Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Black by Design: A 2-Tone Memoir” as Want to Read:
Black by Design: A 2-Tone Memoir
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Black by Design: A 2-Tone Memoir

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  165 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Lead singer for platinum-selling 2-tone band The Selecter, Pauline Black has been in the music business for over thirty years. The only woman in a movement dominated by men, she was very much the Queen of British Ska. She saw The Specials, Madness, Dexy's Midnight Runners and all the other top bands of that generation at their very best ... and worst.

Black was born in 1953
...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 14th 2011 by Serpent's Tail
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Black by Design, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Black by Design

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Robin Webster
Jun 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was a must read for me. The reason being I read an interview with Pauline Black in a national newspaper where she was talking about her experiences of being transracially adopted. I was amazed to find that her experiences mirrored my own. Like me, Pauline Black was adopted as a baby in the UK in the early 1950’s then brought up in a white area with no other black or mixed race families in sight. The similarities did not end there. As I did, she traced her natural mother (who was white) ...more
Danny
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
In the early 80s, I loved British Ska. I couldn’t get enough of the likes of the Specials and The Selecter. I can’t say I listen to those bands much any more and I haven’t been tempted by any of the reunion tours cycling around. Regardless, they all have a place deep in my heart. Out book shopping recently, I came across Black By Design, an autobiography of Pauline Black from The Selecter. I picked it up on a whim, figuring it would be a good summer read.

The first third of the book is very stron
...more
Paul
Aug 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I came to this book as a fan of 2-tone, having enjoyed seeing The Selecter live in Glasgow a good few years ago, but as well as documenting the 2-tone days fronting The Selecter with much more astute observation than eg Horace's Ska'd for Life, the best bits of Pauline Black's memoir are the stories of her conflicts as a mixed-race child growing up in 60's and 70's Britain and the daily racism she has faced/ faces (sadly). The chapter on her days as a journalist on the Black On Black TV programm ...more
Lynrose
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
I don't normally read biographies / autobiographies but was interested in this one because I remember the band The Selecter and because of the transracial adoption element. It was an interesting read. I enjoyed the adoption story which is focussed on in the early stage of the book and again at the end when she looks for information about her birth family.

It was an interesting insight into the workings of the music industry but ultimately I got a bit bored in the middle section as gigs were remem
...more
Sean
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
My respect for Ms Black went way up after reading her autobiography.
She's a survivor, not of your usual rock star drug thing, but of confused and conflicted upbringing and a search for inner identity.
Recommend to any interested in her music and to those that enjoy learning of another person's self discovery.
Nat K
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
Loved it!
Justin Simpson
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
I've been a near-life long fan of ska and the 2-Tone movement is my personal favorite. The sounds of the Specials, Madness, the Selecter, and their kin have moved me like no other musical genre I've ever encountered. Unfortunately, they heyday of 2-Tone was a good 3-4 years before I was born, so that leaves me a mere baby as the movement was winding down. Additionally, being an American, I was born in a country that just didn't embrace it like it should have. Nevertheless, 2-Tone found me and it ...more
Artnoose McMoose
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
In the throes of a year of science fiction and graphic novels, I decided to cleanse my palette with this memoir. Pauline Black is best known for being the lead singer of the ska band The Selecter. A biracial orphan adopted by a working class family in an all-white town in the UK, Black came of age watching the Black Power movements rise in the US and applied their messages to her own life.

In addition to chronicling her childhood, this book covers the formation of the band The Selecter and its v
...more
Sal Littlejohn
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Wonderful account of the life so far of Pauline Black, a remarkable woman with great talent. Her childhood is fascinating, and not without difficulties, which she describes clearly and without rancour or bitterness. I think despite being adopted and of mixed race (which was pretty odd in 1950s and '60s Essex) she was well loved and cared for, and grew up to be able to express a great musical and acting talent. And with this memoir she shows she also has an engaging writing talent, too. I hope sh ...more
Dave
Sep 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, signed
A fascinating musical autobiography, but also considerably more than that. Black was a mixed race child adopted into working class white family. As much as anything, this is a search for her own identity, having never really felt part of the world she grew up in.
The story of her musical and acting career plays a significant part of this, rather than just being another part of her life. It is open, honest and opinionated, culminating in her search for her real parents.
Lynne
Aug 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
I was totally unfamiliar with the author. This is an autobiography. I was not familiar with the 2-tone era of music either. She is of mixed heritage-English and Nigerian, born in England and adopted by an English family. This is her story of coming to terms with her life trying to find her place also as a musician, and lastly finding her birth family.
Kurt Gottschalk
Aug 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Black is an unexpectedly powerful writer, and "Black by Design" shines above the average musician memoir, as evidenced by the fact that the most compelling parts of the book aren't her 2-tone days but her striving for racial identity as an adopted child.

Watch for my interview with her in Time Out-New York next month.
Jackie Mcwilliams
An absolutely amazing life story!
Fasterpussycat Moore
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great memoir and history of the 2-tone musical movement in England written by its premier Rude Girl. She's got an endearing writer's voice.
Mairi Morrison
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Have always loved The Selecter, and was interested to read more about Pauline Black. A very interesting and honest read.
Peter C
Feb 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Not enough sex, drugs and rock and roll stories, and a few too many "I had a strange dream where..." moments, but a good addition to the 2-Tone books out there.
Mills College Library
782.42164 B6277 2011
Sean O'Brien
Oct 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Tough and compelling. A story of racism even in the state of "success".
Mark Heath
May 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bios
GREAT BOOK, STIRRING THE MEMORIES OF MY YOUTH. WELL WORTH A READ.
MARK JOHN
rated it it was amazing
Sep 13, 2018
Kate
rated it it was amazing
Jan 19, 2018
Laceystew
rated it it was amazing
Nov 05, 2017
Andrew Fox
rated it liked it
Oct 10, 2014
Alan West
rated it really liked it
Jul 09, 2018
Jim Jones
rated it liked it
Jun 19, 2013
Holly Newton
rated it it was amazing
Sep 14, 2016
Darren
rated it really liked it
May 30, 2013
Tom Graves
rated it really liked it
Jul 02, 2014
Sue Snowden
rated it really liked it
Jan 01, 2016
Linda Banana
rated it really liked it
May 11, 2013
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Page count for 9781846687914 3 13 Apr 24, 2014 02:46PM  
  • Good Morning Nantwich: Adventures in Breakfast Radio
  • Anger is an Energy: My Life Uncensored
  • The Big Midweek: Life Inside The Fall
  • Concrete, Bulletproof, Invisible + Fried: My Life as a Revolting Cock
  • That Close
  • Paradoxical Undressing
  • Stalin Ate My Homework
  • Low Down: Junk, Jazz, and Other Fairy Tales from Childhood
  • Treat It Gentle
  • Renegade
  • Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now: My Difficult 80s
  • Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound
  • Reelin' in the Years: The Soundtrack of a Northern Life
  • To Be or Not to Bop
  • Only When I Laugh: My Autobiography
  • Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew Up and Tried to Be a Pop Star
  • Yemen: Dancing on the Heads of Snakes
  • Power Concedes Nothing: One Woman's Quest for Social Justice in America, from the Courtroom to the Kill Zones