The English Beat

Live! at the US Festival: September 3, 1982 & May 28, 1983

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Steve Wozniak's two US Festivals turned out to be a curiously '80s phenomenon: a self-styled revival of the Woodstock spirit designed to showcase new technology along with new music, ultimately undone by a cluster of confusion and greed. The US Festivals occurred during the height of the MTV-fueled second British Invasion, of which the (English) Beat was a beneficiary. Riding high on their third album Special Beat Service and its hit "Save It for Later," the group was at a peak, yet just on the verge of falling apart, splitting not a year after their 1983 appearance at the US Festival. This 2012 Shout! Factory set contains the entirety of the English Beat's two performances at the US Festival -- they were the only band to play both years -- on the DVD, and the CD rounds up 16 highlights from the two years, slightly favoring the 1982 concert. There are two sets here, both terrific: live, the English Beat hit the backbeat a little heavier and speed up the tempo, playing with an invigorating enthusiasm. This is especially true of the 1983 set, which sounds like nothing less than a frenzied breakneck sprint to the finish line, but the 1982 concert was no slouch, either, and when the two are combined on this CD, it results in a tremendously entertaining live album.

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