ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN SINGLES : #004

aka The Vinyl Villain incorporating Sexy Loser

004 – THE BEAT – ‚Ranking FullStop’ (Two Tone Records, ’79)

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Hello friends,

Oh no, not a Ska-record again!’, I hear you shout! Well, what shall I say? You better get used to it, because this music really formed my life from rather an early age on . Consequently, there will be quite some Ska records in this series, nothing wrong with that, if you ask me!

But why do I like this genre so much? I mean, I’m not a dancing man, not at all. So even the coolest rhythms hardly make me move my feet. So there must be another reason, and I think it is because I met so many very nice people in this scene, it is hard to believe. The people I met were the most tolerable, impartial, friendly persons you can imagine. And I am talking about regular fans here as well as ‘stars’ of one sort or another.

I won’t go too much into detail, but a mate of mine became some sort of manager for a German Ska band in the late 80’s and I often needed money then, so I worked for him occasionally. He did a big festival two years in a row, ‘Skankin’ Round The Christmas Tree – and I was responsible for all things backstage by and large. And obviously that’s where you meet bands and get to know them better.

The Beat, or, for JTFL (and other potential US-readers as well, of course), The English Beat, came from Birmingham. I suspect there isn’t all too much to say about them or their importance to second wave Ska which hasn’t already been said elsewhere. What some people don’t know though, or, perhaps rather forgot about, is the amount of really good bands that rose from the ashes of (former members of) The Beat: General Public, Fine Young Cannibals, Two Nations and of course Ranking Roger’s solo stuff, which was good throughout.

For the 111 Singles project, I went for The Beat’s debut single, but, as you will be astonished to learn, I left the A-Side behind: a cover of Smokey Robinson’s Tears Of A Clown’. It is a neat song, but – in my humble opinion – not nearly as good as the B-Side:

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mp3: The Beat – Ranking Full Stop

If you really want to be pedantic, you could argue that the version I have, the one with the silver injection labels, state this record to be a double A-side, but no, ‘Ranking Full Stop’ had always intended to be seen as a B-side.  Quite why, I have no idea – because it is a song that REALLY kicks ass, even after all these years!

I do hope you enjoy it as much as I do, see you soon.

Dirk

 

 

 

A POLITICAL PROTEST SONG (9)

EnglishBeat

Being 50 gives a certain….perspective; so here’s mine.

Taken from the (still) stunning first Beat album’ this dates from 1980. Thatcher was just beginning to bite and the major riots were a distance away.

The great threat; as seen by the Left was of the National Front. The broad alliance against them has been well documented. On one level; the song seems a simple anti-Nazi one (“even though that cunt’s a Nazi”); but a deeper listen shows a more nuanced approach, with an appeal to accept the brotherhood of all.

Very much of its time; but still a worthwhile sentiment today.

mp3 : The Beat – Two Swords

On broader terms, there appears to be much written from our generation about the absence of modern protest songs. I feel that this shows a much deeper cultural shift. In the 80’s you could SEE and hear opposition. Now debate is so strangled that no dissenting voices are allowed. This pushes dissent far deeper than mere radio airplay. Democracy grew as a useful way for the rulers to see dissent; being able to see none should worry them greatly.

Adrian

Note from JC

This is a fantastic song that I’d long forgotten so big thanks to Adrian for his posting.  He says it is very much of its time and yet it’s one that more than thirty years has a crispness and sound that is still hugely enjoyable to listen to.

Everyone recalls the role The Specials played in raising political awareness in the re-birth of ska in the UK at the beginning of the 80s but the likes of The Beat and The Selector also played a huge and important part.  Thanks again Adrian.