Who's dat looking....
Released January 2019
After an excellent 2016 comeback with Bounce, this is another highly enjoyable album from Ranking Roger and his impressive band who pretty much replicate the sound of the original 1979-83 sound The Beat to the note. It sounds so like the original group, as if they have never been away. Yes, there are lot of musical and vocal similarities to the material from the three early eighties Beat albums, but that doesn't bother me unduly, it is great to hear this sort of thing again, sounding so fresh and vibrant.
2. Public Confidential
3. Who's Dat Looking
4. On The Road
6. Long Call Short Talk
7. Giving It Up
8. A Good Day For Sunshine
9. Skank Away
Maniac takes me right back to the debut album with its dubby rhythms, catchy vocals and swirling saxophone. Roger utilises his "toasting" vocals a lot on this album, probably slightly more than on the originals. Public Confidential is a Madness-influenced number, with some deep, sonorous saxophone underpinning and and infectious beat/refrain. The sound quality is excellent throughout the album, it is worth saying too.
Who's Dat Looking pretty much uses the Mirror In The Bathroom backing beat but it is still an invigorating number with some great saxophone/bass interplay in the middle of the track. On The Road is an upbeat, rootsy toasting number, with echoes of UB40 about it, particularly in the saxophone sound. The roots feel continues on Dangerous, with its Prince Far I-style growling vocals. It confronts the issue of knife crime head on in the lyrics. Long Call Short Talk is a melodious skank and even more fitting that description is the infectious Giving It Up, which is the most singalong track on the album.
A Good Day For Sunshine is another typically Beat track that sounds as if it is straight off the debut album with a Ranking Full Stop backing riff. Skank Away is, funnily enough, less of an upbeat skank and more of a ragga-style groove. Civilisation again has a saxophone riff straight out of UB40 but it has that Beat liveliness about it.
Overall, this album is a bright, invigorating breath of fresh air. It ends before you know it, such is the pacy pleasure (not necessarily a bad thing in the age of 75 minute CD albums). Highly recommended.