Once upon a time there was a truly great Ska band named the English Beat (don’t know what Ska is? Look here). They burst on the music scene in 1979 from blue-collar Birmingham, England and wrote some terrific songs, like the punchy, political Stand Down Margaret, the manic Mirror in the Bathroom and a delightful up-tempo take on Smokey Robinson’s Tears of a Clown. Their best record was the first one, I Just Can't Stop It (1980), and it includes all of the songs mentioned. It is worth noting here that the Beat spawned two other good bands: General Public, a rock/pop outfit fronted by former EBers Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger, and Fine Young Cannibals, in which Beat sidemen Andy Cox and Dave Steele hooked up with vocalist Rowland Gift.
Now the English Beat are back, and a recent gig at the legendary 40 Watt club in Athens led to a flurry of articles. For futher reading on the subject, here is one from Athens-based weekly Flagpole, and another from the Athens Blur Blogozine.
The current incarnation of the English Beat is basically a vehicle for Wakeling, who owns the name. They reportedly still play very acceptable Ska, and will be touring the U.S. this summer with another well-known band in Ska circles, Reel Big Fish. The tour will hit some of the larger cities in the South along the way.