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

Akashic. Jun. 2024. 496p. ISBN 9781636141893. $32.95. MUSIC
In 1979, 2 Tone Records exploded on the British music scene. Mixing Jamaican ska, rocksteady, reggae, and punk music, it addressed social issues such as racism, class, and misogyny. Originating in Coventry, England, 2 Tone’s signed bands such as the Specials, the Selecter, Madness, the Beat, and the Bodysnatchers took the music world by storm, creating a youth dance and music scene that worked to defy racial barriers in popular music. Balancing music and politics, Rachel’s (Like Some Forgotten Dream: What If the Beatles Hadn’t Split Up??) book presents a comprehensive account of 2 Tone Records from 1979 to 1986. He incorporates interviews with crucial 2 Tone insiders, including founder Jerry Dammers, musicians Terry Hall, Ranking Roger, Rhoda Dakar, and Pauline Black, and journalists, and fans who were part of the scene. He creates a well-rounded history of one of British history’s most important musical movements. As much as it presents the unprecedented success of 2 Tone, the book does not shy away from the obstacles and infighting that ultimately lead to its demise. It has nearly 500 pages, which may intimidate some readers.
VERDICT Rachel’s writing and research of 2 Tone Records will draw readers, but the book is lengthy.
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