Sunday, 27 January 2019
The Beat - I Just Can't Stop It (1980)
Released May 1980
The Beat slightly lagged behind Madness, The Selecter and The Specials (the other main two-tone groups) in putting out their first album. They had some singles out before, however, "The Tears Of A Clown" and "Mirror In The Bathroom", so they had gained an audience and this was quite an anticipated album. Personally, The Beat were my favourite two-tone band. They were a six-piece and featured veteran fifty-plus (at the time) saxophonist, "Saxa". They had an ear for a melody and also for a wry, observational and culturally relevant lyric. The music was essentially ska, full of lilting guitar licks, dub infuences and that deep, gloriously tuneful saxophone wailing away beneath nearly every tune. They were great live too. I remember being up at the front at one of their gigs and singing the "Saxa oh la - good God!" bit in "Jackpot" to Ranking Roger as he sang it straight back to me, smiling.
1. Mirror In The Bathroom
2. Hands Off She's Mine
3. Two Swords
4. Twist And Crawl
5. Rough Rider
6. Click Click
7. Big Shot
8. Whine And Grine/Stand Down Margaret
9. Noise In This World
10. Can't Get Used To Losing You
11. Best Friend
This debut album was, like many debut albums from the period, was upbeat, "in your face" and following the punk feel of debuts by The Clash, The Jam and Stiff Little Fingers. The pace doesn't let up for pretty much all of what is a breackneck ride. The album kicks off with two stonking hit singles - the staccato "Mirror In The Bathroom" and the lively, catchy "Hands Off She's Mine". "Two Swords" is a cynical, socially aware anti-fascist "message" song done in an almost punky style and "Twist And Crawl" is a short, sharp frantic ska rocker, as is "Click Click". Both "Rough Rider" and "Jackpot" are pure Jamaican-influenced organ-driven, irresistibly melodious skankers.
"Big Shot" and "Noise In This World" are also upbeat rockers and "Best Friend" was a catchy, rhythmic single. "Whine And Grine/Stand Down Margaret" was superbly, rebelliously political at the time, demanding the resignation of UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Yes, many people probably won't get the meaning these days. The album's one slow song, "Can't Get Used To Losing You" was a cover of a sixties hit for Andy Williams, but it works exceptionally well, with an excellent vocal from the talented Dave Wakeling.
The sound is good on the latest remaster and any play of this will guarantee to put a bit of a spring back into your step. They were right, they just couldn't stop it. The vibe continues from beginning to end of this excellent album. Highly recommended.
- January 27, 2019