Tuesday, May 19, 2015

i just can't stop it

The Beat came over with love and unity in the joyful sound of this sharp and sensitive reflection of recompense.    The group was started by Dave Wakeling, Andy Cox, and David Steele on the Isle of Wright but relocated to Birmingham and began to develop a hybrid sound.   The Beat was the supporting band for The Dum Dum Boys, which included Ranking Roger Charlery, who decided to join the opening act:    "I started off as a punk rocker and my first job in a band was playing drums,and the first gig that we ever did had the Beat opening up for us as our support band. I soon joined them and became their front man and it went from there, but I still have that slight punk edge or streak within me and I still listen to it. I love every kind of music as long as it’s rhythmic and melodic,and I thought that punk was...It’s poor people’s music. Punk or reggae is roots music which comes from the ground up, and that’s why it’s so hard because usually there is a message of truth within it all. I think there is a real lack of this with today’s music; people should be singing about real things. Why should every song be another love song?... I was torn, yeah. You know I potentially had the chance to join UB40 because they were both from Birmingham. What a choice, eh? They weren’t big at the time; The Beat and UB40 were both unknown and they were both doing local pubs, but when I analysed it in my head something was just saying to me that I should go for the Beat because the dynamics of the music was far greater. UB40 were good, but I saw them as sort of a space age reggae band with both the guitars and the keyboards being phased. It was almost like a Lee Perry sound. I thought they were a great version of English reggae and they executed that perfectly.   The Beat had more going for them though; they had more styles in the songs ranging from reggae to punk then from that to a song that sounded a bit soul-ish. God knows what it was; they did so many different styles mixed together, and there were catchy guitars going on and that bass was so awkward. You know, when I first met the Beat’s band members I thought they were aliens from a different planet because to me they didn’t look human. In a way it was weird because nobody really knew each other. I think Andy Cox and Dave Wakeling knew each other from college, but for the rest of us it was like we were just placed in the room and told, 'Right, go and make something decent.' So we did."

Wakeling looks back:   "We had this view that life was tragic, and yet it was beautiful. It’s all so beautiful (singing), I wanted to try to capture that in song, so we had the seductive side of reggae, the energy and power of punk, and the triumph and feeling of soul, and the crisp editing of ’60s pop, so people would want to put the needle back on the record. We wanted to combine all that into a three-minute pop song. That was the brief. We all had different visions of it. Mine initially was I wanted Toots and the Maytals jamming with the Velvet Underground, with Brian Ferry and Van Morrison dueting on top. David Steele wanted the Monkees in there, and Roger was pure punk so he wanted a bit of the Clash and Pistols in there. We wanted to synthesize it into something that would make everyone in the room dance and feel uplifted, because life was as it was in Birmingham. It’s a bit like Detroit in how much joyful music came out of there.”

They were joined by Everett Morton on drums and veteran sax man Lionel Augustus Martin (AKA Saxa) who had played with The Beatles and ska legends like Prince Buster and Desmond Dekker.   Roger remembers:   “Everett worked in a kettle factory.  David Steele worked as a nurse, and he knew a Jamaican nurse who put him in touch with Everett, who put us in touch with Saxa. We realised we needed a bit of brass – we only met Saxa a few days before we laid down 'Tears Of A Clown'. He'd played in various bands around town, all backgrounds, from Irish to calypso. Basically, he was a jazz man. I was a bit wary of him at first. His dress sense was straight out of Shaft! He seemed a bit noisy, a bit drunk. I thought, 'He's trouble.' But the way he played sax was like nothing I'd ever heard before. And we realised, all the time, he was teaching us. He'd say things like, “one hand wash the other”, and you only later got what he meant."

Wakeling reveals:    "When we started rehearsing as a band, we were trying to get David Steele’s punk basslines and Everett Morton’s reggae drums, and mine and Andy Cox’s power-pop melodies all put together. We’d rehearse, and for about a minute or two it would gel, and everything would seem great. And then we’d all drift off into our favorite grooves, and it was as though there were a number of ellipses going on, and every now and then those ellipses would converge and we’d make a perfect circle for a minute or two—something like we’d never quite heard before—and then we’d drift off again. After a few weeks of that, Everett said, 'Why don’t we try to learn a song that we all know, practice that ’til we’ve got it right, find out where our grooves meet, and then we can try one of your weird songs like that ‘Mirror’ thing.' It actually took us 10 minutes in the rehearsal room to come up with a song we all knew; that’s how different our influences were.   But “Tears Of A Clown” we all knew, so we went home and learned it. Well, learned most of it. We didn’t bother with the really, really difficult chords. [Laughs.]"

