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This weekend I’ll be mostly listening to… The Beat August 14, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....

It’s still Summer so let’s try to reconnect with Summer’s past. And how better to do so than The Beat?

Three albums, three albums – count ’em – between 1980 and 1982. I was listening to heavy metal at the time, or to be precise The New Wave of British Heavy Metal interleaved with Joy Division and New Order. But every once in a while something from ska would catch my attention… (and ever since) and so it is that I’ve no end of time for Madness, Specials and needless to say… The Beat. In a way I began to like them – and their peers – better and better as I got older and the sheer range of their material became more apparent as my own musical taste developed.

Listen to ‘Best Friend’, with a fine Byrds-like riff underpinning it, or the new wave inflected ‘I Confess’ that treads close to new romantic… very very close indeed, and then tilts off, at least in the video, to a strangely post-modernist spot. Or the backing to any of their songs, ‘Mirror in the Bathroom’, whatever. It’s busy, but not cluttered, speedy, but not too quick. There’s lots going on but it’s decipherable. Add to that lyrics that have a real edge to them.

And it’s not like they weren’t political… ‘Get A Job’ and ‘Stand Down Margaret’ are as fine slices of agit-pop as you’re likely to find, and perhaps as appropriate today as they were in the very early 1980s.

All that taken together makes me think that this was a very clever band indeed.

Unfortunately they split and now there are two versions of them, The Beat (based in the UK) and The English Beat gigging in the US. Somehow I just can’t see that as an advance on their original position. But in the meantime enjoy.

Best Friend

Mirror in the Bathroom

I Confess – camp and postmodern! Special beat service album.

Stand Down Margaret (not Live)

Stand Down Margaret (Live)


1. Tim Johnston - August 14, 2010

I think Iron Maiden warrant a mention in there, WbS- Absolutely best thing going in 1980 (although I was 3 so I only picked it up later), and when I lived in Belfast we all listened to the Beat incessantly on the Lower Ormeau – I seem to remember my housemate had two identical tapes, one of the The Beat and one The English Beat, although it was the same album. Or maybe my memory is foggy and ska-filled….

thanks for this!


WorldbyStorm - August 15, 2010

Tim, a pleasure as always. I think the EB formulation was used in the US to distinguish them from an indigenous band known as the Beat, but I could be wrong.

Iron Maiden, why yes. Actually, there’s another contributor, long time and not Garibaldy, to the CLR who has something of a dark history as an Iron Maiden fan. I’ll say no more. They can out themselves someday.


2. ec - August 15, 2010

This is a very interesting recent use of Iron Maiden – in a wikileaks afghanistan logs derived video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCK8oSFFpgc


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