CLEVELAND - The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum has unveiled a new spotlight exhibition focused on the history of influential British record label Two-Tone. The exhibit, located in the Rock Hall’s Ahmet M. Ertegun Main Exhibit Hall, and features handwritten lyrics, photographs, singles, instruments, apparel items and more from numerous bands on the legendary label.
Between 1979 and 1986, the Two-Tone label released 28 singles, including hits by the Specials, the Selecter, Madness, the Bodysnatchers and the Beat, known as the English Beat outside of the U.K. Although only the English Beat -- and to a lesser extent, Madness -- ever had much success outside of the U.K., the Two-Tone movement combined infectious dance music and progressive ideals to confront the status quo. Two-Tone laid the groundwork for the success of such American artists as the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Fishbone, Sublime, Reel Big Fish and the multi-platinum selling No Doubt.
Highlights from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s Two-Tone exhibit include:
Dave Wakeling of the Beat 1980 Jay Dee Six Custom Guitar
Singer, songwriter and guitarist Dave Wakeling played this guitar onstage and in the studio between 1980 and 2006 with the Beat, his follow-up group, General Public, and as a solo artist.
One Step Beyond Master Tape Box, 1979
One Step Beyond was Madness’ first album. It reached Number Two and stayed in the U.K. charts for more than a year.
“Too Much Too Young,” handwritten lyrics (facsimile), 1979
Written by Jerry Dammers and performed by the Specials, “Too Much Too Young,” was the Specials’ biting social commentary on teen parenthood, was based on first wave ska artist Lloyd Charmers’ 1969 U.K. hit “Birth Control.”
Five 2-Tone Badges, c. 1979
Badges and lapel pins, especially those depicting “Walt Jabsco,” the iconic record label logo figure, were important signifiers of the 2-Tone scene.
“Tears of a Clown” 45 single, 1979
The English Beat’s version of this Smokey Robinson and the Miracles 1970 hit reached Number Six on the U.K. chart.
“Ghost Town” 45 single, 1981
“Ghost Town” is the Specials’ final recording. It’s an eerie, world-weary document of the final days of the band, the disintegration of the 2-Tone scene and encapsulated the mood of the U.K. in the summer of 1981.
For more information on this and other special exhibitions at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, visit rockhall.com/exhibits.
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