03/01/80 THE BEAT – Tears of a Clown (Top of the Pops)
It’s a shiny new decade for Top of the Pops, marked with a giant pink “1980” backdrop. The Beat in contrast are all (but one) in black as they mourn 2 Tone, having just negotiated their own Go-Feet label with Arista Records, styled on the 2 Tone concept. For now though, “Tears of a Clown” is beating its way into the Top 20 on it’s way to a peak position of no. 6. David Steele showcases more shuffling skills and a jolly Roger is in party mode by the end with a kid’s party stick. The Beat would go on to land another four UK Top 10 hits and enjoy some success in the States before splitting in 1983.
20/12/79-00/01/80 THE SPECIALS – Too Much Too Young/Guns of Navarone/Gangsters THE SELECTER – Interview/Murder/Too Much Pressure (Punk and its Aftershocks VHS/DVD)
Young German director, Wolfgang Buld sets forth to the “boring industrial town” of Coventry for his film documentary exploring the legacy of punk and discovers the city is anything but dull, musically at least. He tracks down The Selecter to Horizon Studios in January 1980 where they are recording their “Too Much Pressure” album and catches The Specials at one of their two homecoming concerts at Tiffanys on 20th December 1979. With The Specials we get a fully charged “Guns of Navarone” and extended “Gangsters” with inevitable stage invasion and Neville going mad…in his Madness t-shirt. The film was released on VHS and later on DVD under various other titles including British Rock – Ready for the 80s and Punk in England.
08/01/80 THE SPECIALS – Too Much Too Young/Rat Race/Skinhead Moonstomp (Look! Hear!)
Prior to setting off on their first European tour, The Specials perform three songs live at BBC’s Pebble Mill studios in Birmingham for another one of those teenage magazine programmes which seemed to be all the rage at the time. It’s a chance for the band to promote their forthcoming single, “Too Much Too Young” but there’s a lack of any real atmosphere in the studio with the usual crowd-pleasing “Skinhead Moonstomp” not even earning itself a stage invasion. Cardboard Walt Jabsco makes another cameo beforehand, brandishing a Specials LP for a competition prize.
17/01/80 THE SPECIALS – A Message to you Rudy (Musikladen)
It’s German television so it will never be seen back home …or so The Specials probably thought until this newfangled invention called the internet came along. A somewhat unruly performance it is with Lynval unleashed as Terry’s dancing sidekick and Neville taking on guitar duties. Terry takes to smiling a lot and Jerry leaps around and fiddles with the leads or buttons on his sequencer. The audience members meanwhile sit and clap along at best with a moustachio’d one, sitting on the stage with his back to the band, caught checking his watch. The crowd liven up later though for Matchbox’s ‘Rockabilly Rebel” when a becapped Jerry can be spotted rockin’ out with Madness (who also appeared on the show) near the front of the stage.
20/01/80 THE BEAT – Tears of a Clown (TopPop)
This just about sneaks in here. The Beat are busy setting up their own label but there is still some business to be done promoting their 2 Tone release, this time in Holland during their first European tour.
29/01/80 THE SELECTER – Three Minute Hero/Everday/Too Much Pressure (Look! Hear!)
The Selecter follow The Specials onto this BBC Midlands programme and are luckily faced with a much livelier bunch in the audience. This is the band’s first live performance in a television studio and they don’t disappoint. They kick off with their brand new single, “Three Minute Hero” and finish with
floor stage filler, “Too Much Pressure” during which they get swamped by the stage invasion.
00/02/80 THE SELECTER – Three Minute Hero (Muzieksien)
The Selecter take to the road for a short European tour in early February and fit in a few television appearances en route. This is a snappy three minute slot for the latest single, this time on Belgian television and it’s regulation Selecter with movement non-stop, sharp suits and some flying dreadlocks. It all takes place against a white backdrop and altogether doesn’t look unlike their future “Missing Words” video.
