Listen To This

Listen To This

Amongst those of us who frequent online ska/2 tone related websites is a chap called Paul Flanagan, who never fails to root out new and interesting links or nuggets of info to share with everyone. His collection and knowledge of the label would arguably rival anyone’s. He goes by various guises depending on where you might catch sight of him but we’ve managed to track him down and twisted his arm to put together an article for 2-tone.info on his research into alternative versions and curiosities available across the label…

“It all started for me in 1979 when I bought A Message To You Rudy by The Specials, and I noticed the words (Disco Mix) scratched out on the run out groove of Nite Klub. For years I thought it was just a joke as disco music was still popular in the late 70’s, so I didn’t take the Disco tag seriously until I recently discovered that the first verse vocal is actually a different take to the album version. I still find it strange that Disco Mix wasn’t printed on the actual record label as it is indeed a (slightly) different version of the song.

I remember listening to Stereotype on the original cassette version of More Specials in 1980 and it cuts out near the end of the track and then after a few seconds of silence it starts again from the beginning which I thought was very strange until I heard Neville Staple toasting on Part.2 or should I say Part.3? The cut version wasn’t released on LP or CD in the UK which didn’t surprise me but it did appear on CD in Holland and on some German pressings of the LP. Most collectors reckon this was just done as a filler to keep the tape length roughly the same on side 1 and side 2, if so, it seems and incredibly clumsy way to go about it.

In 1993 I started collecting CDs for the first time and slowly stopped playing my LP’s as each one was replaced by a CD and now MP3. Having said that, I always played any new or 2nd hand vinyl that arrived by post or that I bought in a shop or record fair, and I was surprised to find interesting versions or variations of songs that are not available on CD or vinyl in some countries. In other cases, like the mix of Do Nothing from “The Specials Singles” which is available on all formats and is noticeably different in sound quality and length to the original single (itself a remix of the More Specials album version with Jerry’s Ice Rink String Sounds), they can only really be spotted by the listener. (On another note, the More Specials version, without strings, can be found on 2 foreign 7″ singles; the French-only “Sock It To ‘Em J.B.” and the Italian “Do Nothing” single which is the only place you’ll find Man at C&A on a vinyl 45.)

Here are a few more examples of some oddities to be found:

Gangsters by The Specials has a fade out ending that can only be found on one of the UK paper label pressings.

There is also a version of Easy Life by The Bodysnatchers released in Ireland which is a different mix of the song that you wouldn’t really notice unless you actually played the UK and Irish pressings back to back and listened very closely to each of them. The Irish pressing has no clapping sounds and the backing vocals are louder.

The Stereo-Typical compilation album released in 2000 by EMI, was supposed to be a complete collection of all 7″ & 12″ singles by The Specials and The Special AKA but oddly enough the extended version of Racist Friend wasn’t included and The Club mix and Instrumental versions of Nelson Mandela were also left off this 3CD set.

My Complete list of Alternative, Remixes, Edits, Unreleased and Unknown versions Available:

The Bodysnatchers

Easy Life (Alternate)

Madness

The Prince (Irish, Loud Fade Out)

The Selecter

On My Radio (Ready Mix Radio)
Missing Words (Roger Lomas Remix)
Street Feeling Demo (The Whisper12″)

The Specials

Gangsters (Fades Out)
Nite Klub (Disco Mix)
Too Much Too Young (U.S Edit)
Skinhead Moonstomp (Promo Edit)
Stereotype (More Specials, Cassette Version)
Do Nothing (The Specials Singles)
Why? (Greek Edit)
Why? Demo (The Very Best of Fun Boy three)
Friday Night, Saturday Morning (BBC Edit)

The Swinging Cats

Mantovani (Acetate)

The Special A.K.A.

Racist Friend (12″ Version)
Bright Lights – 12″ Version (Debut, LP Mag)
Lonely Crowd – Instrumental (NME Cassette)
Nelson Mandela (Club Mix)
Nelson Mandela (Instrumental)

The Appolinaires

Envy the Love (12″ Version)
Give It Up (12″ Version)

The Higsons

Run Me Down (Long Version)

Unreleased

The Special A.K.A. – Female Chauvinist Pig
The Specials – Wear You To The Ball
The Specials – 96 Tears
The Specials – Why? (Part 2)
The Specials – Why? (Dub)

 

Collecting records is great but actually listening to them can be even better and you never know… you might find a few surprises along the way like I did.

by Paul Flanagan

Black and White and Gold and Silver

Black & White and Gold & Silver

By Paul Rodgers

Despite not being one of the aims of 2 Tone, the label was responsible for several singles and albums which were recognised by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for their sales figures. The BPI’s Certified Awards (silver, gold and platinum discs to you and I) are issued for full-price albums to recognise sales of 60,000 (silver), 100,000 (gold) and 300,000 (platinum). For singles, the thresholds were 250,000, 500,000 and 1,000,000 when the label was active. Since 1989 they have been 200,000, 400,000 and 600,000 respectively.

Dealing with the singles first, it is somewhat remarkable that the label’s first single, Gangsters by The Specials, had sold 250,000 copies to go gold by 1 September 1979. Proving this was no fluke, the same sales award was quickly achieved by The Specials with A Message To You Rudy and The Beat’s Tears Of A Clown. It’s worth pointing out that the awards are for sales to retailers not by them. This is most obvious when a record qualifies for an award before (or on the day of) its release. This was the case with Too Much Too Young, giving The Specials their third silver disc from three singles. Too Much Too Young’s award date was 1 January 1980. This was a busy day for 2Tone as A Message To You Rudy and Tears Of A Clown both qualified on the same day.

There was then a quiet period as The Bodysnatchers and The Selecter dominated the release schedule for most of 1980. The next 2 Tone single to receive a silver disc was Do Nothing by The Specials, which was recognised on 1 January 1981.

It’s probably not that big a surprise that the next big 2 Tone single was the next to be recognised. On 1 July 1981 Ghost Town received two awards, going silver and gold on the same day.

At that stage, six of the label’s sixteen singles had gone silver and one had gone gold. It is even more remarkable when you consider that the majority of 2Tone’s releases to that point had been on 7” vinyl only. Granted there were paper and plastic labels for most releases, but Ghost Town was the first 2 Tone single to also be released as a 12” single. All single sales were based on the humble 7”. The label eschewed formats such as picture discs, cassingles, poster bags, double packs et al. Hell, only Too Much Too Young, Do Nothing and Ghost Town had the luxury of a picture sleeve!

To date no other 2 Tone singles have received an award. The reason I say to date is because in the modern digital world there has been an important change in the way awards are made. Originally the record label would have to apply to the BPI for certification . In July 2013 rules changed so that records are automatically certified on reaching sales thresholds. This has meant that the BPI has retrospectively been making awards, often to previously unrecognised titles, based on sales since 1992 (when the Official Chart Company took over compiling the charts in the United Kingdom).

I’ll come to those awards soon, but before that I must deal with the 2 Tone albums which received awards when still on general release.

The first award was to Specials on 15 November 1979 for 60,000 sales. It was declared gold barely a month later on 11 December 1979 for 100,000 sales.

Not to be outdone, Too Much Pressure by the Selecter went silver on 21 February 1980 and gold on 30 May the same year. So the label’s record stood at two gold records from its first two releases as it prepared for the third. More Specials was that third release and it had gone silver by 29 September 1980 and raced to its gold disc by 8 October 1980.

The next 2 Tone album release was the film soundtrack Dance Craze featuring The Specials, The Selecter, The Beat, Madness and The Bodysnatchers who had all been signed to the label and Bad Manners who were associated with the ska revival that 2 Tone had been a major part of and had also featured in the film. Dance Craze was another album that was quick out of the blocks going silver on 9 February 1981 and gold two weeks later, on 25 February 1981.

The next releases on 2 Tone were not so commercially successful. In the case of Rico’s two albums they were arguably not meant or expected to be. The same could not be said for the compilation album This Are 2Tone and the Special AKA’s post Fun Boy Three album In The Studio. None of these albums were certified by the BPI.

In fact ten years passed before the next 2 Tone album that could be called a bona fide commercial success. Singles by The Specials compiled the singles by both line-ups Jerry Dammers put together. Released in August 1991 it went silver on 1 September 1991. It subsequently went gold on 27 April 2001.

That would be that were it not for the revised rules I mentioned earlier. In mid 2013 the BPI began a massive trawl of audited sales figures that have meant that titles that remained available either on CD, vinyl or download at some stage post 1992 could receive awards the labels might not have applied for.

So it was that on 22 July 2013 the Various Artists compilation The Best Of 2 Tone went gold. With these retrospective awards only the highest award is actually made. In theory the album went silver as well at some stage, or would have if 2 Tone still existed to make the application.

So six of the label’s first twelve albums went gold, with sales of more than 100,000.

In addition two EMI issued collections Too Much Too Young (The Gold Collection) by The Specials and Too Much 2 Tone by Various Artists also got awards on 22 July 2013. The former was gold and the latter was silver.

So in summary:

Gold Singles (500,000 sales)

The Specials – Ghost Town

Silver Singles (250,000 sales)

The Special AKA – Gangsters
The Specials – Message To You Rudy
The Beat – Tears Of A Clown
The Specials – Too Much Too Young
The Specials – Do Nothing

Gold Albums (100,000 sales)

The Specials – Specials
The Selecter – Too Much Pressure
The Specials – More Specials
Various Artists – Dance Craze
The Specials – Singles
Various Artists – The Best Of 2Tone

These awards (and plenty more) can be searched on the BPI’s website: www.bpi.co.uk/certified-awards.aspx

Information on chart placings and chart rules can be found on the Official Chart Company’s website: www.officialcharts.com/chart-rules/

 

Paul Rodgers

Rarities & Collectables

Rarities & Collectables

Not that 2 Tone is an especially collectable label, but many releases have maintained a modest market value and some sometimes change hands for exorbitant prices. Here is a selection of some of the more interesting and hard-to-come-by releases on the label.

