Shaggy – Oh Carolina


Release Date: Feb 93
Chart Position: 1

Jamie
So, we come to what may be called the first “big hitting” single of the Neggae movement.
Oh Carolina hit the #1 spot in March 1993. Knocking aside Dutch Duo 2 Unlimited and blowing open the UK Neggae flood gates for a multitude of artists to follow in its footsteps. From here on out there really was no, no, no, no, no, no limit for Neggae. Having been primed by a re-hash of UB40 from 808 state and a Bob Marley B side, the UK public had a taste for something familiar, yet with a slightly modern feel. Oh Carolina was the perfect ingredient for mainstream commercial success.

Jump and Prance

Boing

The track was recorded by Orville “Shaggy” Burrell during his time in the US Marine Corp and upon his return to Brooklyn NY it would see him wine’ and grine’ his way to Global superstardom. That first step to stardom however would be taken in the UK and not in “the land of the free”. Shaggy’s debut single was poorly received by music buyers in his adopted homeland, peaking at #59 on the US bill board chart.
Why you may ask? A sample so obvious that it smacks you in the face with a plate of Ackee and Salt fish, that’s why. If your parents ever loved Ska or Reggae or were a part of mod culture in London in the 1960’s, they would have found this remake highly infectious and somewhat hummable. The sample choice and single release date was so well timed that it was a shoe-in to thrive in a UK music market already glowing with a Red, Gold and Green hew.
First recorded by the Folkes brothers and Produced by Prince Buster in 1960, Oh Carolina is considered by some to be the birth of Ska. Released on Blue Beat Records, the single was massively popular in 60’s mod culture. Played to death in record shops on Portobello Road and often aired at the Twisted Wheel nightclub in Manchester. Just to drive in an extra nail of commercial viability, team Shaggy opted to sample the bass line and perhaps the saxophone from Henry Mancini’s Peter Gunn theme. A TV theme tune, again from the 1960’s which has been re recorded by a plethora of artists. Emmerson, Lake and Palmer and The Blues Brothers being two of the more prominent. All bases covered.
So the Shaggy version?
It doesn’t differ greatly to the original does it? No. But then it doesn’t have to. Unlike its Neggae predecessors, this cover stays true to form. Great samples. Chunkier beats with depth and digital repetition, the odd scratch to be “down with the youts” and a boxing match round bell chucked in for the sake of it. That is the measure of a good Neggae track. It’s almost Reggae, but not quite the same. Yet we still like it so we nod along and tap fingers and toes.
Yes, when Shaggy comes slurring on the radio these days it does grate me. His general presence at any media event is annoying. Yet at the time, this was fresh. Bringing golden old rope to a new broader demographic of kids, mums and granddads alike. The fact that the single went gold in the UK also meant that the Folkes brothers got a long overdue payday. All’s well that ends well.
This was just the beginning for Orville Burrell however. Do we owe Shaggy for the Neggae explosion? Or does he owe UK mod culture for the leg up he needed to a long and successful career in the music business? Who cares? For me, Oh Carolina officially kicked off something a whole lot more interesting here in the UK.
Score: A Prowling, Jumping and Prancing 7 from me.

Gouldy:
BOOMSHANKA, BARE RIDDIM. ‘EAR ME NOW and various other things white middle class people shouldn’t say, but my excitement at reaching this landmark has made me forget social convention.  Let’s not underplay the importance of this tune; it put Neggae on the map. It’s the first hit for the man who bestrode Neggae like a growling Colossus, the Negfather. The intro immediately catches your attention (and for some reason reminds me of this) , then the doorbell rings which signifies the introduction of the beat and bassline and as soon as that kicks in it’s like mainlining Johnny Swan’s finest, and you find yourself suffering from full blown Neggae Addiction. A nice respectful use of the sample and even the cartoon character samples and faux scratching can’t detract from the love and craft that’s gone into producing this track.
Shaggy’s decent, he gets the criticism leveled at him that he can’t sing properly, I don’t really agree and the same criticism didn’t stop Dylan or Hendrix. The joyful, happy go lucky nature of the song mean this is one for all the family, Grandma, Dark Uncle Fred and your little brother (keep him away from Uncle Fred though, daggering a 5 year old isn’t appropriate BBQ behaviour). In summing up a Neggae classic that put the genre on the map, it has me reaching for a can of Tropical Lilt every time I hear it.
Score: 8

