Monday, February 6, 2023

1983 Singles - # 18 The Beat


The Beat rarely put an immaculately shod foot wrong in their five year, three album career from 1978 to 1983. They were the coolest Brummie kids on the block and were frequently on Top of the Pops during those years. You might think a Greatest Hits would do, but really you need all of their three studio albums. They're all invaluable in their different ways.

I remember a school conversation about The Beat that went on for a while after they appeared on TOTP for the first time in 1980. I hung around with a slightly geeky set, I'm sure the others wouldn't mind me calling us that at this remove. It was mostly composed of kids I went to Primary School with and we were now in the third year at Secondary.

Garth, Ben, Andreas, Adrian, Simon myself and a couple of others. We spent our lunch hours in the library rather than outside, kicking a football around. We were not girl botherers yet. but we did watch Top of the Pops. Everybody did in those days when it was particularly terrific, a must watch frankly between 1979 and 1983.

The conversation centred around The Beat and their debut single Tears of a Clown. A cover, but a terrific one, of the Smokey Robinson & The Miracles classic. Adrian didn't like it for some reason and boy did he go on about the fact that he didn't like it. I couldn't see why not and frankly neither could anyone else.

Peer pressure is such a thing at that age. Eventually after maybe a couple of weeks of this conversation recasting and reformulating itself while The Beat went up the singles charts and appeared on Top of the Pops again Adrian softened his position and eventually I think backed down in the way you can without losing too much face at that age. He was right to. The Beat were triff. They continued to be triff.

By 1983 though they had lost their chart sparkle though their records were still very good. Things happened very quickly in chart land in those days. The Boomtown Rats, The Undertones, Squeeze and many others had their moment in the sun before they found their singles momentum failing them until they struggled to even get Top 40 placings any more. At this point their days were probably numbered.

In 1983 this happened to The Beat. They'd toured The States a fair bit, with some success but were falling behind in The UK. Save it for Later was one of their career best singles but only reached No 47 in the UK charts. A calamity and an injustice in every respect.

The band split into factions and formed separate groups. General Public for the bands apparent generals, Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger. Fine Young Cannibals for guitarist Andy Cox and bassist David Steele who recruited vocalist Roland Gift to front their cause. Surprisngly it was the latter that cleaned up for the rest of the Eighties.

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