A limited success when first released in 1997 – it reached number 50 on Telstar’s short-lived South Sea Bubble label – Specials star Terry Hall’s second solo album has been unavailable for many years. This reissue coincides with The Specials’ comeback tour, which sees them playing 15 dates over the next few weeks. The lugubrious Hall co-penned most of the album’s tracks, with collaborators including Stephen Duffy and Damon Albarn, and the result is a well-crafted, melodic, largely downtempo set. A pleasant cover of Todd Rundgren’s I Saw The Light closes the original album but is followed here by eight bonus tracks, including acoustic and live tracks, and a short interview with Radio One’s Mary Anne Hobbs.
Record Collector, June 09
‘Special in its own little way’
Hall’s post-Specials CV found his fronting several groups of varying lifespans (Fun Boy Three, The Colourfield, Vegas), before finally getting round to making records under his own name in the mid-90s. This, his second solo album, which made its bow in 1997, is closest in spirit to the laconic acoustic pop of The Colourfield.
Famous friends line up to lend a hand, with short-lived Smiths guitarist Craig Gannon the chief collaborator on the strongest tracks (the Lennonesque Take It Forever, the boulevardier Ballad Of A Landlord). Of the two co-writes with Damon Albarn, the fairground twirl of A Room Full Of Nothing makes the biggest impression, while Stephen Duffy’s Sonny & His Sister is the sound of a gorgeously lush Britpop Byrds.
Wearing his covers hat on the seven bonus tracks, Hall does a marvellously deadpan Karen Carpenter on Close To You, and even locates his inner Morrissey on Andy Williams’ Music To Watch Girls By. A million miles from the searing social commentary of his first band, perhaps, but few have done no-nonsense melodic pop with such casual ease.