Mods, Rudeboys & Skinheads 70´s Jamaican Ska Beats!

Walt Jabsco
Original Walt Jabsco by John “Teflon” Sims

Two Tone (2 Tone) Records and the UK Ska Revival took over from Punk in the mid to late 70´s and revolutionised the music industry.

Giving a wake up call to the world that there are new kids on the block when it comes to new music genres. Ska, Rocksteady & Bluebeat became mainstream, and the introduction of the Mods & Skinheads are reborn!

But the punk bands of the day didn´t have it all their own way, because lurking in the wings was a band from Coventry looking to make an impact on the music at that time. 

Jerry Dammers and his group of friends where looking to smooth out the anarchistic look of many of the early punk bands, and bring to the UK a more palatable type of music to the mainstream.

Scroll past the links for bio on the 2 Tone bands!

All Remastered Titles available to purchase on Vinyl, CD & Download from Amazon!

  • Gangsters - Specials AKA - 2 Tone Records
  • Dance Craze - 2 Tone Records
  • The Best of 2 Tone
  • The Compact 2 Tone Story

In 1977 the group The Specials are formed, Jerry Dammers along with Jamaican born singer Neville Staples, and lead singer Terry Hall. The lineup also included guitarists Lynval Golding & Roddy Radiation, and on Bass Guitar Horace Panter.

This was to be the start of the new Mod & Skinhead revival, and for me an important introduction into Ska, Rocksteady, Bluebeat & Reggae which has been a part of my life for over 40 years!

The first Two Tone single of course issued in 1979 was Gangsters by Special AKA, which was B Sided with another great band of the 2 Tone era, The Selector & “The Selector“.

When hearing Gangsters for the very first time, it really was one of those goosebump, cold shiver up the spine moments! I immediately knew right then I needed to buy this single, and made sure I was the first person in my local record shop on the day of release. I am sure I must have played that record continuous for hours.

It was from that day, the start of my 2 Tone Collection started, and could not wait for the albums to start being released too!

Along with the music, the new Mod & Skinhead image emerged, contrasting with many of my Punk friends at the time. I wanted to be different at that time, but with a bit more “clean cut” look about me, and this is where the fashion changed for me and a lot of my friends that followed this new trend.

Still great friends with Punks & Mods sharing our own tastes in music, but enjoying our own new fashion identity.

Style & Clothing!

The first thing to change for me was the hair, away went the long wavy 70´s hairstyle, and a more dramatic style was born. The crew cut for me was the transition, and it had to be all or nothing. So the local barber set up the “sheers” and the #1 Skinhead was born!

The next was a visit to our local Army & Navy store to purchase a pair of Doctor Martin Boots, Cherry Red and yellow laces. Along with my already shortened Levis Slim Jeans, and my Fred Perry T-Shirts (5 different colours, Maroon, Yellow, White, Black, Red, and Sky Blue) or Ben Sherman short sleeve shirt. I looked the part, I felt the part!

More and more records started to be released and new bands started to appear on the 2 Tone label. The next I think was “The Prince” by Madness, which again produced the goose bumps when I first heard it. Just a fantastic sound at that time, and then Selector produced another single which was “On My Radio”.

I just could not get enough of the 2 Tone sound back in the late 70´s & early 80´s, and all this was just before I was to enter into the UK Armed Services.

The instigators of the 2 Tone Sound & Trend can be defined from these great bands below. With The Specials AKA providing the platform to deliver the music that has stood the test of time for over 40 years!

The Start of Two Tone Records

The original Record of Label of Two Tone, and the start of a new musical experience that captured me personally. Plus many other younger generation looking for a new identity trend, and a newer sound to enhance the music of the late 70´s. Jamaican SKA & BLUE BEAT has been revived!

Gangsters - Specials AKA - 2 Tone Records
Gangsters – Specials AKA
The Specials AKA

The original line-up of The Specials, with Terry Hall & Neville Staples on lead vocals.

The musical influence of Jamaican Ska infused with British Punk was the brainchild of a group of friends from Coventry, England mostly led by Jerry Dammers.

The British Ska Revival was born, and will forever live on in UK Musical Culture!

The Beat
The Beat - 2 Tone UK Ska

The Beat formed in 1978, and originate from Birmingham, England.

The band consisted of; Dave Wakeling on vocals & guitar, Ranking Rogers on vocals, Andy Cox on guitar, David Steele on Bass, Everett Morton on Drums, and Lionel Martin on Saxophone.

Lionel Martin played with the pioneer greats of Ska & Bluebeat, Desmond DeckerPrince Buster, Laurel Aitken to name a few.

Their contribution to the 2 Tone label was a cover version of an old Motown Classic “Tears of a Clown”.

The Selector
The Selector - 2 Tone UK Ska

The Selector where the first group to join 2 Tone Records by providing the B-Side (The Selector) to The Specials first record release to the 2 Tone Label.

Pauline Black on lead vocals, Neol Davies and Compton Amanor on guitar, Charley Bembridge on drums, Desmond Brown on Hammond Organ, and Charly Anderson on Bass.

The band formed in 1977 with then lead singer Arthur “Gaps” Hendrickson, and their debut single was released in 1979. Like The Specials, they originated from Coventry, England.

The Bodysnatchers
The Bodysnatchers - 2 Tone UK Ska

The Bodysnatchers are an all female band from London, England, and where formed by Nicky Summers in 1979, after the demise of the punk scene!

They released their first record with 2 Tone “Let´s Do Rock Steady” which just missed out on a Top 20 hit for the group.

An amazing Ska Support Group for many of the bands signed to 2 Tone, they still hold their own in the Ska Revival.

Madness - 2 Tone UK Ska

Madness where introduced to Jerry Dammers and The Specials in the Hope & Anchor Pub, Camden, East London, when both groups where billed to play a Live Gig.

The debut single “The Prince” was released on the 2 Tone Record label and gave them a Top 20 hit.

Suggs and group mates made a huge impact on the music scene, and more importantly the Ska Revival of the 70/80´s.

Rico Rodriguez

Emmanuel “Rico” Rodriguez has been an integral part of the British Ska Revival, and supported many artists & groups on the 2 Tone Label.

The Trombonist has played with some of the greats of the Ska & Bluebeat sound. Although born in Havana, Cuba, he moved to Jamaica when he was young.

A lot of the Jamaican Ska & Reggae sounds recognized his input into the music, and he will always be remembered has one of the best session players of his generation.

Keeping The 2 Tone Ska Revival Alive!

It is great to see that the British Ska Revival is still alive today!

Many of the younger generations have taken a hold of the 2 Tone sound and brought it back into the musical mainstream once again.

We are blessed to continue enjoying this Ska Revival, and to be able to dress in the styles that was the Original Trend of the pioneers of 2 Tone back in the late 70´s & early 80´s.

For more examples of Two Tone many items can be purchased via Amazon. Also many of the 2 Tone Records have been remastered & re-released.