The Beat (known in North America as The English Beat and Australia as The British Beat) are a 2 Tone ska revival band founded in Birmingham, England in 1978. Their songs fuse ska, pop, soul, reggae and punk rock, and their lyrics deal with themes of love, unity and sociopolitical topics.
The Beat, consisting of Dave Wakeling (vocals, guitar), Ranking Roger (vocals), Andy Cox (guitar), David Steele (bass), Everett Morton (drums), and Saxa(saxophone), released three studio albums in the early 1980s: I Just Can't Stop It (1980), Wha'ppen? (1981) and Special Beat Service (1982), and a string of singles, including "Mirror in the Bathroom", "Too Nice To Talk To", "Can't Get Used To Losing You", "Hands off She's Mine" and "All Out To Get You".
Career[edit source | edit]
1978 – 1983[edit source | edit]
The Beat were formed in Birmingham, England, in 1978, during a period of high unemployment and social upheaval in the United Kingdom. Ranking Roger, one of the band's vocalists, added a Jamaican vocal flavour to the band's sound with his toasting style. Jamaican saxophonist Saxa added a Jamaican ska instrumental sound. Saxa had played saxophone with Prince Buster, Laurel Aitken, and Desmond Dekker in the first wave of ska (as well as with The Beatles in their Liverpool days). He joined The Beat to record their first single, "Tears of a Clown," a cover version of the Motown hit by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.
Notable singles from the first album included "Can't Get Used to Losing You," "Mirror In the Bathroom," "Hands Off She's Mine" and "Best Friend." The second Beat album, Wha'ppen? was supported by extensive touring, including a US tour with The Pretenders and Talking Heads. The album yielded more UK hits, with "All Out to Get You" and "Too Nice To Talk To," both of which broke into the Top 40 of the UK Singles Chart. The Beat received support from modern rock radio stations such asKROQ-FM in Los Angeles and KYYX in Seattle.
Although The Beat's main fan base was in the United Kingdom, the band was also popular in Australia, partly due to exposure on the radio station Triple J and the TV show Countdown. The Beat had a sizable following in North America, where the band was known as The English Beat for legal reasons (to avoid confusion with the American band The Beat). The Beat toured the world with well-known artists such as David Bowie, The Clash, The Police, The Pretenders, R.E.M., The Specials and Talking Heads. Members of the band often collaborated on stage with The Specials.
Post-breakup[edit source | edit]
After the break-up of The Beat in 1983, Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger went on to form General Public and had a couple of hit singles in North America, while Andy Cox and David Steele formed Fine Young Cannibals with vocalist Roland Gift from the ska band Akrylykz. Drummer Everett Morton and Saxa formed The International Beat along with the Birmingham based singer, Tony Beet, and the band released an album titled The Hitting Line on Blue Beat Records in 1990 (BBSLP 009). The album was produced by Ranking Roger and he often guested with the band at some of their shows. The International Beat toured the United Kingdom and USA before calling it a day in 1992. Ranking Roger also briefly joined Mick Jones' post-Clash band Big Audio Dynamite and performed at several live shows with the band. However, the band broke up shortly after he joined when its last album was shelved by the record company. Meanwhile, "March of the Swivelheads," an instrumental version of the Beat's song "Rotating Head," was used in the climactic chase scene of 1986's Ferris Bueller's Day Off; the band was listed in the end credits as "The (English) Beat." "Save It for Later" was featured on the soundtrack album to 1996's Kingpin and 2010's Hot Tub Time Machine.
In the early 1990s, Roger joined members of The Specials to form Special Beat, which toured and released two live albums. They supported the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Roger recorded his solo debut, a reggae-oriented album entitled Radical Departure. In 2001, Roger released another solo album, Inside My Head, which included traditional reggae and ska with influences of electronica, jungle and dub. Ranking Roger's son, Ranking Junior, has followed in his father's footsteps. In 2005, he appeared on The Ordinary Boys' single "Boys Will Be Boys" and is a current member of The Beat in the UK.
Pearl Jam also began covering the song in 1996 blending it into the end of "Better Man", and it remained in the set list for their 2011 tour.
21st century[edit source | edit]
In 2003, The Beat's original line-up, minus Cox and Steele, played a sold-out one-off gig at the Royal Festival Hall. In 2004, the VH1 show Bands Reunited tried unsuccessfully to reunite the original line-up.
In 2006, the UK version of The Beat, featuring Ranking Roger and Morton, recorded a new album that was mixed by Adrian Sherwood, but it remains unreleased. The band also features Mickey Billingham on keyboards, formerly a member of Dexys Midnight Runners and General Public.
