e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


The English Beat

A couple weeks ago in Ann Arbor I picked up "What Is The English Beat" at a used vinyl place and have been giving it many spins. This is the coolest tune the English Beat (or as they were known in the U.K., The Beat) put out in their short lifespan:

I have a couple Pearl Jam bootlegs where they cover "Save It For Later," usually as a medley with "Betterman" and other good and catchy rock and roll songs. It's a cliche, but "Save It For Later" takes its beauty from its simple three chords (D-A-G) that even I can play.

Look at the English Beat in the video above. Goofy kids having fun. They're part of the first-generation of British, multiracial ska punk bands (like The Specials and Madness who are also great) but poppier. According to setlist.fm, they came to the U.S. in the early '80s when I was too young to go see them play and opened up for...get a load of this list...The Clash, The Pretenders, The Talking Heads, R.E.M., The Police, and David Bowie. They broke up and members morphed into General Public ("Tenderness") and Fine Young Cannibals ("She Drives Me Crazy") in the later part of the decade.

Fun? Yep. But The English Beat have some great political songs too. "Get a Job" and "Stand Down Margaret" and other much-needed rock and punk rock anthems about racist public policy in the U.K. and elsewhere. Bands like the Beat proudly integrated their own stages as white and black bandmates traded verses and traded genres too (punk, pop, reggae, soul). Check them out, peoples.

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