Phoning from his home in Los Angeles, English Beat bandleader Dave Wakeling — who plays Bimbo’s in The City on Saturday — yawningly apologized for sounding a tad tired.
“But last night, I had to do two songs for a ‘Scooby-Doo’ cartoon, and I’m absolutely exhausted,” he explained.
“This was my first opportunity to do anything for television as a gun for hire, and I actually managed to record and mix two songs in 12 hours. It was like running at double speed with no brakes, but it was exciting, and Warner Bros. really loved them.”
The tunes, featured in a ghoulish battle-of-the-bands episode, tap into the two-tone, ska-punk vein that’s been the Brit’s specialty since forming the Beat (re-christened the English Beat in the U.S.) in 1978 in Birmingham. In the show, the contest pits a zombie ska band versus recurring combo the Hex Girls.
“So the zombies have a song called ‘You’re Dead Right, Mate,’ and the Hex Girls have one called ‘We’re the Good Bad Girls,’ which has a definite Ramones-Runaways vibe to it,” says Wakeling. “But frankly, I’m really happy I did it, because I’ve always loved ‘Scooby-Doo.’”
It’s one of the few fun diversions Wake-ling has allowed himself. Some 20-plus new anthems he has composed are pointedly political. He will record them once his English Beat catalog, starting with 1980’s definitive “I Just Can’t Stop It,” is reissued this spring.
“You know when old people start saying, ‘I’m old enough to say what I bloody well want?’ I’m getting to that stage,” says the soul-steeped stylist, 55.
“I have a song called ‘The Love You Give Lasts Forever,’ and another called ‘If Killing Worked, it Would’ve Worked By Now.’ What do we think we’ll accomplish by killing each other’s children? It’s disgraceful.”
The Beat was whelped during England’s dark Thatcher years, igniting caustic early classics such as “Big Shot,” “Get a Job” and “Stand Down Margaret” — all of which are in regular rotation on Occupy Wall Street loudspeakers, Wakeling recently learned.
He is puzzled that Thatcher is being humanized by Meryl Streep in “Iron Lady.”
“Because it doesn’t look like her and Reagan’s ‘trickle-down revolution’ did much other than trickle down our legs,” he says.
The catalog of General Public — Wakeling’s post-Beat combo with Ranking Roger — is also being re-released, and a reunion is possible.
“But mainly, I still write songs about what makes me angry, and they might make a difference or they might not,” he says. “Or maybe it just might make me feel better on my deathbed. Like, ‘Well … I tried.’”
IF YOU GO
The English Beat
Where: Bimbo’s 365 Club, 1025 Columbus Ave., San Francisco
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $22 to $25
Contact: (415) 474-0365, www.bimbos365club.com,