“Save It For Later” to “You’re Stuck” – The English Beat is Anything But
It was 1982 when “Save It For Later” was playing across airwaves in the United States and abroad, straight from the Special Beat Service album by English Beat. But just as many Americans were being introduced to the fusion of rock, ska, punk and reggae that was easy to dance to, it was over. Well, not over, just paused because buttons got pushed, like a vintage cassette player stuck. It happens.
Flash forward to 2018, and The Beat has a new album, Here We Go Love, and is on tour rocking the West Coast. With original band member Dave Wakeling out in front again (vocals and guitar), joined by Matt Morrish (Sax/vocals), Kevin Lum (Keys/vocals), Minh Quan (Keys/vocals), Brian “Nucci” Cantrell (Drums), Antonee First Class (Toaster), and Mark London Sims (Bass/vocals).
As Pete Carroll, from 9th Island Events says about the Beat’s upcoming concert at the Ashland Armory, “It will be a great show. I have put on many concerts with Mr. Wakeling and the English Beat from Hawaii to the mainland; they never disappoint.”
Originally formed in Birmingham in the UK in 1978, the English Beat, was known for bucking the system with songs like “Stand Down Margaret,” and “All Out to Get You.” They once opened for David Bowie and have been on stage with the Pretenders and The Clash. Original band members—a unique mix of styles and ages—included “Ranking Roger” on vocals (who went on to his own General Public career), Andy Cox on guitar, David Steele on bass, Everett Morton on drums, and Lionel Augustus martin or “Saxa,” as he was known, on saxophone.
The band is both fresh and a time capsule from the post-punk era, with touches of social commentary (albeit lighter than The Clash) and heavy ska beats, all wrapped in an ear-catching package of boppy pop.
The songwriting on their latest 2018 album, Here We Go Love, deftly combines “savagely witty” (Rolling Stone) lyrics with upbeat melodies offering musical Yin and Yang. As Wakeling explained in a VHI Classic Bands United video, he learned how to “sing about oppression with joy.”
The song “You’re Stuck” does not seem to be about oppression, but self-imposed victimization that once again offers a cathartic dance opportunity. It’s like when road-rage builds up and you sing profanities loudly in the car to shake it off. Suddenly, pent-up emotions become silly and get released as easily as bubbles.
So, it is an inaugural feat that Live at the Armory (an event-production company bringing diverse bands to the historic armory building in downtown Ashland) enticed The English Beat to perform for the first time ever in Ashland. This event company began offering shows around 2014 and keeps upping the ante with better and better performances.
As the lyrics from “How Can You Stand There,” a song on their latest album, implies:
‘Cos it’s not over until you hit the top,
it’s not over until you have to stop,
it’s not over while we have a chance
no it’s not over, so come on and dance now …
The English Beat
7 pm, Friday, December 14
Ashland Armory, 208 Oak Street, Ashland
$32, advance. $38, door.