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.



4 thoughts on “Chaka Demus and Pliers – Gal Wine

  1. Don’t give up, guys. I love this blog and it would be great shame, not to mention a considerable loss to posterity, if things fell apart halfway through the neggae era.

    Some of the scoring seems a bit off lately, mind you. Barely a 5 for this, despite the classic “big fat gal, slim body man” lyric and the dramatisation in the video? And you didn’t address the mystery of whether Chaka Demus considers himself to be slim, or whether he’s talking about something that happened to a friend. I would have liked to hear your thoughts on that one as it’s been puzzling me for nearly 20 years.

    • Tell me about it James – I gave it 8 out of 10. It’s that whinger Jonny Atkins dragging the average down.

      We’ve come to far to fail – I wont let it happen.

      There’s talk of a Neggae Wrap party when we complete this – we’ll make sure you get an invite.


      • OK, so Pliers is singing about how sweet his lady is, then Chaka suddenly brings the conversation round to her weight and his weird theories about big gals and their preferences. Seems a bit presumptuous considering this is apparently the first song they ever recorded together.

        Imagine if Pliers had taken offence and walked out – you couldn’t have blamed him but we would have missed out on three or four classic songs and possibly the whole neggae explosion as we know it.

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