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It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that we’ve already heard our album of the year. The Specials’ Encore arrived just 32 days into 2019 and immediately confounded any doubts over the wisdom of tampering wiThsuch a weighty legacy. Of course, whether it should be regarded technically as a Specials album is a moot point, and dare we ponder how good Encore could have been had the seemingly impossible happened and Jerry Dammers joined his old mates in the studio? You can’t tell The Specials’ story, or indeed the tale of 2 Tone, without speaking to Jerry Dammers. So that’s exactly what we’ve done this issue. In something of a coup for our humble magazine, Coventry’s second most famous son, Dan Biggane, returns to his home city this monThfor an exclusive interview wiThhis idol. Dammers joins his former bandmates, plus members of The Beat and The Selecter to tell the inside story of a label that boThdefined a musical genre and gave hope and pride to an inner-city area in the grips of social deprivation. Just like Motown, Factory and several other labels that epitomised or even spawned genres, it’s impossible to think of 2 Tone without the city that gave birThto it. Elsewhere this issue, arguably the country’s biggest indie band still standing, Foals, tell us why they’re among the last of a dying breed as they release the first of two new albums in 2019. Sleaford Mods are back wiTha new record, and just as outspoken as ever, while New York’s The Antlers reflect on the 10Thanniversary of the sublime Hospice. Reissued a decade on, it’s a remarkable record made in uniquely trying, grief-stricken circumstances.

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