Dope Songs, Superb Musicianship
|By AMIR SAID (SA'ID)|
One of my favorite groups (any musical genre) of all time is The Beat (aka The English Beat). A rare mix of ska, soul, reggae, and rock, The Beat cooked up a musical texture that was precise, distinct, and artistically encouraging.
I first heard The Beat when I was in jr. high school. Their music wasn't exactly what people around me where mostly listening to. However, The Beat's soulful, well thought out rhythms really had an impression on me. Furthermore, I thought that the interracial make-up of this early 1980s group was dope. In America, there aren't (were not) many interracial bands of note that I could identify with, except for the likes of Sly and The Family Stone, Booker T. and the MGs, and The Doobie Brothers. But unlike those aforementioned groups, The Beat's sound was not predicated upon blues or funk as much as it was on ska, a little soul, reggae up-tempos, and pop rock. And this is exactly one of the main reasons that I liked (like) The Beat so much: They cooked up soul without necessarily using the most common soul ingredients.
The other reason that I liked The Beat was because of their songs. Dave Wakeling (lead singer/songwriter), wrote incredibly thoughtful lyrics, much akin to Curtis Mayfield, but without much the social commentary. The Beat's songs were often quick, intense, and polished. Moreover, no matter the tempo of the tune or the lyrical topic, their songs were always characterized by superb musicianship.
From The Beat I learned a great deal about drum arrangements and time, especially how to offset tempos and rhythms through the use of certain sounds and sound techniques.
The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.
The Beat (aka The English Beat) "Too Nice To Talk To"