When The Specials went to Northern Ireland


It was a brave pop band that went to Northern Ireland at the start of the 1980s and loudly advocated a non-sectarian message – but that’s what The Specials and The Beat did in 1981.

On the UK mainland, 2tone bands had made racial unity central to their musical message. When it came to the violence torn province, unity of Catholic and Protestant youth was their plea. I write about this tour in my biography of Neville Staple – Original Rude Boy. And below is a press clipping from my archives.

2tone

Pop faces of the early 1980s


Three magazines from my huge archive of 80s stuff – Record Mirror featuring Blondie, My Guy with Steve Strange and No.1 magazine with the faces of 1983.  Record Mirror was a good music mag but it never inspired the tribal loyalty that attached to the NME, Melody Maker and Sounds.

In the late 70s, it would publish painted images of pop stars, some of which I’ve framed as they were rather fetching. The mag closed down in 1991 but bizarrely, the name was bought by Giovanni di Stefano – an Italian lawyer most famous for being on Saddam Hussein’s legal defence team!

Blondie IMG_1747 IMG_1656

Steel Pulse – Buzzcocks- China Street – against the Nazis


Londoners of a certain age remember the two massive Anti Nazi League carnivals in 1978 with glowing nostalgia. But Manchester was in on the act too. Let’s not forget that. Here was the Mancunian ANL carnival with acts like Steel Pulse, the Buzzcocks and China Street.

I loved Steel Pulse’s Jah Pickney with that song’s delightful lyrics about hunting the National Front. Check it out on YouTube. Buzzcocks – we all know them! But I’d quite forgotten China Street, a favourite of John Peel and on the EMI label for a while.

The march was sponsored by the north west region TUC. The trade unions were very much a backbone of the whole anti-racist push against the National Front at that time.