Ian Wood's Reviews > Ska'd for Life: A Personal Journey with The Specials

Ska'd for Life by Horace Panter
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May 01, 08

bookshelves: music-biography
Read in April, 2008

A few years ago on being asked for any New Years Resolutions on Jools Holland’s Annual Hootenanny Phil Jupitus answered to ‘get the band back together’ he went on to say ‘it might be difficult as he wasn’t actually in The Specials’. Phil has, however, contributed in his own way by writing the foreword of the memoirs of Sir Horace Panter Gentleman ‘Ska’d For Life’.

An apt title if there ever was one as The Specials Ska’d the lives of not only bass player extraordinaire Panter but also fans Phil Jupitus and myself to name but two. The Specials informed my politics, I was against racism before I really knew what it was and in fact before I met anyone whom was coloured, coming from quite a leafy English suburb. They informed by dress, I still wear a black suit, Ben Sherman button down and even a Crombie overcoat when the weather is inclement. Most of all The Specials informed my musical taste, a peculiar blend of Ska and Punk which was my first love and what I return to time after time.

Over the last thirty years I’ve read allot about The Specials and the Two Tone bands and although this doesn’t really add anything to the story it is great to hear it first hand from someone who was there rather than watching on, which I was doing myself. The stories reverberate with a freshness particularly in the parts of the book which were taken directly from the tour journal Horace kept throughout the American and Japanese tours which ultimately led to the break up of the band.

Horace’s account is well written and the book expertly paced, it is the greatest book on The Specials I’ve ever read, it was however difficult to finish as I had to keep getting up and moving to the Black and White decked LP’s I played whilst reading this book. Now that the band are indeed reforming maybe Horace will get to write a sequel ‘Dawning of a New Era’ anyone?
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