Dance Craze UK CD

A release which for years, collectors were under the impression didn’t actually exist. This UK CD caught everyone off guard. Released at a time when just about every major label was putting its back catalogue on this new digital format, its rarity suggests that it was deleted just as quickly as it was released. Copyright reasons (similar to those stated on the Madness-less US version) are quite possibly be the culprits.

Two Tone UK Promo 7″

Perhaps the rarest of all 2 Tone records, this four track promotional EP was produced to plug the The Two Tone Story album. Numbers are very limited and prices sometime border on the ludicrous. It also offers another outing for Madness on the chequered label via the inclusion of the live version of ‘One Step Beyond’ from the Dance Craze soundtrack.

Gangsters Stamped Sleeve

Hand stamped by the band themselves on flimsy paper sleeves very few of these have survived in presentable form over the years. Horace Panter, in his excellent account of his time as a Special, states that the first batch were stamped on much more robust cardboard sleeves, which the late John Bradbury obtained from the Virgin record shop where he waws still working at the time. The existence of a cardboard version of the stamped sleeve certainly ups the ante for completists. Given the simplistic nature of its design and the inflated prices this item can achieve on auction sites, it was perhaps inevitable that fake copies would emerge. These fakes are getting progressively better so potential buyers should be aware of, er… gangsters.

Elvis Withdrawn 7″ Single

While there are slightly differing versions about just how exactly this single came to be withdrawn just prior to its release, there can be no doubt about its place on the list of 2 Tone collectables. Of the two versions pressed, one simply has CHSTT7 on the run out groove and the other has both the F-Beat number XX 1, along with two separate 2 Tone catalogue numbers, CHSTT7 (which is crossed out) and CHSTT8. The latter version refers to the copies Costello’s manager, Jake Riviera, had pressed after the planned release was shelved so that they could be given away free at gigs. Given that the track was to be the first single on the Riviera’s newly formed F Beat records it does seems strange that he would press up more copies (said to be 12000) on the 2 Tone label after having been forced to cancel the release. The F-Beat release ended up being a UK Top Ten hit for Costello.

Although this single often fetches a high price, it certainly doesn’t reflect its rarity. Since the beginning of online vinyl sales, the version with the F-Beat and 2 Tone catalogue numbers has consistently been available. Did those who attended the gigs, where copies were given away for free, really manage to hold on to enough mint copies to consistently flood the market with them..? Hardly.

A Message To You Rudy Panama Promo 7″

One of the more obscure Specials releases. The band’s debut album was released in Panama and was promoted by this two track 7 inch, which offered up a unique outing for ‘Stupid Marriage’ on that format.

Concrete Jungle Dutch 7″

Holland was the sole country of choice for the release of a single from the Dance Craze soundtrack. With the studio version of Concrete Jungle once mooted as a possible UK single, this blistering live version would have no doubt sold well, but it wasn’t to be. The flip side is the first vinyl outing for Raquel, an old track from the days of the Coventry Automatics which had previously been recorded as part of a John Peel Session. The tasteful sleeve design only adds to its desirability.

Hey Little Rich Girl Japanese 7″

This curious choice of single to promote More Specials in Japan was housed in a unique sleeve and backed by the album version of International Jet Set. The sleeve which is really just a slip of paper printed on both sides features the tracks lyrics on the back in Japanse and English. Often Japanese single releases would come in a green EMI die-cut sleeve with a single sheet slip with the original artwork. The labels show dual catalogue numbers, one of which is basically the More Specials album cat. no. The unique sleeve and A side make this a favourite of collectors to pick up.

Gangsters Plastic UK 7″

UK 2 Tone singles followed a fairly standard release sequence: an initial
limited number of paper labels followed by the standard silver plastic label. Gangsters is the one single which follows a slightly different pattern. The vast majority of copies, including re-issues in the early 1980s, were all pressed with paper labels with only a small amount, for whatever reason, pressed with a sliver plastic label. This version is very much the work of Chrysalis Records, and was restricted to a limited run.

Mantovani Plastic UK 7″

Mantovani sold in very limited numbers and as a result became the first 2 Tone single to completely miss the charts. Regardless of the quantity of records sold it obviously warranted a plastic label print run, but considering just how few have appeared for sale over the years it must have been a very limited release indeed.

Sock It To Them J.B. French 7″

At one time this was reportedly in the pipeline for a UK release, but it didn’t materialise. It was released in what had become something of a generic French 2 Tone sleeve and slightly different take on the original Sock it to ‘Em JB title. The album version of Do Nothing is on the flip.

Girlfriend UK Promo 7″

12” White label versions aside, very few 2 Tone singles were pressed as industry standard promotional copies. Too Much Too Young was issued as a two track single for jukebox and promotional use only, but this copy of What I Like About You Is Your Girlfriend is a much rarer item. And like the Too Much Too Young promo it has its own unique catalogue number, CHSTT100.

Window Shopping UK 7″

This is the penultimate single proper released on 2 Tone and it sold very poorly indeed. Even a support slot for Madness on their Mad Not Mad Tour couldn’t help boost its fortunes, hence the appearance on this list. One for the label completists.

Live at the Lyceum

The debate continues as to the legal status of this LP. If it is a bootleg then it certainly stands head and shoulders above other such releases of the time in terms of quality and presentation. And it’s those very same traits which suggest that it is a promotional copy as stated on the sleeve.

The Best of 2 Tone UK LP

Released at a time of a diminishing interest in vinyl as a format coupled with a failure to dent the charts make this rarest of all LPs released on 2 Tone.

Gangsters Japanese 12″

One of the more sought after Japanese releases suffers badly from overzealous artwork, something which was all too common among non-UK 2 Tone sleeves. Along with a contorted Walt it includes the cringe-inducing tag line “Hey Rudies, Don’t Watch That! Watch This! Give ya Natty Natty Ska Beat! We are Specials!”

James Bond Japanese 12″

For reasons best known to themselves, Chrysalis Records chose to release ‘James Bond’ in Japan as the title track of The Selecter’s third single. The Specials’ bassist Horace Panter makes a sneaky appearance on the rear sleeve of this four track 12″ promo.

Rat Race Japanese 7″

Packaged in a similar style to most Japanese 2 Tone singles complete with bilingual lyrics. The artwork features an image which was used to promote The Specials’ Seaside Tour in 1980.

Jama Rico Brown Label UK LP

Although this album did not sell in any sort of noticeable amounts this brown and gold label version is evidence of a second pressing of the trombone maestro’s second long player for the label. This record then marks the transition from black and white labels to the later, more subdued brown and grey label design.

Blue Label Singles

The Prince, On My Radio and Ghost Town have all appeared on blue plastic labels. No one is entirely sure what the reason is behind them, but some sort of mishap at the pressing plant seems as viable an explanation as any, especially given that a few other releases at the time suffered the same fate. For instance ‘Going Underground’ by The Jam was pressed with a silver plastic label, however blue plastic versions also exist.

Rico Cassette albums

Cassettes may not be the top of every collector’s list but considering just how few copies both of these releases sold they certainly should be. Walt may not be present on JAMA but he is seen honing his trombone skills on That Man Is Forward.

A Message To You Rudy French 7″

There were times when the overseas art departments of 2 Tone parent company, Chrysalis Records, displayed a certain lack of imagination. This, however, is one notable exception. Given how relatively easy most French 2 Tone releases are to get hold of, this beauty is much more elusive.

Gangsters Dutch mispress

This version of 2 Tone’s debut release suffered the indignity of having a number of copies pressed with one of the most horrendous Euro pop tunes imaginable: Banana Split by Lio on the A side instead of Gangsters. It’s not known how many copies exist but thankfully there don’t appear to be too many.

Nispressings

Nispressings

2 Tone at its peak (’79 – ’81) released 17 singles and all but 2 of them made the national charts. It was not uncommon for singles on the label to reach sales figures in excess of 250,000. Given such numbers it’s maybe not that surprising that there were a few mishaps at the pressing plants. The anomalies and general pressing mistakes which occurred are listed below. The jury is still out on whether incorrect labels should be considered mispressings or misprints. Most collectors seem to identify them as mispressings while typeographic or colour errors are identified as misprints. Although many of these may seem trivial, they do make things interesting for the collector. For the more dedicated fans there are a few minor variations in the layout of various plastic labels pressings, but the following list contains the more obvious and interesting UK releases plus one Dutch pressing of note. As always, we welcome any corrections or additional items not listed.

Gangsters – The Selecter TT1/TT2

The first release on the label has a few mispresses to its credit. Most significantly a Dutch pressing which had completely the wrong track and artist pressed instead of Gangsters. In addition, some UK copies were pressed with the ‘Gangsters’ labels on both sides as well some copies with ‘The Selecter’ labels on both sides. There are also reports of some copies with the labels missing completely.

The Prince CHS TT3

Camden’s finest debut release saw the first of the mysterious blue plastic labels. There have been suggestions that these blue plastic labels are promotional copies, but since to our knowledge, only three other singles have surfaced in this format (On My Radio, Ghost Town & Girlfriend), and in various shades of blue; it does suggested that the pressing plant rather than the promotional department was responsible.

On My Radio CHS TT4

The second single on the label to appear on a blue plastic label. A batch was also pressed with one side grey and the other blue.

A Message to you Rudy CHS TT5

A double A-side on the label but a small number of pressings list both sides incorrectly as ‘Nite Klub’.

Too Much Too Young CHS TT7

Although this was the label’s first EP and is marked on the paper label pressing as such, some paper label pressings omitted this fact. The catalogue number is also displayed within the white section paper label on some of these pressings.

