Protest Songs 1924 – 2012 by The Specials

If there’s an act that many consider to be intimately connected to the art of protest, it’s The Specials.

From their debut in 1979, they were taking on the National Front (far right) and they haven’t stopped since. 

2019’s Encore was a solid release encompassing issues from BLM to racial integration. 

But this year, they’ve decided to push the boat out completely and in Protest Songs 1924-2012 they bring their reggae roots to 90 years of protest songs. 

Yes, this is a covers album but one that is very distinct from the usual set of tributes to songs by past masters. 

The good news is that there’s still plenty here that you’re already familiar with and their version of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows”, for example, is still dark though vocally much more seductive than the original. 

It’s The Staples Singers’ “Freedom Highway” that absolutely steals the show though and given it’s competing with Zappa and Talking Heads, that’s a real feat. 

The Specials sound every bit as relevant today as they did in 1979 and that’s some going. 

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