Rediscovering the Groove: A Look at General Public’s Albums
Formed in 1983, General Public was somewhat of a Birmingham supergroup. The band was a melting pot of talent, featuring Day Wakling and Ranking Roger from The Beat. They teamed up with Mickey Billingham from Dexys Midnight Runners, bassist Horace Panther from The Specials, and Stoker on drums, also hailing from Dexys. While their roots were deeply embedded in two-tone music and reggae, General Public brought a fresh sound to the table.
A New Sound Direction:
Their music was a departure from their origins. It was more polished, leaning towards a pop orientation with a heavy dose of funk. Their single “Tenderness” from the album “All the Rage” gained traction in America, especially with its feature in the film Weird Science. An interesting tidbit – Mick Jones from The Clash contributed to several tracks on this album, adding to its rich texture.
While “All the Rage” from 1984 is a commendable album, it’s their subsequent release, “Hand to Mouth” from 1986, that truly resonates with me. I recently shared this on the Now Spinning Magazine Facebook group and was pleasantly surprised by how many members were familiar with and appreciated the band. A standout track, “In Conversation”, boasts a groovy bass line and stellar instrumentation. This album, in particular, is a departure from their reggae roots, offering a more refined sound.
A Personal Reflection:
Admittedly, back in the mid-80s when these albums first graced the airwaves, they weren’t on my radar. My musical inclinations were directed elsewhere. However, as my palate expanded to soul, funk, R&B, and more, I found myself revisiting the past, uncovering gems I had previously overlooked. While “All the Rage” has its hits, “Hand to Mouth” remains my personal favorite.
The sticker on the album labels them as an “English New Wave band”, but I’d argue it’s more soul and funk with a sprinkle of New Wave in its lyrical observations. The lyrics are sharp, observational, and reflective of the minds behind the band. Musically, it’s polished, professional, and an absolute treat to the ears.
For those looking to rediscover or even discover the sounds of the mid-80s, General Public’s albums, now out on BMG, are a must-listen. They offer a blend of soul, funk, and lyrical depth that stands the test of time. Dive in and let the music take you on a journey.
Phil Aston | Now Spinning Magazine