Chaka Demus & Pliers – Twist and Shout

Release Date: Dec 93
Chart Position: 1

It’s apt that when I last reviewed these two on She Don’t Let Nobody a fortnight ago, I likened them to the Lennon/McCartney of Neggae. Because here they are covering a Beatles breakthrough hit – the hit the Beatles recorded in Abbey Road studios 50 years ago THIS VERY WEEK. After the lackluster effort of SDLN, I think we were all thinking “Help! Don’t Let Me Down! Get Back and give us a neggae banger”. And they have.
Twist and Shout is a riot from the opening skanking drum-break to the party-in-full-swing fade-out. It deservedly got to Number one, and the love affair between these two Jamaican genii and the British record buying public was on again. It’s also our first introduction to Jack Radics, a chap who will appear again later on the Neggae Hot 90 on Josephine. What an entrance and what a voice!
When Billy Preston joined the Beatles as a guest, it made them all pull their fingers out. Well I think Radics had that affect here on Chak-man and P-dog. HE MADE THEM RAISE THEIR GAME. And the way he saunters into this video is a bit like when Baloo enters the monkey village during I Wanna be Like You. In summary:

jackLoads of great musical moments in this here version too; my particular favourite is the chihuahua style yapping that exists in the background for the entire song. Pliers as per usual brings his A-game – silkily crooning throughout and still managing to sneak in a Bob Marley reference (“I don’t wanna wait in vain”). Meanwhile, the big man Mr. Demus shows his softer side with some delicate counter-melodies – and the fact that the the girl in question makes him quite emotional (mi bawl, mi bawl, MI BAWL!!!). Frankly after a few duffers recently, it’s great to have a bit of class to review. Good to have you back chaps.
Score: 9 out of 10 (only because I’m sparing a 10 for them later.)

I’m definitely starting to recognize a trend in Neggae, the cover version, and here the Shearer and Sheringham of Neggae take on the Fab Four with the help of Neggae’s Darius Vassell (great debut then nothing) – Jack Radics. The Beatles are one of my favourite bands, I remember trying to sign them for Raas Records at their debut gig which took place in Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club on the 9th of February 1961. I was waiting for the end of their performance before approaching them when I was offered a drink by a dapper young man named Brian, I’m not sure what happened after this but I woke up 4 hours later, naked, in a skip and had a limp for days after, the rest is history.
The song sets out it’s stall immediately, it’s not going to be subtle, straight in with that Beatles sample then a skanking beat which defies you not ‘get up, get up, get up, one time’. Jack Radics takes the first verse and as soon as he opens his mouth it’s apparent his heartfelt soulful exaltations are going to blend perfectly with Chaka’s deep bass and the sweet serenades of Pliers, one part Malibu, one part Red Stripe, one part Lilt, the perfect Jamaican turbo shandy. Jack Radics is quite lucky his voice is so great as his waistcoat has clearly been borrowed from the Big Break costume department, fortunately he cements his reputation as the ‘Cocker of the Carribean’ so we can forgive him this sartorial faux pas. Chaka Demus and Pliers are basically the mailmen of Neggae and yet again they deliver on this track, the seamless interplay between the two which is reminiscent of Manchester United’s slightly dodgily named ‘Soul Brothers’. The production does exactly what you’d hope, it Neggaefies the Beatles, so run along Easy Star All Stars, CD and P did it first and better. This is basically the ultimate Neggae wedding anthem, only last week I was at the nuptials of Rusty Lee and Darcus Howe, it was proving a slightly stale affair until Rodigan spun this and the rest of the night went off like a firecracker.
Score: 8/10 – much better than their ode to communism on the b-side, Chak in the USSR.

Summer fun at its finest. Chaka Demus and Pliers keep the neg rolling along with a nice adaptation of the 1961 song penned by Phil Medley and Bertrand Russell Berns. There have been numerous covers of this song each done in a slightly different way, but this version however is Neggae Hall-of-Fame-worthy!
The number 1 position in the UK charts is a true reflection of the love that we all felt toward these lovable islanders. I will say it again – we do not need fancy-shmancy beats, off the scale videos or anything else for that matter to make Neggae work. It needs to be simple, tropical and fun. This is simple (a good song to cover, negged up nicely), tropical (island street dancing, sun and big smiles) and fun (kept me entertained for almost 4 minutes, smiling and head bobbing at my desk whilst I peer out of the window and see the dark clouds hovering above Virginia Beach.)
I’m not going to delve into the song and video too much, but I will say that I’m sufficiently impressed with Chaka Demus and Pliers to give them another high score. I’m off to buy some Red Stripe after this one, Cheers!
Score: 9/10 for making me feel like I’m on holiday in Jamaica for four minutes.

These boys were good.
Smashed it with Tease Me then cooled their jets off with a soul cover in the form of She Don’t let nobody. Which way were they going to go next? Twist n Shout sees our Neggae champions draft in Jack Radics and the Taxi Gang to venture on to the sometimes risky ground of Covering the Beatles. Many have failed. Not Chaka And Pliers though.
From the outset this feels good. Good Neggae drum lick intro and not a great deal has to be done with the original Lennon and McCartney guitar melody. The sound on the original was quite steely, if anything the tempo has dropped slightly. Putting you into a casual island skank.
Enter a safari clad Chaka Demus (who is looking more like Cameroon Legend Roger Milla with every release ) with some prize toasting, in friendly competition for placement with Jack Radics. Radics teeing up the stage for Pliers to come in with some sultry vocals.
Drafting in Radics was a master stroke. If you think back to the gruffness of John Lennon’s vocals in the original there was no way that the pair would pull this off without sounding eggy and taking away the essence of this feel good Neggae classic.
The monkey noise is used to good effect. It reminds me of this classic from later years, perhaps our boys provided the inspiration for Planet Funk. Always sounds good blasting out of a good system when you’re 3 pints to the good. Always coaxes people away from the bar and onto to the dance floor, as per the video.
There’s no frowns in this video, no one is over serious, everyone is having a laugh. Even chief chef is salting her fish rhythmically in order to not miss out on the party. Everything about this single is top drawer. They put 40 seconds on the original yet didn’t fill it with absolute crap. Its perfect length because it doesn’t get boring. Its respectful yet its original and I’m glad to say that its stood the test of time and opened the door for others to dare to offer up Reggae covers of the greatest band of all time. Bravo.
Score: 9 out of 10 from me. The only reason its not a ten is because its a cover.

Holy Smoke what a tune! The ultimate feel good song covered by the kings of the neggae world – BOOM!
The Isley Bros, The Beatles, The Mamas & the Papas, Salt-N-Pepa; the bands that have covered the 1961 classic reads like a who’s who in pop music culture and Chaka Demus and Pliers are absolutely no exception to that and arguably make the most of the tune. Twist and Shout has also appeared in many Film and TV shows probably most famously in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with Matthew Broderick belting out the John Lennon version in downtown Chicago. Let’s not forget it was also critical to the complex plotline of Back to School featuring Rodney Dangerfield in a textbook contemporary role. It is simply a timeless classic!
It just explodes with excitement right from the off and the release around 2mins in is pure ecstasy. There is no way you can’t listen to this without feeling great about everything especially when you combine it with the carnival that is going on in the video which has pretty much everything you would expect.
Would it get played at a BBQ? I would expect it to be played every hour on the hour!
Score: 10/10 – it doesn’t get much better than this!

Interesting fact shared by Vince in the showers last night (yep, you read that correctly), the Beatles version of Twist and Shout was on their Please Please Me album which was recorded 50 years ago this very week.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s