The Beat released their fine comeback album ‘Bounce’ six months ago (see reggaemusic.org.uk 21st June 2016). Here is a new single from the album in the form of a double A-side 7” vinyl along with a track from contemporaries the Selecter. The two bands both played live from Maida Vale on 13 December 2016 for Steve Lamacq’s Christmas Ska Party on BBC Radio 6 and have a forthcoming co-headline tour in 2017 and their sound naturally goes together.
The current Beat incarnation is fronted by original toasting MC Ranking Roger, accompanied by his son Ranking Junior AKA Matthew Murphy, and the new single is co-written by the two of them. The mix is by none other than Dennis Bovell (The Slits, Madness). Life-long friends, The Selecter and The Beat are two enduring names to come out of 2 Tone, a powerful label and wider cultural/political movement from the late 70s and that sound still comes through loud and clear. So stand down Teresa and listen to the energetic new single, a fast ska song with the distinctive rhythm section that could be no-one other than the Beat. Hey hey hey!
The Beat: ‘Side to Side’ released December 2016, vinyl/digital
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