“Rest In Peace Papa Saxa… We will ALL miss you dearly” – Roger
New co-headline dates announced for Germany & Holland! On sale Friday 10 November @10am
11 BERLIN SO36
12 HAMBURG Fabrik
13 UTRECHT Tivoli Vredenburg
14 DUSSELDORF Zakk
19 COPENHAGEN Vega
20 OSLO Rockefeller
21 STOCKHOLM Strand
22 HELSINKI Tavastia
Dates for your diary this Autumn! Tickets SOLD OUT for London + Sint Niklass on 28 Oct + last few tickets for Amsterdam! Other dates selling fast #seeyouthere
Tickets 👉 https://www.seetickets.com/tour/the-selecter-the-beat-feat-ranking-roger
5 weeks until the co-headline tour with The Selecter starts! New show added in Chesterfield and Meet & Greet packages available at all UK shows – http://www.seetickets.com/tour/the-selecter-the-beat-feat-ranking-roger
With our co-headline tour starting this FRIDAY in Glasgow we want to give you the heads up on times for both shows this weekend so you can make sure that you do not miss anything!
Both shows are SOLD OUT but for those who already have tickets, a few EXCLUSIVE MERCHANDISE + MEET & GREET PACKAGES are still available to book from TOWNSEND. With the added package you get early access to the venue, before doors open to all ticket holders, to meet members of the bands and collect exclusive merchandise including a co-headline tour T-SHIRT, a VIP co-headline tour LAMINATE and a signed SET LIST.
Times for Glasgow on Friday
Meet & Greet: 18:00 (Part of Exclusive Added Package)
Doors open: 18:30
The Beat: 19:30
The Selecter: 21:00
Times for Manchester on Saturday
Meet & Greet: 18:30 (Part of Exclusive Added Package)
Doors open: 19:00
The Selecter: 20:00
The Beat: 21:30
For those who already have tickets to the shows, a strictly limited number of exclusive packages are available to book NOW for each of our co-headline shows in the UK and Ireland with The Selecter. You will get early access to the venue, before doors open to all ticket holders, to meet members of the bands and collect your exclusive merchandise.
The Exclusive Merchandise and Meet & Greet Package includes:
MEETING Pauline Black & Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson from The Selecter and Ranking Roger & Ranking Junior from The Beat
An exclusive co-headline tour T-SHIRT
A VIP co-headline tour LAMINATE
A co-headline show signed SET LIST
EARLY ACCESS to the venue where you will be able to browse the merchandise, head to the bar or get your place down at the front.
Buy now from HERE
Originally a six-date tour, due to demand we added 8 more dates and now, finally, ANOTHER 22 CO-HEADLINE DATES have been added in September, October, November and December. We will be touring with our friends The Selecter in the UK, Ireland, Holland and Belgium playing full sets each every night taking it in turns who plays first.
Tickets are on sale for our now for our new co-headline tour dates with The Selecter, Hope to see you there!
“This is the best cover version I have heard to date of Ranking fullstop.
All the way from Australia too.
Well done kids,keep skanking.
Give it a watch,unbelievable! 👏🎤👍🏾😎” RR
We are teaming up with The Selecter in 2017, hitting the road together for a number of dates around the UK and Ireland. After our show at Shepherds Bush Empire sold out in record time, we have added a show at the iconic Roundhouse in Camden on Friday 6 October 2017.
You can get tickets NOW from this exclusive pre-sale link below, general tickets go on sale from Friday at 10am via the Roundhouse and all usual outlets. The first 1000 tickets sold will get a free limited edition 7” vinyl featuring FIRE BURN by The Beat Feat. Ranking Roger and WALK THE WALK by The Selecter. Your exclusive copy will be sent out to you with your ticket nearer the show.
The Selecter are no strangers to the Roundhouse, having used the venue’s basement tunnels back in 1981 to film the promotional video for ‘Celebrate The Bullet’ from their 2nd album of the same name. The Roundhouse Studios also have a place in The Beat’s heart as it was here that their first two hugely successful albums were recorded.
GENERAL ON SALE 10am Friday 27 Jan http://www.roundhouse.org.uk/whats-on/2017/the-selecter-and-the-beat/
N.B Only tickets purchased via the Roundhouse website will be valid for the free 7″, pls make sure you select ‘Ticket and Vinyl Bundle’ when ordering your tickets
♫♫ NEW SINGLE ✵ NEW VIDEO ♫♫ ‘Side to Side’ is out now on LIMITED EDITION double A side 7″ vinyl along with our label mates The Selecter or on download
ORDER VINYL – http://po.st/sidetoside ~ DOWNLOAD FROM ITUNES – http://po.st/side2sidedl
Taken from the album ‘BOUNCE’ https://thebeat.tmstor.es | http://po.st/tbamazon
LIMITED EDITION 7-Inch Double A Side Vinyl Single out 16 December – The Selecter – Breakdown / The Beat – Side To Side. To celebrate our co-headline tour and BBC Radio 6 Music Maida Vale Christmas Ska Party with The Selecter we are releasing a special limited edition 7inch single featuring ‘Side to Side’ (which has just gone on the A list on BBC 6 Music) and is taken from our latest album ‘Bounce’
PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY FROM HERE
We have been announced for BBC Radio 6 Music CHRISTMAS SKA PARTY at Maida Vale Studios on Tuesday 13th December with The Selecter, Mungo’s Hi Fi and David ‘Ram Jam’ Rodigan. To find out how you can attend the show see http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/shows/6music_ska_13dec16. Good luck and hope to see you there!!
We are going to be touring with our good friends The Selecter in March and April 2017. We are teaming up for a co-headline six-date tour taking in Glasgow, Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol, Birmingham and London. We’ll each be playing full sets every night taking it in turns who plays first.
TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW SEE TICKETS
Friday 31 March – Glasgow O2 ABC – TICKETS | BOX OFFICE: 08444 77 1000
Saturday 1 April – Manchester Old Granada Studios – TICKETS | BOX OFFICE: 08444 77 1000
Friday 7 April – Nottingham Rock City – TICKETS | BOX OFFICE: 0115 896 4456
Saturday 8 April – Bristol O2 Academy – TICKETS | BOX OFFICE: 08444 77 1000
Friday 28 April – -Birmingham O2 Institute – TICKETS | BOX OFFICE: 08444 77 1000
Saturday 29 April – London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire – TICKETS | BOX OFFICE: 08444 77 1000
Watch The Beat ft Ranking Roger – Ranking Full Stop/Mirror In The Bathroom from The Quay Sessions
Its so good to finally be able to share a new studio album with you! You can get a copy on CD, Vinyl or Digital from all usual outlets and all good record shops. Thank you in advance for buying and listening. I hope you enjoy. Ranking Roger x
Ranking Roger is taking part in the Birmingham Literature Festival next week, he is very proud to be involved in the Walls Come Tumbling Down project and will be appearing with other contributors to the book on Thursday 13 October @ Studio Theatre, Library of Birmingham 8pm http://www.birminghamliteraturefestival.org/event/walls-come-tumbling-down/
From reviews so far….
