The Boiler (song)

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"The Boiler"
Single by Rhoda with The Special AKA
B-side "Theme From The Boiler"
Released 23 January 1982 (1982-01-23)
Format 7" single
Recorded 1981
Genre Ska
Length 5:42
Label 2 Tone
Writer(s) Miranda Joyce, Penny Leyton, Jane Summers, Nicky Summers, Rhoda Dakar, Stella Barker, Sarah Jane Owens
Producer(s) Jerry Dammers
The Specials/The Special AKA chronology
"Ghost Town"
(1981)
"The Boiler"
(1982)
"Jungle Music"
(1982)

"The Boiler" is one of two transitional songs by the Specials (along with "Jungle Music"), transitional because they were both released between the split of the Specials and the start of the Special AKA. It was released on 2 Tone Records in January 1982 credited to Rhoda with The Special AKA.

Early version[edit]

"The Boiler" is about a girl with low self-esteem (she compares herself with an old boiler) who is raped and assaulted. In the song Rhoda Dakar references the rape of a friend some years before.

"The Boiler" was the first song The Bodysnatchers wrote themselves; prior to this they only had played old ska covers. Jerry Dammers wanted to produce it for the band, but pressure from Chrysalis (who looked after the 2 Tone label) caused The Bodysnatchers to record the more commercial "Let's Do Rocksteady." Due to musical and some personal differences, the Bodysnatchers disbanded after a year, and some members went on to form the Belle Stars; while remaining on friendly terms with the Belle Stars, founder member and bass guitarist Nicky Summers chose to work with Rhoda. There is a live bootleg version of "The Boiler" from 1980, on "The Bodysnatchers Live at Folkestone," though it is a rough mix. There also exists an as-yet-unreleased specially-recorded version from the John Peel show.

Live with The Specials[edit]

Rhoda Dakar, who had sung some tunes on the More Specials album, went on tour with the Specials in 1981 more or less by accident, first as a guest then as a permanent fixture. Not long after making the "Ghost Town" promo, "The Boiler" got added to the set list. The Specials played "The Boiler" on their North American tour. There are at least two bootleg versions of "The Boiler" live with the Specials in 1981. These versions are slightly polished, but played in a fast and intense way, so it still sounds very different then the much more laid-back recorded version.

Rhoda Dakar and Jerry Dammers started working on "The Boiler," but then another project caught Jerry Dammers attention (Dance Craze the live British ska concert movie), so "The Boiler" was again put on hold. Rhoda has stated remembering recording her part of the song in the studio about a year before its release, a long and difficult process.

Split of The Specials[edit]

Prior to the split of the Specials in the summer of 1981, Jerry Dammers started working again on "The Boiler," making different remixes, and after the split Jerry Dammers finally produced "The Boiler." This also helped to keep the outside world quiet about the future, and hopefully to help heal the wounds of the split. They recorded it with Jerry Dammers on keyboard, John Bradbury on drums, John Shipley from the Swinging Cats on guitar, and Dick Cuthell on brass, with Nicky Summers on bass. After going on tour with Rico Rodriguez, they also recorded "Jungle Music," this time with Horace on bass. Not long after that, Horace left the Specials. Jerry Dammers, John Bradbury, Dick Cuthell Rico Rodriguez, John Shipley, Rhoda Dakar, and some new members went on until 1984 as the Special AKA.

The release[edit]

The song was released on 23 January 1982 under the name of “Rhoda with the Special AKA.” There is as we know only one (live) TV performance of this song, on the Oxford Roadshow, with no band, instead using the instrumental version from the B-side of "The Boiler" (called "Theme from the Boiler"). The song with “the difficult message” wasn’t an easy listen, losing radio-play because of its subject, but still it managed to reach number 35 in the charts.[1] For Jerry Dammers it was about ideals, making a statement, not making money—this song was meant to be heard once. Of course it didn’t help to get a firmer base for the band and 2 Tone records. But that wasn’t something Jerry was thinking about.

"The Boiler" had a promo video, directed by radical English graphic artist Barney Bubbles who also had directed the promo of the number one hit "Ghost Town," edited and produced by Liz Soden.

Track listing[edit]

7" vinyl – 2 Tone CHS TT18
  1. "The Bolier" (Joyce, Leyton, J & N Summers, Dakar, Barker, Owens) – 5:42
  2. "Theme From The Boiler" (Dakar, Summers, Shipley, Bradbury, Cuthell, Dammers) – 4:12

Personnel[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 519. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.