English Beat – The Complete Beat + Keep the Beat: The Very Best of the English Beat

January 01, 1970

(Shout! Factory)




The English Beat were
a band in and of its time, the late ‘70s to be precise, when British rock was
beginning to shake off the final vestiges of Punk and find a form of lasting
duration to bring the nation’s youth into a new decade. With Margaret Thatcher
and economic woes plaguing the populace, New Wave and Power Pop became escapist
pleasures as the ‘70s segued into the ‘80s, but within those confines, a new
working class style began to emerge in the working class environs of England’s
industrial inner cities. Birmingham in particular harbored a sizable immigrant
and inner-racial community, and it was that the English Beat was birthed
(“English” due not only to national pride, but because there was already an
American band that claimed the Beat handle). Along with other outfits like
Madness, the Specials and the Selecter, they integrated their music with
Jamaican ska and reggae, while providing a multiethnic counterpoint to the
white rebellious rock ‘n’ roll that had dominated the hearts and minds of
British youth in the decades before.


Thanks to the eager
and adventurous mentorship of the fledgling 2 Tone label, these bands were
given full creative incentive, in which the English Beat found hit making
possibilities. Their reign lasted over the course of three well selling albums
and a series of signature songs that still retain their infectious enthusiasm
some 30 years later. It’s appropriate then that they find reintroduction
courtesy of Shout Factory’s thorough five disc box set, in that it collects
every track the band committed to vinyl, as well as two sides wholly devoted to
live recordings, BBC sessions and extended versions. In retrospect, the three
original albums — I
Just Can’t Stop It, Wha’ppen? and Special Beat Service, from ’80, ’81 and ’82 respectively, still hold together
well, and together with the bonus add-ons, the box set provides a full overview
of the band’s relatively brief tenure. Together with a forthcoming live album,
due this fall, The
Complete Beat offers
completists an ideal opportunity to ditch that well-worn vinyl and get in the
groove with a compendium that puts all the music in one place.


On the other hand,
the novice may choose to settle for the 16-song Keep the Beat,
in that it gathers the hits and outstanding album cuts while still retaining
the infectious intents that the band brought to the fore. It’s not the first
hits collection ever compiled, but released in tandem with the box set, it
provides a compact alternative for those that realize their dance designs can
be captured in the context of hits like “Mirror in the Bathroom,” “I Confess,”
their beat-worthy redo of “Tears if a Clown” and the song that brought the
closest to a crossover, the effusively engaging “Save It For Later.”
Nevertheless, there is a chance that those new to the fold will desire more,
allowing The Complete
Beat to seal the deal. Either
way, the beat goes on.


DOWNLOAD: “Save It For Later,” “Tears Of A
Clown,” “Mirror In The Bathroom” LEE ZIMMERMAN


Leave a Reply