Though Birmingham’s The Beat had come around after Madness, The Specials and The Selecter had already made their entrance into the second wave of the Eighties‘ ska revival, they were arguably writing some of the best songs.
Released in 1989, their first hit didn’t have quite the happy-go-lucky demeanour that eventually came to be identified with ska. Rather, Mirror In The Bathroom was haunting and paranoid, with lyrics about cocaine addiction.
With vocals from Dave Wakeling, who has turned 65, the verses provide an almost hallucinatory foil to the dark grooves, as he sings “Mirror in the bathroom, I just can’t stop it/every Saturday find me window shopping/find no interest in the racks and shelves/just a thousand reflections of my own sweet shelf.” Though thousands of bands would come to steal the opening drum taps to this song, it’s the original that never gets tiresome, even if I got sick of hearing Mark Dobson try and sing it loudly every day at Springfield School. It‘s a reminisce every bit as tortuous as it sounded.