Three Minute Hero CHS TT8

The UK paper label pressings list this as an EP. It appears that they used the previous single’s label as the template for the next single, so this having followed TMTY, it carried the EXTENDED PLAY text, either by error or by mischief. Some copies also have the ‘James Bond’ labels on both sides. It’s also worth noting the change to the ‘James Bond’ writing credits on some pressings. They can alternate between Monty Norman and John Barry. A few of the plastic label pressings commit the cardinal sin of referring to the band as ‘The Selector’.

Lets do Rocksteady CHS TT9

The Bodysnatchers first release for the label is listed incorrectly as ‘People do Rocksteady’ on some of the grey labels. Also the reissue grey labels marked Made in France list the band simply as Bodysnatchers. NOTE. These 2 Tone grey labels, which are marked Made in French, are NOT the French issues of the singles. They are in fact the reissues that were available in the early 80s. All non UK 2 Tone releases were handled directly by Chrysalis. Some of the paper label pressings have the ‘Ruder Than You’ labels on both sides.

Missing Words CHS TT10

The Selecter’s last single for the label was listed as ‘Nissing Words’ on the grey plastic reissue and the writing credit is to N. Davis rather than N. Davies.

Easy Life CHS TT12

Yet another release that appears to have caught the pressing plant totally off-guard, with copies produced with the ‘Easy Life’ labels as well as the ‘Too Experienced’ labels printed on both sides.

Do Nothing CHS TT16

The grey plastic re-issue of The Specials’ penultimate single includes the ‘ Ice Rirk Strirg Sourds’.

Ghost Town CHS TT17

Some paper labels display the catalogue number in the white section of the label. Blue plastic label number three in some cases.

Braggin and trying not to lie CHS TT999

Included with the first issue of More Specials LP as a free single because of lack of space on the album, the single clearly states Free Single Not For Sale. However pressings appeared which failed to include this text.

Sock it To ‘Em J.B.(DUB)/Rat Race (DUB) CHS TT32

It’s difficult to image what could go wrong with this limited pressing, but somehow a small amount were pressed with ‘Sock it To ‘Em J.B.(DUB)’ labels on both sides.

Thanks to Paul Rogers, the ever resourceful Paul Flanagan and ‘Pritch’ from the 2-tone.info forum for their input to this article.

Bootlegs

Bootlegs

There are many bootlegs of 2 Tone bands flying around these days online, but we’ve decided to focus here on mainly vinyl bootlegs that were produced back in the day or those with original content.

Live in Manchester

A fine soundboard recording of a pre-Rico and Dick Cuthell version of The Specials. The gigography included in Paul Williams’s detailed account of the band, You’re Wondering Now’, lists Russell Club, 15th June 1979 as a possible location and date for this recording. Neville plugging the new release of ‘Gangsters’ would certainly go someway in confirming this.

Live at the Moonlight Club 1979

The Moonlight Club, West Hampstead London 2 May 1979 saw Terry Hall offering some sound advice to potential voters on the eve of a UK general election. It’s a professional recording which was given an official release on 2 Tone in 1992. It’s shame that the official recording removed a lot of the between song banter which was included on the bootleg version.

Niteklubbing Monkey Men

A good quality recording of a gig at the MarketHall, Hamburg, Germany on 16th January 1980. It’s a fairly bland release and the rather lacklustre sleeve does little to add to its appeal.

Gangsters

The first of two outings for this recording sourced from a gig at Boston Paradise on 30th January 1980. Given that the bootleggers had an FM radio broadcast at their disposal it’s perhaps a bit surprising that this recording suffers from so much distortion. Terry Hall’s bizarre Jimmy Cagney intro to Rat Race doesn’t help matters either.

Rude Boys Out Of Jail

A second release of the Boston Paradise gig. This time on Centrifugal Records who also released the Madness bootleg ‘Mistakes’ recorded at the same venue. It was mastered at the wrong speed which results in Terry’s vocal pitch dropping by a few tones. Not the most essential of bootlegs.

Gangsters

Don’t let the high quality sleeve and super heavyweight vinyl fool you. This release offers very little to the dedicated fan. It’s only salvation is the inclusion of five live tracks recorded for the US College radio show ‘The King Biscuit Flower Hour’ and broadcast 25th May 1980 as part of a double bill with The Boomtown Rats. The remainder of the tracks have all been officially released in some form or other.

Press Ads & Promos

Press ads & Promos

The contrast of black and white, the deadpan and the playful were all elements that made the look of 2 Tone so memorable. As many of the label’s single releases were in standard die-cut sleeves, the 2 Tone press ads were where Walt Jabsco often had scope for a little playful mischief…

UK Discography

The complete UK Discography of the label from 1979 through to 1985, plus the subsequent compilation releases and box sets containing 2 Tone catalogue numbers.

Clicking on any of the releases below will take you to the release page which will outline ‘also available’ & ‘related’ releases.

Please use the Artists or Search pages to locate non-official UK items or releases.

The Search page functionality has been expanded to allow more accurate searches and the sorting of search results by column.

Singles

TitleArtistCat.No.Year
GangstersThe Special AKA Vs The SelecterTT1/TT21979
The PrinceMadnessCHS TT31979
On My RadioThe SelecterCHS TT41979
A Message To You RudyThe Specials (Featuring Rico)CHS TT51979
Tears Of A ClownThe BeatCHS TT61979
I Can’t Stand Up For Falling DownElvis CostelloCHS TT71980
Too Much Too YoungThe Special AKACHS TT71980
Three Minute HeroThe SelecterCHS TT81980
Lets Do Rock SteadyThe BodysnatchersCHS TT91980
Missing WordsThe SelecterCHS TT101980
Rat RaceThe SpecialsCHS TT111980
Easy LifeThe BodysnatchersCHS TT121980
StereotypeThe SpecialsCHS TT131980
MantovaniThe Swinging CatsCHS TT141980
Sea CruiseRicoCHS TT151980
Do NothingThe SpecialsCHS TT161980
Ghost TownThe SpecialsCHS TT171981
The BoilerRhoda with The Special AKACHS TT181982
Jungle MusicRico & The Special AKACHS TT191982
The Feeling’s GoneThe ApollinairesCHS TT201982
Tear The Whole Thing DownThe HigsonsCHS TT211982
Envy The LoveThe ApollinairesCHS TT221982
War CrimesThe Special AKACHS TT231982
Run Me DownThe HigsonsCHS TT241983
Racist FriendThe Special AKACHS TT251983
Nelson MandelaThe Special AKACHS TT261984
What I Like Most About You Is Your GirlfriendThe Special AKACHS TT271984
Window ShoppingThe Friday ClubCHS TT281985
The Alphabet ArmyJB’s AllstarsCHS TT291985
Ghost Town (revisited)The Specials / Special ProductionsCHS TT301991
The 2 Tone EPVariousCHS TT311993
Sock It To ‘Em J.B. (DUB)The SpecialsCHS TT322014

Albums & Box Sets

TitleArtistCat.No.Year
Specials The Specials CDL TT 5001 1979
Too Much Pressure The Selecter CDL TT 5002 1980
More Specials The Specials CHR TT 5003 1980
Dance Craze Various CHR TT 5004 1981
That Man Is Forward Rico CHR TT 5005 1981
Jama Rico Rico CHR TT 5006 1982
This Are Two Tone Various CHR TT 5007 1983
In The Studio The Special AKA CHR TT 5008 1984
The 2 Tone Story Various CHR TT 5009 1989
The Specials Singles The Specials CHR TT 5010 1991
Live At The Moonlight Club The Specials CHR TT 5011 1992
The Best Of 2 Tone Various CHR TT 5012 1993
The Compact 2 Tone Story Various CHR TT 5013 1993
7 inch Treasures Various CHS TT 5014 2019
Two Tone: The Albums Various CHS TT 5016 2020

Books

Books

Much has been written about 2 Tone and its ongoing resonance both political and musical. Below we list all of the books/magazines in the archive plus a small selection of some of our favourites…

Walls Come Tumbling Down by Daniel Rachel

Taking its title from The Style Council’s 1985 single, this is a book in three distinct sections, all with the common thread of mapping the history of how groups of like-minded musicians and individuals came together to use music as an effective method of protest in support of various Left-leaning causes. The first section looks back on Rock Against Racism and how it was an effective buffer against the rise of Far Right during the late 1970s while the last part of the book deals with Red Wedge and Artists Against Apartheid.

However, it is the section dealing with the impact of 2 Tone Records that will no doubt appeal to visitors to this site. The author has interviewed all the major – and not so major – figures who appeared on the label and got them to reveal details that until the publication of this book, had mostly gone undocumented. The chapter on The Bodysnatchers is without doubt the most comprehensive account of the band to date. The details of rapidly disintegrating relationships between the members of some bands will shock and surprise many fans.

Ska’d For Life by Horace Panter

There is no doubt that if each member of The Specials was asked to write about their time with the band, it would result in seven very different books. Horace Panter became the first Special to recount his time with Coventry’s finest and very engaging and entertaining it is too.

From his days at artschool (where he first encountered Jerry Dammers), to the humble beginnings of The Coventry Automatics (soon to be Specials) to the sell out concerts in Europe, America and Japan to the decline of second incarnation of The Special AKA, it’s all here and told in a way that only Sir Horace can.

The Two Tone Story by George Marshall

Author George Marshall released this book via his own ST (Skinhead Times) Publishing setup. It’s far from a definitive account of the history of the label but it is surprisingly comprehensive in its content. And what it lacks in detail it more than makes up for with the obvious passion the author has for the music. First published in true staples and photocopier fanzine format, it then progressed to a much more professional A4 format and from there was included in A5 size with The Compact 2 Tone Story. The final incarnation of the book was a square 7” x 7” format release.

