Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Stateside Madness Reviews "The Duff Guide to 2 Tone"!

This composite image features the cover of "The Duff Guide to 2 Tone" (which features the title on the paper label of a record), the Duff Guide logo (a take on the Batman bat logo), and Walt Jabsco and The Beat girl.
Composite image courtesy of Stateside Madness.
 Since Stateside Madness are our homegrown experts regarding all things Nutty Boys (they're the US affiliate of the Madness Information Service), I sent them a review copy of my book The Duff Guide to 2 Tone, which contains a pretty hefty chapter on Madness, and hoped for the best. Several weeks later, I'm thrilled to announce that they have just published a rave review of The Duff Guide to 2 Tone written by Donald Trull. 

Here's an excerpt: 

"The Duff Guide to 2 Tone is chock full of personal fan nuggets that elevate it above a mere collection of record reviews. I relish Steve’s finding of the exceptionally rare Rico Jama LP. I envy him for seeing Pauline Black and Rhoda Dakar play together in New York City in 2019. I admire his heartfelt reflections on the occasion of Ranking Roger’s passing. I relate to his interview with Roddy “Radiation” Byers, whom I myself had the pleasure of chatting with at length before a North Carolina gig a couple of years ago. I love that Steve mentions his favorite album by The Beat is Wha’ppen? No way, I think he and I must be the only two fans who share that oddball opinion! And indeed, his reviews have a thing or two to teach a crotchety old know-it-all like me – for instance, I had vaguely heard of The Specials’ Live at the Moonlight Club but never bought it. After reading Steve’s reverential praise for the 1979 bootleg-turned-legit release, I had to go grab it. I’m sure glad I did. Thanks, buddy."

And this is in response to my write-up of Madness' The Liberty of Norton Folgate

"Though it may seem anathema for someone with my obvious bias, I found myself especially enchanted with Steve’s confession that he was never the hugest fan of Madness. In his ranking of the top 2 Tone acts back in the day, Madness came in at number four, with The Specials/The Special AKA being his big favorite. He explains that he was drawn to the strong political views expressed by the Dammers crew from Coventry (as well as The Beat and The Selecter), moreso than the comparatively sunny pop sensibilities of the Nutty Boys. That’s fair enough, an opinion shared by many of my friends who have showed appreciation for British ska. Americans tend to deem The Specials the “coolest” band in the genre, I know. But when The Liberty of Norton Folgate came along in 2009, Steve had to reconsider his former assessment.

“When it seemed like their 2 Tone peers had run out of things to say,” he writes, “Madness were delivering the songs of great meaning that I had wanted from them in my youth – a concept album that promotes multiculturalism as the only path to real freedom, and the notion that the history of a place and its people has an extraordinary impact on making this possible.” This he follows with a thorough unpacking of “We Are London” and the epic title track, dissecting them with rigorous wonder. It’s some of the finest Madness analysis I’ve ever read."

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