Rhoda Dakar sings the Bodysnatchers – Album Launch at the Jazz Cafe, this Saturday 31st October
Two Tone swept through the UK with a mighty force from the middle of 1979 and nowhere was it more felt than in secondary schools like the one I was attending at the time. All these kids, a little too young for Punk but champing at the bit for their own thing, latched onto the irresistible beat, the ultra-cool visuals and the message….
And what a message it was! One that we would do well to recall in these divisive times, when we’re encouraged by those who should know better to distrust our neighbours at every turn. It was a message of unity, hope, of black and white banding together to fight the real injustices and oppressors of the world. Even down in the deep south of England we got it and I like to think Two Tone did send people on the right path of acceptance and open minds.
Both boys and girls got into it equally and for every dogtooth check trousers and Harrington there was a black and white dress, white tights and loafers, all the gear. A great look. But if Two Tone seemed to lack anything early on it was the female perspective: the mainstays were the all-male line ups of the Specials and Madness and if the Selecter boasted Pauline Black out front, most of the writing was handled by Jerry Dammers old cohort Neol Davies.
Into the breach, after the intervention of Shane McGowan when he was just a mere Nip, stepped Rhoda Dakar fronting the all-girl Bodysnatchers. Coming together in the late summer of 79 they rode the wave playing Debbie Harry’s birthday party as their third gig and then signing to Two Tone as the decade ended.
The first single, a cover of Dandy Livingstone’s “Lets Do Rocksteady” saw them on Top Of The Pops and in the national charts. If this was a great feelgood number, dig further into the Snatchers set of the time and you would have found far more depth, for instance “The Boiler”, the still chilling story of a date rape (re-cut with Special AKA a few years later to stunning effect) and follow up single “Easy Life” which seemed like a comment of how simple it was for all boy bands against what the girls had to go through!
Though the high profile gigs kept coming Two Tone saw itself superseded by the New Romantic scene and after “Easy Life” stuttered just into the Top 50, the high watermark for the ska train had been and gone. Soon the Bodysnatchers split before they had chance to make an LP which was a damn shame. Rhoda joined forces with the Specials making key appearances on their second and third records and the rump of the band forming the more pop orientated Belle Stars.
Time went by and Rhoda in her time cut a couple of highly rated solo LPs and has been a DJ, writer and face on the scene, but now has got together with her old mates Lynval Golding and Horace Panter among others to finally record “The Great Lost Two Tone” album and she is launching the record with a gig at the Jazz Café on Saturday 31st October 2015 which should be unmissable.
See here for full details:
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Rhoda’s Shop where you can buy the new Lp , bundles and merch is here and open for business.
All words Ian Canty whose author profile is here.