Tuesday, 29 January 2019

The Beat (feat. Ranking Roger) - Bounce (2016)

Walking on the wrong side....


Released October 2016

This was the first of (so far) two comeback albums from The Beat's Ranking Roger and assorted musicians. Singer Dave Wakeling also has a version of The Beat. A bit like UB40, they are now two separate bands, which is a shame, but both are worth listening to. The albums are all enjoyable and it is nice to hear the artists still doing it, but they are bit like the Bruce Foxton (of The Jam) albums. While they are good, you can't help but feel that although they are pleasingly nostalgic, nothing will ever replace the original stuff. Incidentally, this album is produced by Mick Lister, once of minor new wave bands The Stowaways and The Truth.


1. Walking On The Wrong Side
2. Busy Busy Doing Nothing
3. Heaven Hiding
4. Avoid The Obvious
5. Fire Burn
6. On My Way
7. Work Work Work
8. Talkin' About Her
9. Side To Side
10. My Dream
11. Close The Door                                

Walking On The Wrong Side is a soulful, mid-pace rocker with some typical Beat saxophone and Roger using a reggae-style vocal and some "toasting" passages. The saxophonist, whose identity I am not sure of, sounds a lot like Brian Travers of UB40 in tone, more so than he or she sounds like Saxa, the saxophonist on the original Beat albums. Busy Busy Doing Nothing is a catchy, new wave-sounding poppy number. Heaven Hiding is tuneful enough, again in a poppy sort of way but nothing as yet makes you think of The Beat. Until Avoid The Obvious that is. Roger's voice sounds remarkably like Dave Wakeling's and the rhythm behind the verses is a dead ringer for Too Nice To Talk To, with that rumbling bass line and swirling saxophone.

Fire Burn has a deep, dubby beat and a brooding, slow burning feel and a feel of Third World and The Wailing Souls in places. It is one the album's best cuts. On My Way has vague airs of Men At Work's Down Under, for me, in the chorus. The verses remind me of something else, but I can't put my finger on it. Some nice saxophone on it too. Work Work Work is a r'n'b commercial soul-influenced number with a bit of a simplistic lyric. Talkin' About Her has a tuneful, almost lovers' rock-style light reggae rhythm. Once again, it is a very poppy song, with none of the ascerbic political commentary or wry social observation that so characterised The Beat's original work. This sounds like the sort of stuff Chaka Demus & Pliers or Bitty MacLean released in the early nineties. Singalong and unthreatening.

Side To Side is an upbeat, bassy ragga meets ska type of fast skanker with Roger's son, Ranking Junior, on breakneck speed, tongue-twisting rapping vocals. It also has a very early nineties groove to it. My Dream has a very new wave feel to it in its riff, despite Roger's toasting. It is almost a London Calling riff. Close The Door is a rootsy cut, featuring the melodica, as made famous by Augustus Pablo and some vocals that put me in mind of The Police's reggae numbers. It is the album's most authentic reggae track.

Overall, of Ranking Roger's two contemporary albums, I prefer his 2019 one, Public Confidential over this one. This one s a perfectly enjoyable listen, but it is certainly not essential.