I was introduced to The English Beat by Tom.
He was one of the other 2 guys that rented a room at the top of the stairs in the house on Summit Avenue just off the UW Milwaukee campus. His room was always full of music and friends. He introduced me to 2 bands that I love to this day: Steel Pulse and The English Beat.
Tom almost always had the “Steel Pulse – Earth Crisis”
album out and either playing or on deck and displayed. I always think of this album cover when I think of Steel Pulse, but the best album of theirs in my opinion is “Steel Pulse – African Holocaust”.
I highly recommend this one.
The other band that he introduced me to was The English Beat. As I write this I am still confused as to what to call them properly. It seems that they are known as The Beat AND The English Beat depending on where they are playing? I have always known them as The English Beat.
Tom played “The English Beat – Wha’ppen” in his room as we sat around his immense wooden spool table one sunny summer day. At first I really didn’t notice that he had switched from Steel Pulse, but at some point it sank in and I started listening to the music more than him. This stuff was great. It wasn’t raggae really, but I couldn’t place the genre. This was my first real exposure to anything ska-ish, or two tone.
Then one day in Tom’s room, he played their first album “The English Beat – I Just Can’t Stop It”.
In mid conversation I stopped and I was like “who is this?!” When he told me it was The English Beat I knew I had to buy these. When I heard the track “Mirror In The Bathroom” I was hooked completely.
The next day I rode my bike to the record store. I was bummed that they didn’t have the first 2 albums. All they had was “The English Beat – Special Beat Service”.
This was their 3rd and final album. I bought it.
That night I put it on the turntable while I was cleaning my room. By the end of the first song “I Confess” I was sitting on the edge of my bed just listening. This record totally took my head off (to quote John Zorn) and I was transfixed. I had never really heard anything like this, and the sound was so matured from their first 2 albums. It hit me in the right spot at the right time and though I love songs on the first 2 albums, this album IS for me, The English Beat. Every song is fantastic. That time in my life was so fancy-free and I had procured my own place to live, got a job and was in school and this album was my happiness and pride manifesto. I simply could NOT feel bad or worry about anything when I was playing this album. It was just ska enough, with just the right level of accents to the vocals, and it was like I had discovered an album that no one else knew about. I felt like I had been told a musical secret.
One rare night while we were clubbing in some dance place in downtown Milwaukee, they played “Mirror In The Bathroom” and I freaked! Woo hoo! I went running out to the dance floor, and most everyone else slowly sauntered off the floor. So not everyone was as hot on The English Beat as me, at least to dance to. Clearly it was an acquired taste.
I did end up getting the 2 older albums and for weeks it was The English Beat 24/7 in my room with the sloping ceiling. I was infused with positivity and bounce from these guys.
A 12 inch mix of the song ”March Of The Swivelheads” was used as the background music for Ferris frantically running through neighborhood back yards trying to get home towards the end of movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.
I have used this album like a soothing drink of warm milk to fall asleep to many many nights. It just strikes the soothe button in me.
Sadly, the group went their separate ways and created the group General Public (awesome) and also Fine Young Cannibals (not bad). Yeah. I bet you remember Fine Young Cannibals.
A few years ago I came across a KEXP podcast that had a short live show by them. They are playing together again! I was worried that they hadn’t aged very well, but I liked it quite a lot to be honest. This of coursed caused a resurgence of The English Beat in my life. It was a nice revival.
Then, recently I noticed this tiny announcement in the Isthmus.
And another article in a different free paper had a listing of “bands to see” in 2013 and look who made the list:
This is one of those shows that I MUST see.
Dalton is going to go with me.
Tickets have been purchased.
Thank you E-Tix.