Vince
I know exactly where I was when I first heard this record. It was watching Top of the Pops with Dad and (probably) Jamie. Although he sang along to it, Dad dismissed it due to the fact that “all he’s doing is rappin’ over an old song. It’s rubbish!
There was nothing new in this reaction, he felt this way about Salt & Peppa’s Twist and Shout, the Fat Boys’ Wipeout and Candy Flip’s Strawberry Fields. Whenever he took this view, it always made me like the song even more. Not so much as a form of rebellion, but more in a protective sense. Like most children I loved new music (so in the 80s this was hip-hop, in the early 90s dance), so anyone criticizing it galvanized my love for it even more. Now I’m 33 I increasingly cannot stand new pop music, but there you go.
Throughout our Top of the Pops watching career, my Dad and I effectively entered into a well-humoured but predictable standoff. Whatever I liked he would pooh-pooh, whatever he liked (usually ballads, novelty songs) I would similarly scoff at. The one time I got caught out however was with Oasis. When they made their TOTP debut with Shakermaker Dad instantly remarked, “I like him. He’s a bit like John Lennon. Yeah, like these boys.” I dismissed them as ‘grebos’ (catch-all 90s term, completely misused) that wouldn’t last. I then obviously had to do an embarrassing 180 when they continued releasing belters, which my Dad never let me forget about.
But I digress…
This is the first song on the Neggae Hot 90 that I bought. On cassette. From Woolworths. For 99p. I played it a lot for a few months but then got massively into Jamiroquai and looked upon it and pretty much everything else with disdain. Shaggy then went on to make a lot of awful music which I lumped Oh Carolina in with.
Luckily this blog has made me realize what a cracking pop record it is. The crackly vinylu intro, the boxer’s bell, the ‘boing’ (which would dominate Big Beat later), the Peter Gunn sax sample that turns it from wholesome ska to lascivious dancehall, Shaggy’s playful toasting; all clever, clever stuff. It’s a good video too, telegraphing the juxtaposition of the old and the new that irked my Dad but thrilled me.
Score: 9 (and much refound love)

Jonny
After being originally released by Ska in the 60’s this pimped up version in 93 remains one of the greatest commercial reggae tracks of all time and I could go on and on about it all day…..but where would I start? The little piano intro? The chimes in the background as the base line punches in? Shaggy’s unique baritone-range belting out the intro? it’s all just so good!
This was it, this was the first big neggae tune I remember almost 20 years ago and I still enjoy it as much now as I did then. Although I do miss booming it out in Norm’s 1989 Ford Fiesta as we cruised round South West Byfleet hanging a right on Elmstead Road and into Upper Pyrford letting all the honeys know we were in town and we meant business. Success rate was high, but chuck this into the mix and it took it to a whole new level.
This was Shaggy’s big entrance to the pop world and didn’t we know it. He had raised the bar of what we should expect from the genre. He sounded great and he was here to stay as this was just the first of four UK number ones. The delivery was something we had simply not heard before and it was going to change things forever as the song went on to grace the top 10 in no fewer than 12 separate countries.
The lyrics are sublime, the bits you can make out are genius “Anna move just like a squirrel” and “Gal yuh fi jump an prance” my particular favourites. However the bits you can’t quite follow – pure neggae. The video is pretty average, although non offensive it is easily forgotten. The blending of some authentic music hall footage cutting to a modern day Shaggy trying to pull some bootylicious girl as she strolls down the street is mildly amusing but the production lets it down.
To summarise, I think this was and still is a huge track that would be one of only a few defining moments in this almost cult movement. Would it get played at my BBQ? Damn right it would, on loop, and if people don’t like it I would ask them to leave.
Score: 9, only as I know there is more Shaggy out there

Norm:
Ok chaps, I’ll keep this short and sweet. I’m not sure I can be objective on this one, so here it goes.
This bad boy was purchased at Woolworths in West Byfleet within days of release and I am proud to say that I contributed to Shaggy reaching #1 in ’93!
3 minutes and 12 seconds pure neggae.
I’m out.
Score: 10

NEGGAE SCORE: 8.6

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Apache Indian – Arranged Marriage

Release Date: Jan 93
Chart Position: 16

Gouldy
For me this is the ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ of Neggae, it’s the moment when the genre first realised it’s full potential and fuelled the Lilt powered juggernaut of Neggae as it hurtled towards the legendary Summer of Dread. Although Apache Indian made a decent stab at it previously with ‘Fe Real’ comparing the two is like comparing the Beatles and Kula Shaker. This is the first record on this list that doesn’t sound like it’s been produced on a BBC micro by Hugh Grant’s brother in ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’.

