Dawn Penn – You Don’t Love Me (No,No,No)

Release Date: June 94
Chart Position: 3

Now we’re talking. This is the high point of the Neggae era. At no other time in this universe could this song have taken bronze medal in these islands’ favourite song content. By now Britain was hooked on Neggae like it was some sort if audio catnip; anything that vaguely skanked or bogled was snaffled up and played in back gardens and lidos up and down the land. Noel Gallagher mentioned in an interview how Oasis benefited from the summers of ’94 and ’95 being particularly sunny; I think the clement weather also massively aided the likes of Dawn and co.main_DawnPenn3
I was late on to this actually – the night Dawn made her TOTP debut I was busy windin’ and grindin’ to the likes of She’s Got that Vibe at The Empire Ball, an underage nightclub event in Guildford. Having stayed at a friend’s house, I returned home Friday to Jamie and Dad enthusing about ‘a right game old bird’ on the telly the night before. Intrigued, I checked the line-up from the show on my @TOPT twitter feed and promptly youtubed her.
Sorry, what I am I saying. I didn’t do that – it was 1994.
Intrigued, I played Mario Kart for a bit, watched Speed on VHS, went to bed and then waited for the Chart Show to come on Saturday lunchtime to see what all the fuss was about.
What I heard was frankly a revelation. From the U-Roy looped “”Wake the Town and Tell the People!” sample, to the heavy bass attack of the intro, through to the skanking riddim and Dawn’s sweet pipes – every part of this song dripped with Neggae class. It is 7 or 8 times better than the original version, which although charming enough, lacks the digital punch that Steely & Clevie’s remix brings. I particularly love the repeated “wa-wai-wa-wai”  and other vocal snippets that repeat throughout the entire song. The video is downright filth, which thanks to being videoed on said Chart Show episode got many a repeat viewing in the Synan household.
Score: If I could give it infinity I would but I can’t so 10 will have to do.

Dawn Penn had relative success with No, No, No when it was First recorded in 1966 as a rocksteady single. After performing her signature tune at a Studio One Reunion gig some 26 years later, she was received greatly by a new audience high on the crest of the Neggae Wave and wanting more. The rehash was made and the comeback was on. Personally I think that No, No, No (you don’t love me) in 1994 is one those rare re releases that improves on the original. The original was slow, incredibly slow, it was rock steady, it was laid back. It was also made on a budget and recorded in real time with studio equipment and instruments true to Jamaica in the mid 1960’s. Yes it had Character but it lacks oomph.
After the toasting, you know your in for something completely different from the 94 version. Everything is amped up, uniformed and crisp. Like an old film that’s been converted into Dolby Sensi Sound. The piano crunches in, the beats are big and the tempo has been pushed forward enough to get you into a half decent skank, or a one foot tap if you are horizontal in the garden. Its BIG.
The vocal loops are a master stroke. ” B..b..b..booow, t tt t t t tell the people. ”  Subtle scratches and stutters are faintly placed behind that hypnotic  piano and guitar melody and DP’s sultry vocals, and that’s it! That’s all this tune needs to do.
Nothing is overstated , the odd drum fill in, the odd  simple cymbal crash and a clever bridge provided by the horn section getting on for 3 minutes.  Yes the bridge featured on the original but it was claggy and slightly out of sync. In keeping with the theme of the remake this has been made tighter and been given more punch. It plays its part and doesn’t hang around any longer than it needs to. The whole project is streamlined for 4.30 down to 3 minute mark and with this is the perfect amount of time for this simple piece of music.
All in all, the makings of a great song were there in 66 but with the addition of 90’s technology the production on this single is amazing. As well as terrifically well judged.  It deserves its place  high on the Neggae podium, one of only few songs at the Height of the Neggae era I would consider awarding full marks to.
Score: Not the full ticket as its a remake. But a 9.5 from me. Classic.

I’ve been worrying about trying to write a review for this song since we started our journey of Neggae. I didn’t like it then and it really hasn’t improved much over the last 20 years. Every Reggae compilation I got had this damn song on it somewhere, either front and center song 3 where they open up with two blinders and then slow it down with this pish or tucked away on a B-side or CD2. Either way, Dawn Penn has followed me around for years like a bad smell, can’t get rid of her. All I can say is thank you lord for the compact disc, allowing me to skip instantly rather that playing the Dawn Penn guessing game on cassette.
Dawn sounds exactly how she looks; take that how you will and draw your own conclusions. This song has two good bits, the introduction from seconds 0-15 and the horns at 2.23 that break up this monotonous pile of cack. I’m sorry, this is me being done. Old jazz club Dawn with a dodgy bouffant just isn’t cutting it.
Score: 2/10. 1 point for the intro, 1 point for the horns

I have mixed feelings on this as I find it a bit weird. It’s like the sum of the parts don’t quite work. A bit like the so called Golden Generation of the English Football, surely it has to deliver more than that? The percussion and piano is beautiful and the vocals are great, but it does not get going at all and I struggle to get excited about it. It’s perfectly pleasant and is totally non offensive, if it were on in the background I’d give it a foot tap, but not much else.I think that it would make a good backing track to a coffee advert or for some kind of premium luxury chocolate brand. A nice slow mo shot of a sexy mature woman lazing around (maybe sliding into a relaxing bath) indulging in said brand…something like that.I could not get hold of the original 1967 version so will pass judgement on whether or not she really added much to it, if she has I don’t want to even think about the original.I like the video, the club they are in seems pretty cool, I think I would fit right in. Although if it played this all night I could only stay for one or two before I got bored.
Score: A disappointing 6/10 from me.

‘No, no, no, Norm don’t love this and will mark low’
It’s with a heavy heart I start this review as in a previous instalment one of the other Neggae elders has already expressed his antipathy towards this song, so in terms of the leaderboard it’s a dead rubber.
This song was originally recorded by Dawn Penn in 1967, after moderate success she disappeared from the music scene in 1970 to take up a position as the Jonas Brothers nanny on the Virgin Islands. She was asked to perform at a Studio One tribute concert in 1992, buoyed by the success she decided to re-record and release this single, the rest is Neggae history.
Right from the initial shout you’re dragged into this song, the stuttering opening bassline then the smooth transition into an easy skanking riddim. It’s a musical endorphin rush. I might be off to a gig in Finsbury Park later in the worst weather we’ve had this week but I’m still smiling because of this song and if you’re not whilst listening then you’re going to live out a bleak and lonely existence my friend.
The lyrics are a wistful lament to the realisation of a one sided relationship, but it’s been 27 years love, get over it, it’s gone. The sepia tinged video is set in what frankly looks like a hell of a pub, live music, no smoking ban and despite being busy there’s still a clear run at the bar, sweet. The landlord could do with taking a tip off the local swimming pool though and invoking a ‘No Heavy Petting’ rule as some of it’s enough to put you off your Red Stripe.
Overall this song is so buoyant it could put a spring in Hoover’s step.
Score: 9/10 – loses a point for basically being a remix.



One thought on “Dawn Penn – You Don’t Love Me (No,No,No)

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