The Specials You’re Wondering Now by Paul Williams

Originally released by ST Publishing this expanded and updated version has over double the content of the original version. It’s easily the most detailed account of The Specials to date. Not only does it chart the rise and demise of the band it also contains extensive accounts of each band member after they went their separate ways.

It also includes for the first time in print a near-as-can-be complete list of gigs played by The Specials dating back to their days as The Hybrids. It’s all topped off with some previously unseen photographs from the private collection of Roddy Byers.

Black By Design by Pauline Black

Pauline Black was a formidable force during 2 Tone and she was more than capable of fighting her own corner during the times when 2 Tone was very much a male domain. Her memoirs were always going to make for compelling reading and she certainly doesn’t dissappoint. She recalls that relationships within The Selecter started to deteriorate almost as soon as the recording sessions for the first album began.

Being the only female band member on The 2 Tone Tour gave her an unique opportunity to observe her male counterparts at close quarters. Needless to say, some of their behavior left a lot to be desired. The one fault with this book is that there is not a single mention of the split from 2 Tone. It was a notable episode in the history of the label and with the benefit of hindsight it would have been interesting to hear her account of it.

Before We Was We by Madness

A book about Madness by Madness. The boys from North London each recall their own personal journey from childhood to becoming a member of one the UK’s most successful singles bands of the eighties. Along the way there is plenty of skulduggery and tales of teenage delinquency all of which leave the reader contemplating what direction their lives would have taken if they hadn’t found success with Madness. The 2 Tone Tour – which surely deserves a book of its own – is recalled with great humour and affection. How there weren’t some serious casualties as a result of the antics on this tour is nothing short of a miracle.

I Just Can’t Stop It: My Life in the Beat
Ranking Roger and Daniel Rachel

The late Ranking Roger teamed up with Daniel Rachel to produce a highly entertaining of the account of his life and time with The Beat. Arguably the best toaster of the 2 Tone generation, he recalls his days as one of the few black punks in and around Birmingham where he would toast freestyle over the tracks by the likes of The Clash. He is refreshingly honest about his time in The Beat, freely stating which records he thought should and shouldn’t have been released. The book ends with his untimely death and we are reminded that he was indeed one of 2 Tone’s most charismatic figures.

Title Country Format Author ISBN Publisher
The Two Tone Story UK Book George Marshall ISBN 0 9518497 3 5 ST Publishing
You're Wondering Now UK Book Paul Williams ISBN 1 898927 25 1 ST Publishing
The Specials Illustrated Songbook UK Book Nick Davies & Ian Haywood Plangent Visions Music Ltd
The 2-Tone Book for Rude Boys UK Book Perry Neville & Jimmy Egerton ISBN 0-86001-901-2 Omnibus Press
Twist & Crawl UK Book Malu Halasa ISBN 0 906008 24 7 Eel Pie Publishing
Before We Was We UK Book Madness ISBN 978-0-75355-393-0 Virgin
Total Madness UK Book George Marshall ISBN 0951849743 ST Publishing
Ska 80 UK Book The Beat from The Street Disco 45
Sent From Coventry: The Chequered Past of Two Tone UK Book Richard Eddington ISBN 0-9539942-5-2 Independent Music Press
Dance Craze UK Book Garry Bushell Sounds
Dance Craze UK Book Movie Realm
Take It Or Leave It UK Book Madness
Shall We Dance Book History Of Rock Volume 10 Issue 11 Orbis Publishing Limited
Uncut UK Book
Record Collector UK Book Oct. 1989 No. 122
Record Collector UK Book Nov. 1989 No. 123
Record Collector UK Book Issue 300 Issue 300
The Specials, Madness and the Ska Explosion UK Book Q Special Edition Q Magazine
Q 100 Best Record Covers Of All Time UK Book Q Magazine
Wheels Out Of Gear - 2 Tone The Specials & A World In Flame UK Book Dave Thompson ISBN: 1900924846 Helter Skelter
The 2-Tone Trail UK Book Pete Chambers ISBN 0-9544125-3-2 Tencton Planet
You're Wondering Now - The Specials from Conception to Reunion UK Book Paul Williams Cherry Red
1980 Japan Tour Book Japan Book The Specials Van Productions Japan
Ska'd For LIfe UK Book Horace Panter ISBN 978-0-283-07029 Sidgwick & Jackson
Bad Manners UK Book George Marshall ISBN 0 9518497 6X ST Publishing
A Brief Case History Of Madness UK Book Mark Williams ISBN 0862761700 Proteus Books
The Two Tone Story UK Book George Marshall Zoot
2-Tone-2 UK Book Pete Chambers ISBN 978-0-9544125-6 Tencton Planet
Original Rude Boy - From Borstal to the Specials - A Life in Crime and Music UK Book Neville Staple 9781845134808 Aurum Press
Record Collector UK Book June 2009 No. 363
The Official 2 Tone Central Museum Guidebook UK Book Pete Chambers 978-0954412586 Tencton Planet
Black By Design UK Book Pauline Black ISBN: 9781846687907 Serpent's Tail
Dance Craze UK Book Garry Bushell ISBN: 978-0-9570986-1-9 54321 Countdown
Walls Come Tumbling Down UK Book Daniel Rachel 978-1447272687 Picador
Pocket Guide To Ska UK Book Mick O'Shea ISBN 9781911346678 Red Planet Zone
I Just Can't Stop It: My Life in the Beat UK Book Ranking Roger and Daniel Rachel ISBN-10: 1785589245 Omnibus Press
Under the Clock UK Book Shelley Hinchliffe-Reece ISBN 9781650473109
The Duff Guide to 2 Tone US Book Stephen Shafer ISBN 9780578744773

Under The Covers

Under The Covers

We take an in-depth look at the tunes behind the tunes, the stories behind the tracks that were dusted down and polished up to be covered on the 2 Tone label…

The Specials

Gangsters (an interpretation of):
Al Capone – Prince Buster
A Message To You Rudy – Dandy Livingstone
Too Much Too Young (an interpretation of):
Birth Control – Lloyd Charmers
Guns of Navarone – The Skatalites
Longshot Kick De Bucket – The Pioneers
Liquidator – Harry J Allstars
Skinhead Moonstomp – Symarip
Rude Buoys Outa Jail (an interpretation of):
Rude Boy Gone A Jail – Desmond Baker & The Clarendonians
Maggies Farm – Bob Dylan
Do The Dog (an interpretation of):
The Dog – Rufus Thomas
Too Hot – Prince Buster
Monkey Man – Toots & The Maytals
Stupid Marriage (an interpretation of):
Judge Dread – Prince Buster
You’re Wondering Now – Andy and Joey
Enjoy Yourself – Prince Buster
Sock It To ‘Em JB – Rex Garvin and The Mighty Cravers
Maggie’s Farm – Bob Dylan

 

The Selecter

James Bond – John Barry
Everyday – (Time Hard) – The Pioneers
My Collie (Not A Dog) (an interpretation of):
My Boy Lollypop – Barbie Gaye
Carry Go Bring Come – Justin Hinds
Murder – Leon & Owen

 

The Bodysnatchers

(People Get Ready) Lets Do Rocksteady – Dandy Livingstone
Too Experienced – Winston Francis
007 – Desmond Dekker

 

Madness

The Prince (an interpretation of):
Earthquake – Prince Buster
Madness – Prince Buster
One Step Beyond – Prince Buster

 

The Beat

Tears Of A Clown – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Ranking Full Stop (an interpretation of):
Pussy Price – Laurel Aitken

 

The Swinging Cats

Mantovani (an interpretation of):
Hear my song Violetta – Mantovani
Mantovani (an interpretation of):
Speak to me of Love – Lucienne Boyer

 

Elvis Costello

I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down – Sam and Dave
Girls Talk – Dave Edmunds

 

Rico

Sea Cruise – Frankie Ford
Oh Carolina – The Folkes Brothers
Easy Snappin’ – Theophilus Beckford
Do The Reload (an interpretation of):
Green Island – Don Drummond
Easter Island (an interpretation of):
Morning Island – Sadao Watanabe
Red Top – Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra
Fiesta – Charlie Parker
Don’t Stay Out Late – Lord Creator
That Man Is Forward (an interpretation of):
Joker – The Duke Reid Group

 

Prince Buster – Al Capone

Cecil Bustamente Campbell, better known as Prince Buster and less known by his muslim name Muhammed Yusef Ali, is a musician from Kingston, Jamaica and regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of ska and rocksteady music. The records he made on Blue Beat and his own Prince Buster/Voice Of The People label in the 1960s were an inspiration to many reggae and ska artists.

The Al Capone session featured: Dennis Campbell and Val Bennett on tenor saxes, Raymond Harper and Baba Brooks on trumpets, Junior Nelson on trombone, Ernest Ranglin on guitar and bass, Jah Jerry (Jerome Hinds) on guitar, Gladstone Anderson on piano, Drumbago on drums. Prince Buster/Voice Of The People single. UK single (Blue Beat 324) 1965, with One Step Beyond on the b-side both by Buster.

The Specials – Gangsters was a cheeky reworking of this Buster instrumental. Buster of all the covered artists on 2 Tone probably needs least introduction and his music was covered no less than 7 times on the label (8 if you side with Buster on the disputed rights to Oh Carolina, more on that later…).

Al Capone was a UK top twenty hit in 1967 and is available on Prince Buster Fabulous Greatest Hits (Melodisc Records). Buster recorded a second studio version that appeard on his album The Outlaw, 1969.

 

Prince Buster – Earthquake

The second release on 2 Tone further cemented the labels debt to Buster with the ‘a’ side both a direct tribute and a subtle reworking of his Earthquake and the flip a straight cover of Madness.

