Image of Specials fans Leeds,1981 (C) Syd Shelton

Britain in the late 70s, then as now, was a divided isle: the rise of far-right organisations such as the National Front, as well as an authoritarian government, proved troubling for a burgeoning multicultural country.Black and Asian families in particular were still at the receiving end of racism and prejudiced preconceptions.So bands which featured black and white musicians, such as the Specials and the Selecter, were important in what became known as the Two Tone movement, fundamental in raising awareness of diversity and issues around gang violence.Many punk bands toured with, and took influences from, reggae and ska bands.

This led to the Rock Against Racism  festival which had The Specials, X Ray Spex, Culture and The Clash  among others on its bill, five carnivals and 500 gigs. Now, an exhibition showing this important movement comes to Glasgow’s Street Level studios. Photographer Syd Shelton, who joined in 1977, captured the excitement, style and solidarity of the thousands present in the audience, and also of course, the bands themselves. You can almost hear the power chords and sound systems booming out.

(Lorna Irvine)


The Clash’s Paul Simonon, Victoria Park,London in 1978 (C) Syd Shelton

Street Level, Glasgow , February 11th- April 9th

Opening Saturday 11th February, 2pm-5 pm


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