General Public

All the Rage

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First out of the gate with a new band after the English Beat's acrimonious fracture in June 1983, General Public was the first post-punk supergroup, gathering the Beat's Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger, the Specials' Horace Panter, and other veterans of the U.K. ska revival. (Mick Jones, freshly booted from the Clash, was originally announced as General Public's lead guitarist; although he left the group very early on to start up Big Audio Dynamite and doesn't appear in the album photos, his guitar does appear on nearly all of the album's ten tracks.) Frankly, All the Rage could quite easily have been the fourth English Beat album, as it's a clear continuation from 1982's Special Beat Service. The ska sounds are largely absent, replaced by a mixture of catchy Brit-pop -- someone in the group is clearly a fan of both the Beatles and Elvis Costello & the Attractions -- and occasional reggae influences. The closing track, "General Public," is a sneering putdown of British politics and the attendant old boys network, the most political song the boys had written since the days of "Stand Down Margaret" and one of their most effective reggae tunes ever, with echoes of the threatening throb of '70s classics like Culture's Two Sevens Clash. However, more of the album is along the line of the hit singles "Tenderness" (the biggest U.S. chart hit of any English Beat-related band until Fine Young Cannibals' "She Drives Me Crazy" five years later and one of Wakeling's best lost-love songs) and "Never You Done That": creamy commercial pop marrying Wakeling and Roger's well-blended vocals to a slick (but not too slick) blend of jangly guitars and the then-emergent MIDI keyboards. All the Rage is certainly an album of its time -- those weedy synth-drums on the otherwise kinda funky "As a Matter of Fact" are a dead giveaway that this was recorded in 1984 -- but it sounds less dated than many of its contemporaries due to Wakeling's keen songwriting skills.

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