“the band still have a passionately political edge, and Bounce is a worthy addition to their canon” **** Record Collector
“Rooted in dubby pop and embellished with punchy horns, it captures the Birmingham group’s maiden rebel sound” *** Mojo
“one of the most musically diverse bands to come out of the multi-racial, multi-cultural explosion that made British pop music” ***** UKMusicReview
7″ Single – Walking On The Wrong Side – The Beat feat. Ranking Roger
The unmistakable voice of Rankin’ Roger has returned to the 7″ format, and come back with another classic BEAT single to follow on all those Two-Tone and Go Feet classics: Mirror in The Bathroom, Too Nice To Talk Too, Tears Of A Clown and Stand Down Margaret cemented The Beat at the top of the UK reggae tree along with UB40.
A soundtrack to a generation of skanking youth, The Beat are back with a new album due in September called “Bounce” and this is the first single to be taken from it. Backed with a non-album exclusive b-side “On The Road” get ready to get those knees in the air again!
Comes in full colour wraparound sleeve in poly bag -ORDER YOUR COPY FROM HERE
NEW track from our forthcoming album Bounce. This is AVOID THE OBVIOUS – inspired by Ranking Roger’s idols, about being different as well as being yourself.
Video by Blacklight Productions
(C) DMF Records
♫☆★NEW VIDEO★☆♫ ‘Walking on the Wrong Side’ taken from the brand new studio album ‘BOUNCE’ out on 30 September this year.The Beat’s fourth studio album – the first in over 30 years – will come out on CD, Vinyl and Digital on DMF Records.You can pre-order SIGNED copies of the album now from http://thebeat.tmstor.es/
We are delighted to announce the release of our brand new studio album ‘BOUNCE’ on 30 September this year. The Beat’s fourth studio album – the first in over 30 years – will come out on CD, Vinyl and Digital on DMF Records. You can pre-order SIGNED copies of the album now from thebeat.tmstor.es. The first single ‘Walking on the Wrong Side’ comes out next month and we can’t wait for you to hear that and the other songs!
Ranking Roger of The Beat speaks to DJ Chris Watts about the London Ska Festival 2016 and plans for a new Beat album….
Credit: Martin Shaw from martinshawphotography.com
©Yad Jaura Photography
My daughter Saffren is joining us on the festival circuit this year…
Here is us rehearsing a song we perform together called ’16 Tons’ with a little added extra from Ranking Jnr at the end
Photo Credit: Yad Jaura
Click [read post] for more photos….
Arts Interview: Ranking Roger
It’s A Question Of Balance 6 June 2015
Under The Bridge in London – fantastic sell out show
In the second episode of our series Under the Influence, we examine the late-70s ska revival in the UK, a movement built upon the fusion of punk rock and traditional ska. Led by the Specials, we look at how the cultural climate of the time period in the UK inspired the founding of 2 Tone Records and how that led to the ska movement in the 80s and 90s.
Under the Influence looks into some of the most important music scenes of our time, exploring the people, bands, and styles that changed the course of music forever. Narrated by modern day punk legend Tim Armstrong (Rancid, Operation Ivy, Transplants), Noisey delves deep into the worlds of New York Hardcore, British 2Tone Ska, and German Krautrock to find how these scenes were created, and how they continue to shape art, music, and culture today. Join us as we circle the globe to meet to everyone from x to y, to witness life under the influence.
Out of all of them, The Clash and The Police were the two bands which I enjoyed touring with the most. The Clash, because they were ‘the people’s band.’ They were so grounded and live the music was better than the records. I also liked The Police because I watched them change and becoming more serious and political. By the time The Police split up they were getting as political as The Beat. – Ranking Roger
“We were at the gig on Saturday night in Guildford and I just wanted to let you know what a top night it was. The sound is still fantastic and although the venue was small (by your standards) it was superb for those that were there. Stella and I were talking afterwards and one of the best things from the night was Ranking Junior, he was quality and its just good to know that he will be carrying the sounds forward for a new generation, (not that you’re finished yet, but you know what I mean).”
Legendary ska/reggae band The Beat from Birmingham in the U.K. have just started their 2015 world tour. It runs to November next, and sees the band visiting France, the Netherlands, Australia and Britain – with many more locations to be announced.
The Beat enjoy a unique and proud position in reggae\ska’s rollercoaster ride. The band played a crucial role during the 1980s in adapting the genre to a British audience, successfully merging it with the emotions of disaffected punk rockers and (frequently fascist-oriented!) ska supporting skin heads.
Radio Schedule for Roger’s Mixtape :
Friday 28 November (00:00 pm/London time) on http://www.sinefm.com/
Friday 28 November (9 pm / London time) on http://www.frenchradiolondon.com/France
Saturday 22 November (6 pm/Paris time) on http://www.radiovnl.com/
Tuesday 25 November (10 pm/paris time) on http://www.crockradio.com/
Wednesday 26 November (11 pm/paris time) on http://www.jetfm.asso.fr/site/
Friday 28 November (11 pm/Paris time) on http://radioprimitive.fr/
Tuesday 25 November (8 pm/Paris time) on http://www.lautreradio.fr/Israel
Sunday 23 November (5 pm/Tel Aviv Time) & Friday 28 November (10 pm) on http://www.106fm.co.il/In
Ranking Roger vs Dopegrinders release a remix of Rock The Casbah in aid of Strummerville with the help of the Clash!
In 1981, coming off the back of The Beat’s top ten hit “Too Nice To Talk To”, Roger was asked by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones to sing on a version of Rock The Casbah that the Clash were recording. This lead to further collaborations between Roger and the Clash on the road, and then to Mick Jones playing guitar (and nearly joining the group) for General Public, the band that Roger and Dave Wakeling formed after the break up of The Beat in 1983, which enjoyed considerable success on the USA (their biggest hit, Tenderness, still being used in movies today).
While Roger and The Clash’s version of Rock The Casbah was never released, Roger has continued to play the song live (it was included on his recent Live In London CD), so when he met the producing duo Dopegrinders at Across The Tracks festival in 2012, and they decided to record together, it was an obvious track to start with. To make it even better, Mick Jones, as a favor to Roger, very kindly made the original stems available for the Dopegrinder’s use. By way of thanks, Dopegrinders, Roger & The Beat agreed to contribute all their collaborations to Strummerville (aka The Joe Strummer New Music Foundation), to be released in December 2014, the 12th anniversary of Joe’s death (22 December 2002).
We are sorry to say we have cancelled our show on 13 December at Birmingham Institute. Madness are playing on the same night at the LG Arena which has obviously affected our show so we are going to look at another date in 2015 but in the meantime please contact the ticket outlet you purchased from for a refund.
45. The Beat, 2004
Heritage acts to can suddenly find an unexpected tail wind amid Glastonbury’s wilds. When Eighties ska band The Beat played to 30,000 revellers amid the Wild West burlesque of Lost Vagueness the dynamic gelled, then exploded.
Liz chats to Ranking Roger, front man of British Ska revivalist legends The Beat. They enjoyed success at the end of the 70’s into the early 80’s before splitting up. This UK version of the band have been active since 2006.
NEW SONG FEATURED ‘Return of the Dread-I’ Produced by The Dopegrinders
The Beat will be releasing their first live album in the UK of their 229 The Venue, London gig instantly after the live set!
