12 Apr Vastly Underrated Track : The Selecter s/t 7″ – 2 Tone Records
Vastly Underrated Track
The Selecter ‘The Selecter’ 7″ – 2 Tone Records
Out of all the of the underrated records that I have in my collection, the self-titled debut 7″ release by The Selecter, in my opinion, has to be the one that stands out from all the rest.
The track backed ‘Gangsters’, the debut single by The Special AKA, which was the first release on the immaculate 2 Tone Records label started by Jerry Dammers. The 7” single was released on 30th March 1979 and was originally distributed by Rough Trade Distribution before the label signed a marketing and distribution deal directly with Chrysalis Records.
The story goes that ‘Gangsters’ was finished but the band did not have a track for a B-side. Out of desperation and necessity Jerry Dammers turned to an instrumental track Neol Davies had recorded two years previously in 1977 with drummer John Bradbury (aka Prince Rimshot), trombonist Barry Jones and Charlie ‘Ironfinger’ Anderson on bass. Originally titled ‘The Kingston Affair’, the track got a slight reworking and was eventually re-titled ‘The Selecter’.
Taken from Horace Panter’s book ‘Ska’d For Life’ Horace he states “As I said, the other tunes from the session didn’t cut it, so there was the problem about what to put on the other side. A lot of reggae singles had ‘versions’ on the B-side, generally by different artists. Brad had an instrumental tune that he’d done with Neol Davies; it was perfect, we all dug the tune. Jerry asked Neol to put the ska rhythm guitar on it (which we dutifully did) and handed The Selecter a career.
The track came complete with its own unique catalogue number (TT2), which may seem unusual but was quite common with old ska and reggae singles. One little known fact about this 7” single is that a few copies were pressed in France, due to the high demand, on a very dark red vinyl which appears to be black until it is held up to the light (see photos).
‘Gangsters’ and The Special AKA rightly received all the glory for this record but for me this track still stands the test of time and has bypassed a lot of people. It’s not even on Spotify and rarely appears on bonus tracks for The Selecter reissues or on any 2 Tone compilations. Invest 3 minutes of your time into this song and tell your friends!
Release Date: 30th March 1979
Cat. No: TT1/TT2
Matrix: TT1 – Gangsters TT+1-3
TT2 – TT2-1 GC
From left to right: Original Rough Trade 7″ with hand stamped sleeve, Chrysalis 7″ in deep red vinyl with push-out centre, Chrysalis 7″ original with push-out centre, Chrysalis 7″ in deep red vinyl with solid centre & original 7″ with solid centre.
Panter, H. (2008). Ska’d for life. London: Pan.
Panciera, M. (2008). 45 revolutions (1976/1979). Italy: Hurdy Gurdy.
2-tone.info. (2018). 2 Tone Records – Gangsters – TT1/TT2. [online] Available at: http://2-tone.info/2tone.pl?show96& [Accessed 12 Apr. 2018].