Starts off with some traditional Indian drumming as Apache explains his dilemma then seamlessly introduces a bouncing bassline, backing vocals are nice about half way through, a few cheesy effects like unnecessary scratching, but it was 1993 so I can forgive it. Apache’s lyrics are entertaining enough as he bemoans the predicament he’s been put in by his parents when all he want is GALS. Personally I think he’s underplayed the seriousness of the issue with his playful approach to the subject matter, however as Pat O’Banton once told me ‘Neggae’s all about the craic, not politics, to be sure’.  All in all a solid effort and frankly a relief after the Negliggae of the previous weeks.
Score: 8/10 – Best served with a pint of Red Stripe and Onion Bhaji on the side.

Vince
Ingredients:
2 tbsp light Social commentary
Bunch of tumbi riffs
2 tsp reggae keys
500g heavy bassline
Drizzle of flute
Handful Chopped tabla beats
1 x sweet female indian vocal
Sprinkling of chants

Just like our kid’s lamb curry recipe (the one with HP brown sauce), there is too much going on here. I can’t fault Apache Indian’s ambition, but he’s at his best when he keeps it simple (as we will see later on with Boom Shak-a-lak).
The tumbi riff is great, and clearly influenced Punjabi MC’s Mundian to Bach Ke a few years later. Elsewhere though the lightweight production lets the song down (real flute should have been used rather than a synthesizer).
His lyrics are typically witty; “after the roti, bring me the sensi” made me chuckle. However, I really do not like his ChaCha style accent (“TDO MAKE ME ROTDI!”), it’s borderline Goodness Gracious Me (and I don’t mean the sketch show.)
Score: an overegged 5/10

Norm
I could go either way on this one. I don’t see a remarkable difference from song to song with AP. Solid effort and good rhythm throughout. The live studio version is much better. AP is a different cat and pretty diverse. He’s an Indian from Birmingham that loves reggae. Mix it all up and what do you get? Bangramuffin: “A musical hybrid of Indian bangra music and dancehall reggae” per Jian Ghomeshi, host of the Q in Toronto.
I’ve always associated “cheese” with AP and I think this fits the bill. As long as you don’t concentrate and listen too hard to the lyrics, it works. So, if we use the bbq music standard that has been created, I can comfortably slot this into a nice mid range neggae effort, not great but certainly not slow and sexy bad.
Not much to write home about the video, standard Indian fare here, dancers in typical dress, AP doing his Bangramuffin stylie well. Some awkward moments in the video when it seems like AP doesn’t quite know what to do with his hands. Apart from that, no major complaints from an artist that has a slightly different take on life and isn’t worried about putting it out there.
Score: a steady 7/10

Jamie:
Respect where it’s due. Apache Indian was a pioneer of his time and a master of his craft.
I cannot think of many artists pre 1993 who decided to take reggae, push it in the direction of Bangra and use Punjabi influence to such good effect. This is a very well produced piece of musical artistry.
The tabla, sitar and Indian flutes are incredibly well balanced. The heavy break is sensational, It gives the whole track depth and the bassline and melody give a distinct reggae flavor. On top of this, you have Apache Indian fusing Punjabi and Patwa to commentate on a huge part of Punjabi culture, the arranged marriage.
This is a breakthrough track from someone who wasn’t afraid to push boundaries. Discussing the standard rules of the arranged marriage as well as his own take on how he see’s it and what he expects from his wife to be:  “I don’t mind what you do as long as you respect me, and after you’ve cooked my roti bring me my sensi!” Not sure what the elders would have made of this. Not sure if Apache Indian would have cared either way.
A great track which I’m sure will influence British Asian artists for years to come.
Score: Serva Curee, bring him Sensi, Respect Apache, 7 from me!

