June 14, 2018 The English Beat – Here We Go Love (Album Review)
Originally known as The Beat in their homeland and as The English Beat in North America, the band that was formed in 1978, in Birmingham, England, primarily by Vocalists Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger, was among the forerunners of the Two-Tone Post-Punk scene that flourished and rippled into the decade that followed. What was special about the music of The English Beat was its interesting blend of Ska, Pop, Soul, Reggae, Punk Rock, and New Wave, made naturally possible by the diverse racial roots of the members themselves.
In their heyday in the illustrious 1980s, The Beat got to release three chart-topping albums—1980’s I Just Can’t Stop It, 1981’s Wha’ppen?, and 1982’s Special Beat Service. Unfortunately, despite their success and prolificacy, the group broke up in 1983. Wakeling and Roger soldiered on by forming the equally engaging General Public (“Never You Done That”), whereas Bassist David Steele and Guitarist Andy Cox formed Fine Young Cannibals (“She Drives Me Crazy”), another band that gained wide popularity.
In 2006, Roger re-formed The Beat in the UK with a new lineup, releasing a new studio album a decade after. For his part, Wakeling carried on as The English Beat in the United States, where he has been based in for many years now. He is backed up by also a new set of musicians: King Schascha (toasting), Nucci Cantrell (drums, vocals), Matt Morrish (sax, vocals), Kevin Lum (keys, vocals), Minh Quan (keys, vocals), and Brad Engstrom (bass, vocals).
Now, Wakeling’s The English Beat is set to release its first studio album on Friday, June 15, 2018. Titled Here We Go Love, it blends the classic Ska-based sound of the group and the contemporary Tropical/Sunny Pop vibes of California – the veteran English artist’s home for quite some time now.
Here We Go Love opens lively with the orange Ska Pop sunburst of “How Can You Stand There?” The Power Pop rhythm then continues on with the ensuing “The One and the Only,” only to scat and groove again with “Redemption Time.” Wakeling and the rest of The English Beat relax the listener for a bit as the saxophone-led mid-tempo “If Killing Worked” chops its way into the waiting dance floor. Then comes next the frenetic, punky title track – a sure dance stomper.
After the energetic first half of Here We Go Love, The English Beat then turns romantic and sentimental with “Never Die,” whose string accompaniment adds more glamour to the song’s soulful predisposition. The following “The Love You Give” and “You Really Oughtta Know” revert to the overall happy and upbeat theme of the album, with Wakeling’s voice sounding as velvety and throaty as ever. “You’re Stuck,” on the other hand, is another guitar-heavy Ska-flavored track, whose instrumental interlude is catchiness signified. Next is “Every Time You Told Me” – a different kind of beat – Motown-inspired R & B, Gospel-glazed.
Furthermore, “Dem Call It Ska” is certainly another throwback to The English Beat of old – head-bobbing and hips-jerking. The penultimate song, “Drive Her Away” builds on the Ska energy of the previous track yet is more Pop-oriented. Finally, Wakeling and his own brand of The English Beat wrap up their first full-length with yet another lyrically sentimental, proper Ska puncher…“Be There for You.”
The ’80s sound of The English Beat is definitely back, but that is not all! Wakeling and the rest of the revitalized band were able to take their music well into the heart of present-day Pop. Here We Go Love is brimming with so much hooks, melodies, catchiness, youthfulness, maturity, heart, and love. CrypticRock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.