The Beat (or English Beat, depending on where you’re listening to this from) in session for John Peel, recorded on September 3, 1980 for BBC Radio 1. The Beat, along with Two-Tone label mates The Selecter, The Specials, The Bodysnatchers, Madness and all the off-shoots and side-projects represented a genre of music that felt retro to some and brand new to others, especially those who lived in the U.S. – it was a throwback to 60s Jamaican music; an offshoot to Reggae known as Ska, or Bluebeat, and its fast, infectious beat was a perfect fit to Punk audiences. Not so well known in the U.S., whose audiences were familiar with the music of Jamaica in the form of Bob Marley, or earlier in the 60s, Desmond Decker – this was something new to many who heard it for the first time.
The bands were, for the most part, racially mixed and had a certain Mod-era aura about them. They became very popular in the U.S. and their music became a staple for many of the Alternative FM and College stations around the country.
The Beat were part of the wave, and chalked up a number of worldwide hits during their early years.
This session comes four months after the release of their debut album, I Just Can’t Stop It, which went Gold as well as racing up to number 3 on the British charts. The album also did well throughout the rest of the world, and by the time they issued their follow-up album, Wha’happen? in 1981, they were already touring extensively around the U.S. and the rest of the world.
Sadly, this incarnation of The Beat called it quits in 1983. The original lineup got together for a one-off gig in 2003, performing at Royal Festival Hall. However, the chances of having a full-reunion for recording and touring wasn’t in the cards.
So as a reminder of what The Beat sounded like during their heyday, here is that session for John Peel, recorded on September 3, 1980.