With many of you traversing the land in the wake of The Stranglers's tour bus I reckon that for a week or two it is safe to veer away from them until some material from the current tour is in hand. Prompted by some recent files that were sent through to me of a Nutty nature, I thought that I would do something on 2 Tone, another musical movement that has been very dear to me over the years.
Every bit as important as the punk scene that inspired it 2 Tone and its mastermind Jerry Dammers knew just how grim every day life had become in Britain for hundreds of thousands of young people. 'Thatcherism' was biting down on our manufacturing industry, nowhere more so than in The Specials' home city of Coventry, and unemployment figures were on the rise. 2 Tone aimed to offer some respite from this reality. The bands on the label played upbeat ska music with the attitude of punks. It decried much of the pretentiousness of the late '70's post punk bands..... as Madness so succinctly put it.... 'Fuck Art...Let's Dance!'.
However, no matter how upbeat and positive the music and the message were, those were dark times and the far right National Front were on the verge of becoming political heavyweights. The National Front and British Movement targeted gigs as a means of recruiting disaffected youths to their cause. In equal measure the anti-racist stance of these bands who had both black and white musicians on the stage was a flash point for the right wing factions in the audience, meaning that many of the gigs that the bands played could be violent and frightening events. Even the genteel city of Cambridge was reduced to a battleground when The Specials played there. Terry Hall and Jerry Dammers were arrested after the gig and appeared in court in the city, the charge, incitement to riot. They were fined £400.
'Court in session!'
Terry and Jerry, Cambridge Court 1980