Friday’s, 13th December 2013 live performance in London will be recorded live on the night and be available to collect just minutes after the show as an exclusive 2 disc set. The live albums will also be available to order for convenient home delivery and just in time for Christmas, if ordered before 17th December.
These live albums are the first of their kind in The Beat catalogue and the perfect memento from the 2013 tour. Strictly limited edition – pre-order now to own the ultimate and rare live Beat commemorative set.
The Return Of The Dread-I (AleXannA Remix)(Featuring Ranking Roger & Ranking Jnr)
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/123049098″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”50%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
On the eve of the re-release of The Beat’s Wha’appen on Demon Records Vinyl Louder than War’s Martin Copland-Gray had a chat with the band’s front-man (and fellow Brummie) Ranking Roger.
For those of you too (much too) young to remember, Birmingham in the late 1970’s & early 1980’s was not the nice, clean & shiny thing that it is now. It was dull, grey and seemed to rain as much as Manchester! Nowadays, all dressed up in its finery with the Bullring turned into a shopper’s paradise, trendy restaurants and a revamped market hall it’s hard to believe that back then it was a bit of a dump. Who am I kidding – it was awful.
On many a Saturday I’d be dragged round the submerged Bull Ring market that was full of dirt & noise whilst my parents searched for ingredients for that evening’s dinner or a new jacket for me for school. Above the Brutalist architecture of the market was a large road that was connected to the inner ring road and for me it was the one exciting thing about those regular trips to Brum. For a young boy like me it was akin to being on a racetrack and I would shout “Go round again Dad” much to my Mother’s displeasure.
Maggie Thatcher’s economic policies had literally ripped the heart out of the local community and it left a lasting effect even to this day. One has only to drive through places like Longbridge to see just how bad things became then. Over 30 years later & things are only just beginning to improve.
But, amidst all of this upheaval and social change there was the music. Out of the devastation of the heart of the country came bands like Dexys, The Specials, The Selecter and The Beat. It was loud, proud and carried a message, so much so that at times these bands were derided for their stance. Taken as a political one they were shunned by the BBC (quite ironic really given current circumstances) and banished to the lower reaches of the charts.
For a time though it was glorious. Between the years of 1978 and 1983 Two Tone was the sound of Birmingham and The Specials aside, no band encapsulated this feeling more than The Beat. Led by the twin force of front men Dave Wakeling & Ranking Roger they began their assault on the charts with a cover of the Smokey Robinson track Tears of a Clown which hit No. 6 in 1979. Next up in 1980 was Hands Off…She’s Mine, closely followed by a No. 4 hit and one of those classic tracks that they are perhaps now best known for – Mirror in the Bathroom. The album ‘I Just Can’t Stop It’ released on their own Go Feet label is still a classic to this day.
So, fast forward to the present day. I’m sat in an onion shaped pod in the garden of an Edgbaston home belonging to one of Birmingham’s musical icons and all round top bloke Ranking Roger. With it’s Deloreon style door of entry and the mother of all glass ceilings “so I can do some serious star gazing” this is where Roger still creates music to make your head bob and your feet tap.
We’re here to discuss the release of The Beat’s wonderfully titled second album Wha’appen? on heavyweight vinyl by Demon Records (demonrecords.co.uk). Originally released in 1981 and featuring the hits Doors of your Heart, All Out to Get You and Drowning it marked a departure of sorts from their debut release.
Martin Copland-Grey: So how did it all start with The Beat?
Roger: When I first met The Beat I was in a punk band called The Dum Dum Boys and I was their drummer. This band called The Beat wanted to open for us at a gig at a place called The Matador in The Bull Ring. They came to a rehearsal, played Twist & Crawl and Mirror in the Bathroom and I thought “we’ve got some work to do”. We did the gig, they came on and the place went mad. We knew then that The Beat had won the day. They started wanting me to come to their gigs to check them out. They were playing a place in town called the Mercat Cross so I went down there and there were six people in there. I said do you want me to get some people and they were like yeah, we’re on in half an hour. So I ran down a quarter of a mile to The Crown pub, where all the punks hung out on Hill Street. It was a Wednesday night & some of them were bored out of their heads, some sniffing glue and some of them were just drunk.
I said “remember that band The Beat that opened for us? They’re playing down this place the Mercat Cross.”
Now there must have been about 150 punks following me to this place. I remember the police cars, the Black Marias coming past and it looked like we were going on a rampage to look for trouble. But we weren’t, we were all talking – this is gonna be exciting, it better be Rog or we’re gonna get ya! We got into this place and it filled out all of a sudden and then the band went on. I got shoved on the stage so I picked up the mic and started toasting and they all started going mad. I came off and about two numbers later again they pushed me back on and the band didn’t mind.
Then me and Dave Wakeling spoke and he said we’d like you to do more with us. At the time I was living in a hostel, believe it or not. He’s says right you’re not staying there any more, you can come and stay at my flat. So I stayed at his place for the best part of five months, we got on and I joined the band.
So how did you come up with a groove?
Where did the sound come from? The best story that I know is that Mirror in the Bathroom was originally a punkish, faster song. We told Everett it was a punk song and we told him to play punk. To him that was punk – hitting them hard y’know. That groove came and it worked with that bassline and it was just like click, it was like – no don’t change nothing. I don’t care what it is, that is the way forward. Mirror in the Bathroom, Twist & Crawl, Too Nice to Talk To they come under the same umbrella and there were different umbrellas for The Beat. Most other bands sounded the same but we were diverse.
It was over 30 years ago and riding the success of that first album, what was it like going back into the studio to record what became Wha’appen? Were there different influences?
The thing with The Beat is we were very experimental without realising what we actually were. We were these six guys who got together and basically jammed and these tunes came up or these grooves as I call them came. And for me it was all about the groove.
Coming from the first to the second album we had to change it totally and we felt that way. Maybe because, previous to that The Specials put out their first album which was very trashy if you like. It was very punkish with an edge. They called it New Wave Ska or whatever it was but it kind of still had this edge which Elvis Costello put in there as the producer. But then they came out with the second album and it was like Muzak, hotel music! Obviously they’d been on the road too long, that’s what we thought. We thought they’ve been on the road too long cause this is the kind of music we hear in them hotels when we tour round America – everywhere! But it still had a message and that was really successful for them. And maybe it was more successful for them because they challenged to change.
So was it important to take a different approach to the second album?
Yeah I think so but maybe we changed it too radically y’know. I call the first album a classic, the band were hungry, we were young, there’s major notes against minor notes in there & stuff. It’s all in there. It’s only after we recorded them that we really got to play them properly.
On the first album when we were on The Beat bus we used to listen to a lot of reggae, a lot of punk y’know like Devo, The Clash and people like that. It was very exciting, a nice mesh of music but when the guys felt like they’d had enough dub stuff cause the bass was too heavy and they’d had enough of the punk stuff because it was too thrashy we needed something a bit more mellow. We started listening to loads of West African music so you can hear that influence. So what you listen to on your bus could dictate what your next album sounds like.
What was the recording process like on Wha’appen?
