The Specials are a British institution.
The legendary 2-Tone band struck a chord with the nation's youth as the Thatcher era choked the country, with two seismic studio albums seeming to set the pulse of the UK.
Lynval Golding led the way, a key member of the group before easing into the world of Fun Boy Three.
Re-joining The Specials for their 21st century re-union, he helped drive them to the top spot with their terrific album 'Encore'.
Anna Stephens spoke to Lynval Golding about facing up to fresh challenges, and his hopes for new Specials material as soon as possible.
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Who were your biggest musical inspirations musically growing up?
I would say it has to be Curtis Mayfield, a man who can sing so beautifully but also with a message. I was lucky to meet him in the '80s when we (Fun Boy Three) were on the same stage as him at Glastonbury.
What’s the music scene like where you live currently in Gig Harbor, Washington?
There is actually no real scene there at all, the only music is the wind blowing through the trees. There’s one small bar and that’s about it. I spend my life in and around music so it’s a totally different environment for me to get away from it all.
You’ve had your fair share of musical experiences including performing at Glastonbury Festival. Tell us more.
We are lucky to have performed at most of the major festivals all over the world, from Fuji Rock Festival to main stage Glastonbury and also the 2012 closing ceremony gig in Hyde Park with Blur in front of 100,000 people. But we still love the more intimate gigs as well. Music has taken us all over the globe, we are very lucky.
What’s your advice to anyone wanting to make a career in the music industry?
Be patient. It took us 40 years to get our first number one album. And enjoy the moments along the way…
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How did you come to be a part of The Specials?
I was originally in Coventry and then moved to London, which didn’t work out so I moved to Gloucester where I saw a soul band led by Ray King. I thought it would be great to be in his band and the opportunity arose but meant going back to Coventry, so I did. (Aitch Bembridge was also in that band, he went on to be The Selector’s drummer).
Jerry Dammers saw me playing with Ray and asked if I would be interested in listening to some tracks he was working on for a new band. I went along and the rest as they say is history. There was no money with that band but the music and ideas drove me.
Was it fun having your own project with Fun Boy Three?
Errr… it was fun when we joined up with Bananarama and toured and recorded with them. They could drink us all under the table.
We’ve been listening to the recent Project Blackbird album ‘If This Is The End’ and you feature on the beautiful song ‘Shake These Trees’ - how did this collaboration come about?
Well, Jon (Read) is my adopted son (well, I call him that) - we met back in 1995 when Jon joined up on trumpet with the Mk2 Specials. We chat regularly, in particular during the recent lockdowns.
Jon sent me the track and as soon as I heard it I loved it and wanted to be involved. I loved their previous album but this is a real step up. It was so good to work with Ming although we were never in the studio together. She sent over the guide vocals and I did my bit with her. It’s a wonderful song that takes on the racial issues of today, of what’s still happening.
What else are you up to these days?
We are about to go into the studio to work on a follow-up to ‘Encore' and then we have a tour planned for September which hopefully can go ahead. I’m also doing a video with Project Blackbird for 'Shake These trees'.
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Interview: Anna Stephens
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