The Beat had two particular characteristics back in the day that have proved convenient to promoting their back catalogue today: they had two vocalists and two band names. The former were Dave Wakeling and ‘Ranking’ Roger Charlery; the explanation about the band’s names is that there was already an American group called The Beat, so when the British band was launched in the US they were branded The English Beat to avoid confusion.
Part of the British ska revival in the late 70s and early 80s, The (English) Beat chose to record a cover version of an old The Miracles song for their debut single on 2-Tone towards the end of 1979, but when the 80s began they formed of their own label Go-Feet and began to release their own lyrically intelligent but musically danceable songs. (Go-Feet, a subsidiary of Arista, was billed on its early adverts as ‘the dance label’.) Mirror In The Bathroom was their third offering and The Beat suggested it was one of the first singles to be recorded digitally. The line-up at the time of this single was David Steele (bass), Andy Cox (guitar), Everett Morton (drums), Saxa (sax) and.
After three albums (over which the dance/pop element of their sound was reduced in favour of harder reggae), the group split into three pairs in 1983 and went off to new projects. Steele and Cox created The Fine Young Cannibals with Roland Gift, Morton and Saxa formed The International Beat, and Wakeling and Charlery initiated General Public. Only the former of those bands survived into the 1990s, although General Public made a brief comeback in the middle of that decade, Wakeling having released a solo album in the interim.
Today, there are two versions of The Beat, a seemingly common phenomenon affecting 80s bands. Regular readers of this blog will recall earlier this month the 1981 section of the ‘Eurovision’ article concerning Bucks Fizz, and the number 2 section of the ‘Brothers’ article regarding the current position with UB40: it must be confusing for fans to decide with whom their loyalties lie in such a situation. But with The Beat it might be somewhat easier. Having two vocalists and two different names has at last proved useful, as over the last ten years there have been two separate outfits performing the past hits. The English Beat is based in the States and is fronted by Wakeling; The Beat operates in the UK and is led by Ranking Roger. None of the other members of the group who contributed to Mirror In The Bathroom currently features in either version.
NEW SINGLES on sale from Apr. 25
The BEAT Mirror In The Bathroom (Go-Feet FEET2)
The HUMAN LEAGUE Holiday ’80 (Virgin SV105)
SPARKS Young Girls (Virgin VS343)
The CURE (Robert Smith) Boys Don’t Cry (New Voice, New Mix) (Fiction FIC24)
DEREK B Bad Young Brother (Tuff Audio DRKB1)
Harry ENFIELD Loadsamoney (Doin’ Up The House) (Mercury DOSH1)