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The English Beat to Light Up Culture Room

Along with the Specials, the Selector, Madness, and Bad Manners, the English Beat excelled at putting a British stamp on Jamaican ska and reggae in the late '70s and early '80s. The name was tagged with their nationality to differentiate them from an American outfit also dubbed the Beat, but they grew into a reliable pop act with hits on both sides of the divide. A spunky remake of "Tears of a Clown" and the enduring classic "Save It for Later" were early MTV regulars. More important, the band's biracial makeup and staunch anti-Thatcher stance also made a daring political statement and inspired new political protesters back home.

The band members went on to even greater success after parting ways, with de-facto frontmen Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger forming the equally perky General Public and guitarist Andy Cox and bassist David Steele setting up shop as the somewhat sullen Fine Young Cannibals. Both Wakeling and Roger keep a claim on the Beat name, Wakeling's band being the one that still entertains American audiences. Happily, then, the Beat goes on.

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Lee Zimmerman

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