Ghost Town / The Specials / Barney Bubbles / 1981

Ghost Town / The Specials / Barney Bubbles / 1981


Footnotes

There was a riot in Brixton about a year before the record came out. I was writing the song partly about that. Also, Britain was falling apart. The car industry was closing down in Coventry. We were touring, so we saw a lot of it. Liverpool and Glasgow were particularly bad. The overall sense I wanted to convey was impending doom. There were weird, diminished chords: certain members of the band resented the song and wanted the simple chords they were used to playing on the first album. It's hard to explain how powerful it sounded. We had almost been written off and then 'Ghost Town' came out of the blue. ➡︎

By the time the Specials met in early 1981 to record Ghost Town, the band was in its death throes. "Everybody was stood in different parts of this huge room with their equipment, no one talking," Panter remembers. "Jerry stormed out a couple of times virtually in tears and I went after him, 'Calm down, calm down.'" It was hell to be around." ➡︎

It was to be shot at night, with the band driving around a deserted City of London in a vintage car. We got cooperation from the police and were able to get some of the tunnels under the Thames to close to other traffic, long enough for us to film the Band in these empty tunnels as well as other parts of the City. The filming took all night and as dawn broke we wound up on the banks of the Thames just east of Tower Bridge. The band walked to the edge of the water and started throwing stones into the river, I grabbed about three frames before they dispersed and moved away from each other. ➡︎

For Ghost Town we had a convoy of three cars, started filming about midnight on Saturday and finished at ten on Sunday morning. They really got into all the fighting and action scenes, leaping out of moving cars as if they’d done it all their lives. At one point a £2000 camera fell off the car roof, but when we saw the results we kept them in because they looked so great. ➡︎


Sources

◼︎ Ghost Town: The song that defined an era turns 30 / Independent / 2011

◼︎ Ska for the madding crow / Alexis Petridis / The Guardian / 2002

 Chalkie Davies: The Specials, Ghost Town / Snap Galleries

◼︎ Barney Bubbles: The Smash Hits interview


Ordos / Charles Lanceplaine / 2012

Ordos / Charles Lanceplaine / 2012

New Design Museum opens in London / The Financial Times / 2016

New Design Museum opens in London / The Financial Times / 2016