UB40 – Reggae Music

Release Date: Aug 94
Chart Position: 28

Blimey, this is badman style from the Yowbs it reminds me of listening to Rodigan on KISS whilst recording it faithfully on a C90 eagerly awaiting the next Elephant man tune or Goldfinger remix. Sorry, got a bit excited there, I’m now composed and will carry on accordingly. This is the side of UB40 I’m not familiar with as bassist Earl Falconer takes over lead vocal duties with aplomb, he comes in hard over a dub bassline and some acid squelches, I can only assume that the Yowbs had sorted out their differences with the Inland Revenue at this point and decided to record some original material instead of churning out chart friendly covers for film soundtracks which is a pleasing turn of events. The song takes a bit of a downturn for me when the rest of the band join in, stood around singing accapella style, it’s a bit too neggy for me taste. At the 2.50 mark we get a nice horn break and then towards the end there’s some Jurassic 5 style sampling of a 50s American TV cookery show. This is a fresh bit of neggae production and looking at the credits Bitty Mclean had a big part in this, which begs the question why on earth was his own stuff so MOR? The production’s so good it’s not aged at all, I think if you took the backing track, got some Rihanna autotune and a Pitbull rap over the top of it and you’d have a surefire hit (Are you reading this Bitty?).
Lyrically this is a nostalgic love letter to the Yowbs themselves as Earl chronicles the band’s rise from 11 year old ragamuffins to bostin’ 80s politicos to skint purveyors of soft reggae. It’s a Neggae ‘Stand by me’ as Earl is keen to stress it’s friendship first and band second. Fortunately Earl didn’t have the benefit of hindsight otherwise this song wouldn’t have been written as in 2008 the Yowbs went all ‘Let it be’ as Ali and his new squeeze did a John and Yoko, dutty raas claaat. The lyrics are a touching tribute from Earl as he name checks each member of the band and highlights their special talents as he’s used the classic ‘Defenders of the Earth’ theme tune lyrical template to structure each verse. Apparently Norman UB40 is a Don Gorgon, I think this means his dreadlocks are of an outstanding quality rather than he can turn people to stone with a single look, I’m not certain of this though so if you see him out and about do approach with caution.
The opening to the video shows yet again Neggae is well ahead of the curve trend wise as Earl pulls up on a bicycle, eight years before plastic mods started hero worshipping cyclists because they’ve got sideburns and listen to Ocean Colour Scene. That’s about the most exciting thing that happens in the video, don’t get me wrong, Earl is styling it out like the 3rd member of the London Posse but do we really need close ups of all the other yowbs looking thoughtful and moody? It’s like when the teams are introduced on TV before a big sporting occasion and whilst this is appropriate for the pressure cooker environment of International Sport I don’t think it really suits the laidback vibe of neggae. Overall this song’s a belter but the chorus spoils it a bit for me, however it’s good to see that the Yowbs have still got it when they put their mind to it.
Score: 8/10 – Lost 3 marks for the chorus but gained one when I found this in the Youtube sidebar, when did this happen?

UB40 are back in town with this slightly unorthodox take on reggae music. The trance-like intro gives it an edge that other songs in this list have not given us, certainly not for some weeks. Although it is an improvement on ‘C’est La Vie, it’s nowhere near the heights of previous successes such as I can’t help and Kingston Town. But a strong reminder that the boys from Birmingham were the real deal and up there with Johnny Gill in leading the neggae revolution.
Following the rap intro the boys get quite harmonic, almost like a 90s JLS (Jack the Lad Swing, or is it Swagger? Either way – berks!) and their unique tones then dominate the tune. The harmony and the rap complement each other well, better than I expected when I played it for the first time in years this morning.
Not much effort on the video, it was never a strong point for UB, choosing to let the song and their delivery do the talking. That’s fine. But I am coming to expect a higher standard of video these days, particularly in this genre which I feels lends its self better than most with so much great potential material. The dark and blue, not really happening type of effort does little for me in complimenting the song, I would much prefer to see more Island party lifestyle with plenty fruit punch. There is not single piece of Booty action in this – come on chaps!
Score: On the whole a good track, they have done better, but also a whole lot worse…..5/10 from me.

