The English Beat: Saxa, Andy Cox, David Steele, Everett Moreton, Ranking Roger, Dave Wakeling.
Recorded at Roundhouse Studios, LOndon, England.
Additional personnel: Saltin (trumpet); Blockhead (keyboards); Bob Sargeant (marimba); Dick (steel drum).
Digitally remastered by Bob Sargeant (The Townhouse Studio, London, England).
Personnel: Saltin (trumpet); Blockhead (keyboards); Bob Sargeant (marimba).
Audio Remasterer: Phil Kinrade.
Wha'ppen? Well their early fans might ask, but The (English) Beat were growing up fast, and for every member of the Two Tone army that bemoaned the lack of punk fire found here, they enlisted a new recruit taken with their maturing sounds and more diverse stylings. The album's taster "Drowning," coupled with another album track "All Out to Get You," may have disappointed chartwise, barely breaking into the Top 25, but it did not reflect the fate of the full-length, which soared to Number Three. It spun off a further single, "Doors of Your Heart," that didn't quite make the Top 30, but it's surprising it charted at all, considering it's flip, "Get a Job" was also pulled from the album. So what had happened? The group's anger hadn't cooled, not if their lyrics were anything to go by. Paranoia reigns across "All Out," "Monkey Murders" and "A Dream House in NZ" are filled with angst, "Drowning" is equally downbeat, "I Am Your Flag" vehemently tackles jingoistic nationalism and "Over and Over" the cult of violence, while "Cheated" and "Get a Job" take headers into the paucity of British life and opportunities in general. Which means it's all downhill mood-wise from the unity themed opener "Doors," with its dreamy, sax-fired-pop laced with dub. But the music is moving in another direction entirely, actually in a variety of directions, as The Beat blend ever further flung influences into their sound. "Get Out" stirs up a "la bamba" dish with funky flavoring and douses it with pop. "French Toast," the album's sole cover, only French connection is the lyrical language, the arrangement mixes a calypso flair and Afrobeats, with Mediterranean spices. "Drowning" juxtaposes reggae with the art-rock experimentation of Gang of Four, a musical journey continued across "Dream House." And so the group go, mixing and melding their way across the island. Friends join the party, adding marimbas, trumpets, and steel drums, but the most notably guest is The Congos Cedric Myton, who adds his crystal falsetto to "Doors." A splendid album that might not have the urgency of its predecessor, but was more adventurous and twice as interesting. ~ Jo-Ann Greene