Jonny
Yes! We are getting there and it’s starting to feel like Neggae! When you bare in mind this was still relatively fresh in the commercial Reggae movement it was bold move to start incorporating the punjabi influence, however it works well and I am sure all who followed in his footsteps remain grateful as it carved the way for future artists.
As we all know the inclusion of the sitar was not completely new as their influence in mainstream pop goes back to the 60’s when the Yardbirds recorded Heart Full Of Soul, however its welcome return compliments the bassline nicely. The lyrics are sweet and delivered by AP as we know only he can! You can make out most of what he is saying, but that does not dilute the ‘Neggaeness’ of it in the slightest. Further to that the backing vocalists breaking up the tune delicately is just as pleasing.
All in all a good track that would definitely get a play at my BBQ! But it is what this started that I think we need to recognise the most – if it were not  for this track I don’t think we would be writing this blog. I sense we are now on the brink of something big and people are just starting to stand up and take notice of what it was about.
Score: a solid 7.5/10 – is that Carolina I hear calling?

NEGGAE SCORE:  6.9

808 State vs UB40 – One in Ten


Release Date: Dec 92
Chart Position: 17

Gouldy
I think I must be getting old, this whole set up confuses me. I’m going to start with the video, who are these men on Scooters? Are they mods? Why are there mods in a nineties rave video? The Scooters must be pretty slow as these boys have turned up 30 years late. The next scene I can deal with, it’s in a squat, there are people in bomber jackets gurning and watching UB40 videos. Hold up, it’s the facking rozzers, time to scarper to Lytham St Annes on our scooters, where I know a factory canteen from the 50s where we can get a cup of tea, they also show videos of UB40 concerts. Right off to Blackpool, don’t preach in the road mate, you’ll get run over. Right lads we’re at the North Pier, time to look hard. What a mess.

Now the song, I like the original and I’m not sure 808 state have added anything to it. It’s all a bit clichéd and formulaic. The beat is meh, complete Dreamscape fodder, nothing special going on there at all. All the production effects are very obv ious combined with a speeded up bassline from Freak Power , uninspiring. The only good bits in this song are the UB40 bits. The whole thing’s an unnecessary confusing mish mash.
Score: 3/10 because I like the original.

Vince
This is very much the outer perimeter of Neggae; a dark, brooding space where Reggae mingles with edgier genres to create strange and wonderful hybrids. Dark Neggae. Dance Neggae. Deggae. As a rule though, Negggae doesn’t like it here too long, comes back, has a wash and serves up CJ Lewis and Big Mountain.
UB40 are crown princes of Neggae (they grace our chart no less than 7 times); and massively benefitted from the mid-90s rensaissance of UK Chart-based reggae. This song however harks back to UB40 Mk1; darlings of the NME, original badboys, creators of one of the greatest British LPs of all time (Signing Off). It’s a classic piece of social commentary, every bit as vital and emotive as the Specials’ more famous Ghost Town. So for 808 State to take on One in Ten was as brave as it was timely (unemployment figures in 1992 were around the 10% mark as they had been in 1981).
Do they succeed? I think they do. This is a labour of love. The opening phased drum break that switches from half to double time, the percussive bongo stabs, the breakdown to allow the mournful sax solo room to breathe; all intelligent moments. I love the fact that the bassline sounds like a cross between Kraftwerk’s The Model and Aswad’s LoveFire. This is how a remix of an old classic should be done; using contemporary tools to modernise the sound without losing any original spirit of the song.
The video is formulaic but pretty enough to look at; it’s well shot. There’s plenty of (to quote another bard from Birmingham) “deep seated urban decay” as is standard on Nineties dance music videos. The narrative makes no sense, but that doesn’t matter. The song is the story here, and it’s just swell.
Score: 8/10

Norm
Well, it’s not slow and sexy, so this automatically wins.I like it’s non-traditional mix of UB40 and urban beats – underground Neggae if you will.
The video appears to be about a good boys night out in the northern riviera, more commonly known as Blackpool. What more could you ask for than a video that includes mopeds especially with sidecars, police, a questionable venue for evening entertainment and a couple of old leopard print wearing slappers. This hits home with me on so many levels that I’m sold. Apart from the mopeds, it could be a night out in Woking only swapping the greasy spoon for the kebab house?
As far as the music, it’s pretty non-offensive, very repetitive but the distinct tones of UB40 break it up nicely. It’s easy to listen to, good late night tune in a crowded bar, turned up loud. No dramas with this one. Very little reggae however I think it works and works well.
Score: 7/10 deep breaths and a sigh of relief after last weeks effort from Mr Ranks and Mr Gill.

