Release Date: June 94
Chart Position: 2
There’s proably a bit of flack from a Neggae elder or two below regarding this record. I would ask you to ignore the haters; anyone that doesn’t like this record clearly know nothing about music. This is the greatest Neggae cover there is. A sumptuous, lush take on a 70s AOR classic. Make a cup tea, turn the telly off, and let this wash all over you.
OK, so ignore the sax intro. It’s misjudged but not offensive; it’s effectively an entree to the song proper. It also server nicely as a banter bridge for TV presenters. Without it, there would be no room for Simon Mayo’s bantz regarding about England skittling out the Kiwis. This would not do.
This song shifted units. It epitomises the apex of the Summer of Dread. The Britsh public know a classic when it waltzes into view, and bought it in droves. In a parallel universe, this got to number one, and was picked by comrade Campbell as Labour’s homecoming anthem. It should have been the cover selected by Richard Curtis for Four weddings and a Funeral. It should have been the soundtrack to soppy bollocks running after Andy MacDowell and spluttering his feelings on the South Bank. Instead, the Wets handled it, and with the takings singlehandedly propped up the Glasgow heroin industry for the rest of the decade (Gawd bless ’em).
The core of this song’s beauty is Joaquin “Quino” McWhinney. He floats around the arrangement like audio caramel. Quite simply, he has an INCREDIBLE voice, with echoes of reggae troubadours Dennis Brown and Delroy Wilson. His vocal improvisations perfectly compliment the irie musicality laid down by the rest of the boys:
Wo no no!
La – di-da!
Et ceterings. Lovely stuff.
This is Neggae’s Red Red Wine and is what the UBs should have covered instead of that fat, dead, illiterate hick.
Score: 8/10 and hello and goodbye Big Mountain – I’ll never forget you.
I was really excited this week about digging into Big Mountain’s first and only real hit (I think that was also the name of a night club near Knivo’s place in Bristol we went to one night years ago, weird stuff happened that night!). I was filled with hope and the warm feeling of nostalgia that I regularly get when reviewing a favourite of mine. However I can’t help but feel a little bit flat after listening to it again, I thought that this was a certain 10, but I am now not so sure.
I don’t remember the eggy sax intro, the radio edit must have just cut right to the chase. A good decision as although its only 20 seconds or so long, it gets the whole thing off on the wrong foot. Yes, when it gets going it does becoming a bit more pleasing and after the intro nonsense the sax is actually very good and provides a nice backdrop. I am not sure at all about the peak and release at about 3min 30secs into it, it feels a bit ‘X Factory’ to me, I half expect fireworks and streamers to be going off from the ceiling as the lead starts sobbing about how much they ‘want it’ and ‘stuff like this doesn’t happen to me.’
I could say that they were almost over stepping the likable commerciality of it all? After also hearing the Peter Frampton original I don’t think it’s the best cover we have heard, don’t get me wrong it’s no Ace of Mess, but it’s not outstanding.
The video is linked heavily to Reality Bites, you know that rom-com classic from ’94! The story line is pretty unique and really brave, it’s about a love a love triangle where the girl is with the wrong guy but ends up with the right guy, mental! Winona Ryder stars with Ben Stiller, I think this might of been the tipping point for Ryder, Ben however clearly has much stronger bouncebackability! UB40 made this error with Sliver didn’t they? Linking the video to a poor film is never going to work is it?
I don’t want to sound too negative, it is still a defining and important moment in the summer of dread. A massive neg hit and for that I do need to recognise it as such.
Score: 7/10 from me on this one.
Big Mountain were a funny old lot weren’t they?
Of all the covers we’ve had so far this one certainly comes out of the left field. Bromley boy Peter Frampton wrote the original in the mid seventies to some acceptance from the UK record buying public. But it was nowhere near the worldwide frenzy that ensued Big Mountain when the relative nobodies released a Neggae Rehash in 1994. Second time round it bedded itself in the top ten of no less than 12 countries.
I’m in two minds on this one if I’m honest. I remember being sick to death of it first time round. It was annoyingly catchy and also had staying power. My mum used to sing it a lot, and not in a funny way like her “Yo, I’m a nutter…I’m a nutter” interpretation of DJ Luck and MC Neat’s little bit of luck. It was the sort of MOR track that your mum and dad would get a bit romantic to in the kitchen. I took an instant disliking it and the video which I also considered a bit cringe worthy. In fact it’s so MOR that the lead guitarist moves like my mum playing Beatles Guitar Hero.
