Friday, July 20, 2012

Contemplating The English Beat Box

As you probably know, 10 days ago Shout Factory! released a good-looking five-CD box set on the English Beat called 'The Complete Beat.' All three studio albums are there, but the real finds are on the last two discs. This is especially true if you never owned the extended-versions compilation 'M.B.P.M. (More.Beats.Per.Minute).' The fourth disc of 'The Complete Beat' is chock full of 12" and dub takes, and the fifth disc contains a plethora of Peel Sessions, as well as a handful of live songs recorded in Boston, circa 1982. For those with the 'What Is Beat?' compilation, you already have a couple of those tunes, but I digress.

I had the box set in my hands yesterday, but I got cold feet and passed. It wasn't the price. I think $38.99 is fair... especially if you don't already own a majority of the works. My problem is I do, indeed, have the three studio albums, as well as some of the bonus material. This dilemma arises all of the time with me and reissues: Do I really need it, again? I would (more or less) be buying it for the Peel material. So, it that worth $38.99? Hmm.

To add to the confusion, I got home and visited the Shout Factory! site only to find out if I order directly through the label (and for a few extra bucks) I could get the box with a signed booklet and the never-before-released 'The English Beat: Live At The US Festival, '82 & '83' CD/DVD. I have seen quite a bit of both performances, courtesy of US Festival specials on VH1, and they were amazing. As I write this, I think I have come to a decision. Where's my credit card? Here's a look at the bonus material, along with a couple of other goodies:

Bonus Beat: Disc 1 - 12" & Dub Versions
1. Hands Off . . . She's Mine (Extended Remix)
2. Twist & Crawl (Extended Remix)
3. Stand Down Margaret (Dub)
4. Too Nice To Talk To (Dubweiser)
5. Psychedelic Rockers (Dubweiser)
6. Doors Of Your Heart (Extended)
7. Drowning (Dub)
8. Hit It (12")
9. Which Side Of The Bed? (12")
10. Save It For Later (Extended)
11. What's Your Best Thing (Dub)
12. Cool Entertainer (Extended)
13. Jeanette (Extended)
14. March Of The Swivel Heads (Extended)
15. I Confess (Extended)

Bonus Beat: Disc 2 - Peel Sessions & Live In Boston
1. Tears Of A Clown (Peel Session – Nov. 5, 1979)
2. Ranking Full Stop (Peel Session – Nov. 5, 1979)
3. Click Click (Peel Session – Nov. 5, 1979)
4. Mirror In The Bathroom (Peel Session – Nov. 5, 1979)
5. Big Shot (Peel Session – Nov. 5, 1979)
6. Too Nice To Talk To (Peel Session – Sept. 22, 1980)
7. New Psychedelic Rockers (Peel Session – Sept. 22, 1980)
8. Monkey Murders (Peel Session – Sept. 22, 1980)
9. Walk Away (Peel Session – Sept. 22, 1980)
10. Spar Wid Me (Peel Session – March 29, 1982)
11. End Of The Party (Peel Session – March 29, 1982)
12. She's Going (Peel Session – March 29, 1982)
13. Save It For Later (Peel Session – March 29, 1982)
14. Sole Salvation (Peel Session – March 29, 1982)
15. Pato And Roger A Go Talk (Peel Session – March 29, 1982)
16. Best Friend (Opera House, Boston – Nov. 19, 1982)
17. Tears Of A Clown (Opera House, Boston – Nov. 19, 1982)
18. Twist & Crawl (Opera House, Boston – Nov. 19, 1982)
19. Get-A-Job/Stand Down Margaret (Opera House, Boston – Nov. 19, 1982)

The English Beat - March of the Swivel Heads (Extended) (mp3)


Uncle E said...

I pick mine up Friday, and while I have Canadian versions of all three LP's proper, I need those remixes and Peel sessions! In addition, I am hoping that the production has been updated as my copies are a bit quiet and a little muddy in sound. Next they need to do the same for The Jazz Butcher and I'd be a happy guy...

Brian said...

Hey Uncle E. I have since picked up my box. I haven't listened to the three LPs yet (hopefully tonight), but I have been enjoying the Bonus Beat CDs quite a bit. The booklet is a really good read too. Check back and let me know if you think the sound quality has improved.

Uncle E said...

I think the sound quality has improved, at least from the Canadian versions I have. I think the whole package is class A, and I too am enjoying the Bonus Beat CD's quite a bit. The biggest revelation for me is Wha'ppen?, though. I kind of put this album aside back in the '80's as my perception was that it was a little slower and less exciting than I Just Can't Stop It, which it was for me at the time. Listening to it now with older ears I am really loving the subtleties and can appreciate the songs. All 3 original Beat albums were far different beasts than each other anyway, with some musical tie-ins (dub, toasting, ska, etc) that cemented their individual identity and differentiated them from the Specials, Madness, Selector, etc. The Beat were, at heart, a great pop band and this box set slams home that point.

Brian said...

Thanks for that, Uncle E. I, too, have rediscovered the middle album in my "old" age.

I was in a record store the other day and came across a 12" with the Beat's three Peel sessions on one beautiful piece of vinyl. I didn't know that existed. Pretty sure it was an official release... Go Feet and all. I passed on it since I just got the box, but it was a tough call. If it's there next time... might have to reconsider.