Release Date: June 93
Chart Position: 3
Folk had Simon and Garfunkel, Soul had Sam and Dave, Hip Hop Eric B and Rakim and pop Glenn and Chris. However, the most vital duo in musical history are Neggae’s Chaka Demus and Pliers. Chaka Demus was a moderately successful solo artist, who had respect from his peers but his record sales didn’t reflect this. One day as he was passing Robert Dyas he noticed they had a sidekick sale on, he went in, purchased Pliers and the rest is history (Sorry, no more terrible hardware jokes, I promise).
‘Tease me’ was their first UK release and straight from the off these boys make it known they’re not messing about with a ska hook intro so catchy it could land a thousand salt fish. Then the rest of Sly and Robbie’s production kicks in, a mounting build up of tabla and bass with the soulful vocals of Pliers over the top and Chaka adding in various ad-libbed shouts. More than one as well, so take note Shabba Ranks. The Ska intro is then bought back in and there’s even a cat on backing vocals punctuating the end of each verse, who went on to be a success in his own right. Around the 2m 30 mark a pan pipe sounds and marks the invention of Big Beat; 98% of Big Beat releases were based on this drum break looped and sped up. FACT.
Lyrically it’s a basic love song, however the poetic language incorporated by Pliers, ‘She’s floating like a butterfly, so charming’, invokes memories of Wordsworth, a sharp contrast to the usual Neggae declarations of romance which are usually of the ‘I love her so much I’m going to f*ck her until she cries and then has to shower for 3 weeks’ variety. Yeah, I’m talking about you Jonny (Gill not Atkins), Shabba and all the other rapey oddballs. Chaka Demus does bang on about having blue balls for quite a few of his lines, but it’s done playfully and he might have going through a drought at the time, it happened to a lot of us in ’93.
The video is pure neggae, the boys cruising round the island with loads of ladies keen to display their dancing abilities to the appreciative pair (although some of them do remind me of this.) When combined with some nice archive shots of the area and local populace it makes a thoroughly pleasing neggae spectacle. I can find very little fault in this song, my only surprise is that it wasn’t our 4th neggae number 1.
Score: A perfect neggae anthem and the first time in the hot 90 I’m going to give something full marks. not really, 9/10, teased ya.
We are now entering the imperial phase of Neggae. On the horizon are a lot of perfect pop songs, so I’ll be cashing in a few 10s on some pure Negganthems. This is one of them.
My big brother JohnJohn first informed me of Tease Me, singing the melody to me early one summer morning on the market stall we worked on. It was a big hit in the guildford denizen of the 90s that was Harpers nightclub, and John and his pals had enjoyed getting their bogle on to it the night before.
“Floating like a butterfly” he warbled, “you must have heard it? – she give me one smile, two smile, three smile!”
I didn’t have a f*cking clue what he was on about. In fact looking back I think he was still shanted. He stunk of gin’n’hooch.
And then, over the next few weeks, the song slowly entered my consciousness. You’d hear it on passing car stereos, on ghetto blasters down the lido, at the barbers even. And through TOTP, the UK chart rundown and Kiss FM this sweet melody and skanking riddim entered into our heads through our ears like a little rasta worm. It would dominate the summer of ’93 (staying in the top 10 for 3 months) and the British love affair with authentic Jamaican music was reignited.
What’s great is that the melody laid down by Pliers is not simple; it takes a few listen to get your head around. It is arhythmical and freeform, sliding all over the scales. A La La La long this is not. Pop music melodies can be complex and catchy (God Only Knows, This Charming Man, or the beautiful reggae oddity When I See You Smile), and this is the a fine example. Stellar Stuff.
Chaka Demus’ rap is masculine yet soulful; he’s basically a Neggae Otis Redding or Teddy Pendergrass. And unlike other toasters we’ve seen so far (*cough*SHABBA! *cough*) Chaka doesn’t just repeat the same melody throughout. His diction is clear and his wordplay intelligent. Yes some of the content is bawdy, but it’s delivered with charm and craft.
There are so many great pop moments in the production too; the looped ska sample, the strangled cat, flute breakdown, proto-Timberland style tabla, banging BigBeat breaks. It’s simply pop perfection.
Score: 10/10 – arise Sir Chaka Demus and Lord Pliers of Kingston.
By Andalucia’s own standards it was an average journey to my office this morning. Grey sky, no sunshine and a good chance of some afternoon drizzle. The atmosphere in my my office right now however is altogether different. An Oasis of colour and a complete disregard for the miserable meh-ther conditions.
Why? Tease me by Chaka Demus and Pliers.
I dreaded the Neggae Review when I arrived in this morning, thinking this could ruin my day. But no, this Powerhouse, this beacon of Neggae Masterdom has the ability to lift the mood of even the most ardent of misery guts or work place Neggie Nigel. It’s Friday afternoon listening at its best, come rain or shine.
Everything about this song and video is prefectly pitched and timed.
The opening Ska Break. Pliers soothing Vocals, Chaka Demus background toasting before the the quiet break down and build up. Then POW! The Ska break chugs back in and your ears are awash with tropical bliss. The variation in the form of Chaka’s rapping takes the song to the next level. In a similar fashion to Inner Circle, the cheeky Demus manages to compare his woman’s love to burning fire in his soul and catching a big fish before telling her what to do once he has climaxed! Genius.
On his re- entry (Not Chaka’s you filthy so and so!) Pliers changes the pace of his verse rather than stay formulaic and follow the intro and opening 32. This is why this song just doesn’t get boring. It’s well crafted and has stood the test of time, sounding just as good, if not better now than it did when it peaked at #3 in the UK charts almost 20 years ago. It stayed there in a hammock, catching rays and lapping up plaudits for 3 whole months. You could say that Chaka Demus and Pliers in their own trademark style, extended British Summer Time in 1993. This is two men at the top of their game. Feeding off each other’s talents, complementing each other without over stepping the mark.
Shabba Ranks, Johnny Gill take note. Musically Chaka Demus and Pliers are having it away on this one and they know it. For that reason, they’re smiling, bogling, and generally having a laugh. The quality of this piece of music, its lyrics, production and performance gives them the right to do what they want in the video. Do they posture arrogantly, look moody or dress up like Villains from Demolition Man? No they don’t. They are cool as f*ck as it is and have no need for cheap gimickery.
This is the best Neggae entry I’ve seen so far to date. A tough call but it tops Shaggy’s Oh Carolina. I toyed with 8 but I’m awarding a bonus point to Chaka for being the first artist I remember to grace the UK pop charts with a “Hear me now” (at 2.33).
Score: Oooh Lard! 9 out of 10 from me.
Here we go! One of the defining moments of neggae. How it only got to no 3 I have no idea, it should have been no 1 and stayed there for monthslike that awful Bryan Adams and his woeful Robin Hood effort! These two were the first Jamaican act to deliver three consecutive top five hits in the UK (that sounded impressive when I looked it up, the more I think about it I am not sure it is impressive? Either way it’s a fact) and this is by far and away their best effort and typifies everything great about the green, gold and black dominance of popular culture.
When it launches with Pliers’ “She’s floating like a butterfly, so charming” and then Chaka bellowing “Baby Girl!” it transports you back to a simpler time and how the summer of dread was just taking shape. We’d had a few anthems by this point and we obviously knew what it was all about but this was immense and it smacked us like the heart burn you get from a tropical fruit drink when you’re a little bit hungover.
The video is almost pure perfection, almost like a 3min 44sec documentary on a day in the life of Chaka and Pliers as they sample the delights of the hustle and bustle of Island life. You name it, it’s there: fat blokes with skinny chicks, tonnes of it on show and possibly the most aggressive booty shaking action we’ve seen to date all being applauded by the duo. It gets a little dark as we look at what could be considered a bit of harassment in some back alley ways, but all seems to be good natured so who am I to question their intentions. Having said that, I’m not sure what he’s doing at around 58 seconds into the video? Looks like he’s just finishing off into a cannon and then joking about firing the mess at his mates, strange but again it all looks in good spirits. Further to that there are some good strong hand gesturing as they show us around the local fishing village and then cruise around in their beaten up Saab convertible with chicks hanging off them. This is the classic neggae fest that I referred to in the UB40 review.
Chaka Demus and Pliers – thank you both for making life better and creating a real highlight of the 90’s.
Score: 9.5/10 from me!
This is the epitome of sublime Reg, Neg and all the good time island music that we love so dearly.
Chaka Demus and Pliers have put together a true classic that will stand the test of time. Instantly recognizable, true head bobbing and body swerving neggae here! This one got a lot of play back in the day and rightly so, it was a Capital FM fave that gave my rather inadequate speakers in the Fiesta a damn good work out. In fact, between Shaggy and these two characters I had West Byfleet and Woking rocking!
I love the rustic video, it compliments the song well, very simple and honest. As with any great neggae video, it doesn’t have to be complicated, just mix in a good bassline, island style instruments, sun, sand and dancing gals and we’ve got a winner. In fact this should be the blueprint for the Jamaican travel and tourism department for all future advertising campaigns. I want to book a holiday now, get on the beach and drink my malibu and pineapple while I watch the likes of Chaka Demus and Pliers do what they do….sing, dance and mingle with the ladies.
Score: Put me down for a 9.5/10 — The neggae revolution is in full swing now with this strong performance by the godfathers of Neg.