From the late Seventies into the early Eighties, The Beat were one of the biggest bands around.
Their first two albums got to number three in the charts and they garnered no less than five top-10, including Mirror In The Bathroom, Too Nice to Talk To, Hands Off She’s Mine and a brace of cover versions – Smoky Robinson’s Tears Of A Clown, the bands’ debut hit in 1979, and Andy Williams’ Can’t Get Used To Losing You in 1983.
Their unique brand of punk and two-tone was made accessible by leader Dave Wakeling’s ear for a great hook.
When the band split, the members formed two bands; General Public, featuring Dave, Ranking Roger and members of The Clash, Dexy’s Midnight Runners and The Specials, while two other members – bassist David Steele and guitarist Andy Cox – joined singer Roland Gift to form Fine Young Cannibals,, writes Martin Hutchinson.
In the Nineties, Wakeling was persuaded to perform again by Elvis Costello, but then there were two versions of the band: The Beat featuring Ranking Roger, and The English Beat starring Dave, who has played mainly in North America where he now lives.
But now he is back as The Beat – starring Dave Wakeling, with a new album – Here We Go Love is out on Friday, May 11 – and an extensive tour of the UK coming up.
“I’m excited about everything,” he says. “And we’re coming back with a new record.
“The first single from the album How Can You Stand There? has been playlisted in Radio 2, but it’s been a long time coming.”
The album has taken more than two years to record after the seeds were sewn when Dave started to incorporate some new songs into the bands’ live set.
“The merchandise desk was being deluged with fans wanting to buy a CD of the new tracks,” he says.
The band has always had a ‘political’ slant, but without ramming politics down our throats.
And, Dave says, the new album is no different.
“The album is coming out at the right time,” he says.
“Some of the songs are about what’s happening in the world and I’m playing the role of Nostradamus.
“When The Beat first came out we were all expecting a war, and now the world seems to be gearing up for either a ‘cold’ war or maybe even a ‘hot’ one.”
Coming from Birmingham, Dave’s influences were varied.
“Well, Motown was a big influence,” he admits.
“Coming from Birmingham, we were the Motown of England, as we made cars just like Detroit.
“Then there were bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, but strangely not a lot of punk came from the city.
“Then we had a flurry from the late-seventies onward with UB40, Dexy’s, The Beat and Duran Duran – it was quite a renaissance.”
And we can expect to hear some of the album in the live set.
“You’ve got be be careful,” says Dave.
“We can play eight or nine of the 13 songs in a way I wouldn’t be embarrassed, but we’ll probably play about three or four.
“It’s a fine line and it depends on the show as to whether we’ll play more.
“The crowd gets excited about the songs they know, so we’ll be playing all the hits and we usually play a lot of the first album.”
And Dave admits he cannot wait to return to England
“I’m very excited to be coming over.
“Not only can I see my family and friends a bit more, but we’ll be touring on a double-decker bus which is a childhood ambition of mine.”
The Beat starring Dave Wakeling will be performing at Sheffield’s O2 Academy 2 on Sunday, June 3.
For tickets, priced from £20.25, see sheffieldacademy.co.uk