Song of the Day: The Beat “Twist and Crawl”
Last year I DJ’d a birthday party. The playlist was 80s heavy and there was one band that both the birthday girl and the DJ agreed upon with enthusiasm: The Beat. The band, (also known as The English Beat or The British Beat) are not only a serious second wave ska act but they had the talents of Saxa on the saxophone who played for Laurel Aitken, Prince Buster and Desmond Dekker. As a second wave ska band, they really pushed the ska sound in a very updated direction with tracks like “Mirror in the Bathroom” while maintaining a more traditional style on other songs like “Can’t Get Used to Losing You”.
The Beat were founded in Birmingham, England in 1978 by rhythm guitarist, singer and songwriter Dave Wakeling, singer Ranking Roger, lead guitarist Andy Cox, bassist David Steele, drummer Everett Morton and, of course, the aforementioned Saxa. The late 70s were a time of incredible social and political upheaval in Britain. The Beat were well-known for channeling their anger and anxiety about British politics and the economic decline of the Midlands into incredibly catchy dance numbers. The band was almost notable for its avowed anti-racism and multiculturalism. The Beat prominently featured both black and white musicians and played not only original material, but also classic reggae, ska and motown anthems. The band has gone through line-up changes over the years and currently two version of the band exist: one led by Wakeling (based in the US, after Wakeling moved to Los Angeles) and the other by Roger (still based in the UK).