Well it was very, very hair raising! The reason being, we were on Two Tone and we had about ten record companies, the big ones, wanting to sign us up. Anything you want guys – the cheque is blank! We went for Arista who were offering us less money but the most freedom we wanted. So it wasn’t about money for The Beat, it was about having your own say within that crooked business and people who’d actually listen to you. Because someone could offer you a million pounds and just put you on the shelf. But the guys at Arista said listen whatever we do, whoever you sign with it doesn’t matter. But if you sign with us we’re gonna break this band and make sure this band gets the recognition and they did.
So we took some time off after touring with The Pretenders and starting jamming again. Within it all we’d been reading our fan club letters and we got this one from a lady in America saying I’ve tried to use your music for my keep fit lessons and it’s too fast. It was a lovely written letter so we decided to tone it down a bit in the way that The Beat became what we call ‘one-drop’, where the rim shot and the snare hits at the same time and that’s the main emphasis. So we did Doors of your Heart and Monkey Murders and along with a few others and that was the kind of style for that album in the end.
But it was difficult because we had to come up with tunes, so what we were doing on tour was we had a notepad each and we’d keep them for two or three days and then pass them on to the next person.
Everybody would write onto somebody else’s thing and a lot of the lyrics from the second album and the third album came in that way. It was a great way to get stuff together and say well that’s a band effort. Cause even like the smallest line from the drummer could get into the song. We used a lot of bits from headlines and stuff like that. It all came together and made sense. So that took a while to record and get right but when it did come out in England it was met with mixed reactions. A lot of people were like well it’s not Ska is it? You’ve done like The Specials and mellowed out or whatever it is. But in California all of a sudden all the surfers and beach bums, the mods out there, we’d go out there and they’d be lapping it up. That’s when I realised how brilliant this band was at merging in such a subtle, sophisticated way and not in a pushing it in your face way.
This new heavyweight vinyl release of Wha’appen has been recorded from the original reel to reel tapes. How did it sound when you went back to it after so long?
We got hold of all of the tapes & old master reels. Some of them were damaged, half of them were in England & half were in America. When we recorded, you wouldn’t believe this – when we recorded we had two 32 track machines. So we had two 3m machines linked up. We had 64 tracks and in them days they only went as high as 24 tracks.
It did take a lot of sorting out but I must say the Producer Bob Sargeant who produced all three albums, who was always a background man, I think he done a great job because the sound would be down to him and the engineer. They were very careful and I could see the care that they were taking with every recording and the levels. This guy knew this digital machine. We had the two machines linked together and they kept on breaking down and it’d take 4 hours for the engineer to come back out and fix it. Tricky times but we got it done and when I listen to that album I don’t really remember that.
How long did it take to record the album?
I’d say about three months. The first one took a lot less; about six weeks, something like that.
Is there a Vinyl Revolution going on?
It’s important to have every format out there I think. Especially as I’ve noticed over the last few years vinyl has been coming back. All my Punk records I’ve kept from all those years back. It’s not people our age, though some of us still play vinyl cause we still have it from back then and we still have our stereos. But within the younger generation at festivals I’ve started noticing more decks then CDJ’s.
As a DJ when you’re spinning discs, that in itself is an art. You have to be good with rhythm and timing and with the flow of what goes with that tune. Not every tune works together.
How do you feel about new technology? Is it necessary now & does it assist you in what you do?
It definitely assists. When I record stuff and put it out there there’s always some form of a band on it mixed with the electronics if you like. So I think they work hand in hand. The first people I saw do anything like that were Art of Noise and Big Audio Dynamite. B.A.D were the first people to really experiment with live music and machines. It worked for them and it brought a new style and it was different. I don’t think many people have been able to cut it the same as Mick Jones did since then. Machines are important in helping to get the idea of the sounds across. They have their uses. But I still need other songwriters & musicians to connect with and make the songs better. If it’s just you and a machine it can make things limited. The important thing is the human communication – you need other people. You need a devil’s advocate if you like and that keeps you sane.
What about how it sounds? Is it important that it’s clear or do you love the raw sound and crackle of vinyl?
First and foremost when the first CD came out I listened to it very carefully and compared it to vinyl. My analysis of it was there’s a whole spectrum of sound and that is what CDs do and because they are digital it stripped some of the roundness or warmness or something from it. Mirror in the Bathroom was the first digitally recorded single in England. We recorded it at the Roundhouse at Chalk Farm and they had a 32 track digital machine. We were guinea pigs! I’ve got demos of that song, the bass sounds so much warmer & bassier. On some of those earlier recordings there’s this warmth. I guess it’s the same as when amps changed from tubes to transistors, there’s a difference. With a tube amp you get a warmer, rounder, even heavier bass sound whereas the transistor amp seems to strip it. I think the transition happened the same way between analogue & digital, between records and CDs. I think the sounds got worse – with MP3s it’s an even thinner version of what you’d get on a CD. That takes away a lot of quality. With vinyl when you hear the surface noise, that’s the real thing. When you look at the grooves of a record you’ll know a bassy album from one that isn’t.
I’d like to say we left it there at that point but I’d be lying. Us two Brummies carried on talking about touring with The Police, old record shops in Birmingham, Neville Staples tour bus shenanigans, being dropped by Radio One for releasing Stand Down Margaret and the exciting new project with his son Ranking Junior entitled Dread-I. I’ve been lucky enough to have been given a sneak preview of this material and let me tell you the man is still at the top of his game. In fact it sounds just as diverse and challenging as it did back then in the social wasteland of the 1980’s. Perhaps in this age of austerity we all need a bit of a lift. So maybe it’s time for a big smile and a heavy groove because at the end of the day it’s all about the groove.
MCG – Bromsgrove – August 2013
Original Source – See more at: http://louderthanwar.com/the-beat-whaappendemon-records-vinyl-release/#sthash.QdgkIYec.dpuf
Return Of The Dread-I is a new project from Father & Son combo Ranking Roger & Ranking Jnr.
These songs are a little taster of what Roger & Murphy have been cooking up for the Dread-i project.
There will be more tracks to follow soon… new compositions & new versions of old favorites.
“RETURN OF THE DREAD I” feat. Ranking Roger
Download Link: http://www.mranonymous.net/download_bus_ranking.html
“RETURN OF THE DREAD I” feat. Ranking Jr.
Download Link: http://www.mranonymous.net/download_bus_junior.html
Interview – Ranking Roger of The Beat
To mark Demon Record’s heavyweight re-issue of seminal 2 Tone album, “Wha’ppen?” we take the opportunity to talk to The Beat’s Ranking Roger about his memories of the album and the 2 tone period, his new project with his son Ranking Junior (pictured above with Ranking Roger) – and – getting REM a record deal!
Back in 1981 when you released your second album “Wha’ppen?” The Beat had a fairly unique line up – including yourself, Saxa and Dave Wakeling. Can you tell us a little about how the band came about and formed?
