International jet set....
Released October 1980
After such a successful debut album the previous year, The Specials returned with Jerry Dammers' vision of incorporating elements of jazz, lounge music, easy listening and muzak to the fore on this melting pot of styles. Despite some oddball moments, it is not quite as eclectic as has popularly been said to be over the years and quite a lot of the material, particularly in the first half of the album retains the group's trademark ska and brass skanking sound. It is just not as obvious as on the previous outing. The album has been summarily dismissed by many in the subsequent years and, although clearly not as good as its predecessor, it is worthy of dipping into.
Dammers fell out with other members of the band after this and they gradually imploded over time, which was a shame. Not before they had returned with the now iconic number one, "Ghost Town", in 1981, however.
1. Enjoy Yourself (Later Than You Think)
2. Man At C & A
3. Hey Little Rich Girl
4. Do Nothing
5. Pearl's Cafe
6. Sock It To 'Em J.B.
7. Stereotype/Stereotypes Pt. 2
8. Holiday Fortnight
9. I Can't Stand It
10. International Jet Set
11. Enjoy Yourself (Reprise)
"Enjoy Yourself (Later Than You Think)" is a hammy, calypso meets ska romp to start the album with. It sounds more like an album closer to me. It is pleasant and singalong enough, but a bit throwaway, a bit like Dylan's "Rainy Day Women". "Man At C & A", a dubby, brassy number is more like it, full of that doom-laden Specials atmosphere. The bass on this is sonorous and beautifully deep. This is The Specials at their best. "Hey Little Rich Girl" is another ska-style number that continues the vibe from the first album.
The one hit single on here is the delicious, melodic but deeply melancholy "Do Nothing" that is so nostalgic for me of 1980. Wonderful trombone solo from Rico Rodriguez too. "Pearl's Cafe" has a good skank to it, but the vocal is a bit weak, to be honest. The middle in the middle and the funny jazzy vibes make it all a bit of a mess by the end, unfortunately. The sentiments expressed are funny, though, ("it's all a load of .....") as if they were something you would hear at Pearl's Cafe, which is, of course, very true. "Sock It To 'Em J.B." is a cover of a sixties number by I am not sure who and it is updated here to namecheck further James Bond films. it is an upbeat piece of harmless, enjoyable fun.
"Stereotype/Stereotypes Pt. 2" is an extended, inventive, adventurous dubby number with a wonderful dub second half. "Holiday Fortnight" is a joyous, brassy instrumental, with some Mexican mariachi-style horns. "I Can't Stand It" is the start of the run of material which caused people to say that The Specials had gone all jazzy and "lounge bar". It sounds very disposable and incongruous, I have to say, but dig a little deeper and it has hidden appeal. Fair play to The Specials for attempting to diversify a little, much like The Clash did a year later on "Sandinista!".
"International Jet Set" continues the experimentation on a totally odd piece that, once again, requires delving into a bit more. Maybe I'm just fooling myself, maybe it's just rubbish!
Seriously, though, give it a couple of new listens. It wasn't that bad.