03/02/80 THE SPECIALS – Appearance (Night Dreems)
The Specials’ first North American tour is underway and whilst in Vancouver where they are supporting The Police, most of the band make an appearance on this cable television show which championed much of the music coming out of the UK.
05/02/80 THE SELECTER – Murder/Everyday/Danger/Missing Words/Black and Blue/Three Minute Hero/Too Much Pressure/On My Radio (Folllies)
Belgian viewers are also treated to a cracking twenty five minute set from The Selecter at RTB’s television studios in Brussels. It’s live, lively and jackets off for Pauline and Gaps after the opening track although it looks like it’s edited at this point. Luckily “Black and Blue” survives any cull as we had yet to see them do that one on television up to this point. The Folllies audience have already had a taste of 2 Tone with The Specials back in October but had maybe yet to realise that they can dance so Gaps and Charley have a word with them with three songs to go which gets the front row or two going at least. The Selecter also follow The Specials in having a good old ruck (alright, only a mock fight) on stage which leaves Gaps in a heap on the studio floor during “Too Much Pressure”. This was broadcast a few days later on 9th February.
00/00/80 THE SELECTER – Missing Words (TROS Top 50/Rock Planet)
The Selecter serve up a typically bouyant performance for another Dutch music show. It’s likely this was also recorded during the band’s European stint in February even though “Missing Words” would not be released as a single for another month. The 2 Tone 2 Tour, which The Selecter would headline, was about to get underway on their return to ol’ Blighty.
07/02/80 THE SELECTER – Three Minute Hero (Top of the Pops)
The Specials and “Too Much Too Young” are at no. 1 with The Selecter and “Three Minute Hero ” on their way up the charts to no. 21. We finally get to see John Reynolds play his
kazoo sax solo here, for his fifteen three minutes of fame. A large “Selecter” text logo is stuck onto the set, perhaps in an effort to teach viewers how to spell the band’s name correctly. Alas, it would be somewhat in vain as “The Selector” would continue to appear emblazoned on many badges, patches and people’s minds for ever more. “Three Minute Hero” would only climb another five places however the band’s soon to be released debut album would soar to no. 5 in the UK charts.
19/02/80 THE SELECTER – Murder/Danger/Missing Words (The Old Grey Whistle Test)
The Selecter briefly bunk off the 2 Tone 2 Tour to showcase tracks from their newly released “Too Much Pressure” album to that other audience in TV-land. It’s a punchy live performance with Pauline and Gaps sparring on vocals up front; the latter appropriately wearing a towel around his neck, boxer-style. Pauline goes suit jacket-less for a change, opting for the classic harrington jacket instead. I’m not sure if the band got the song choice right here as “Murder” and “Danger” sound too alike, to my ears at least. “Three Minute Hero” had begun its decent down the charts so their next single, “Missing Words” gets the nod instead.
27/02/80 THE SPECIALS – Appearance (British Rock & Pop Awards)
Hurrah! Jerry Dammers is the winner of the Daily Mirror/Nationwide Radio One DJ’s Award for 1979. Alas, The Specials are deep into a rigorous North American tour and currently in Toronto but problem apparently solved as one of the DJs, Andy Peebles flies out from England with the award…without a map it seems as he ends up in Washington. Jerry insists that he’ll only accept the award if all the band are present so they’re all booked to fly to Washington directly from Toronto. Jerry and Horace however miss the flight, meaning that they’ve to fly to New Jersey and then onto Washington the next morning. The presentation is “live” (although the ceremony wasn’t broadcast until the following evening) and lasts a whopping 70 seconds. A couple of hours later and the band are flying back north to Albany for a gig that night. “America broke us”, Horace would later say, unsurprisingly.