Yeah sure – Dave Wakeling and Andy Cox, who was the lead guitarist, they were best mates and they went to the Isle Of White – to make solar panels – and while they were there they started playing with acoustic guitars and making up tunes and met the bass player over there, came back to Birmingham and met the drummer, Everett, in a kettle factory. They tried a few rehearsals, but I wasn’t a member then – I was in a band called The Dum Dum Boys, a punk band, and I was their drummer, and The Beat asked if they could open for us and obviously they blew us away and I ended up joining them in the end. Then Saxa came along about a week later, about a week before we went into the studio to record “Tears Of A Clown” for 2 Tone’s first release. Everything happened so quickly, it was amazing. I was surprised – I had joined them in the March of that year – and November of that same year 1979 – we were top ten in the charts.
Saxa had played with some huge names. Is it true he had played with first-wave ska legends such as Prince Buster and Desmond Dekker – and even The Beatles?
So he says – and if Saxa says you’d better believe it. I know they used to play Manchester and Liverpool quite a lot, he used to play with these jazz bands that went all around the country, and I know John Lennon used to go to a lot of blues dances, or shebeens as they were known then, and obviously they were after hours parties, and sometimes they would have a band playing there, just a small line up, nothing too loud, but enough to keep the thing going. I think it was in that kind of setting where it must have happened. For John Lennon to have been into that kind of thing is good, and later on we found out that George Harrison was a big reggae lover within The Beatles, there was a reggae vibe I think, in there somewhere.
What was the scene like in Birmingham at the turn of the 1980s?
Obviously there was a lot of poverty. It needed building up. High unemployment. It seemed like there was no future. I was about 16-17 and it looked like there was no future for the youth. It was a horrific picture when I really think about it – the strikes going on everywhere and the threat of nuclear war – we’ve found out since that Russia aren’t that bad – and they’re now our friends – but that was the biggest thing for a lot of people then – we really thought that the chances of nuclear war were high. We’ve learned years later that there was never really any intention for any side to start it – but it’s weird the things we live under – like the wars in the Middle East – and the Western world’s secrecy with China – so it’s like a new iron curtain has come up now. It’s a shame.
Who did you look up to to for inspiration back then?
I would have looked up to people like Sly and Robbie, Burning Spear, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, they would have been people I looked up to – it’s an endless list. I remember the first record I ever bought was “Pick Up The Pieces” by the Average White Band – I love any tune that’s got rhythm and melody and that’s always how I’ve been. A lot of music coming out nowadays are merges of two different styles coming together, and I think that – not that we were the originators of that – but we did a lot of that – and got away with it because we still managed to get hits within it all.
It seems you spent a lot of time touring around 81-82 with artists including The Clash, The Specials and even Bowie. Which gigs stand out in your memory today?
Yeah – not forgetting The Police and Talking Heads – and just to let people know that REM used to open up for The Beat. They had three or four tours with us before we made our record company sign them up. Obviously I’m glad that they became massive in the end. U2 opened up for us once – but you know – you meet people along the way and some of them are nice and some of them are horrible – the nice ones you end up working with again. If you’re a diva I don’t want to know, but if you’re grounded and down to earth like a lot of bands around then seemed to be – it still seems to be the way to be.
Many people’s memory of “Wha’ppen?” will be the hit single it gave you in to form of “Too Nice To Talk To” – what is your favourite memory of the album?
That album was weird because the first album was really up and dancey and then that album was more relaxed, and I don’t know what people thought, but when it came out people were like, ‘what’s happened to The Beat?’. It’s a lot like The Specials who came out with their first album all guns blazing, then the second album was more like muzak and Spanish music and we thought, ‘hey up what’s going on? It’s modern cowboy music or something?’ – but people still got into it, they still think of it as a classic – look at “Ghost Town”. The idea was not to keep the same, but to keep changing and the second album “Wha’ppen?” was a lot more relaxed, but the melodies and the catchy hook lines were still there. Then the third album was like a combination of the first album and the second album. The second album was the most relaxed Beat album, Californians and surfers, people like that – that album was made for them.
What do you think the real legacy of 2 tone and the second-wave Ska movement has been?
I think the fact that people recognise that if bands like The Beat and The Specials and The Selecter – bands like that – if we weren’t about – and bands like The Clash and the Pistols and people like that – the racism in this country is getting out of hand – again, and it’s not necessarily out of hand yet – but we all know that there are more people in this country that are against racism, than there are for racism, and I think what those bands did, The Beat, The Specials, The Selecter and Madness, we united a generation of kids and taught them not to fight, to try and get on no matter who you are. I was hoping that would be reflected in their kids, but it still needs to get through to their kids and the younger ones too – they need to know that you mustn’t look at people’s colour, you must look at what they did and what they put out.
What new music are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I’ve got an album coming out on pledge.com and that’s going to contain some of my first solo album and my second solo album, and some collaborations with people like Pato Banton, Death in Vegas – people like that. That’s happening now so people can go out there and pledge now. Then later this year or early next year I want to do a new project with my son called “Return Of The Dread-I” and that will run along side with The Beat. It’s going to be an interesting time to be prolific and be inventive and try and bring new music out – with all the rubbish that’s out there.
Apart from music what else gets you excited?
When I can – or when the weather’s good – I try to do loads of inline skating, that’s my love, second to music – getting on my skates and getting out there. But I haven’t been on the streets for a long time – I skate around the park a lot. I used to be on the street racing the buses – but now I’m like – heeeeeey – this is a dangerous thing to do. I used to be a bit of an expert, I still am, I teach people, I love doing that. And I love video games – I do loads of video gaming – that’s when I’m not writing or building a rhythm – but sometimes it’s good to get away from all that, and get away from who everyone thinks you are – and be yourself. That’s important too.
You’ve been involved with so many projects over the years including Big Audio Dynamite, Special Beat and General Public. What’s next?
I touched on the new project – The Dread-I thing. It’s not the end of The Beat – I’ll still do that, and people should know that, but I’d like to try another project where I can be more dynamic and me and Ranking Junior can control it – different styles, different audience that kind of thing. It’s all part of the challenge.
“Wha’ppen?” is out on vinyl and it’s the thickest plastic we could get it printed on – DJs will be happy.
Arguably the festival’s highlight was the appearance of the legendary ‘The Beat’ from Birmingham in the U.K. ‘The Beat’ enjoy a unique and proud position in reggae’s rollercoaster ride. They played a crucial role during the 1980s in adapting the genre to a British audience, successfully merging it with the emotions of disaffected punk rockers and (frequently fascist-oriented) ska supporting skin heads!
Prior to lighting the fuse for the festival’s launch, ‘The Beat’s’ active and ageless front man Ranking Roger kindly agreed to talk with United Reggae about a host of musical and personal issues.
To start, is there anything you want to get off your chest?
No. After about 35 years ‘The Beat’ goes on. The first time it only lasted 4 years, but this time round I’ve managed to make it last 10 years. So I think I’ve done better this time round. Even if we’re not as big as the first time – the respect and the credibility are still there – and for me, they’re great things to have.
When did it first dawn on you that ‘music’ was going to play a big part in your life?
