Joseph Gallivan on pop

It was Jerry Dammers who wrote the song 'Too Much Too Young', but Terry Hall (below), lead singer of the Specials at the time, sang it with conviction. Now he's 35, he lives in the Warwickshire countryside, his three kids are at school and he's back on the road. But this is not just another case of a Golden Age pop star getting old and ordinary, struggling to rationalise his past and reclaim the limelight with a shred of dignity. Terry Hall is still cool, even after the Fun Boy Three, Colourfield, Terry, Blair & Anoushka, and Vegas. His continuous creativity is akin to Paul Weller's, and he's about due for a similar critical renaissance. 'It's taken me 14 years to get a solo career together,' he says. 'I won't say I get bored with my bands, but bored is the nearest word.' These days the Terry Hall sound is a mellow, middleweight pop with his usual melancholic lyrics sung in that reedy voice. He's been working with Andy Partridge, Nick Heyward, Chris Sharrock of World Party and Ian Broudie of the Lightning Seeds. 'We all grew up loving the Kinks and the Beatles and like that style of writing, or at least that feel. But I've stopped worrying about other artists, it just dilutes your own work. You have to stick to what you do best.' His new songs are more relationship-specific than ever, but that, he says, is because he's been with the same girl, Jeannette, for 20 years. 'I wrote a song called 'Forever J which is about each person accepting that the other is no Mel Gibson or Elle MacPherson, but being happy together on a day to day basis.' So has the man who sang 'Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think and 'It's all a load of bollocks - and bollocks to it all] gone soft?

Yes, but it suits him.

Terry Hall plays Subterania (081-960 4590) on Monday 18 Jul; a new CD, Home (Anxious Records) comes out in September

(Photograph omitted)