The Specials

The Specials were an English ska band that released the 1979–80 albums The Specials and More Specials on 2 Tone, a specialty imprint started by keyboardist Jerry Dammers in cooperation with Chrysalis. They scored hits with “Gangsters,” “A Message to You, Rudy,” “Too Much Too Young,” “Rat Race,” and the 1981 UK No. 1 “Ghost […]

The Selecter

The Selecter was an English ska band that released the 1980 2 Tone album Too Much Pressure, followed by the 1981 Chrysalis release Celebrate the Bullet. The former spawned the UK Top 20 hits “On My Radio” and “Three Minute Hero.” Members: Neol Davies (guitar, 1977-92), John Bradbury (drums, 1977-79), Barry Jones (trombone, 1977-?), Desmond […]

Dexys Midnight Runners

Dexys Midnight Runners were an English new wave band that emerged from the Birmingham R&B–ska scene with the 1980 EMI–Parlophone album Searching for the Young Soul Rebels, which spawned the UK No. 1 “Geno.” They embraced Celtic folk-pop on the 1982 Mercury release Too-Rye-Ay and its transatlantic hit “Come On Eileen.” Bandleader Kevin Rowland revised […]

The Belle Stars

The Belle Stars were an English new wave septet on Stiff Records that released eleven singles between 1981 and 1984, including the hits “Iko Iko,” “The Clapping Song,” “Sign of the Times,” and “Sweet Memory.” In 1986, a three-woman lineup scored the club hit “World Domination.” They featured five ex-members of The Bodysnatchers, another all-female […]


Graduate was an English mod-ska band from Bath, Somerset, that released the album Acting My Age on Pye-subsidiary Precision in 1980. Guitarist Roland Orzabal and bassist Curt Smith cut two singles in Naked Eyes precursor Neon, then formed Tears for Fears. Members: Roland Orzabal (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Curt Smith (bass, synthesizers, vocals), John Baker (guitar, […]

The Beat ‎– Wha’ppen (1981)

Wha’ppen is the second album by English ska-pop/reggae sextet The Beat, released in 1981 on Go Feet/I.R.S. Tracklist: A1. “Doors of Your Heart” (3:46) A2. “All Out to Get You” (2:44) A3. “Monkey Murders” (3:10) A4. “I Am Your Flag” (2:53) A5. “French Toast (Soleil Trop Chaud)” (3:31) A6. “Drowning” (3:53) B1. “Dream Home in […]

The Specials ‎– The Specials (1979)

The Specials is the debut album by the namesake Coventry Two Tone/ska band, produced by Elvis Costello and released in 1979 on 2 Tone/Chrysalis. Tracklist: A1. “A Message to You Rudy” (2:54) A2. “Do the Dog” (2:12) A3. “It’s Up to You” (3:25) A4. “Nite Klub” (3:24) A5. “Doesn’t Make It Alright” (3:26) A6. “Concrete […]

Madness ‎– One Step Beyond… (1979)

One Step Beyond… is the debut album by English two-tone/ska sextet Madness, released in October 1979 on Stiff Records. Tracklist: A1. “One Step Beyond…” (2:17) A2. “My Girl” (2:44) A3. “Night Boat to Cairo” (3:28) A4. “Believe Me” (2:28) A5. “Land of Hope & Glory” (2:56) A6. “The Prince” (3:17) A7. “Tarzan’s Nuts” (2:23) B1. […]

The Bureau

The Bureau were an English New Wave/ska band from Birmingham that released a self-titled album on WEA in 1981. Four of the band’s initial seven members were in the original lineup of Dexys Midnight Runners. Members: Archie Brown (vocals), Pete Williams (bass), Rob Jones (guitar, 1980-81), ‘Stoker’ [aka Andy Growcott] (drums), Mick Talbot, Geoff Blythe […]

The Piranhas

The Piranhas were an English ska band from Brighton that released six singles on Virgin, Attrix, Ariola/Hansa, and Dakota between 1978 and 1983. In 1980, the band released a self-titled album on Sire/Hansa with cover-art by vocalist/guitarist Johnny Helmer, who later became a novelist and lyricist for other acts. Members: Johnny Helmer (vocals, lead guitar), […]


UB40 are an English reggae-pop band from Birmingham that debuted with the LP+EP release Signing Off on local small-press Graduate Records in 1980. After setting up their own DEP International imprint through a distribution deal with Virgin, the band released their second proper full-length, Present Arms, concurrent with a dub-version of the album in 1981. […]

The Selecter ‎– Too Much Pressure (1980)

Too Much Pressure is the first of two albums by English Two Tone/ska septet The Selecter, released in 1980 on 2 Tone/Chrysalis. The American issue shuffles the track order and adds the 1979 single a-side “On My Radio.” Tracklist: A1. “Three Minute Hero” (3:00) A2. “Everyday” (3:10) A3. “They Make Me Mad” (2:47) A4. “Missing […]


Headline were an English New Wave/ska band from south London that released the album Don’t Knock the Bald Head on Virgin in 1980. Members: Michael Riley (vocals), Winston Blissett (bass), Kevin (guitar), Paul Pryce (guitar), Lascelles Forest (guitar), Richard Read (keyboards), Tony “Jegger” Read (drums) Discography: Don’t Knock the Bald Head (1980)

Bad Manners

Bad Manners were an English ska band from Stoke Newington that released four albums on Magnet between 1980 and 1982, followed by a string of titles on assorted labels from 1985 onward. Members: Buster Bloodvessel [Doug Trendle] (vocals), Louis “Alphonso” Cook (guitar), David Farren (bass), Brian Tuitt (drums), Winston Bazoomies [Alan Sayagg] (harmonica), Paul Hyman […]

Reluctant Stereotypes

The Reluctant Stereotypes were an English New Wave/ska band from Coventry that issued a three-song EP on A&M-subsidiary Oval Music in 1979, followed by the album The Label with three accompanying singles/b-sides on WEA in 1980. Vocalist Paul King, who joined just prior to the WEA releases, later recorded two albums with his own surname-sake […]