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Preview: The English Beat 

The ‘80s ska band saves it for later at the Carver Theater Dec. 19

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Photo by Bryan Kremkau

It's amazing how a few well-placed singles can cement a legacy. Take Birmingham, England's The Beat, which produced three albums of variegated reggae revivals in the early 1980s: I Just Can't Stop It, hopping ska rock as fired-up and fun as it's ever been done; Wha'ppen?, whose tempos relaxed just enough to make you forget which island it came from; and Special Beat Service, the New Wave pop record that wilted in Britain but crested on stateside playlists (a crossover presaged on the album cover, the multiracial band exiting a British Airways jetliner like arriving foreign delegates). "I Confess," "Jeannette" and "Sole Salvation" — three of the first four songs — make the new mission clear, but it's the back-to-back tracks to follow that got the time-capsule treatment: "Rotating Head" for its instrumental use in the suburban shaming of Principal Rooney at the end of Ferris Bueller's Day Off (try not to picture Matthew Broderick hopping fences); "Save It For Later" for its general ubiquity (it's a cover staple from Pearl Jam to Pete Townshend) and era-encapsulating awesomeness, Talking Heads glimpsed in a transatlantic reflection. Today, The Beat means something different depending on your time zone: In the U.K., it's the toasting reggae act fronted by Ranking Roger and son Ranking Junior; in the U.S., it's Dave Wakeling's touring band (confusingly referred to as The English Beat to avoid confusion with power-pop godfather Paul Collins' Beat), performing here in anticipation of his first new Beat recording in 33 years, Here We Go Love. Tickets $25.

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