If England's second-wave ska revival were broken into bite-size pieces, it might look something like this: The Specials were the urban rude boys, Madness were the populist nutty boys, and the English Beat were the tender, sensitive boys who brought heart and soul to the movement. Dave Wakeling led the six-piece through three wonderful, diverse albums, from the light dub and switchblade rhythms of I Just Can't Stop It through the elegant pop of Special Beat Service. The political angst that swells on the anti-Thatcher plea "Stand Down Margaret" was in step with the political awareness of the band's peers, but the bare emotion contained in that song (and hits like "Doors of Your Heart" and the immortal "Save It for Later") set Wakeling apart as a songwriter who knew that emotional intelligence and danceable rhythms could go hand in hand. Wakeling is the sole surviving member who's touring with this year's model of the English Beat, and he shares the stage with the current incarnations of the Fixx and the Alarm.<
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