More Than Two Tones Exhibition – Herbert Art Gallery & Museum – Coventry
Coventry – My home city. Not famous for a lot really. Jaguar cars, Lady Godiva, The Blitz, that saying ‘Sent to Coventry’ and the two tone music scene. I remember being a kid in the late seventies listening to mod revival bands such as The Jam, The Lambrettas and Secret Affair. I also remember for the first time in my life seeing scooters, particularly Lambrettas. These were being ridden by the ‘older kids’ at the time and that has led to a lifelong obsession, but thats another story. At around the same time, two tone music was developing from groups such as The Specials and The Selecter who were both from Coventry. Their music had me gripped. Not just because many of the songs were sung about Coventry but because it was something which i could identify with. A harrington jacket, sta-press trousers, fred perry t-shirt and a pair of black loafers soon replaced my fish-tail parka and desert boots.
Now when I heard that The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum were holding a ‘More Than Two Tones’ exhibition i knew that i had to go along. Nostalgia was knocking at my door……As I entered the exhibition Iobviously recognised all the album covers which i once coveted along with button badges which were an essential accessory ‘back in the day’. Now being a photographer, seeing contact sheets really had me interested. These were contact sheets from The Selecter. It was from their first photo shoot and they were to be used for their first promotional poster which was also on display. Being a photographer, Iunderstand the importance that images played in promoting bands back then. These had a very urban feel and certainly gave the band what was needed at that time. Two tone music was special to me simply because i never got bored of listening to it.
As I made my way around the exhibition there were other bands memorabilia on display who had connections with Coventry. Contact sheets of Jerry Lee Lewis taken in 1963 were visually pleasing along with song lyrics hand written on notepaper. All in all well worth a visit and entrance was free!