Suggs feat. Louchie Lou & Michie One – No More Alcohol

Release Date: Sept 96
Chart Position: 24

Gouldy
‘And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain’

It’s the last one, unbelievable, after two years of toil, hardship, listening to some utter dogshit and having to bully Jonny we’re finally there. I’m going to start with a shout to the homies who didn’t make it.

Jamie – Started the blog writing about the Republic of Ireland’s 1994 World Cup campaign and often missed deadlines as he was dressing up his dog as Spiderman. Once he was told it was a nineties reggae blog the output improved dramatically. The China Black autograph story is my favourite neggae based anecdote ever, like a Jamaican Peter Ustinov. – 7/10

The late Keith De Vivre (God rest his soul) – Inconsistent delivery, often dependent on availability of class As, booze and whores. At best creative genius, at worst lazy f*cker. – 5/10

Franks – Who? I hear you ask, in a signing reminiscent of Arsenal signing Clive Allen he didn’t manage one review and then became the Neggae equivalent of Richey Edwards as he dropped off the face of the earth (well the Neggae message group anyway) – 0/10

Norm – Initially suspected of being under contract from Lilt, Malibu and Egg with the amount of product placement contained in reviews, soon grew into it and liked the gauging the kid’s reactions to songs proving that Neggae spans generations. Still not been fully forgiven for his role in the Dawn Penn scandal. – 7/10

James BC – Came late to the party and has consistently delivered on before deadline with a writing style that puts the rest of us to shame. Some very dubious scoring though, particularly the Shaggy efforts with Grand Puba and Maxi Priest. 7/10

Now to my two fellow survivors of Neggae, it’s been a journey which has been fraught along the way but we’ve come through the trials and tribulations to complete a historical document of the boom time of commercial Reggae. For this we can be proud of ourselves.

Jonny – After a very shaky start he responded positively to coaching, advice and  constant bullying from his fellow Neggae elders he really turned it round. The unsung hero of the blog, the Neggae Makelele, as he worked very hard to create very little and made the rest of us look good. – 9/10

Vince – Creator of the blog, without him there’d be no documenting of Neggae. Started off  strongly but then like Capello’s England rein lost the dressing room with a disciplinarian approach which included censorship and rejecting reviews, Jonny and I used to call him Postman Pat behind his back. Took a leaf out the Manchester United board’s book during the Moyes rein and promoted his star player to a coaching role which improved results immediately. – 9/10

Gouldy – The only reason I read this blog – 10/10

Now onto the last ever Neggae hot 90 entry and fittingly it ends with my old nemesis Suggs. The first thing I had to was refresh the link four or five times as I thought Vince had supplied the wrong one, it’s the f*cking ‘Macarena’ isn’t it? So basically we start off with the Macarena then the famous sax riff from ‘Tequila’ kicks in (I always preferred the Terrorvision song) so in summing up this production is Jive Bunny lite, abysmal. Suggs gurns his way through the song and ropes in Louchie Lou and Michie One to tell him off again, which is a bit weird and shows masochistic tendencies. Lyrically Suggs jokes his way through a description of alcoholism, making light of what’s basically a disease. Let’s look at some facts.

  • Every year alcohol causes around 4% of cancer cases in the UK, about 12,500 cases;
  • Heavy drinking can reduce the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which can trigger type 2 diabetes;
  • Alcohol is linked to suicide, self-harm and psychosis;
  • There are over 8000 alcohol related deaths in the UK every year.

So nice one Suggs, laugh it up, can’t wait for your ‘Cancerbantz’ single.

The video is a confused mish-mash which starts off with cowgirls doing a line dancing version of the Macarena. The standard bloke on sax being lifted through the air on a wire shot, nice to see some originality in the Suggs-related canon of music videos. We continue to Suggs as a boxer, then the unthinkable hell of multiple Suggs. It finishes with Louchie Lou and Michie One dressed as Neggae versions of Nefertiti before the final act of everyone falling down, because they’re drunk, great stuff! I have to say it’s a shame a period of such epic highs and lows has to finish off with this shit but it does go a long way to explain the subsequent success of Embrace and other shit-pop bands, they seem like the Beatles in comparison to this. Suggs, you’re a wretch of a man.

Score: 1/10 – Farewell Neggae, it’s a shame your death was as dignified as Stephen Milligan’s.

Suggs+-+No+More+Alcohol+CD+1+&+2+-+DOUBLE+CD+SINGLE+SET-454207
James BC
Everyone agrees that the neggae era properly ended with Mysterious Girl, reviewed last week, but like that hilarious guy in assembly who had to keep clapping longer than everyone else, there was always gonna be one twerp who didn’t know when to stop. And it was always gonna be Suggs. If you look at the charts for 95-97 you’ll see that Suggsy somehow got embroiled in a single-releasing competition with George Michael – a big mistake as it turned out, since no matter how dirgetastic George’s tunes got, all EIGHT of them made the top three, while this, the sixth track to come off The Lone Ranger album, only got to number 24.
And that’s despite the efforts of Suggs‘s marketing team who, canny as ever, realised that the millions of people who had already bought The Lone Ranger would need an extra incentive to stump up again for this single, so they came up with this pretty substantially remixed version of the original song. On the album, Alcohol (not No More Alcohol) is as much a queasy, woozy, clammy cautionary tale as it is a knees-up. No More Alcohol, on the other hand, doesn’t let its knees drop for a second. It speeds things up, bins the original chorus and most of the instrumentation, loops the Tequila interpolation and mixes in the Macarena for added subtlety, plus another all-new Louchie Lou and Michie One rap.
Does it work? No, not really. If you want the Macarena, get the Macarena. If you want Tequila, get Tequila. If you want both of them, get Now That’s What I Call Butlins Chucking Out Time Volume 4. Suggs‘s contribution doesn’t add a lot when the original, menacingly double-edged lyric is completely lost in a fug of enforced fun. And even Louchie and Michie are in very poor form compared to their game-saving performance on Cecilia. I hate to say it, but their appearance seems almost like filler that is purely there to pad the track out to the requisite three minutes.
As for the video, most of it is classic Suggs mime-dancing and acting out lyrics, backed up by line dancing cowgirls who must have made an impression on Pete Waterman’s mind at least. Just over a year later the audition process was complete and “the mighty” Steps were unleashed on the public, with the glory of neggae a distant (though never fading) memory.
And that’s it. No More Alcohol, No More Neggae. That is to say, with the greatest respect to T-Spoon, Mr President, Kevin Lyttle, Sean the Paul, the Second Coming of Shaggy, Snoop Lion and all the rest who followed later, the neggae glory years were done. Let’s remember the highlights, not this somewhat shoddy afterthought.
Score: 4 out of 10

Jonny
So here we are at the final hurdle and how fitting that it is a massive low vs. last week as it typifies this whole experience. Mysterious Girl was masterpiece of summer fun that cheered everybody up when they were down and reminded us all of care free open air boozing. This unfortunately only reminds me of the lows of the era.
Is this even neg? Is Suggs even a person? Strictly speaking do cowgirls line dancing on a beach classify as neggae, reggae, or anything like that? I don’t think so. Having said that and given that this is the final review I am not in quite as bad a place as I would normally be with it, although I am not softening my opinion of Suggs. The only positive I can take is that it reminds me of the Macarena which does bring back some great memories, most fondly of cheap nightclubs and loose girls which were both very important parts of my life almost 20 years ago.
I’m not going into too much detail of the tune, it is what it is really, a classic irrelevant Suggs affair that did nothing other than cheapen the movement.
Score: 2/10 from me on this one.

