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Live on KPCC: The English Beat's Dave Wakeling performs in studio

Dave Wakeling joins Alex Cohen in studio to talk about his music and an upcoming performance.
Dave Wakeling joins Alex Cohen in studio to talk about his music and an upcoming performance.
Jacob Margolis

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Dave Wakeling's band, The English Beat, are known for hits like "Save it for Later," "Mirror in the Bathroom," and "I Confess."


The origins of the band were surprisingly simple.

"Everybody in the band who ended up on that first record was the first person we met that played that instrument who then responded to the call," Wakeling said on Take Two.  

Bassist David Steele, for instance, responded to an advert in a local newspaper.

"[He] became the musical genius of The Beat," said Wakeling.

It was Steele that set the tone for the songs like "Mirror in the Bathroom" with a two-two beat.

"We wanted the joy of Toots and the Maytals rhythm section, with the urban angst of the Velvet Underground, with the full range of Tim Buckley, Van Morrison and Bryan Ferry's emotional pulls," said Wakeling. "In that you had a music that invited you in, reminded you of the joy of life and then because you'd set it up that way you could have a lyric that discussed some of our common foibles. Which normally get shoved to the darker corners of things, but if you pull them out with a little light on them and a good dance... I think we have quite a common bond in our common foible."

And it was those foibles that he sang about consistently throughout the years. One of the problems he had at the time was living in England, which he eventually left for California in 1986. "I did 30 years in England and you only get 30 years for murder," said Wakeling. 

Even though he moved, he's been performing some of the same songs over the past four decades. But as Wakeling told Cohen, the songs and their meanings do change.

"When you're writing them you're either stabbing in the dark or at least stirring the mud at the bottom of your river," he said. "Decades later you're like, oh, that's what that's about then." 

The English Beat still perform together, as they'll be doing at the Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach on Friday, March 28. 

While he was in the Take Two studio he also recorded a couple of live songs: