SEVENTIES ska band The Beat, which had huge hits with Mirror In The Bathroom and Can’t Get Used To Losing You, will perform in Brighton as they release their first studio album since 1982.
Here We Go Love is a new collection of 13 songs “that have their feet in the here and now, but lose none of the fire and frenzy of those timeless immediate classics that made the band’s name”.
The first single from the album, How Can You Stand There?, has just been released and the band kick off their tour in Manchester on May 25, playing at venues across the country before a final gig at Concorde 2 in Brighton on June 17.
The Beat stars vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Dave Wakeling, described by Rolling Stone as “a singer-songwriter as savagely witty as Elvis Costello” and who “ought to be spoken of in the same breath as Weller and Strummer in the post-punk pantheon of heroes”, according to The Quietus.
He says, “It took a while to make this record, in between month-long tours, and that gave us time to do plenty of listening. Cut a little, test a lot, as the woodwork teacher used to say.
“The songs suggested that there was something in the air. Now the album is done, and the face of British and American politics has changed dramatically. That was what was in the air, and the songs are about what is happening right now.
“As we got closer to finishing, our shows started selling out in advance, then becoming two nights, and the new songs going down a storm with the crowds. Then all the right people started showing up at just the right time.
“Time is a funny thing, makes more sense in heartbeats sometimes than on a stopwatch. This is the perfect time for this record to come out.”
His lyrics draw from observing life and, given the tumultuous events of recent months, his thoughts on what holds us together, but also the impermanence that underscores the human condition have never been more relevant. Here We Go Love has been crafted over the last two years in breaks from touring, Wakeling and the band having performed around 1,000 shows.
Blending wit and wisdom and, of course, ska, punk, soul, reggae, pop and anything else that came to hand in the melting pot that was late 70s Birmingham, The Beat were ahead of the time, creating a hybrid sound that came in part to define their times.
With five Top 10 singles to their name, their first two albums Just Can’t Stop It and Whap’pen both bounded to No3 in the charts and their rise continued to the point where they could fill arenas across America.
They were, as Wakeling recalls, “An incongruous set of people from all different cultures and upbringings.” When the Birmingham sextet first hit the charts in 1979, joint-frontman Ranking Roger was just 16 while saxophonist Saxa, who had played with the likes of Desmond Dekker and Prince Buster, was pushing 50.
In Here We Go Love, Wakeling explores the outer regions of what it means to be alive in the here and now; notions of love, self, identity and politics.
The One And Only examines “the Donald Trump in all of us. Like it or not, the vast majority of white men in America voted for him.”
While the music rolls on a tight groove from the live band, a handful of special guests make a significant contribution too – notably Roddy ‘Radiation’ Byers of The Specials and The Skabilly Rebels, Train guitarist Luis Maldonado and backing vocalists Durga McBroom, Kevin Williams and Jelani Jones. Wakeling even sought input from The Beat’s late saxophonist Saxa. Although encumbered by a tendon injury which meant he couldn’t play, he hummed some saxophone melodies which Wakeling incorporated into the album to maintain a taste of his musical flavour.
The Beat starring Dave Wakeling are at Concorde 2, Madeira Drive, Brighton, at 7.30pm on Saturday June 17. Tickets £18.50. Phone 01273 673311 or visit concorde2.co.uk.
Picture of Dave Wakeling: Bryan Kremkau