Terry Corridor was the confident eye of the Specials storm

As the credit roll on Dance Craze, the impossibly thrilling 1981 live performance movie shot on the peak of the two Tone motion, the Specials carry out Nite Klub. It’s a noticeably completely different model of the music to the one which seems on their eponymous 1979 debut album. The intro is lengthy and sluggish, reflecting songwriter Jerry Dammers’ growing curiosity in jazz and simple listening, which might controversially infect the Specials’ second album Extra Specials. Then the music erupts into frantic ska and the band’s members out of the blue spring into life, leaping up and down, speeding backwards and forwards throughout the stage. Aside from Terry Corridor, who continues to face roughly inventory nonetheless, his face emotionless, an occasional nod his solitary concession to what’s taking place round him. Because the music progresses, viewers members begin to climb on stage and dance, swamping the band. Dammers gleefully dives into their midst, however Corridor has retreated to the rear of the stage, by the drums. He retains singing concerning the awfulness of provincial nightlife – “Is that this the place to be? What am I doing right here?” – whereas staring balefully on the mayhem earlier than him. The music ends and the display screen goes black as Corridor emits a mirthless giggle.

It was a really Terry Corridor second. Everybody remembers the Specials of their prime as an exhilarating mass of cartoonish kinetic vitality – when the comedy present Not the 9 O’Clock Information hamfistedly attempted to parody them, it was with a music referred to as I Like Bouncing – however Corridor was invariably the attention of the storm: he may sometimes transfer in time to the music (and at one level in Dance Craze he climbs down from the stage and sings straight into the rowdy entrance row) however compared together with his bandmates, he was a statue, fixing the group or the viewer at residence with an unblinking, mournful stare.

The Specials in New York, 1979 … (L-R) Roddy Radiation, Sir Horace Gentleman, Terry Hall, Neville Staples, Lynval Golding, John Bradbury and Jerry Dammers.
The Specials in New York, 1979 … (L-R) Roddy Radiation, Sir Horace Gentleman, Terry Corridor, Neville Staples, Lynval Golding, John Bradbury and Jerry Dammers. {Photograph}: Photos Press/Getty Photos

There was one thing unblinking and mournful about his voice, too. Corridor by no means tried to mimic the previous Jamaican ska vocalists, even when he was essaying their materials. As a substitute, he sang in a cheerless, unaffected British voice – you may sometimes catch a touch of the Midlands about his vowels – that would rise to a wail if wanted. It was good for the Specials’ lyrics, which conjured up a spectacularly grim imaginative and prescient of late 70s Britain on their debut album – violence lurks round each nook, completely different youth cults battle it out and the Nationwide Entrance is on the march – and grew bleaker nonetheless on Extra Specials, the place air crashes, ageing, drink-driving and nuclear paranoia (on the Corridor co-written Man at C&A) discovered their manner into the combo. Greater than the velocity and ferocity with which the Specials performed, greater than Roddy Radiation’s stinging rock’n’roll-influenced guitar model, it was Corridor who linked them to punk, or no less than to Johnny Rotten. “It was simply the best way he stood on stage and gazed for half an hour … His stance was like an expression of standing nonetheless,” Corridor enthused of the Intercourse Pistols’ frontman. The anguished, undulating cry he unleashes in lieu of a refrain on the 1981 single Ghost City, in the meantime, wouldn’t have sounded misplaced on Public Picture Ltd’s contemporaneous album The Flowers of Romance.

Corridor’s mordant public picture proved so pervasive {that a} wild hearsay circulated playgrounds within the early 80s: he suffered from a medical situation affecting the muscle tissues in his face that left him bodily unable to smile. Sometimes, you bought the sensation he quite loved enjoying as much as it: he fell to his knees like an overwrought crooner whereas singing Do Nothing on High of the Pops, however did so whereas carrying an expression of utter boredom; “Hi there, hello, I’m Terry and I’m going to get pleasure from myself first,” he deadpanned on Extra Specials’ cowl of Take pleasure in Your self, a jaunty music that dated again to 1949.

