“Punk may have got all the headlines, but reggae proved vital in ending the rift between black and white teenagers and introducing cross-pollination to the charts…. It was punk’s “summer of hate”, 1977, and the required pose was a sneer, a leather jacket and something hacked about – a spiky haircut, a ripped T-shirt, a sawn-off school tie. And, of course, no flares, the despised flag of hippiedom. But at the cold, concrete roots of Britain a very different aesthetic was also in the ascendant, one calling for an oversized tam, dreadlocks and a display of “the red, gold and green”, the colours of Rastafari. Flares? Fine!
The two looks represented the different worlds inhabited by young white and black Britain, worlds which a year previously had been remote from each other but which by the summer of 1977 were unexpectedly and often uncomfortably rubbing shoulders. At Hackney town hall, under portraits of whiskery Victorian aldermen, I watched the Cimarons chant down Babylon while Generation X snarled their way through “Wild Youth”. In Brixton, I gaped as the Slits, the acme of unruliness, shared a stage with Birmingham’s Steel Pulse, the most militant of Britain’s proliferating reggae bands.”