So there we are, I made it, I must confess there were times when I thought I would buckle. But unlike Synan Jr, Rushie, Keith and Norm (couldn’t bring myself to include Franks) I didn’t bottle it. I hope that my irrational anxiety of ‘new message’ alerts will ease now.

Vince
In the history of pop music. genres often end with a whimper rather than a bang, a sold-out, wheezing, end-of-the-pier facsimile of their more vital selves only a few years earlier. The Beatles conquered the US in ’63 because all the original rock’n’roll rebels has been replaced by sugary momma’s boys. Elvis, Richard, Berry and Lee Lewis through a combination of the draft, finding God and incarceration (for underage sex – natch) effectively went missing – and the first wave of rock n roll limped to a close with the likes of Gene Pitney, Bobbys Vee and Vinton. Clean cut, good looking guys that would shift units but stay out of trouble.
The excellent recent BBC4 Northern Soul documentary Living for the Weekend thoroughly examined the death of this Great British movement. Northern Soul was built on a finite stock of rare, 60s soul hidden gems. When these started running out, the key DJs of the scene panicked in two different directions. The Wigan Casino ‘purists’ wanted anything from the 60s with a 4/4 beat, so head DJs such as Russ Winstanley started scrabbling around for anything that had the ‘Wigan Stomp’ – even turning to ropey instrumental TV themes. At rival nightspot the Blackpool Mecca, Ian Levine was trying to move the genre forward, exploring the burgeoning New York disco scene. His acolytes loved it but the purists hated it, to the point where they printed and wore “LEVINE MUST GO” T-shirts. Levine would go out of his way to troll them, and ended up playing blatantly homosexual disco-pop such as Sylvester’s You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real). Years later he would regret this decision, stating his playlist became so pop it wasn’t much different from that at any Youth Club Disco up and down the country.
Neggae too, ends in a similarly forlorn fashion. Suggs cashing in on the summer holiday hit Macarena – complete with line dancing cowgirls and (ashamedly) making Louchie Lou and Michie One spit a few bars in the only Neggaeish part of the song. Suggs has killed Neggae, pissed on it, dressed it up in a “Y VIva Espana” summer dress, put some lippy on it, had his way with it, and then put it away in his dungeon ready for the next time he’s bored. An ignominious end to one of the last truly great pop movements.

I’d like to thank everyone who has written, read, shared, commented or liked anything on the Neggae blog – its been hard work but much fun. Watch this space for the Wikipedia page, Guardian articles, OED definition and BBC4 documentary which will all be worked on next.
Score: zero.

NEGGAE SCORE: 1.75

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Peter Andre – Mysterious Girl

Release Date: Jul 96
Chart Position: 2

Jonny
This is Tunage Maximus, arguably the absolute pinnacle of the movement and another massive raise of the bar. Peter James Andrea enters the arena and with it leaves all females open mouthed in amazement, a few of us guys as well. I can still hear the girls from college with their cheap perms and Benetton bags talking about ‘what a right sort he is’, blokes playing it down but secretly looking in awe at his pristine physique as he splashes around in the waterfall. A few blokes must have turned on the back of this? Not only did he look immaculate, the tune was amazing and when we now look back at everything that made neg good, this has everything and more. Bubbler Ranx also does a nice job as Peter’s wingman, roasting and toasting like a seasoned pro with a number of nice bridges.
I cannot believe that this did not make it to no 1 in the UK that summer, and actually the only place it did make the top spot was New Zealand (I thought they hated Aussies the same as Scots hate the English in that annoying little brother type way?). However looking it in a bit more detail he was up against Mark Morrison and Gina G, which were both massive and enjoyable tracks. Maybe this signified the beginning of the end and it was time for House to stand up and be counted (last night we sat listening to KISSTORY and reminded me of how great late 90’s House was).
Although musically he would never go on to match anything like the type of success he had with this, to label him a one hit wonder would be unfair as he went on to be the darling of celebrity trash. After keeping his nut down for the best part of a decade living it up on the success of this and ‘Flava’ (which was also a decent track if I remember correctly), shooting dingo’s off the back of his uwt, Andre was ready for phase two of his career and what better way to do it than by getting involved in ‘I’m a Celebrity’. Most bushtucker trials look rough, but his challenge of eating out a sweaty Katie Price sans make up or any other basic hygiene feels like the worst one yet. However he didn’t have to go on and marry her, he brought that on himself. Some may say however that the bold move was commercially quite savvy as he made an absolute killing off the back of it and enabled him to be media fair game for the next 10 years or so. It also created the ultimate franchise of Katie and Peter which saw and in depth look at their lives covering all aspects of how they met, how the rutted and how they mutilated each other’s dignity.
Having said all of that though I’m here, as I have been seemingly since the beginning of time, to judge the track and the impact it has had. When I look at it in such simple terms this was an absolute belter! 10/10 from me.

Vince
This is the End, beautiful friend, the end.
Well its not, there’s some standard Suggs filler to come next, but that doesn’t really count. Mysterious Girl by Peter Andre is the climax, Neggae’s vinegar strokes. Sure, there were dribbles of Reggae later on in the decade (Sid Owen’s Good Thing a particular highlight) but nothing with the ridiculous frequency of the years 92-96. It seems fitting that we see out the genre with another chart-topper then.

220px-Mysteriousgirl

I say a chart topper, but it only got to number two in 1996 upon its first release. June 1996 saw a battle between lad anthem Three Lions riding on the back of England’s strong Euro 96 performance, and the Fugees Killing Me Softly, for me the better pop single. While they fought out a 2-2 draw of number ones throughout June, poor old Mysterious Girl watched on in third place, selling CDs by the wheelbarrow but unable to join in. Finally, after Peter Andre’s success in “I’m a celebrity get me out of here”, a campaign led by Chris Moyles on his radio one Breakfast Show (ugh) enabled the song to take the number one it (probably deserved). As a sidenote, Mysterious girl has now sold a million copies, making it one of only 149  songs to do so in British history and making it far and away the biggest selling single on the Neggae Hot 90.
The song itself is absolutely Neggae by numbers, all echoey drum fills and gentle Hammond stabs and fills. Interestingly on listening closer to it that I EVER DID before I notice some real horn refrains towards the end of the song which are actually quite pleasant. Peter Andre’s vocal delivery is standard faux-Jacko (he always wanted to be him) ; so this is the closest we’ll ever get to hearing Jackon Reggae. Or Jeggae. Actually there are tons of reggae remixes of Jackson’s work all over youtube of varying quality – and this frankly bizarre workout by the Jackson 5 to Marley’s I shot the Sherriff, where the Brothers manage to strip out all the Sufferah sentiment of the oridge and turn it into a Vegas showtune:

On the subject of authenticity, Team Andre pulled off a canny transfer in loaning Bubbla Ranx to deliver some much-needed chat. He does a great job; the lyrics are PG enough for the Mumsnet brigade but delivered inna pretty decent Dancehall stylee. I particularly like the fact that he has harmonized his flow with a counter-melody throughout; so clearly some time has been spent producing this.
At 22, Peter Andre was still a mere slip of a lad – the whole ‘Katie Pwice goes to Amewica!’ hell was thankfully a universe away. And you can sense that in his performance. His appearance too, is sprightly yet gauche. He’s more ripped than Jodie Marsh, but he’s wearing Superdrug hairgel in his curtains and his jeans look like they’re from BlackBushe market. All of which adds to the cottage industry charm of the single; it was released on independent Australian and British record labels. I love the fact the video was shot in Thailand rather than Jamaica, presumably due to financial constraints. Imagine if the Backstreet Boys did a reggae number; you’d have Wyclef featuring, hi-gloss MTV video shot in Montego Bay, Big black booties every 6 seconds. Actually that sounds really good…
I don’t much care for the song as for me it lacks the invention we’ve seen by more credible artists on this blog. I do however care for the time and effort I reckon was spent on it, and for the love the UK public had (and still have for it) for it. It still puts a smile on people’s faces and that can only be a good thing.
Score: There’s no way this is getting anywhere near the likes of CDAP and Shaggy et al so 8/10 for me.

James BC
This is big. Whatever you think of it, Mysterious Girl is one of the colossal tracks of the neggae era – one of the highest chart placings, and enduring enough for me to get groans of recognition rather than bemusement when I played it on acoustic guitar at a wedding last year. Whatever you think of it, you can’t deny its place in the neggae story.
But what do I think of it? Well, I don’t know what the other elders are going to say but I think it’s ace. There’s so much to like, from the old-fashioned drumroll at the beginning to the playful keyboards over the outro and everything in between. There’s nothing tough about the arrangement – when you’re backing up Peter Andre, you have to keep it souffle-light – but it’s hugely enjoyable and gives neggae the pure pop crossover that had been lacking. Over the course of the hot 90 we’ve seen neggae mixed with jazz, RnB, hip hop, mod and more, but there hasn’t yet been a convincing attempt at unashamed, uncomplicated pop (sorry Mr Alford). Mysterious Girl puts that emphatically right.
Peter’s vocals, while perhaps not objectively the strongest, are ideal for the song. He carries the tune well and the very chivalrous lyrics mean his attempt at an MJ-like high pitched innocence goes down a lot better than it did on, say, Flava. There’s quite an old-fashioned feel here: talk of tropical smells, sunsets and other traditional wooing and the only physical feature mentioned is her eyes. Also, as attracted as Peter is to his lady, the question of consent is high on the agenda – “move your body close to mine”, so that the choice is hers to make, and “I wanna do to you all the things you want me to” so no unwanted boundary pushing. That’s the way to do it, fellas.
What’s often underplayed is the contribution made by the enigmatic Bubbla Ranx, who I never heard anything else about before or since. It’s surprising, since his verse, and especially his little bits in the intro and before the chorus, are up there with the best rapping in neggae for my money. He nails the gruff-yet-playful tone found in the best of the genre and his lyrics are quite artfully written, continuing the 14th century courtly love vibe by appealing to all five senses in turn – so why did we never get the chance to enjoy any more of his talent?
My theory is that Bubbla Ranx was a pseudonym used by some respected dancehall performer who didn’t want it widely known that he’d been hanging around with Peter Andre. Notice that in the video he’s wearing shades the whole way through and has grown a beard, shame they made him take off the trenchcoat.
Speaking of the video, it’s an encapsulation of everything learnt in three years of neggae video making. Filmed on the lost island of Neglantis, it has all the ingredients you want – sun, sea, formation dancing, townsfolk delighted to be caught on camera, the possibly dodgy girl-in-the-waterfall bits balanced out by gratuitous ab shots all the way through and not just from Peter – Bubbla and the unnamed extra guy bring a strong stomach and nipple game as well. Peter standing in the sea in his jeans. Peter bogling in slow motion. Bubbla dancing with a baby. Beautiful sunset photography. Peter’s curtains. Bubbla’s sarong.
Despite all that, I get the idea that some people might say Mysterious Girl isn’t any good. Possibly because of the stomach thing, I don’t know. Personally I have no objection and if the material is there, singers can do as many situps as they like in their free time – it’s no concern of mine. For me, Mysterious Girl is a great end to the story, a moment of carefree fun to play over the end credits like Build Me Up Buttercup in There’s Something About Mary. Enjoy it.
Score: 9 out of 10

Gouldy

It’s the penultimate review but for me this should have been the last as it sounds the death knell for this golden period. There has been many a cash in throughout the Hot 90 but thanks to oiled up antipodean spunk junkie Peter Andre this is when Neggae truly jumped the shark. Mushroom Records were clearly not content with supplying all the music for ‘Home and Away’ and ‘Neighbours’ (Who can ever forget that classic episode when Ratcat were playing in ‘the city’?) they spotted an a gap in the market and decided to hit the world with some Koala flavoured Neggae, Bonzer!
The production is standard bubblegum Neggae by numbers pap, nothing offensive just very uninspiring. Vocally I’m not really digging Pete’s at RnB style vocals but to give him credit he made the canny move of roping in Bubbler Ranx to add some authenticity to proceedings. Bubbler’s bars are the best thing on this track by a mile; unfortunately for him his involvement in this project killed his career as he was shunned by the rest of the neggae community. He now lives the life of a Hermit in a cave just outside of Kingston with only a Parrot for company, like a Neggae Obi Wan Kenobi.  The lyrics to the song outline Andre’s obsession with said mysterious girl and are straying into Barry George territory, more ‘Wolf Creek’ than ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ in the romance stakes.
The first thing that becomes clear from the video is that the ‘Mysterious Girl’ is an ace peanut smuggler. The second thing that strikes you is that this ain’t Jamaica they’re filming in as everyone bar Peter, Bubbler and their mate is of South East Asian origin. The cheapskates couldn’t even be bothered to pretend it was filmed in the homeland of Neggae, it’s clearly a Thai fishing village. The video’s premise is Peter poncing about in some of the worst denim Joe Bloggs committed to production, more often than not sans shirt and shaking his oiled up pecs to the insipid beat. I’m not sure if he was taking his swimming test whilst out there as he’s wearing jeans in the sea an awful lot, I assume he rescued the rubber brick successfully and is joyously celebrating gaining a new badge for his Speedos. There’s a lot of hip thrusting going on below water which gives the impression he’s getting noshed by a barracuda for half of it.
This was basically the end of Neggae for me, with a heavy heart I packed up the ‘toking’ t-shirts and combat trousers and pulled on a pub shirt and trainers to follow the masses into the cult of Britpop. Upon further research I discovered the song was re-released when Pete gained a new found fame for chewing on rancid animal genitalia, but that’s enough about his marriage to Jordan as he also had to do some pretty disgusting things on ‘I’m a celebrity’.
Score: RIP Neggae – 3/10