OK – I was going to write this review last night but decided to let UB40’s latest offering sink in for a while and start again with a fresh approach. 24 hours have passed, Youtube is now blaring and my Bud Light supply is dwindling and I’m still lost for words.
I’m really not sure how to start with this one. I’ve listened to this 10 times now and it really is puzzling.
Again Ali Campbell and co have produced ANOTHER weak video bereft of any colour (color for my American friends), fun or imagination. The best part about this one is the fact that they don’t feature too much in the video, just the posse hanging out in the background singing a high pitched verse here and there.
Actually, you know what? let me end this misery session quickly. I’ve been in front of this damn computer for over an hour now trying to come up with something clever but it’s just not happening. This is what I really think about it.
At the last Neggae council meeting, I aired my views that went something along the lines of “holy f$%K! this UB song is an ear bleeder, mind bender and brain melter.” My view has not changed after 10 listens. Thanks for another piss poor effort UB40 (even if you didn’t do anything to contribute to this song).
Score: A generous 2/10 for me….. bring on Here comes the Hotstepper!

This latest offering from the UB’s will no doubt split the judges. For me its a welcome return for Birminghams greatest export since the modern day Vindaloo. Its nice to see them getting back to what they do best. Making decent Reggae Music rather than MOR love songs or Mum albums.
Getting Earl Falconer on vocals and letting Ali Campbell take a back seat for a change is a masterstroke. Nothing against Ali but this is a fresh and welcome change. Campbell is still instantly recognizable on the chorus, which is simply a joyful celebration of Reggae Music. That aside his vocals are given a well deserved rest.
Its got decent beats, nice piano stabs and a bouncing bass line. The back minute or two builds with a good horn section yet and a vocal breakdown, all in all decent finishing touches to a great single from a band who have been round the block more than once.
Modern production techniques such as U.S radio vocal samples and digital sound effects stand this apart from the trade mark sound of the 80’s UB40. This number has two feet planted firmly in the realms of 90’s Neggae. Its not a throw back, it shows that the UB’s are capable of moving with the times, I just wish they’d make music like this more often!
Score: Well done the UB’s for this breath of fresh air. 7 out of 10 from me.

What a curveball! Did not expect this at all. Just when you think UB40 have settled into Neggae retirement, they rage into the night with this electro-Neg banger. Earl Falconer’s toasting is I think some of the best we’ve seen on this chart, and the lyrical content is endearing and uplifiting. The song is effectively a roll call, with Earl bigging up the various Yowb cohorts. I think my favourite pair of couplets are:

We got Em in the place who likes it in your face
You got G like MC who likes it on a…
Easy V doesn’t come for free, she’s a real lady
And as for me, ha you’ll see

Sorry – wrong song altogether. Here it is…

Me love me Ali C. with his golden voicee
Him nice up every dance nice up every party
Me love me Brian T. Pon the saxophonee
Buttons pon the bone, Patrick him a hit the high C

What I particularly like about this is Earl has used a rapping technique poularised by my Cousin James Brennan in 1999 during his garage MC phase. It’s called ‘it doesn’t have to rhyme just stick an ‘e’ on the end’. That said, it would take a heart of stone to not overlook this and savour the pure joy the song brings.
The acid squelches and stuttering electro rhythms are a joy, and not a million miles away from the sound the chemical brothers were perfecting at the same time in the Heavenly Social. And when you think its all getting a bit too repetitive, the breakdown and horn refrain around 2m41 gives ‘Reggae Music’ renewed vigour. The song has aged fantastically well, as evidenced by this fairly recent video footage of the boys rocking it in their hometown:

Score: Bloody well done lads – an inspiration to us all. 9/10.



