Special Beat Service (Remastered)
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||I Confess||The English Beat||4:30||$1.29||View In iTunes|
||Jeannette||The English Beat||2:47||$0.99||View In iTunes|
||Sorry||The English Beat||2:32||$0.99||View In iTunes|
||Sole Salvation||The English Beat||3:05||$0.99||View In iTunes|
||Spar Wid Me||The English Beat||4:30||$0.99||View In iTunes|
||Rotating Heads||The English Beat||3:24||$0.99||View In iTunes|
||Save It for Later||The English Beat||3:33||$1.29||View In iTunes|
||She's Going||The English Beat||2:09||$0.99||View In iTunes|
||Pato and Roger a Go Talk||The English Beat||3:19||$0.99||View In iTunes|
||Sugar and Stress||The English Beat||2:55||$0.99||View In iTunes|
||End of the Party||The English Beat||3:29||$0.99||View In iTunes|
||Ackee 1-2-3||The English Beat||3:11||$0.99||View In iTunes|
||What's Your Best Thing? (Bonus Track)||The English Beat||3:47||$0.99||View In iTunes|
||March of the Swivel Heads (Bonus Track)||The English Beat||3:31||$0.99||View In iTunes|
||Cool Entertainer (Bonus Track)||The English Beat||3:32||$0.99||View In iTunes|
||A Go Talk (Tappy Luppy Dub) [Bonus Track]||The English Beat||8:38||$0.99||View In iTunes|
In Britain, the (English) Beat were moving very much in the wrong direction, as their chart placements made clear. "Save It for Later," released in April 1982, barely made the Top 50, "Jeanette," their new album's taster, just brushed number 45, "I Confess" didn't even chart, probably because its flip, "Sole Salvation," was also culled from the album, while "Ackee 1 2 3" placed outside the Top 50.
The slippage had started with Wha'ppen?, as the group had veered sharply away from their frenetic roots, Special Beat Service would take them even further from their early punk-fired fury. Still, Wha'ppen? boasted cultural themes, its angry and angsty lyrics sharply defining the set. Special Beat Service didn't even have that, and after two Top Three albums, the group was forced to settle for a placement just outside the Top 20.
But in the U.S., their sun was on the ascendant, and a band who had yet to place a platter into the Top 100 suddenly found itself with a Top 40 hit album. The singles that barely scratched the charts in the U.K. found happy homes in the clubs, slotting nicely around the mix of New Wave and burgeoning New Romantic numbers American clubbers craved.
And so "I Confess," with its Joe Jackson-esque piano line, Dave Wakeling's sweet vocals soaring toward heaven, and the jazzy sax all cosseting the insistent drums and bouncing tablas; the fast and furious "Jeanette," with its French street flair and ever more surreal rhymes; "Save It for Later"'s superb blend of jangly Byrds-esque guitars and stomping beats; "Sole Salvation"'s nod to mod that hints at the Jam's "Beat Surrender," which arrived the same month, and the calypso party atmosphere of "Ackee," all set listeners feet tapping.
These were the ones that hit with the DJs, but the whole set was equally worthy and moved onto the dancefloor with abandon. Producer Bob Sargeant gives it all a bright and brash sound, which may not have favored more reggae-heavy numbers like "Spar wid Me" and "Pato and Roger a Go Talk," but the Beat were diving into the New Wave with gusto, and the production emphasizes those currents. Songs like "Sugar & Stress," where the sax storms across the driving rhythm while still retaining the Brit-beat flavor of the guitars and keyboards were a revelation. Even a more downbeat number like the gorgeous "End of the Party" glows under Sargeant's attentions.
In it's own way, Special Beat Service was just as musically adventurous as its predecessor, and boded well for the group's future. Or would have if the Beat hadn't celebrated their success by promptly calling it a day. The music, however, lives on in all its glory. [Edsel's deluxe 2012 expansion of Special Beat Service expands the original album by seven songs and includes a second CD containing an additional 20 bonus tracks and a DVD with two promo videos ("Save It for Later" and "I Confess"), two Top of the Pops performances, two selections from an OTT Broadcast in 1982, an appearance on The Tube in 1983, and three songs from their opening set for the Police at Gateshead International Stadium in 1982. The bonus cuts contain a wealth of BBC sessions, non-LP cuts, and extended mixes, many of which are also on the Bonus Beat supplement on the simultaneously released The Complete Beat box, but there are cuts from an appearance at Hammersmith Palais and the previously unreleased "It Makes Me Rock," which can not be found on the big box, so that's reason for collectors and completists to seek this out.
The Beat's final and (some say) best album
Along with their first album, I Just Can't Stop It, The Beat's third and final album, Special Beat Service instantly became an icon of the second wave ska revival. The album leans a little more on British pop than The Beat's first two albums, but Special Beat Service never leaves it's ska roots. Ranking Roger's toasting remains ever present, and is particularly enjoyable in his nod to Pato Banton. As with earlier work, The Beat continued to embrace a wide variety of influences including the Caribbean, Motown, dub, and punk.
Special Beat Service contains what is arguably The Beat's best known U.S. hit, Save It For Later, which was a favorite on college radio and the alternative music scene. 30 years later, it remains a classic and has been covered by Pete Townsend in concert. Other favorites include I Confess, Jeannette, End of the Party, Ackee 1-2-3, as well as Rotating Head, the instrumental version of which was featured in the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
For any fan of British ska, this album is a critical addition to any collection and is not to be missed. If you enjoy the record, catch Dave Wakeling at a live show, as he is still touring, playing the old favorites with a new band.
The wrong direction..?!
I had to join in to counter the iTunes review above which seems to start out very critical of the direction the band were going in but then describes the music pretty well. I was left not being sure if it was meant as a recommendation or not...
Yes, I'm a Beat fan, so not neutral, but I do recommend this album.
It's is a strange mixed album in that some songs are outstanding lyrically while others are danceable numbers.
The better songs are really very good; heartfelt and crammed with cleverly assembled lyrics, and some of the best from this band, and then there are some songs that hark back to the fantastic swing of the first album without quite being all-out ska.
The great songs came to some degree at the cost of the irresistible danceable rhythms that had driven their first album (notable exceptions being Sole Salvation, Rotating Head and She's Gone), but were still tunes with a great beat, excellent production and a great variety of sounds. Then there were some danceable ska/reggae orientated tunes like Jeanette that were less intensely written in terms of lyrics but gave a nod back to that first album.
I would say that either this album or 'Just Can't Stop It' are split 50:50 as the favorite albums by English Beat fans, so don't let iTunes put you off.....
Formed: 1978 in Birmingham, England
Years Active: '70s, '80s, '00s