When I was about 12 or 13. I know musicians often say ‘I had a dream’, but I did! It’s true. I woke up and recalled being in front of an audience, bowing to a packed house. I asked myself was I singing or acting – as I was into both at the time and wanted to be a singer and an actor. I couldn’t tell if it was pantomime or singing in a band, because all I could see was myself and the audience. And of course, many years later it turned out that I went into the music business and never looked back. So I think that dream was something telling me that’s the way I should go in life. Then I started deejaying with the local sound systems and school discos etc. By the time I was 15 I was well into it, as the punk scene was big and ‘Rock Against’ Racism’ was going down in Birmingham. You had punk bands starting gigs and a reggae bands finishing them. I would always jump up on stage with the reggae band, as I specialised in ‘gate crashing’ gigs! I learned that trick from the Sex Pistols! The Pistols explained that their first gigs were ‘gate crashed’ – to get gigs they used to lay by saying they were the opening band! So I did the same, and having jumped on stage and voiced the first few words the audience were already on my side. So it was impossible for security to throw me off stage then! And that’s when they first called me ‘Ranking Roger’ and the name stuck. I was about 15 then, hanging around with the punks. That’s when I became a drummer in a punk band called the ‘Dum Dum Boys’. We were together about 6 months, doing ‘Rock Against Racism’ gigs.
Remind us how ‘The Beat’ started?
Around the ‘Dum Dum Boys’ time ‘The Beat’ came along, asking if they could open for us at our next gig. So we said come along to our next rehearsal and if we think you’re any good we’ll let you. And man, they blew us apart! So they did open up for us and they blew us off the stage! So a few weeks later I went and joined ‘The Beat’ – becoming their front man and toaster. Six months later we were in the charts and never looked back. All I have to say is that I’m so thankful for everything that’s come my way.
Do you remember when you last spoke with Dave Wakeling (from the original incarnation of ‘The Beat’ and now front man with the U.S.-based ‘The English Beat’)?
I physically spoke with him about 8 years ago and spoke with him over the phone about 6 years ago and our last email contact was about 3\4 months ago. I’ve tried my hardest to mend things with him, regardless of what our differences are. Sometimes we’ve just ‘rubbed’ the wrong way against each other and it hasn’t worked out. But as far as I’m concerned my door is always open as far as friendship goes. It’s very difficult, a bit like Lennon and McCartney – we have different outlooks on life. I want to be grounded on earth and with the people – that’s all I know. And I can’t really talk for Dave.
In a recent interview he said that the ‘The English Beat’ do ~140 shows p\a. How does that compare with ‘The Beat’?
We’ve cut down our gig numbers, because we were doing far too many. You can overdo it. So it’s up to Dave to know when he’s overdoing it (or not). While we do ~140 annually it’s nothing really to boast about. All that shows is that the demand for gig music is there – and that is very important. You can do 140 per year playing to 3 people per night, but if you can do 140 per year to halls that are full or nearly sold out, then you’re on to a good thing. Thankfully all our gigs sell really well – and we’re lucky with that. That’s a lot to do with the lyrics and the music, merging punk and reggae – and we’re a bit different from other 2-tone bands. But our MESSAGE really appeals to today’s world, as much as it did 30 years ago.
Any comment on the fact that ‘Stand Down Margaret’ preceded her successive re-elections?
All I can say about ‘Stand Down Margaret’ is that it’s the way the nation felt at the time. When it came out we got banned from the B.B.C. for about 2 years. And when we put it out, we knew it was risky. But if you want to be like, for example, Duran Duran you wouldn’t do that. But we had things to say – and that’s the difference between the Rude Boys and the New Romantics. We come from the working class and we were telling people about unemployment, nuclear horror etc., while the New Romantics were more focused on ‘I love myself’ and ‘look at my nice scarf’. In the end all the bands got on well together, but there was a rivalry between the punks and the ‘New Romantics’ for a while. Though I think they killed whatever ska had to offer – but I’m not blaming Duran Duran for that. Actually John Peel (the late influential B.B.C. deejay) alleged that: ‘they let ska win by accident, not realising what it was’. But I think the ‘New Romantics’ movement killed ska. When ska first surfaced – like with the ‘Specials’ (doing the track ‘Gangsters’), then the ‘Selecter’, ‘Madness’ and so on, it was ‘semi-political’ – in its images and lyrics. And you’d go to the concerts and see black and white kids – all dressed the same – together for the first time ever. It was a new thing and it was when society started to realise what was going on – as these bands were actually more politically influential than they’d set out to be. So the 2-tone music and movement was really let through by accident. They let it through, then realised that it could destroy conservatism – and so our B.B.C. ban happened. It was the counter-equivalent of going to play in apartheid South Africa and being blacklisted – that’s the kind of apartheid treatment we got in Britain. So then we went to America, and became known as ‘The English Beat’ there, touring with the ‘Clash’, the ‘Police’, ‘Talking Heads’ and the ‘Pretenders’ and playing to bigger and bigger crowds. Then before we broke up the record company brought out ‘Can’t Get Used To Losing You’ in England and it went to No. 3! So suddenly the B.B.C. were interested in us again because we’d got a commercial song on the go. But unfortunately we’d split up by then. But we’d had a good 4 years.
In music, who has had the greatest influence on you?
Sly and Robbie were a mega influence – they were the drum and bass backers of 90 per cent of Jamaican musicians during the 1970s – like Black Uhuru. Later on, from about 1982, the ‘Clash’ had a big influence on me, because I used to hang out with them and we were buddies. We toured together and there was a real respect between the ‘Clash’ and ‘The Beat’. I now realise how they were seen as demi-Gods, yet they were so grounded and down-to-earth. Joe Strummer and Mick Jones were big stars in America, but they’d bypass their body guards to talk to people – it was a ‘this is ‘rock ‘n roll’ and ‘we’re the people’s band’ vibe. So with regard to all the limousines and the first class treatment, we never wanted to be part of that really.
Greatest satisfaction in music to date?
I guess it’s the fact that I’ve got about 10 gold discs on my wall at home – that’s something to behold. The thing that means the most to me, whatever happens from now on, is that all of us in ‘The Beat’ have left a legacy. Though what ‘The Beat’ meant to me may be different to what it meant to another band member, the band’s whole persona was really about ‘peace, love and unity’ and people getting on with one another. And that’s what we tried to do, by merging the punk and reggae music and their fans.
Greatest disappointment in music to date?
Greatest disappointment was splitting up in 1984. And all we needed was a year off, as we’d been over-touring and over-worked. We could have come back then and made ourselves big millionaires! But at the end of the day it’s not about the money. It was never about the money and had it been it might have changed me and I wouldn’t be bothered to talk with you now. It’s hard to say, but I think if we’d stayed together we would have been massive.
I won’t say David Bowie! But I think his new album is absolutely brilliant. It’s probably Michael Rose (formerly of Black Uhuru) – he has a fascinating voice
You were a Burning Spear fan. Any comment on Spear 2013?
I haven’t heard any of his stuff lately. But obviously ‘Garvey’s Ghost’ and ‘Marcus Garvey’ and that era’s music were really the climax of Burning Spear. I saw him live about 3 years ago and he was still ripping it up! I don’t know how all the German and French audiences can understand his deep patois, but they can! He gets the message across. Like Spear, I may have dreadlocks, but I’m not a Rastafarian. It’s more a way of life than a religion. In fact, I was brought up a Catholic. The 2 Rasta issues that I don’t believe in are that Haile Selassie was God and I support the spirit and practice of equal rights – so when it comes to women I’m not for degrading them. But I see changes – I now see the 21st century dread – that’s welcome.
