The Beat (known in North America as The English Beat and in Australia as The British Beat) are a band founded in Birmingham, England, in 1978.[2] Their music fuses ska, pop, soul, reggae and punk rock.[3]

The Beat, consisting of Dave Wakeling (vocals, guitar), Ranking Roger (vocals), Andy Cox (guitar), David Steele (bass), Everett Morton (drums), and Saxa aka Lionel Augustus Martin (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

1978–1983

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 saxophonistSaxa (born 1930) added a Jamaican ska instrumental sound. Saxa or Lionel Augustus Martin had played saxophone with Prince Buster, Laurel Aitken, and Desmond Dekker in the first wave of ska. He joined The Beat to record their first single, "Tears of a Clown",[4] 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 as KROQ-FM in Los Angeles, the now defunct KQAK The Quake 99FM (98.9 to be exact) in San Francisco and KYYX in Seattle.[5][6]

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.[7]

Post-breakup

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 United States 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 Heads", 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.

Roger released his solo debut, a reggae-oriented album entitled Radical Departure, in 1988. 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. 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.

Pete Townshend covered the song "Save It for Later" numerous times between 1985 and 1998. The Who performed the song twice on their 1989 Reunion Tour.[8]

The Wonder Stuff also covered "Save It for Later" featuring Ranking Roger on their "From the Midlands with Love" series in June 2012

Pearl Jam also began covering the song in 1996 blending it into the end of "Better Man", and it has remained in the set list for their 2014 tour.

21st century

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, recorded a new album that was mixed by Adrian Sherwood, but it remains unreleased. The band also featured Everett Morton and 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.[9]

The English Beat recorded two new songs that feature prominently in the Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated episode "Dance of the Undead" which aired 26 March 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."[10]

In late 2013, The Beat with Ranking Roger released the live album, Live In London which featured a new song entitled "How Do You Do (Side To Side)" and also a song previously released solo by Ranking Roger, entitled "Dangerous", among many other songs.

In mid-2014, The English Beat starring Dave Wakeling announced that they will be releasing a new studio album entitled Here We Go Love. The album, which will be released in 2017 is being funded through the PledgeMusic website, in which fans donate to the group.

The Beat feat. Ranking Roger have announced the release of new studio album 'Bounce' on the 30 September 2016. 'Bounce' will come out on CD, Vinyl and Digital on DMF Records. The first single from the album 'Walking on the Wrong Side' will be released in July 2016.

Personnel

The Beat (UK) / The English Beat (US)

The English Beat starring Dave Wakeling

  • Dave Wakeling - lead vocals, guitar
  • King Schascha - toasting
  • Nucci Cantrell - drums, vocals
  • Matt Morrish - sax, vocals
  • Kevin Lum - keys, vocals
  • Minh Quan - keys, vocals
  • Brad Engstrom - bass, vocals

The Beat feat. Ranking Roger / The New English Beat feat. Ranking Roger

Discography

Studio albums

The Beat / The English Beat

YearAlbum detailsPeak chart positionsCertifications
(sales threshold)
UK
NZ
[11]
NOR
[12]
SWE
[13]
US
[2]
1980I Just Can't Stop It33030142
1981Wha'ppen?
  • Second studio album
  • Release date: June 1981
  • Label: Go Feet/Sire Records
32028126
1982Special Beat Service215039

The Beat Feat. Ranking Roger / The New English Beat feat. Ranking Roger

YearAlbum detailsPeak chart positionsCertifications
(sales threshold)
UK
NZ
[11]
NOR
[12]
SWE
[13]
US
[2]
2016Bounce
  • Release date: September 2016
  • Label: DMF Records
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

The English Beat starring Dave Wakeling

YearAlbum detailsPeak chart positionsCertifications
(sales threshold)
UK
NZ
[11]
NOR
[12]
SWE
[13]
US
[2]
2017Here We Go Love
  • Release date: 2017
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Live albums

The Beat with Ranking Roger

YearAlbum detailsPeak chart positionsCertifications
(sales threshold)
UK
NZ
[11]
NOR
[12]
SWE
[13]
US
[2]
2013Live In London
  • Release date: 2013
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Compilation albums

YearAlbum detailsPeak positionsCertifications
(sales threshold)
UK
NZ
[11]
US
[2]
1983What Is Beat?
  • First compilation album
  • Release date: 1983
  • Label: I.R.S. Records
101487
1996B.P.M. The Very Best of the Beat
  • Second compilation album
  • Release date: 8 April 1996
  • Label: Arista Records
13
2000Beat This! The Best of the Beat
  • Third compilation album
  • Release date: 2000
  • Label: Go Feet Records
2006The Platinum Collection
  • Fourth compilation album
  • Release date: 10 January 2006
  • Label: Warner Platinum
2008You Just Can't Beat It: The Best of the Beat
  • Fifth compilation album
  • Release date: 4 February 2008
  • Label: Music Club
2012Keep The Beat: The Very Best of The English Beat
  • A 2012 "Best of" release
  • Release date: 10 July 2012
  • Label: Shout! Factory
2012The Complete Beat
  • All three studio albums remastered plus 2 CDs of bonus content.
  • Release date: 10 July 2012
  • Label: Shout! Factory
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Singles

YearSinglePeak chart positionsAlbum
UK
NZ
[11]
NL
[15]
US Dance
[2]
1979"Tears of a Clown"/"Ranking Full Stop" (Double A-side)6I Just Can't Stop It
1980"Hands Off...She's Mine" / "Twist and Crawl" (double A-side)94122
"Mirror in the Bathroom"422
"Best Friend"/"Stand Down Margaret (Dub)" (Double A-side)22
"Too Nice to Talk To"7Non-album song
1981"Drowning"/"All Out to Get You" (Double A-side)22Wha'ppen?
"Doors of Your Heart"33
"Hit It (Auto Erotic)"70Non-album song
1982"Save It for Later"4758Special Beat Service
"Jeanette"45
"I Confess"5434
1983"Can't Get Used to Losing You"34712What is Beat?
"Ackee 1-2-3"54
1996"Mirror in the Bathroom" (remix)44The 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

  • 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)

Also released:

Video