NEGGAE SCORE: 7.5

Pato Banton & The Reggae Revolution – Groovin

Release Date: Jul 96
Chart Position: 14

James BC
With a few days of this summer left at best, it’s about time we got to Groovin’ – Neggae’s answer to Summertime by Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Pato‘s followed Will Smith’s instructions to the letter and given us a soft summer mix, and since it ain’t broke he won’t try to fix it.
All the PB vocal trademarks that we love him for are here to enjoy: putting his own name in where it doesn’t really rhyme, repeating the same word to fill space in the bar, random bits of nursery rhyming, overconfident instructions to “watch this!” followed by long silences. I especially enjoyed the rambling digression about how he doesn’t like the winter weather, nicely dramatised in the video too. Of all the performers who found themselves in the right place at the right time, the neggae explosion was particularly good to Pato.
As ever, Mr P. A. T. O. Banton’s great strength is the people he has around him. The lazy harmonica and retro record scratches are perfect for this tune and his singer has a great reggae/soul voice. His video director has done him proud too – as well as the fake snow freezin’-me-bits-off bit there is some laugh out loud comedy where a member of the Fun Police tries to stop Pato and friends enjoying the summer. I would have liked to see the casting advert for that role – WANTED: Man who looks even less cool than Pato Banton. But they found him and it’s much to all our benefit.
pato_banton___the_reggae_revolution-groovin
My only complaint is that, as the proud owner of 100% Reggae vol. 3, I’m aware of a very similar song by someone called Tyson, miraculously on Youtube here that I would say is even better. It’s exactly the same idea – are they both covers of some earlier song I haven’t heard? – but with a Soul II Soul beat, lusher production and arguably better rapping. There’s a bit that goes “Live your life a lover!” so it’s pretty much a can’t miss. None of that is Pato‘s fault, though, so I’m not knocking any points off – it would be like criticising Michelangelo for not being as good as Leonardo Da Vinci.
Score: 8 out of 10 – never change, Pato.

Jonny
Well it’s been quite the week of enlightenment:

  • Sky TV and Direct Line are ripping me off, badly, and if they do it for much longer I might make a half hearted attempt to do something about it. You have been warned!
  • Singing the theme tune to Escape to Victory in my head whilst playing does not make me better at football.
  • This version of Groovin was delivered by Pato Banton. I didn’t know who did it, I remember the song but for some reason thought it was someone else’s piece of averageness.

It’s OK, but that’s about it, it’s no car crash but it’s no ‘This Cowboy Song’ either. I’ve certainly got zero time for the Benny Hill’esque performances from the likes of the Park Keeper. I had thought Pato was above that kind of thing, but then I had a quick flick through some of his other stuff and remembered the whole ‘Bubbling Hot’ production. When I reflect on it Pato has delivered some of the finer moments of this list, but he has also contributed significantly to the devaluing of the whole movement.
Score: 5/10 from me.
P.S. I have a full on neggae chubby as we enter the penultimate week.

Gouldy
Only two more songs after this one to complete this epic journey throughout the period forever known as Neggae. The journey has gone on so long I’m starting to feel like Ulysses and if Homer were alive today I’m pretty sure he’d pen a poem about it.

Ulysses: looks a bit like my Dad

Ulysses: looks a bit like my Dad

This week we’ve the final offering from the Emerald Isle’s favourite Neggaeist, Pat O’Banton (I realise this is a terrible joke I’ve used in every review he’s been involved in but its taken on a heroic quality in my mind) with ‘Groovin’. He’s sampled the song of the same name by the Young Rascals which was a favourite on the chopper after we’d returned from a firefight with the Vietcong. Ok if you subsitute ‘Groovin’ for ‘Striaght out of Compton’, chopper for Storton’s car and Vietcong fro Badshot Lea that’s a more accurate picture but it was my own personal ‘Nam, I saw things man.
I think the vibe Pato was going for was a Neggae ‘Summertime’ but in my humble opinion he’s not scaled the dizzy heights of his ambition. The song starts with the sample and the now standard Neggae beat which should now be a default setting on Casio keyboards as its far more relevant than rumba or bossa nova. That’s pretty much as far as the production goes, the only good thing is the sample the rest is Neggae by numbers, lazy Pato.
Pato’s singing is ok, he’s got a mate chipping in who’s ok as well but if Chaka Demus and Pliers are the neggae equivalent of Champagne then these two are Blue Nun. Lyrically it’s Pato going on about the summer being better than the winter, a truly original observation and also quite subjective, it may well be in World Cup and Euro years but what about the other two?
The video is set in a park with Pato and his cronies setting up an illegal rave in a park bandstand and follows the attempts of the comedic park keeper to bring an end to this. Whoever did the casting for this really missed a trick as the prak keeper role is tailor made for Blakey or at a push Dynamo Doug Digby, instead they just got some no-mark in and the video  is none the better for it. We go on as the video’s narrative follows the hilarious mishaps these boys get into, summing up it’s a four minute Benny Hill sketch with no scantily clad ladies of the eighties, great. Overall this sums up Pato’s career, the ingredients sound good but there’s something missing and it ultimately fails. The song is also symptomatic of the decline of Neggae as, like the Beatles after they got back from India and got into all that wacky baccy and funny business, the good songs are few and far between.
Score 3/10 – Mehggae

Vince
The last effort from Pato Banton then, and it’s another typically positive yet slightly gauche offering that we’ve come to expect off this Cbeebies presenter of a pop star. Ploughing the same fields as Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s summertime – its another example of UK Neggae coming off a bit Lidl in comparison. Jazzy Jeff is (still) one of the greatest DJ’s the world has ever seen (I was in this crowd at this year’s Southport – he killed it.) In his hands, the relatively unknown Kool and the Gang Summer Madness instrumental coupled with killer beats and a clever new chorus became a worldwide smash.
With Groovin’ – Pato, the Reggae Revolution (I assume the chaps doing all the singing) and local producers the Beatmasters attempt the same magic with an old Young Rascals sample – but it just lacks that bit of magic. The beats are a bit more formulaic, there’s less invention on the chorus. The sample is a bit more obvious. Everything is a bit more average – which was ultimately reflected in the respectable but not earth-shattering chart placement.
Still there’s a couple of humourous lines in it, notably the passage regarding Pato’s dislike for the winter months. And the Reggae Revolution boys chip in their vocals with gusto. The video too is a lot of fun, Pato and the lands creating a pop-up carnival in the sleepy old Stratford-Upon-Avon Park. Here it is with some local types:

Lots of white people.

Lots of white people.

The Parky character seems all rather het up that Pato and his boys have taken up residence in an area traditionally used for trad jazz meets. But in true carnival style and after a few lugs on Pato’s baton he’s skanking with the rest of ’em. He even laughs when they drive their cadillac into the River Avon! By the end of the video they are all bezzies; to the point where he later joined them for a secret Wild Bunch shebeen at cooler than cool Bristol nightspot the Dugout.
shebeen

Such is the power of Neggae my friends.
Score: Middle of the river five out of ten from me.