25/01/80 & 02/03/80 THE SPECIALS – Live Clips (Too Much Too Young DVD)
This footage shouldn’t really be included here as it wasn’t “on tv” however it did come out on DVD and I felt it was too good to leave out. There seemed to be always some doubt as to how official this US-only release from 2007 was as it was so poorly put together. However if you fast forward past the band’s videos with that narrated story, you can enjoy 13 minutes of chopped up, super-rare super 8 film footage of The Specials’ first and last gigs of their first American tour. The first and last few minutes were filmed at Hurrahs in New York on 25th January but it’s the footage in between (3:10-9:50 on the link below) from Speaks on Long Island on 2nd March which presents The Specials as the ultimate live tour de force. Bodies are soon hurtling about the stage and a frenzied Neville pushes Lynval into the audience not once but twice. As Horace wrote in his book, “It was one of those nights. We played like demons, destroyed the place. Incredible”.
06/03/80 THE SELECTER – Missing Words/Too Much Pressure (White Light)
Thames Television’s stab at youth programming provides The Selecter with a fourth opportunity in only six weeks to play live in a television studio. The stage is almost at ground level so the audience of young skins, mods and rudies are right up close to The Selecter and everyone is clearly having a great time. Cardboard Walt Jabsco makes another appearance, this time next to presenter Jon Mack as he mingles in the audience at the beginning of the show.
09/03/80 THE SELECTER – Missing Words (TopPop)
This is another appearance of “Missing Words” from Dutch TV, also likely to have been recorded in February when they were in Europe as on the above broadcast date they were in the middle of their UK tour. Pauline has finally matched that white suit jacket to her white trousers and hey presto, she now has a brilliant white suit. Cheeky chappies Compton and Charley A slyly swap instruments and they scale the steps on set for a silhouetted, synchronised dance off during Neol’s solo. The scores are in, we give ’em a 10!
00/00/80 THE SELECTER – Missing Words (Ruff Cut and Ready Dubbed VHS)
This documentary on the post punk period includes a live performance of “Missing Words” which it claims is from Tiffany’s in Coventry in April 1980. However The Selecter didn’t appear to play any UK concerts in April prior to heading off on their North American tour so it’s likely this was actually recorded during the 2 Tone 2/The Pressure Tour, possibly at Tiffany’s on 20th March. Pauline is also wearing the same gear as on “Dance Craze” which was filmed on that particular tour so that’s another corroborating clue perhaps. On this hand held super 8 footage The Selecter are their usual energetic selves. What is new is that Pauline’s trilby has become detached from her head and her hair has been finally set free. This documentary film came out on video cassette in 1982 and went on to win some awards.
00/00/80 THE SELECTER – Carry Go Bring Come (RockAmerica)
Another one of those dubious entries on here as it was probably never “on tv”. RockAmerica was in fact a monthly subscription service supplying music videos to DJs and clubs in the USA. The audio used on this “Carry Go Bring Come” video is the studio recording from the “Too Much Pressure” album however it’s hard to know where the “in concert” footage has come from. It’s almost certainly a UK audience and Pauline is wearing the same clobber as on “Dance Craze” so again, it was probably filmed on the 2 Tone 2 Tour. The band are definitely performing for the cameras at times so it is a deliberate attempt to make a video of sorts and not just some random live footage clumped together. I don’t think it was being considered for single release on 2 Tone This featured on the October 1980 edition of RockAmerica by which time The Selecter had severed ties with 2 Tone, “lost” Charley and Desmond and already released “The Whisper” on their own label under Chrysalis Records. They would go on to release another excellent album in February 1981 which unfortunately wouldn’t sell very well and following the departure of Pauline Black shortly after, they would soon cease to be.
12/03/80 THE SPECIALS – (Dawning of a) New Era/Blank Expression/A Message to You Rudy/Concrete Jungle/Stupid Marriage/You’re Wondering Now THE SELECTER – Three Minute Hero/Interview (Arena – Rudies Come Back or The Rise and Rise of 2 Tone)
NME’s Adrian Thrills is sent to Coventry to investigate the 2 Tone phenomenon. Recorded in late ’79, this documentary focuses on the two partners in 2 Tone. There’s an interview with The Selecter plus some footage of them miming to “Three Minute Hero” at Horizon Studios. The Specials meanwhile are filmed at Tiffanys again albeit at a different show to that on “Punk & its Aftershocks”. These live clips are intercut with action packed promo video-like scenes which sees Tel lobbing a brick through John Shipley’s bathroom window (as the Swinging Cat enjoys a bath) and then Roddy getting chased down the precinct (not by animals or the national front). The programme comes to an close at 2 Tone HQ AKA Jerry’s flat with a bit of a party going on and some exuberant table dancing from Lynval.
