If you were 12 in 1979, the Specials were easy peasy lemon squeezy the greatest band on the planet. The sort of band you can't quite imagine not existing before. Of course, style over substance is any easy sell in the pop charts, and you have to assume that the vast majority of the millions of catalogue rude boy clones who cat walked the shithole of Britains high streets over the following few years were fashion victims of the lowest order (check Stereotypes or Do Nothing for the bands response). The difference being that, perfectly packaged as they were, the Specials were substance wrapped in checkerboard. Who else could mention the Irish Republican Army and the Ulster Defence Association in a dance track? It turns out I, and millions of others, nailed our colours to the right mast at the time, and try as I might I still can't find a single chink in the armour of The Specials legacy.
First, they looked fucking great. If you weren't there, Britain was transformed into a mail order version of The Wailin Wailers album cover almost overnight, though it probably didn't know it at the time. Before the birth of the woeful sports casual, the working class dressed up for the weekend and the easily attainable and striking evocation of mid 60's Jamaica was too irresistible for those who founds punks sartorial alienation just that bit too alienating.