Dave Wakeling fronts the US version of the group as The English Beat. The singer and his band flew over to the UK in April 2011, to perform at the London International Ska Festival at the Clapham Grand music venue. They played the Dorset Steam Fair Show 2011 on 31 August 2011.
For Record Store Day, "Mirror in the Bathroom" and "Too Nice to Talk To" are getting re-released as a limited edition 7".
Both the UK and US versions of the band still continue to tour frequently.
In the Summer of 2012, The English Beat released a box set, titled The Complete Beat.
The English Beat recorded two new songs that feature prominently in the Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated episode "Dance Of The Undead" which aired March 26th, 2013. It features a zombie ska group called Rude Boy and the Ska-Tastics who come back to life in order to turn people into zombies and make them dance to ska music forever. According to an interview Dave Wakeling conducted with the San Francisco Examiner, he said: “This was my first opportunity to do anything for television as a gun for hire, and I actually managed to record and mix two songs in 12 hours. It was like running at double speed with no brakes, but it was exciting, and Warner Bros. really loved them. So the zombies have a song called ‘You’re Dead Right, Mate,’ and the Hex Girls have one called ‘We’re the Good Bad Girls,’ which has a definite Ramones-Runaways vibe to it, but frankly, I’m really happy I did it, because I’ve always loved ‘Scooby-Doo."
The English Beat 2012 Tour With Paul Collins' The Beat[edit source | edit]
In 2012, the U.S.-based band The Beat joined a package tour, "The Two Beats Hearting as One Tour", co-headlining with Dave Wakeling's California based The English Beat. The English Beat and Paul Collins's The Beat were both part of the "new wave" of bands to emerge from the late 70s and early 80s, although the styles of music they play are different. The tour package included dates at large music halls, casinos, auditoriums and clubs. According to a September 2012 interview with Paul Collins, "Contrary to what the Internet fabricates, there never was and is no animosity toward The English Beat. I am still a big fan of The English Beat. Ska is really cool music. Dave is a good friend. He's always so nice and always upbeat. He's just as supportive of my music as I am of his. Both of our fanbases are enjoying hearing each other's music." According to an October 2012 press release, Dave Wakeling stated, "Paul and I originally met back in '83 and have been in touch occasionally over the years, but recently we've been in closer Facebook contact, which led to this idea becoming a reality....Two beats, hearting as one!"
Members[edit source | edit]
Current members[edit source | edit]
Former members[edit source | edit]
Discography[edit source | edit]
Studio albums[edit source | edit]
|Year||Album details||Peak chart positions||Certifications|
|1980||I Just Can't Stop It||3||30||30||—||142|
|1982||Special Beat Service
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
Compilation albums[edit source | edit]
|Year||Album details||Peak positions||Certifications
|1983||What Is Beat?
|1996||B.P.M. The Very Best of the Beat
|2000||Beat This! The Best of the Beat
|2006||The Platinum Collection
|2008||You Just Can't Beat It: The Best of the Beat
|2012||Keep The Beat: The Very Best of The English Beat
|2012||The Complete Beat
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
Singles[edit source | edit]
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Album|
|1979||"Tears of a Clown"/"Ranking Full Stop" (Double A-side)||6||—||—||—||I Just Can't Stop It|
|1980||"Hands Off...She's Mine"||9||—||41||22|
|"Mirror in the Bathroom"||4||—||—||—|
|"Best Friend"/"Stand Down Margaret (Dub)" (Double A-side)||22||—||—||—|
|"Too Nice to Talk To"||7||—||—||—||Non-album song|
|1981||"Drowning"/"All Out To Get You" (Double A-side)||22||—||—||—||Wha'ppen?|
|"Doors of Your Heart"||33||—||—||—|
|"Hit It (Auto Erotic)"||70||—||—||—||Non-album song|
|1982||"Save It for Later"||47||—||—||58||Special Beat Service|
|1983||"Can't Get Used to Losing You"||3||47||12||—||What is Beat?|
|1996||"Mirror in the Bathroom" (remix)||44||—||—||—||The Very Best of the Beat|
|2012||"Mirror in the Bathroom" / "Too Nice to Talk to" (B-side)||—||—||—||—||Record Store Day exclusive|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart or has not yet been released|
Film and video[edit source | edit]
- Dance Craze (1981 Independent Film – VHS) A compilation that contains live 1980 Beat footage among other Ska bands.
- Video Collection (198x Channel 5 – VHS)
- Live (198x unknown – VHS) 45 min live performance.
- The Beat In Concert at the Royal Festival Hall (2005 MVD Visual – DVD)