Jamie:
On paper, the suggestion of collaboration between UB40 and 808 state is interesting. The UK’s most successful commercial reggae band ever meets the Manchester pioneers of 89 Acid house. Could it work? Really ?
No.
Sadly this was always doomed to fail. Had the best elements of each party been brought to the table then perhaps I may be able to look at this song in a different light. For this to happen however the meeting of minds would have had to have taken place 3 or 4 years prior to 1992. Unfortunately after numerous changes in staff and unavoidable life changing events neither band could be considered to be at their peak.
After the Departure of Graham Simpson ( A guy called Gerald ) in 1989, 808 never really replicated the solo success and industry acclaim of first album Newbuild and Hacienda classic single Pacific State.
The induction of Andrew Baker and Darren Partington as DJs and later moss side rapper MC Tunes as lead vocalist would see the group pursue an entirely new path. Enabling them some chart success with “The Only Rhyme that bites” and the Stone Roses sampling “Tunes Splits the Atom”. The Acid House influence however fell by the wayside. The same can be said for UB40. With the untimely death of Producer Ray “Pablo” Falconer and subsequent imprisonment of his Brother Earl, the band’s unmistakable signature sound and production artistry was somewhat lost. They were no longer as innovative, unique or perhaps as hungry as the band that recorded seminal albums Signing off and Bagariddim.
So here we are in 1992, neither having had any successful original material for a good 3 years. Perhaps the idea of a “vs” track was appealing to both parties. Unfortunately the production work seems lazy. The beats are fuzzy and it has more of an early jungle feel to it than that of an acid house track. There’s no intro, no build up, no next level ,no progression. Just a cluttered break some fuzzy hoover bass with a UB40 track crudely thrown in over the top for good measure.
I can’t imagine UB40 having much to do with the production of this track. I imagine it was more a case of signing, shaking hands and exchanging bank details. If anything, this smacks of 808 perhaps trying to get on board the Neggae bandwagon and once again reinvent themselves.The video is a standard 90’s rave scene. Funfair, squat party, portly coppers, hoodies, rave. Then all of a sudden some motor cross madness. Culminating in two youts’ riding a past a preacher in a modern day side cart motorcycle. Sadly, that was as interesting a development as this whole project had to offer.
Score: UB Naughty. 4 from me.

Jonny:
Jesus Christ this is bad!
Reggae and Trance (or what ever it is) do not mix! Which dick thought that they would? For me Reggae or more specifically Neggae is about nice chilled out tunes complimented by amusing lyrics with comical delivery. This does not deliver against these expectations. This is not Neggae, its a dirty mutation taking the worst of everything and creating a two and half minute waste of time. It is repetitive and boring and just feels grubby. I can’t imagine putting this on at a BBQ – maybe if I wanted everyone to leave? If you can’t play it at a BBQ it’s not Neggae; sorry but it’s as simple as that.
I get the intent and can even appreciate its bravery but it is not good. Although these things need to be tried they don’t have to force it upon other people and this I slightly resent. UB40 sound strong and again show why they were such a dominant force of the era, however it does not do enough to rescue the whole thing from being an unfortunate blemish in their history.
Why is the video about mods in Blackpool rolling around like bad extras from a Danny Dyer film? None of it makes sense and seems pointless to me.
Score: 2/10. Bring on the good stuff and quick please!

NEGGAE SCORE: 4.8

Shabba Ranks feat. Johnny Gill – Slow And Sexy

Release Date: Nov 1992
Chart Position: 17

Gouldy
I’m not sure where to start on this. The production is awful, it sounds like a really poor imitation of Soul II Soul, the intro features unforgivable speaking vocals of ‘woooh’ and ‘take it off’ making it sound like a slightly raunchier Pat and Mick.  Then the beat lollops in, kicks would be pushing it too far, an uninspiring, lazy, tinny sound that the work experience boy at Jam and Lewis must have taken a good minute to come up with.

It’s got a bassline of sorts but I can’t even be arsed to waste any words on it. Johnny Gill’s vocal is formulaic and the only interesting thing about it is when he delves into the world of patois, which shows the hours of study to perfect this were worth it, if his study aid was a video of Jim Davidson’s infamous ‘Chalky’ character. Shabba Ranks is a bit of a ballbag, I’ve never liked him since he achieved the near impossible feat of making Mark Lamarr look righteous on ‘The Word’ and I’ve seen better toasters in Dixons. He does however enter into the spirit of the song and has evoked the spirit of the great romantic poets of yesteryear with his cries of ’12 inches and more, push it up, shove it’, seeing a man in bright red pyjamas with a Cartoonz haircut bellowing this out is ‘Slow and Sexy’ personified.
Score: 1/10 because they’ve dressed all the women in the video as strippers.