The Prince lyrically mirrors the wordplay on Busters Earthquake and musically uses a similar 12-bar riff. On Earthquake, Buster recounts the virtues of the boxer “The Prince” (himself) Original release b-side Ghost Dance.

Andrew Clayden contacted us to say:
While it is correct that “The Prince” is partly inspired by Buster’s own “Earthquake,” the origns can be traced back further to “Blues In The Night” by Johnnie Taylor on Atlantic Records, which is the original arrangement that Buster ‘adopted’ for “Earthquake.”

There is also another cut to “Blues In The Night” by Patsy [Todd] with Lynn Taitt & The Jets on Doctor Bird Records [DB 1113-B] under the title “A Man Is Two Faced”

Earthquake is available on Prince Buster Fabulous Greatest Hits (Melodisc Records)

 

Prince Buster – Madness

Buster’s Madness gave The ex-North London Invaders a smarter moniker. The track was part of their live set (as it was for The Specials & The Selecter)

The original a.k.a. ‘Madness Is Gladness’ was released in the UK in 1963 and appeared on the album ‘I Feel The Spirit’. Prince Buster/Voice Of The People single and Blue Beat 170 b/w Toothache. Produced by Buster.

 

Dandy Livingstone – A Message To You Rudy

One of a long list of songs on the ‘Rude Boy’ theme that was released in the late 60’s. Voicing concern for the unruly youth of Jamaica this track sought to warn those who broke the law that they would suffer the consequence of their actions. There were also records released which sought to glamorise the life style of the rude boy, such as The Pioneers Rudies Are The Greatest. This was the first of 2 Dandy Lingstone tracks to appear on 2 Tone, although in previous years he had produced future 2 Tone artist Rico, when he recorded as Rico and the Rudies.

A Message To You Rudy is available on Suzanne Beware Of The Devil – The Best Of Dandy Livingstone (Trojan Records)

 

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – Tears Of A Clown

Originally recorded in 1966 this track wasn’t released until 3 years later at a time when Smokey (real name William Robinson) was in the process of leaving the group. The track was a major hit, reaching number one in both the US and UK and convinced Smokey to remain with the band for another 2 years.

In his long career Smokey Robinson has become one of music most prolific songwriters with a huge catalogue of material to his credit. The Beat felt confident enough with their version of the track to released it as their debut single, plus it also allowed them to side step what the band thought was a less than impressive deal with 2 Tone parent company, Chrysalis Records.

Tears of a Clown is available on Smokey Robinson: The Ultimate Collection (Motown Records)

 

Laurel Aitken – Pussy Price

Laural Aitken made an uncharacteristic move into the rude reggae market with this 1969 single on the Nu-Beat label, which was a subsidiary of the famous Pama label. Pama also included the track in their rude reggae compilation, Birth Control.

Musically it formed the foundation of The Beat’s Ranking Full Stop although the band also performed a cover of the track in their early live sets. Why a band that highlighted the pitfalls of male jealousy and overt sexism in tracks such Hands Off…She’s Mine covered a track like this remains a mystery.

Pussy Price is available on the ‘Woppi King’ Laurel Aitken collection on Trybute.

 

Rufus Thomas – The Dog

Something of an excentric, Rufus Thomas had a long and extremely varied carried until his death in 2001. He recorded many genres of music such as gospel, blues, funk and soul. Having previously recorded for the legendary Sun Records, it was with Stax Records that he had most success, releasing a string of songs on the ‘Do the’ theme, such as Do the Funky Chicken and Do the Funky Penguin.

Thankfully Jerry Dammers sought inspiration in The Dog though the Specials cover may have more in common with Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames version from 1964.

The Dog is available on The Very Best of Rufus Thomas (Stax Records)

 

Prince Buster – Too Hot

Yet another Prince Buster rude boy themed record. This time Buster takes a much more ambivalent stance towards the rude boy lifestyle with lines like:

‘Now they calling in for the guns
About to spoil the rude boys fun
The rude boys never give up their guns’

The laid back tempo of the track was replicated perfectly by the Specials on the closing track on the first side of their debut album.

Too Hot is available of Prince Buster Fabulous Greatest Hits (Melodisc Records)

 

Toots & The Maytals – Monkey Man

This track first appeared on the 1968 album Sweet and Dandy, and was also the title of a 1970 album. Frederick “Toots” Hibbert had on of the most distinctive voices in Jamaican music and although the band originally recorded as The Maytals it was after Toots’ released from jail on a drugs charge that they officially became Toots and The Maytals.

This lyrically nonsensical track was the groups first international hit in 1970, although the band is better known for previous tracks such as Pressure Drop and 54-46 That’s My Number. Monkey Man musically was very similar to The Pioneers’ “Mama Look Deh” but there seems some dispute as to which track was penned first.

Monkey Man is available on Pressure Drop: the Definitive Collection (Trojan Records)

 

Prince Buster – Judge Dread

One of Busters many Rude Boy themed records, which also spawned numerous ‘response’, records, such as Honeyboy Martin and The Voices Dreader than Dread and follow up records such as Busters own Barrister Pardon. The mythical and ruthless Dread was re-christened Judge Roughneck for the intro of Stupid Marriage.

Judge Dread is available of Prince Buster Fabulous Greatest Hits (Melodisc Records)

 

Andy and Joey – You’re Wondering Now

Little is known about the vocal pairing of Andy and Joey (any details would be greatly appreciated) but they are just 2 of many vocalist who used the impressive talents of The Skatalites as their backing band.

You’re Wondering Now is available on Studio One Ska (Soul Jazz Records)

 

The Pioneers – Time Hard

One of the lesser known Pioneers tracks, this was a protest song of the time which The Selecter felt had relevance to the state of late 70’s Britain. Also known as Every Day. The interchange of the songs title was something that passed on to the The Selecter who retiled the track Everyday on some versions of the debut album.

Time Hard is available on Let Your Yeah Be Yeah: Anthology 1966-1986 (Trojan Records)

 

Barbie Gaye – My Boy Lollypop

Although Millie Small had a major hit with this record in 1964 (with a slight alteration of the spelling i.e. Lollipop) the track was first recorded by teenage R’n’B singer Barbie Gaye in 1957. Lyrically it may have been very basic, but musically it is a very interesting record indeed. It is among the handful of records that bridged the cap between R’n’B and early ska. The Selecter quickly removed any trace of twee innocence there may have been in the original with their reworking of the track as My Collie (Not a dog).

My Boy Lollypop is available on Early Girls Vol.2 (Ace Records)

 

Leon & Owen – Murder

Although best know for his more slower tempo tacks, this 1962 Blue Beat recording by Owen Gray is much more mento in style. His early recordings read like a who’s who of JA music having worked with producers such as Leslie Kong, Prince Buster, Duke Reid and Coxson Dodd. The Selecter totally revamped this track for their debut album and proved that when it came to the 2 Tone tradition of cover versions they had would opt for the less obvious choices.

Many thanks to Kees for helping us track this one down.

Not yet available on CD.

 

Justin Hinds & The Dominos – Carry Go Bring Come

The original ska version was recorded in late 1963 at Federal Studios, backed by the Treasure Isle studio band led by Tommy McCook and Herman Marquis and is said to have been recorded in one take. It was released as a single on the Treasure Isle label, backed with a tune called Hill And Gully Ride credited to L. Reid’s Group.

It stayed at the top of the Jamaican charts for eight consecutive weeks in 1963 and also sold considerably well in Great Britain where it was for a long time after its release, one of the most common second-hand Island label records after Guns Of Naverone. Produced by Duke Reid.

A rocksteady version was recorded in 1966-67. Produced by Duke Reid.

 

John Barry – The James Bond Theme

A dispute over who exactly composed this track has ended up in court on two occasions. The dispute has involved the person who orchestrated the track, John Barry, claiming that he also wrote the track. The court has ruled twice in favour of Monty Norman, who is listed as the original composer and has received royalties on the track since 1962’s Dr No.

The wonderfully named Vic Flick played the famous guitar riff on the original recording, a riff that was ably reproduced by Neol Davies on the closing track of The Selecter’s debut album.

The James Bond Theme is available on The Best of Bond …James Bond (Capitol Records)

 

Sam and Dave – I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down

The singing duo of Sam Moore and Dave Prater were best known for their soul stompers such as Hold On, I’m Comin and Soul Man but proved that they were equally adapt at ballads as this b-side of the 1967 single, Soothe Me, proves. I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down is also the title of a 1984 Sam and Dave compilation album. The track was totally reworked by Elvis Costello for the 2 Tone single that never was.

I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down is available on Sam and Dave: The Definitive Soul Collection (Rhino Records)

 

Dave Edmunds – Girls Talk

Here we have a cover version in reverse so to speak. The track ‘Girls Talk’ was the flip to Elvis Costellos’ withdrawn ‘I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down’ single, and although the song was written by Costello, it had already been a top ten single for Welsh rocker Dave Edmunds in 1979.

Dave Edmunds (born 15 April 1944 in Cardiff, Wales) is a British singer, guitarist and record producer. Although he was primarily associated with pub rock and New Wave, and had numerous popular hits in the 1970s and early 1980s, his natural leaning has always been towards 1950s style rock and roll music from the pre-Beatles era. Edmunds is best known for his 1970 hit ‘I Hear You Knocking’ which went to number 1 in UK and number 4 in US.

 

Lloyd Terell – Birth Control

One of many ‘Rude Reggae’ tracks, which were popular for a period among Jamaican artists. As a rule they contained some rather none too subtle sexual innuendo, although more often than not it was just pure smut. Max Romeo’s Wet Dream is perhaps the best-known rude reggae track and managed to score a respectable number 10 in the UK national chart with its release.

Sometimes listed as Lloyd Tyrell or Lloyd Charmers and The Lowbites, the single provided the foundation for Too Much Too Young, although thankfully the lyrical influence from it was minimal.

