It was a text from Jacques the Kipper at just before 11pm last night.

‘Terry Hall’

JtK has been a close pal for more than 30 years, and I’ve long known that when a text from him is short and simple, it means something awful has happened.

People die all the time.  I’ve lost friends and family in recent years, and some close friends have endured grief and tragedy that is beyond almost any of our comprehension or true understanding. I should be well-prepared for reading awful news and that someone else has passed on, but this one has come as an almighty shock.

The news of his death, at just 63 years of age, came via a series of tweets from The Specials:-

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing, following a brief illness, of Terry, our beautiful friend, brother and one of the most brilliant singers, songwriters and lyricists this country has ever produced,” 

“Terry was a wonderful husband and father and one of the kindest, funniest, and most genuine of souls. His music and his performances encapsulated the very essence of life… the joy, the pain, the humour, the fight for justice, but mostly the love.

“He will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him and leaves behind the gift of his remarkable music and profound humanity. Terry often left the stage at the end of The Specials’ life-affirming shows with three words… ‘Love Love Love’.”

By the time I finish typing this piece, there will be thousands of tributes out there, many of which will pay a better, more knowledgable and heartfelt tribute than I’m capable of.  I’m merely a fan of his music and loved his outlook on life.  I didn’t rush out and buy all of his records, and I only ever saw him once in concert.  Mrs JC came very close to meeting him once – she went into a record shop in Glasgow and learned that Fun Boy Three had just left the premises after a signing session, which she was gutted about.  She did see that the band had signed a handful of extra copies, and so she bought one…and the album still has a proud place here in Villain Towers.


Like so many others of my age, my introduction to Terry Hall was via The Specials. 

I was 16 years old and really beginning to get into my music in a way that was different, thanks to having a paper round that allowed me to spend more money than ever before and also that I was now, in my parent’s eyes, old enough to go to gigs at the Glasgow Apollo. My tastes were predominantly new wave, with the odd disco track thrown in.  I knew nothing of ska….I came from a city that was incredibly white in terms of its population, with a small number of Asian families from India or Pakistan.  There were next to no Caribbean or black people in Glasgow, and while you might occasionally hear some reggae when you were hanging around any record shop, you wouldn’t hear any of the music that proved to be such an influence on 2-Tone when bands such as The Specials, Madness, The Selecter and The Beat burst onto the scene, seemingly out of nowhere. I’ve written before as to how and why 2-Tone became a huge part of my early and very primitive forays into DJing, if playing records on a single deck at a youth night in my school could actually be described as DJing.

It was also an age when I was becoming increasingly politically aware, developing and moulding a sense of values that have remained with me all my life.  Musicians such as Paul Weller, Joe Strummer and Terry Hall, and their various bandmates, played a huge part in this. I was more instinctive than active in those days, but that would change a few years later when I went to University and found myself in an environment where I could develop a greater understanding and learn to articulate my thoughts in a rational way.

Which is why I can’t honestly say that my love for Ghost Town had much to do with the scathing political commentary it offered in 1981, but more related to the tune and the incredible vocal performances.  Oh, and the fact that the b-sides were equally outstanding!

Terry Hall quit the band, seemingly backstage at the Top of The Pops studios, after they had performed Ghost Town.  He immediately, along with bandmates Neville Staples and Lynval Golding, formed the aforementioned Fun Boy Three, with the trio becoming staples of the pop charts, with seven genuinely brilliant Top 20 singles in a two-year period. 

Evidence that he was never content to rest on his laurels came with the decision to disband FB3 while they were still enjoying hits, and to form The Colourfield (originally called The Colour Field).  A band whose music verged often towards a romantic-folk style or chamber-pop, there would be a modicum of initial success with songs that seemed, to my ears, to lay the foundation for The Beautiful South to enjoy great fame and fortune. The debut album Virgins and Philistines reached #12. The second and final Colourfield album, Deception, barely scraped into the Top 100.