NEGGAE SCORE: 5.25

Maxi Priest ft Shaggy – That Girl

Release Date: Jun 96
Chart Position: 15

Gouldy
This is the fourth from last entry in the Hot 90 and the Crown Prince of Neggae is back to pull this blog out of the stagnant torpor it’s fallen into, SHAGGY! He’s back with some help from Maxi Priest and a killer sample from ‘Green Onions’. Now I have a group of friends who call themselves ‘mod’ despite being born at least 15 years too late. They like to sit around, Fred Perry polo shirts slowly riding up their beer bellies until they resemble crop tops, discussing great philosophical questions of our time such as ‘Are Pot Noodles mod?’ Undoubtedly these people would try and tell you this song is ‘mod’ due to the ‘Green Onions’ sample but my friends this is pure Neggae.
We start off with the aforementioned sample on loop and the traditional Shaggy toasting, this is Neg intro perfection. The rest of the production is pretty stripped down by usual Neggae standards but in this case less is more and puts the focus firmly on the vocal partnership of Priest/Shaggy. I’ve been critical of Maxi Priest in the past but this track is basically his equivalent of Chris Armstrong’s 1995/96 season for Spurs, if you get him the right partner he’ll deliver the goods and with Shaggy he’s found his Neggae Sheringham. Unfortunately, like Armstrong it was a one off but the comparisons don’t end there as Armstrong now looks like Maxi Priest, albeit with a Coco Pop stuck on the end of his nose.
chrisarmstrong
Maxi’s silky timbre fits nicely with Shaggy’s gruff ragamuffin stylings and the break that starts with Maxi singing
‘Holy Moses, Lord it could have been me’
Almost induces a Betsy spine tingle.
Lyrically the song is describing a girl who’s even too hot for Shaggy top handle, YOIKS! The kind of girl you’d spend Saturday night with but probably wouldn’t take to Sunday roast with your family due to the fear of her misinterpreting what was meant by ‘roast’ and start twerking on your Dad and grinding on your Nan.
The video is like a mash up of Hype Williams and the opening credits to an Eighties Bond film put together by GCSE film students. I have to give credit to whoever had the idea of spray painting a load of Sugar Puffs gold and putting them on the speaker, the effect is stunning. We then have ‘multiple same girl effect’, which I believe is the technical term, forming a guard of honour for Shaggy to do the Lambeth walk down with a background of fire created with crepe paper. We then switch to a natural Neggae setting, the Supermarket, with one girl demonstrating a basic lack of understanding with regards to concept of shopping and just throwing it over her shoulder rather than placing it in the trolley she’s pushing. I had a similar technique when working in the warehouse of a certain middle class supermarket, where I’d stroll round cutting open any new lines with my trusty box knife, have a taste and if it wasn’t to my liking I’d throw it over my shoulder and continue onto the next one. Then they sacked me, fucking fascists.
This is an oasis in the desert that is the end of Neggae, 10/10 from me.

Jonny
Yep, I like this, anything with a Green Onion sample running through to gets my vote and chuck in a couple of neg heavyweights and it all works nicely. Both Maxi and Shaggy pull out all the stops for their last appearance and turn in as good a performance as anything we have reviewed on this list over the last 90 weeks / 630 days / 15,120 hours. The video is simple but effective, sketchy production and editing, bling, booty, everything we have come to love. I think of all the artists and chiefs we have critiqued over the last 15,120 hours of this blog, these two will be missed, although this has rolled into one nonsensical blur I can’t remember any howlers from either of them and are both arguably the most consistent. Three more weeks until I get my life back. Three more weeks until I can: Enjoy a Thursday, Friday or Saturday evening Open any type of messaging service without the first unread message being about my review being late Stop using a thesaurus to find alternatives to the word shit Not ever listen to Suggs or Ace of Base ever again My biggest fear however is that I might miss it and realise that my real life is so dull that subconsciously I actually enjoy it. Maybe I’m like Brooks in Shawshank Redemption who killed himself after being released from prison? Have I become institutionalised? Maybe after this I’ll just start on Rock, Grunge or something else to keep me miserable.
9/10 from me.

thatgirlJames BC
Hey, Maxi Priest’s back! Just as the neggae flame is starting to burn out Maxi returns for one last hit, and in the latest permutation of the great neggae fruit machine he’s brought Shaggy with him. But That Girl isn’t just about Maxers and Shaggers: its secret weapon is the swinging Green Onions sample sticking the two together.
So what’s not to like? We’ve got a classic Chaka Demus and Pliers-esque rough/smooth vocal contrast with an ever so slightly negged-up mod classic underneath it. Well unfortunately, that’s just about all we’ve got. There’s not much of a tune to the chorus, Maxi’s verses are completely unmemorable and while Shaggy does a bit better – he is still Shaggy – the performance isn’t his best. As for the sample, I love Green Onions as a twelve bar blues but they’ve just taken the first bar and looped it over and over and over again. It gets bit tiring.
Also I might be nit-picking here but the chorus lyric seems to undercut itself:
Line 1: “THAT GIRL, OOH.” Ah, we get what you’re on about here Maxi – you’ve met a girl so smokin’, yet so deadly, that you couldn’t help but put pen to paper, writing a whole song dedicated to her uniquely infuriating and beguiling personality.
Line 2: “THAT KIND OF GIRL.” But now you’re implying that there are lots of other girls like her that we, the listeners, have probably also met examples of. So not so unique after all.
What must have happened, I suppose, is that he came up with the killer beginning of THAT GIRL, OOH! quite late in the writing session. Probably he then expanded it to THAT GIRL, OOH! THAT [something] GIRL but didn’t have time to fill in the gap – Shaggy maybe was getting impatient, having been told that he was going to record with Horace Andy and arrived to find this weak imitation nodding his head to the same Booker T and the MGs snippet played slightly too slow. So instead of coming up with a proper line telling us what’s so special about her – THAT UPTOWN GIRL or THAT SUNDAY GIRL or THAT CANDY GIRL or THAT MYSTERIOUS GIRL all sound like hits to me – he did a bunk and left Shaggy to come up with some actual details in his verses.
So overall I’m going to say this is a bit lazy. The ingredients are promising but they should have made a lot more out of it.
Score: 5 out of 10.

Vince

When the BBC4 Friday night Neggae Britannia gets commissioned – the Neggae Elders all become will all become millionaires. Key movers and shakers from the scene will offer amazing insights and secrets from the genre, and celebrity fans will reminisce about this golden era of pop.
Shovel from M People, Kate Thornton and Stuart Maconie will also feature, offering these pearls of wisdom.

shovel2thorntonstuartmaconie

The last summer months of 1996 will be the last 10 minutes of the show. It will be a poignant, solemn section – Warriors by Aswad mournfully wailing in background as John Alford tries to explain how he effectively took a massive dump on Reggae music in general. It wasn’t a good time.
One tune stands out against the mire though. That Girl by Maxi Priest and Shaggy.
It’s Mod.
It’s Neggae.
It’s Moggae.
The 60s are being looted again– but this time it’s the monstrous swirling Hammond organ line from Booker T and the MGs Green Onions. Beefed up by Shaggy’s in-house production team with crisp drums and heavy bass – THIS IS A FACKIN BELTER.
I could easily listen to it for 7 hours a day. I have in fact.
Shaggy delivers his lascivious toasting in his sleep – the bloke was so at the top of his game by this point it was getting slightly embarrassing. Maxi Priest FINALLY delivers the pop magic we knew he was capable of with a sweet, sweet vocal. The word Reggaematic gets used ferchrissake.
It’s a masterpiece.
Score: 9.5 out of 10 – the last true Neggae banger. Emoshe.

