The Beat Interview



The Beat are back!

The Beat are known from various hits during the 80’s – including “Hands Off She’s Mine”, “Can’t Get Used To Losing you” and the alltime-classic “Mirror In The Bathroom”. The Band was formed in Birmingham in 1978 and later became one of the best known acts in the ska revival scene next to Madness, The Specials and The Selecter.
Their fourth studioalbum “Bounce” was released at the end of september this year, the first album in over 30 years. Fronted by Ranking Roger the band of 2016 also features his son Matthew Murphy aka Ranking Junior. “Bounce” really makes a major impact and seems to carry on from where the amazing album “Special Beat Service” from 1982 left off. Irie asked some questions and Ranking Roger answered….


After more than 30 years The Beat returns with an album that could have been the follow up to “Special Beat Service” from 1982. What took you so long?

Well I’ve been busy touring and I’ve put out two General Public albums and three solo albums in the meantime! We did start working on a new Beat album about 10 years ago, but the timing just wasn’t right with band members leaving and other stuff going on. So we were waiting for the right time.

Many sounds, like the distinctive saxophone on “Walking On The Wrong Side” – are reminiscent of classic tracks like “Mirror In The Bathroom” from the band’s early days. Although the band no longer plays in the original line-up, you still use these signature sounds. Why did you make so few changes to the actual sound?

Our sax player, Mark Hamilton, was the original saxophonist (Saxa)’s apprentice for two years before he retired so maybe that’s part of it. Mark’s dad was also a well known jazz saxplayer so he was probably influenced by both of them. At the end of the day the sound of The Beat is the sound of The Beat, and if I’m putting a Beat record out it needs to sound like us!

Or would you say that there are key differences between the early days and “Bounce”?

Of course. Things have moved on so we have tried to make the music sound fresh and modern… I don’t want to contradict myself but the Beat’s music is timeless – its all about the sound.

You have chosen an allstar-team for the production of the new album. Producer Mike Lister worked with Amy Winehouse, the mixing was done by Dennis Bovell as well as others and the mastering took place at Abbey Road Studios. These are all huge names in the business. Why chose them?

Dennis Bovell we have loved since 1978, and we have always seen him as a great mixer. He has worked with a lot of great reggae artists! The meeting with Mick Lister was organized by my management and it turned out to be something brilliant! To have a producer whose vision for the album was exactly like mine was a major thing…

“See de hypocrites, them a-galang deh!“. On „Fire Burn“ you quote Bob Marley’s song „Hypocrites“. Of course Bob Marley is an outstanding figure in reggae. What importance did he have way back when The Beat was founded and nowadays – musically and in terms of his vision / approach?

Bob Marley was a man who always sung what he thought was the truth, and that is his fingerprint in the music… Long may that live!

There is more than one band performing the original material from the early 80s. The Beat, The English Beat…. What is the relationship between the former members of the original band today?

We are just friends… The Beat & The English Beat are two different bands – both versions have original members in them but we are totally different entities – just driving the same music.

The whole album makes a really big impact that leaves listeners clamoring for more. Is there anything new in the pipeline?

Yes – there is plenty more where that came from!

Interview: Karsten Frehe (09/2016)

About Karsten

Founder of the Irie Ites radio show & the Irie Ites Music label, author, art- and geography-teacher and (very rare) DJ under the name Dub Teacha. Host of the "Foward The Bass"-radio show at ByteFM.