Chaka Demus and Pliers – Gal Wine

Release Date: Aug 94
Chart Position: 20

First things first, another Neggae exclusive. This gem of a tune (which I had totally forgotten about) references/versions/pays homage to the potty-mouthed classic Barb Wire by Nora Dean. You won’t find that fact anywhere on the internet because:

a)      I’ve just checked (first ten pages on google anway)
b)      I’m obviously the first person to have noticed this in the history of mankind

You are more than welcome to pass this off as your own knowledge – it will help you succeed in life.
So we bid farewell to ChaPliers, the lads who raised the Neggae bar, and frankly deserve to win this most august of musical competitions. And they’ve gone out with a swansong. I’ve often referenced these two cheeky chappies as the Neggae Beatles; well this is their Abbey Road.
What they’ve done is gone back to basics. They’ve forgetten about the shiny US/New Jack sound that was a passing fad at the time, and concentrated on what they (and Jamaican music) excel at. The melody is sweet and infectious, a two chord bouncer, with plenty of humour and improvisation from the two up front. The productions harks back to the golden era of digital dancehall with crisp electronic bass and rhythms and shimmering piano chords. I’m talking Sleng Teng, Wa Do Dem – tough enough to make you want to move but a sweet melody underpinning everything. Lyrically, they’re keeping it simple, extolling the joys of the rotund feminine form and the effect it has on them.
And after the debacle of I Wanna Be Your Man they look like they’re actually enjoying themselves. Pliers is floating around the melody, eyes shut, like the Neggae Smokey Robinson he truly is. And there he is, Mr. Big Stuff himself , Chakademus, glint in his eye, swagger as he daggers – Neggae’s very own Baloo the bear. I love these two f*kcers, and if I’m honest I’m going to miss them. The video is your classic fire and Ice industrial workspace affair – rich with imagery and meaning. I could explain it all to you, but I wouldn’t do it justice and I’m not sure you’d all fully understand.Chaka+Demus+&+Pliers+-+Gal+Wine+-+5-+CD+SINGLE-425093

In closing, this tune has got riddim written all over it. I wasn’t there because I was 15 at the time, but I imagine this go pulled up, rewound and klaxxoned plenty of times at the 1994 Notting Hill Carnival. Would honestly love to know if that’s true – so if anyone was there drop us a comment below.
Score: A fond farewell and a 8/10. Well played sirs.

They’re back, the dynamic duo, the Mutch and Bull of neggae with their sixth and final Hot 90 entry. Initially I misread the title of this song and assumed it was going to be an ode to West Byfleet’s second most famous alcoholic Gal and his love of Lambrini, disappointingly this isn’t the case but I’ll persevere nonetheless. Right away you know that this isn’t your run of the mill neggae, it’s not a cover version for a start and as the beat draws you in there’s then a sublime bit of horn that keeps you there. Chaka takes the first verse and delivers some top class toasting as we’ve come to expect from him and is beautifully complimented by the sweet, soulful vocals of Pliers. The song is based on an age old theme which has been touched on by many different artists from Louis Armstrong to Alan Thicke to MC Skat Kat which is basically it takes all sorts mon and that even fat birds need a bang.
Obviously buoyed by their previous chart success the record company have thrown a bit of cash at the video in which they’ve recreated all the glitz and glamour of working in a steel factory. Chaka seems to like it though, the man’s a  bogling machine, one can only assume he’s undertaken an Ivan Drago like training regime to be able to achieve such extreme bogleness. Local sales of Tropical Lucozade went through the roof when this video was shot. A minute into the video there’s a comic sexual assault by Rusty Lee on Alvin Hall which sent me into a bad place. The scene is basically a reconstruction of an experience I had in Barcelona where after a four hour booze blackout I came to being assaulted by a rotund lady of the night who was trying to rifle through my pockets in the middle of a busy street. When I escaped her clutches and checked if anything had been taken I found I was down a phone but up a bag of funk. I don’t know how any of this happened and I have to question the professionalism of anyone prepared to sell to someone who was clearly ineabrieated but since then I’ve learned my lesson and restrict my alcohol related blackouts to English speaking countries only.
Score: I really like this, but it’s not the best version of the song, this is. With that in mind it’s a 7/10

