The Beat (featuring Ranking Roger)
Fresh Faced Reggae-Ska Fusion With a Bit of a Message Deep in the Grooves.
Ranking Roger has been proudly flying the Beat flag for many years now; and while the live shows feature all the original hits; ‘this’ band has actually developed and evolved their very own sound and songs over 30 years on the road.
The album opens with the infectious Walking on the Wrong Side; which carries the trademark Beat ‘chunka-chunka’ Reggae-Ska chops; and Roger’s voice has never sounded better on a tale of the dangers black youth face on a daily basis.
The skanking continues with a vengeance over the next couple of songs; but The Beat enter heavy Bluebeat territory on Avoid The Obvious; a marvellous song just crying out for a Heavy Dub remix…..in my humble opinion.
My copy doesn’t make it clear; but I presume the dancelicious Talkin’ About Her is a duet between Ranking Roger and son and heir Ranking Junior (aka Matthew Murphy) and it works a treat; brining a little bit of Jamaican sunshine into my damp Summer.
To some degree I wish Roger hadn’t released this album under The Beat franchise; as he is selling himself short because this is very much is ‘his album’ with tracks like Work, Work, Work and My Dream owing more to Orange Street than New Street; and being all the better for it.
The endearing Reggae-Ska beats and melodies on offer here are all as fresh as a daisy; and only ever offer a nod to the past, with My Dream being a great example of a band being as tight as a badgers bum and top producer Mick Lister bringing the very best out of the crew.
Favourite track? Walking on the Wrong Side is the obvious choice for a single; but I love the heavier Roots of Close The Door which bookends the album and again features Ranking Junior Toasting in between Ranking Roger’s sweet voice on some fairly hard hitting verses.
While the album flows along very sweetly; two songs do stand out – Side to Side and My Dream, with both having a slightly heavier sound; and when you read that they were mixed by the legendary Dennis Bovell you will nod knowingly….. and I wouldn’t mind him having a go at remixing the whole album; or is that being greedy?
While I had my reservations when I first received this album; Bounce has been a delight from start to finish and has rekindled my love for Ska and Reggae music…..thank you Roger.
PS. The first time I saw this version of The Beat a young band from Leeds were third on the bill, and were laughed off the stage by us cool kids for ‘trying too hard’……whatever happened to the Kaiser Chiefs?
Released September 30th 2016