Vince
Well that’s four minutes of my life I won’t get back. Bloody awful.
Neggae and New Jack Swing were the K2 and Everest of human artistic endeavour of the late 20th century. Surely their offspring would provide the listener with a near religious experience, perhaps even change mankind for the greater good?
Not so.
What we get is four minutes of Johnny Gill and Shabba effectively waving their erections (musically and, in the video physically) in the listeners’ faces. All delivered over a flaccid, substandard Jam and Lewis knock-off. By this stage in the game Teddy Riley, Hank Shocklee and even Soul II Soul had toughened the beats of modern soul music and the expectations of its fans. So mid-range sludge like this didn’t cut it then and doesn’t now.
I’ve never really liked Shabba’s foghorn style delivery; much better dancehall toasters achieved less success in the UK (see Cutty Ranks, Ninjaman etc). Unfortunately we’ve got more of him to come on this blog. Johnny Gill’s best days were in New Edition – great voice but his QA is patchy at best.
The sexytime video? Be done before, been done better (see Prince, Madonna, George Michael videos from around the same time).
Score: 1/10
PS – to see how New Jack Neggae should sound, check this out.

Norm:
Well well, not going to waste a lot of effort on this one chaps. The song and video makes me feel a little dirty. It’s not quite the good times, summer anthem that you can chill to. For me it’s very repetitive and never gets going. I found myself tuning out after about 30 seconds. Typical Shabba rap (which I like in doses) but he does not blend well with Gill.
As far as the video, Shabba on the phone was quite amusing, the seedy club / lounge scene sums it up, two knobheads, dressed like a poor man’s pimps trying to move and groove. I’m running out of things to say. Didn’t enjoy it, had forgotten all about it, wish I hadn’t got it stuck in my head. This needs to be put in a safe, chained to a cement lock and left to fester at the bottom of the Thames.
Score 1/10 – being generous, feeling like I betrayed Marley with 5/10 for Iron Lion Zion.

Jonny:
Utterly atrocious! A waste of time and effort just listening to it. Everything about the song is bad; the lyrics are bad, Shabba is bad, Johnny Gill even worse, was there even a baseline to it? This got to no 17? Higher than Fe Real and was in the charts at roughly the same time? Are you Fe Real?!?
Somehow they have managed the impossible though by making a video that is almost as bad as the song. I struggle to even understand what is going on; dancing on monuments, in empty party mansions, empty theatres, on the phone, off the phone, nuns. It goes on and on. It is the longest 3.52mins I have ever been subjected to. The attractive ladies in saucy get up decked out like strippers show minor recovery, however the production is so poor even they get boring after a while.
This is what happens when Neggae goes bad folks! Beware.
Score: 0.5/10 (the 0.5 is purely on the off chance that there is something worse out there)

Jamie:
Slow and Sexy eh?
I think you’d be hard pushed to find many people of sound mind who would find Shabba Ranks wild gyrating either slow or sexy. Lets face it, he looks like the drunk crazy great uncle that everyone is ashamed of at a wedding. This is an abomination of a song and the video does nothing but condemn it to the realms of Neggae failure. The less footage of Shabba Ranks swinging his hips the better as far as Im concerned. He looks like a slightly more deviant, yet even less funny Martin Lawrence. Opposite Gill’s clean cut woolen waistcoat wearing 90’s Will Smith.
Even Johnny Gill must now see this collaboration as a slight error of judgement and he didn’t mind jumping on a bandwagon or 6. Then again maybe he doesn’t, who knows what goes through his head or that of his agent (if he still has one).
I really cant draw any plus points from this song. The production is bog standard 90’s fodder. The beats remind me of “Too Funky” by George Michael. Its a standard Shabba Bassline and Gill comes in out of R&B swooning and mimicking Shabba Ranks.
Why is Shabba Ranks so overly excitable? Shouting out lyrics like a mad cat lady as opposed to his usual laid back indifferent lyrical approach. I can only assume that the content of this number was a subject close to Shabba’s heart. Not surprising then that in the same year he would upset large sections of The UK public by using passages of the Bible to condemn homosexuality live on Channel 4’s The Word. More Rank than Shabba.
Score: Not Slow and Sexy. Nor is it Big or Clever. 2 from me (1 each for turning up).