The Specials: Take pleasure in Your self (dwell) – video

Equally, one of many few issues the band’s seven members agreed on on reflection was that there ceaselessly wasn’t a lot to smile about within the Specials. The sheer depth of their success – inside months of the discharge of their debut single Gangsters, that they had spawned each their very own style and a complete youth motion – and a crippling workload didn’t do a lot to assist relations inside the band. Their dwell exhibits had an inclination to draw bother. Their anti-racist stance made each their exhibits and the band themselves a goal for Nationwide Entrance thugs – guitarist Lynval Golding was significantly injured in a racist assault in south London – however audiences might get uncontrolled with out far-right interference. On their 1980 tour, viewers violence marred gigs in Newcastle, Leeds and Cambridge. On the latter present, Corridor and Dammers intervened in an try to cease the group preventing with bouncers: each had been arrested, charged with incitement to riot and fined £400. Not one of the band’s members appeared to have emerged untraumatised from the expertise of their 18 months of fame, however the stress took a selected toll on Corridor, who struggled together with his psychological well being (he was ultimately recognized with bipolar dysfunction after a suicide try in 2004). “Every part was a drama,” he told the Guardian in 2009. “You couldn’t get any area, not even for an hour or two, as a result of wherever you went there have been these lads who’d travelled 9,000 miles to see you reside and didn’t have wherever to remain, so that you needed to put them up in your room and then you definitely needed to sit up all evening with them, speaking concerning the fucking Specials.”

He introduced his departure from the band backstage at High of the Pops, the place they had been because of carry out Ghost City, an eerie and eerily prescient depiction of city decay that reached No 1 the day after cities throughout Britain erupted in rioting. He fashioned Enjoyable Boy Three with fellow ex-Specials Golding and Neville Staple: their debut single, The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum made the High 20, which informed you extra concerning the residual stage of affection for the Specials than it did concerning the music’s commerciality: bleak in a manner that made Ghost City sound positively upbeat, it set the tone for his or her eponymous debut album, a dense, claustrophobic, impressively experimental mass of African-inspired percussion and ominous vocals that powered into the High 10 on the again of an atypically upbeat cowl of the 30s jazz customary It Ain’t What You Do It’s the Means That You Do It recorded with Bananarama. On one stage, 1983’s Ready was lighter than their debut – produced by Speaking Heads’ David Byrne, it featured the unbelievable, poppy hit single Our Lips Are Sealed (on the US model), which Corridor had written with Jane Wiedlin of the Go Gos about their clandestine relationship – but it surely additionally contained Nicely Fancy That!, a disturbing account of the abuse Corridor had suffered as a baby, after being kidnapped by a paedophile ring throughout a faculty journey to France. If you happen to wished proof of Corridor’s catholic music style – not all the time obvious within the Specials – Ready opened with a jaunty cowl of the theme music from the Nineteen Sixties movie variations of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple mysteries.

Fun Boy Three in 1983.
Enjoyable Boy Three in 1983. {Photograph}: Steve Rapport/Getty Photos

Mentioned catholicism grew to become extra obvious nonetheless after Enjoyable Boy Three broke up, not lengthy after Ready’s launch. Corridor later mentioned that he spent the rest of the 80s “distancing myself from [the Specials] as a lot as I might”, and there was actually a way of repudiating his previous concerning the subsequent band he fashioned, the Colourfield, whose debut album Virgins and Philistines dealt nearly completely in music that might have been verboten underneath punk and post-punk’s scorched-earth guidelines, reminiscent of mild acoustic folk-rock and Latin-infused straightforward listening. They carried out their hit single Thinking of You on BBC1’s cosy daytime chat present Pebble Mill at One, an unthinkable atmosphere for the Specials to have appeared in. Its glossier follow-up, Deception, featured covers of each the Monkees’ She and Sly and the Household Stone’s Working Away in addition to a number of originals that illustrated Corridor’s blossoming energy as a songwriter, not least the gorgeous Miss Texas 1967. Subsequent, he fashioned the trio Terry, Blair & Anouchka, who delved even deeper into 60s and 70s-inspired pop on their solitary album Extremely Trendy Nursery Rhymes, a real misplaced traditional. Inconceivable because it appeared, Corridor had a real facility for sunshine pop; as if to underline the place they had been coming from, it concluded with a canopy of Captain & Tennille’s corny-but-fantastic 1975 hit Love Will Hold Us Collectively. Simply as the worldwide affect of the Specials grew to become readily obvious, due to a wave of American ska-punk bands, Corridor had by no means appeared farther from the music they had been impressed by.

