Teenage Cancer Trust cover Specials classics for charity album

HITS by iconic Coventry band The Specials have been given a makeover for one of the music industry’s favorite charities.

The new Specialized album – out now – features 40 covers of classic hits by city legends The Specials. It has been put together by devoted fan and biographer Paul Williams in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

He said: “I was watching a documentary about the Teenage Cancer Trust – it was really quite touching. “Then I went upstairs to look at some old stuff and found my Specials posters from the tour in 2007. “At that moment a light bulb flicked on in my head and I thought, that’s what I’m going to do.” Paul, a veteran of the British ska scene, used an extensive network of music contacts to spread the word about his worthy project.

He was amazed by the “absolutely crazy” response from bands who wanted to feature on the album and soon had to start turning acts away. He said: “Music is normally quite a money centred business, but this project has provoked so much excitement right the way across the music scene. It’s not just ska bands.”

Specialized was due to be launched as a download-only album. However, its early success convinced Paul to consider a physical release. Again, his tentative enquiries were met with a flood of interest and generous donations.

Specialized has already raised £5,000 through pre-orders. With the limited edition CD selling so well, organisers are now planning a small run of white vinyl copies and an American EP. The album will also be made available to download.

Paul said: “It has taken on a life of its own – it has grown and grown. “I have a business to run but now we have started we want to do as much with this project as possible.”

The album was launched with a charity concert at the Hub at Coventry University on Saturday night. A host of top 2-Tone names including Specials bassist Horace Panter and Selecter star Charley Anderson performed to mark the occasion. The show also featured a set by This Modern Youth, a rising Coventry band who feature on the album.

They donated a punk-influenced cover of the huge hit Concrete Jungle, which was written by Specials guitarist Roddy ‘Radiation’ Byers. He even joined them on stage to perform the track live on the night. Singer Matt Neal said: “We’re all fans of the Specials so it was a huge moment for us.”

All proceeds will go to the Teenage Cancer Trust, which is a favoured cause for the music industry with regular charity concerts organised by The Who frontman Roger Daltrey.