The Specials Specials Sidebar: Production Notes

Sidebar: Production Notes

Recording for Specials began in August 1979, with the intention that the album would be released to coincide with the band's October tour with The Selecter. Elvis Costello, an avowed fan, was on production duties, the initial sessions taking place at The Who's Ramport Studios in Battersea. Here they recorded an extended version of 'Too Much Too Young', but then decamped to TW Studios in Fulham, bass guitarist Horace Panter describing Ramport Studios as 'cavernous, too clean and not funky enough'.


Panter remembers the band's time at TW. 'Recording the album was just a question of setting-up and playing our live repertoire. There were very few instrumental overdubs. The studio sound was helped immeasurably by the session's engineer, Dave Jordan, who became our live-sound operator and unofficial eighth member. The cramped, claustrophobic atmosphere helped create a sound halfway between tinny 1960s pop and Studio One reggae, which was what The Specials were all about anyway.'

Some have criticised Costello's production saying it was lacklustre, but the group remember him as being highly enthusiastic. Horace Panter arrived one morning to find him asleep on the mixing desk – he had been working into the early hours. Costello can also be heard banging a steel tray along with the snare drum on 'Nite Klub'.

'I wanted to produce them the way they sounded best,' he said. 'We used a basic 24-track studio to get the right sound, but you could only stay in it for a limited time, because it shared an air vent with a laundromat and the smell kept coming in.'