Random Wax: Robbie Fulks - The Special AKA 'In the Studio'


March 4th, 2016 by bsradmin

We like to listen to vinyl on Fridays here at BSHQ. Every Friday we have a Bloodshot crew member randomly select a record from his/her personal collection and bring it to the office. The person has to explain why the album is on his/her shelves, and then we listen to it. We call this Random Wax

Today's contestant is a guest star! Chicago country troubadour Robbie Fulks (who is releasing his new album Upland Stories in April!) sent us his pick all the way from the Chicago 'burbs! He randomly selected In the Studio by The Special AKA (the second incarnation of The Specials), from 1984. Here's his explanation on why it's in his collection:

"I had my son Tennessee pick a record to make sure the selection was random, and boy was it ever. I bought this one in 1984, because I was (and am) a big fan of the Specials, and wanted hear what Jerry Dammers was up to after their apparent disbanding. Memory says this record is a barely danceable, easygoing bore. I listened a dozen times before retiring it to a slot between Southern Culture on the Skids and Spectrum, where it has hidden like a Japanese WWII soldier on Gilligan’s Island until its sudden liberation by Tennessee just now.

However, two songs did stand out to my 21-year-old ear: “Free Nelson Mandela” and “Racist Friend.” This latter set of lyrics implores you to cut the ties at once with anyone of a racist mentality. This struck me, at the time and now, as a ridiculous demand, not only because I’m content to disagree with my friends on any number of things, but if we're to equate anyone who takes a dim view of Puerto Ricans or Pacific Islanders with Adolf Hitler, and prevent their enjoying the civilizing benefits of social intercourse, and then to disbar them from clubs and civic centers and so on, won’t we just turn a lot of harmless people into vegetables and monsters? That “Racist Friend” always rubbed me wrong. But my ear did have it right, because those two songs’ hooks have stayed with me. After a 22-year span that has erased the entire catalog of (for instance) Katrina and the Waves from my grateful brain, I can still sing the choruses of “Free Nelson Mandela” and “Racist Friend” by heart."