Sting and Pato Banton – This Cowboy Song

Release Date: Feb 95
Chart Position: 15

I’m writing this from Marbella, for a time we were the prince’s of Puerto Banus, not bad for two boys from the rough slums of Pyrford. It was never going to last though and now things have gone proper nutty and got wight on top. The only way we’re getting out of this is going to Cadiz to meet a man so mental his own nightmares are scared of him, I don’t mind telling you, I’m pwoper shitting myself.
*ahem*, sorry about that, don’t know what came over me, on with the review. This version is actually a remix, which thankfully has played down the banjo stylings of the original. This is Sting’s explanation of the original ‘It’s an outlaw song about the existential cowboy becoming repentant of his days in the saddle and dealing with the concept of growing older, death or religion’
To really underline the gravitas of this deep, spiritual tale Gordon decided to get an Irish neggaeist to berk about and lay a verse down about following a guiding star or something, nice one you tantric twat.
The song starts with a decent horn and skanking beat, Paddy gives it a bit of chat about a guiding star and then Sting’s first verse kicks in and you know what? It ain’t too bad in the grand scheme of things. Sting’s vocals do leave me a bit cold though, there’s an underlying strain to his voice that makes him sound like he’s in dire need of an evacuation or suffering from a hernia. Then the chorus kicks in and it’s this bit that bothers me. The first thing is that coffee table guitar sound that’s endemic of Gordon Sumner, I’ve still no idea how he gets the savage weapon of Hendrix, Page and Townsend to sound like a watered down, slick, coffee table instrument. Shortly afterwards his trademark piano and electronic strings have kicked in and all the neggae’s been sucked out of it, it’s like something that’s not been deemed good enough for ‘Ten summoner’s tales’. Straight after the chorus Pato comes in and I’d bet after a 3 hour chat with Gordon about the song’s deep rooted sensibilities, like anyone else he was none the wiser so decided to write some nativity play like rhyme and cash the cheque to top up his diminished bag of sensi. The song continues in this vein for another 3 minutes, which is about 2 minutes too long in this elder’s humble opinion.
The video is some weird ‘Blazing Saddles’ pastiche, it starts off with Sting and a load of brasses but just as he’s starting to get his tantric on he realises there’s some other cowboy in the bottom of the bed, the fact he only realises this when he sees a pair of feet at the bottom of the bed which suggests he’s not the brightest spark. He then gets chased out of the bordello by his other half Trudie, at this point I do have a little bit of sympathy for him, if she can’t make him ejaculate after 15 hours he’s going to seek solace somewhere else. Meanwhile Paddy is watching this unfold on TV whilst wearing the Cat from Red Dwarf’s hair. He then falls asleep and is engulfed by a sea of smoke which I think indicates the Yowbs are smoking it up in the kitchen as the next minute he’s in the tv (again) and has taken the form of a preacher, it’s hardly ‘Like a Prayer’. We then cut to Sting and the world rejoices as it turns out someone has finally locked the prick up for his crimes against music. Pat is then returned to his sofa and has undergone some kind of spiritual awakening, we’ve all been there after a few blue mushrooms, he’ll be alright once he comes down. Disaster strikes at the end of the video as it seems Sting’s been let out, one can only assume they had to free up the cell for Jamie Cullum.
4/10 – the cowboy element should be referring to Sting’s musicianship.


