That’s right people, THE ENGLISH BEAT IS BACK!
They’ve just released their first new album since 1982. It’s called “Here We Go Love” and you are going to LOVE IT!
Before I dive into it, here’s a quick discography reminder:
The debut album was 1980’s “I Just Can’t Stop It,” then came “Wha’ppen?” in 1981 and “Special Beat Service.” in 1982.
A snapshot of some of the songs we know and love from these records includes “Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Best Friend,” “Can’t Get Used to Losing You,” “Doors of Your Heart,” “I Confess” and the mother of all English Beat songs…. “Save It for Later.”
First just a a quick note to avoid any confusion:
“Here We Go Love” is The English Beat starring Dave Wakeling. Dave, originally from Birmingham, England has been living in California for several years. Dave’s former Beat band mate, Ranking Roger, is based in England and is doing his own thing under the name The New English Beat featuring Ranking Roger and they put out an album called “Bounce” in 2016.
One more thing, lest ANYONE forget, when the original Beat broke up in 1983, Dave and Roger formed General Public and as much I’m trying to stay focused here, let’s take a minute to listen to “Tenderness” because I love that song immensely and so do you:
NOW WHERE WERE WE?
Ah yes, it’s 2018 and BAM! “Here We Love Love” is out in the world and it’s a FANTASTIC record. As I write this, I’ve probably listened to it start to finish no less than 25 times.
From the bouncy rallying cry of “How Can You Stand There” to the edgy “Here We Go Love” to the politically charged “If Killing Worked,” the poignant “Never Die,” the uplifting “The Love You Give” and the supremely catchy “The One and the Only,” I dare say they haven’t missed a beat. I’m 100 % standing by that pun so don’t give me any side-eye. And once you listen to “Here We Go Love” you’ll be right there with me.
Let’s listen to “How Can You Stand There?”
“How Can You Stand There?” pulls you off the couch to not only dance but to pay better attention to the world around you with lines like “Warning signs all around this town/Something’s up, something’s coming down. Made aware by the plagues and quakes/We’re wound up tight like it’s gonna break now.” With signature Beat horns, fabulous ska rhythm and Wakeling’s vocals sounding sensational, this song is fresh and lively but also maintains that Beat sound we fell in love with in the first place.
A couple of months back, I sat with Dave in his tour bus in a motel parking lot on the outskirts of Boston and hit record on our conversation. Here’s how it went:
When was the last time The English Beat has released something new?
That’s a question for the ages. There’s a best of record every 18 months. The last one came out just a few months ago in England called “You Just Can’t Beat It.”
What’s different when those come out?
This wasn’t anything new, this was more like a condensed Reader’s Digest medium level. It’s a cheaper release. You’re trying to sell it to people who didn’t buy the records in the first place. It’s one of those. Now next year it’s going to be a bit more of a deal I think. There’s going to be some television advertised stuff.
Here and in England?
I think so. It’s heading toward the 40th anniversary .
Of the band forming?
Of first playing and all of that yes. It’s going to be a big deal.
Who plays on the new album? People you have hired? People you’ve been working on off and on for years?
It’s a great combination of both. So there were a few people that had been in and out of the group over the last 20 years while I’ve been in California. Particularly some backing vocalists that I’ve enjoyed the most singing with; Kevin Williams and Jillarney Jones. I only sang with them a couple of times. They were in the group overlapping but at different times and just two of my favorite voices so I got to do the harmony vocals with them which was really nice. I’ve got some people from the (current) band on the record and then I’ve got some people from previous lineups on the record.
Tell me, because you haven’t recorded new material in quite a while, are these songs that date back from many years? When were they written?
It’s a combination. We started with 40 songs, a mixture of ones that were burning hot at the moment, new ones that had made the live set at the moment, oldies that had somehow slipped the net and that could be because perhaps a punky song wasn’t fashionable if things were terribly ska at the time or a ska song wasn’t so fashionable if ska wasn’t fashionable now or it was more 80s pop now. So there were a couple of songs that had slipped through the net a long time ago and then there were some that were probably as good if not better but they’d only just started recently and they’d still got quite a ways to travel before they were finished composing. So there are two or three now that are already starting that process for the next one. I let a small circle of people listen to the demos and I polled them; different congregations of votes from men or women around different songs, certain songs, a mixture of both and we whittled it down to a really well-balanced collection. There was one of everything at least. I didn’t rig the votes or anything but it turned out a decent spread and balance and now we’ve got 13 and they fit together really well. They tell a good story thematically and now they want to know if you want 10 or 12 on the record.
What does it mean to you, after all this time, to have a brand new English Beat record out in the world?
There was some trepidation and that’s turned into resolution. The record sounds as good as we can get it.
What can you tell me about your songwriting process?
I have to go through some deep manic depressive state and then I start walking in circles, talking and rhyming couplets which turns into a poem which then ends up being good enough to turn into a song which then gets worked on for about nine months.
While I have you, let’s talk about the ultimate, iconic English Beat song “Save it for Later.” I want to know, when did you say to yourself, ‘OK, I’ve got something really special here with this song?’
It’s special for me. I would play in on the guitar. I was about 19 or 20 when I wrote it and I would just play it round and round and then on my 21st birthday I got a National steel dobro and I couldn’t stop playing it, I just played it over and over.
On a dobro?
Yeah. It rang like a bell. Then when we started the group I ‘d say ‘Ooh, I’ve got one’ and then it didn’t make the cut. It didn’t make it until the third album. For the first album “I Just Can’t Stop It” 1980) it was deemed too old wave. Then the second record, I knew it was bound to get on it. Nope. We’d gone kind of world beat by then and that was too rock. So we didn’t do it then. At the time we sort of had a veto, there was five of us. If one of us went “that’s vile,” then we couldn’t do it which is why we never had any songs on TV commercials because one person thought it was vile.
You’ve been playing the hits like “Mirror in the Bathroom” and “Twist & Crawl” for a very long time. Speaking as a fan, I still very much love those songs and I love hearing them live. Do you feed off of that when you see how the crowd reacts?
To play the “Save it for Laters” or the bigger hit songs, it fills the room with a nice ambience and time sort of stands still for a second and everybody’s very jolly and the opportunity comes up that you can play a new song and you sort of paid for the entrance fee.
And the new songs are great!
That’s the luckiest part of it. People can be funny about wanting to hear new material. You’ve got to be careful, especially because there’s a list of 40 songs they want to hear of which you’re going to do 20 so they’re already 50% pissed off. There’s something about concerts that are meaning more to people. There are few places left where you can go somewhere and have an experience, you can judge it yourself, you can trust your own ears and eyes and intuition and share a space with common songs. You can’t really do what watching TV. I like it that concerts mean more and it’s what I do anyway and so it means that if you get it right and you’re willing to be a bit open and connect and have some general mirth and fun with it you can generate a terrific atmosphere in a room; warm and more reaching out from the audience to the crowd and the audience between themselves as well.
Want in on some of that mirth Dave speaks of? Click here for the current tour schedule! And needless to say, pick up a copy of “Here We Go Love” because it’s a brilliant record whether you’re an old-school Beat fan or they’re brand new to you.
Here’s where you’ll find complete album credits for “Here We Go Love”. Take a minute to check it out because it these musicians put their hearts and souls into the album and there are a lot of them.
Aimsel on the Record is sponsored in part by LB Kitchen in Portland, Maine.
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