For our latest drop from the SS17 Collection, we’ve jumped back to the chequerboard, offbeat world of Britain’s Ska revolution. From the mid 60s to early 80s, Brits fell head over heels for this contemporary offshoot of Reggae.
To set the scene for the collection, we thought we’d delve a little deeper into some of the shining lights of the Ska movement.
Perfectly melding the off-kilter rhythms of early Ska bands with contemporary soundscapes and highly politicised lyrics, Coventry’s The Specials were a one of the first mainstream success of the Ska movement.
The brainchild of Jerry Dammers and ably fronted by singer Terry Hall, the Specials belted out tracks such as Too Much Too Young, Ghost Town and their version of the staple Guns of Navarone while sporting polo shirts, sharp black suits, braces and pork pie hats, all of which became the major calling cards of Ska fashion.
During the band’s Special A.K.A. incarnation, they also proved that Ska has the power to change the world, with their song Free Nelson Mandela becoming anthem for the movement to seek justice for the South African.
Probably the most well known of all of Britain’s Ska acts, Suggs’ rabble Madness have had more hits than we would care to mention, and proved once and for all that despite its detractors, Ska could reach and touch a mainstream audience.
The band also plumped for the sharp suits favoured by The Specials, with polo shirts and checked button down shirts - both often provided by Ben Sherman, may we add - completing their cool, slightly off kilter look.
Still touring and releasing new music today, Madness are arguably the greatest success story of the movement, and we should thanks Suggs and the gang for bringing Skanking to the masses.
Fronted by the inimitable lead singer David Wakeling and toaster Ranking Roger, The Beat formed in the Midlands in 1978, quickly rising to prominence thanks to their hit "Mirror in the Bathroom" and the cover of Smokey Robinson’s "Tears of a Clown".
Thanks to support slots with acts such as David Bowie and Talking Heads along with plentiful radio and MTV exposure, The Beat achieved great success not only in the UK, but also North America where they’re known as The English Beat and Australia as The British Beat.
The band broke apart in 1983 after their third studio album, Special Beat Service which featured the hit single, "Save it For Later". Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger would soon team up to form General Public with members of The Clash, The Specials, and Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Meanwhile, Beat bassist David Steel and guitarist Andy Cox formed Fine Young Cannibals with Akrylykz singer Roland Gift.
Today, The Beat exists as two separate groups, with Wakeling fronting The English Beat in North America and Roger performing as The Beat in the UK. Roger recently released a new Beat album called Bounce in late 2016 and Wakeling's long awaited English Beat album, Here We Go Love will be available this year.