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Beat This! The Best of the Beat
     

Beat This! The Best of the Beat

by The English Beat
 

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The English Beat (known as just the Beat outside America) emerged from the shadows of their 2-Tone label contemporaries the Specials, Madness, and the Selecter to leave arguably the strongest legacy of the ska-influenced movement that swept British and American youth in the early '80s. The Birmingham-based group's debut album, I

Overview

The English Beat (known as just the Beat outside America) emerged from the shadows of their 2-Tone label contemporaries the Specials, Madness, and the Selecter to leave arguably the strongest legacy of the ska-influenced movement that swept British and American youth in the early '80s. The Birmingham-based group's debut album, I Just Can't Stop It, contained an uplifting ska version of "Tears of a Clown," a mournful rendition of Andy Williams's "Can't Get Used to Losing You," the party piece "Ranking Full Stop" (sung by the group's toaster, Ranking Roger), and some clever and melodic takes on narcissism: "Best Friend," "Hands Off She's Mine," and "Mirror in the Bathroom." Maturing beyond recognition on Wha'ppen?, the sextet emerged with a global political consciousness that, on beautiful mid-tempo songs such as "Drowning" and "Doors of Your Heart," allowed the velvet-larynxed Dave Wakeling to claim the spotlight. Special Beat Service then won over America, helped by yearning violins on the minor hit "Save It for Later." Sadly, the group split on the cusp of true international success, and while Wakeling and Roger's new act, General Public, were the Beat's obvious successors, it was guitarist Andy Cox and bass player David Steele who scored big with the trio Fine Young Cannibals. While all three albums are essential in their own way, The Very Best of the English Beat is an essential summation of their career -- and the very best of any political party music you could hope to find.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Dave Thompson
Though they ultimately skated far away from the "Two Tone" pigeon-hole that yawned for other bands of their ilk and age, the English Beat were certainly pursuing similar demons as they rose out of hometown Birmingham in 1979, with a ska-punk collision that matched social politics with sociological awareness, then turned the whole thing into a non-stop dance party. They were promptly rewarded with the first of 13 UK hit singles scored over the next four years, but more surprising was the band's American breakthrough, where they out-performed both the period figureheads of the Specials and Madness, and ultimately hauled themselves into that rarified strata where they came to epitomise "ska" in the same way that the Police represented "reggae." It didn't matter that purists would run a mile at the thought of such a comparison. No-one ever went Top 40 by appealing to purists. Showcasing the band's most adept maneuvers, the 15 tracks here round up all but three of the group's British hits, then pad in select highlights from the three regular albums. From the very outset of the band's career, a swift run through "Tears Of A Clown" crackles with all the frenetic energy that characterised the band's period live show, while the deeply dubbed "Stand Down Margaret" represents one of the most potent political assaults of the entire 1980s - Margaret, of course, is British Prime Minister Thatcher and it's remarkable to think that, after just one year in office, people were already songs about how much they hated her. Later, "I Confess" and a smart cover of Andy Williams' "Can't Get Used To Losing You" highlight just how masterfully the English Beat subverted radio-friendly pop to their own ends and, while not every track has withstood the test of time too well, enough do still thrill to encourage investigation of their entire catalog. Also included on the CD are five full length videos for "Save It For Later," "Mirror In The Bathroom," "Too Nice To Talk To," "Drowning" and "Doors Of Your Heart." They are everything you remember them to be.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/11/2001
Label:
Rhino
UPC:
0809274073525
catalogNumber:
40735

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