PULLING HAIR AND EATING DIRT
What my school tie-knot said about me or the soundtrack to 1980's playground conflicts...
In 1980 a vigorously healthy rock scene saw Deep Purple and AC/DC top the UK album charts and an impressive succession of rock singles go on to attain classic rock status. 1980 was also the year in which 2-Tone led a mod revival whose influence was nothing short of phenomenal. In 1980 I was twelve and it had to be one or the other. Mod or rocker. The battle lines were drawn.
I nailed my personal colours to the mast of heavy-metal, and spent far too many hours planning how the patches and embroidery would look on the back of my denim jacket. Should I ever get one. Lunchtimes at school became a daily battleground of scuffles between gangs nominally dubbed mods and rockers. Playground politics dictated that as a rocker I must close my ears – and my heart – to what we then broadly described as 'mod' music, and consequently to some of the most exciting and enduring music to emerge from the year.
2-Tone's frequently politically charged output was probably wasted on me and my pre-teen peers, although the same could probably be said for rock's rather more straightforward themes of hedonism and misogyny, but both movements had a huge influence on school fashion. Sartorially I had it easy, the standard uniform for rock fans was leather or denim jackets adorned with badges, patches and embroidery, beyond which pretty much anything scruffy was fine. On the other side of the playground it was a lot more difficult; parkas, blazers (school blazers, naturally, do not count) or Harrington jackets adorned with Union Jacks, RAF targets and 2-Tone badges were the mod staples, worn over Ben Sherman or Fred Perry shirts with skinny ties, drainpipe Sta-Prest trousers, white socks and loafers, brogues or bowling shoes.
Naturally being twelve years old only a few of us had the necessary resources to adopt the full regalia of our chosen side so instead we had to work with what we had and fortunately the distinction was very easy; the mods wore their school ties with small, tight knots while the rockers wore the biggest, loosest knots they could produce.
This list is my soundtrack to the conflict of that year and contains five loose-knot singles from 1980 - the ones I was allowed to love - and five tight-knot singles, which I could only love in secret. The list is in no particular order and needs no particular explanation but I would like to put it on record that I consider 'Ace Of Spades' to be the greatest rock single of all time.
- MADNESS 'Baggy Trousers'
- MOTORHEAD 'Ace Of Spades'
- THE BEAT 'Mirror In The Bathroom'
- RAINBOW 'All Night Long'
- THE SELECTER 'Three Minute Hero'
- SAXON 'Wheels Of Steel'
- THE SPECIALS / THE SPECIAL AKA - 'Too Much Too Young'
- JUDAS PRIEST - 'Breaking The Law'
- THE JAM - 'Going Underground'
- RUSH - 'The Sprit Of Radio'