Formed in the working class suburbs of industrial Birminghamin England in 1978 The Beat arose at a time of high unemployment and social upheaval. From the outset the band offered messages of hope and peace with an insight into sociopolitical topics would later alongside The Specials see them heralded as forerunners of the whole 2-Tone Ska movement.
Ranking Roger and Dave Wakeling led with vocal duties while Andy Cox and David Steele took guitar and bass duties with Everett Morton supplying the most distinctive of drumming styles. Added to this mix was the renowned saxophonistSaxa, adding the deliciously warm Jamaican ska instrumental flavour that is forever associated with the bands sound. Having played saxophone with Prince Buster, Laurel Aitken and Desmond Dekker in the first wave of ska The Beat on formation seemed to immediately come of age.
The Beat’s first single was the infectious cover of Smokey Robinson’s ‘Tears of A Clown’ which on release went straight into the National Top 10 at No.6. The record, an effortless like fusion between a number of different musical styles such as Ska, Punk, Pop, Soul and Reggae, immediately saw the band finding themselves an overnight success.
Further hit singles from the first album included ‘Mirror In The Bathroom’, ‘Can’t Get Used to Losing You’, ‘Hands Off… She’s Mine’ and ‘Best Friend’, and with a catalogue such as this it was easy to see why the The Beat would become one of the most popular recording and live acts in the UK.
Huge radio airplay followed in the US which saw The Beat head stateside and then further with world tours alongside some of the biggest performing artists such as The Clash, The Police, REM, Talking Heads, The Pretenders and of course The Specials.
While The Beat could deliver with what almost seemed effortless ease songs of Love, Peace and Unity. Songs such as ‘Stand Down Margaret’ saw them spearhead a movement wanting real social change and multicutural inclusion. The thousands that sang along in unison with the band at nuclear disarmament marches bear testament to the uplifting feeling the band could evoke with their musical swagger and genuine care for humanity.
After 3 Gold and Platinum top selling albums worldwide with ‘I Just Cant Stop It’, ‘Wh’appen’, and ‘Special Beat Service’ – The Beat’s musical fluidity and openess, delivered in their explosive all encompassing live shows allowed them to reach hundreds of thousands of fans across the world, communicating positivity and freedom through not only their music, but their actions and genuine commitment to causes.
Almost in reaction to the height of their fame The Beat to the disbelief of many disbanded with Ranking Roger and Dave Wakeling forming General Public with Mickey Billingham of Dexys Midnight Runners and Andy Cox and David Steele putting together the Fine Young Cannibals. Though both enjoyed phenomenal success, no other artist has sounded like The Beat or indeed is ever likely too. Ranking Roger also briefly joined Mick Jones’ post-Clash band Big Audio Dynamite injecting his toasting and vocal style that to this day remains his trademark.
After numerous offers to return to the stage The Beat returned in 2003 for a sell out show at The Royal Festival Hall with the inclusion of Ranking Jnr taking vocal duties to an accolade of critical acclaim. With Dave Wakeling heading to the US Ranking Roger alongside Everett Morton, Ranking Jnr and Mickey Billingham returned to their roots with deeper rhythms, a wall of sound that transcends time and an unwavering dedication to real unity and love that leaves the future still to be written, there can be no question…
…The Beat are back!