The Beat’s Ranking Roger is just one of the Legends Of Ska coming to Dubai this weekend
Down the phone from England, Ranking Roger sounds very happy indeed. And why wouldn’t he? After all, he’s coming back to Dubai to recapture the warm reception he received last year. But this time he’s got something extra up his sleeve: he’ll have friends in tow, one of whom happens to be Neville Staple of ‘Ghost Town’ creators The Specials. ‘The Beat and The Specials did do a tour of Ireland around 1983 and that was one of the best tours I ever did,’ explains Roger. It wasn’t until 1990 that they managed to wangle another combined tour, but it proved so commercially and creatively successful that they soon did it again.
Now, almost 10 years on, they’re back once more with the Legends Of Ska show, and this time they have someone new with them: Pauline Black of The Selecter. ‘Pauline’s a total professional,’ Roger enthuses. ‘She’s been titled the Queen of Ska, and she’s still up there – there’s nobody better than her at it! So we’ve got a strong team here and Dubai will be the first time we’ve tried it out. Who knows what might happen? Some new ska hits might come out of it. You never know.’
Ironically, Roger says, The Beat were always more into punk-reggae, soul and disco than pure ska. So surely it must feel strange for him to be referred to as a ‘legend of ska’? ‘Yeah, definitely,’ he laughs. ‘But that’s because I thought legends were dead people! I do hear it occasionally from people my age, but mainly from the young ones. They come up and you can see it in their eyes, and you think: Wow – our music wasn’t made when they were born, but they know the lyrics and they get where we’re coming from.’
Although Roger’s music is still connecting to modern youth, he himself doesn’t feel much connection with their music. ‘There isn’t enough awareness in pop tunes and songs nowadays,’ he sighs. ‘Kids these days have so much around them, like PlayStations and the internet – so many distractions that we didn’t have back then. We had to go outside and kick a ball, and that made us realise what was happening on the street. Nowadays you can’t do that because it’s too violent, you know? So they’re playing with computers and it pacifies all the anger they should feel about us destroying the world that they’re supposed to be living in.
‘And musicians are in a serious position to give out messages – Bob Dylan moved a whole generation of students and young people to think a certain way and Bob Marley did the same thing for Caribbean people all around the world. I need to see what the young blood will turn up now, because this generation is due a legend.’ Maybe – but until then, it seems, they’ll be more than happy with the three lined up here.
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If you love Ska & Jamaican Music, check out the trailer for, The Legends of Ska, featuring The Skatalites, Prince Buster, Derrick Morgan and much more. Be a part of bringing this film to the world.
Go to http://kck.st/dKqhL5