The English Beat

Any '80s-era ska-revival fan worth his or her checkered glad rags remembers the English Beat's cheerful way with a politically charged song -- whether it called for peace, love, unity or Margaret Thatcher's head on a plate. Birmingham's premier roughriders even managed to make Andy Williams seem cool, covering his sappy "Can't Get Used to Losing You." But three albums into it, the Beat sadly dispersed: Co-frontmen Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger pursued soul-tinged horizons with General Public, while ace reedsman Saxa, a first-wave alum of Prince Buster and Desmond Dekker, formed International Beat with rocksteady drummer Everett Moreton, and the rest of the lads minced about as Fine Young Cannibals. Hardly reunited, the Beat goes on with lone original member Wakeling now toasting Smokey Robinson's "Tears of a Clown" and that all-knowing "Mirror in the Bathroom" with help from Lynval Golding, veteran guitarist of the Specials -- plus a crack staff of lethal grinders. Even after 26 years of rankin' full stop, the ska's still the limit.


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