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The Selecter
The Selecter playing the Milton Keynes International Festival, Milton Keynes 2016
The Selecter playing the Milton Keynes International Festival, Milton Keynes 2016
Background information
OriginCoventry, England
Years active1979–1981, 1991–2006, 2010–present
Labels2 Tone, Chrysalis
WebsitePauline Black's Selecter
Neol Davies' Selecter
MembersPauline Black's Selecter
Pauline Black
Arthur 'Gaps' Hendrickson
Winston Marche
Anthony Harty
Luke Palmer
Greg Coulson
Neil Pyzer-Skeete
Orlando LaRose
Neol Davies' Selecter
Neol Davies
John Gibbons
Daniel Crosby
Dean Ross
Andre Bayuni
Tim Cansfield
Victor Trivino
Ellie Smith
Hannah Taylor
Faye Treacy
Past membersCompton Amanor
Charley 'H' Bembridge
Charley Anderson
Desmond Brown
James Mackie
John Thompson
Adam Williams
Martin Stewart
Nicky Welsh
Perry Melius
Emma Bassett

The Selecter are a 2 Tone ska revival band from Coventry, England, formed in mid-1979.

The Selecter featured a racially diverse line-up. Their lyrics featured themes connected to politics.[1] Reinforcing the songs of Neol Davies were the voice and rude girl style of Pauline Black and the rhythms of Desmond Brown on the Hammond organ. The band's name is based on the term "selector", which is a Jamaican word for disc jockey. The band were one of the most successful ska bands of the 2 Tone era, notching up several top forty singles in the British charts.

The Selecter reformed in 1991 and vocalist Black continued to perform and release music under The Selecter name until 2006. Some confusion emerged over two competing lineups for the Selecter in 2011, between that featuring Davies and that featuring Black and Arthur 'Gaps' Hendrickson, In June 2011 Black applied for, and won, The Selecter trademark and the right to use the name herself.[2]


In 1977, Neol Davies and John Bradbury (who later became a member of The Specials), with the trombone player Barry Jones, recorded a track in a recording session in 1977–78 that resulted in "Kingston Affair". The band then became "The Selecter". Their debut single, also called "The Selecter", was the b-side of the Special AKA's hit single "Gangsters", the first 2 Tone Records single.[3] It was released in March 1979, reaching 6 in the UK Charts.[4] The track was written by Davies and Bradbury. Guitarist Davies added long time friends Desmond Brown, who played Hammond organ, and Charley Anderson on bass guitar. With Compton Amanor on guitar, the vocals of Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson and Charley 'H' Bembridge on drums the seven piece line-up for the original band was completed when Pauline Black was spotted by Davies. Davies offered Pauline an audition with The Selecter — she joined along with other members in July 1979.[5]

The new band released the singles "On My Radio", "Three Minute Hero" and "Missing Words", written by Davies. The Selecter's debut album,Too Much Pressure, was recorded at the end of 1979 and beginning of the new year, and was released in February 1980 by 2 Tone Records and Chrysalis Records. Anderson and Brown left The Selecter in 1980 to form The People.[5] Their replacements were James Mackie and Adam Williams.[5] Their second album, Celebrate the Bullet was issued in February 1981, before Black left the band to pursue a solo career. A short time after, unsuccessfully having tried Stan Campbell as the singer, the rest of the members disbanded. The Selecter were featured in the 2 Tone film documentary and on the live compilation album Dance Craze.

Post breakup years[]

After the band split in 1982, Black pursued a career in theatre, TV and Film. From 1991 she led a reformed Selecter for 15 years releasing several new albums. In 2006 she took a sabbatical from The Selecter, in order to write her memoirs Black By Design for publishing house Serpent's Tail. In 2009, she returned to the live arena, playing shows in the UK, Germany and South America guesting with various ska musicians and performing songs from The Selecter's first two albums. During her sabbatical, Black recorded a new 13-track solo album, Pigment Of My Imagination, to be released in spring 2011.[citation needed] She later reformed The Selecter, this time with guest original lead singer Arthur "Gaps" Hendrickson, and in summer 2010 they played two shows at the Sinner's Day Festival at The Ethias Arena in Hasselt, Belgium, and at the Bloomsbury Ballroom in London.[citation needed]

Neol Davies penned most of The Selecter's hit singles. He started up his own home studio after the band disbanded in 1981 to write and record his own new songs, and he played a number of local shows in the Midlands. Davies formed a new version of The Selecter in 1991 with Black leaving the band two years later. He started up a new outfit called Selecter Instrumental, mostly playing movie tunes in a ska style.[citation needed] In 1999, he released his Box of Blues album, assisted with Horace Panter and Anthony Harty, and the trio often performed at a number of blues concerts in the UK. He later recorded another album, Future Swamp, with guests including Ronnie Wood and Reef members Dominic Greensmith and Jason Knight. Both albums were released on Davies' own label, VoMatic Records.

