Sunday, August 3, 2014

The English Beat - Special Beat Service

Man, there was a time when the Ska/Two tone thing was all the rage somewhere, but it wasn't really Cleveland.  I remember when I first got this, I think I was living in the basement at my wife's mother's house. I think we lived there just under a year, and I bought my stereo when I got my first income tax check from my first Big Boy Job.  I mean, it turned into a Big Boy Job, but at the time buying a stereo was probably a stupid thing to do, but the time I spend sitting in front of my stereo has been what's kept me sane for something like forty years now.  I bought a pretty nice system.  A pair of Phase Tech HT 32's, which were nice three way cabinets with a twelve inch woofer and a soft dome tweeter.  Back then, if you had a soft dome tweeter, Phase Tech made it, no matter the manufacturer.  I had a Denon DRA 300 receiver, which was rated at 33 WPC, but it had a ton of dynamic headroom and would push over 100 WPC in short bursts.  I got a Bang and Olufsen Beogram RX turntable to go with it.  That took the place of my old Dual.  I was kind of late switching to mainly purchasing CD's for a long time, because that system sounded like a million bucks!

I remember I had The English Beat's Special Beat Service, and I felt like I never had time to actually crank up my killer stereo with no one in the house.  Sunday night was the exception.  I got the whole place to myself (with my son, who was just a baby), because it was bingo night.  Man, I loved bingo night!  I'd crank the stereo to some ear bleeding volumes (that kid didn't seem to mind loud music, or someone used to come and get him now and then.  I can't remember).  The thing was, the people that would come over almost to a person absolutely hated stuff like this.  They wanted a pretty steady diet of Led Zeppelin (not at my house, I never did like them), The Who, and Black Sabbath.  I'm mostly ambivalent about those bands, but I still had a pretty decent record box and I was getting pretty heavily into The Stones then so I could usually keep people entertained.

I liked when my brother came over back then, because he'd listen to The English Beat with me.  He liked The Clash more than air or water (I think they're still the only music he listens to), but at least he got it that stuff like Special Beat Service was just about the greatest thing in the world to put the speakers out the windows and sit on the porch and blast the neighborhood with.  We'd roll one up, grab some beers and make a warm Sunday night super mellow, listening to Ranking Roger Toasting and Dave Wakeling Confessing.  We'd sit out on the swing and half the time not even talk to each other, just listen to music.  We don't do that anymore, and I won't go into that other than to say it's really a shame, because I loved listening to records with my brother.

Anyway, I really like this record.  I found it a year or so again for a dollar and I couldn't pass it up.  Anything with Sugar and Stress, I Confess and Save it For Later is worth at least a dollar in my book.  Throw in Rotating Head and the killer saxophone on End of the Party and I'm all in.  I always thought these guys were just really cool, and I never quite got why the guys that hung out with my wife's siblings thought they were somehow too effeminate for them to listen to.  Hey, I like my Blues Rawk as much as anyone, but if you're gonna enjoy the summer weather and have a little fun, you can't get much better than Ackee 1 2 3 or Pato and Roger A Go Talk.  I'm not much of a fan of the reggae, but I like a lot of the Ska/Two Tone stuff. Kind of like the same way I guess I like bands that sound like Led Zeppelin or The Beatles.  For some reason the followers sometimes are what I'm most interested in.  I don't know why, but that's the way it is.

Like I said, I got this record for a buck.  It's got the original inner sleeve with the lyrics and if you ask me, I'd guess it was only played once or twice.  It sounds great, it's flat and the cover has creases all over the place. But who cares?  It's got a big sticker on it that says $1.00 and I can't get it off, so I just sit back with a nice cold drink and listen to this one.