The tense deafening silence at Neg towers has started to eat away at my soul. Confusions over deadlines, delayed issues of reviews and banter delivered with a not so subtle undertone of hatred….it is a strange uncommon place at the moment. This was not what I, or any of us signed up for.
Come on lads! We are nearly there and we can do this (for f***s sake we are only half way through it.) We can’t let it fall apart now! We all have to pull together and we all have a part to play.
Vinnie, we need your leadership now more than ever, like a football manager in a relegation dog fight we need you to bring this bad boy home.
Gouldy pull your finger out and support Vinnie as co-editor. Write the WordPress password down and keep it safe for f***s sake, every week you lose it or forget it.
Norm, OK, we get it. The egg is cool. But I think you need to leave it alone for a bit. I know egg and Neg should go together nicely, but they clearly don’t and your putting the whole thing at risk with your obsession with drunken rib eye steaks (which I can’t blame you for). Maybe after Neg we could do something a bit more food orientated, but we need to close this out first before you start your own Man vs. Food support show (ala Big Brother’s Little Brother).
Jamie, me and you are as bad as each other and between us we need to get our s**t together, let’s make a special effort to get ours in ahead of the deadline each Friday (which sometimes moves depending on Vince’s mood). Put the dog down for just 10 minutes each week and get your review done, and I’ll do the same. After Neg we could start some kind of ‘dress your dog up as something stupid each week’ challenge, but until this is done we are lumbered with it. I will also try my very best to check for spelling, typos and grammar to help Vince avoid having rewrite mine each week.
So come on chaps, we can do this. Now is not the time to waiver, now is the time to step up and be counted. No-one (I am pretty sure no one?) has attempted this before, and I for one do not want to be the first to fail!
Oh yeah, this weeks effort – Chaka Demus & Pliers’s Gal Wine is awful. I’m losing the will to live with this s**t.
Score: 1/10 from me on the song, but a revived 10/10 for effort from me for the remaining 42 weeks (which FYI is longer than most prison sentences).

I go excited when I saw it was ChakaDemus and his smooth sidekick Pliers up this week. Then I listened to it again and again, over and over and it hit me when I was midway the fourth time around that one of two things were occurring. Either ChakaDemus and Pliers had peaked a while ago or I wasn’t listening to it in the right frame of mind or setting. If we are honest, I think that we’ll agree that this isn’t their strongest effort to date but if I close my eyes and start to head bob, I’m whisked away to the beaches of Jamaica and this song is not only bearable, but pretty good. This may be commercial cannon fodder to us cynical Brits, but in my mind (I’m suppin’ on a Malibu and pineapple with the paper umbrella jabbing me in the nose after each sup) as I’m on the beach with my boom box next to me, this tune is on in and melts into the Jamaican sunset just as my over priced snow cone I bought from a local Rasta rudeboy.
Anyway, enough about my daydreams and onto the review. I’m not on a beach in Jamaica, I don’t have a boom box and an overpriced snow cone watching the beautiful sunset go down. I’m in front of my desktop, flicking between Facebook, You Tube and Wikipedia trying to write this review. So after some pretty intense research, here we go.
It’s a fair to middle, average Neggae offering. For me it’s a little slow and lacks some creativity. ChakaDemus takes charge for the majority of this one, mastering the fast talk, slow rap that makes him instantly recognizable. Pliers has a couple of nice contributions but as the song nears it’s conclusion I’m a little bored. The chart position of #20 seems about right. By this stage of 1994 CD & P are riding the coat tails of their other hits. I would say that #20 is more of a “golf clap” from the UK along the lines of nice shot, good two putt, nice slacks, move on please, Phil Mickelson is waiting to hit his approach.
Score: Put me down for a very medium 5/10. Starting to feel a little concerned that we haven’t had any really big hitters recently.

