Former Specials and Bodysnatchers singer RHODA DAKAR has announced the release of her first new album in five years.

Version Girl takes it's name from the 1970 single by legendary ska, rocksteady and reggae musician and producer Dandy Livingstone, whose ‘Let’s Do Rock Steady' was a Top 30 hit for The Bodysnatchers in March 1980.

Produced by Lenny Bignell (Pama International, Phoenix City All-Stars), the album features the five limited edition single a-sides Dakar has released over the past 18-months - 'Everyday Is Like Sunday', 'The Man Who Sold The World', 'As Tears Go By', 'Walking After Midnight' and 'What A Wonderful World' - along with seven other choice covers, including The Kinks' 'Stop Your Sobbing', Lou Reed's 'Hangin' 'Round', Brinsley Schwarz's pub-rock evergreen 'What's So Funny About Peace, Love And Understanding' and French singer/songwriter Maxime Le Forestier's 'Comme Un Arbre'.

"I wanted to go a little left field for this," Dakar says of the album. "There seemed no point in covering songs which already had perfectly good Reggae versions. Both UB40 and Madness have already done a series of definitive covers albums. So, rather than hanging on their coat tails, I went for songs that had no previous definitive Reggae, Ska or Rocksteady versions, that we could find anyway. I think it also continues to demonstrate the amazing adaptability of these Jamaican genres!"

Set for release on 26 May through Sunday Best, Version Girl is available to pre-order here.

To coincide with the release, Dakar will embark on a series of record shop instores at...

Fri. 26th May Sheffield with Bear Tree Records (venue TBC)
Mon. 29th May Bristol Rough Trade FULL BAND
Tues. 30th May Banquet Records, Kingston
Wed. 31st May Rough Trade East, London FULL BAND
Thu. 1st June Pie and Vinyl, Portsmouth
Fri. 2nd June Black Circle Records, Leighton Buzzard
Sat. 3rd June Reflex Records, Newcastle

Prior to the tour, Dakar performing a guest DJ set with The Near Jazz Experience - a punk-jazz trio of Terry Edwards and Simon Charterton from the Higsons and Mark 'Bedders' Bedford from Madness - at Chats Palace, Hackney on Friday 10 March - tickets

Check out the video for 'What A Wonderful World'

Rhoda Dakar on Facebook

Pic by Dean Chalkley

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