Coventry was ready for 2 Tone.
In this industrial town of the early seventies, alongside the authentic Jamaican-style sound systems already popular with the ‘Windrush generation’ - Jamaican records were already reaching a new wider audience.
Through Top of the Pops and other much-watched TV programmes, people had been awakened to songs like Bob & Marcia’s “Young, Gifted and Black” (the Jamaican version of the civil right classic). They’d heard, danced to and bought massive hit singles from Ken Boothe and John Holt, distributed in Britain by the Trojan Records label. But something else was happening. People like Pete Waterman could see it in late ‘74 when he played newly-acquired Jamaican records at his club nights at the Coventry Locarno: “We would have fourteen hundred white kids on a Monday night in Coventry dancing to ‘Ire Feelings’, which had only just come out in Jamaica the week before.” This burgeoning popularity would soon spread across to Jamaican roots reggae, which was to greatly influence emerging punk groups like The Clash and The Slits. In turn, this paved the way for a unique amalgamation of styles that led to 2 Tone. ’Rudeboy in Coventry’ reminds us that in 1979 when we first heard the start of The Specials’ debut single “Gangsters” and their arresting take on Prince Buster’s “Al Capone’s guns don’t argue” - many “Coventry kids” black and white knew exactly where this was coming from..