If you haven't worn a skinny tie in a while, Friday might just be the time to take it out of your closet. Especially that one with the piano keys on it. Although separated by an ocean, the English Beat (known in their native UK as just the Beat) and the Romantics shared a high-energy style that created some of the catchiest and most durable pop-rock singles of the early '80s. They weren't as full-blown as the Specials or Madness, but the English Beat — with the towering Dave Wakeling as one of the most distinctive front men of the era — goosed their songs with skankin' ska energy, while Detroit's Romantics infused their made-in-the-USA power-pop with some piston-pumping Motor City muscle. If you get a little nostalgic at the thought of watching Valley Girl and Friday Night Videos, Friday will be an evening of New Wave flashbacks you may have danced to at your prom, whether "Mirror in the Bathroom" and "I Confess" or "What I Like About You" and "Talking in Your Sleep." Pay the babysitter double. CHRIS GRAY
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