Inquiring Minds

The Beat Goes On: Dave Wakeling on His Band's Two Tone Legacy

In the late '70s and early '80s, England was something of a musical petri dish as scores of bands blended genres of music and, in the process, sometimes created whole new ones. It was also the heyday of bands like Madness, The Specials and The Selecter who blended a punk energy with ska and reggae sounds. It became known as the "Two Tone" style, named for the record label that recorded many of the acts.

At the forefront of the movement was The Beat, known in the U.S. as the English Beat. The multiracial group consisted of Dave Wakeling (vocals/guitar), Ranking Roger (vocals), Andy Cox (guitar), David Steele (bass), Everett Morton (drums), and Saxa (saxophone).

They released just three records, I Just Can't Stop It ('80), Wha'ppen? ('81) and Special Beat Service ('82) before dissolving, with Wakeling and Roger starting General Public and Cox and Steele creating Fine Young Cannibals.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero