Quality usually trumps quantity. The English Beat was only around for a brief period a generation ago. However, the British band made an impact delivering three solid albums between 1980 and 1982. The ska revivalists crafted such hits as ‘Mirror in the Bathroom’ and ‘Stand Down Margaret.’
However, the playful but political group splintered. Vocalist-guitarist Dave Wakeland and toaster Ranking Roger formed General Public, which crafted catchy but innocuous tunes before calling it quits during the ‘90s.
Wakeling is back fronting the English Beat, which will perform tonight at the Sellersville Theater.“It was easy coming back,” Wakeling said. “Apparently there is a demand for music made by bands from the ‘80s and I love playing our songs. Who knew that this band would be back again?”
After General Public broke up, Wakeling took a hiatus from music and fulfilled a lifelong dream by joining Greenpeace. “They wanted someone in the music industry and I always believed in what they stood for so it was easy for me to devote time to Greenpeace,” Wakeling said. “I was very fortunate to be able to work on such an important endeavor.”
Wakeling put together a fundraising album dubbed ‘Alternative NRG,’ which features a number of upper echelon rockers, such as U2, R.E.M. and Sonic Youth. An album and a series of concerts helped generate millions of dollars for Greenpeace.
“I’m very proud of anything that benefited Greenpeace,” Wakeling said. “They have their heart in the right place.”
By the late ‘90s, Wakeling was anxious to take the stage again. He formed the Free Radicals, which performed at Greenpeace benefits. However, Wakeling needed something more. The English Beat was asked to record ‘I’ll Take You There’ for the film ‘Threesome’ in 1997.
“We got back together and it felt tremendous,” Wakeling said. “I put my feet back in the water slowly and it felt good.”
Wakeling stayed close to home initially since his children were tykes a decade ago. “I became a bit of a weekend warrior at the time,” Wakeling said. “I had other responsibilities but man, did I enjoy going out with the band.”
However, over recent years, Wakeling and the Beat have been touring more since his teenage children, now 13 and 15, are growing up. “I’ve had more time to focus on music so we’ve been going out more than we had been going out and it’s just been so good for us and the fans. The timing is good. It seems as if more and more people are into getting back to the bands they grew up with. I appreciate this now more than ever.”