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The timing is right for English Beat


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By Ed Condran, Correspondent

Quality usually trumps quantity. Take The English Beat.

The British band was only around for a brief period a generation ago, but it made an impact, delivering three solid albums between 1980 and 1982. The ska revivalists crafted such hits as "Mirror in the Bathroom" and "Stand Down Margaret."

Then the playful and political group splintered. Vocalist-guitarist Dave Wakeling and toaster Ranking Roger formed General Public, crafting catchy and innocuous tunes before calling it quits during the '90s.

Now, Wakeling is back fronting The English Beat, which will perform Tuesday at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro. "It's been easy coming back," Wakeling says. "Apparently there is a demand for music made by bands from the '80s and I love playing our songs. Who knew that this band would be back again?"

After General Public broke up, Wakeling took a hiatus from music and fulfilled a lifelong dream by joining Greenpeace.

"They wanted someone in the music industry and I always believed in what they stood for so it was easy for me to devote time to Greenpeace," he says.

Wakeling put together a fundraising album dubbed "Alternative NRG" that features a number of upper echelon rockers, such as U2, R.E.M. and Sonic Youth. The album and a series of concerts helped generate millions of dollars for Greenpeace. "I'm very proud of anything that benefited Greenpeace," he says. "They have their heart in the right place."

By the late '90s, Wakeling was eager to take the stage again. He formed the Free Radicals, which performed at Greenpeace benefits. But he needed something more.

An opportunity came when The English Beat was asked to record "I'll Take You There" for the film "Threesome" in 1997.

"We got back together and it felt tremendous," Wakeling says. "I put my feet back in the water slowly and it felt good."

Wakeling stayed close to home initially since his children were tykes a decade ago.

"I became a bit of a weekend warrior at the time," he says. "I had other responsibilities but man, did I enjoy going out with the band."

These days Wakeling and the Beat have been touring more since his children, now 13 and 15, are growing up. "I've had more time to focus on music so we've been going out more than we had been going out and it's just been so good for us and the fans.

"The timing is good. It seems as if more and more people are into getting back to the bands they grew up with," he says. "I appreciate this now more than ever."


Who The English Beat with RX Bandits

When 8:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where Cat's Cradle, 300 E. Main St., Carrboro

Cost $17 in advance, $20 day of show

Details 967-9053

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I did monitors for them a year or so ago, enjoyed it more than I thought I would actually. They had that black guy from the Specials playing guitar, and I spent most of the day talking tele's and jamming with him, which turned into me actually playing with the opening act when their guitarist couldn't make it...

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They're simply called "The Beat" over here.

Great band, I was very much into ska around '81/'82. The Specials, The Beat & The selecter were my favourite bands back then. I still have a few old vinyls of these bands.

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While I have a certain soft spot for the 80s era "two tone" ska bands it's the original ska/rock steady artists I'm most fond of. Practically anything's better than the majority of the crap that passed for a "ska revival" in the early 90s.

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I saw the reformed Specials (without Jerry Dammers and Terry Hall) at a festival during the 90's, they were excellent. They played all the old classics with a lot of energy. I never even knew they were playing until I got there and they turned out to be one of the best bands of the weekend.

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