Birth Control is available on Trojan X Rated Box Set (Trojan Records)

 

The Skatalites – Guns Of Navarone

This theme tune from the film of the same name was a top 40 UK hit for The Skatalites on Island Records in 1965. In their mere 18 month recording career the band may have recorded some of the most famous ska instrumentals of all time they had very little chart success, although tracks such as this did find favour among Britain’s developing mod scene.

Guns of Navarone is available on Guns of Navarone: the Best of The Skatalites (Trojan Records)

 

The Pioneers – Longshot Kick The Bucket

Musically this song is a good example of the slowing down of the rocksteady tempo to the even more laid back reggae beat, however, it’s the songs lyrics which have always been of interest. The song is about a legendary race horse in Jamaica called Long Shot which had a less than impressive track record but through sheer determination managed to win the hearts and minds of large sections of the population. The opening lines of the song ‘What a weeping and a wailing down at Caymanas Park’ sum up the atmosphere rather melodramatically at Jamaica’s only racetrack, Caymanas Park, that fateful day of Long Shots untimely demise.

Released on 3 different labels: Trojan, Big Shot and Attack, The song was a Top 30 hit in 1969 and was also the opening track of the legendary Tighten Up Volume 2 compilation.

Long Shot Kick the Bucket is available on Let Your Yeah Be Yeah: Anthology 1966-1986 (Trojan Records).

 

Harry J Allstars – Liquidator

Reaching a very respectable number 9 in the UK charts when it was released in 1967, this instrumental by session keyboard player, Winnie Wright, became something of a skinhead reggae classic. The name given to the group of session men who played on the track came from producer Harry Johnson, who carried on a long tradition of reggae producers trying their best to outshine the musicians involved.

Liquidator is available on Liquidator: The Best Of The Harry J. All Stars (Trojan Records)

 

Symarip – Skinhead Moonstomp

Symarip were a UK ska/reggae group who at various times went under the names The Pyramids, Seven Letters, The Bees & Zubaba. Symarip is an approximate anagram of the word Pyramids.

Aware of the growing Skinhead movement in the UK in the late 60’s, the band began to produce skinhead anthems such as ‘Skinhead Moonstomp’, ‘Skinhead Girl’ and ‘Skinhead Jamboree’. Skinhead Moonstomp (which was based on the Derrick Morgan’s ‘Moon Hop’) was released in 1969 on the Treasure Isle label (Skinhead Moonstomp / Must Catch A Train – Treasure Isle TI-7050) and was issued again on Trojan in 1979, (Skinhead Moonstomp / Skinhead Jamboree – Trojan TR-9062)

In 1971 the band moved to Germany performing reggae and Afro-rock under the name Zubaba. In light of the success of 2 Tone, Trojan issued the Skinhead Moonstomp album in 1980, and Symarip found themselves in the UK charts for the first time. The band split in 1983.

 

Dandy Livingstone – (People Get Ready) Lets Do Rock Steady

Dandy Livingston(e) aka Robert Livingston Thompson was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1944. He moved to the UK when he was 15 and would later become a regular vocalist for Sonny Roberts pioneering UK ‘Orbitone’ label, and recorded with Tito Simone as Sugar & Dandy and also as Dandy, Brother Dan Allstars and Dandy & The Superboys.

Best known for his 1972 hit, ‘Suzanne Beware of the Devil’ which reached number 14 in the UK charts, and of course for ‘Rudy, A Message to You’ where Dandy recorded with Rico and would later produce a number of singles for the trombonist as Rico & the Rudies.

(People Get Ready) Let’s Do Rocksteady was released as the flip side of the 1967 single ‘We Are Still Rude’ on the Giant label (GN 7), it was also available on the the 1967 Giant album ‘Rock Steady With Dandy’ (GNL 1000).

 

Desmond Baker & The Clarendonians – Rude Boy Gone A Jail

The Clarendonians were formed in 1965 by Ernest Wilson & Peter Austin (also of The Soul Lads). They were later joined by a young Freddie McGregor, and there seems to be much speculation as to who indeed Desmond Baker is, or if he exists at all…, perhaps a pseudonym for the young McGregor.

The track was released on the Coxsone label as ‘Rude Boy Gone A Jail’ by The Clarendonians and later in the UK in 1966 on Island (Island WI 295) with ‘Don’t Fool Me’ by The Sharks on the flip.

 

Winston Francis – Too Experienced

Winston Francis was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1948. He moved to Miami with his family at sixteen and attended music school where he was spotted by the well known writer/arranger Chuck Bird, who likened his voice to that of Nat King Cole.

Bird got gigs for Francis in Miami form around 1965 and thereafter Francis began travelling regularly to Jamaica and made some recordings in Coxsone’s Studio One.

He scored a hit in the UK with his album ‘Mr Fix It’ whose cover of the Mamas and the Papas’ ‘California Dreamin’ was Tony Blackburn’s ‘Hit Pick of the Week’ on Radio One for two weeks straight…

Too Experienced was released on both the album and the flip side to the California Dreamin’ single, and features falsetto backing vocals from Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer no less.

Too Experienced would go on to be covered by many more artists than just The Bodysnatchers, the list includes, Owen Gray, Eddie Lovette, Bob Andy, Miss Dynamite, Shalene, Barrington Levy, Shola Lewis, The Bonedaddys, Byron Lee & The Dragonaires and Jackie Edwards.

 

Prince Buster – Enjoy Yourself

Obviously not a Buster original, but certainly Busters’ recording was the touchstone for The Specials version. Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think) is something of a popular standard, published in 1948, with music by Carl Sigman & lyrics by Herb Magidson (both since inaugurated into the American Songwriting Hall Of Fame).

The most famous version of the song, by Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, was recorded in 1949 (Decca 24825), charting in January 1950, it spent 19 weeks on the US chart peaking at no.10. It was quickly followed by Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra (RCA Victor 20-3375) and Doris Day (Columbia 38709).

Enjoy Yourself has been covered by a multitude of artists including: Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians, Tommy Dorsey, Doris Day, Donald Peers, Jack Smith, Louis Prima & His Orchestra, Paul Reece, The Sound Sifters, Jools Holland (with Prince Buster), Bing Crosby and Mrs. Mills.

Buster released his version as ‘Enjoy It’ in 1963, and it appeared on the flip-side of the ‘Open Up Bartender’ 45 on Blue Beat (Open Up Bartender / Enjoy It – BB 158)

 

Rex Garvin and The Mighty Cravers – Sock It To ‘Em JB

Rex Garvin is a fairly elusive character, and it’s tough going digging up any info on him. He was born in the Bronx, New York around 1937. Involved with doowop group The Hearts and Johnnie and Joe with his neighbour Zelma “Zell” Sanders.

He released a number of records with the Mighty Cravers in the early to mid 60’s for a variety of labels like Okeh, Like, Tower, Uptown, and Atlantic, but never really broke through into the charts.

The Specials’ version is surprisingly faithful to the original a semi-instrumental which was themed around the James Bond movies and was a big Manchester soul club hit.

The song was released on Like & Atlantic as Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers – Sock It To Em JB Part1 (aka What’s In a Name) backed with Part2 an almost dub version if you like, of the A-side.

The track was also covered by Sandy Nelson in 1966.

 

Mantovani – Hear My Song Violetta

In researching this article it was The Swinging Cats and Rico that really took us further afield than the shores of Jamaica. And with Mantovani the Cats sent us to Italy and France respectively as in one song they borrowed from both Hear My Song Violetta & Speak To Me Of Love.

Annunzio Paolo Mantovani was born in Venice, Italy in 1905 and passed away in 1980 in Tunbridge Wells in England. A violinist, pianist, musical director, conductor, composer and arranger, Mantovani was one of the most successful orchestra leaders and album sellers in the history of popular music.

After the family moved to England in 1912, he made his professional debut at the age of 16. He recorded for UK Decca and while experimenting with various arrangements he, came up with what has been variously called the ‘cascading strings’, ‘cascading violins’, or ‘tumbling strings’ effect, it became, the orchestra’s trademark sound.

He is said to have been the first to sell over a million stereo units, aided by the superb quality of sound obtained by Decca. Between 1955 and 1966 he had 28 albums in the US Top 30. He was awarded a special Ivor Novello Award in 1956 for services to popular music.

Hear My Song, Violetta has been recorded many times by different artists, most famously by Josef Locke in 1947 but also by David Whitfield, Tommy Dorsey, Jorgen Ingmann, Tony Martin, Glenn Miller, Victor Sylvester and Frank Sinatra.

 

Lucienne Boyer – Parlez-Moi D’Amour

“Parlez-moi d’amour” or “Speak to me of love” was written by film composer Jean Lenoir in 1930. It was first recorded by Lucienne Boyer and has become a popular music standard with a host of (mostly French) cover versions from the likes of: Jean Lumière, Ray Ventura, Anny Gould – Lina Margy, Colette Renard, Sacha Distel, Dalida, Suzy Delair, Petula Clark, Juliette Gréco, Yvette Giraud, Patachou, Tino Rossi, Marie Laforêt, Jacqueline Boyer, Patrick Bruel, Duke Ellington.

Lucienne Boyer (1903 – 1983), was a French singer, born Émilienne-Henriette Boyer in Montparnasse Quarter of Paris. While working as a part-time model, she was given a chance to sing in the cabarets of Montparnasse. In 1927 she got the chance to spend nine months in New York, returning to perform there and to South America numerous times throughout the 1930s. By 1933 she had made a large number of recordings for Columbia Records in France including her signature song, ” Parlez-moi d’amour”. the song won the first-ever Grand Prix du Disque of the Charles Cros Academy.

