The English Beat: Tears of a Clown
The sad clown is an irony that many artists have found irresistible. Smokey Robinson took it and created a pop music classic. But, for me, this version by The English Beat really does the job. The opening rat-tat-tat of the drums sets the stage musically, and that figure reappears throughout the song to push it forward. Tears of a Clown was the first ska cover I ever heard. The sheer surprise of it, plus the undeniable energy of the performance made this version a classic in its own right. Since then, I have noticed that many ska bands include an unlikely cover in their repertoire, and many of them are great. But, for, me this one has never been topped.