Charley Anderson moved to Sweden during the 1990s where he performed, recorded and released material with The Skalatones. In 2009, Anderson returned to Coventry to play a charity concert at the Central Hall to promote his Ghetto Child project. Joining him on stage were guests from UB40, The Specials, The Selecter along with saxophonist Carlos Garnett.[6]

Charley 'H' Bembridge has been involved with The All Skas, a ska band which performed in the Midlands. In 2013 Bembridge was convicted of domestic violence against his former partner and questions were raised with regards to her children although no charges were brought. Davies, Hendrickson, Anderson and Black were also been involved with unveiling commemorative plaques for the 30th anniversary of 2 Tone on significant buildings associated with the record label in Coventry.[7]



Black with The Selecter in 2005

Black and Davies reformed The Selecter in 1991, but Neol Davies left the new line-up after a year. After 1993, another original member, Arthur 'Gaps' Hendrickson, performed with this line-up occasionally. They released several new albums, toured around the world and toured with No Doubt in 1997 in the USA. 1998's politically-focused Cruel Britannia was critically acclaimed.[8] Black continued to record and perform as The Selecter up until 2006, and from 2010 to the present.

On 31 October 2010, Pauline Black and Arthur “Gaps” Hendrickson played under The Selecter name to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the seminal debut album, Too Much Pressure, by performing the whole album live at the “Sinners Day Festival”, Ethias Stadium, Hasselt, Belgium.[9] They also performed at The Bloomsbury Ballroom, London, in November 2010.[10] In her capacity as lead singer of The Selecter, Black featured prominently in BBC4's Reggae Britannia series in February 2011 and the televised 'Reggae Britannia Concert' at The Barbican, London, alongside Ken Boothe, Neville Staple and Brinsley Forde of Aswad.[11]

The Selecter reunited once again when the band travelled over to Belfast, Northern Ireland to play a show in the capital's annual Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.[12] This was followed by an extensive tour of the UK, Europe, and in October 2014, New Zealand and Australia.[13]

In June 2015 the band released new studio album Subculture mixed by Prince Fatty on DMF Records.[14]They toured the UK in Autumn 2015 on an album tour and Pauline Black with Arthur 'Gaps' Hendrickson were special guests on a number of dates with Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra including at London's Royal Albert Hall in November.[15]



  • Too Much Pressure (February 1980) UK #5 (UK: Gold)[16]
  • Celebrate the Bullet (March 1981) UK #41[16]
  • The Happy Album (July 1994)
  • Pucker! (August 1995)
  • Cruel Britannia (November 1998)
  • The Trojan Songbook (1999)
  • The Trojan Songbook — Vol 2 (2000)
  • The Trojan Songbook — Vol 3 (2001)
  • Real to Reel (2003)
  • Made in Britain (2011)
  • String Theory (2013)
  • Subculture (June 2015) UK #54[16]

Singles and EPs[]

  • "Gangsters vs. The Selecter" (May 1979, 2 Tone, TT1/TT2) UK # 6
  • "On My Radio" (October 1979, CHSTT 4) UK # 8
  • "Three Minute Hero" (February 1980, CHSTT 8) UK # 16
  • "Missing Words" (March 1980, CHSTT 10) UK # 23
  • "The Whisper" (August 1980, CHSS 1) UK # 36
  • "Celebrate The Bullet" (November 1980, CHSS 2)
  • "On My Radio 91" (1991)
  • "The 2 Tone" EP (The Selecter featuring Prince Buster & Rico) (1993) UK # 30
  • "Hairspray" EP (1995)[17][18]
  • "Big In The Body, Small In The Mind" (May 2011, Download and 7" vinyl)
  • "Back To Black" (July 2011, Download and 7" vinyl)[17][18]



Former members
  • Compton Amanor - lead guitar (1979–1981)
  • Charley 'H' Bembridge - drums (1979–1981)
  • Charley Anderson - bass guitar (1979–1980)
  • Desmond Brown - Hammond keyboard (1979–1980)
  • James Mackie - Hammond (1980–1981)
  • Adam Williams - bass guitar (1980–1981)
  • Martin Stewart - keyboards (1991–2006)
  • Nicky Welsh - bass (1991–2006)
  • Perry Melius - drums (1991–2006)
  • Emma Bassett - Horns (2011)
  • Toby Barelli - guitar (2001–2004)


  1. "The Selecter". Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  2. "Interview Pauline Black". Retrieved 2013-06-19.
  3. "The Special AKA Vs. The Selecter". Retrieved 2013-06-16.
  4. "UK Charts - The Specials". Retrieved 2013-06-16.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "The Selecter". Birmingham Musical Archive. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
  6. Charley Anderson Plays In Cov With Some Select Friends - Coventry City FC - Coventry MAD. Retrieved on 2012-04-24.
  7. "2-Tone Trail plaques". Retrieved 2013-06-16.
  10. Perrone, Pierre (12 November 2010). "Selector's Pauline Black and Arthur "Gaps" Hendrickson reunite at Bloomsbury Ballroom". The Independent. London.
  12. "Gigging Northern Ireland – » INTERVIEW: The Selecter". Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  13. "The Selecter". Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  14. "The Selecter website news". The Selecter. The Selecter. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  15. "". Royal Albert Hall. Royal Albert Hall. Retrieved 30 April 2015. External link in |title= (help)
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 "UK Charts — Selecter". Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. p. 859. ISBN 1-84195-017-3.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 488. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.

External links[]