Today is the 38th birthday of David Steele, bassist for the English Beat
and later for Fine
Young Cannibals. Formed as the Beat in Birmingham, England, in 1978, the
Beat, who had to change their name to avoid confusion with an American band
same name, became a main force in the revival of ska.
The English Beat's sound was highlighted by the alternating lead vocals of
Dave Wakeling and rapper Ranking Roger, as well as by the sax of Saxa,
ska kings Prince Buster and Desmond Dekker. The band's first hit single was
a cover of
Smokey Robinson's "Tears of a Clown." It was released on Two-Tone, which
by Specials keyboardist Jerry Dammers, an early champion of the English Beat.
In 1980, the English Beat formed their own label, Go Feet, and began
U.K. hit singles, such as "Mirror in the Bathroom." Also that year came the
album, the acclaimed I Just Can't Stop It (on Sire), featuring the
Thatcher song "Stand Down Margaret" and a cover version of Prince Buster's
The English Beat earned a leftist reputation by playing benefits for
liberal causes and for
organizations for the unemployed. The band's music suffered when they
reggae on 1981's Wha'ppen, which was dominated by paranoid lyrics.
album yielded the top-40 hits "Drowning" and "Too Nice to Talk To." The
U.S. exposure increased with Special Beat Service (1982), which
MTV favorites "Save It for Later" and "I Confess." But just as the album
ground, the group decided to disband.
Steele then formed Fine Young Cannibals with English Beat guitarist Andy
vocalist Roland Gift. They played a catchy mix of Motown, pop-rock and
special by Gift's falsetto voice. The Fine Young Cannibals' eponymous 1985
positive critical notices, and the band exploded into pop consciousness
The Raw and the Cooked. Two singles from the album, "She Drives Me
and "Good Thing," hit #1 in the U.S. and the band seemed poised for a great
after a 1990 remix album, The Raw and the Remix, Fine Young
While there has been no official breakup, Gift has turned back to acting,
Young Cannibals in limbo.
Other birthdays: Sal Valentino (Beau Brummels), 56; Kelly Groucutt
Orchestra), 53; Dean Daughtry (Atlanta Rhythm Section), 52; Michael Lardie
White), 40; David Lewis (Atlantic Starr), 40; Patsy Cline, 1932-1963; and
McKernan (Grateful Dead), 1945-1973.