The Beat was formed in Birmingham in 1979, with members Dave Wakeling (vocals, guitar), Ranking Roger (vocals, toasting), Andy Cox (guitar), Everett Morton (drums), veteran Jamaican saxophonist Saxa, and from the Isle of Wight, David Steele on bass. The band was part of the West Midlands ska revival scene that also produced The Specials and The Selecter, whilst London saw the formation of Madness and The Bodysnatchers.
The Beat’s first single was an arresting version of Smokey Robinson’s “Tears Of A Clown”, given a completely new feel, and was backed with their own composition “Ranking Full Stop”. Released in a one-off deal on Jerry Dammers’ Chrysalis-backed 2-Tone label, the single stormed into the Top 10 in December 1979, and saw the band appear twice on Top Of The Pops.
Backed by Arista, the band formed their own label Go-Feet Records, with its own distinctive art direction and design provided by Hunt Emerson. The first release in February 1980 was another Top 10 hit, “Hands Off… She’s Mine”, and was the first of twelve chart singles for the band on Go-Feet, a list that includes permanent favourites like “Mirror In The Bathroom”, “Too Nice To Talk To”, “Best Friend”, “All Out To Get You”, “Doors Of Your Heart”, “Save It For Later” (later covered by both The Who and Pearl Jam!), “Jeanette”, “I Confess” and their Top 3 hit cover of “Can’t Get Used To Losing You”.
The band released three albums “I Just Can’t Stop It” (1980, # 3), “Wha’ppen?” (1981, # 3) and “Special Beat Service” (1982, # 21), which contained many tracks that demonstrated their more politicised and socially-conscious leanings in songs like “Stand Down Margaret”, “Get-A-Job”, “Big Shot” and “Click Click”. The band broke up in 1983, Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger going on to form General Public, and Andy Cox and David Steele forming Fine Young Cannibals.