NEGGAE SCORE: 8.375

Louchie Lou & Michie One – Good Sweet Lovin’


Release Date: June 96
Chart Position: 34

James BC
here’s a lot more of this RnB-type neggae around than I remember. Here’s another track that’s as silky-smooth as Ken Clarke’s tie and as vaguely jazzy as his musical taste, only qualifying as neggae due to the UK/Jamaica vocals.
Someone should do proper skanked up barbecue remixes of all these laid-back grooves since for me, the vocals are a bit wasted when taken out of their natural habitat. They’re like a proud lion made to live in Sevenoaks or Godalming – the mighty, righteous roar doesn’t have the same impact against a mundane, suburban backdrop, and you don’t get more mundane or suburban than this kind of gloopy RnB murk.
For what it is, Good Sweet Lovin’ is OK. I do like Louchie and Michie’s chemistry and they deserve to be known as more than just Suggs’s backing singers, I just wish they had gone in a more properly neggae direction musically. I notice Suggs is larking around in the video (I could have just said “Suggs is in the video” since the larking is a given) – I don’t know if he was their manager or something? If he was he should have hooked them up with his buddies Sly and Robbie but clearly he was too busy masterminding the Farm’s once promising career and (from a safe distance) laughing at Chris Eubank. All in all a missed opportunity and a bit of a waste of talent since they don’t seem to have had another hit.
Score: 5 out of 10

louchie

Jonny
I’d like to think that after 85 weeks of this I’d be better mentally equipped to deal with neg than this, but the reality is that I think I am actually getting less capable of ‘just doing my f*****g review’ as the other neg elders put it. In the beginning it simply causes grumpiness, this then moved to aggression but ultimately building to a full mental breakdown on that Suggs effort that I can’t even bring myself to recall. I know we are on the home straight, but I am still struggling to deal with the pressures, in the beginning my wife asking ‘have you done your review yet?’ was met with a big sigh followed by some words of encouragement from her. Tonight it caused my eyes to roll over white, drooling, my head to tilt backwards and neck to bulge, thicken and turn a deep purple, all the time saying ‘Ya Man, Ya Man’ over and over again – tonight the neg fit was born.
Now another thing I have a learnt is that neg is a bit like being punched in the face, the dread, the fear, the fits are actually a lot worse than the actual punch itself and it’s all over and done with pretty quick and never as bad as your expectation (apart from that Suggs effort where I started self harming) and this week review proved this quite nicely.
It’s actually alright and Louchie and Michie do a nice job of this uncomplicated, smooth and sexy tune that has an instant feel good factor to it, the fact that they both look tidy only sweetens the deal. This is a marked improvement to their previous efforts and if I’m not wrong a glint in their eyes shows that maybe there is more to their on screen relationship than they are letting on.
Score: 7/10 from me, four more weeks!

Gouldy
Last night it dawned on me I’ve spent 2 years of my life doing this blog, using my time to repeatedly listen to Suggs, Shabba Ranks and loads of other dross. If I’d used this time constructively I think I’d have discovered a cure for cancer and brokered world peace but instead have spent eons thinking up new ways to call Suggs a twat, what a legacy. This week, unbelievably, Louchie Lou and Michie One make another fucking appearance, this time sans Suggs. As soon as this song starts you know it ain’t straight up Neg as it kicks off with a generic RnB bassline and production, it’s not offensive but comes down on the side of mehhh rather than murrrr. I recognise the sample, it might be ‘All Night Long’ but after two years this life sapping blog has stripped me of any desire for voracious research. The song is your usual bullshit about love, rhyming soul with control, blahblahblah, although the line ‘When you put your arms around me, holding me close as if I’m a baby’ does hint at an appearance on ‘Jim’ll Fix it’.
The video is a bit weird as they seem to have a women’s changing room in a night club, strange, which is open plan, stranger, and a load of blokes leering in at nubile ladies in their skimpys, getting stranger. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if there was a Director’s cut of this video which revealed a load of glory holes in the changing room. The two main protagonists are strutting their stuff around the club, one of them really reminds me of Troy Titus-Adams of EastEnders fame, whose sex symbol status used to confuse me as she was called Troy and resembled an unconvincing Transvestite.

troy

The video is pretty standard throughout, although I’m not sure what the extras are dancing too as they’re badly out of time if it’s meant to be Good Sweet Lovin’. Then right at the end Suggs pops up, just to put the icing on the cake although a more accurate idiom would be ‘the slug on the dogshit’. Overall this is the neggae equivalent of a pint of Fosters, bland, watered down and inoffensive.
Score: I’m giving this 2/10 because I’ve just looked at the Hot 90 and seen they make another fucking appearance.

Vince
Whatever we think of the song, HAVE YOU SEEN LOUCHIE LOU AND MICHIE ONE IN THIS VIDEO?! To quote the Daily Mail, they are ‘all grown up.’ Gone are those awful Jeri-Curls, the heavy plaid shirts, and the girl-next door vibe they had about them in the Shout video. That video looked like every house party I ever attended around Surrey in the 90s; had they been there I’d have definitely made a play for one if not both of them. But the Good Sweet Lovin’ video? OUT OF MY LEAGUE.
It’s like when you see a girl from school that fancied you and was always lovely but a bit plain and she asked you out but you turned her down because you were chasing after the school babe but she broke your heart and then years later you bump into the plain looking one in a bar in London and she’s now super hot really successful and you hate yourself for the entire train journey home to Woking for yet another missed chance. We’ve all been there.
I’ve summed up their butterfly like transformation here:
lm The video is suitably swanky too – the girls swapping a terrace party in Walton-on-Thames for what looks like the Mash Bar off Oxford Street. The song is much of a muchness, Lazy All Night Long sample with some obvious G-Funk stylings. I’m pretty sure it’s a straight rip of George Michael’s Fastlove (bloody love that song) which topped the charts a few months before this release. Michie’s ragga badgyal toasting is the only Neggaesque feature of the song really. That and Suggs titting around in the background – must have been a free bar.
Score: 5/10

NEGGAE SCORE: 4.75

John Alford – Blue Moon

Release Date: May 96
Chart Position: 9

Jonny
Another important moment in neg history and another massive track to keep us on the straight and narrow as we head for home. John Alford offers up a tasty slice of sunny island fruit cake that compliments his debut nicely and stamps his authority on a genre that will soon become a happy hunting ground for him. The string intro offers a serious undertone to an otherwise lighthearted affair and Alford’s tones are able to melt the steeliest of hearts. Throughout the production he also thankfully demonstrates his diverse and impressive range of acting, Sci-Fi, 70’s Disco, mad man, safari man, its all there. It’s now clear to see where Dean Gaffney took inspiration.
……sorry, I can’t keep the sarcasm going. This is pig shit and is seriously making me consider taking up internet trolling.
2/10. Piss off Alford.

