Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

what is beat?

When I was a wee lad growing up in Orlando, FL I was introduced to the band the English Beat (a.k.a. the Beat in UK). I honestly can’t remember when/how I first heard of them, but I was hooked from that point on. I remember talking my mom into letting me buy one of their cassette tapes when I was in elementary school. That thing was so overplayed that it finally went kaput. I didn’t think much of it at the time because other and different styled music artists took up much of my interest. Then in junior high/high school (can’t remember exactly) some similar music caught my ears, and the English Beat and I were reunited. I was able to track down a c.d. of their best hits, and I once again played that thing to death and eventually needed to replace it as well. The English Beat’s music has always put a smile on my face and zaps some energy into my bones. I always dreamed of being able to see them live and envisioned it being a festival-type venue. Unfortunately, the band broke up in 1983 when I was only 7 years old. The band members did go on to form several other bands such as General Public, Fine Young Cannibals, and Big Audio Dynamite.

I have yet to meet anyone who has heard of the English Beat, but I certainly made many of my friends (and husband) listen to the those songs incessantly. Mike had to only hear a few notes the other day before he started in with his groaning. You see, the English Beat is compared to reggae but is considered more of the ska genre (a 2 Tone ska revival band to be exact), and Mike can’t stand either style of music. I don’t know why (and maybe many other people agree with him).

Fast forward to this past weekend, Seth and Mike decided to give Julie and I the opportunity to have a girls’ night out. Julie didn’t seem too excited about the prospect, but I figured this may be my last chance before we move. I decided to search google for things to do in Milwaukee such as shows, really good restaurants, etc. on Friday afternoon at the last minute. While on my search I happened to come across the Turner Hall Ballroom website and shockingly saw that the English Beat was going to be having a concert there. That night. I immediately phoned Julie to tell her of my discovery and to see if she would be interested in making that our girls’ night out. I wasn’t surprised when Julie had no idea who the heck I was talking about (see above), but I was determined to get her revved up about going. She relented, and we managed to arrive to the show with lots of time to spare (and full bellies). Apparently, there was no chance of the show selling out, so we purchased our tickets at the door.

Upon arrival Julie and I instantly noticed a major age discrepancy between us and our fellow concert-goers as in most of these people could have been our parents or at least much older siblings. This made us laugh. A lot. Nothing could have prepared us though for the onslaught of 80’s dancers. You know, the dance that is a cross between a skip and a hop and a twist. There were also quite a few very passionate “dancers” who didn’t seem to care who saw them or how visually assaulting their dancing may be to the general public. Let’s just say some people can take creepy to a whole new level. Julie made it clear that she would not be doing any dancing, so we just sat at our table and watched. That’s not to say we didn’t have fun. Just the audience was enough to entertain for an entire evening. I hope Julie wasn’t too freaked out or turned off by my choice for an evening out. It was certainly a late one with the concert finally letting out around 12:30 a.m. So I suppose I finally did fulfill my dream of seeing the English Beat live even though it wasn’t at a summer festival and was while I was a 34-year-old-mother-of-three.

I did manage to capture a few video clips from the concert. All of which are inaudible, but I just had to share this one. For one of the last numbers the band let audience members up on the stage to dance around. I didn’t really notice or pay much attention until I spotted what looked my mother-in-law. See if you can spot her.

In case you’re interested in hearing any songs from English Beat, I’ll embed a couple their songs. Also, if you weren’t sure what I meant by the 80’s hop, then just watch the first video below 30 seconds in to see what I mean.

“Mirror in the Bathroom” — this is actually the song in my video above and one of my all-time faves.

“Hand’s Off She’s Mine” — another fun one they played at the concert and got a lot of audience participation.

Another song they played was actually during the General Public years, “Tenderness”.

I know I mentioned earlier that the English Beat broke up in 1983. Apparently, the lead singer from the original line-up, Dave Wakeling, started up his own band using the original, American name, and they play songs from English Beat and General Public. What’s funny though is that other lead singer from the original line-up is doing the same thing under the name “the Beat” and tours in the UK. Do the math, and you can figure out quickly that these guys have to be at least in their 50’s. You gotta give ’em credit for still doing what they love and making a little dough at it. I will say though that Dave Wakeling has a bit of a fascination with the booze. I’m pretty sure he talked about alcohol between every musical number and seemed quite proud of himself for being a big consumer of it.