In 1939, she married the cabaret singer Jacques Pills of the popular duo ‘Pills et Tabet’. Their daughter Jacqueline, born on April 23, 1941, followed in their footsteps, becoming a successful singer who won the 1960 Eurovision Song Contest for France singing “Tom Pillibi”.

 

Frankie Ford – Sea Cruise

Huey “Piano” Smith (born January 1934 in New Orleans) is an American rhythm and blues pianist whose influence on New Orleans music in the mid 1950s was profound.

In 1959, Ace Records producer Johnny Vincent erased Huey’s voice from the now classic single he composed, arranged and performed entitled “Sea Cruise”, and replaced it with a more energetic vocal track by white singer Frankie Ford. The tune was a huge hit for Ford.

Ford recorded several singles for the Ace label in the late ’50s that featured top New Orleans players like Smith and saxophonist Red Tyler, but none were to eclipse the success of “Sea Cruise,” which made the Top 20 in 1959 and remains one of the hits most identified with the classic New Orleans R&B sound.

 

The Folkes Brothers – Oh Carolina

The Folkes Brothers were a Jamaican mento group, composed of John, Mico, and Junior Folkes. Their 1960 single “Oh Carolina” was the first hit song produced by Prince Buster and is regarded as a landmark in the history of ska and reggae music. In 1994, John Folkes and Buster were involved in a legal dispute over the authorship of the song, after a cover version by Shaggy became an international hit. It was eventually ruled that Folkes held the copyright.

Oh Carolina b/w I Met A Man
Buster Wild Bells ZSP 52834-1A 1961 / Blue Beat BB 30 /UK 1961

This track was cut at Prince Buster’s first ever recording session at RJR studios in Kingston. Buster was the first to bring Rastafarian drummer Count Ossie & His Wareikas (some sources suggest that included Rico Rodriguez) into the studio. He thus created a new sound on record with huge influence for the roots music of the 1970s.

 

Bob Dylan – Maggie’s Farm

This was an update of Dylan’s 1961 song “Hard Times in the Country,” which was adapted from The Bentley Brothers “Penny’s Farm,” a 1920s musical complaint about a rural landlord. He recorded the track at one of his first Rock sessions on January 14, 1965 backed by 2 electric guitarists, piano, bass, and drums.

Dylan performed it live for the first time in 1965 at the Newport Folk Festival. He provoked an adverse reaction by playing Rock at the said Folk festival, and this opened his set. Some feel that Dylan was using Maggie’s Farm as a metaphor for the Folk Singer Industry. He wasn’t going to work for the Folk Factory anymore… he was going to go electric and cover new ground.

The track appeared on The album ‘Bringing It All Back Home’ and was released as a single: Maggie’s Farm / On The Road Again – 1965 UK CBS 45 201781

 

Theo Beckford – Easy Snappin’

Born Theophilus Beckford in 1935, Kingston, Jamaica, Theo was a piano player influenced by American shuffle, boogie, & R&B. He was a part of the group Clue J & The Blues Blasters who recorded for Studio One in the late 50’s. Along with Ernie Ranglin, there are some who credit Beckford with inventing the Jamaican strand of shuffle or boogie music which later became knwon as ska.

Easy Snappin’ was first released in 1959 with Beckford on vocal and piano. Cluett Johnson on bass, Ian Pearson on drums, Ken Richards on guitar, Roland Alphonso on tenor sax and Rico Rodriguez on solo trombone (his first recording session). UK single (Blue Beat 15) with Goin’ Home on the b-side. Produced by Clement S. Dodd.

Beckford died March 20, 2001 murdered at the age of 65, stabbed by a man with whom he had a dispute.

 

Charlie Parker – Fiesta

Charlie Parker is widely considered one of the most influential of jazz musicians of all time. He acquired the nickname “Yardbird” early in his career, and the shortened form “Bird” remained Parker’s alias for the rest of his life, inspiring the titles of a number of Parker compositions, such as “Yardbird Suite” and “Ornithology.”

Parker played a leading role in the development of bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, virtuoso technique, and improvisation based on harmonic structure. Parker’s innovative approaches to melody, rhythm, and harmony exercised enormous influence on his contemporaries. Several of Parker’s songs have become standards, including “Billie’s Bounce,” “Anthropology,” “Ornithology,” and “Confirmation”.

Parker also became an icon for the hipster subculture and later the Beat generation, personifying the conception of the jazz musician as an uncompromising artist and intellectual, rather than just a popular entertainer.

The Album Fiesta was first released on Verve MG V-8008 in 1951. mono. Fiesta 45 rpm: Clef EPC 337, 12″ LP: Verve MGV 8008, MGV 8126. Charlie Parker (as); Walter Bishop, Jr. (p); Teddy Kotick (b); Roy Haynes (d); Luis Miranda (cga); Jose Mangual (bgo). A Norman Granz-produced session putting Parker in a Latin setting.

 

Lord Creator – Don’t Stay Out Late

Alongside Cuban born Rolando Alphonso, Barbadian Jackie Opel and fellow Trinidadians Lynn Taitt and Lord Bryner, Lord Creator was an important and positive ‘outside’ influence during the early development of the Jamaican music scene. Born Kentrick Patrick in San Fernando Trinidad, Lord Creator moved to Jamaica in 1962 due to the huge popularity he had achieved with the Caribbean smash hit song ‘Evening News’. When it came to singing smooth ballads or letting loose over Calypso or Ska arrangements he was a ‘cut above’ and Lord Creator became a much loved performer all over Jamaica…and beyond.

In 1962, he recorded “Independent Jamaica”, which became the official song marking Jamaica’s independence from the British Empire on 6 August 1962. That song was also the first record on Chris Blackwell’s newly founded Island Records label in the United Kingdom (Island 001). In 1963, “Don’t Stay Out Late”, produced by Vincent Chin, became a huge hit in Jamaica.

In 1964, he had a further hit with “Big Bamboo”, produced by Coxsone Dodd with Tommy McCook on saxophone. His biggest hit was “Kingston Town”, a tune he recorded for producer Clancy Eccles in 1970 which would go on to become a huge hit for UB40 in 1989.

 

Lionel Hampton and His Orchetra – Red Top

Lionel Leo Hampton, was an American jazz vibraphonist, percussionist, bandleader and actor. Like Red Norvo, he was one of the first real jazz vibraphone players. “Hamp” ranks among the great names in jazz history, having worked with a who’s who of jazz musicians, from Benny Goodman and Buddy Rich to Charlie Parker and Quincy Jones.

He was born April 20, 1908 in Louisville, Kentucky. His father, Charles Hampton, a promising pianist and singer, was reported missing and later declared killed in World War I. Lionel and his mother, Gertrude, first moved to Birmingham, Alabama, to be with her family, then settled in Chicago.

He attended the Holy Rosary Academy, near Kenosha, Wisconsin, where a Dominican sister give him his first drum lessons. Hampton was only 15 when he graduated from high school and joined Les Hite’s band. Benny Goodman broke the color barrier in jazz when he asked Hampton, Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa to became members of his Quartet.

While playing with Goodman, Hampton recorded a number of records under his own name. He formed trios, quartets, quintets, sextets, septets, octets and nontets, as well as his own big band to cut dozens of records between 1937 and 1941.

LIONEL HAMPTON Decca 78 25281 Red Top b/w Giddy Up.

 

The Duke Reid Group – Joker

Duke Reid was born in Jamaica as Arthur Reid around 1915. As a young man he served in the Police Force for about ten years. He had a love of American R & B music and owned a Liquor Store on Bond Street, with his wife, the Duchess. The shop was called Treasure Isle. He had a record program on Jamaica radio called “Treasure Isle Time” playing R & B 78’s. Leading USA Jazz artist like Lester Young, Colman Hawkins, Tab Smith and Illinois Jaquet could be heard.

By the mid fifties Duke Reid had his own sound system. This comprised of large speakers and a record playing deck together with a powerful amplifier. He used a large van to transport this equipment around Jamaica to dance halls and open air events. Due to the nature of the van it became known as the Trojan. Clemont Seymore Dodd also had a sound system called Sir Coxone Downbeat after the Yorkshire cricketer Coxone. They had many a ” Battle of the sound Systems” and towards the end of the fifties Duke Reid the Trojan was crowned king.

His record production career began in 1959 on the “Trojan ” record label, these were on 78’s, such as Duke’s Cookies and Chuck and Dobby “Cool School”. On the Duke Reid label due to demand he issued home made recordings of the USA R & B style music. He formed his own backing band the Duke Reid Group who backed young singers like Derrick Morgan and the Jiving Juniors. Around this time the Jamaican R & B gave way to Ska, the guitar and piano played on every beat whilst the drummer reversed the offbeat, the bass played a powerful ‘walking’ rhythm.

 

Don Drummond – Green Island

Duke Reid built his own recording studio, of wood, above the ‘Treasure Isle Liquor Store’. Now he could with his engineer, Bryon Smith, achieve a high quality production and experiment with new sounds and rhythms.

The Duke Reid Group would have had a changeable line-up inclding at various stages ex-members of The Skatalities, Tommy McCook sax and flute, Herman Marquis alto sax, Lennox Brown sax, Vin Gordon trombone, Baba Brooks trumpet, Jackie Jackson bass, Ernest Ranglin and Lyn Taitt on guitar, Winston Wright organ, Gladstone “Gladdy” Anderson piano, Lloyd Knibb or Hugh Malcolm on drums.

Don Drummond was a part-time music teacher at Alpha School, a Catholic school for boys who were nearly all from poor, underprivileged backgrounds. Alpha veered towards the European musical tradition of marching and classical music. Drummond graduated from being one of the schools top seniors, to its main tutor.