Any comment on the music business?
Yes, the music business is awful. I’ve been watching it for 35 years and it seemed to be changing every 10 years or so. But now it changes every 6 months! At one time you could deal with a record company, get £500,000 to make a record, go on tour and work it. You would never owe them that money, so they would have to sell the record to make their money back – which was great. But in return they could take about 80 per cent of what the artist earned – so the payback for the artist was minimal. But nowadays, if you can get the marketing sorted out and you can let the people know the record is out there and they know about you, there’s better potential to make money. But just being on iTunes isn’t good enough. Anyone can get their music put on iTunes. The trick is getting people to buy it, so you have to market it. The way it’s going now is that people are selling their albums via their websites – so between websites and iTunes, that’s the way to make the money. Nowadays, record companies are being forced to give the artist a 50 rather than a 20 per cent deal. But if you can do it all yourself, you might as well go do it yourself. Big record companies, like Sony or EMI, now tend to come in toward the end and give ~£50,000 to help finish the album, do remixes or whatever. But it’s important now to show the business that you’ve made the start, then they’ll come in and help you.
Given that it’s such a tough business, did you have any reservations about your son going into it (i.e. Murphy Ranking Junior – co-member of ‘The Beat’)?
Well he’s involved with me, and I’ve had a great life. Don’t get me wrong. I was lucky. I was the youngest member of ‘The Beat’ at 16 – and I was protected. Wikipedia has me down as being born in 1961, but I was born in 1963 – and I can’t change the Wiki entry – there’s some trivia for you! You see when I was 16, you had to be 18 to be allowed play the clubs, so I had to lie about my age. When Junior was 2 years old, though I didn’t teach him, I stuck a keyboard in front of him and he started making his own tunes and melodies. By the time he was 8 or 9 he was already doing his own MCing, coming up with his own lyrics. By the time he was 15 he was collaborating with others musically and when he was 16 he joined the band – just coming and jamming with us at the start. After about 10 gigs I could see that he fitted and it looked good and people would say ‘it’s great he’s part of the show’. So after that he became part of the show and the business. It’s natural – as they say, it ‘was written’.
Are you working on any projects of note at present?
Yes, I’ve lots of projects going on. The first one is an album with my son this year. It’s solo from ‘The Beat’ and it’s going to be called ‘Return Of The Dread I’. We’ve some tunes already for it and we’ve some collaborations going on too. It won’t be a ska album, but it will definitely be reggae influenced, with some roots in there. We’re going to release that this year under new management.
Do you have a favourite politician?
Well in his time, it would have been Nelson Mandela – and it’s not because he’s black. It’s because of what he went through and came out of, to become a ruler of his country. Could you imagine the Queen of England being in prison for nearly 30 years and then all of a sudden being taken out of prison and she becomes the Queen? For me, Mandela’s story is a miracle – one of the miracles of our time. The Berlin Wall coming down was another miracle. There are certain things I thought I’d never see in my lifetime – and I never thought I’d see South Africa as a democracy. We went there 2 years ago and it’s a fantastic place – the people were so loving toward us.
Do you have a least favourite politician?
At the moment it’s definitely David Cameron (British Prime Minister). But I also think that Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (U.K.I.P.) is potentially very dangerous.
Greatest achievement in life?
It’s that I’ve got my own design studio at home now. It’s just finished – it’s where all my future albums (incl. collaborations) will come from. It’s designed like a spaceship! So far, for me, that’s the dream realised.
Biggest disappointment in life?
Having thought about it, maybe it’s the fact that I never got married. I should have been married. I’ve 3 kids and was with an Irish girl for 20 years, but we split up about 10 years ago. I regret that. We should have got married, but we didn’t. Maybe if we’d married we wouldn’t have split up later, I don’t know.
In life, who has had the greatest influence on you?
I would have to say ‘The Beat’ band and coming back to England. Everything I’ve done has come from ‘The Beat’ – including General Public and Big Audio Dynamite – ‘The Beat’ has been at the root of it all.
Remaining ambitions in life?
One big remaining ambition – a wish that has never been fulfilled – is to get a No. 1 hit single or album. We’ve got to No. 3 in the single charts and No. 2 in the album charts. But we – ‘The ‘Beat’ – have never had a No. 1. We’ve been high up there, with gold and silver discs though.
Will you live out your life in the U.K.\Birmingham?
I don’t know. I might do what my late mum did. I might go live my last days in the sun. My mum came to England and worked there for 40 years and then went back to St. Lucia in the Caribbean. And I’ve told my family that when I pass I’m going in the same crypt as my mum. So I’ll be buried in the sun anyway, in St. Lucia, by the beach amongst the fishermen!
Ahead of The Beat kicking off Grassington Festival, Matty Hebditch interviewed Ranking Roger …
Matty Hebditch: How’s your summer going so far?
Ranking Roger: It’s not really much of a summer anymore is it? We’ll find out whether there really is a summer in the next couple of weeks but so far it’s been good. Plenty of gigs.
M: Looking forward to playing Grassington?
RR: Well, we are because it’s somewhere we’ve never done before and it’s gonna be interesting to see how the crowd approach our music. Everywhere we play is different but people always want us to come back. I’m full of anticipation because I don’t know what the crowd are gonna be like but I presume that we’ll win them over by the end of the night, like we usually do.
M: I suppose it’s hard to gage what a small Yorkshire Dales town will make of you.
RR: Well, we always go down well up north because we’re from the midlands anyway, halfway up, but although we do well up north, we seem to do more of our gigs down south so there should be quite a few people. Because it’s festival time, it’s the best time to be playing, we enjoy festivals more than the normal gigs but it’s good to get back to playing your normal gigs as they keep it down-to-earth and grounded, they’re your bread and butter.
M: Are you just a touring band now or will there be any new stuff or a live album or anything?
RR: I did want to put something out as The Beat but me and my son, Ranking Junior, who sings on stage with me, want to launch another project called Return Of The Dread-I.
M: Didn’t you record an album with producer Adrian Sherwood that got shelved?
RR: That’s right. Well, this band’s changed so many times. We did record some new tunes and Adrian Sherwood was gonna mix them for us. This was about 3 years ago. Then a couple of members of the band got sacked and it all came to an end so I couldn’t put that album out or wait until the new musicians had learnt the tunes so that just fell apart.
I’ve got this thing out at the moment on Pledge, a double CD compilation of collaborations with people like Sly & Robbie and Death In Vegas and that will be followed by Return Of The Jedi, which will feature some of what would’ve been The Beat album.
M: Adrian Sherwood’s famed for his On-U Sound dub productions. Will it be a deep dub reggae album?
RR: It’s gonna be psychedelic reggae/dub/ska, maybe a bit of drum ‘n’ bass in there. Its definitely, without a shadow, gonna be ‘dance’ music. You might have some authenticity about the old stuff but you’ve got to bring in the new things as well. I’ve been dying to get the new stuff in and mix it in with the old. Now, there’s an opportunity to do that and the future looks bright.
