The autobiography of Selecter frontwoman Pauline Black, Black By Design (out last week via Serpent’s Tail), is an odd affair. If you’re looking for a musical memoir, you’ll find it, but this is not so much a “2-Tone memoir” in the sense of the ’80s ska revival label with which Ms. Black is so identified. In point of fact, it is more a “two tone memoir,” in that it’s a tale of how Black grew up split between two worlds.
Music is touched upon, but Black By Design is not about the story of the Selecter. People familiar with the story of 2-Tone may actually find her brevity regarding that time in her life rather refreshing. It was but two years in a life that’s nearly 60 years in length at this point, and the events that happened post-ska are actually far more interesting. There’s scads of punk memoirs out there, but how many people of that era went on to award-winning acclaim as an actor on the theater stage after commercial success in the clubs?