James BC
Remember the other John Alford song from a few weeks ago? This is just about the same as that. The one new addition is the weird Eurodancey intro, but after that Mike Stock and Matt Aitken’s reimagining of reggae kicks in and John deploys his just-above-average voice to the presumed delight of nans everywhere but not me. The badman MC is still in the background but his contribution has been significantly scaled back and the volume turned down – most likely some of the Horlicks drinkers who bought the last one found him a bit hardcore when fully audible.alford
Once again the best you can say about this is that it’s an important precursor to today’s foremost light entertainer, Olly Murs. There’s a long list of reasons why Olly is better, but the basic cheeky-TV-chappie-does-reggae-light idea started in large part with John and you have to give credit where it’s due. That said, Blue Moon isn’t any better than Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, so I’ll give it one point less for the lack of firefighting references and MC Badman’s marginalisation.
Score: 3 out of 10

Gouldy
So another John Alford song this week, better have a look at my last review and see if I mentioned the following;

  • Grange Hill – check;
  • London’s Burning – check;
  • Getting done for woof – check.

This is tough, this could be the shortest Neggae review in history. The intro is promising as it sounds like the Beloved have remixed Beats International, unfortunately this is the nadir of this track and after 10 seconds it descends into karaoke mediocrity. Yet another Stock and Aitken attempt at a reggae beat kicks in and we trundle along in this manner, this won’t be getting on the ‘Death in Paradise’ soundtrack anytime soon. There’s some lame attempts at authenticity were someone has pressed the ‘Random reggae cliché chant generator’ button on the keyboard so we got the odd ‘Oi, oi, oi, oi’ and ‘have mercy’, if you close your eyes you could be at Sunsplash. The vocals are ok, the sort that if you were at a karaoke night they’d grab your attention momentarily, before you were distracted by the alien object floating halfway down your pint in a plastic glass.
The video is interesting though, what initially looks like your standard ‘Neggae singer stuck in a TV’ storyline at first is revealed to be something far more sinister on closer inspection. The opening scene is John being banged up, which means he knew his fate before it happened and the reason for this makes Julian Assange look like schoolboy stuff.
In the scene directly after prison John is being seen chased by a reptilian, lizard like form which suggests he was already being pursued by the lizard overlords who run the world, as the video goes on the reasons become clear. We go to his first ‘character’, who is a seventies style singer dressed a bit like Elvis performing on a pop show, remind you of anyone? Someone whose gang you wouldn’t have really liked to have been in perhaps? The next ‘character’ is a white haired man dressed in a gold jacket, now if you remove the moustache it bears a striking similarity to someone who’d fix it for you, especially if you were under 16 or dead. Next we have a scruffy haired man in a cravat and safari suit standing in front of a map of the UK he’s just drawn, suggesting he’s come from foreign shores, now add facial hair, can you tell who it is yet? Basically Alford is trying to tell the whole world about the scandal which is now being investigated by ‘Operation Yewtree’ and predicting he’d be incarcerated by the reptilian powers that be for bringing to light these stunning revelations. This has to make you wonder the legitimacy of his coke bust and subsequent career ruining jail time.
This could have been the most politically charged Neggae song ever released with massive repercussions across the world of entertainment but was stopped in its tracks by shady forces at work.
1/10 – For any of the illuminati reading this I don’t believe a word of that, it was merely done to pad my review out, honest.

Vince
Blue Moon is a 20th century American standard. Written by Richard Rodgers of Rodgers & Hammerstein in 1934, it featured in countless MGM movies through the 40s and 50s and graced the Billboard charts on numerous occasions.
Elvis had a stab at it. So did Sinatra. My favourite version is this one by the Marcels:

Which closes the film American Werewolf in London. The wolf gets cornered and shot in a Picadilly Circus alleyway. Jenny Agutter looks distressed and sexy at the same time (standard), and everyone feels a bit of a wally when the wolf reverts to a human corpse. All rather sad. And then:
“ Bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom ba ba bom ba ba bom ba ba dang a dang dang.”
And you’re instantly reminded that actually, a lot of the film was daft and clever and it’s not that sad after all and to be honest it was probably for the best I mean it’s no way to live is it not knowing what you’re doing every night and massacring commuters on the London Underground and waking up in the Lion’s Den at London Zoo and having to steal balloons off kids to cover your knackers you can’t even go to the pictures because a zombified apparition of your best friend will talk all through the film and..
You get the picture. Clever use of a great song in a great film.

Which is the complete opposite of this shite.

Alford (and his shadowy puppetmasters Stock and Aitken – who will have pocketed most of the children’s pocket money that got spent on this turd) has somehow managed to ruin one of the greatest songs of the modern era.
I went to see Paul Weller play at the Forum in 2005. Good gig all in all. It was his drummer Steve White’s birthday – and as an excuse to have a break and a ciggie the band all swapped instruments. Weller went on drums, and Steve White was made to sing Blue Moon. How we all laughed. Here’s the clip:

EVEN THAT, EVEN A FLAT STEVE WHITE AND WELLER DICKING ABOUT AT A GIG I PAID £55 TO ATTEND IS BETTER THAN THIS POOP.
Where does one start?
The backing music is like a Karaoke tape; it’s like they’ve gone out of their way to specifically recreate the sound of a Sunfly Karaoke CDR you’d hear in Yates’ on a Monday night. It’s quite some feat.
Muted bass, tinny drums; I’m pretty sure NO live instruments will have been used on this. It reminds me of the bontempi keyboards we had in Music class at school. If you selected “REGGAE BOOGIE” from the preset menu, you’d get Blue Moon by John Alford. Swear down.
The song is easily the shortest on the blog; 2m55s but 40 seconds of that is intro and outro padding. So that’s something I guess.
As for the video – he’s referencing Suggs persona but with 10% of the budget and frankly charisma. The cheap set and costume amounts to titting about in the dressing up box on wet break. Also how does he get from out of the telly and into the girls bed? Unexplained. At least in Baby Come Back Pato Banton flew in and out of the TV in a pixelated timewarp beam of light. THAT made sense.
Score: What do you think? Nought out of ten.

NEGGAE SCORE: 1.5

Suggs feat. Louchie Lou and Michie One – Cecilia

Release Date: Apr 96
Chart Position: 4

Vince
Egad, the 60s Neggae love-in continues apace. Until documenting all of this I really was not aware of how much 60s music and art was utterly plundered by the chief protagonists of the Neggae movement. The Beatles, Mamas & the Papas, Isley Brothers, the Equals and now Simon and Garfunkel. All seemingly coupled with videos that featured monochrome, Ready Steady Go! stylings or time travel. Or both.
This  is in keeping with the rest of the mid to late 90s pop music in the UK. Oasis were half-inching pages of chord sequences and melody lines from the Beatles, while Kula Shaker were dining out on Grateful Dead and Early Pink Floyd style psychedelia. Even the Spice Girls Stop! Or Boyzone’s Vision of You were clearly referencing Motown production, but in a horribly cheap way. This particularly sad avenue of British Pop was later christened Fauxtown by Neggae acolyte Simon ‘Rushie’ Rush. Spot on too.
But what of Suggs’ effort then? Well in my opinion, it’s not bad at all.
In fact, listen closely and it’s got a chunky little groove. In fact – this is MOOMBAHTON! Or at least Reggaeton. Either way it is a thoroughly modern riddim for which Suggs should be praised. I also like the Cypress Hill style squeak on the 4th beat. Whatever your feelings of Suggs’ efforts on this chart he always clearly spent a few quid in both the recording and TV studios.
The Louchie Lou and Miche One refrain is decent – no denying it. Excellent harmonies and a clever spin on the previously male-only protagonist narrative.
This is Suggs solo career highlight – his moment in the balmy spring sun of 1996. I guess without Cecilia, Madness would not have got the career rebirth that produced the excellent Wonderful featuring marvelous lead single LoveStruck. So that’s good. And of course there is the Chris Eubank moment on TOTP:

This deserves a point for that alone.
Score: Suggs’ best to date. 7/10.

