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The Specials, X-Ray Spex Both Reunite For U.K. Concerts

September 8, 2008 11:05 AM ET

A pair of acclaimed British bands reunited this weekend, as both ska legends the Specials and punk act X-Ray Spex reformed. The bulk of the Specials were the surprise guests at this weekend's Bestival at the Isle of Wight, playing their first show together since their 1981 breakup. However, because co-founder and keyboardist Jerry Dammers wasn't present at the show, the band was billed as Terry Hall and Friends. The almost Specials did perform a greatest hits-filled set, including "A Message To You, Rudy" and "Monkey Man." Also this weekend, X-Ray Spex reformed for the first time since 1995 to perform their entire 1978 album Germ Free Adolescents at London's Roundhouse venue. Like the Specials, X-Ray Spex were forced to perform with an altered line-up, as original guitarist Jak Airport died of cancer in 2004.

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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