I Just Can’t Stop It

The English Beat

1980: IRS 44797 0606 2

  1. Mirror in the Bathroom
  2. Hands Off…She’s Mine
  3. Two Swords
  4. Twist & Crawl
  5. Tears of a Clown
  6. Rough Rider
  7. Click Click
  8. Ranking Full Stop
  9. Big Shot
  10. Whine & Grine
    Stand Down Margaret
  11. Noise in This World
  12. Can’t Get Used to Losing You
  13. Best Friend
  14. Jackpot

Magical sounds from my adolescence. I only wish I could have been hearing them closer to the source, not in a dinky nowhere town where such records were only to be found at a divy one-room record store and where the music was only played on the one college radio station. It was music that got me thinking that there must be more interesting places to be, places where exciting music like that came naturally to someone. Not Walla Walla, that’s for sure.

The fire and ice interplaying in the opening track sets the stage for most of what follows, and even nearly 40 years later it’s still alarmingly intense in the combined power of those threads. The saxophone and the edgy/jumpy drums hint at what’s in store, but that power doesn’t get truly revealed until the end of the song’s first verse, when the lead guitar sears across the soundscape with what I can’t quite call “chords” but are taut note-clusters flaring out from darkness with alarming brightness that still manages to *sound* dark. The effect of that first guitar explosion still awes me. My musical training is largely on piano, along with some single-note instruments, and I tend to forget that guitars are capable of effecting such bewildering sounds through doubling of notes on adjacent strings (usually it’s only Joni Mitchell that startles me back into awareness of it, but this track is a mighty exemplar of a quite different tone). Its pairing with Saxa’s sexcellently echo-effected main sax line on the second chorus-followup just lulls me into already forgetting how damned hot that guitar work was *and* how hot the sax was…amazing stuff in abundance.