Release Date: April 94
Chart Position: 6
So, Bitty is back at it with another entry in the Neggae Hot 90. For some reason, I thought this song had a little more umph about it back in the day, apparently not as I have just had 3 minutes of a grainy 1994 MTV video showing the righteous Bitty Mclean doing his thing while lying down in a bed in the sky, then prancing arounf on a stage in what appears to be an empty Top of the Pops stage / studio. Not quite sure what to think about the video, actually I do, it’s a pile of poop. It has a rather British feel to the production, not much effort, very dull, poor lighting and low budget. I’ve come to the conclusion that I need the following in my Neggae videos to qualify as half decent.
- Sunshine – nope, none of that
- Island scenery – beaches, palm trees etc – nope, none of that
- Street / Carnival atmosphere – nope
- Have the ability to make me want a Malibu and Pineapple when it’s sub Arctic temeratures outside – Oh, screw it. You get the point.
So with that being said, it fails miserably if I’m going by that standard. Anyway, the song itself is nice and simple, Bitty doing his thing, vocals are sweet as ever. I am left a little underwhelmed after a couple of minutes though, I feel it needs a little shot of red bull to perk itself up for a strong finish, it doesn’t get it and by the end I’m ready for it to be over.
Score: Sorry Bitty, put me down for a 6.5/10 only because you are Bitty Mclean
Bitty’s back with another cover version, I suppose there are only so many original songs you can write about Malibu and Lilt, of fifties pop standard ‘Dedicated to the One I Love’. This song was originally recorded by the “5” Royales and quickly covered by the Shirelles scoring hits for both of them. In 1967 The Mamas & the Papas released a version which reached number 2 in the charts, this was just before one of their number tragically died of a heart attack, although there’s a scurrilous rumour that they died by choking on a Ham sandwich, can you tell which one this rumour may have been about?
Bitty does the song justice with his vocals, although the production is like a Paolo Wanchope performance, from the sublime to the ridiculous which leaves me ultimately undecided about the overall quality. The horns and organ are both great but the bass and drums sound skinnier than a pair of Russell Brand’s jeans, which makes the listening experience cheap and degrading like pulling a fit woman at a hotel bar and then before you know it you’re being asked for money. Bitty’s vocals are spot on as usual and confirm his place in Neggae folklore as a rich man’s Maxi Priest.
Video’s not great if I’m honest, it looks like an advert for Paul Simon’s shop. Whereas Hip Hop had gold as a status symbol Neggae had beds, which were in fact the reason China Black split up as Errol Reid was jealous of Simon Finn’s 4 poster with a Hynos Beethoven mattress.
Score: The sun was out this week and this faithful cover has done nothing to dampen my spirits – 7/10
Poor Bitty, I knew this would happen. He set the bar far too high with It’s Raining, there was no way he was ever going to follow it up with anything vaguely in the same league. Although this is not his worst; it’s not great and maybe if it had been from any other artist it would not be received with the same feeling of disappointment.
Although I am a strong supporter of the ‘make it simple and the baseline and neg vibe will look after the rest’ mindset, I think this is almost too simple! It’s like a nursery rhyme that has been neggae’d to the max. Yes it’s catchy, but for me its not deep enough and apart from a memorable chorus there is not a lot else to it.
Video is also a little weird. Admittedly videos are not his trademark and he normally lets his song do the talking, but when the song is only average it exaggerates the averageness of the video.
Score: A Bitty too much nothingness for me; 5/10
So our hero returns once again, to slay the tailgaters and chancers that are starting to realize there’s a few sheckels to be made from the Neggae Gravy train. Welcome back Sir Bitworth of the clan Mclean, royal bard of Brum. What sweet melodies have you to ease our musical aches this fine day?
Once again, Bitty’s back with a cover, but that’s OK. He treats the original with respect and clearly has much love for the song. Dedicated to the one I Love is another one of those songs that has floated through Western pop culture for the past 50 years, being covered by a plethora of artists. I imagine the other Neggae Elders will probably reference the Mamas and Papas West-coast pop effort, or the Shirelles 60s girl group take on it, or maybe even the original Doo-Wop version on it by The “5” Royales.
Which is all good and well, except it’s not the version Bitty had in mind. He was trying to recreate the rocksteady MAJESTY of this superb rendition by Hubert Lee. What a banger! Rather chuffed with finding it if I’m being honest.
And does he? Well nearly, but not quite. There’s plenty of bubbling electronic bass and beats, and his voice is great as per usual. Bitty has one of those classic reggae tenor voices that harks back to early Barrington Levy or Horace Andy, so for me it’s unlikely he won’t deliver. It loses a point for me with the clunky sax solo which is so 1994 I’m surprised Mr. Blobby wasn’t playing it. Everyone knows if you need to flesh out a pop-reggae song with some horns, you get Rico on it.
The video looks like it cost £50, but I don’t have a problem with this. It’s the John Weller approach to videos; do them because you have to for TOTP/MTV, but don’t blow all the budget on it. They’re a nice-to-have option, not a must-have requirement, Perfectly acceptable project management techniques applied to 90s reggae – which is why Bitty and the Birmingham Reggae elite had become the Motown of Neggae by this stage in the proceedings.
Score: sax-penalised 7 from me
Dedicated To the One I Love was first recorded by the 5 Royales in 1957.
The original would fit nicely in a set played by Chuck Berry’s cousin’s band at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. A soulful R&B balad from a bygone era for Rhythm and Blues music. When artists played instruments and had an ear for melody. Ike Turner created fuzz guitar and Jackie Wilson was an icon of his generation.
Oh how times have changed. Type in Massive R&B on google and see what happens. Its saddening that the likes of Rhianna, Nicky Minaj, LMFAO, Dappy and Brian May ( yes, Dappy and Brian May) and Tinchy Stryder are a modern day interpretation of a genre with such a rich heritage. Its almost Blasphemous.
In terms of interpretation, The Shirelles turned in a decent cover of DTTOIL in 1959 and in the 60’s The Mamas & Papas made the song their own with possibly its most famous reinvention. Sadly in terms of a Neggae cover I think Bitty’s offering cheapens it slightly and its another cash cow deposit into the Septic Tank of Neggae.
It’s the production that annoys me, Bittys voice is as amazing as ever, but the beats and chords just seem plastic. The bass is nowhere near as crisp as Its Raining Its Raining, it all seems put together in a hurry. I think if Bitty let somebody write for him instead of just doing over old soul balads every couple of months he might have had a bit more longevity.
That’s the difference between Neggae fly by nights and Reggae pioneers like UB40. The UB’s were social commentators of their generation, many Neggae artists just got by on rehashing old soul tunes.
Score: An uninspired 5 from me.
NEGGAE SCORE: 6.1