The Beat were always much more than revivalists or copyists – the Two-Tone band were the model of a great pop group, riding up the charts with a string of catchy tunes.
From their beautiful cover of Smokey Robinson’s Tears Of A Clown to the foot-tapping Hands Off…..She’s Mine, the hits kept coming.
Buoyed by infectious rhythms and galvanized by lyrics that expressed their own frustrations and desire for change, The Beat captured the turbulent era of Margaret Thatcher’s Britain in the 1980s.
“We are far more oppressed in Britain now, we’ve seen the gradual destruction of our freedom since those times,” said The Beat’s leader Ranking Roger.
“You could say whatever you wanted then, now you get locked up for saying or writing the wrong thing on-line.
“When Stand Down Margaret came out it was how the nation felt at the time and we got banned from the BBC and they wouldn’t let us play it on the radio.
“I’d be more scared about releasing something like that in 2013 than I would have been 30 years ago.
“Not because I’m older and wiser, but because society is more oppressive.
“The government says they like you to protest, but don’t believe a word of it.
“It is the same game with a new face.
“Our songs were prophetic, like Big Shot – about the banks going kaput and that happened didn’t it?”
For five years Two Tone was the sound of Birmingham and The Specials aside, no band encapsulated this feeling more than The Beat.
“It was an incredible time, it was a semi-political movement in its messages and lyrics,” added Roger.
“You’d go to concerts and see black and white kids – all dressed the same – together for the first time and there was a true unity.
“I was young and it felt like there was no future for the youth.
“There was strikes going on everywhere, the threat of nuclear war, and that was reflected in fears and our music.
“Like any movement, though, Two-Tone turned into a fashion and the weekend posers killed it.”
Roger said he never experienced the shock of racism until The Beat played in London.
He said: “There were all these skinheads screaming ‘Sieg Heil’.
“It puzzled me – why would racists be into black music?
“Eventually, I realised that true skinheads were never racist – those original guys.
“To this day, I get guys coming up to me, fifty-somethings going, ‘You guys changed my life’.
“It is not about your colour, it is what is inside you that counts – your heart and humility.
“There’s more bad than good in the world sadly, but the good people keep me going.”
Months after their first gig, The Beat found themselves on Top of the Pops.
They had wanted to put out Mirror In The Bathroom as the first single but for obscure contractual reasons they were unable to.
“We suggested Tears Of A Clown, because one thing we knew from gigging was how well that song went down,” said Roger.
“Whether it was a factory canteen, grannies with kids around their knees, or a bunch of punks, that song always brought the house down.
“It was a great experience doing TOTP, but I couldn’t stand the star thing.
“They sent a limo to my house to pick me up but I went in the bus to the studio instead.
“A five minute journey turned into half an hour with people wanting to say hello.
“You knew who your true friends were, though, and I wanted it to stay that way.
“I saw people get mixed up in the pop hierarchy too quickly.
“I never wanted that.
“Now, I make a point of having time for people.
“I always say be approachable, show them you’re a real person.”
The Beat play Clitheroe’s Grand Theatre on October 12. £15. 01200 421599.