Being one of the bands associated with the 2-Tone ska revival along with fellow Coventry band The Specials, the Selecter burned twice as bright for half as long, at least in its original incarnation. Yet, this single knocked it out of the park, proving them to be a singularly great new wave band before dissolving the next year, around the time the ska-revival craze died out too.
The band showed tremendous promise, even if their sound was fused to the life of the ska-craze as championed by the better known Specials and the Beat. Along with those two bands, they appeared in the film to document that scene, 1981’s Dance Craze along with like-minded bands Bodysnatchers, Bad Manners, and Madness.
Where the many of those bands took the frisson of punk and mixed it with traditional Caribbean ska, The Selecter borrowed from the new wave diva sounds of Lene Lovich and Toyah Wilcox. This was largely realized by lead vocalist Pauline Black, who brought a new wave herky-jerky delivery which complemented the tense ska backdrop which framed the band’s material.
Like many of the 2-Tone bands, The Selecter was made up of members of mixed heritage, something of a subversion of the violence between communities which was a problem during the economically-depressed times of the late 70s, early 80s industrial Britain. Yet even if the band’s material also covers a lot of this thematic territory, this tune is a pure pop song, designed to get stuck in your head. Perhaps purposefully, the song is about the joy of pop music and how attractive it is, with hooks galore mixed in with a tough ska sound that is true to its origins.
Even of the Selecter’s prime period was this brief 1979-81 time span, the group would reconvene in the 90s. In the meantime, Pauline Black had made something of a second career as an actor, appearing on the stage and on British television. Yet, the group would be most associated as a pop group that captured the zeitgeist of Midlands Britain and the celebrated 2-Tone sound that would inspire bands for decades to come, including many American bands like No Doubt, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and many others.
For more music, stop by theselecter.net.