The Colourfield debut goes back to 1985.  It turned out to be the last time a Terry Hall album would make the Top 20 for thirty-four years. Castles In The Air, a single from the debut album, also coincidentally reached #12 in 1985, and, although it’s hard to believe, Terry Hall would never again be part of any big hit single – Sense by The Lightning Seeds went Top 40 in 1992, the same year as Possessed by Vegas, a new electronica band put together by Terry and Dave Stewart, formerly of Eurythmics.

In between all of this activity there had been Terry, Blair and Anouchka, a trio formed in 1990 and who delivered Ultra Modern Nursery Rhymes, an album inspired by 60s/70s sunshine pop to next to no takers. Jacques the Kipper, however, picked up on it, and he passed on a couple of its songs via C90 compilation tapes; to my eternal shame, I never tracked down my own copy, relying later on a Terry Hall compilation CD for the three songs I have of theirs, plus an even later download of a track JtK had included on a tape (and which formed part of a Terry Hall ICA I put together in February 2021.)

Vegas, despite the minor hit single, didn’t last too long and Terry’s next move was to finally record under his own name and release solo material.  The two albums, Home (1994) and Laugh (1997) were critically acclaimed, but in an era when Britpop and its offspring were dominant, neither made much of a commercial impact, which is a shame disgrace given the quality of the songs on offer.

The years immediately after the turn of the century saw more collaborations, including with Gorillaz, Mushtaq (of Fun-Da-Mental fame) and Toots and the Mayals. But it was also a period when Terry was at his lowest, although very few knew of it at the time, as it took a while for the fact to emerge that he had attempted suicide in 2004 after decades of mental health issues. It all led to him being diagnosed as having a bipolar disorder.

Five years later, The Specials reformed.  Having said many times it would never happen, Terry Hall revealed it had been after seeing Pixies play again after their reformation that he realised it would be a good and right thing to do.

The gigs in 2009 were a huge triumph, despite the fact that Jerry Dammers chose not to be a part of things.  This led to more tours and festivals over the years, albeit since 2015, just three of the original members were now part of things, augmented by new and/or guest musicians.  A new album, Encore, was released in 2019 and went straight to #1, something that hadn’t happened in the band’s heyday.  A further record came out in 2021.  Protest Songs was an album of covers, encopassing a range of genres including blues, folk and country, and which was unlike anything else The Specials had ever released before but which, on reflection, captured a great deal of the way Terry Hall had gone about his entire musical career.

Terry Hall seemed in recent times to be much more at ease with himself.  In interviews, he never refrained from saying his piece, especially in light of the fact that the left-wing, anti-racist and equal society messages he has always been associated with are every bit as relevant today, if indeed not more so, than back in the late 70s/early 80s. He also said to one interviewer that “I’ve always thought I’d make my best music between the years 60 and 70.”

Sadly, the news from last night means it is not to be.

Terry Hall was a fabulous singer, an unparalled songwriter and a very capable musician.  He was a brave champion of social and political justice his entire life, and when he stood up in the late 70s and early 80s to preach his message, he did so knowing he and his mates would get flak and be subject to violence. 

The stresses and strains of it all took their toll on him over the years, but thankfully, his cry for help in the early 2000s was heeded and with the support of health professionals, his family and his friends, he got himself back on an even keel.  His final years brought stability and a return to fame, something that was long-overdue.  He has gone from us at far too young an age, but he has left us with much to treasure.

There were two Terry Hall ICAs in February 2021.  Khayem was first up with #277 in which he made a rule of ‘one song per act and collaborations to the fore’, while mine immediately followed as #278 and was much more conventional.  Here’s some songs from each of them.

ICA 277

mp3: The Specials – Friday Night, Saturday Morning
mp3: Vegas – If You Kill My Cat, I’ll Kill Your Dog
mp3: Fun Boy Three – Well Fancy That!
mp3: Terry Hall & Mushtaq – Ten Eleven

ICA 278

mp3: Fun Boy Three – The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum
mp3: Terry, Blair and Anouchka – Fishbones and Scaredy Cats
mp3: The Special A.K.A. – Gangsters
mp3: Terry Hall – A Room Full Of Nothing

Bonus tracks

mp3: The Colour Field  – The Colour Field
mp3: The Specials – Vote For Me

RIP, Terry. Missing you already.


