A Message to You, Rudy – The Specials – 1979

January 19, 2012

The Specials - A Message for You, Rudy.A typical UK ska track complete with horns and reggae-beat guitar, A Message to You, Rudy reached #10 on the UK charts in 1979.

ska revival

Okay, so I didn’t hear this one on the radio. Our son came home one day having bought the CD, The Specials Greatest Hits. I didn’t even realise he knew who The Specials were!

I’ve listened to the album a couple of times (when I can get my hands on it). I love it, it takes me right back to the UK ska I love but have heard little of for a long time.

the specials aka the specials aka

The Specials, originally known as The Special AKA appeared on the English music scene at the same time as punk bands like The Clash, The Jam and The Buzzcocks were waning or moving onto other things.

The Specials brought something new. They were, as far as I can remember, the first band to produce that wonderful blend of punk and reggae that we call (well, I call) ska. Of course, they weren’t the first ska band – but in bringing it to the UK they added elements that were fresh and new (and loud and rocky and full of horns).

The Specials - UK ska band.BTW – believe it or not, the UK’s first ska hit us usually credited as being, My Boy Lollipop, by Millie, back in 1964.

By 1979, when A Message to You, Rudy was released, the ska resurgence was huge in the UK. In fact, on November 8 of that year three ska bands appeared on the same episode of Top of the Pops – The Specials, Madness and The Selecter. It’s often said that that day is the day UK ska stopped being a cult and become a music sensation.

not a specials original

A Message to You, Rudy is not a Specials original. It was originally released in 1967 by Dandy Livingstone. It achieved success with The Specials in 1979.

a message to you, rudy fax

  • A Message to You, Rudy was originally released in 1964 by Dandy Livingstone.
  • A Message to You, Rudy peaked at #10 on the UK singles chart in 1979.
  • Trombone player Rico Rodriguez played on both The Specials’ version and Dandy Livingstone’s version of the song.
  • The song was originally about social unrest amongst the youth in Kingston, Jamaica. The Specials release was a comment on the UK in the late 1970s, a time of dissatisfaction in the UK political arena that led to a series of strikes and what came to be known as the 1978-79 Winter of Discontent.
  • “Rudy” (or Rudi, Rude boy) is a Jamaican term for criminal juveniles.
  • Technically, A Message to You, Rudy is a rocksteady song. Rocksteady is a music genre that originated in Jamaica around 1966. Bridging a music gap, it was a successor to ska and a precursor to reggae.
  • A Message to You, Rudy lyrics.

a message to you, rudy video

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