In the context of  ChakaDemus and Pliers’ career and legacy, Gal Wine to me seems like one of those “and finally” stories that pops up on London Tonight. The ones that are chucked in to send you on your way in a good mood after being bombarded with the latest on the Arab Spring and state of European Finances.
Its no ground breaker. It’s not even of the best Neggae offerings to be penned by Demus and Pliers, let alone a big hitter on the hot 90.
Its a plodder with a comical bit of rapping about skinny men and fat women. Hardly indepth social commentary. The opening 8 bars actually remind me of a Reggae in-fill on the keyboards we had in our music hut at SJB.
One week our class was set an assignment  to write a piece in a Reggae style. I think the lesson plan was drafted on a whim as it was hot outside and Mrs Masters was feeling a bit fruity, maybe she was digging the Neggae that Summer, you’ll have to ask her.
In front of a class devoid of ideas or any real music talent Mrs Masters thought she’d give an example of Reggae to get the cogs working. What followed was embarrassing, looking back it would almost certainly be deemed incredibly racist by the 21st Century  Ofsted.
Never have I heard the word “Mon” uttered so frequently by someone in a position of authority. She basically recited excerpts from Noel Coward’s Mad Dogs and Englishman, in a terrible mock rastafarian accent.  I’m pretty sure she even chucked in some laughter and adlibs from Obla Di Obla Da for good measure as well. Every so often pressing the drum in fill button and shouting “mon” in a rhythmless skanking frenzy. It was like watching an episode of rising damp or Till Death do us part at the theatre. Uncomfortable but morbidly interesting.
Sadly that repressed memory conjures up more interest for me than Gal Wine. Even though it’s Chaka and Pliers I cant really let them wing it this time.
Score: Sorry lads. A bit like my school music report, inconsistent and must try harder next time. 5 out of 10.


Bitty McLean – What Goes Around

Release Date: Aug 94
Chart Position: 36

Bitty!! For F**** Sake!! I thought we had been through all of this already, what are you doing? An empty, soulless, tinny, nothing of a song. This is what happens when neggae goes bad and shows that once a neg Jedi gets a sniff at the dark side how easily they can turn. I can’t remember this first time round and I wish I had not heard it at all this morning, the world is not a better place because of this. I couldn’t even face the whole thing, at 2mis 20secs I’d had enough and in a fit of rage burst my Capri Sun all over the place.
The song is terrible, it has no development and the horn section sound like a type of cheap wedding band that Bitty has made chit chat with at his mates big day and his overinflated ego has offered them a role in his next recording. It’s drastically backfired. It goes round and around stuck in a seemingly never ending hell hole.
Give it a rest and turn it in Bitty……..1/10 from me….no more please, I don’t want to have to tell you again.

Bitty by name,  bitty by nature.
Sadly, it would seem that a side from It Keeps Running and to a lesser extent Dedicated To the One I love, Bitty is a perfect way to describe what initially looked like a promising career.
This is more MOR than the UB’s on a bad day. Its synthesized cheesy pop Neggae. It reminds of the sort of song S CLub 7 would whack on a montage whilst they were cruising around Los Angeles doing “friendy stuff” on a mad cap adventure.
The annoying thing is if it was stripped down and made slightly more authentic it might be a nice tune. The bass line is good but the keyboard its played on is horrible. As ever Bittys vocals are effortless but the content is nothing to shout about and to be honest I find everything else that’s going on annoyingly distracting. The synths are uncalled for and the beats are too plastic.
Its all a bit sickly. Bitty needs to be careful, he’s verging into Shabba territory.  A disappointing 4/10 from me.


