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The English Beat goes on


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POSTED: Friday, December 04, 2009

The memorable sounds of one of Britain's more popular bands from the ska revival of the late 1970s comes full circle, under the leadership of one Dave Wakeling.

Now a longtime resident of Los Angeles, Wakeling continues to mine the melodies and rhythms that made the English Beat a great group in its heyday. The singer-songwriter returns with his beat-mates this week for an interisland tour that culminates tomorrow at the Pipeline Cafe.

Amidst the economic and racial turmoil of England during those years gone by, a true musical revolution arose amongst the disengaged and disenchanted youth, melding punk energy with the hyped-up reggae known as ska. Enjoying a bit of revival these days, the music is still being championed by Wakeling and his current version of the Beat.

               

     

 

THE ENGLISH BEAT

        » Where: Pipeline Cafe, 805 Pohukaina St.
       

» When: 8 p.m. tomorrow

       

» Cost: $34 general admission and $65 VIP

       

» Info: (877) 714-7668 or hsblinks.com/1eo

       

 

       

Starting with a ska version of the Motown classic “;Tears of a Clown”; in 1978, the English Beat had a great run that spanned three albums, with timeless hits such as “;Mirror in the Bathroom,”; “;Best Friend,”; “;Twist and Crawl,”; “;Too Nice to Talk To,”; “;I Confess”; and their most popular song, “;Save It for Later.”;

After the Beat's disbanding, Wakeling and singer-toaster Ranking Roger continued into the '80s as General Public, scoring hits with “;Tenderness”; and “;Never You Done That.”;

When the two parted ways, Wakeling carried on in America while Roger stayed in England. For a time there were two versions of the Beat in both countries, although Wakeling said by phone from his L.A. home on Monday that Roger's band seems to be on hiatus.

BUT WAKELING continues to fly the Beat flag, writing material that harks back to the band's original sound.

“;The new songs will hopefully be recorded next month, with an album summer release date,”; he said. “;Those who've already heard them said they're surprised that they sound like early English Beat.

“;I always meant the band's sound to be a hybrid. It got a punky start, but I think I was probably influenced as a songwriter more by Motown than early ska. But the songs were always meant to be inclusive of all my favorite dance beats. It was important to try to make an irresistible groove underneath every song I wrote.”;

The band's remake of the Smokey Robinson classic came out of necessity.

“;When we started, we all had these different musical influences, so the drummer helpfully suggested that why don't we all learn a song that we all know by next Tuesday, and once we got that, we can try the 'weird' ones like 'Mirror.'

“;The early gigs showed what we could offer to what was becoming the '2-Tone' scene in Britain. Our audience was a mix of skinheads, punks and Rastas, and they all loved 'Tears,'”; Wakeling said.

               

     

 


        Dave Wakeling
        www.davewakeling.com

MySpace: The English Beat
        hsblinks.com/1eq

       

The band's current lineup has outlasted the original's years together, he said. The rhythm section of Rhythmm Epkins and Wayne Lothian has been with Wakeling the longest, filled out by toaster Antonee First Class, saxophonist Nat Love, keyboardist Ray Jacildo and guitarist Hidden Kulcha.

While Wakeling enjoys Antonee's onstage energy, he understands Beat fans would love to see a reunion with Roger.

“;It's been an off-and-on thing with him,”; he said. “;I've always thought that me and Roger being together would be more important to our fans regardless of our personal differences. But who knows? Maybe there will be a time that it could happen.

“;But I like the different set of flavors I'm working with now. They suit this band. Now that I live in California, I don't want the band to sound like it did under original circumstances back in Britain. When I was back home in Birmingham, I showed a video of my English Beat in action to our original member Saxa, and he said while the original lineup was perfect for London, this newer version works just as much for what I'm doing now.

“;I think this band hits it deeper,”; Wakeling said. “;I enjoy working within the occasional soul pocket we get into. But what hasn't changed is my enjoyment in writing romantic-sounding melodies, syncopated beats and putting a bit of a twist in a song that can be understood on different levels.”;