The 10 best 2 Tone songs as chosen by The Selecter's Pauline Black
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The 2 Tone label – as it was back in 1979 when it first started - was very much something that brought together a whole load of subcultures all under one umbrella and said, ‘Let’s celebrate the things that unite us rather than the things that divide us. It brought in mods, it brought in rude boys, it brought in skinheads, it brought in punks, and whoever else wanted to come along – I’m sure there were a few hippies there as well. I think that the reason why it resonates so much now is the fact that it’s fed into the whole idea of multiculturalism and how it’s beneficial for society. Therefore, 2 Tone does not grow old. It’s conscious music, and it moved every black kid in this country forward a million steps.
**10. RHODA DAKAR – The Boiler
**I just think this is an absolutely excellent track, in the respect that in 1979 people didn’t really talk about date rape and those kinds of things. It took a lot of bottle for Rhoda to stand on a stage in front of an all-female band, which is where I first heard her do it live, and perform this song to what was a predominantly male audience. I still think it’s one of the best songs ever. It begins with a sort of film noir backing track, and people don’t really know where it’s going. It starts off as a fairly innocuous story, and then it ends with a woman screaming about rape really, really loudly. I’m not going to say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, but believe me, nobody laughed. She’ll always have my undying respect for this song.
**9. BAD MANNERS – Can Can
**I mean Dougie (frontman Douglas Trendle, aka Buster Bloodvessel), what can you say? Bad Manners began doing shows with us at the Electric Ballroom. There’d be them, us, The Mo-dettes, and sometimes Madness would be on too, and the one thing you could always rely on with Bad Manners is they’d always get the place dancing. Can Can was a stroke of genius – a big fat man in a tutu, giving it large on Top of the Pops. It couldn’t be beaten. It’s a fantastic track, it’s really funny, and it’s typical Bad Manners.
**8. THE SELECTER – The Selecter
**Without this song, which was written by Neol Davies (The Selecter) and John Bradbury (The Specials), there wouldn’t be The Selecter as we know it today. It’s a wonderful, haunting instrumental that ended up as the B-side of _Gangsters _(The Specials). I remember the first time I heard it, when Neol played it to us when we were first coming together as a band, and I just thought it was fantastic.
**7. MADNESS – Embarrassment
**Embarrassment was the only Madness track that I could really relate to, because it’s about a mixed-raced kid in a family who’s a bit of an embarrassment. It completely related to my upbringing as a mixed-race kid within a white family, who was adopted. Every time we went anywhere my existence always had to be explained, and was always prefaced with, ‘She’s adopted you know’, to avoid any embarrassment.