M: With your son now sharing lead vocals, it creates a nice dynamic onstage, like it’s a family affair but do you get on ok while you’re on the road.
RR: We get on really well, we’ve always been like good mates. If there’s ever a problem, we confront each other in a friendly way and reason it out in a mannerly manner. It’s a great relationship and it’s great to have him on board in the business, he’s a chip off the old block, he’s doing really well and I’m proud of him.
M: Suppose you’re a fairly cool dad to have and you’ve obviously taught him well. Did he have to learn all the songs or was he always a Beat fan, ever since he learnt his dad sang in a band?
RR: Well, I had to re-learn them, it’d been years since I’d sung them but he already knew them all. Whether he liked it or not, it was drummed in, partially in the soul. It must be in his blood.
M: One thing I thought was interesting; you and drummer Everett Morton are the two remaining original members in this version of The Beat while original vocalist/guitarist and songwriter Dave Wakeling fronts another version of the band in America, where you were instead known as The English Beat (there was already a new wave power-pop band called The Beat in the US). Can both bands coexist without there being any messy legal issues? It seems a unique situation that you’re each playing in different continents under different names.
RR: Well first I must reveal to you that Everett and I are no longer working together, Everett’s retired. However, any member of The Beat is entitled to use the name, it belongs to all of us. We have a partnership from 30 years ago, ‘The Beat Brothers Ltd’, so we’ve never had any qualms over the name. The only qualm would be if we wanted to go over to America to play or Dave Wakeling intended to come over here. What do we call it? Do we rename it?
M: That would complicate things a little. Although, last year, the US Beat and the English Beat toured America together, billing it; ‘Two Beats Hearting As One’.
RR: heard about that. It sounded like a really good thing. We met them years ago and I thought ‘They’re really nice guys… for Americans!’ Very into their music, they loved our music and their music was OK.
M: You always get dubbed a ‘ska’ band, probably just because your debut single came out on 2-Tone (The Beat formed their own Go-Feet label after that)
RR: All the time. Someone who knows ska music would hear The Beat and say; ‘there’s a ska influence but they’re not a ska band’. It’s more punky-reggae-calypso-soul, or whatever you’d call it.
M: Was it just a happy accident that just a handful of similar bands all released debut singles in 1979 that had this unique new sound? It wasn’t like you all convened beforehand and plan to change the world.
RR: None of it was planned and it all happened mysteriously.
M: Even though three of you (Beat, Specials & Selecter) were all from the black country? You weren’t friends before?
RR: . Even to have three bands from the West Midlands all do well in the same year was unheard of. We put our flag in the map and definitely left a legacy because it’s still alive today but ultimately, the fashion killed the music. First it was all about what the music and what the music stood for then it became so big; everybody was dressed in tonic suits, Fred Perrys and pork-pie hats and it kinda missed the point. Then, because everyone was so into the look, the fashion, as soon as the new romantics came along, that was it. It was gone.
It didn’t live as long as it should have but every year it keeps coming back, there’s another resurge, which means there’s certainly something going for it, it just didn’t reach maximum potential, a lot of the bands only lasted 2 or 3 albums, it was a short-lived scene. The Midlands had their chance, then Manchester had their chance in the ’90s with those Madchester bands so maybe it moves around the country.
M: In the past, you toured with David Bowie, The Clash, REM, Police, Pretenders, Talking Heads… Who treated you the nicest?
RR: , The Clash. They treated me like I was family and to get into The Clash’s camp was not easy at all. I wanted to get backstage but as soon as I walked through the door, everything was cool, they were very welcoming. Both bands had total respect for each other and we were in and out of each other’s dressing rooms. So, the nicest people were the ones who were meant to be the brashest. When we met them, they were having some success in America but they went through a wicked, hard time, losing potentially millions because other people had ripped them off. If they’d have carried on, they would’ve been bigger than U2, they had the potential to be the greatest rock & roll band in the world. I remember watching them live, thinking ‘the records have got nothing on this’, the feel, the vibe and the crowd atmosphere, they sounded so professional, which you wouldn’t expect.
Touring with the police was exceptional too, it showed me the top line of being a big pop star in the music industry, I used to get up and DJ with them onstage every night. I was only 17-18 while they were well into their 20′s so maybe because I was so young, I got away with it. Or maybe it was my smile.
M: So were you listening to a lot of punk? Along with The Police, a lot of those punk bands had a reggae-influenced phase; The Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, The Ruts, Costello… all had at least one reggae song.
RR: Well, what the punks were saying was along similar lines to what the reggae artists were saying in Jamaica. The same sort of political issues were being sung about; inequality, rights, people having a say, so there was a connection. The Skids, The Members, people like that were trying reggae too and although The Beat came after that, we were influenced by that punk/reggae sound and took it to another level, without realising.
M: Any other festivals lined-up then?
RR: We’re playing two shows at Glastonbury. We’re playing in Ullapool, right in the north of Scotland, at Loopallu (which is Ullapool backwards). We love playing up there and we’ll be playing in Falls Park in Belfast in August, we’re doing Electric Picnic in Ireland and Nozstock, Larmer Tree in Dorset and others are coming in nice and fast. We just played in Bologna in Italy which was shocking. The audience just didn’t know what to expect. By the end, they knew what we were all about and were all rocking but when we first came out with flying colours, these old men going mad on stage like we do, they just stood there looking shocked, going ‘oh my god’.
It’s music for everybody though. No matter what colour you you, what music you like, there’s a bit of something in there for everyone, whatever your age and whatever country you’re in. If you can still move the crowd, then that’s gotta be good. People come see us, they’re satisfied and they come back again , bringing more people with them. We’re keeping the integrity, doing justice to the Beat and we always try our hardest, no matter what gig it is.
If you missed Ranking Roger’s interview on MeridianFM the other night, here it is again…
Margaret Thatcher the people’s back stabber,
That is how I remember her, Only caring for the rich and leaving the poor to suffer. She was also responsible for causing so much unemployment and misery. Sold everything we the people had, and killed the unions while she was at it. I also remember, Thatcher not only was the person who took free milk away from our kids at school, but I’m afraid, more than that she was responsible for the death of the community which has never recovered since. So now, all I have to say about her death is:
“Lie down Margaret lie down please,lie down Margaret!”
The Beat – Too Nice To Talk To (Live at Tramore Ska Festival – 29/03/2013)
Yes RudeBoy’s & RudeGirl’s ….
Following the success of the previous Q&A sessions we are proud to announce that on the 4th April from 8PM (UK TIME) onwards Ranking Roger will be holding a Question & Answer session over on twitter and will be giving away a NEVER before heard mp3 to a lucky winner.
To get involved all you have to do is follow ‘The Beat’ on twitter to put your question’s forward:
SuperDeluxeEdition have a copy of THE BEAT Vinyl Box to give away to a lucky reader. This superb box set contains all three albums, faithfully recreated to match the original vinyl release, plus a special bonus LP of dub remixes.
Winner will be picked on Monday 3rd December! Good luck!
The Beat – ‘The Dub Album’ is now available for pre-order on iTunes! GO ORDER IT NOW!!