20/03/80 THE BODYSNATCHERS – Let’s Do Rocksteady (Top of the Pops)
03/04/80 THE SELECTER – Missing Words (Top of the Pops)
The Selecter look like they mean business as the line up at the front of the stage for the opening strains of “Missing Words” which is at no. 34 in the charts. This time Charley A is trading musical places with Desmond but Jane Summers-syndrome soon sets in as he abandons his organ duties during the erm, organ-guitar solo to go join the others as they mill around the stage and almost choke on the smoke. “Missing Words” is in fact missing some words here as the whole last chorus gets the chop! This performance was repeated on 17th April and the single would peak at no. 23 another week later.
10/04/80 THE BODYSNATCHERS – Let’s Do Rocksteady (Top of the Pops)
The 2 Tone juggernaut grinds to a halt outside the Top 20 for the first time, a sign that 2 Tone was perhaps beginning to lose some momentum in the ears of the buying public. It’s a similar spirited performance to last time out from the all female Bodysnatchers. Jane S has made her point and her kit is now positioned right at the front. However she soon gives up her poorly mimed drumming to instead conduct the band with her sticks before that primal urge to dance takes over yet again. Despite nabbing the support slot on The Specials’ summer seaside tour, the band’s follow up single would stiff at no. 50 in July. However it wouldn’t be the last we’d see of Rhoda Dakar or bassist, Nicky Summers on 2 Tone whilst the rest of the band would evolve into The Belle Stars and end up making a few more Top of the Pops appearances.
12/04/80 THE BODYSNATCHERS/THE SPECIALS – Appearance (Tiswas)
Essential Saturday morning viewing sees a 2 Tone crew of four Bodysnatchers, three Specials and one lone Beat enter the celebrity cage to have buckets of water thrown at them by Chris Tarrant and Sally James. The 2 Toners then box clever in a quiz with Alan Minter amidst pies of shaving foam and all look like they’re having fun, even Rhoda. As was sadly somewhat routine back then, most of the Tiswas master tapes were wiped for re-use and only a handful of episodes from 1980 are now known to exist in the official archives. Fortunately some clips of this one have surfaced, probably via someone’s old VHS tape.
19/04/80 THE SPECIALS – Gangsters/Too Much Too Young (Saturday Night Live)
The Specials make a flying visit to New York for a spot on one of America’s most popular and influential television shows. It’s an explosive live performance, apparently fueled by some tensions backstage beforehand. Neville appears from the back of the stage with a Tommy Gun to announce “Gangsters” before the stage pounds and pulses with energy. There’s a wardrobe change for “Too Much Too Young” accompanied by more audiovisual dynamite before the band mingle with assorted slebs for the closing credits.
22/05/80 THE SPECIALS – Rude Boys Outa Jail/Interviews THE SELECTER – Danger (Nationwide)
Jerry Dammers had won his Nationwide sponsored Rock & Pop award in February so the programme follows up with a very 70s sounding (it’s sooo yesteryear!) report from Tony Wilkinson, referencing The Specials’ “anarchist commune” and their “neanthedral skinhead” following. As with the Arena documentary, the focus is only on The Specials and The Selecter. On this occasion it’s The Specials we see in the studio as they record “Rude Boys Outa Jail”, giving Jerry an opportunity to do his Professor Longhair impersonation. The Selecter meanwhile are caught performing “Danger” live in concert. This 10 minute piece also features Neville in a very loud orange jacket talking about his time in borstal and there are also some clips of him in DJ mode with partner in crime, Trevor Evans
26/05/80 THE SPECIALS – Interview/Too Hot/Rat Race/Too Much Too Young (Pinkpop Festival)
The Specials perform in front of 50,000 at a sold out Sportpark in Geleen in the Netherlands. The crowd are way down below behind eight foot high fencing which some decide to try dismantle, bringing “Too Hot” to an abrupt stop. Terry directs the blame at what may be some of the security whom he says “have the mentality of a house brick”. There are no new songs in their short set however there’s a noticeable change in attire with a more casual approach replacing the suits of old. A TV special of the festival featuring three tracks from The Specials and a brief interview with Horace was aired on 28th September 1980. This has been repeated on Dutch television in more recent years.
