Tag Archives: 2 Tone

Take It Or Leave It

A Madness book in the NME, 7 November, 1981.

Mad to miss it
The Madness movie Take It Or Leave It has its moments, but I’d rather watch a collection of their singles videos than what amounts to jolly japes in Camden Town and endless stretches of Stiff style cinema verite. In fact, The Official Nutty Film Book (ITV Books) proves a better investment than the object which it celebrates. For £1.25 you get a flexidisc (bits of film dialogue with Mike Barson telling the boys which key to play in) and a large poster with a Tony Riot comic strip on the back. The text itself includes short interviews (by Adrian Thrills) with each member of the band, colour photos, and numerous stills from the film. The lyrics from a few Madness songs are thrown in for good measure, including ‘My Girl’ and ‘Grey Day’: that’s what I call poetry.
Paul Tickell

Weller Winners 1980

Paul Weller’s NME Readers’ Poll 1980 selections, from the NME, 24 January, 1981.

Weller Of The Year

Paul Weller

Most wonderful human being: Jim from Stiff Little Fingers
Event: It didn’t happen
Creep: Thatcher
Best group: The Beat, The Skids and The Slits
New act: Department S, The Questions and The Nips
Male singer: Julian Cope, Suggsy and Michael Jackson
Female singer: Siouxsie, Slits and The Dolly Mixtures (all three of them)
Songwriter: Slits, Teardrop Explodes, Skids and Questions
Guitarist: Stuart Adamson
Bass: Bruce Foxton and Tessa Pollit
Keyboards: Bloke in Teardrop Explodes
Drums: Pube and Budgie
Other instrument: Saxa
Single: ‘Embarrassment’ (Madness), ‘Do Nothing’ (Specials), ‘Is Vic There? (Department S) and ‘Animal Space’ (Slits)
Album: ‘Killimanjaro’ (Teardrop Explodes), ‘Grin And Bear It’ (the Ruts)
Sleeve: Ours
Best dressed: Steve Marriott circa 64-66 and “Blackburn” (not Tony)
Haircut: none
DJ: Certainly not Peel for a start!
TV show: Minder
Movie: Love On The Dole (NFT darling)

Redskins Revue

The Redskins did a month of Sundays ay the Mean Fiddler in 1986 with a great mix of turns. Great gigs they were too. This review is from the NME, 12 July, 1986. The Housemartins sneak in as Fish City Five.

Redskins Revue
Harlesden Mean Fiddler

Young, girted and bald was the aim. On the revue’s second night the result was a combination of two, but never all three. Buster Bloodvessel came close. That rotund rascal of drollery, with a little help from his friends, rip-roared his immense proportions through ‘Monster Mash’. ‘My Boy Lollipop’ and more. The Troubleshooters, perverse in the presence of dogma, saw Debbie (Dolly Mixture) don a monstrous wig for their camped-up journeys through the Abba and Madonna songbooks. Seething Wells spouted furiously in a scathing attack on the life and times of Laura Ashley. Why her you may ask. Why indeed? A true contender if only he’d had a haircut.
Wendy May’s sizzling Locomotion sounds kept all alive and kicking, in striking contrast to Lol Coxhill, whose 15 minute homage to Jnr Walker rated as a wonder-cure for insomnia!
Not forgetting the mighty mouth on the loudhailer who led the Redskins through their stomping favourites, ‘Kick Over The Statues’ et al. And a well splendid night was rounded off with some accapella combo by the name of Fish City Five. In fact there was only four of them. , but their harmonies weren’t half bad, especially on some ditty called ‘Happy Hour’ which sounded sort of familiar. One of them launched himself into a ranting preach about Jesus, Karl Marx and himself in the same bed (with clean sheets, of course)! What a strange bunch. Perhaps they’ll be famous one day.
Maybe it was the rumour that Paul Weller was to appear, or perhaps Tom Watt (chump Lofty from East Enders), that drove the hordes on mass to Harlesden for this Artists Against Apartheid benefit on the fourth night. With its Brechtian overtones, the climax of the Redskins revue proved a resounding success.
Angus and Toby from Test Dept. swapped their metal objects for bagpipes and calmed a packed frustrated crowd, unable to move to Stuart Cosgrove’s and Steve Caesar’s fast and furious vinyl funk. The Redskins began their set of covers with ‘Levi Stubbs’ Tears’, and were closely followed by the man Bragg himself. He soon had the audience whipped up a storm with ‘Chile Your Waters’, and ‘A13’, for which he was accompanied by stalwart Wiggy.
And the grand finale, ‘Winds Of Change’, as performed by the Redskins, Dammers, Bragg and others, baldly established the common bond.

