Fans of 2-Tone have spoken longingly and lovingly of a BBC Arena television documentary titled "Rudies Come Back" that aired during the height of 2 Tone. Until recently the 30 minute documentary had been impossible to find, but a version has popped up on YouTube.
"Rudies Come Back" is hosted by music journalist Adrian Thrills. It was filmed in 1979 and originally aired on the BBC on March 3rd, 1980. It remains the holy grail of documentary footage of the The Specials, The Selecter and the Coventry music scene and captures the 2-Tone movement at its peak.
The Specials interview at 2 Tone HQ (which at the time was Jerry Dammers flat in Coventry) is pretty amazing. The band's chaotic live shows captured in the documentary suggests they would be a pretty talkative and fun bunch and some of the footage shows them dancing and skunking around to an old classic ska record. Later, Dammers reveals the true DIY/indie roots of the 2-Tone label and its seat of the pants approach when he nonchalantly spills the contents of an old desk and contracts, booking agreements and cassettes hit the floor. Dammers jokingly calls the desk drawer “our A&R department.”
Interestingly, once Thrills begins to interview the band, many of the members seem tongue tied. Everything seems to revolve Dammers, who was the de facto label head, band leader and A&R man. For a short time over the next couple of years, the band and label were huge. Walt Jabsco and the 2-Tone logo were everywhere you looked. Watching this now, it comes as no surprise that Dammers and the band struggled with the mounting pressure that overnight success had created.
Without further ado, I present "Rudies Come Back"....