The Ska Librarian’s
2 TONE TIME MACHINE
Do The Dog
A Pocket History of Ska & 2 Tone in the Hellzapopin’ 1980’s
Our friend Kevin at DO THE DOG Skazine has done it again; looking back into his ‘back pages’ from the 1980’s when he ran RUDE Skazine.
Sooner or later one of us will win the lottery and these A5 magazines will be published as an actual book; but until then we we go with what we have, four magazines split covering two years each.
It’s fun looking back to see bands that became Household Names getting their first ever mentions in print.
Starting in 1979 it’s an absolute hoot as we start with the news that 2 Tone Records have already had 6 Top 20 singles and a Top 20 album …….. remember those exciting days; waiting for then watching Top Of The Pops hoping that one of our favourite bands would appear?
Madness’s debut album is described as ‘literally jaw dropping in its excellence’ …….. which history proves the writer correct, of course.
Then there is ‘a London trio injecting their fab songs with reggae and 2 Tone rhythms’ ….. who could that possibly be?
The Police; back in the days when they were cool.
For me it wasn’t easy reading in order; as band names are all in bold type which meant I kept jumping from page to page, reading about the new Bodysnatchers single (which I bought and cherished) then two paragraphs about Prince Buster, nearly missing the news that Birmingham band Dexy’s Midnight Runners were on the verge of signing for 2 Tone!
Baring in mind this was 40 years ago, I’d forgot how exciting this all was, especially remembering acts like Arthur Kay and Mark Foggo’s Secret Meeting (again) for the very first time.
Oh; if you were surprised at seeing The Police included; I couldn’t help but giggle when I read about an Australian band and their ‘self-penned Ska Tunes which have been a mainstay of their live act.’
Who could that be?
INXS of course – really!
1981-83 saw the first cracks appear in our nascent Ska and 2 Tone ‘movement’; as Madness are still top of the charts and the Dance Craze film comes out; but after The Specials start the year well they then split and beget Fun Boy Three and eventually The Special AKA.
Thankfully Bad Manners, The Selector, The Police and new boys The Beat are still ‘flying the flag’ but RUDE Skazine was now concentrating on Ska bands in the urban towns around the country and Europe; with nods to The Riffs, Belle Stars, Dixo Wankers (Holland), Geier Sturzflug (Germany), Duck Soup (Denmark) and American outfits Blue Riddim Band, The Targets and Fishbone!
By 1984/85 British Ska and 2 Tone was on the wain to some degree, although Liverpool’s The Farm and following the Beat splitting up three members founded a band called Fine Young Cannibals come out of nowhere; but ‘our music certainly appeared to be on the rise everywhere else.
Again; I got a helluva buzz re-reading about a Bim Skala Bim and ‘cool new band from California’ called Camper Van Beethoven …… whatever happened to them?
As 2 Tone and Ska was no longer dominating the UK Charts; by 1987/88 The magazine had now evolved into what we now know as Do The Dog Skazine; concentrating the the shadows of the industry; which is why it is now essential reading.
Where else where/are you going to read about La Ppisch, Korroskada, El Bosso & Die Ping Pongs, Los Intocables, The Donkey Show alongside Madness, Ranking Roger, The Toasters and the ubiquitous Bad Manners?
It’s been a hoot and a blast re-living my musical youth; and there’s been surprises on every page ………. none more so than on page #4 of the 1981 issue.
Tucked away between things about Chicago’s Heavy Manners new 7″ and an emerging band from Sydney called The Allniters is a note about young Kevin’s “Favourite new Ska song called Love On The Run, an insanely catchy earworm of a sing along 2 Tone Ska/Pop track from an up and coming NYC pop vocalist called ………. Madonna!
Yep ……… ‘that’ Madonna!
OK I doubt they will ever unearth another Madonna; but looking back to the days of RUDE Skazine will hopefully make you appreciate Do The Dog even more.