James  BC
This is Suggs‘s biggest solo hit and although I don’t like it as much as some of his self-written material, I can see why it captured the nation’s imagination. It’s a deft choice of cover, playing up toSuggs‘s strength as an end-of-the-pier shaman: an embodiment of or conduit for undemanding family fun. Not to mention that it sneaks in a surprisingly hard dancehall beat – probably the tuffest we’ve had since Boombastic – along with the novelty sound effects and attempted Hey Jude-style singalong.Suggs_Cecilia

Louchie Lou and Michie One’s interlude is the highlight for me, giving the song a bit of extra bounce and much-needed variety since there’s only one proper verse. The interplay between them is the thing – the young Rizzle Kicks must have been paying attention because it seems to be the template for all their solo material and especially their bit on the Olly Murs behemoth Heart Skips A Beat.

I don’t have too much else to say so I’ll leave you with ten facts about Suggs:

1. The sleevenotes to The Lone Ranger album reveal that its cover is “based on an idea by Marcel Duchamp” – an homage to the cubist classic Nude Descending A Staircase.

2. Suggs recently curated a three-disc CD compilation called ‘The Suggs Selection’. The most recent track featured, wholly incongruously among the Motown and mod classics, is ‘Teardrop’ by Massive Attack from 1998.

3. Suggs used to manage talented baggy also-rans The Farm in the wilderness years of the early 90s.

4. Suggs‘s favourite day of the year is pancake day. He does a great trick where he puts a jumbo sized pancake on his face and eats it with no hands.

5. Suggs happened to be in the next studio when George Michael was recording the Older album. If you listen closely to Fastlove, you can faintly hear his voice joining in on the “ooh ooh baby baby” bits.

6. One of The Lone Ranger’s album tracks, 4am, was reworked for Madness’s Wonderful album a few years later. In defiance of all expectation and sanity, the Suggs solo version is actually better.

7. Suggs wrote lyrics for Madness but another band member would almost always write the music. The only single where he’s credited as sole writer is the band’s (first) swansong “Waiting For The Ghost Train”. None of the band were speaking to each other so he had to come up with a tune himself.

8. Suggs came up with his name by opening a book about jazz musicians at random. He didn’t like the name that came up so he went with Suggs instead.

9. Suggs‘s great uncle on his mother’s side was a prince of Liechtenstein. The royal palace there has a plaza named in his honour, the Jardin des Suggs.

10. In his autobiography Suggs admits to being a prolific graffiti artist, finally solving the mystery of who was writing SUGGS all over London in the 70s.

(I could only think of seven actual facts so three are made up.)
Score: 6 out of 10

Gouldy
Like a bad smell Suggs has yet again turned up, I hope this is his last entry but I’m too scared to look at the remaining entries in case it’s not. This time he’s taken on another sixties classic, Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Cecilia’.
I remember this coming out and being absolutely disgusted by it however, listening to it now it’s not half as bad as I remember, writing that has made me feel like I’ve just had a one on one art class with Rolf Harris, I need a shower.
We start with a classic drum roll intro and naturally some sound effects as this is Suggs after all. The production is upbeat throughout and there’s all sorts going on, accordion, flute, Hammond, this is basically the neggae equivalent of Dario G’s ‘Carnaval De Paris’, which featured an instrument from every country taking part in the 1998 World Cup (Steel Drums for the Reggae Boyz natch). Suggs’s vocal delivery is his usual style, the bloke’s more arch than Marble. He’s then helped out by Louchie Lou & Michie One and they do actually add something to it, providing a counterpoint to Suggs whinging about being treated badly by Cecilia by rightly pointing out he was treating the place like a hotel and taking her for granted. The line ‘And you know I wouldn’t stray’ is delivered in pure Ace of Bass style. Overall the jaunty production counteracts the lazy delivery of Suggs and they rub along nicely together.
The subject matter is Suggs being played by a woman and who can blame her frankly, you can just imagine what it would be like;

C- ‘Suggs we really need to discuss how we’re going to pay this month’s mortgage, since you lost the Channel 5 gig the money’s dried up’
S – *raises finger, mugs to camera, raises eyebrows* ‘There’s reggae in the jeggae, there’s music everywhere’
C – ‘!’

He somehow gets her back in the end, I can only imagine his new compilation album, ‘The Suggs Selection’ has done ok.
The video is a mostly monochrome affair and shows that Suggs has been punching to say the least, she all dat. An added bonus is you could save money on recreational drug use by just getting her to walk about in that dress and inducing acid flashbacks (the neggae blog does not condone the use of drugs in anyway, here’s an anti-drug message to hammer home the point, groovy). The best thing about this video is Cecilia’s utter disdain for Suggs throughout the majority of the video, mirroring the thoughts of a nation. ‘Interestingly’ this isn’t the only Neggae link with Cecilia as Ace of Bass released the self-penned sequel, I didn’t get to find out what happened to her because I couldn’t sit through that shit, although ti does throw a lot of weight behind the ‘Ace of Bass aren’t neggae Vince you dick’ campaign.
Score: As dirty as it makes me feel I didn’t mind this and in unprecedented scenes I’m going to give Suggs 7/10, although the fact I’m slightly in love with the girl with the video may have swayed me.

Jonny
This effort from Suggs is a bit like Brazil’s goal against Germany the other night, the damage has already been done and this is very little consolation for an otherwise stupid solo career. Suggs is a bit like a joke that you don’t get but for some reason a few other people do, despite them explaining it to you it still doesn’t make sense, and then you start hate them aswell. Thank the Neg Gods that this is the last appearance from him on the hot list; I don’t think I can go another round with him after this one.
So the track itself is by far away his best offering through these very eggy few years for Suggs. Its probably the only song of his I would dream of singing along to if I heard it on the radio, and probably the only one of songs that is in my collection somewhere today. Its actually alright, catchy, simple and cuts right to chase in what its all about. It’s about as light hearted as Suggs could be before he gets weird like he has done in some of his earlier work we have reviewed.
Not sure about the video, looks to me like they found some new functionality in the studio and had to test it out quickly to get their moneys worth from it. It might have looked impressive then, but now its totally idiotic, makes no sense and is irrelevant.
Score: 6/10 for me on this one, an extra point for it being the last time I have to talk about Suggs ever and an extra point because we are now only 6 weeks away from the end of this nightmare.

NEGGAE SCORE: 6.5