At some point or another, we have all had a fast one pulled on us. For some people, it is not enough to find their own way in life. They feel the need to validate themselves by invalidating others. By lying, cheating, and stealing, these people will try to get what they want. However, you have two choices in life and one of them is not give in.
“Gangsters” by The Specials is a great track with a fantastic back story. I was reminded of the song this week after a conversation about Bernie Rhodes. Rhodes was the manager of The Specials as well as other great punk and new wave artists like The Clash and Dexys Midnight Runners. Rhodes was “hands-on” type of manager, and that is putting it nicely. Whenever any of his acts were getting taken advantage of, he often resorted to threats and violence to rectify the situation. When a French hotel refused to give The Specials their instruments back, Rhodes applied his unique management style to the situation. As a result, it inspired a timeless ska track.
It isn’t easy to pick one single song from The Specials’ debut album. With each track arranged by incredibly skilled musicians and the production chops of Elvis Costello, the entire album is worth listening to in one sitting. However, “Gangsters” was a non-album single that has since been included on later CD and vinyl pressings. And it would’ve been a gangster-style crime to exclude such an iconic track.
Beyond the great back story that inspired the single, “Gangsters” is a solid example of English 2 Tone. With a brooding keyboard rhythm, manic horn section, and echoed vocals, “Gangsters” creates a killer vibe seething with criminality. It is a total mood setter that creates the illusion of one getting a glimpse into the seedy underworld of 1970s London. It creates an uncomfortable backdrop, but keeps it cool and collected. Remember, Bernie Rhodes don’t argue.
Don’t be afraid to stand up for your rights against those who use law to commit crimes. A position of authority doesn’t always indicate strong morality or ethics. Most of the time it does, but corruption permeates through all classes. Remember that the next time you vote.