This potentially sounds like a great read. Too Much Too Young: The 2 Tone Records Story by Daniel Rachel.
Not that it is out yet. October is the date, but you can pre-order the hardback book now in case you forget when it does come around. Likely a good one to add to your Christmas list as well.
If the author’s name rings a bell, it might be because you own the excellent Walls Come Tumbling Down (which is still in print), a book that also touches on this subject matter. This one doesn’t just touch on it. The book focuses on it.
This is the official write-up:
In 1979, 2 Tone exploded into the national conscience as records by The Specials, The Selecter, Madness, The Beat, and The Bodysnatchers burst onto the charts and a youth movement was born.
2 Tone was black and white: a multi-racial force of British and Caribbean island musicians singing about social issues, racism, class and gender struggles. It spoke of injustices in society and took fight against right wing extremism.
The music of 2 Tone was exuberant: white youth learning to dance to the infectious rhythm of ska and reggae; and crossed with a punk attitude to create an original hybrid. The idea of 2 Tone was born in Coventry, masterminded by a middle-class art student raised in the church. Jerry Dammers had a vision of an English Motown.
Borrowing £700, 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 was at number six in the national charts. Dammers signed Madness, The Beat and The Bodysnatchers as a glut of successive hits propelled 2 Tone onto Top of the Pops and into the hearts and minds of a generation. However, soon infighting amongst the bands and the pressures of running a label caused 2 Tone to bow to an inevitable weight of expectation and recrimination.
Still under the auspices of Jerry Dammers, 2 Tone entered in a new phase. Perhaps not as commercially successful as its 1979-1981 incarnation the label nevertheless continued to thrive for a further four years releasing a string of fresh signings and a stunning end-piece finale in ‘(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 culture.
As I said, sounds like a potentially great read. If you want a copy, the 288-page hardback book is out on 19th October 2023, with a pre-order price of £25 for the hardback.