Keeping the beat at the State Theatre

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Entertainment,Theater,Robert Fulton

When considering the English Beat, or reconsidering the English Beat for those longtime fans, the 2012 greatest hits compilation "Keep the Beat: The Very Best of the English Beat" is a good starting point.

Shortly into the disc of hits, not too long after the opening notes of "Mirror in the Bathroom," the band's staying power becomes evident.

"I've got some of my own little theories on it," said English Beat frontman Dave Wakeling, speaking by phone from his home in Pacific Palisades, a coast-hugging, upscale neighborhood in Los Angeles. "We spent a lot of time trying to write about things that really matter to us."

The English Beat performs Sunday at the State Theatre in Falls Church.

Onstage
The English Beat
» Where: The State Theatre, 220 N. Washington St., Falls Church
» When: Doors 6 p.m., show 8 p.m. Sunday
» Info: $25; 703-237-0300; thestatetheatre.com

The English Beat formed in Birmingham, England, in the late 1970s as part of the 2 Tone ska second wave era. The band released three albums: "I Just Can't Stop It" (1980), "Wha'ppen?" (1981) and "Special Beat Service" (1982). The English Beat's biggest hit was "Mirror in the Bathroom," but it also found success with "Hands Off ... She's Mine," "Too Nice to Talk To" and "Save It for Later," and covers of "Can't Get Used to Losing You" and "Tears of a Clown." The band members went their separate ways in 1983 before reforming two decades later. Now the group tours frequently and boasts more compilation albums to its name than those three original full-length efforts.

There are actually two bands now: the U.S.-based English Beat, fronted by Wakeling, and the U.K.-based the Beat, led by fellow founding member Ranking Roger.

Wakeling said that when the band was coming up, there weren't musical divisions, which contributed to the Beat's success.

"You were allowed to like different styles of music," he said. "You didn't have to like the Rolling Stones or the Beatles. You could like the Cure and the English Beat. I thought that was pretty good."

The English Beat plans to work on some new stuff later this year, quite the development considering it's been more than 30 years since its last new album. The band did release a comprehensive box set titled "The Complete Beat" last year.

"I think we'll probably start recording this summer, and we'll see what happens," Wakeling said.

Wakeling has always been outspoken, as evident by the English Beat song "Stand Down Margaret," a criticism of recently deceased British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Wakeling hasn't backed down, taking his voice online.

"I was thinking about that last night," he said. "I'm kind of like a Facebook hero."

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