1982, Music

Special Beat Service (1982) by The [English] Beat

I know virtually nothing about 2 Tone as a genre – I’ve heard maybe one Specials album in my life – and the only thing I knew about this band going in was “Mirror in the Bathroom.” But I must say I’m impressed.

The thing that keeps me from getting into ska is the thing that keeps me from getting into any genre where the bands or the scene (or both) demand blind adherence to genre conventions. The ska bands I’ve heard in the past sound as though they are all making the same music, with very little variation between each act. Sure, some bands have better songs, but it always felt to me as if to go searching for those bands would take way too much mental energy, not to mention time.

Well, if the sound of this record is what 2 Tone sounds like normally, I think I’m into it. This is far more diverse than I would have guessed, with tracks that sound like ska (and some that almost sound like reggae) and tracks that could pass for new wave (albeit the British version). The lyrics also feel more insightful and less party-oriented than the (limited) ska I’m familiar with.

I also feel as though the arrangements are a little more creative than I was imagining. There’s a large band here, but they’re not just playing the stereotypical “reggae+punk+horns” thing I associate with Third Wave; here you’re not always sure what the next track will sound like.

I don’t know where this fits in the 2 Tone world, but it does make me interested in hearing more.

7/10

All songs written by Roger Charlery, Andrew Cox, Everett Morton, David Steele and David Wakeling except “Pato and Roger a Go Talk” written by Charlery, Cox, Morton, Patrick Murray, Steele and Wakeling.

  1. “I Confess” – 4:34
  2. “Jeanette” – 2:46
  3. “Sorry” – 2:33
  4. “Sole Salvation” – 3:05
  5. “Spar Wid Me” – 4:32
  6. “Rotating Head” – 3:24
  7. “Save It for Later” – 3:34
  8. “She’s Going” – 2:10
  9. “Pato and Roger a Go Talk” – 3:19
  10. “Sugar and Stress” – 2:57
  11. “End of the Party” – 3:32
  12. “Ackee 1-2-3” – 3:12
  • Ranking Roger – Toasting, vocals, percussion
  • Dave Wakeling – Vocals, guitar
  • David Steele – Bass, banjo
  • Andy Cox – Guitar, mandolin
  • Everett Morton – Drums
  • Saxa – Saxophone
  • Wesley Magoogan – Clarinet, lyricon, saxophone, sax FX unit
  • Dave “Blockhead” Wright – Keyboards, piano

Additional musicians

  • Bob Sargeant – Telephone, marimba
  • Marc Fox – Percussion
  • Jack Emblow – Accordion
  • M. Mishra (John Chao) – Tabla
  • Vince Sullivan – Trombone
  • Dave Lord – Trumpet
  • Steve Sidwell – Trumpet
  • Pato Banton – Toasting

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