Sunday, April 15, 2012

Duff Review: The (English) Beat "John Peel BBC Radio Sessions"

The Beat Fan Club via Jump Up Records
Red vinyl LP

(Review by Steve Shafer)

Editor's note: I had originally planned to include this review in a huge "Best Ska and Reggae LPs of 2011" posting, but never got around to finishing it, as I was starting a new job at the beginning of 2012. So, I thought it would be appropriate to run this short write-up on the heels of the news of a new five-disc English Beat box set ("The English Beat: The Complete Beat") and single-CD compilation ("Keep The Beat: The Very Best Of The English Beat"), both of which will be released on July 10, 2012 from Shout Factory. Rare and unreleased material is promised (though from a cursory look, there's not loads of stuff that hasn't already been available in some form here or in the UK--and the box set includes the Peel sessions that are reviewed below)--but new Beat fans would be well-served by tracking down both the US and UK versions of the 1983 "What is Beat?" comp (which have very different track lists).

It's fantastic to hear the live, in-the-BBC-radio-studio versions of these beloved and enduring songs and revel in the even bolder arrangements of the album tracks from Just Can't Stop It and Wha'ppen (check out that wickedly fast and impossibly precise rhythm section in overdrive on cuts like "Too Nice to Talk To," "Psychedelic Rockers," and "Walk Away"--I really wish I had caught the Wha'ppen tour, as the band sounds like it was in its absolute prime). And while I love the almost perfect pop-reggae/ska of Special Beat Service, the relatively straight-forward performances (for The Beat, at least) from this era portend the split then soon to come.


(November 5, 1979)
Tears Of A Clown
Ranking Full Stop
Click Click
Mirror In The Bathroom
Big Shot

(September 22, 1980)
Too Nice To Talk To
Psychedelic Rockers
Monkey Murders
Walk Away

(March 29, 1982)
Spar Wid Me
She’s Going She’s Gone
Save It For Later
Pato And Roger A-Go Talk
Sole Salvation

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