Concrete Jungle

Album: The Specials (1979)
Play Video


  • The Specials were a British ska revival band who in the late '70s and early '80s were at the forefront of the UK two-tone movement. "Concrete Jungle," a track from their self-titled debut album, was written by their guitarist, Roddy Radiation, about his experiences growing up in a Coventry council house. He told the story of the song in Inside Housing magazine:

    "I grew up in a coal mining village outside of Coventry called Keresley End. It had one council house street and the rest were pit houses. Families from all over the UK came to work down the pit, and some of these families were pretty rough and ready. This was in the late 1960s, early '70s when I was in my teens. At that time the skinhead fashion was at its height and most of the pit family lads were skinheads, whereas me and my mates who lived in the council road followed the Rolling Stones, The Kinks and rock music and wore our hair long and dressed like our heroes. So we became their local punch bags.

    I couldn't wait to leave! So after a fall out with my father I moved into Coventry central and slept on a mate's settee for several months until me and my girlfriend got a flat in Hillfields by the football ground as it was then. This was where the local immigrant population lived - Caribbean and Indian/Pakistani mostly at that time. We lived there for three years. By this time I'd changed my appearance and become a punk rocker, which made me even more of a target for the local thugs.

    My punk band The Wild Boys had split up and I'd moved in with my girlfriend's family with the intention of buying a house and getting married. I worked as a painter and decorator for the council. At that same time a drinking buddy Jerry Dammers asked me to join his band the Automatics, who a year later changed their name to The Specials. I brought one of my songs from the Wild Boys which I'd written about my experiences in the mining village and living in Hillfields, the song I called 'Concrete Jungle.'"

Comments: 1

  • Steve from Durham, United Kingdomthis record sums up my entire youth.......i was a skinhead, just looking for trouble.
    new labour seem to think that everything was rosy "in the past"......wot a load ov bollocks.
    my father & uncle were teddyboys in the '50......and they rioted at a bill haley concert in manchester in the late '50s.
    then there was mods & rockers in the '60s.
    then along came the worst troublemakers ov all time..........SKINHEADS.
    .....and this song sums it up brilliantly.
    CONCRETE JUNGLE......still applies today in inner city britain.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Carl Sturken

Carl SturkenSongwriter Interviews

Hitmaker Carl Sturken on writing and producing for Rihanna, 'N Sync, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Donny Osmond, Shakira and Karyn White.

Al Kooper

Al KooperSongwriter Interviews

Kooper produced Lynyrd Skynyrd, played with Dylan and the Stones, and formed BS&T.

Director Nick Morris ("The Final Countdown")

Director Nick Morris ("The Final Countdown")Song Writing

Nick made some of the biggest videos on MTV, including "The Final Countdown," "Heaven" and "Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)."

Steely Dan

Steely DanFact or Fiction

Did they really trade their guitarist to The Doobie Brothers? Are they named after something naughty? And what's up with the band name?

Phone Booth Songs

Phone Booth SongsSong Writing

Phone booths are nearly extinct, but they provided storylines for some of the most profound songs of the pre-cell phone era.

Loreena McKennitt

Loreena McKennittSongwriter Interviews

The Celtic music maker Loreena McKennitt on finding musical inspiration, the "New Age" label, and working on the movie Tinker Bell.