Too Much Pressure – The Selecter (1979)


Too Much Pressure is the first album by British ska band The Selecter. After the band’s official formation in 1979 in Coventry, following the release of a song entitled ‘The Selecter’ by an unofficial incarnation of the band, the band’s hit single ‘On My Radio‘ prompted their labels 2 Tone and Chrysalis to ask the band to record their debut album. … The album contains original material, mostly composed by band founder and guitarist Neol Davies, as well as numerous ska and reggae cover versions, in a similar fashion to the Specialsdebut album. … Critical reception to Too Much Pressure was positive. Robert Christgau of The Village Voice awarded the album a score of ‘A-‘, advising listeners to ‘play loud. He commented how, ‘except for songwriter-guitarist Neol Davies, these two-toners are black, reassuring in a movement that calls up fears of folkie patronization. Lead singer’s a woman, too, a refreshing piece of progress no matter how self-consciously progressive its motives.’ …”
Wikipedia
amazon, Spotify, iTunes
YouTube: Too Much Pressure (Live), On My Radio (Live), Missing Words (Live), Murder (Live)
YouTube: Too Much Pressure Completo (Full album) 40:34

Syd Shelton discusses his exhibition of antiracist protest photographs in London


Bagga, 1979
“… I became involved with Rock Against Racism after the Battle of Lewisham in southeast London in 1977. This was when a racist march by about one hundred National Front supporters was met with five thousand antiracist activists who had traveled down from all over the country. The Metropolitan Police were determined that the National Front be able to march, so they deployed a quarter of their force, suited with riot gear. This was the first time the police in Britain were militarized, and the officers’ use of riot shields really shifted the goalposts for activists—we were up against something different now. At the same time, Eric Clapton had just delivered a horribly racist tirade onstage, in support of Conservative politician Enoch Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech. We realized we needed to grab the headlines to counter the right-wing media’s high profile, and our first major event was a carnival in April 1978—a huge concert in the Victoria Park in Tower Hamlets. We didn’t want it to just be a free rock concert, though; we wanted it to be a demonstration. …”
ARTFORUM
Guardian – Rock Against Racism: the Syd Shelton images that define an era
Interview – Syd Shelton
Rock Against Racism: Syd Shelton’s photographs of a movement in 1970s Britain
W – Rock Against Racism
vimeo: Archive in Focus: Syd Shelton, Rock against Racism 7:19

Darcus Howe (with loudhailer) addresses a crowd from on top of a toilet block, 1977.

Work Rest and Play – Madness EP (1980)


Wikipedia – “Work Rest and Play is an EP by British ska/pop band Madness. … The EP was headlined by the song ‘Night Boat to Cairo‘, from the band’s debut album One Step Beyond. The EP’s success was largely down to ‘Night Boat to Cairo‘, which headlined the set and had an accompanying music video. The fourth song, ‘Don’t Quote Me On That’, was a commentary on press coverage which had tried to paint the band as racists who supported the National Front. Some of the band’s shows had been disrupted by skinhead violence and, in a 1979 NME interview, Madness member Chas Smash was quoted as saying ‘We don’t care if people are in the NF as long as they’re having a good time.’ This was quoted to add to the speculation that Madness was a racist band supporting the National Front, although the band members denied those allegations. …”
Wikipedia
W – Night Boat to Cairo
YouTube: Night Boat to Cairo, Deceives the Eye, My Girl

I Just Can’t Stop It – The English Beat (1980)


I Just Can’t Stop It was a late arrival onto the checker- boarded scene, the Specials, Madness and the Selecter had all beat the (English) Beat to the punch, but luckily this wasn’t a race. Besides, the band had already primed the pump with a trio of Top 10 singles — the double A-sided ‘Tears of a Clown’/’Ranking Full Stop,’ ‘Hands Off She’s Mine’ and ‘Mirror in the Bathroom,’ their debut album followed hard on ‘Mirror”s heels, picking up the latter two songs and “Full Stop” to boot. … Their own compositions were heavily cultural in theme — the radical cries to depose the prime minister on ‘Margaret,’ the slashing anti-violence of ‘Two Swords’ and even more ominous and feverish ‘Click Click,’ through the cultural nihilism of ‘Mirror’ itself. With a few softer love and lovelorn tracks taking some of the edge off. Stop was a stunning achievement, its driving, frenetic numbers grounded in punk’s fury smashing into the loose-limbed grooves and melodies of rocksteady inspired songs, and banging head on into sweeter pop fueled pieces. The album remained on the British charts for a whopping eight months, eventually peaking at Number Three. Time has not diminished its glory, the songs remain hugely as their continued inclusion in the band’s offshoot’s repertoire have proved.”
allmusic (Audio)
W – I Just Can’t Stop It
Genius
YouTube: Mirror In The Bathroom [Official Music Video]
YouTube: THE BEAT – (THE COMPLETE I JUST CAN’T STOP IT ALBUM) 35:41

Ghost Town – The Specials (1981)


“‘Ghost Town’ is a song by the British two-tone band the Specials, released on 12 June 1981. The song spent three weeks at number one and 10 weeks in total in the top 40 of the UK Singles Chart. Addressing themes of urban decay, deindustrialisation, unemployment and violence in inner cities, the song is remembered for being a hit at the same time as riots were occurring in British cities. Internal tensions within the band were also coming to a head when the single was being recorded, resulting in the song being the last single recorded by the original seven members of the group before splitting up. However, the song was hailed by the contemporary UK music press as a major piece of popular social commentary, and all three of the major UK music magazines of the time awarded ‘Ghost Town’ the accolade of ‘Single of the Year’ for 1981. …”
Wikipedia
Discogs
YouTube: Ghost Town (Official Music Video), Ghost Town (Extended Mix) 6:01, Why?, Friday Night, Saturday Morning, Ghost Dub 91/ Let Us Unite Medley (Rare Mix)