 new songs with the intention to take them into the studio to see how they pan out in a no pressure session and of far more significance....
2) Terry Hall is in remission from mouth cancer and had been clear for 6 months. All the best to TH!
The news that Neville Staple is 'to take a back seat' and will consequently miss the upcoming May tour came as a blow to many. As is so often the case seen on the Stranglers related 'Burning Up Time' Forum, fan opinion was divided. In this respect the excellent Specials forum played host to a lively exchange of opinions on the whys and the wherefores of Nev's decision.
With regards to new material I have maintained a 'Best not to' position since the reformation. but the hints in the Mojo interview could well undermine my position. Brad's comments in the interview hint of something of a departure from the expected. A reference is made to Terry's brilliant collaboration with Mushtaq. That makes me think for sure.
The other thing that is clear from this interview is that with the enforced line-up change, set change is a must.... 'Why?' has to be in there (my opinion, not theirs!).
This is potentially very exiting... new material and a handful of rarities. To date I have had the pleasure of seeing the reformed Specials seven times, three of which stand up there as the best gigs I have ever been to! I never expected to see them in this (near) complete form and they have been consistently wonderful. Therefore, I leave the arrangements for the May tour in their capable hands, with the understanding that whilst these gigs may be different from the ones that I have seen to date, the probability of disappointment is very low.