Delroy Mclean aka Bitty is back at it with a rock steady, David Gower like song to quench our Neggae thirst this week.
Now, if only England would be a little more Bitty like and not Shabba Like we wouldn’t be 11-2 at tea on the second day of the Ashes at Trent Bridge.
The song opens up with good pace and incorporates some Bitty / Island rap (fast paced talking) complimented by some well balanced horns. For me 10 seconds isn’t enough. I enjoy the freestlye aspect of Neggae that has been missing over the last few weeks. The horns continue to delight as the song moves on. You can definitely feel the UB40 influence throughout but his vocals really mesh well.
I think we can agree that listening to Bitty is good. It’s good for the soul and after a few seconds of his Islandic tones, I’m feeling pretty good about life. After listening to this one a few times, I’m flying high, trying to do more around the house, be a better Dad and Husband, use the Big Green Egg better and generally be a better citizen because after all, What goes around comes around….
I’m also convinced that after listening to this song that Southampton have signed a gem from Celtic for the bargain price of $12m and we will be in the Champions League next year. That’s the power of Bitty Mclean aka Delroy or Andy Cole!
Thumbs up to Bitty for this one although it’s a shame that it only reached #36 in the UK charts. A real feel good song from one of the purest voices ever to grace the Neggae Hot 90. Lilt worthy and Maliibu worthy.
Official Neggae score 8/10

Whatever you say about Bitty McLean, you cannot fault the boy’s work ethic. If he wasn’t in the studio mastering tracks for his elders UB40, or running important errands for him (floral arrangements), he was rattling off Neggae hits every few months himself. It’s almost as if he knew the movement had a limited shelf life, so you can’t fault his almost protestant work ethic during 94/95.
Unfortunately, his QA lets him down a little bit – and Im noticing a worrying trend in the quality of his self-penned hits. He’s becoming a bit of a cover specialist on this chart – nothing wrong with that, just a shame that a young chap that was clearly talented couldn’t produce a Tease Me or a Sweat (a la la la la long).
The song itself is OK, with Bitty aiming at the carnival dancehall end of Neggae that UB40 succeeded with on C’est La Vie. In fact the production all round is very similar – this could almost be the b-side. I’m a bit of a sucker for anything produced in the House of Yowb – their trademark sound has a crisp, digital yet thoughtful approach to dancehall riddims. It’s disctinctly British. Another bonus for me on this song is the use of REAL horns – which we know all cost a few quid but my word you get that back. The trombone solo in particular is Ricoesque – stellar stuff.
I love the tabla and the drum drops – and the whole horn –led wigout towards then ewnd is charming too; reminiscent of Close To Me by the Cure. Bitty loses points for lyrical mundanity and lack of invention around song structure.
Score: What goes around? This song unfortunately. A bit too much. 6/10.

Running out of things to write about Bitty, I wish he’d knocked it on the head after ‘It keeps rainin’ as each release afterwards taints the legacy of that high point of Neggae. (Neggae Fact: His Nephew is footballer Aaron McLean who will next year play for Hull City in the English Football Premiership.) What to say about this song? Not a lot if I’m honest, the whole thing’s pretty humdrum to start with and not helped that a lot of the production seems to have used this for effects and been recorded on one of these. The opening line of ‘Bitty is here again’ now invokes fear and dread, I picture him delivering the line with a psychotic grin as he’s just smashed a hole in my front door with an axe. I would like to tell you what the lyrics are about but I keep dozing off. The fact that in an era when record companies wouldn’t blink at spending thousands on flowers for the artist but wouldn’t chuck Bitty a oner to record a sepia tinged video on an industrial estate speaks volumes. I’m not writing anything more about this, it’s shit.
1/10 – A rancid patch of smegma on the tip of Neggae’s magnificent penis.


