two-tone

two-tone
   At its height in the years between 1979 and 1982, the two-tone movement provided an often damning musical commentary on the most significant rightward ideological shift in modern British political thought. Hailing mainly from the more ethnically diverse, though by no means harmonious, communities of Coventry, Birmingham and East London, the Specials, The Beat, The Selecter and Madness formed the nucleus of the bands signed to the Two-Tone label and produced the self-defined two-tone or ska music which dominated the charts in the early Thatcher years. Two-tone by name and two-tone in composition, with black and white group members, these bands preached a positive and provocative message of interracial cooperation and understanding, against a background of bureaucratic and political indifference, neo-Nazi nationalism and the planned structural decay of the inner cities.
   This post-punk wave of British popular music had its roots and sought its inspiration in the work of Jamaican musicians, such as Prince Buster, Duke Reid and Coxson Dodd, from some twenty years earlier. Indeed, many of the original ska sounds (such as ‘Guns of Navarone’ and ‘My Boy Lollipop’) were covered by British two-tone bands and became huge hits with the movement’s many skinhead followers (see skinheads). But two-tone music was more than ska; it was ska plus pop, punk rock and soul. This unique cocktail of musical influences created a new dance craze (the title of a 1981 film documenting the British two-tone phenomenon) and a new strain of youth-culture. Rudeboys and rudegirls, or gender-neutral rudies, were a fashion-conscious crowd prone to wearing smart suits, ‘pork pie’ hats, white socks and slipon, tasselled brogues. Unlike some extreme nationalist elements of the mod (see mods) and skinhead cohort, from which they drew inspiration for their dress code, rudies evidenced an enlightened outlook on issues of race.
   Having released a string of hits which dealt with unemployment, foppery in higher education, racial violence and the futilities of the urban nightclub lifestyle, it seems fair to say that the most incisive political commentary from within this musical movement came from the Two-Tone label’s founders, The Specials (officially named the Special AKA). But their most prescient and haunting song was ‘Ghost Town’, a number one in 1981, which coincided with the widespread inner-city rioting of the same year. Furthermore, while recording as the Special AKA in 1987, the band again captured the mood of the moment in contributing to the international campaign effort to secure the release of Nelson Mandela. Their catchy anthem, celebrating the name and plight of the jailed ANC leader, was sung throughout the townships of South Africa.
   Several two-tone/ska revivals have occurred since the movement’s heyday, while many original two-tone band members have since found success in new group combinations (including the Fine Young Cannibals, General Public and the Fun Boy Three). Meanwhile, perhaps recognizing their obvious influence on younger Britpop bands, Madness returned with several sold-out live shows.
   Further reading
    Marshall, G. (1988) The Two-Tone Story, London: Boxtree.
   STEPHEN C. KENNY

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • two-tone — adj having two different colours or sounds ▪ two tone shoes ▪ a two tone alarm …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • two-tone — two′ tone or two′ toned′ adj. having two colors or two shades of the same color • Etymology: 1925–30 …   From formal English to slang

  • two-tone — [to͞o′tōn′] adj. of or having two colors or two hues of a color …   English World dictionary

  • Two-Tone — 2 Tone Le damier, symbole du two tone et de la mixité. 2 Tone ou Two Tone (deux tons ou deux couleurs) est un label de musique britannique créé en 1979 par le fondateur des Specials Jerry Dammers, avec comme têtes de file The Specials, Madness,… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Two-tone — 2 Tone Le damier, symbole du two tone et de la mixité. 2 Tone ou Two Tone (deux tons ou deux couleurs) est un label de musique britannique créé en 1979 par le fondateur des Specials Jerry Dammers, avec comme têtes de file The Specials, Madness,… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Two Tone — 2 Tone Le damier, symbole du two tone et de la mixité. 2 Tone ou Two Tone (deux tons ou deux couleurs) est un label de musique britannique créé en 1979 par le fondateur des Specials Jerry Dammers, avec comme têtes de file The Specials, Madness,… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • two-tone — ˈ ̷ ̷| ̷ ̷ adjective or two toned ˈ ̷ ̷| ̷ ̷ : having some parts of one color and others of another color or of a different shade of the same color * * * two tone «TOO TOHN», adjective. having two colors or shades of color: »a two tone station… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Two-Tone — 2 tone ist eine Bezeichnung für die Musik und Kultur der zweiten Ska Welle der frühen 1980er Jahre. Der Name der Bewegung entwickelte sich aus dem Namen des Schallplattenlabels 2 Tone Records, auf dem die ersten Vertreter dieser Welle (The… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Two tone — 2 tone ist eine Bezeichnung für die Musik und Kultur der zweiten Ska Welle der frühen 1980er Jahre. Der Name der Bewegung entwickelte sich aus dem Namen des Schallplattenlabels 2 Tone Records, auf dem die ersten Vertreter dieser Welle (The… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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