We asked The Specials maverick guitarist Roddy ‘Radiation’ Byers what his top ten songs are and why they’re so special to him, guessing it was something that he’d know all about having written, sang and played lead on a stack of epic tunes himself. ‘Concrete Jungle’ to the all time modern day classic ‘Rat Race”, songs that every generation since has seemed to of found and made their own, just like the late/great Amy Winehouse with her fantastic cover of another of his numbers and Specials favourite; ‘Hey Little Rich Girl’ (from albums ‘The Specials’ & ‘More Specials’) songs that Roddy still plays live himself today touring and recording with his ‘electric’ ska/rock-a-billy group The Skabilly Rebels.
When I asked you about your top ten records you said ‘great, might not be much Ska in there though lol’, do you find many fans assume your record collection is full of Ska.
Well I got into reggae in the mid 1970′s mainly through Bob Marley then later ‘Ska’ when I joined the Specials.
I think most Specials fans know my musical background – Punk, rock’n'roll, early Country etc, I
also love Flamenco guitar playing.
Can you remember the first album you bought Rod, what was it and where
Well I’d like too say Jimi Hendrix – “Smash hits” but that was the second album I bought. The first was “Headquarters” by the Monkees.
I bought Hendrix’s album while on holiday in Devon with my Mum and Dad and had too wait 2 weeks before I could hear it. ‘Headquarters’ I bought at Jill Hanson’s one of the few record shops in Coventry in the mid 1960′s, I was about 12 yrs old at the time.
Though finding and buying music/albums is a totally different experience these days are you still a regular collector and buyer of records, or maybe CD’s
I still buy C.D’s regularly and find it strange how cheap classic Albums are!, Ive bought Eddie Cochran and Johnny Cash C.D’s twice because they were only 3 or 4 pounds each!? I don’t down-load music as I like too have something real in my hands.
Here’s my top ten faves of all time*
1. Maybellene – Chuck Berry.
Well I think with every rock,n,roll guitarist owes Chuck Berry something.
2. I’m left, you’re right , shes gone – Elvis Presley.
Elvis wrote the book page one.
3. Jumping Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones.
I remember watching the Stones do this in an early video on Top of the Pops and thinking “l’d like too do that” as in play in a band
4. What you gonna do about it – The Small Faces.
Me and my mate at school would go to his house and listen too his sisters Small Faces albums in our lunch break.
5. Pictures of Lily – The Who.
Loved Pete Townsend’s style – the way he moved and played guitar.
Pictures of Lily
6. Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks.
The Kinks were always better than the Beatles in my book.
7. Blitzkrieg Bop – The Ramones.
The Ramones had the blue print for punk rock
8. Career Opportunities – The Clash.
Supporting the Clash on the Specials first U.K. tour was one of the high lights of my life.
9. No woman no cry – Bob Marley.
Bob Marley inspired me when I had gotten bored with punk rock.
10. Israelites – Desmond Dekker.
Some of the Specials backed Desmond on an album in 1994, a great talent sadly missed.
Interview with Roddy Radiation here
I could go on for a thousand more,