Totally 2-Tone - The Selecter

Published: 23 Feb 2012 17:300 comments

Some bands get a few Top Ten hits and fizzle away, and some help define a genre and resonate


far further. The Selecter, who released their first album, Too Much Pressure, in 1980, are one of those bands. They helped bring 2-Tone - a blend of ska, punk and reggae - to the charts and created, in their rude-girl frontwoman Pauline Black, a kind of icon, whose lyrics promoted multiculturalism and hope while slamming political indifference

and racism.

After their initial split in 1982, the band have reformed sporadically, and the release of their 2011 album, Made In Britain, has sparked a new tour - with a date at Reading's Sub89 on Thursday, March 1.

"We never see it as a comeback," Pauline told The Guide. "The Selecter has been here for about 33 years, putting out records and saying what we say. We can continue to do what we do - I'm not going to hang up my hat just yet!"

And what The Selecter say and promote - hope, multiculturalism, political awareness - seems more relevant than ever in the wake of the last summer's riots, the recession, and allegations of racist taunts at football matches.

"When you look at what's going on around, it seems quite pertinent to put out an album about those ideas," said Pauline, of Made In Britain. "It's very much a follow-on to our first album [Too Much Pressure]. When you get to our age you do not have to worry about ruffling a few feathers.

"It is something people have to deal with on the streets; we are in the middle of a very big recession and racism seems to rear it's ugly head very frequently. We felt very, very passionately about the EDL being out on the streets - it's just

not right."

Pauline, who was adopted by a white family as a baby and changed her surname by deed poll as an adult, released her autobiography, Black By Design: A 2 Tone Memoir, last year. "The way I look at writing an autobiography is that it is a way to collect stories together," she said. "We are really the sum of our stories, and there's a kind of historic element. People do not realise what it was like in the 50s or 60s for black people who were born here, or emigrated here, or were adopted into white families. I have had lots of people come up to me and thank me for sharing it. That was their experience."

And despite her work in other media, including theatre, television and radio, for Pauline nothing beats playing live. "I have always liked performing onstage. It really does not matter if it's acting or music or tv or presenting a book or radio. A cross-section means I'm never bored. But there's nothing that beats standing on a stage with a packed audience."

Get tickets for the gig, £14, from

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