The group had a top ten hit in the UK with their first single, a cover of "Tears of a Clown", which led to the recording of their debut album. 'I Just Can't Stop It' was produced by Bob Sargeant and engineered by Mike Hedges and featured Dave Wakeling on lead vocals and rhythm guitar; Ranking Roger on toasting and vocals; Andy Cox on lead guitar; David Steele on bass; Everett Morton on drums; and Saxa (Lionel Augustus Martin) on saxophone. The album charted at number one hundred and forty-two in the US (where the band became The English Beat), thirty in New Zealand and Norway, and number three in the UK.
Wakeling:   "It was easier in England [to mix reggae and punk]; we had [a] whole generation of people that moved over from Jamaica and other islands to help rebuild Britain in the ‘50s after the second World War. The idea at the time was, the people were invited to come over with the notion being just being like just work here for three to five years to help rebuild the motherland. The idea was to go back home with a load of money to build a big house for yourself and then live in luxury back in Jamaica. Then, of course, people settle and have kids and those kids have Birmingham accents. And one thing leads to another and people start to call England home and the next generation [is] born in England. Like Ranking Roger, for instance. He’s born English, so going home for him meant Birmingham, and he still lives in Birmingham to this day. It was a bit easier for us in England to get into contact with reggae whereas in America white folk weren’t that interested in reggae. Now I mean you see reggae beats all over American television commercials and kids’ shows. So it’s a groove that’s been adopted and accepted and is pretty well-regarded here now.



"Mirror in the Bathroom"
Wakeling:   "I was working in construction at the time, and it was the winter. I had forgotten to hang my jeans up to dry overnight, so when I got into the bathroom to shower up, I noticed my jeans were still on the floor, soaking wet, covered in sand. So I hung them up thinking well, it's probably best to have them steaming hot and wet. I went to shave, and it was snowing, and I really, really didn't want to go. So I started talking to myself in the mirror as I was shaving up. And it was weird, because I looked deeper in the mirror, and I could see the little caption on the door behind, and I said to myself, Look, David, there's just me and you in here. The door's locked. We don't have to go to work. Of course we did. Got on the motorbike, and I just started pondering as I skated my way to the construction site on this motorbike. And that's how it started. It was thinking about how self-involvement turns into narcissism and how narcissism turns into isolation, and then how isolation turns into self-involvement again, and how what a vicious cycle that can become. So then I just started thinking about different situations where people would ostensibly look like they were doing something, but in fact they were checking their own reflection out. And you'd see it perhaps on Saturday afternoon with people window shopping, half the time they're actually just looking at their own reflection. Then this restaurant opened, and it was a big deal at the time because it had glass tables, and I was like, oh, you can watch yourself."

"Best Friend"

"Tears of a Clown" didn't appear on the original UK album; but was added to the US version.  

"Ranking Full Stop" was the flip side to their first single.  It also appeared on the US release.  

"Rough Rider"

'I Just Can't Stop It'
full album:


All songs written by The Beat, unless otherwise noted.

Side One
"Mirror in the Bathroom" – 3:10
"Hands Off...She's Mine" – 3:01
"Two Swords" – 2:19
"Twist & Crawl" – 2:35
"Rough Rider" (Eddy Grant, Dervan Gordon, Lincoln Gordon, and Patrick Gordon; arranged and adapted by The Beat) – 4:52
"Click Click" – 1:28

Side Two
"Big Shot" – 2:34
"Whine and Grine/Stand Down Margaret" – 3:51 (Whine and Grine by Prince Buster, Stand Down Margaret by The Beat)
"Noise in This World" – 2:19
"Can't Get Used to Losing You" (Mort Shuman, Doc Pomus) – 3:04
"Best Friend" – 3:01
"Jackpot" (George Agard, Sydney Crooks, Jackie Robinson, The Beat) – 4:19

live at Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey on the 26th of September 1980

00:00 : Hands Off She's Mine
02:49 : Psychedelic Rockers
06:10 : Noise In This World
08:27 : Big Shot
11:29 : Tears Of A Clown
15:14: : Rankin Full Stop
18:00 : Mirror In The Bathroom
21:24 : Click Click

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