Red Dragon – Compliments On Your Kiss (Ft. Brian & Tony Gold)

Release Date: Jul 94
Chart Position: 2

What a treat! I forgot how good this was until I played it for the first time in years this morning. A genuine piece of dance hall neggae that has not been chopped, sliced, diced, minced and forced through the neg-blender. Not a neg app in sight. It’s got a great horn section dictating a chilled pace of the song complimented by steel drums and sax action that really give it that Island feel which is refreshing at this stage of the competition. The lyrics are also delivered simply and efficiently.
I like the video and in particular two things really stick out for me. Firstly the bar they are all hanging out in looks cool, it’s the sort of place I would like to go and chill out. Plenty of seating, a good sized bar area, a little dance floor, band in the corner, nice punters, friendly barman and although it is clearly a tropical climate it looks fresh and not too hot. Secondly everyone looks a little more mature than the other vids we have watched. These boys have been around for a while and they are not trying hard to be something they’re not. Again refreshing versus some of the other stuff we have been reviewing recently.
Really sad that this lot only appear once on our list; however I am learning to appreciate that it is better to have one or two belters than to have a handful of crap (Ace of Base).
Score: A real joy that cheered my boring train journey right up this morning – 9/10 from me.

There’s more wrong with this song than there is right. I remember my Dad liking this one at the time, that instantly threw me off it and to be honest my opinion on it hasn’t changed much over the last 20 years. Its too forced and unnatural. Its as though some music mogul has said to himself..(in a fifties news hound voice) “OK got a toast man, now get me a crooner, a schmoozer, a face guy, a hit with the ladies. Get me Carlton Banks, can he sing? He’s not available? well get someone like him, a frat boy, yeah that guy. What? He looks too American? Just Rastafy him a little , take off his shirt, get him a waistcoat and a Malcolm x chain. Puyfect, a real doozy, were in business!”
These two are a poor mans Chaka Demus and Demus. It reminds me of when Phatts and Small released Turn Around in the wake of Stardust’s Music Sounds better with you.  On one hand you have the epitome of cool, pioneers of french house at the top of their game. On the other, two blokes East Sussex and that gangly fella who was putting one on Vannessa Feltz for a while.
Its a brave idea but I don’t like the whole doo-wop element. It all sounds a bit World War 2 USA and frankly that has nothing what so ever to do with Reggae, Neggae, Ska , roots or lovers rock. You half expect Biff Tannen clicking his fingers to this sort of schmaltz in his car in Back To The Future and we all know what him and his gang of herberts thought about Spooks and Reefer Addicts!
Not my cup of tea this one, the steel drums are a nice touch. A high point in an otherwise forgettable smokescreen of brylcream, velvet suits and 50’s style American Style Diners.  At least when Lou Bega churned out Mambo No. 5 he donned a suit reflectant of the backing music rather than dressing up like R Kelly and hoping for the best.
Red Dragon? Feed this one to the pigs.
Score: 2 out of 10 for the steel drums.

This is a rather awkward song all around. Initially this sent shivers up and down my spine as the sepia toned bar setting immediately had me thinking Dawn Penn was about to stroll in and start prancing around. The good news is that Dawn was at the hairdressers and couldn’t make it. By the end of the song, I was in a trance, stuck listening to the same dross over and over again.
It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve written a review and I’ve missed my deadline by several days. This was generously extended by the Neggae Elders last week. It’s been a long day, and although I’m not feeling it, I will give this my best effort.
The song is slow and has no change of pace, didn’t keep me interested and was boring. Vocals were good, but the lack of imagination really sucked the life out of the tune.
The video was Dawn Penn/UB40 like. Bottom line, it was cack.
Score: Put me down for 2.8/10

