Gangsters – The Special AKA (1979)


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An individual, limited edition, example of vinyl record silhouette art made from a genuine, original, 45rpm, 7” single of Gangsters from 1979, by British 2 Tone and Ska band, The Special AKA. This vinyl single has been reworked into a silhouette of a stereotypical machine gun totting Chicago gangster from the thirties.

A great framed gift for a friend or family member who is a fan of The Special AKA, The Specials, SKA, Gangsters, Chicago,  Terry Hall,  Jerry Dammers or has a special memory linked to the song.

Presented in a black wooden box frame
Limited Edition of 100, signed and numbered by myself, the artist

Title: Gangsters
Media Artist/s: The Special AKA (The Specials)
Record Label: Two-Tone
Medium: Mixed media, hand cut from an original 7″ vinyl single
Era: 1970s
Genre: SKA

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Additional information about this, The Special AKA vinyl art.

The Special AKA – The Artist/s

The Specials, also known as The Special AKA, are an English 2 Tone and ska revival band formed in 1977 in Coventry. After some early changes, the first stable lineup of the group consisted of Terry Hall and Neville Staple on vocals, Lynval Golding and Roddy Radiation on guitars, Horace Panter on bass, Jerry Dammers on keyboards, John Bradbury on drums, and Dick Cuthell and Rico Rodriguez on horns. Their music combines a “danceable ska and rocksteady beat with punk’s energy and attitude”. Lyrically, they present a “more focused and informed political and social stance”. The band wore mod-style “1960s period rude boy outfits (pork pie hats, tonic and mohair suits and loafers)”. In 1980, the song “Too Much Too Young”, the lead track on their The Special AKA Live! EP, reached No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart. In 1981, the recession-themed single “Ghost Town” also hit No. 1 in the UK. After seven consecutive UK Top 10 singles between 1979 and 1981, main lead vocalists Hall and Staple, along with guitarist Golding, left to form Fun Boy Three. Continuing as “The Special AKA” (a name they used frequently on earlier Specials releases), a substantially revised Specials line-up issued new material until 1984, including the top 10 UK hit single “Free Nelson Mandela”. After this, founder and songwriter Jerry Dammers dissolved the band and pursued political activism. costumes – the group found success with the proto-disco smash “Lady Marmalade” in 1974, leading to their successful album Nightbirds. The group members each went on their own after the end of a tour in 1976, going on to have significant solo success.

Gangsters – The Song

‘Gangsters’ is the first single by the English ska group the Specials. A limited 5,000 copies of the track were distributed by the fledgling 2 Tone record label in May 1979, as a double A-side along with “The Selecter”, which was credited to the Selecter, who were Neol Davies, John Bradbury and Barry Jones. The actual wording of the original single is ‘The Special A.K.A Gangsters vs. The Selecter’, with the ‘vs.’ being the idea of Dammers, from a poster advertising a sound system battle. The song is about an incident that happened to the band while on tour in France with the Clash. They were held responsible for damage in a hotel that another English band (rumoured to be The Damned) had caused, and the hotel manager held one of their guitars as collateral. The situation escalated when the hotel called the local police, and ended with the Specials paying for the damage. The song is a reworking of Prince Buster’s 1964 ska song “Al Capone”, sampling the car sound effects that opened that song. The opening line “Al Capone’s guns don’t argue” was changed to “Bernie Rhodes knows, don’t argue” as an insult aimed at Bernard Rhodes, who had briefly been the band’s manager.

The Chicago Gangster – The Shape

This record has been modelled into a silhouette a stereotypical machine gun totting Chicago gangster from the thirties. A gangster is a criminal who is a member of a gang. Most gangs are considered to be part of organised crime. Gangsters are also called mobsters, a term derived from mob and the suffix -ster. Gangs provide a level of organisation and resources that support much larger and more complex criminal transactions than an individual criminal could achieve. Gangsters have been active for many years in countries around the world. Gangsters are the subject of many novels, films, television series, and video games.

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Additional information

Weight 1030 g
Dimensions 25 × 4.5 × 25 cm
Artist Formation

Group / Band








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