beat band

The Beat (band)

The Beat (known in North America as The English Beat) are a 2 Tone ska revival band founded in 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 released three albums: 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".


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 (b. Lionel Martin, 1930, aka Papa 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.

Notable singles from the first album included "Can't Get Used to Losing You" (albeit not released until 1983), "Mirror in the Bathroom", and "Hands Off...She's Mine" (with the latter two reaching the U.K. top ten, while another single, "Best Friend," broke the top 30.) The second Beat album, Wha'ppen? (1981) was supported by extensive touring, including a U.S. tour with The Pretenders and Talking Heads. The album yielded more U.K. hits, including "Drowning"/"All Out To Get You" and "Doors of Your Heart," both of which broke the U.K. Top 40. The Beat received strong support from modern rock radio stations such as KROQ 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 sizeable 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, REM, The Specials, and Talking Heads. Members of the band often collaborated on stage with The Specials. In the early 1990s, Roger joined members of The Specials to form the new band Special Beat, which toured and released two live albums. They supported the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and participated in the collaborative recording "Nelson Mandela."

Post breakup

After the break-up of The Beat in 1983, Dave Wakeling (guitar, vocals) and Ranking Roger (vocals) went on to form General Public, while Andy Cox (guitar) and David Steele (bass guitar) formed Fine Young Cannibals with vocalist Roland Gift. Everett Morton and Saxa formed The International Beat fronted by Tony Beet. 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, the Beat's song "Rotating Head," remixed and renamed "March of the Swivelheads," was famously 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".

In the 1990s, Roger recorded his solo début, 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".


In 2003, The Beat's original line-up, minus Cox and Steele (but with the addition of Junior), 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. As of 2005, The Beat has reformed with Roger, Blockhead and Morton of the original line-up, and Ranking Junior on vocals.

The band's lead singer, Dave Wakeling, fronts "The English Beat" in the United States. Members include Wayne Lothian of General Public and Special Beat, Rick Torres of Supreme Beings of Leisure, Rhythm Epkins, Fernando Jativa and Paul Welch. They opened for 311 for part of their 2007 Summer Unity Tour. In 2006, the current U.K. version of The Beat, featuring Ranking Roger and Everett Moreton, recorded a new album that was mixed by Adrian Sherwood, but it remains unreleased. After Blockhead left the band, he was replaced by Mickey Billingham, formerly a member of Dexy's Midnight Runners.




  • What Is Beat? (1983) UK # 10
  • The Beat Goes On (US, 1991)
  • B.P.M.: The Very Best of The Beat (1996) UK # 13
  • Beat This! The Best Of The Beat (2000)
  • The Platinum Collection (2005)
  • You Just Can't Beat It: The Best of The Beat (2008)


  • Tears of a Clown / Ranking Full Stop (1979) UK # 6
  • Hands Off...She's Mine (1980) UK # 9
  • Mirror in the Bathroom (1980) UK # 4
  • Best Friend / Stand Down Margaret (Dub) (1980) UK # 22
  • Too Nice to Talk To (1980) UK # 7
  • All Out to Get You / Drowning (1981) UK # 22
  • Doors of Your Heart (1981) UK # 33
  • Hit It (1981) UK # 70
  • Save It for Later (1982) UK # 47
  • Jeanette (1982) UK # 45
  • I Confess (1982) UK # 54
  • Can't Get Used to Losing You (1983) UK # 3
  • Ackee 1-2-3 (1983) UK # 54
  • Mirror In The Bathroom (re-mix) (1996) UK # 44

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)



External links


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