Listening to it once again I can say I do appreciate it slightly more. Joaquin McWhinney’s lead vocals are fantastic for a yank doing reggae. The normally annoying “sax solo” actually works and the drums and bass skip nicely. OK the synthesized jazz flute is Camp as Christmas but these guys are hardly hardcore are they? One of them is wearing a hessian sack and there’s plenty of bad skanking. It’s like watching Christian Green Peace activists do Reggae.
This track is better than I remembered, as a cover it holds its own and is possibly better than the Frampton original. I imagine it’ll be around for many a year to come so for now I’m going to put it back its box before it starts to annoy me again.
Score: 7 out of 10 From maaa-e-aaaay.
Ron Burgundy: Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which of course in German means a whale’s vagina.
Veronica Corningstone: No, there’s no way that’s correct.
Ron Burgundy: I’m sorry, I was trying to impress you. I don’t know what it means. I’ll be honest, I don’t think anyone knows what it means anymore. Scholars maintain that the translation was lost hundreds of years ago.
Veronica Corningstone: Doesn’t it mean Saint Diego?
Ron Burgundy: No. No.
Veronica Corningstone: No, that’s – that’s what it means. Really.
Ron Burgundy: Agree to disagree.
Why do I start with this you may ask? Because it’s bloody funny and Big Mountain hails from this fine Californian sun drenched city. A fine offering from this American reggae band that didn’t really do much before or after this song. Also it’s a very clever choice because it’s instantly recognizable to multiple generations. All they have to do is execute and not screw it up. They did well and didn’t over think it.
This happened to be one of my favourite songs back in the day, with a slightly neggified twist on Peter Frampton’s classic from 1976. Great use of the sax to set the pace then we jump into the rather chilled and smooth vocals. The song doesn’t deviate too much from Frampton’s and that is a good thing as this particular song doesn’t need a lot of tweaking.
The only downside to this song is that is a wee bit too long and gets a touch repetitive towards the end. Not the end of the world as I’m already in a Malibu and pineapple paradise by then.
Score: Solid 7.5/10 for making me think about Anchorman and making me do a little headbob and some awkward hand gestures. Not only can white men not jump, we can’t dance either (or at least I can’t)
NB. This song reached #1 in Sweden and “All that she wants” by Ace of Base only reached #3 there. Interesting, draw your own conclusions.
Oh dear, I’ve been dreading this one, it’s been causing tension in usual domestic harmony of Neggae towers all week. People haven’t been adhering to the rule about replacing Lilt in the fridge, buying jerk chicken for one and even worse they’ve been using silver king skins and replacing them with red all because of Big Mountain. Some people love this song, my view is that those people should have their ears soldered shut. I’ll start with the name ‘Big Mountain’, it sounds like a dodgy knock off instant coffee you’d get in poundland, along the same lines as the knock off version of Jazz aftershave, Pzzazz. ‘Come on, don’t be so harsh, patois combined with the Jamaican curriculum means a lot these bands will have simple names’ I hear you cry. This would be a valid point if the band weren’t American and appear to have based their whole neggae image on Wiz from Mega City Four (RIP).
The song itself is a cover of seventies rocker and inventor of the Electrolarynx, Dr Peter Frampton’s original and was recorded for the soundtrack of ‘Reality Bites’, I’ve never seen this film but it sounds shit so good work by whoever compiled the soundtrack. The original isn’t exactly great shakes and this cover’s even worse, they’ve tried to neggae it up but it’s just over produced eggae, completely devoid of any charm and clearly done with cash in mind. His voice is alright and I’m sure his karaoke goes down a treat in ‘Larry’s Bar’, Shitsville, Nebraska but this is the Hot 90 for Jah’s sake. The production is lazy and about as authentically Carribean as these oversized eco rats, nice cameo from Curtis Stigers though. The video is basically scenes from the film spliced up with the Spin Doctors video diary from their holiday in Trinidad.
2/10 – Sorry Vince, it’s pony.
NEGGAE SCORE: 6.3