23/06/80 THE SPECIALS – ? (Unknown)
In his book “Ska’d for Life”, Horace Panter mentions a “painfully awful tv slot where we come across as buffoons” on the second day of their tour of Japan; the land of 2 Tone cigarettes.
02/07/80 THE SPECIALS – Rude Boys Outa Jail/It’s Up To You/Hey Little Rich Girl/Monkey Man/Stupid Marriage/Raquel/Rat Race/Guns of Navarone/A Message to you Rudy/Do the Dog/Too Much Too Young/Gangsters/Enjoy Yourself/Skinhead Moonstomp (Young Music Show)
This is a 45 minute edit of the first of two shows that The Specials played at the Carnival in Shinjuku, Tokyo on the last evening of their Japanese tour. It’s casual chic again and with some new tunes in the set, the tour marks the dawning of a new era for the band. The Carnival is a small venue with a low ceiling which really fuels an electric atmosphere and it almost boils over during the outro to “Gangsters” when a kinetic Neville thrashes his congas and Roddy erm, flings his beer can to the side of the stage with an air of real menace. It’s all happening and the crowd are loving it all. Interestingly, it appears to be mostly girls at the concert, judging from the front few rows at least.
11/07/80 THE SPECIALS – It’s Up To You/Hey Little Rich Girl/Monkey Man/Blank Expression/Concrete Jungle/Stupid Marriage/Raquel/Guns of Navarone/Do Nothing/Rat Race/Stereotype/A Message to you Rudy/Man at C & A/Do the Dog/Too Much Too Young/Gangsters/Skinhead Moonstomp/Nite Club/Enjoy Yourself/You’re Wondering Now (Les Canards Sauvages)
00/00/80 THE SPECIALS – Nite Klub/Concrete Jungle/Too Much Too Young/Man at C&A/Nite Klub MADNESS – The Prince/Swan Lake/Razor Blade Alley/Madness/Night Boat to Cairo/One Step Beyond BAD MANNERS – Ne Ne Na Na Na Na Nu Nu/Lip Up Fatty/Inner London Violence/Wooly Bully THE BODYSNATCHERS – 007/Let’s Do Rocksteady/Easy Life THE SELECTER – Three Minute Hero/Missing Words/On My Radio/Too Much Pressure (Dance Craze)
This concert film capturing “The Best of British Ska Live” was recorded between February and October 1980 at various venues around the UK with the exception of The Beat’s tracks which were filmed during their first North American tour (see comments section below for dates and locations). Production troubles delayed the film’s release and it finally previewed at Midem in France in January 1981 before opening in the UK the following month, by which time the ‘ska-boom 2 Tone bubble’ had burst. It basically features close to 90 minutes of live footage, mostly shot on dimly lit stages with a steadicam. If it is to be faulted, it should have perhaps also included off stage band interviews and some interaction with fans just to mix it up a bit. It was said that only The Specials and The Beat didn’t overdub parts in the post production process. Satisfyingly the film and album finally saw Bad Manners take their rightful place on the 2 Tone roll call.
