So…. what do we have here?
A brand-skankin’-new album from The Beat? No, not Paul Collins and Co. – they are officially known as Paul Collins’ Beat. And no, not Dave Wakeling and Co. – we call them The English Beat over here. This album is actually by Wakeling’s former partner in crime Ranking Roger and his UK-based version of The Beat/English Beat. If you want to get technical about it, this album is by The Beat featuring Ranking Roger.
Are you thoroughly confused already? Sorry ‘bout that…
OK, where was I?
The only member from the original Beat line-up is Ranking Roger himself so, to be honest, I didn’t approach this release with too much optimism or enthusiasm. However, BOUNCE is a corker of an album and will appeal to fans of SPECIAL BEAT SERVICE’s Pop-oriented melodies and the ska-riffic sounds of I JUST CAN’T STOP IT/WHA’PPEN. Packed to the gills with some great songs that embrace The Beat’s past while also adding some new and exciting touches, BOUNCE is pretty much what you would want a Beat album to sound like. While the other original members’ personalities are missing in action, Ranking Roger really hits the ball out of the park with this album. “Walking On The Wrong Side,” “Heaven Hiding,” “Side To Side,” “Busy Busy Doing Nothing,” and “Avoid The Obvious” are instantly lovable slices of Beat magic, with most of the rest of the album following close behind. On this release, Ranking Roger’s secret weapon is co-writer/producer/musician Mick Lister, formerly of Mod greats, The Truth. Though not a member of The Beat, Lister’s Pop influences mesh well with Roger’s Ska/Reggae roots, creating an album that is joyful and engaging.
Now, the negative. BOUNCE may be TOO ‘Pop’ for some hardcore fans. The album leans more towards catchy hooks than it does an authentic Ska/Reggae groove. However, think about Beat classics like “Best Friend” and “Save It For Later” – two of their most popular tracks – and you’ll realize that they always had a Pop edge to them. If you’re looking for “Mirror In The Bathroom” or “Too Nice To Talk To,” then buy the old albums. But if you want something new, fresh and invigorating, then BOUNCE this one around for a bit. Certainly one of the best albums of the year.
Peace, love and pancakes,
Stephen SPAZ Schnee