NEGGAE SCORE: 1.1

Apache Indian Feat. Maxi Priest – Fe Real


Release Date: Nov 92
Chart Position: 33

Vince
This is so close to being a carnival anthem, just a shame (like Iron Lion Zion) that from the get-go the song is ruined one by poor production choice. The bontempi keyboard facsimile of a horn section completely cattles the groove. When it’s not there on the verses the groove is tight; the sliding breakbeat will always curry favour with me, as do the fleshy Hammond chords.

Both Maxi Priest and Apache Indian are great vocally, and surely only the John Terrys of the world wouldn’t enjoy the sense of multicultural unity the song creates. Maxi’s cod-punjabi crooning towards the end (“Curiar look so nice in o them sari”) is I think a great British pop moment. The song is like Ebony and Ivory’s cooler, less showbizzy younger brother. Can’t help but think about that horrible clip when Darcus Howe was started on by Asian yout’ on a channel4 documentary. The complete opposite of what this song is appealing for. Very sad.
I honestly think this is crying out for a Nextmen remix (I hear similarities in this recorded 15 years later). Fe Real could easily be this good!
Score: 7/10

Gouldy
I see this as the first original neggae tune, although Iron, Lion, Zion charted first it was an old song remixed, this was a true mould breaker. I love some of the production on this, the bassline and beat sound like they’ve been nicked off Teddy Riley and having the tabla in the background is nice touch. Apache Indian is fairly pony as MCs go but he gives it a go and doesn’t offend whilst Maxi Priest’s vocals are as sweet as ever.
Not one for the purists, but that’s the whole point, this is just a feel good summer pop song which has been influenced by other genres which were popular at the time. I can’t find the video and the mists of time have clouded my memory of it but if I were making one now it would include a multi cultural street party, children dancing and some kind of water fight, like a Benetton advert with added Vimto. One to stick on at your Gran’s barbeque.
Score: 7/10

Norm
Now, we’re on to something here. This song is FE REAL. I like it, for me this is where it begins and is the epitome of chilled out summer music. For me it is essential to have a fast paced rap intro that you can’t really understand until the last couple of words then transitioning into chilled vocals. This qualifies.
Apache Indian has a unique voice and for some reason I like the cheesy rap with Maxi’s vocals. The song has a good blend and it doesn’t take too much effort to listen to it.
Thumbs up for me.
Score: 7.5/10

Jonny
I simply don’t get how this only got to number 33 in the charts, especially given how early it was during the neggae movement. It was new, it was fresh, it was the future (for the next four years anyway) and has everything that makes neggae great. Simply a brilliant summer tune that is dead easy to listen to – both must have’s when it comes to basic Neggae requirements.
I am trying to find weaknesses, but keep on thinking of more positives….the horn style intro, the chorus line, Maxi’s vocals…..I like it all even the Apache Indian MC’ing (which typically I struggle to warm to). This was the catalyst and although I feel there were better tunes in the years to come this paved the way for neggea artists to follow in.
A must have for the record collection!
Score: 8/10 (purely as I know that there are bigger tunes coming)

Jamie
Is it reggae ? Is it Neggae? Remove the bass line and this sounds like the demo track on the keyboard I got for my 10th Birthday. As much as I enjoy listening to Maxi Priest I don’t think that is one of his finer moments. The “Bontempi” horn section sounds a bit like a karaoke backing track. It does give this one a “music by numbers” feel.
In later years other Afro-Asian Neggae acts would follow in the footsteps of this single. As much as I would like to rank this up with China Black’s Searching (guilty pleasure) , I cant seem to help but draw comparisons to the UK’s 1995 Eurovision song contest entry from Love City Groove.
Although there were some bad decisions made in the production process, there are a few nice touches. The subtle tabla gives it Indian character. The break is solid and the bass line carries it home. Apache Indian is Apache Indian and Maxi Priest gives a complementary variation on vocal styles.
A for Ambition yet D for delivery on this one for me.
Score: An indifferent 5/10

NEGGAE SCORE: 6.9