Saturday, August 25, 2012


Remember the US Festival?  Is was Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak's big idea to combine music with a tech expo.  He spent giant amounts to put on a star-filled event in both '82 and '83, quite nicely promoting the Apple name at the dawn of the PC era.  It was also a time when  music festivals were rare, so over a million souls made their way to California for the likes of Bowie, U2, Fleetwood Mac, The Police and The Clash.  Oh, and The English Beat, so flash they were invited to play both shows.  It was right at the moment the group was enjoying some American success, around the time of their 3rd and final album, Special Beat Service.

This CD/DVD includes both concerts, with the DVD holding both shows, and the CD trimmed down to omit several duplicate songs.  The DVD would be complete except two cuts from '82 were damaged and unusable.  The CD suffers from a weak, bass empty recording, all vocals and sax, just bootleg quality.  But it's a throw-in anyway, you'll want to see the action, to experience the band.  It's too bad more didn't at the time, because they were a dynamic and hard-working group, with energetic, festival-ready tunes.

Looking over the ocean of people, most of whom wouldn't have had much knowledge of the group, it's interesting to see how well the Beat's punky version of ska goes over with the California kids.  Twist & Crawl, Mirror In The Bathroom, Tears Of A Clown and I Confess have them moving and grooving.  It wouldn't be many years until the sound solidified with Rancid, No Doubt an others.  But The Beat were much better, more melodic and inventive, and had surprisingly positive lyrics.  It's always seemed a shame they lasted so short a time, and this DVD seems like a surprise visit from an old friend you thought you'd lost.

No comments:

Post a Comment