General Public were a band formed by The Beat vocalists, Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger, and which included former members of Dexys Midnight Runners, The Specials and The Clash. They are best remembered for their North American Top 40 hits "Tenderness" (1984) and "I'll Take You There" (1994).
After the 1983 break-up of The Beat (known as The English Beat in North America), Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger decided to continue working together in a new venture. They joined up with keyboardist Mickey Billingham (Dexys Midnight Runners), guitarist Mick Jones (The Clash), bassist Horace Panter (The Specials) and drummer Stoker (Dexys Midnight Runners/The Bureau) to form a quasi-supergroup of the UK punk/ska/mod scene. The band was dubbed General Public and was signed to Virgin Records in the UK and I.R.S. Records in North America.
The band recorded and released the album All the Rage in 1984. Jones left General Public part way through the recording process, but he is listed in the album's inner sleeve credits as a group member (although he did not appear in any of the band photographs). Jones' replacement, guitarist Kevin White, also played on the album and was also listed an official group member. White's picture also appeared on the album's back cover.
In the UK, General Public had a minor hit with the eponymous track "General Public", which reached No. 60 in the UK Singles Chart in 1984. The single's B-side "Dishwasher" (an instrumental mix of "Burning Bright" from All The Rage) became a surprise Top 40 hit in the Netherlands, after its use as a theme tune to the pop radio show Avondspits.
Later in the year, the band fared even better in North America, where their second single "Tenderness" was a Top 40 hit in Canada (No. 11) and the US (No. 27). It is featured in the John Hughes films Weird Science (1985) and Sixteen Candles (1984), and in Amy Heckerling's Clueless (1995). Another song, "Taking the Day Off", was featured in Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986).
For the follow-up album, White and Stoker were replaced by brothers Gianni and Mario Minardi on guitar and drums, respectively. Hand to Mouth was significantly less successful than their debut album, and the band dissolved soon after its release.
Roger and Wakeling worked on various solo projects for the next few years, before reconstituting General Public in 1994 to perform a cover version of The Staple Singers hit "I'll Take You There" for the Threesome film soundtrack. The new General Public line-up retained only vocalists Wakeling and Roger from previous incarnations; the vocal duo was now backed by Michael Railton (keyboards), Randy Jacobs (guitars), Wayne Lothian (bass), Thomas White (drums), and Norman Jones (percussion).
"I'll Take You There" was a Top 40 hit in the US and Canada and a minor hit in the UK (No. 73). Jacobs and White then left the group, and new drummer Dan Chase was brought in. The sextet released the album Rub It Better for Epic Records in 1995, recorded in the USA with the aid of record producer Jerry Harrison. Guests on the album included Mick Jones, Saxa, Pato Banton, and Chris Spedding; ex-band members Horace Panter and Stoker also participated in the album's creation, co-writing one song apiece. (Stoker also received an "additional recording" credit.) Sales were less than earlier albums, however, and Roger became tired of travelling to America, and they soon broke up again.
Since 2004, Dave Wakeling has toured the US with a full backing band as The English Beat. They often perform General Public tracks.
|Year||Album details||Peak chart
All the Rage
Hand to Mouth
Rub It Better
|"—" denotes released that did not chart|
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Album|
|UK||AUS||CAN||NL||NZ||US||US Dance||US Main||US Mod|
|1984||"General Public"||60||—||—||—||41||—||—||—||—||All the Rage|
|1985||"Never You Done That"||—||—||—||—||—||105||13||—||—|
|"Hot You're Cool"||—||—||—||—||—||—||16||—||—|
|1986||"Faults and All"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Hand to Mouth|
|"Too Much or Nothing"||—||—||83||—||—||—||21||—||—|
|1994||"I'll Take You There"||73||—||14||—||8||22||1||—||6||Threesome (soundtrack)|
|1995||"Rainy Days"||—||—||—||—||—||93||—||—||40||Rub It Better|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
- List of number-one dance hits (United States)
- List of artists who reached number one on the US Dance chart
- at AllMusic