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What made British ska so much more vital than Jamaican reggae in the early ’80s was its link to punk; while the dance-floor politics of the Specials might seem harmless compared to those of most hiphop, the group’s timeless lament over the Brixton riots, “Ghost Town,” resonated more clearly in the age of Reagan than Rastafarianism did (or Men at Work, for that matter). On Today’s Specials, a collection of covers and the band’s first recording in 15 years, you can credit the Specials’ rhythmic touch for making the Monkees skank and blame their age for making the Clash clunk. In the past few years the band has been taking its show back on the road, revisiting past glories and proving itself as canny with a melody as almost any power-poppers. So despite a few geriatric moments on their new album, I think these masters are still entitled to their labor of love. With Suicide Machines at 9:30 p.m. at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $20. (202) 393-0930. (Brett Anderson)