It Was 30 Years Ago Next Month…

I just had reason to look up the following single sleeve. Alright, the following EP sleeve. The Special A.K.A. Live! EP, better known to most of us as the “Too Much Too Young” EP, came out in January 1980. When it went to number one on its second week of release, it was considered a major moment in British pop; certainly its success must be perceived historically as the pinnacle of the 2Tone movement.

I just wrote of this release, for my own project, as follows:

The image on the EP sleeve was a black and white shot taken from the front of the stage one night – not of the band, but of the audience. They were skins and rude boys down to every last boy and girl (and they were only boys and girls; there wasn’t an adult in sight), and there was only one non-white face out of the fifty or so who crowded the camera lens, but what could the Specials do about this any more? At least there was no hint of nastiness, of violence, of outward racism or antagonism. No, the audience exuded pure joy, the ecstasy that came from being in the front rows for their favorite band at the prime of their life. And with it, the Specials cemented their status alongside the Jam as the most important singles act in Britain.

I could clean up that copy, and at some point I will, but it gets the point across, I think. Looking at the picture, I can’t help but wonder: what became of everybody? Those who are still alive – because the odds are that some of them will have died – would all still be in their 40s. It would be fascinating to track them down. This is not a task for a small web site like mine, but for a newspaper, or better yet, the BBC’s web site. Go for it, Auntie. You still have six weeks until the 30th Anniversary of the EP hitting number one.

(Photo cribbed from

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2 Comment(s)

  1. 26 December, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    I don’t know if you remember but that it was the Better Badges repro’d cassette of Live at The Moonlight that provided a lot of the impetus before this came out. We got the tape from Steve, who worked out of the Hawkwind office, and specialized in putting on gigs in prisons, who was managing the band..

    On an associated note I just noticed shit-fi’s article on skinhead reggae – – uses my old badge design as an illustration. Originally made for the LGS – Ladbroke Grove Skins – it was probably the first 2-tone item ever.

  2. 26 December, 2009 at 7:06 pm


    I probably have a copy of that Live at the Moonlight cassette somewhere in my boxes of unorganized old tapes. I figured it was a logical move for the Specials: “Too Much Too Young” was so popular and they probably didn’t want to put out another single from the LP. The live EP was a way to meet all demands.

    On an associated note… I have the U.S. Cd of the first Specials album and played it recently. To my absolute horror, the dub section of Too Much Too Young was cut off entirely, the justification presumably being that “Gangsters” was thrown on as a bonus track. American record companies, eh?

    Thanks for the link as well. By “first 2 Tone item ever” do you mean as in something influenced by 2 Tone or are you suggesting that it predated 2 Tone?



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