“Getting Hangry With Dave Wakeling of the English Beat”
I had the opportunity to sit down with Dave Wakeling of the English Beat in Los Angeles on January 27, 2017. I’ve been a huge fan of his musical output as well as his political and environmental advocacy through the decades. “Special Beat Service” still retains the coveted position of being on my list of “favorite albums of all time” and I think I may have seen the English Beat perform live more than any other band through the years (and that’s saying quite a bit since I’ve attended countless concerts). Unlike some other musicians out there, Dave still brings a consistent ferocity, liveliness and affable humor to his shows. And more than any other musician that easily comes to mind, his music commands the audience to move their feet and dance, regardless of whether they consent to doing so or not. In fact, I dare anyone (even the most hardened wallflowers out there) to stand still during his concerts, as this is simply not possible by any known laws of physics or psychology. His music fits into that unique category of being both life affirming (forcing one to appreciate one’s existence) yet not taking things too seriously.
It was with this appreciation in mind that I was eager to talk to Dave about the new English Beat album (entitled “Here We Go Love”) scheduled to come out soon. It’s been over three decades since the English Beat has released a proper, full-length album so this is quite a special occasion for his legions of adoring fans. Before our interview Dave even treated me to a special “world premiere” listening session to three tracks off the new album, letting me know I was the first music journalist to be afforded such a privilege, so I was quite excited and grateful for this once in a lifetime opportunity. And in all honesty, I was very impressed by what I heard. The lyricism and political undertones, combined with jangly guitars, lively keyboards and horn section are “classic English Beat.” One of the songs, a slow ballad, particularly stood out as something akin to “End of the Party” off of “Special Beat Service.” When asked what inspired the song, Dave said that it was actually something he had begun writing long ago in the late 80’s when many of his friends at the time were dying from HIV. Through the ensuing years, he has also experienced the loss of other loved ones and family members so this previously penned song was resurrected and completed for the album. I also listened to a track entitled “If Killing Works (It Would Have Worked By Now)?” with Roddy Radiation of the Specials on guitar, replete with a marching band vibe and ensuing call and response chorus. Lastly, I also heard “How Can You Stand There?“, a relatively straight forward danceworthy ska track that will undoubtedly have fans skanking to the beat at upcoming concerts. Collectively, Dave described these songs as “hangry music”, containing elements of anger and happiness together. It was clear to me that for an artist who has always worn his political sensibilities on his sleeve (ala “Stand Down Margaret” and his outspoken advocacy for Greenpeace), our contemporary world contained many potential targets for his fiery artistic and political “hangry” aesthetic sensibilities and these appear to be expertly channeled into the English Beat’s new songs.
To order a copy of “Here We Go Love“ and to stay up on tour information, check out www.englishbeat.net. Lastly, if you’ve never seen Dave and the English Beat perform live, please do so. Given his prolific touring schedule, you really have no valid excuse to not see him. He definitely has our official “Inner Edge Music Stamp Of Approval.”
Lastly, for those folks that haven’t seen it, here’s the full interview we did previously with Dave at SLO Brew in San Luis Obispo in 2012:
I look forward to our next Inner Edge Music “check up” a half-decade from now in 2022!
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