“>00/00/80 BAD MANNERS – The Magnificent 7/Woolly Bully/Ne Ne Na Na Na Na Nu Nu/Inner London Violence MADNESS – One Step Beyond/Night Boat to Cairo THE BODYSNATCHERS – Let’s Do Rocksteady THE SELECTER – On My Radio/Carry Go Bring Come (Skabeatz VHS)
Alternate takes and unreleased footage which appear to be taken from the Dance Craze vaults later appeared in 1989 on the sloppily put together American video cassette release, Skabeatz. There is lots more unreleased footage which Dance Craze cinematographer, Joe Dunton, claims he is trying to track down in the hope of someday releasing a Dance Craze 2. Toes and fingers crossed.
00/10/80 THE SPECIALS – Stereotype (TopPop)
Following the More Specials tour, it’s another festival and promotional excursion to Europe for The Specials. They avoid the stereotypes as Jerry’s search for new sounds adds a twist of flamenco to the latest single. This warning tale of binge drinking would continue their impressive run of UK Top 10 singles despite little radio play and zero television appearances due to an “offensive” lyric. Fortunately Dutch broadcasters were more open minded with the single getting outings on three different TV programmes. This is a slightly sombre,
2 toned down performance by Specials’ standards, befitting the slower paced track. Dick Cuthell is there too to chip in mariachi-style. This was broadcast on either the 17th or 24th October.
00/10/80 THE SPECIALS – Stereotype (TROS Star Club)
Ditto the TopPop appearance but with the odd explosion on stage and some added farting about which sees Terry almost swallow his mic. Terry and Jerry seem to have swapped clothes since last time out too.
18/10/80 THE SPECIALS – Concrete Jungle/Rat Race/Sea Cruise /Stereotype /Gangsters/Sock it to ’em JB/Too Much Too Young/Enjoy Yourself (Countdown Live)
This is an edited version of The Specials’ appearance at the Veronica Festival at the Jaap Eden Hal in Amsterdam and it’s yet another superb performance. It feels like I’m running out of words to describe how good the Specials are live at this point. Of particular interest here is the inclusion of Rico’s “Sea Cruise” and also “Sock it to ’em JB” which causes the mother of all stage invasions. Swinging Cat, Paul Heskett replaces Rico for that one and just as he gets to his sax solo the stage collapses, bringing it to an early end.
24/11/80 Man at C&A/Do Nothing (Something Else)
A colourful looking but doomy sounding Specials return to BBC’s Something Else. The dread filled “Man at C & A” packs a real punch whilst soon-to-be single “Do Nothing” sounds just as powerful in its own way. It’s impossible to pinpoint when The Specials reached their peak; they seemed to be consistently at their peak from 1979 right through to their break up in 1981.
12/12/80 THE BODYSNATCHERS – Let’s Do Rocksteady/What’s This THE SPECIALS – Interview THE SELECTER – Interview/Out on the Streets/Everday/Madness (Alright Now)
Pauline Black gets to showcase her presenting skills (an audition for future television work, perhaps?!) as does Gaps on this twenty five minute 2 Tone Special. Most interestingly, it features live performances in the studio from both The Bodysnatchers and The Selecter in front of a very cool looking, young audience. In between we see Ms. Selecter out and about with Mssrs Selecter for a tour of Coventry pubs ‘n clubs. They’re all clearly in good spirits as they joke around alas things can change quickly in bandland. This programme had been recorded earlier in the year and by the time it was broadcast, the troubled and troublesome Selecter had gone through some line up changes whilst The Bodysnatchers had already played their farewell gig on Halloween night.
18/12/80 THE SPECIALS – Do Nothing (Top of the Pops)
A lyrically disillusioned Specials are still up for getting into the festive spirit as they ditch their mohair for Christmas cashmere. But hang on, there’s an impostor on stage…a Beat Invader no less! David Steele from The Beat has shuffled his way into the line up in a swap deal for Horace. Otherwise there’s some industrious gum chewing from Terence and Jerry treats us to his toothless smile. Horace meanwhile makes his debut with The Beat later on in the show on the ultra-catchy “Too Nice To Talk To”.