Almost as good as Dexys, between 1979 and 1983, The Beat (known as English Beat in USA) released a string of great singles and three classic LPs. Always a band of musical and internal tensions it came as no suprise when they split. 'Everything was split six ways, but Dave Wakeling and I saw that it could be split two ways. We got a bit greedy" - Ranking Roger on the break up of The Beat. One portion of the band, Dave Steele and Andy Cox went on to make some pop records under the name Fine Young Cannibals with singer Roland Gift (ex-Akrylykz), you may have heard of them, while the voice of The Beat Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger continued to make, nearly as good as Dexys music with General Public. They recruited ex-Dexys, Stoker - drums and Mickey Billingham - keyboards as well as Horace Panter (ex-Specials) - Bass, creating an almost-supergroup of the Birmingham scene. Legend has it that the two ex-Dexys were initially unaware of each other's past history in the band and only found out by accident some months after General Public forming. 

Signed to Virgin in the UK and IRS in USA, a debut single 'General Public' on Virgin Records combined a strong pop sound with an underlying dance feel and brushed the UK charts. This was followed by their debut album 'All The Rage' and "Tenderness", their second single and a hit in USA. The Beat's past friendly connections with The Clash led to Mick Jones playing guitar on the record. A second album, 'Hand To Mouth' followed in 1986, another great record it nevertheless failed to trouble chart compilers. A review of the album in '87 compared Wakeling's vocals with those of Ali Campbell (UB40) "....and a hint of Kevin Rowland in there at times". By this time though Stoker had split and was replaced by Mario Minardi. Original guitarist Kevin White had also been replaced by Gianni Minardi (presumably related), with additional violin supplied courtesy of Steve "Brennan" Shaw (formerly of The Emerald Express). With Roger and Wakeling unable to agree on a musical direction and the world still oblivious to General Public, the band broke up.

Listen to short extract from "Never All There":


Both Wakeling and Ranking Roger went on to make solo albums. Radical Departure (IRS DMIRF 1035 - 1988) by Ranking Roger featured Horace Panter on bass. Both Stoker and Micky Billingham make appearances with Billingham also gaining a writing credit for the track Falling Down. Meanwhile Wakeling contributed the title track to John Hughes 1988 film She's Having My Baby. This song was to eventually appear on Wakeling's solo album No Warning (IRS, X2 13085, 1991).

A reunion of sorts occurred in 1994 when Ranking Roger and Dave Wakeling were asked to reunite and recorded a cover version of the Staple Singers hit I'll Take You There for the soundtrack of the film Threesome. They enjoyed themselves enough to follow it up with an album, Rub It Better in 1995. The line-up consisted of Wakeling, Ranking Roger, Michael Railton (vocals, keyboards), Norman Jones (vocals, percussion), Wayne Lothian (bass), and Dan Chase (drums). The album features a ska/reggae cover version of Van Morrison's Warm Love. Stoker gets a writing credit for the song, 'Hold It Deep' and is also credited with 'additional recording'. The album also features guest appearances from Pato Banton, Chris Spedding, Mick Jones and Jerry Harrison (former Talking Heads keyboardist/guitarist) who also produced.

Wakeling continued to gig in the USA as Dave Wakeling And General Public while Ranking Roger worked in the UK with various ex-Beat and Specials members as International Beat. Various versions of The Beat and The Specials have existed over the years with greater and lesser claims to the names. In 2003 Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger reformed The Beat along with original sax player, Saxa, which has led to a series of high profile concerts. These days Wakelin still gigs in the USA as the English Beat and Ranking Roger has recently begun a myspace website. Speaking personally, and with the greatest respect to Roger because much of the Beat's output featured duets, Dave Wakelin was the vocalist of my generation. His rich, powerful and soulful voice will echo round my head for the length of my lifetime.


General Public Discography
[Under Construction]


1. All The Rage


Tracks - 1. Hot You're Cool 2. Tenderness 3. Anxious 4. Never You Done That 5. Burning Bright 6. As A Matter Of Fact 7. Are You Leading Me 8. Day To Day 9. Where's The Line 10. General Public

Label - IRS Catalogue no. - sp 70046 Released - 1984


2. Hand To Mouth


Tracks - 1. Come Again 2. Faults And All 3. Forward As One 4. Murder 5. Cheque In The Post 6. Too Much Or Nothing 7. Love Without The Fun 8. In Conversation 9. Never All There 10. Cry On Your Own Shoulder

Label - Virgin Catalogue no. - DM 207 995


3. Rub It Better


Tracks - 1. It Must Be Tough 2. Rainy Days 3. Hold It Deep 4. Big Bed 5. Punk 6. Friends Again 7. It's Weird 8. Never Not Alone 9. Handgun 10. Blowhard 11. Warm Love 12. Rub It Better

Label - Epic Catalogue no. - EK 64270 Released - 1995


4. Classic Masters


Tracks - 1. General Public 2. Tenderness 3. Hot Your Cool (live) 4. Never Done That 5. Too Much Or Nothing 6. Taking The Day Off 7. Come Again 8. Murder 9. Cry On Your Own Shoulder 10. I'll Take You There 11. Save It For Later (live - English Beat) 12. Limited Balance

Label - Capitol Catalogue no. - 37419 Released - 29 January 2002



1. General Public / Dishwasher

Label - IRS Catalogue no. - VS659 Released - March 1984 UK chart position - 60 (3 weeks in chart)

Notes - This single came out in 7" picture disc and 12" versions


2. Tenderness / Limited Balance

Label - IRS Catalogue no. - VS673 Released - 1984

Notes - The 12" release is titled 'Tenderness' The Dance Mixes: Tracks - 1. 'Tenderness' (Longer version) Remix by John 'Jelly Bean' Benetez  2. Tenderness (Shorter version) 3. Limited Balance (Longer version)


3. Never You Done That / Burning Bright (Edit)

Label - IRS Catalogue no. - 70984 Released - 1984


4. Come Again / Cheque In The Post

Label - IRS Catalogue no. 53016 Released - 1986


5. Too Much Or Nothing / Taking The Day Off

Label - IRS Catalogue no. 52941 Released - 1986

Notes - The 12" [Catalogue no. 23683 featured five different versions of the song: Tracks - 1. 'Too Much Or Nothing' (Extended Dance Mix) 2. 'Too Much Or Nothing' (Dub Mix) 3. 'Too Much Or Nothing' (Dance Radio Edit) 4. 'Too Much Or Nothing' (Instrumental) 5. 'Too Much Or Nothing' (A Capella)


6. Faults And All / Taking The Day Off

Label - Virgin Catalogue no. - VS 870 Released - 1986

Notes - This single features music from the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The 12" version contains the extra track Faults And All extended mix.


7. I'll Take You There

Label - Epic Catalogue no. - 660553 2 Released - June 1994 UK chart position - 73 (1 week in chart)

Tracks - 1. I'll Take You There 7" version 2. I'll Take You There Sunshine Radio Mix 3. I'll Take You There Hoya Tribe Trip 4. Save It For Later (live)

Notes - This track was featured in the film Threesome and didn't feature on the album Rub It Better.


8. Rainy Days

Label - Epic Catalogue no. - EPC 661401 2 Released - 1995

Tracks - 1. Rainy Days (radio edit) 2. Rainy Days (album version) 3. Blow Hard


9. Warm Love / Handgun

Label - Epic Catalogue no. - 77952 Released - 1995