PS : Today’s post was originally going to be a China Crisis ICA, written by Martin (Our Swedish Correspondent).  This will now be held off till a future date.


I thought I’d illustrate my own effort with the sleeve of the debut album by The Fun Boy Three – which you can see is signed.  It actually belongs to Mrs Villain but when I asked her what it was like to actually meet Terry Hall, she told me that she had actually gone into HMV in Glasgow a few minutes after the band had left (she had no idea a signing session had been organised on the day), but as there were still a few extra signed copies on sale, she decided to get her hands on one of them.

Without further ado, this is meant merely as a companion piece to Khayem‘s impeccable offering from yesterday, and as I haven’t restricted myself to just one song from each strand of the career, it’s a bit of a lazy effort in places….

Side One

1) The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum – The Fun Boy Three (single and debut album, 1982)

It’s almost 40 years old and its sentiments, arguably, are more relevant today than when the lyrics reflected the fear that our political leaders would lead us into a nuclear war.

2) Thinking Of You – The Colourfield (single and the album Virgin and Philistines 1985)

A #12 hit, and the prototype for all sorts of smash hits years later by The Beautiful South.

3) Music To Watch Girls By – Terry Hall (b-side, 1997)

Laugh, released in 1997,  was the second solo-album, following on from Home, which came out in 1994.  Terry wrote most of the songs on both albums with Craig Gannon, probably best known for his stints in The Smiths and Aztec Camera. Others who contributed to Laugh included Stephen ‘Tin Tin’ Duffy, and Sean O’Hagan (ex-Microdisney). It’s an album with much to enjoy and it sounds as if Terry had a fair bit of fun making it, as exemplified by this cover of the cheesy 60’s number made famous by Andy Williams.

4) Fishbones and Scaredy Cats – Terry, Blair and Anouchka (Ultra Modern Nursery Rhymes 1990)

Terry, Blair & Anouchka consisted of Mr Hall, Blair Booth and Anouchka Grose, the former being an American singer and the latter an Australian who is nowadays a well-known psychoanalyst but back in 1990 was an arts graduate from Goldsmith College in London. Two flop singles and one album was the outcome of the partnership – the group did push the label hard, but to no avail, for Fishbones to be a third single. Strikes me that the record company really missed the chance to have something that could have been a bit of a novelty hit…..

5) Our Lips Are Sealed – The Fun Boy Three (single and from the album Waiting, 1983)

This majestic piece of pop, co-written by Terry Hall and Jane Wiedlen, is the legacy of what was a brief affair between the couple, in 1980 when The Specials and The Go-Gos toured together.  Credit must be given for the superb production brought to the studio by David Byrne and not forgetting the fabulous backing vocal by Julie Miles Kingston, who also added her considerable drumming skills.

Side Two

6) Gangsters – The Specials (single, and from the album, The Specials, 1979)

One of THE great debut singles of all time.  I still find it hard to believe that it was a cover version

7) Do Nothing – The Specials (single 1981, and from the album, More Specials, 1980)

Ghost Town is, without question, a genuine classic (as indeed is b-side Friday Night, Saturday Morning as featured in Khayem’s ICA).  As such, it overshadows the earlier hit from the same year, one which also captures perfectly how shit life was for many young people living in the UK in 1981.  It was penned by Lynval Goulding and paved the way, more than any other, for how The Fun Boy Three would harmonise to great effect..

8) The Alibi (12″ version) – The Fun Boy Three (b-side of The Telephone Always Rings, 1982)

Sometimes, and not just with Terry Hall/Fun Boy Three, the best songs are tucked away on the back of singles that didn’t sell all that well and as such, they are hidden gems.