Jane Wilkes

Reach For The Ska!

The Untouchables and the, rather good, Makin’ Time reviewed in the NME, 9 November, 1985.

Reach For The Ska!
Glasgow Strathclyde University

Fun. D’you remember fun? Fun is when you get all dressed up in your favourite fashion on a Saturday night, is buying drinks that don’t need a bank loan and come without straws, dancing the night away to two good bands – luxury! Couple all that with ridiculous youth, a hallful of even younger mods (looking smart), R&B, irrepressible energy, a bit of nostalgia, good tunes and manic movement and you have…well one of the best gigs I’ve been to this year, at least.
Makin’ Time are already known to this audience through their excellent debut album ‘Rhythm And Soul’, an R&B/early soul/’60s thing that singer Mark Gounden mention repeatedly during the set in the hope someone might buy it. One of the nice things about Makin’ Time is that they look like they need the money rather than looking as though they’ve been sitting in a rehearsal studio for the last two years. You can afford to be shambolic (and they are, making more mistakes than there are extra-thin ties in here) if you’ve got both a total lack of pretention and good songs on your side, like ‘Take All You Can Get’, ‘Gotta Move’; and ‘Feels Like It’s Love’. Gounden looks like an even more nervous Lloyd Cole with a heavy ’60s fashion fetish, but then that’s endearing too.
Makin’ Time do little wrong in my book, not even by dashing through a ramshackle version of soul classic ‘Show Me’. Maybe they’ll spend some of the money on guitar lessons, maybe they won’t, who cares?
The Untouchables look so cool it could almost convince you that there is hope for the American music industry yet; so slick they could make your head spin they somehow manage to completely avoid the sickly cabaret that some US bands drown in. The Untouchables haven’t minded showing their ska roots, but they look more influenced by Madness. The bassist wears a bandana half-way down his nose, the guitarist poses endlessly, Jerry Miller (the tall one with the wacky glasses) towers comically over Chuck Askerneese (the little one with the rasta locks) – it’s the all-singing, all-dancing Untouchables and even the trumpet player, Anthong Brewster (the cute one), steps up to sing ‘What’s Going On?’.
Even if they’re funnier than most, The Untouchables aren’t a joke band, but when they’re being serious it is to the point of the ridiculous – as in ‘Future On My Mind’, a song about “the future of the world” with classic lyrics like “I smile at you/You smile at me/But everybody’s pissed/What are we living for?”
The thing to take most seriously is the breadth of their musical influence. They are not, as might be implied by ‘Free Yourself’ or ‘City Gent’, simply a ska band, dipping as they do into soul (‘Soul Together’), reggae and rap. It’s all a glut of fun, humour and ability and the assembled sharp dressers make pigs of themselves.
After a dancefloor-breaking version of ‘I Spy For The FBI’ it almost seemed that they could do no better – until they re-appeared for a bash at ‘I’m Not Your Stepping Stone’. Too right, there isn’t anyone to touch them.

Andrea Miller

Song Of A Baker

Danny Baker reviews mod and ska singles in the NME, 6 October, 1979, and fails to find the groove.

SQUIRE: Walking Down The Kings Road (I Spy)
SELECTER: On My Radio (Two Tone)
ROLAND ALPHONSO: Phoenix City (Trojan)

The other day I was talking to my very good friend Ian “I wouldn’t be seen dead wearing jeans” Page as we sat holding balloons on the boot seat of his dolly girl’s MG – we were off to yet another of Zoe Faversham’s little kitsch-ins – when he told me of this group he was producing, Squire. Their single is a guided tour to a couple of London’s most warn-hearted and fashionable spots – Kings Road and Carnaby St – and the 45 does its best to capture the atmosphere of discs made over ten years ago. “Oh no man,” they say, “we’re just applying the best of Mod to today’s life.” Well if the crop of Mod singles are to be a yardstick as to ‘all the best of Mod’ it must be hell in there. OK, live the lifestyle by all means chaps, but f’Christ’s sake don’t make an argument for these pathetic records.
The Selecter – who did so well on the reverse of the exception-to-the-rule Specials 45 – release a track of devastating banality. Honestly, I bear no undue venom for the fashion. But ‘On My Radio’ is as sappy a song as ever entered the Eurovision Song Contest. I bunged Alphonso in here because he is, presumably, the sound of the hour but it still sounds its age: creaky. However the originals get by because of our rosy-eyed nostalgic warmth for one music’s fresh unspoiled attack. The outfits that would take ’60s music into the ’80s must be tried on their records and as such are gutless, the sound of cash registers giving thanks to their fathers which Art in Odeon. Finally, I might add, that before you mods start wagging fingers at me in Gasbag, in the true punk tradition, I don’t give a toss what you do, so stay happy, OK!

