The co-op bookstore for avid readers
Book Cover for: Too Much Too Young, the 2 Tone Records Story: Rude Boys, Racism, and the Soundtrack of a Generation, Daniel Rachel

Too Much Too Young, the 2 Tone Records Story: Rude Boys, Racism, and the Soundtrack of a Generation

Daniel Rachel

"We lived in Britain, a country that had hugely benefited from immigration, but curiously had an innate antipathy to the ideas of multiculturalism and diversity. Daniel Rachel has managed to capture the essence of that contradiction in those Margaret Thatcher-governed years, with this comprehensive, cautionary but nonetheless celebratory saga of the 2 Tone label."
--Pauline Black, singer of The Selecter

"Daniel Rachel has managed to talk to all the significant players and the story he tells is one that shines a light on the challenges of mixing pop with politics. This feels like the definitive story of 2 Tone. Masterful."
--Billy Bragg

In 1979, 2 Tone Records exploded into the consciousness of music lovers in Britain, the US, and beyond, as albums by The Specials, The Selecter, Madness, The English Beat, and The Bodysnatchers burst onto the charts and a youth movement was born. 2 Tone was Black and white: a multiracial force of British and Caribbean musicians singing about social issues, racism, class, and gender struggles. It spoke of injustices in society and fought against right-wing extremism.

The music of 2 Tone was exuberant: white youth learning to dance to the infectious rhythm of ska and reggae crossed with a punk attitude created an original hybrid. The idea of 2 Tone was born in Coventry, England, and masterminded by a middle-class art student, Jerry Dammers, who envisioned an English Motown. Borrowing L700, the label's first record featured "Gangsters" by The Specials, backed by an instrumental track by the as-yet-unformed Selecter. Within two months, the single reached number six on the UK music charts. Dammers went on to sign Madness, The English Beat, and The Bodysnatchers as a glut of successive hits propelled 2 Tone artists onto Top of the Pops and into the hearts and minds of a generation.

As excitement grew in the United States, 2 Tone bands began crossing the Atlantic to perform for American audiences. Soon, however, infighting among the bands and the pressures of running a label caused 2 Tone to bow to the inevitable weight of expectation and recrimination.

Still, under the auspices of Jerry Dammers, 2 Tone entered a new phase. Perhaps not as commercially successful as its 1979-1981 incarnation, the label nevertheless continued to thrive for another four years, releasing a string of fresh signings and a stunning end-piece finale in the activist hit song "(Free) Nelson Mandela."

Told in three parts, Too Much Too Young is the definitive story of a label that for a brief, bright burning moment shaped British, American, and world culture.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Akashic Books, Ltd.
  • Publish Date: Jun 4th, 2024
  • Pages: 496
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 0.00in - 0.00in - 0.00in - 0.00lb
  • EAN: 9781636141893
  • Categories: History & Criticism - GeneralGenres & Styles - PunkGenres & Styles - Reggae

About the Author

Rachel, Daniel: -

Daniel Rachel is a Birmingham-born, best-selling author whose previous works include: Isle of Noises: Conversations with Great British Songwriters; Walls Come Tumbling Down: The Music and Politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone, and Red Wedge; Don't Look Back in Anger: The Rise and Fall of Cool Britannia; The Lost Album of the Beatles: What If the Beatles Hadn't Split Up?; One for the Road: The Life & Lyrics of Simon Fowler & Ocean Colour Scene; Oasis: Knebworth: Two Nights That Will Live Forever; and coauthor of Ranking Roger's autobiography I Just Can't Stop It: My Life in The Beat. In 2021, Rachel was a guest curator of the "2 Tone Lives & Legacies" exhibition as part of Coventry Cultural City 2021, and he curated the anniversary edition of The Selecter's debut album, Too Much Pressure.

Praise for this book
"Daniel Rachel has bagged the whirlwind of 2 Tone with joy, honesty, and compassion to create the definitive account of one of Britain's finest youth movements."--Suggs, singer of Madness
"In Daniel Rachel, the great untold story of the post-punk era finally gets the storyteller it deserves. Too Much Too Young is every bit as thrilling, and just as achingly evocative, as the music it was written to celebrate."--Pete Paphides, journalist and broadcaster
"This is a book about a few exceptionally talented people who came together and created something extraordinary."--Charlie Higson, actor, comedian, author
"A brilliantly vivid account of one of British pop culture's most inspiring movements--surely the definitive telling of the 2 Tone story."--John Harris, author of The Last Party: Britpop, Blair and the Demise of English Rock
"An incredible and detailed account of a massive watershed moment in British culture."--Gurinder Chadha, filmmaker