The late 70s/early 80s Birmingham band The Beat are well-remembered for a string of high-rhythm and bass-driven songs, including chart singles like ‘Too Nice to Talk To’ and ‘Mirror in the Bathroom’ as well as for a political edge that was a million miles away from the narcissistic posing of other 80’s bands. Their memorable extension of Prince Buster’s ‘Whine and Grine’ to become ‘Stand Down Margaret’ remains very powerful, the dub of which is as good a testament to Thatcher as you are ever likely to hear. The Beat went their separate ways, partly forming the rhythm section of Fine Young Cannibals, and more recently the original vocalist Dave Wakeling led his version of the Beat and continued to perform.
Now we have a brand new album from The Beat ‘featuring Ranking Roger’, with the eponymous original band member plus his son Matthew Murphy (Ranking Junior), drummers Oscar Harrison of Ocean Colour Scene and Fuzz Townshend of Pop Will Eat Itself, Chiko Hamilton on sax, bass guitar Andy Pearson, guitarist Steve Harper and Bobby Bird whose grounding in ambient dub in the form of Higher Intelligence Agency brings something more to the sound of The Beat. The single ‘Walking on the Wrong Side’ is recognisably the sound of Beat, accessible ska/reggae reminiscent of the Police in some ways (unsurprising as Ranking Roger has worked with Sting) – upbeat, happy, and good to hear this sound again. Wha’ppen!
The Beat: ‘Walking on the Wrong Side’ single released July 2016; ‘Bounce’ album (vinyl and digital) released September 2016