One Step Beyond

Madness reviewed live in Emetick!, No. 2, January, 1980. This was a punk ‘zine from Northampton.

Madness

People I know stayed away from this gig out of apprehension about the type of crowd it would draw. It turned out to be a reasonable mix, about an equal number of skins, mods, punks and ‘others’.
Madness came on to a riotous applause and a few Nazi chants, which were drowned for the rest of the gig.
They started with ‘One Step Beyond’ and the audience danced frenzidly. They played all the set perfectly and exactly the way they are recorded. If there had not been people dancing around me, sweating on me and generally battering my body, it would have been like listening to the L.P. watching the video.
Not that the set lacked energy, they all danced with fervour, and Chas Smash delighted the audience by managing a variety of dances through the whole set.
Apart from the L.P. tracks only two new songs were played (From a new e.p. or something) the audience were quite happy with this after all it was what most of them came to hear. I would have liked to hear more new stuff, ’cause if I’d have wanted to hear the album I’d have stayed at home and heard it for nothing.
The encore provided more spontinuity a ska version of ‘Lola’ (the Raincoats stole this song first – name dropping -) and a second rendition of One Step Beyond. By the second, or was it third encore they were all too exhausted to sing and invented a rather prolonged introduction to ‘Madness’ to recuperate. They followed that by ‘Chipmonks Are Go’. As they left the stage everyone collapsed, no one can challenge the danceability of Madness songs however well known. ‘Night Boat to Cairo’, ‘Swan Lake’ & ‘Tarzan’s Nuts’ being the most popular.
The atmosphere at the gig was tremendous. Everyone had come to see Madness & to enjoy themselves. Last time I saw them I was too worried about offending some people with short hair & tempers to match to go over board with enthusiasm, that is one of the advantages of the musclily ‘welcome to Friars’ posters.
Why is it however that anyone should have to worry about going to see Madness. The group can’t approve of the warped bias of their following (although Chas Smash appears to sympathise with them). Surely if these people have a grudge against someone it isn’t each other.
“I’m going out tonight, don’t know if I’ll be alright
I have to carry a knife, because people threaten my life
I can’t dress just the way I want, been chased by the national front
Concrete Jungle, animals are after me
Concrete Jungle, hatred on the streets
…. Glad I’ve got my mates with me”
Won’t anybody listen!


Concrete Jungle

Political ructions at the Hatfield 2 Tone gig, Sounds, 3 November, 1979.

Rudie bam-bam

It doesn’t mean we have to fight (etc): The Specials/Madness gig at Hatfield Polytechnic last Saturday was the scene of vicious fighting between left-wingers and skinheads, and for once it would seem that right-wing skinheads weren’t the instigators of the trouble.
According to a 2-Tone eye-witness a punch-up started in the bar for unknown reasons and then suddenly a group of about 30 people burst through a fire door. Some of them had already been refused admission. They were carrying banners saying ‘Hatfield Anti-Fascist League’ and ‘Hatfield mafia’ and proceeded to make random assaults on bystanders with razors and Stanley knives.
As they left one of them was caught by skinheads and knocked unconscious. Several people were hospitalised, but all were discharged by Sunday morning after treatment.
Meanwhile, a skinhead witness told Jaws that the left wingers were known as the Cockney Reds (London Man Utd supporters) and were “pretty heavy geezers, not the usual student types. They had skinheads with them too. They charged in and said ‘Right who’s the Front?’ and battered anyone they though was NF”.
Although Chrysalis consider this to be a one-off incident, the anti-fascists involved are said to be the same people who attacked skinheads at the Upstarts’ Nashville gig recently.
According to our street correspondent the Cockney Reds are young working class socialists who dismayed by the growth of the BM/NF amongst London skinheads and their attacks on gigs, have decided to take matters into their own hands and smash them at source (though a good many innocent by-standers are getting mashed in the process).
Whatever your views on their methods, there is no doubt that these attacks are incensing the extreme right and reprisals are being planned. Ordinary rock fans are finding themselves caught in a civil war. between extremist heavies and this can only be a bad thing.
PS. Following the Nashville fracas the local doddering JP was heard bemoaning the place as a den of underage drinking anyway and so, to preserve their licence, the Nashville management are now refusing entrance to any one who looks under 20.

