Personnel: Dave Wakeling (vocals, guitar); Ranking Roger (vocals, percussion); Andy Cox (guitar, mandolin); David Steele (banjo); Wesley Magoogan (clarinet, saxophone, lyricon); Dave Blockhead (saxophone, piano, keyboards); Dave Lord, Steve Sidwell (trumpet); Bob Sargeant (marimba); Everett Morton (drums); M. Mishra (tabla); Mark Fox (percussion).
Audio Remasterer: Phil Kinrade.
Photographer: Bruce Fleming.
SPECIAL BEAT SERVICE was the English Beat's third and final album. Unlike the high-spirited ska-pop of the band's debut, or its reggae- and dub-flavored second album, SPECIAL BEAT SERVICE is a catch-all effort, featuring a wide variety of styles that range from the samba-flavored pop of "I Confess" to the raw toasting of "Spar Wid Me."
SPECIAL BEAT SERVICE features many of the English Beat's finest performances. The album's centerpiece is the infectious "Save It for Later," a simple three-chord pop song that floats on a bed of chiming rhythm guitars, churning cellos, and a buoyant sax solo from the band's 60 year-old sax player, Saxa. Other highlights include the pulsating ska-pop of "Sole Salvation" (which recalls the sound that band members David Steele and Andy Cox would explore in their next band, the Fine Young Cannibals) and "End of the Party," a gorgeous ballad that gives the group a chance to show off its ability to craft delicate, emotionally charged pop. While not the English Beat's finest moment (that honor belongs to the band's brilliant debut, JUST CAN'T STOP IT), SPECIAL BEAT SERVICE is an excellent album by one of the most influential bands to emerge from England's 1980 ska revival.
CMJ (1/5/04, p.12) - Ranked #3 in CMJ's "Top 20 Most-Played Albums of 1983".
Mojo (Publisher) (p.101) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "SBS gave vent to its creators' polymath skills across an array of brilliant pop schemes."