Sly & Robbie’s contribution to the popular music of the last quater of the 21st century is impeccable and beyond reproach. In the late 70s and early 80s their cutting-edge approach to production coupled with pop sensibilities produced hit after hit. Pull up to Your Bumper Baby, Spasticus Autisticus, Wordy Rappinhood – all bonafide pop standards produced by these two ‘scientists of sound’, along with many more. In the ’90s, they turned their attention to their homeland, and developed the idea of a male duet – featuring the rough and ready rhymes of a hypeman offset by the sweet vocal melodies of a singer. The result was Chakademus and Pliers’ Tease Me, the archetypal Neggae hit. It’s fair to say they pretty much own this genre.
Which is why, although not without its charms, Compliments on your Kiss falls a little flat in comparison. It’s like the family movie Hugo; lovely and moving station-based yarn that it is, it’s directed by Scorsese man! You can’t help but compare it with what he’s capable of and feel hard done by. My children couldn’t understand why I was a little deflated after suffering Hugo with them, so immediately after we all sat through a double-bill of Casino and Goodfellas. Their silence spoke appreciative volumes.
Occasionally, the genius of Dancehall’s very own Lennon and McCartney shines through. The steel drum refrain is so hooky you’d think its a sample. It’s not. I’ve checked. And as for what I can only describe as the ‘magic wand’ sound effect – incredible. I didn’t think they could top the cat miaow noise on Tease Me but they’ve only bleedin’ gone and done it here.
Brian and Tony Gold were Neggae journeymen, and bring their experience to the table here with some solid performances. I’m not sure which one toasts and which one sings. Maybe they interchange lead and rhythm, Neggae’s very own Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards. Who knows. What I do know is that although they share a surname, they are not brothers nor are they civil partners. Again, I’ve checked online so you don’t have to.
Elsewhere in the song, we get a middle-of-the-road croonathon which rhymes girl/world, tepid toasting and a godawful sax solo. Three times around the block then home. No dancehall moves to be thrust during a daggering breakdown (see here), and no oriental flute to signify a change in the direction of the song (Tease Me). All the way along, Sly and Robbie’s safe yet infectious riddim floats us back to the shore. Us Brits lapped up this grandma’s favourite, and yet again those celtic Neggae-slayers Wet Wet Wet denied Neggae another number one.
Score: A slow and steady 6 from me

‘It’s been a long time, we shouldn’t have left you, without more neggae to step to, step to, step to, step to wikkywikkywikkwah’

It’s been an unproductive couple of weeks at Neggae Towers which culminated with one of the Elders having a mental breakdown over car keys. However now the cranial zaps have been banished we should be back on track, speaking of tracks this is a lovely one to restart the neggae rollercoaster with.
Brian and Tony Gold (not siblings, neither of their surnames are Gold, neggae is one crazy musical genre) first got together in the eighties to perform at talent contests in Kingston, however they soon graduated from singing outside the Bentall Centre and were releasing their own records in the early nineties. Their popularity spiked in 1994 when they teamed up with Leroy May, who was better known as ‘Red Dragon’ (Neggae fact, he named himself after his favourite Darts outlet having been impressed with the customer service he received when ordering a replica Bob ‘The Limestone Cowboy’ Anderson stetson).
This starts well, with compliments to all the nice and decent girls, a neggae motto the Daily Mail could get right behind. The beat shuffles in rather than skanks but this is a good thing as the mellow lead vocal drifts into your ether and is complimented beautifully by a little steel drum break. I close my eyes and suddenly I’m not sitting in the concrete utopia that is Woking, I’m transported miles away to the sea front at Margate, bliss.
One of the Pyrite brothers gets involved with a bit of toasting and it’s all nice, I can feel myself visibly relaxing after my boardroom ordeal, it’s massage by audio. The lyrics are fairly basic, the song’s protagonist is infatuated with his current squeeze and whenever he thinks about her gets a lob on. It’s not world changing stuff but it’s Neggae, who cares? The video is standard Negfair, they’ve set up in the same bar Dawn Penn used but it’s a much more tame affair, more like the aftermath of a christening rather than a celebration of someone being released from Prison . I’d quite like to go there and have a beer, in my mind you can watch cricket form the porch of the bar whilst enjoying a beer.
Score: This song’s like watching Zidane play, effortless magic – 9/10