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When the 2-Tone movement sparked into life in the summer of 1979, few could have guessed that what initially seemed to be a post-punk fad would come to be regarded as one of the best-loved periods in British music history. The Specials' political and social importance grows larger with each passing year, while Madness can still enthrall audiences whenever they dust down the back catalogue.

Equally interesting were Birmingham ska outfit The Beat, whose debut on 2-Tone coupled a truly thrilling version of Tears of a Clown with their own frenetic Ranking Full Stop. Like Madness, they made one record for the Specials' label before getting their own Go-Feet imprint with Arista and made a handful of magnificent singles.

Mirror in the Bathroom was edgy and downright sinister, Best Friend a joyous slice of pop, its double-A companion Stand Down Margaret a political diatribe you could dance to and in their version of Andy Williams' Can't Get Used to Losing You they gave us a sublime cover.


When they split in 1983, singer Dave Wakeling and co-vocalist/toaster Ranking Roger formed General Public while guitarist Andy Cox and guitarist David Steele teamed up with singer Roland Gift and sold millions of albums as Fine Young Cannibals.

These days Wakeling resides in the States and fronts The English Beat, while Ranking Roger and original drummer Everett Morton continue to fly the flag under the original name.

Festival favourites, The Beat are proof that nostalgia needn't be naff, especially when a band has a handful of genuine classics in their locker and, most importantly, people can dance their asses off to them. Go feet!

>George Byrne

The Beat play the Academy tonight