It seems unlikely that a ska revolution started at 51 Albany Road, Coventry – go ahead and take a look on Google Street View and tell me I’m wrong – but from these inauspicious surroundings, songwriting mastermind Jerry Dammers and his friends introduced the world to the music of the Caribbean filtered through the prism of the West Midlands. A truly independent phenomenon, their irresistible covers of Jamaican dance hall classics, along with original hit records, were released via their own record label, 2 Tone, playing its own small part in closing the divide between music that could be labelled “black” or “white”.
It’s all there in the lyrics of Doesn’t Make It Alright, a song of peace and brotherhood born from a society riddled with division. These words of tolerance were not fostered in family homes or taught in schools in the Britain of the 1970s, yet Dammers and his multicultural crew were united by a common music that made them rightly rebel against the racism inherent in society. “Just because you’re a black boy / Just because you’re a white / It doesn’t mean you’ve got to hate him / It doesn’t mean you’ve got to fight / It doesn’t make it alright”.