However Extremely Trendy Nursery Rhymes didn’t make the charts. Equally, there have been few takers for Vegas, the digital duo he fashioned with Dave Stewart of Eurythmics, or certainly for Corridor’s 90s solo albums Residence and Chortle, regardless of the energy of their songs – hearken to Corridor’s model of the Lightning Seeds’ Sense, which he co-wrote with Ian Broudie, or the wonderful chiming guitars of Sonny and His Sister. Higher nonetheless was 2003’s The Hour of Two Lights, which discovered Corridor collaborating with Mushtaq Uddin of Enjoyable-Da-Psychological: a remarkably bold album of musical fusions that concerned Algerian rappers, Polish Gypsy band Romany Rad, a 12-year-old Lebanese vocalist and jazz pianist Zoe Rahman. It might have been a worthy mess, however as an alternative it labored, conjuring up a way of worldwide menace. If anybody conversant with the Specials’ oeuvre might spot Corridor’s vocals a mile off, it was nonetheless like nothing else he’d launched, testomony to his musical restlessness.

Finally, although, he bowed to the inevitable: impressed by seeing the reformed Pixies dwell, he agreed to a Specials reunion. From the beginning, it was dogged by the identical fractiousness that plagued their preliminary incarnation – relying on which model of occasions you consider, Jerry Dammers was both fired or left after a few rehearsals – but it surely was an enormous business success: the primary set of gigs bought 45,000 tickets in an hour. The gigs had been triumphant and celebratory, though relations within the band continued to show flamable. Roddy Radiation left, so did Neville Staple: coupled with the 2015 death of drummer John Bradbury, it diminished the band to a core of Corridor, Golding and bass participant Horace Panter. And but the three of them saved going, ultimately releasing two new albums. If nobody was going to rank 2019’s Encore or 2021’s Protest Songs over Specials and Extra Specials, they had been much better than a naysayer may need instructed a Specials album can be with out the enter of Dammers, who in any case had been the band’s architect, chief songwriter and de facto chief of their heyday. Each albums had been admirably tired of merely warming over the previous Specials sound: you bought the sensation that the identical stressed spirit that had powered Corridor’s solo profession was behind their diversions into every thing from funk to Frank Zappa covers.

Terry Corridor and Mushtaq: Ten Eleven – video

Maybe they saved going in an effort to show that, opposite to in style knowledge, the Specials had been greater than a one-man present, or to underline that the Specials’ left-wing, anti-racist message was as related within the twenty first century because it had been within the late 70s and early 80s: Encore featured each a music referred to as BLM and an look by Saffiyah Khan, a younger lady who’d been photographed going through down EDL protestors whereas carrying a Specials T-shirt. Or maybe they had been merely having fun with themselves in a manner that they seldom had within the band’s authentic incarnation. Actually Corridor lower an unexpectedly sunny determine in interviews, delighted by every thing from a rise within the variety of ladies turning as much as their gigs to qualifying for an over-60s bus go. “I bloody love being 60,” he told one interviewer. “I’ve all the time thought I’d make my greatest music between the years 60 and 70.”

It wasn’t to be, however Terry Corridor’s profession is hardly one among unfulfilled potential. He was a defining member of one of the vital beloved and influential bands of their period, however furthermore, he declined to be hemmed in by their huge legacy: as you may need guessed from the determine captured on the finish of Dance Craze, standing nonetheless whereas bedlam erupts round him, Terry Hall was very a lot his personal man.

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