the-english-beatBy Michael Aushenker
I, confess: it will be tempting to see The English Beat when they play a free show at the Santa Monica Pier as part of the Twilight Summer Concert Series on Thursday, Aug. 15.
Originally from working-class Birmingham, England, The English Beat cracked the music industry in 1979 at a time when punk and disco were peaking and the post-punk New Wave scene (not to mention MTV) was readying to explode.
At the time, the six-member Beat consisted of singer-songwriter Dave Wakeling, toaster Ranking Roger (vocals), Andy Cox (guitar), David Steele (bass) and Everett Morton (percussion). Fusing soul, pop, punk and reggae, The English Beat ushered in a wave of ska, alongside likeminded contemporaries such as Madness, The Specials and The Selecter.
English Beat scored a few hits, including “Mirror in the Bathroom” and “I, Confess,” inspiring L.A. groups such as Fishbone and the Untouchables to incorporate ska into their pop music.
Ranking Roger went on to form General Public (scoring hits such as “Tenderness”) before amicably operating his own version of the Beat out of England.
Meanwhile, Wakeling, a Pacific Palisades resident, continues to fly the Beat flag on the U.S.’s West Coast, headlining last year’s July 4 line-up at Pacific Palisades Charter High School’s stadium, preceding the Palisades’ annual fireworks display.
At their pier show, neo-ska, “Get Smart”-alluding group Maxwell Smart (“Zombies”), a San Fernando Valley combo formed in 2007, and Troup, featuring singer-guitarist Alex Troup, an L.A. transplant from Wales, will open for the Beat. With producer/keyboardist Evan Beigel, Troup created “Last Chance for Romance,” mastered by Stephen Marcussen (Nirvana, Tom Petty). Troup is scheduled to perform selections from this album with guitarist Claudio Tristano, bassist Darren McGuire and drummer Graham Roby.
The entire program begins at 7 p.m. The 29th annual Twilight Concert Series will come to a close next month when iconic reggae superstar Jimmy Cliff performs on Thursday, Sept. 12.