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English Beat

Ska has its detractors and its aficionados, and both tend to do a disservice to the music's actual value. With its surface flash of bouncy rhythms and bright horns, ska very easily pulls you in or turns you off. The people who dismiss it as too cute for their liking are missing something, and we can assume the same for the folks who arrive at shows dressed in full ska regalia regardless of whether a band sucks or not. Luckily, the genre flagship English Beat is still around to enlighten both camps. Formed in the late '70s in the once-ultragloomy British city of Birmingham (the same place that gave us Sabbath and Zeppelin but also fostered a resurgent ska movement that included UB40), the English Beat presents ska that's imbued with a sense of time, place, musical history, and urgency that you just don't get from more recent acts. Don't even mention them in the same breath with the mindlessly innocuous ska-punk drivel that oozes out of the SoCal sewer. Regardless of whether you profess to love ska or think you hate it, go to this show. Either way, you'll benefit and learn something. Not to mention that the band's distinct sense of rhythm and melody can warm your soul and inspire your feet at the same time.

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