In 1964, under Coxsone Dodd’s supervision, keyboardist and musical director Jackie Mittoo began to assemble the best musicians in Jamaica to create a sound that would dominate the music scene for years to come. The seeds for the Skatalites were sown while Mittoo played in the Sheiks, alongside Johnny Moore (trumpet) and Lloyd Knibbs on drums. After guitarist Lynn Taitt and Tommy McCook declined to join the band, Drummond was the man Mittoo turned to, and he quickly became the most prolific composer and musician in the band.

The Skatalites as a group came to an end in 1965. Don Drummond was arrested on New Years Eve 1965, accused of murdering his girlfriend Marguerita. He died in Bellevue, a mental institution in 1969. The Skatalites last gig was a Police Dance at the Runaway Bay Hotel. Roland Alphonso went on to form the Soul Brothers then later the Soul Vendors. Tommy McCook and the Supersonics became Duke Reids session band at Treasure Isle recording studio.

The track Green Island appears on many releases and is variously credited as Don Drummond or as The Skatalites. Rico previously recorded a version as ‘Rainbow Into The Rio Mino’ (aka Green Island) for his Trombone Man, and here on That Man Is Forward he records it as ‘Do The Reload’

 

Sadao Watanabe – Morning Island

Sadao Watanabe is a Japanese jazz musician. He learned clarinet and alto in high school, and in the 1950s he moved to Tokyo, joining Toshiko Akiyoshi’s bop-oriented group in 1953. When the pianist moved to the U.S. in 1956, Watanabe took over the band. He attended Berklee during 1962-1965 and had the opportunity to work with Gary McFarland, Chico Hamilton, and Gabor Szabo.

However, Watanabe has remained mostly based in Japan throughout his career where he is a major influence on younger players. He has recorded steadily through the years, most notably with Chick Corea in New York (1970) and with the Galaxy All-Stars (1978).

Watanabe is also known as a talented photographer and has published six picture books. As an executive producer of the Japanese Government Exhibition Project for the 2005 in Japan, he advocates the message “World Peace” through music.

 

Prince Buster – One Step Beyond

The former amateur boxer Cecil Busamente Campbell worked as a bouncer for legendary JA producer Clement Dodd before trying his hand at the music business. Although he pioneered the semi-spoken word vocal style he also left his mark as both a producer and musical arranger.

His most famous instrumental track, Al Capone, was reworked for the debut release on 2 Tone and as an added bonus the single’s b-side, One Step Beyond, provided North London’s finest with a track that would become synonymous with the band.

One Step Beyond is available on Prince Buster Fabulous Greatest Hits (Melodisc Records)

 

Desmond Dekker – 007 (Shanty Town)

Former apprentice tailor Desmond Adolphus Dacres recorded a string of tracks on the Rude Boy theme but the 1967 UK chart hit ‘007’ is perhaps his best known. JA producers such as Coxsone Dodd and Duke Reid were less than impressed with the talents of the young Desmond Dekker and it wasn’t until he enlisted the help of Derrick Morgan (who later went on to have something of a recording spat with Prince Buster) that he found success with producer Leslie Kong.

Dekker was a firm favourite amongst both the 60s mods and original skinheads and managed to achieve a major chart hit on both sides of the Atlantic with his most famous track ‘Israelites’. Given his high profile in the early reggae scene in the UK it is perhaps surprising that the only ever cover version of a Dekker song on 2 Tone came via a previously unreleased Bodysnatchers track on the Compact 2 Tone Story.

007(Shanty Town) is available on Israelites: The Best Of Desmond Dekker (Trojan)

The Two Tone Label

The Two Tone Label

The actual imagery of 2 Tone has become almost as famous as the music itself. The famous black and white chequered design has become synonymous with ska while Walt Jabsco has graced as many badges, poster and T-shirts as any human music icon ever has. While the concept of Walt was simply a label design for the first 2 Tone single he went on to sell vast quantities of (often illegal) merchandise which the label received no royalties from, as the legal side and hence the merchandising of 2 Tone was virtually non existent.

It’s not just among the 2 Tone faithful that Walt Jabsco is held in such high esteem. The die cut 2 Tone sleeve is listed among the most memorable record sleeves of all time, taking its place along side the likes of Jamie Reid’s artwork for the Sex Pistols and The Beatles Sergeant Pepper sleeve. Like all great design, the artwork captured the idea simply & perfectly.

Dammers loosely based the design of Jabsco on a picture of Peter Tosh from the cover of ‘The Wailing Wailers’ album, he liked the look that Tosh cut, describing it as ‘Defiant & Jamaican & Hard’. Walt Jabsco got his name from an old American bowling shirt that Dammers owned.

Walts’ first outing was on the Gangsters 7″ label, which was initially distributed by Rough Trade. These copies didn’t come with the famous die cut sleeve, instead they were issued in plain white sleeves stamped (by the band themselves) with the words “The Special AKA Vs The Selecter. Once the deal was signed with Chrysalis, Walt made his way onto the die cut sleeve. The deal with Chrysalis also meant that after initial copies of a single were pressed with paper labels all other remaining copies would appear with the rather bland grey ‘text-only’ plastic label, which doubtlessly cut back on the expense at the pressing plant.

The labels first UK picture sleeve was Too Much Too Young. Prior to this all singles were issued in the die cut sleeve and another UK picture sleeve wouldn’t appear until the bands’ penultimate single Do Nothing. However, almost all non-UK singles were issued with a picture sleeve and most had a common black and white Walt Jabsco theme, exceptions included the Spanish issues of A Message To You Rudy & Three Minute Hero, which feature full colour group shots.

There were also a few times when the sleeve designers seem to have completely lost the plot like the 2 dreadful German Rat Race sleeves, the first featuring cartoon rats running across a zebra crossing, and the second which uses a half-arsed imitation Jabsco. I would say this sleeve more than any other irked Dammers, given his annoyance with the flood of crap imitaion merchandise; for his own record company to issue a sleeve like this, was unforgivable.

While Chrysalis continued with the paper label/grey label combination in the UK in the rest of the world things seemed to be a bit more disorganised. Germany and Holland seemed to enjoy a consistent release of 2 Tone material while other countries seemed to be offered only a sporadic release of singles.

A closer examination of non-UK releases reveals that the sleeve and/or label will simply state ‘2 Tone’ or ‘A 2 Tone Record’. This is because non-UK releases were handled directly by Chrysalis and as a result were given a Chrysalis catalogue number instead of the standard 2 Tone CHSTT identity. However, as with all aspects of 2 Tone, there are exceptions. The Irish paper labels are almost identical to the UK versions complete with CHSTT catalogue numbers and are only distinguishable by the ‘Chrysalis Records Ltd’, which appears above the song title along with their usually crap typography.

And just to confuse matters even more, the Spanish promotional singles contain the CHSTT catalogue number even though they are handled directly by Chrysalis. The confusion doesn’t end there either, both the Dutch and German issues of Stereotype not only share the same sleeve design but they also have the same catalogue number. Rat Race was also issued with the same sleeve design in both countries but this time with different catalogue numbers.

As Chrysalis continued their rather confused pressing and distribution programme throughout the rest of the world the UK operation was not without fault. For instance some copies of The Selecter’s single On My Radio mysteriously appear on a blue instead of a grey label and The Bodysnatchers debut was retiled People Do Rocksteady during one print run. For more examples see the Mispressings article.

Walt Jabscos famous hand in pocket stance had served the record buying public well during the period 79-80. In 1981 trombome legend Rico released his debut album for 2 Tone, That Man is Forward, and Walt marked the occasion by appearing on the LPs labels complete with trombone.

While this was the only time Jabsco held a different pose on a UK label, the Canadian label of Too Much Pressure & US pressing of More Specials, had him listening to a transistor radio. He did of course take on numerous poses in 2 Tone release advertisements, which we hope to feature in the near future.

1982 saw the release of Rico’s second album for the label, Jama, and this time the little man was conspicuous by his absence, and he made his (UK) exit on the Jungle Music single by Rico and The Special AKA.

However, 11 years later in 1993 he would make a welcome return to grace the label of the 2 Tone EP. Although no longer used in the UK several non-UK post Jungle Music singles by The Special AKA were issued with Walt Jabsco labels, most notably the Irish War Crimes 7″ and the Australian Nelson Mandela 7″.

With the Specials splitting and 2 Tone no longer the musical force it once was, it was time for a change in musical direction for the label. Along with this change in sound came a change in image. The ska sound, which made the label famous worldwide, gave way for new bands with a jazz/funk influence and the famous black and white checks were laid to rest.

Jerry Dammers didn’t ditch the old image entirely; he did hold on to the famous chequered design but switched it to a less striking brown and gold colour scheme.

As before, the old paper label/plastic label combination was still in use. This time the later pressings were issued on a gold plastic label with black text. Since Do Nothing, all singles on the label were released in a picture sleeve and the 24th single on the label, Racist Friend by The Special AKA, was issued in the now standard 7″ and 12″ formats plus a 7″ picture disc, the first of only 2 to ever appear on the label.

The follow up to Nelson Mandela was What I like Most About You Is Your Girlfriend and it was time for yet another change in label design. Again a paper label, this time the ‘2 Tone’ logo appeared in large light blue text on a black background complete with a strip of silver checks. The plastic label was also still in use only this time it had reverted back to a grey background with black text. The Girlfriend single also saw the second and last picture disc issued on the label.

The Friday Club’s Window Shopping was issued on the grey plastic label while the last release proper on the label was JB’s Allstars Alphabet Army, whose label was similar to that of Girlfriend & In The Studio, except in a gray monotone.

The change in label design however did nothing to change the labels fortunes. 2 Tone was no longer a profit-making venture and in 1985 parent company Chrysalis pulled the plug, ending what indeed was a very chequered career…

The only other UK 2 Tone labels of note are the 1990’s labels for Ghost Town revisited & The Specials Singles LP.