9) Too Much Too Young – The Specials (from the album, The Specials, 1979)

The live version, recorded in their home city of Coventry, went to #1. It was a frantic, energetic blast-through that was little more than two minutes in length when the much more sedate but, in my view far more powerful message-wise album version does much more to deliver its sentiments,

10) A Room Full Of Nothing – Terry Hall (from the album Laugh, 1997)

The one name I missed when mentioning the musicians who worked on or helped with Laugh was Damon Albarn.  This unusual almost music-hall type of tune, complete with a dark almost soul-searching lyric, was co-written by Hall/Albarn and the way it fades out just made it the ideal way closer for this companion ICA.

Thanks for the inspiration, Khayem.






I love that the ICAs have not just been straightforward ’best of’ collections and each contribution has set a personal challenge or criteria. Personally, it’s been the only way to avoid madness and indecision and Terry Hall is no exception. The ‘rules’ this time are pretty simple: collaborations and guest spots are in, but only one song per act. Initially, choosing just one song by The Specials or Fun Boy Three was so daunting, I considered leaving them out altogether. Admittedly, there’s nothing from Terry, Blair & Anouchka. Much as I like the songs, the production seemed too jarring wherever I placed them, so unfortunately they didn’t make the final cut. The Lightning Seeds are also conspicuous by their absence. The final selection may be controversial, and like my previous ICAs don’t necessarily include my favourite songs, but I think the album works as a whole.

As for the ICA title…Whilst The Undertones’ 1980 song clearly isn’t about Terry Hall, the title chimed with my memory of the media’s view of Terry Hall during the 1980s and 1990s as a miserable git who needed to ‘cheer up’. A more empathetic and rounded portrayal thankfully emerged in the 21st century with the disclosure of his bipolar diagnosis and childhood trauma. Personally, I’ve had a deep love of Terry Hall as a singer and songwriter since I first started buying records and this ICA hopefully reflects that.

A final thanks to Echorich, as it was Terry Hall’s inclusion on his recent Fine Young Men ICA that encouraged me to finally finish this one! Enjoy.

Side One

1) All Kinds Of Everything: Terry Hall & Sinéad O’Connor (A Song For Eurotrash, 1998)

Eurotrash was a long-running late night TV programme on the UK’s Channel 4, which was fronted by idiosyncratic Antoine de Caunes and co-hosted in the early years with Jean-Paul Gaultier. It was a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek look at life in Europe and beyond. Perhaps inevitably, when the UK hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 1998, Channel 4 screened a TV special, A Song for Eurotrash, with an accompanying compilation of the same name. Both comprised covers of previous Eurovision ‘hits’ by Edwyn Collins, Saint Etienne, Shane MacGowan, Bananarama and 808 State. This version of Dana’s 1970 winner is a highlight of the TV show and album, Terry and Sinéad’s voices perfectly complementing one another.

2) Forever J (Pulp Mix): Terry Hall (single, 1994)

I think Terry Hall’s solo career has been under appreciated and I could easily have focussed an ICA on this alone. However, rules are rules and I eventually came to decide between this and a B-side from the same EP, the possibly too obvious Guess It’s Not A Great Day To Be Me. I think Echorich said it all when including this track in his ICA, and it remains one of my favourite Terry Hall songs, full stop. To avoid duplication, I’ve gone for the remix, which sounds exactly like Terry performing with Pulp as his backing band.

3) Cruel Circus: The Colourfield (Virgins And Philistines, 1985)

I won’t pretend that I faithfully followed Terry from Fun Boy Three to The Colourfield, although I enjoyed their debut single, Thinking Of You. I first discovered this song in the early 1990s on the Animal Liberation compilation, released in 1987, which eventually led me back to its parent album, Virgins And Philistines. A biting commentary on animal cruelty, Terry’s lyrics and vocal delivery have lost none of their power and relevance in the subsequent three decades.

4) If You Kill My Cat I’ll Kill Your Dog: Vegas (She B-side, 1992)

I think I groaned inwardly when I initially read that Terry Hall had teamed up with Eurythmics’ David A. Stewart. Much as I loved the latter’s early work, I had been turned off by his high-gloss, (over) produced music and couldn’t see how this could possibly work. It turned out to be a one-off/short-lived project, with one album and three singles that I had to admit were actually pretty good. Of course, Terry’s songwriting was a strong as ever and, on this B-side, the production is understated and allows Terry room to breathe.

