Ska legend Neville Staple has released a video for ‘Roadblock’ from his upcoming album Ska Crazy.
The video is set on a working class square in Coventry’s Hillfields, an area surrounded by high-rise social housing and closed down stores; lit only by fading street lamps and bright police lights. Hillfields is typical of a number of inner-city areas in the UK that to this day still struggle with issues voiced in The Specials’ lamenting ode to 1980s Coventry, ‘Ghost Town’.
Staple is shown walking around the desolate area while two warring gangs battle against one another and the police. There’s a genuine feel of authenticity, achieved by the fact that the film crew and actors were working in an area renowned for its gang activity, and they faced the very real danger of being confronted at any minute.
Producer Rory Nolan said:
“The actors were aware of the potential confrontation with other known gangs while filming. But everyone agreed to take a risk and work with it for Neville. We had a plan if anything kicked off and I was glad the actors I’d taken on board shared the same fearlessness as I was taught growing up. Having Neville and MC Daddy Woody walking around the set gave an air of confidence and respect to the square that left us to film freely, something I never would have imagined happening walking this square as a kid.”
Director Joseph Wallace explained what he was trying to achieve with the video:
“I knew that it was to be filmed entirely at night, an idea Neville liked, and wanted to focus on the young people featured in the track; in particular, the shadowy politics of street gangs and the victims of knife crime (not an easy subject for a mainstream music video!). in 1981, The Specials released a song about hot-headed unemployment, street violence, deindustrialisation and social depression; and not much has changed. I wanted to film a video that seemed familiar, and approached the subject of street crime seriously, yet still very much retaining the relaxed mood and chilled tone of the music. I wanted Neville walking through Coventry’s cold, empty streets at night singing to the Camera as though almost preaching his message; weaving in and out of the narrative itself and blurring the line between performance and social issues.”
The enclosed square was chosen because it reflected the characters’ lack of freedom and sense of imprisonment. Every shot is handheld and often filmed with the wide zoom lenses to create the feeling of urban surveillance.
Ska Crazy is out on May 13th via Cleopatra Records. Watch the video for ‘Roadblock’ below: