Ranking Roger

Best-known as the singer/toaster and co-frontman of the English Beat and General Public, Ranking Roger was born Roger Charlery in Birmingham, England, on February 21, 1961, and became a punk rock fan as a teenager. He joined ska revival pioneers the English Beat in 1978, where he teamed with singer Dave Wakeling to give the group a unique one-two punch out front. After three albums (including the brilliant I Just Can't Stop It), Wakeling and Roger departed in 1983 to form the more pop- and soul-tinged General Public, which also included members of the Specials and Dexy's Midnight Runners. General Public recorded two albums (1984's All the Rage and 1986's Hand to Mouth) before going their separate ways. Roger soon returned to his reggae roots, working with Pato Banton (who had made his debut on the English Beat's last album) and releasing his reggae-oriented solo debut, Radical Departure, on IRS. In the early '90s, Roger assembled Special Beat, which gathered personnel from the English Beat and the Specials, and found success touring the U.K. and Japan and performing tunes from both groups' repertoires. In 1994, Roger and Wakeling reunited General Public and scored a hit with a cover of the Staple Singers' "I'll Take You There" from the film Threesome; after the album Rub It Better appeared in 1995, though, the group called it quits again. Roger subsequently toured with Big Audio Dynamite and recorded with Sting, Death in Vegas, and Pato Banton again. He also appeared on the debut solo album by Radical Departure drummer Fuzz Townshend, who'd gone on to work with Pop Will Eat Itself and Bentley Rhythm Ace. In 2001, Roger released another solo album on Paras, titled Inside My Head; some of the record was traditional reggae and ska, but other tracks showed that Roger had been keeping abreast of electronica, specifically the reggae connection of jungle and the influence of dub.
Steve Huey, Rovi

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