Coventry Music Museum curator Pete Chambers writes for the Observer.
2-Tone Lives and Legacies- The Herbert Museum
It was great to be in the company of so many 2-Tone types for the VIP opening of the Herbert’s 2-Tone Lives and Legacies exhibition last week. I’m probably the most qualified person in the world to judge a 2-Tone exhibition, and in my opinion, this is probably among one of the best the Herbert Museum has ever staged. I am classed as one of the guest curators, but my role was a minimal one, so I’m not blowing my own Ska trumpet here – this brilliance is down to curatorial manager Martin Roberts and curator for natural science and human history and their team.
It is Ska candy for the 2-Tone fan from the very start to the very end, posters, artefacts, wraparound screens and lots of personal mementos from various Ska heroes and the hardwired fans who knew it wasn’t smart to throw anything away.
The stunning immersive cartoon history of the genre is pretty class, as are the many informative graphics on show, and it’s not all black and white.
Many will head straight for the Jerry Dammers’ private collection – this is the man who created 2-Tone so it’s so wonderful that he is fully on board.
One standout item is the Walt Jabsco bowling shirt – this gave the name to the 2-Tone man Walt Jabsco of course.
There are unique pictures here from the legend Chalkie Davies and Coventry’s own legendary snapper John Coles – all very much moments in time. Subculture fashion is also well represented with Fred Perry and Ace Face Tonic suits.
Pre-2-Tone too is mapped out over the exhibition including Martin Bowes’ Alternative Sounds fanzine and a tantalising peek into the past via Mark Osborne’s and Toni Tye’s amazing photo collections.
It’s great to see our own Honorary Patron Neville Staple with his own cabinet on show (good luck to his wife Christine who is a modern Lady Godiva as part of the 2021 celebrations – good luck to them all).
Generally, the exhibition has gone down very well with the visitors after its first week. There have been some voices who feel that certain artists are being represented more than others, that is something you the visitor will have to decide. You will get about 45 minutes to look – it’s all bookable (though I’m hearing a few walk ups are being offered if you are lucky and even evening openings are soon to be offered). It’s superb and unmissable and this deserves everyone’s support.
Death House Remastered
Death House was an album originally released by Attrition back in 1982 and was something ahead of its time. Darker than dark with a shadowy soundscape of fear of the unexpected and the unknown. It’s pretty much an audio soundtrack of your worst nightmares – it’s as magnificent as it is uncomfortable to listen to (try it with headphones in a darken room).
The band at that time looked like this – Martin Bowes: Electronic drums/Synthesiser and production, Ashley Niblock – synthesiser and keyboards and Richard Woodfield – synthesisers, Oleg Galay – artwork.
It has been remastered by Martin Bowes at the Cage in Coventry last year.
So here it is, remastered to perfection for its 40th anniversary year and there is a free poster with every vinyl.
It is released on Russian label Other Voices and available from Attrition’s official bandcamp store:https://attritionuk.bandcamp.com/album/this-death-house-2021-remaster