Smiling My Life Away

The fabulous Case, I band I followed aplenty, in Sounds, 26 March, 1983.

Case
Marquee

There are times when you just know. No ifs or butts or silly haircuts, you know the band on stage are gonna be bigger than Buster Bloodvessel on a Shredded Wheat rampage.
I saw it in Case almost two years ago in the person of singer/sensation Matthew Newman, a wonderful rascal with a chameleon kisser that ch-ch-changes from carnival clown to criminal and back to court jester before your very eyes-ah.
Matthew had star written all the way through him and, for the next eighteen months, I seriously slagged roguish manager Dave Long for his Bernie Rhodes ‘holding back’ policy. But after tonight, all you can hear in the Bushell household is the sound of your humble chewing his own curses, ‘cos months of rehearsals and ruthless recruitment have made Case good enough to back Matthew, and that means very special indeed.
If you want it short and scintillating, sweets, they’re akin to Dexys meet the Ruts with a juicy jot of Manners mania thrown in for good measure. But don’t get the idea they’re stale copyists – this band are refreshingly alive.
Ripe with irresistible dance rhythms, they grin their way through a bonzer beano bonanza stuffed solid with energy and emotion, passion and pop pizazazz, fun and fervour. They’re aggressive without being dumb and intelligent without being dull, and this, you don’t need telling, makes a long overdue change.
Matthew still steals the show. Even his new beard couldn’t dampen the magnetic appeal of that big beaming boat and its battery of moods, and even a silly amount of stage space couldn’t keep him still.
But the band are well worth watching. With haircuts ranging from punk and smoothie to Travolta and rockabilly (as diverse as their appeal), they comprise the usual bass/guitar/drums to-do swelled by a pair of sizzling saxes (Clarence Clemons for herberts?) and everyone of them impresses. When I say they’re tight, I mean they’d make yer average Tory council look generous: I mean, these boys are more together than Siamese twins.
‘Ain’t Gonna Dance’ commences proceedings with big blasts of Manners style horns that surge into a hot ‘n’ heavy soul stomp. Then ‘You’ll Be My Fools’ slows the pace for a more atmospheric cavort suffused with disciplined menace before Case hit top gear again for the belting ‘Let That One Go’.
‘You Know What’s Good For You’ dishes out more dollops of Dexy’s-style passion-punch and finds Matthew at his most Rowland-like – a Croydon soul brother who can crack his face. And by the next number ‘Criminal Ways’, the virgin crowd are going seriously barmy although it’s easily surpassed by the soon-come single ‘Oh’. With its Rutsy rhythm and great blasting brass, it’s a gem of Crown Jewels stature.
And that just leaves ‘I Am The Only People’. the nearest the band come to a ballad, before the sensational set-closer, my favourite number, ‘Smiling My Life Away’ which once again sees the boys coming up with dynamic propulsion of prime Ruts proportions wed to a joyous singalong hookline solid enough to snare Moby Dick hisself.
I’;; tell ya, if I’ve got any doubts about any of these numbers it’s only because the best are so great … aww listen, I’ll get right to the point. I don’t pop my cork for every band I see, but I’d be willing to blow my life savings on a side-bet on Case’s inevitable rise.
I’m not talking Top Thirty or Top Twenty, but Top ten. And not in the another day, another haircut sense, but in terms of those very rare qualities – individuality, ingenuity and real emotion. Ring out the old, ring in the new …

Garry Bushell

Fun Boy 3

Dancin’ from 2 Tone to wry pop, a Fun Boys gig on an Old Grey Whistle Test special, 1983.Mo-Dette June Miles-Kingston is on drums, Annie Whitehead on trombone, Delta 5’s Bethan Peters on bass, and Caroline Lavelle rocking the cello.