Ska legends The Beat come to Kirkcaldy’s Windsor Hotel later this month offering fans the chance to enjoy a blast from the past.
The gig at the Victoria Road venue on Saturday, September 21 is just one of several big name gigs that have been organised by local promoters Rubber Stamp Promotions for the coming months.
This week Ranking Roger, an original member of The Beat, took time out to speak to The Press.
He said he’s really looking froward to coming to Kirkcaldy.
“It will be different for us,” he said.
“We have not played there before so it will obviously be a nice treat for us and for the fans that have never seen us.
“A few people would have [seen us] as we come up once a year certainly, but many won’t.
“It’s nice to get a chance to get to the more rural places.
“It’s good to go to a place and absorb it. I like to be able to really get to know a place in the few hours we spend soaking up the vibe.
“Everywhere has its own vibe and I’m looking forward to finding out what sort of vibe Kirkcaldy has.”
Having formed in Birmingham in 1978, the band were part of the West Midlands ska revival scene that also produced The Specials and The Selecter, while London saw the formation of Madness and The Bodysnatchers.
Their 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’.
So having first burst onto the music scene back in 1978, how does it feel still being able to perform live 35 years on?
“It’s great, it’s really good,” Roger said.
“The audiences always show appreciation which feeds back to the musicians.
“We feed off the audience who are feeding off us.
“There’s no backing tape and everything is live.
“We make mistakes some times, but can laugh about it.”
Following their initial chart success, The Beat formed their own label, Go-Feet Records, backed by Arista.
The first release in February 1980 was another Top 10 hit, ‘Hands Off She’s Mine’.
It was the first of 12 chart singles for the band on Go-Feet.
The band released three albums which contained many tracks that demonstrated their more politicised and socially conscious leanings.
And what is it that has made the band’s music stand the test of time?
The singer continued: “I think for Beat music it was because it had a message.
“It was people’s music from working class musicians and spoke about a lot of things that happened in those times that seem to be happening again now. It’s gone full circle.
“All we were doing was singing about things people were going through at that time. Everything else was very ‘love you, love you’ in the charts then.
“A lot of people in America, we were quite successful over there, went to college listening to our music and people like The Clash, as our music was about real things going on in the world.
“It seemed like music and politics used to merge at the end of the 70s, beginning of the 80s.
“Now politics and music don’t mix these days but they should as it’s part of life.”
So what can people expect from the Windsor gig?
“I guess a lot of jumping around,” Roger continued.
“We don’t hang around on stage.
“There’s me and my son Ranking Junior, also known as Murphy.
“We’re the frontmen and command the audience. We want to make them feel part of it.
“As I say to people coming to The Beat gigs, bring a spare t-shirt. It’s a bit like a work out.
“Every night we change the set list, we don’t have a set list.
“We’ll play things depending on the audience that night. Even the musicians don’t know what’s coming on next.
“It may be an unorthodox way, but I think every one’s got used to it and I like it.
“It stops it getting boring.”
The current line up features Ranking Roger, his son Ranking Junior, Everett on drums, plus Andy Pearson, Michael Billingham, Matt Godwin and Steve Harper.
Has The Beat audience grown with the band, or are there younger fans there too these days?
“Both!” he said.
“People who were fans in the 70s and 80s come and say it’s as good as, if not better, than before.
“Younger people coming now are all in the front of the stage and they know all the words, even some I forget.
“It’s very interesting and it’s great because it defines what Beat music is.
“It’s music for any age, any colour, any religion or faith.
“It’s music for everyone and we try to get every style in our music.
“The ethos of The Beat still stands and I’m proud to be part of it.”
Support is provided by Root System DJ Junior Lazarou.