5) Friday Night, Saturday Morning: The Specials (Ghost Town B-side, 1981)

Possibly the biggest challenge of the entire ICA. I mean, how to choose? Eventually, it was this or Do Nothing, but as I started playing around the ICA sequence, there was really no other song that could be the closer to Side One. This is one of Terry’s finest lyrics, with a bleak and resigned picture of a weekend cycle that a few years later, resonated even more as it became my lived experience. Incredible to believe that at the time of its release in 1981, it was merely a bonus track on their swansong single.

Side Two

6) Bubbles: Nearly God (Nearly God, 1996)

Following the massive impact of Tricky’s debut album, Maxinquaye, and it’s inextricable association with trip hop and the Bristol sound, I loved the fact that he chose to immediately follow up with two aliases/side projects, firstly the ‘I Be The Prophet’ EP as Starving Souls and then Nearly God. Terry also appeared on Nearly God’s lead single, Poems, but I think over the years and repeated listening, I prefer this song. On the original vinyl, it’s placed midway through Side Two, but I think it makes for a good opening track. Again, Terry’s lyrics are on top form:

The first hundred years are the toughest
I’m getting smothered
And life is just one bloody thing
After another

7) Rapture (Radio Edit): Dub Pistols (single, 2007)

As with the Vegas side project, another inward groan when I initially saw this. Terry has been no stranger to an unexpected and ultimately rewarding cover version (this ICA opener, She, Running Away, Summertime), but Rapture? Really? Thankfully, Terry forgoes the falsetto and rap and the version is so much better than I initially feared, striking the right balance between familiarity with the original and an individual interpretation.

8) Ten Eleven: Terry Hall & Mushtaq (The Hour Of Two Lights, 2003)

Gorillaz & D12’s 911 was in the original long list for this ICA, but I decided to drop the song as it appeared in JC’s post in November. This comes from an album issued a couple of years later, but retains the Gorillaz connection as it was released on Honest Jon’s Records and features label owner Damon Albarn on vocals. Rapper Mushtaq (former member of Fun-Da-Mental) is more prominent on this track, but Terry’s contribution on the ‘chorus’ is essential and, aurally, there are pleasing nods back to The Specials.

9) Time To Blow: Leila (Blood, Looms & Blooms, 2008)

Leila’s third album was a remarkable return, following personal loss and a withdrawal from releasing new music for several years. The album also provided a (probably) accidental link to Tricky’s Nearly God project by reuniting Terry Hall and Martina Topley-Bird, who collaborate on the album’s closing song. Typically, I’ve opted for Terry’s other contribution, where his is the sole voice and the lyrics include the possibly autobiographical line, ‘Each time I open my mouth I regret it’.

10) Well Fancy That!: Fun Boy Three (Waiting, 1983)

The final song on 1983’s Waiting, produced by David Byrne, was always going to the closer to this ICA. I bought the album on cassette from HMV in Bristol and it blew my 12-year old mind. Whilst I generally got the meaning behind The Farmyard Connection and The More I See (The Less I Believe), I didn’t grasp the full horror of this song until years later, when I read interviews with Terry Hall.

My naive, pre-teen mind had always interpreted the song as a third-person narrative involving a female teacher. To later read that this is an autobiographical account of Terry’s abduction and abuse by a paedophile ring in France, and the traumatic impact on his subsequent life and mental health was a shock. Terry later reflected, “The only way I could deal with the experience was to write about it, in a song. It was very difficult for me to write, but I wanted to communicate my feelings.” As for the song itself, it’s a perfect example of Terry Hall’s brilliance, balancing a sweet, almost nursery-rhyme melody with lyrics that challenge, disturb and reward repeated reading.

Covid-19 permitting, Terry will be back on tour with The Specials in 2021, following their successful album Encore. Whilst there’s less prospect of another solo album, I for one am glad that Terry’s continuing to write and perform and I’m looking forward to what comes next.


