What awoken my love for all things ska and 2 Tone was further fuelled by a 12 year-old trip with my comprehensive to northern France, where on one of the last fateful nights, sixty school kids drove a French DJ mind with songs like ‘Gangsters’ ‘On My Radio’ and what seemed like endless requests for ‘Baggy Trousers’ wish it was ‘Night Boat to Cairo’ but there’s nothing like a school anthem, which I think alone the Stiff single had 16 continuous plays. Apart from dancing a hapless disco DJ into the ground, my musical affair has remained a healthy, if not on occasion an obsessive, passion for all that formally Coventry based label could give or influence. If you love your vinyl or not, please find below a few tasty mostly 2 Tone singles, picked at random, to whet appetites and encourage deeper self or group interspection, why aren’t we dancing?
The Selecter (UK)
2 Tone / CHS TT10
7″ Released: 29 March 1980
Carry Go Bring Come
This was the bands third and last single complete with video for the label. It is a slightly different mix from the version which appears on the album Too Much Pressure. The album was released in February 1980 but only five months later the band decided to leave 2 Tone. They thought the label had lost direction and had grown out of control, so they severed links with the label and signed directly to Chrysalis Records.
The b-side is a live version of the Justin Hinds song ‘Carry Go Bring Come’ which was recorded at Tiffanys in Coventry on the same night that The Specials recorded The Skinhead Symphony.
The Bodysnatchers (Germany)
Chrysalis 102 221 7″
Produced by Jerry Danners.
The band had signed a 2 single deal with 2 Tone and for the second release an original was selected, Easy Life, and this time a cover version would appear on the b-side. The track chosen was Winston Francis’ Too Experienced and the resulting track stayed faithful to the original. Although the band were pleased with the single and it certainly deserved a higher position chart than it received (50), back in 1980/
Bad Manners (UK)
Magnet (2) – 6.12835, Magnet (2) – 6.12835 AC
Ivor The Engine
The band often played on the same bill as the other 2 Tone bands, and finally appeared on the label by way of their inclusion on the Dance Craze Film. Always considered primarily a novelty act, most 2 Tone fans would have Bad Manners first couple of LP’s, and while they certainly didn’t take themselves too seriously, on a closer listen they managed some deft touches musically and these records form an important part of the movement and it’s success. don’t want to upset the applecart, but if th but one listen to ‘Special Brew’ and you’re hooked.
The Special AKA Vs The Selecter (UK)
2 Tone TT1/TT2
7″ Released: 28 July 1979
Surprisingly having been rejected by numerous record companies The Specials decided to release a self-financed single. If the legend is to be believed the single was recorded for a mere £700 financed by a ‘sort of’ local businessman by the name of ‘Jimbo’. It is said that a piano part on the track took up most of the studio time and as a result only one track
k, Gangsters, was recorded. Least that’s the recorded start of a wonderful label.
The Friday Club (UK)
2 Tone CHS TT28 7″
Released: 08 November 1985
Window Shopping (Instrumental
The originally Scarborough based band, travelled to London to team up with Jerry Dammers in the early 1980’s. ‘Window Shopping’ was recorded the song with Jerry in September 1985 at Powerplant Studios in Willesden, and then mixed at Wessex studios in North London. As Andy Brooks recalls “Working with Jerry in the studio was an experience to say the least, the more time I spent with him the more his genius became apparent, he is without a doubt the most gifted person I have ever met.”
“The single picked up some air play and entered the top 100 on the first week of release, Gary Crowley in particular played it a great deal, and we we’re very happy when Radio One’s Simon Bates put it on his breakfast show play list – he then went on holiday – and as Jerry had predicted the single got lost amongst the Christmas releases.”
Three Minute Hero
The Selecter (UK)
2 Tone / CHS TT8
7″ Released: 20 February 1980
Three Minute Hero
This, the bands second single for 2 Tone was released to promote their debut album Too Much Pressure. The only 2 Tone band not to have a brass section used session sax player Joe Reynolds for a brief solo during the track, a track which by no coincidence clocked in at exactly three minutes long. It got an average review from the critics and had the lowest chart position, reaching number 16 in the singles chart. For the B side the band strayed away from the labels tradition of covering old ska and reggae tracks and opted for a version the James Bond theme, both songs are high within the many touchstones The Selecter unleash live.
2 Tone / CHS TT3
7″ Released: 01 September 1979
Jerry Dammers first became aware of the band via graffiti sprayed on walls in North London referring to “Chalky Suggs”. After the London band handed Jerry Dammers a demo tape and although he was impressed he said it “was a mess and that no other label would have signed them”. Dammers, who affectionately called them a “bunch of chancers” gladly offered them a deal with the label for a one off single.
Based loosely on Prince Busters ‘Earthquake’* this track was taken from a session recorded at the tiny Pathway Studios in Highbury, London. The other 2 tracks recorded were the b side, Madness, and a version of My Girl (with Barso on vocals) which was to remain under wraps until later in the bands career. Barso also performed vocals on a version of Bed and Breakfast Man recorded for the John Peel Show (broadcast 27 August 1979).
*Although ‘Earthquake’ is credited as a Prince Buster original it borrows very heavily from ‘Blues In The Night’ by Johnnie Taylor.
Thanks to Andrew Clayden for all the extra info.
2 Tone / CHS TT15
7″ Released: 22 September 1980
Despite the high profile that he had by the way of his association with 2 Tone, trombonist Rico Rodriguez by mid 1980 was without a record deal. This was an ideal opportunity for him to release a single of his own on the label but by this stage 2 Tone was no longer the movement that it once was. The single sold in very limited numbers and became the second 2 Tone single in a row to miss the charts completely. A real pity, really hope it helps convince a new rude generation, there’s more than first thought.
Tears Of A Clown
The Beat (UK)
2 Tone / CHS TT6
7″ Released: 08 December 1979
Tears Of A Clown
Ranking Full Stop
Jerry Dammers was fast off the mark, after catching The Beat supporting The Selecter . ‘Tears Of a Clown’ represents their one and only single for the label. The band were considering releasing a single for some time so they jumped at the chance of a deal with 2 Tone. Another tasty vinyl to find we hope.
One Step Beyond
7″ Released 28th October 1979
One Step Beyond
Madness’ first post-2 Tone single release on Stiff Records. it still sounds like it came from the midlands rather than London, to the fans it made little difference.