10 Responses to “ what is beat? ”

  1. Jenni says:

    So glad you had such a good time and tht Julie was willing to play along with your plans. I’m especially happy that you were able to live out a lifetime dream.

  2. cheryl says:

    Oh my gosh! I love it! I knew what you were talking about with the ‘eighties hop’ but it was fun to see it again. I am such a sap for anything eighties.

  3. Jen says:

    Jenni-
    It was a very fun night, and I’m glad I took the initiative to have it happen.

    Cheryl-
    I totally love the 80’s, too! However, I’m a little turned off by all the 80’s fashion coming into trend. Ugh! I’m glad someone understood what I was talking about with the 80’s hop.

  4. Jake says:

    Jen, I just want you to know that you are not alone with liking the English Beat. When I was at BYU, I went to a concert that featured members of the English Beat along with members of the ska band The Specials. Together they were called The Special Beat. I have a CD or two of both those bands. Also, that night I was introduced to a BYU ska band called Swim Herschel Swim. I have their Utah-wide released album Burn, Swim, Burn. It’s fantastic. You’ll have to recieve a copy from me some time. Also, another fun ska band to check out is Skankin’ Pickle. They were early to mid 90’s, but some great upbeat ska unlike later Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I liked early Bosstones, but that’s about it. One last thing about the night at the Special beat show, it ended with me and my two roommates in the emergency room getting my buddy Tom’s forehead stitched back together after an inadvertant steel-toed boot to the head. He didn’t even know it until I said, “Hey Tom, there’s blood all over your face.” It was dark and strobe-lighty, he thought it was just the normal profuse sweat at an ill-ventillated college town concert hall. Good times. Oh yeah, tell Mike that there’s more music in the world than just Steely Dan and Eddie Money, or is it Eddie Rabbit he likes. Either way.

    Jake

  5. Shoebox Princess says:

    So that’s what my mom was doing that night.

    80s fashion RULES!

  6. Jen says:

    Jake-
    How did I not know that you were a “rudy”? I love the Specials! I have a couple of their albums, too. I’m like you and only ever liked a few Mighty Mighty Bosstones tunes but that’s it. I did read that some members from English Beat and the Specials teamed up for the Special Beat but didn’t know much about that or the music the resulted. I will definitely be interested in hearing music from Swim Herschel Swim.

    That’s too bad about your friend. I can see how he would be unaware because you definitely can get carried away at a high energy concert like that. I accidentally got punched in the face one time at a concert (standing too close to the mosh pit I suppose), and I honestly didn’t even feel it much. However, a heroic bystander took it upon himself to start a brawl with that guy, and I could hear him yelling over and over, “Don’t you ever hit a girl!” I wasn’t about to intervene in that mess.

    Mike and I have agreed to disagree that his music sucks and mine is better. Mike isn’t completely a lost cause as he does like much of what I make him listen to.

  7. jennhaw says:

    Sara-
    Your mom swears it wasn’t her. I think otherwise. How did she manage to get to Milwaukee and back with anyone ever knowing?

  8. Julie says:

    I still need to e-mail you the picture that proves that we were there. It’s funny, because I love the 80’s sound but so many of the 80’s bands never even had a name for me. So many were one hit wonders that I never learned who was who, but just the names of songs. You should tell these fine readers of yours that to talk me into going, you called and SANG me a handful of songs! I was surprised to find that I knew about 5 of the songs they played and just never knew who sang them. You are the queen of all things pop culture though and I am conitnually amazed by how much you know about different bands, actors and movies.

    Anyhow, I know I was a boring “date” since I was not about to dance with the 60 year old crowd, but I did have fun and I loved seeing that 80’s Breakfast Club style dancing again, and seeing that those old folks haven’t outgrown their dancing or their music through the years. Unfortunately, we were much too young, and too sober to get out there with that bunch, but I laughed right out loud the whole night.

  9. Dennis says:

    Jake talks about ska. What is ska? I’ve herad it before but never knew what it is/was.

  10. Micah Geary says:

    Awesome! Love the lyrics. My 80’s music choices are along the lines of Depeche Mode, OMD – which Jason groans about. I might have to add some of these. Soon I will have my own I-pod and our house will be filled with it again (someone broke into our car when we lived in IL and stole our CD collection and we never replaced any of it).

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