JC adds…..I had long been thinking of a Terry Hall ICA, and driven on by Khayem’s superb offering, I’m going to offer up a Volume 2 tomorrow, but without the tight restrictions used today!!


Partly adapted and added to substantially from a previous blog posting back in August 2013:-

One night back in late 2000, while suffering from insomnia, I caught a glimpse of a cartoon video of on MTV. It must have been around 3am or something. My ears immediately picked up on a great tune and what sounded awfully like the vocals of Damon Albarn. But quite clearly, this was not anything by Blur.

Unusually, no information on the video came up at the end. But I was determined to track it down. By pure chance, I was in a favourite record shop in Glasgow a couple of days later and amidst my browsing, I saw something which had a title that was awfully like the mystery track.

So, I asked the guys in the shop to let me hear it. And I was right. So I bought it, and waited on it becoming a massive hit. But nothing happened:-

mp3: Gorillaz – Tomorrow Comes Today

It was originally released as a four-track EP on 27 November 2000.  I still think of Gorillaz as being a relatively new addition to the music scene, so I’m terrified/horrified/gob-smacked that it has been a full twenty years.

Here’s the other tracks on the EP:-

mp3: Gorillaz – Rock The House
mp3: Gorillaz – Latin Simone
mp3: Gorillaz – 12D3

It would take only a further four months for the band/group/act to make the commercial breakthrough, with Clint Eastwood being a Top 5 single and the self-titled debut album going Top 3 in the UK, eventually selling almost a million copies.  Greater success followed in 2005 when Feel Good Inc (featuring De La Soul) and Dare (featuring Shawn Ryder) went to #2 and #1 respectively, with parent album Demon Days selling 1.8 million copies.

There have been five albums since, all of which have charted high in the charts, but without selling copious amounts – for instance, Humanz (2017) reached #2 in the albums chart, but sold only 100,000 copies.

Tomorrow Comes Today, after its low-key release in 2000, would be included on the debut album and would be re-released as a single in March 2002, when it reached #33.  It was the fourth single to be lifted from the debut album, but rather unusually, it was issued after a non-album single had been released in December 2001:-

mp3: Gorillaz (feat. D12 and Terry Hall) – 911

From wiki:-

The song was recorded by Gorillaz and D12 (sans Eminem) in Damon Albarn’s personal studio in West London. The track came about after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City had left D12 stranded in England; Damon Albarn invited the band to his studio and played them an early demo of the track. Albarn had always wanted to experiment with Middle-Eastern music, and felt that this song would be perfect. D12 added additional production to the song, before laying down their verses. Terry Hall appears on the song as a vocal harmony with Albarn for the song’s chorus. Albarn and Hall had previously spoken about collaborating together, however when Hall revealed that he had been taking singing lessons from a Middle-Eastern singer, it inspired Albarn to take the song in a different direction.

It was made available as a download from the Gorillaz website, but in a very low key way, with a number of white-label 12″ vinyl copies also distributed around. It’s a quite extraordinary piece of music…..and one I wasn’t aware of until earlier this year when I began to think about a possible ICA for Gorillaz.



No really, that is a fairly recent picture of Terry Hall sitting on top of these few words.

He’s someone who has mastered the art of the cover version over the near 40 years (!!!!!!) that he’s been involved in music. Like these:-

mp3 : Guy Lombardo & The Royal Canadians – Enjoy Yourself
mp3 : The Specials – Enjoy Yourself

mp3 : Billie Holiday – Summertime
mp3 : The Fun Boy Three – Summertime

mp3 : The Roches – The Hammond Song
mp3 : The Colour Field – The Hammond Song

mp3 : Captain & Tennille – Love Will Keep Us Together
mp3 : Terry, Blair & Anouchka – Love Will Keep Us Together

mp3 : Charles Aznavour – She
mp3 : Vegas – She

mp3 : The Lightning Seeds – Sense
mp3 : Terry Hall – Sense

And while I’m mentioning The Lightning Seeds, here’s a bonus cover:-

mp3 : Thunderclap Newman – Something In The Air
mp3 : The Lightning Seeds – Something In The Air