The 2-Tone label was launched in 1979 in Coventry, and within a year, had swept like wildfire across the U.K. Band leader Jerry Dammers gift to an unsuspecting world was not just a fine roster of bands: Special A.K.A., Madness, Selector, The Beat to name but a few, but also a forward thinking label that celebrated the multi-cultural/racial, proffered a winning mix of high-octane ska/reggae mixed with punk sensibility and, lest we forget, an iconic, largely monochrome, visual identity (it’s all about the dog-tooth check you know!). Never a label to rest on its laurels, later releases were decidedly noncommercial, Rhoda Dakar’s ‘The Boiler’ is a harrowing account of rape which ends with a full minute of anguished screaming whilst the Special A.K.A’s ‘War Crimes’ drew attention to the troubles in Palestine/Israel..and hands up how many people had heard of Nelson Mandela, let alone his plight, before it was released as a single?
As with all great labels, there are those who seek out every release, foreign issue, promo and more. For the 2-Tone collector the paper label issues of the singles are always highly prized as later pressings tended to use the (not nearly as attractive) injection moulding variant, overseas pressings are of interest too as they tended to be in exclusive picture sleeves. Top tip: Look out for later releases in the catalogue as these sold in much smaller quantities than the initial pop hits, and in 2017 are highly sought after….
Here’s our current Top 3 2-Tone Collectables – you can see more here
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