With the vinyl reissue of the 2-Tone live album ‘Dance Craze’ and the 8CD 2-Tone box set hitting the shelves in the autumn of 2020, it seemed like a good time to be a ska fan. While there seems to be no news regarding a much needed reissue of the ‘Dance Craze’ film as we move into 2021, The Selecter’s fans are given another cause for celebration.
On April 23rd, the classic Selecter debut ‘Too Much Pressure’ will be reissued on vinyl (in clear and black varieties) and a vastly expanded 3CD set.
In the summer of 1979, several young bands with a political conscience and an ear for the Jamaican sounds of the late 60s began to storm the UK charts. The British music scene subsequently experienced one of its most exciting post-punk movements when bands like The Specials and The Selecter became the “new cool” with their brand of energetic ska music. By October, the new movement had reached fever pitch when no fewer than three bands associated with the 2-Tone label appeared on a single edition of Top of The Pops. Decades on, it’s still possible to understand the incendiary effect these bands had when revisiting that footage. Much has been said about Madness’ abilities to give the studio a party atmosphere, but it’s The Selecter’s first appearance playing ‘On My Radio’ which, perhaps, best sums up the pure energy of ska’s second wave in a little over two minutes, with Pauline Black, Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson and Charley Anderson giving it the full on skank throughout.
Love it or hate it, Record Store Day has become an important fixture on the music-related calendar. From humble beginnings with a few bits and bobs to entice people into independent record shops, it’s now become a huge business tool, giving major labels an excuse to reissue all kinds of stuff. While it now seems more about a money making venture than to highlight small business, there’s still some cool stuff to be found. Never more so than for the 2020 event, where there are a truckload of artificially created rarities that look like lovely items for the keener fan.
Neville Staple is a man who needs no introduction. A pivotal member of the original Specials and a pivotal figure from the UK’s second wave of ska, Staple has long been considered a legend.
In 2018, the “original rude boy” released the album ‘Rude Rebels’ with his wife Sugary Staple and former bandmate Roddy Radiation, to some acclaim.
He returns with a non-album single, ‘Put Away Your Knives’, which as its title suggests is a message of warning to all regarding a rise in knife crime. Produced by Dandy Livingstone (performer of the classics ‘Reggae In Your Jeggae’ and ‘Suzanne, Beware of the Devil), the tune is structured around his own ‘A Message To You, Rudy’, as reworked by The Specials themselves in 1979.
The ska revival of the early 80s brought some great and timeless music, but The Beat’s debut album and associated singles were among the finest slabs of vinyl to emerge from the scene. Part of The Beat’s enduring charm came from great chorus hooks, but for many, the real energy and brilliance came from Ranking Roger.