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2 Much 2 Young: The 2-Tone Records Story

August 25 @ 7:30 pm


City Lights in conjunction with Akashic Books and The Makeup Room present

2 Much 2 Young: The 2-Tone Records Story

With w/ DJs Dukey, Paul Costuros, DJ ’66, and a presentation and booksigning by author Daniel Rachel

At The Makeout Room, 3225 22nd Street (near Mission) San Francisco, CA 94110
Admission charge $10.00. To learn more visit: http://www.makeoutroom.com/

City Lights celebrates the publication of

Too Much Too Young, the 2 Tone Records Story: Rude Boys, Racism, and the Soundtrack of a Generation
By Daniel Rachel
Published by Akashic Books

The definitive and remarkable story of 2 Tone Records, featuring an introduction by Pauline Black

In 1979, 2 Tone Records exploded into the consciousness of music lovers in Britain, the US, and beyond, as albums by The Specials, The Selecter, Madness, The English Beat, and The Bodysnatchers burst onto the charts and a youth movement was born. 2 Tone was Black and white: a multiracial force of British and Caribbean musicians singing about social issues, racism, class, and gender struggles. It spoke of injustices in society and fought against right-wing extremism.

The music of 2 Tone was exuberant: white youth learning to dance to the infectious rhythm of ska and reggae crossed with a punk attitude created an original hybrid. The idea of 2 Tone was born in Coventry, England, and masterminded by a middle-class art student, Jerry Dammers, who envisioned an English Motown. Borrowing £700, the label’s first record featured “Gangsters” by The Specials, backed by an instrumental track by the as-yet-unformed Selecter. Within two months, the single reached number six on the UK music charts. Dammers went on to sign Madness, The English Beat, and The Bodysnatchers as a glut of successive hits propelled 2 Tone artists onto Top of the Pops and into the hearts and minds of a generation.

As excitement grew in the United States, 2 Tone bands began crossing the Atlantic to perform for American audiences. Soon, however, infighting among the bands and the pressures of running a label caused 2 Tone to bow to the inevitable weight of expectation and recrimination.

Still, under the auspices of Jerry Dammers, 2 Tone entered a new phase. Perhaps not as commercially successful as its 1979–1981 incarnation, the label nevertheless continued to thrive for another four years, releasing a string of fresh signings and a stunning end-piece finale in the activist hit song “(Free) Nelson Mandela.”

Told in three parts, Too Much Too Young is the definitive story of a label that for a brief, bright burning moment shaped British, American, and world culture.

Daniel Rachel is a Birmingham-born, best-selling author whose previous works include: Isle of Noises: Conversations with Great British Songwriters; Walls Come Tumbling Down: The Music and Politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone, and Red Wedge;Don’t Look Back in Anger: The Rise and Fall of Cool Britannia; The Lost Album of the Beatles: What If the Beatles Hadn’t Split Up?; One for the Road: The Life & Lyrics of Simon Fowler & Ocean Colour Scene; Oasis: Knebworth: Two Nights That Will Live Forever; and coauthor of Ranking Roger’s autobiography I Just Can’t Stop It: My Life in The Beat. In 2021, Rachel was a guest curator of the “2 Tone Lives & Legacies” exhibition as part of Coventry Cultural City 2021, and he curated the anniversary edition of The Selecter’s debut album, Too Much Pressure.

DJ’s Dukey, Paul Costuros, and DJ 66 spin vintage #soul, reggae, #blues, #afrobeat and assorted #funky #grooves


Made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation.


August 25
7:30 pm


City Lights Bookstore
View Organizer Website


The Makout Room
3225 22nd Street
San Francisco, CA 94110 United States
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