By fErGaL Bunbury.
There’s been a lot to process. I am so sick of obituaries and it’s only going to get worse. This is where we are in the life of rock music: middle to old age.
I suppose I first fell in love with Terry Hall in January 1980, when the Too Much Too Young EP came out. Terry was the Immaculate Suedehead, staring in the eye of the hurricane of movement that was The Specials live. It must be the most raucous Number One record of my lifetime.
Records this raw don’t usually hit the top of the chart. We usually have to reach for them, seek them out, treasure them, talk in hushed tones with a few believers. But this was Number One! After two weeks it was replaced by Kenny Rogers. Normal service resumed.
But it made us feel that anything was possible—a perfect recording of a perfect band at the perfect time. In the Lyceum in Coventry. One in a million, but here it is. It exists! On 7″s of plastic. And on a Friday night, we highstepped on the spot, in Mary’s on Templeville Road, until we could run no more. Dripping with sweat and laughing out loud, nothing really made sense at that age but this is what it felt like to be young and alive!
And to think that this was just the start of an amazing body of work. There was much diversity in his work but it was all imbued with intelligence, integrity, truth and all kinds of everything good.
I could make all kinds of suggestions for a playlist—The Specials, Fun Boy Three, The Colourfield, and one of my favourites, The Hour of Two Lights with Mushtaq. But try this: I’ll give you the first track and the last track and you can fill in the rest with your favourites. Start with ‘Too Much Too Young’, the live one we’ve been discussing, and end with something I only saw for the first time yesterday.
On a TV show somewhere, Terry, in perfect trousers, sings the Burt Bacharach song ‘This Guy’s In Love With You’. I listened and my heart broke a little bit.
Terry Hall 1959-2022. All dead, yet still alive, in endless time, endless art.