Music News

The Beat Goes On

Dave Wakeling speaks in a soft British accent. He uses words like "magpie" and compares getting compliments to scoring a goal in football (that's soccer to us Yanks). Even in a tiff, the English Beat alum is as cordial as afternoon tea. Take, for example, the clash that currently divides the sort-of-reunited Beat: Wakeling and Roger Charlery -- better known as Ranking Roger -- shared frontman duties in the '80s for the two-tone revival band; but after playing a few reunion teases a couple of summers ago, the two split ways. Wakeling plans to keep the Beat going. Coincidentally, so does Roger.

Westword: Who will be with you on this tour?

Dave Wakeling: Me and Roger were meant to be doing it, but Roger decided to stay in England. I was quite shocked to find out that he's making a Beat record and I'm not invited -- nor is anybody else. We weren't really quite sure what was going on, but it appears that somebody's had a word in his ear that he should just do it himself. I wouldn't really mind too much if it was a concert, and you do your best, and it sounds good. But to make a Beat record with brand-new songs without Andy Cox, David Steele or myself involved at all, I think that's kind of cheesy.

Does it bother you that he's making a Beat record without you, in particular?

Well, I don't think any of us should really make a Beat record unless, at the very least, that everyone be invited. You can't set the bar too high and force someone to do something if they don't want to do it. But you should at least have an open invitation. It's not so much that I'm offended; in a way, I'm flattered. It's like having a tribute band, you know? It won't make the same impact the original records did. In a way, it tends to take a bit of shine off the whole catalogue. I think that's what bothers me more than anything else that would offend me. We were very lucky to have the recognition that we got, so that's kind of peed me off. On a personal level, you can't hate somebody for being that desperate. I think it's a missed opportunity. This is certainly not the first time me and Roger have seen the world differently.

When we did perform in London a couple of times, he and I had to concede that it was very good. We both still connected. There was still plenty there, but I'm afraid the music doesn't seem like it's the most important thing. It's silly things, like, 'Who's the leader of the Beat?' And Roger, I think, is going to insist on making a record and calling it the Beat just to show us that he is. I think that's a bit of a shame. We could have done better than that. The famous part of the Beat is the love-and-unity message and that our differences shouldn't be enough to keep us apart. It's a little bit embarrassing, then, to have this going on.

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Tuyet Nguyen