In the years leading up to the Neggae-Britpop handover, the other UK pop-culture touchpoint was renewed interest in all things wild and west. Tombstone, Wyatt Earp at the Box Office, Cotton Eyed Joe in the charts – for some reason the UK was back in love with whompin’-and-and-a-stompin’ and yeein-and-a-hawin’. The fire that started with Young Guns and Back to the Future III was by the mid-90s a veritable Cowboy-based flame. Remember the holiday where Jamie got China Black’s autographs? The day before that, Mum and Dad took us to see Maverick at Worthing Odeon. Singularly the worst cinematic experience of my life.
On the telly, there was a little show called Crocodile Shoes that was regularly pulling in 12m viewers. Jimmy Nail was the star, and released Cowboy Dreams – a maudlin ballad that my Dad enjoyed so obviously I didn’t (see reasons why here).
TOTP knew this. In February 1995, with Oasis, Supergrass and the Prodge all bustling around the top 40 – TOTP gambled on a western-themed episode involving wor lads. I’ve hunted and hunted for video footage of this amazing episode – which included ponchos, fake tashes and cacti – but none exist. What did happen was a veritable Geordie/Neggae/Cowboy free-for-all, with Pato, Jimmy and Sting all jumping betwixt performances purely to make themselves and the British Public laugh. And they bloody did. The only recording of this happening is this:
As for the song – well we all know Sting is partial to a bit of the Reggay-Reggay. And taking into account Shinehead’s earlier effort, by being covered and producing original material, Sting is the first artist on the Neggae Hot 90 to create a self-closing loop.
This Cowboy Song sounds like much off Ten Summoners’ Tales, Sting’s return to form ‘93 LongPlayer. Inoffensive yet clever chordplay with Sting’s unmistakeably decent voice delivering an uplifting paen to prospecting and lynch mobs. You’ll notice that the video is a cut-and-shit affair, with Pato’s TV based scenes hastily grafted on to the high-budget, Western-based original. This is because the song itself was a re-up; Pato’s parts were added an the song gerenally iriefied to cash in on the Neggaemania now sweeping the UK. Sting had his eye on Pato (and in fact bankrolled his Breakthrough hit Baby Come Back) so called on the Brummie BadBwoy to share the Neggae love.
And he did. By Pato spitting a few well paced rhymes and berking about in the video – plus beefing up the sound woth some Neggae horns and backbeat, Sting rightfully landed the Neggae hit he was owed.
Score: 7/10

Keith de Vivre
Keith de Vivre has been AWOL for the last 2 weeks, with some neggae elders suggesting that they’d heard the last of the hirsute one… until a telegram (yeah they still exist) arrived via Bangladesh late last night…

When I saw that we were covering this this week I thought that there was some kind of mistake, as this can’t be neg can it?
Although I’m not going to use my purist neggae fundamentalist views as an excuse for being a week late on my review, so I won’t, I’ll blame something else…..just not sure what that is yet.
But, for christ sake its about a Cowboy….is it really neg? I suppose if the Pato contribution turns it neg then so be it I won’t argue it.
I remember my dad being heavily into Sting at the time and him giving this one plenty of airtime in the car singing along loudly to it. He always used to say “great track! But who’s that yapping over the top of him?” If I am honest I have to agree with my old dad on this one, I don’t think that Pato brings much to the party and I hate to say that I reckon the track would be better off without him. By giving a twist of neg and adding Pato to the mix I think that they have turned a great Sting track into a ‘you remember that jokey one he did with Pato Banton’ type track.
7/10 for me (5 for Sting and just the 2 for Pato)

Oh my. Has this blog really come to this?
#weakneggae #patowhatareyouthinking #cowboysaintneggae
#poorexcuseforarecord #stingandpatodontmix #showtune #patotakethatshirtoff #stingisabadshot #imdonethisisreallybad
0.0/10 #notworthfollowingtheguidingstar
#youtwoshouldhaveknownbetter #whereisshaggy



Aswad – You’re No Good

Release Date: Feb 95
Chart Position: 35

Aswad; You’re No Good. I wouldn’t go that far mate! Shine was good, this was so-so. But maybe he’s singing about Ace of Base?
“you’re no good, you’re no good, you’re no good…..your swedish p****s”
But unfortunately I doubt it. There should be more band/artist rivalry and sledging of each other within in lyrics. Negwars! That would be smart!
This would sit somewhere between Shine and the strange and confusing Warriors effort, although I think that the charts would suggest otherwise as this only got to no 35. Its almost the same track as Shine isn’t it? The intro is anyway and when I loaded it up thought I was listening to the wrong track. The first 30 secs is almost identical, the echoey vocals, the synthetic backbeat, the soft horn section, we’ve heard it all before. I appreciate that you should play to your strengths, but this is a little lazy and too formulaic.

Step 1 –
Take previous hit
Step 2 – Remove lyrics
Step 3 – Overlay new lyrics
Step 4 – Light bifter

I doubt Aswad would appreciate it if every review I did I simply copy and pasted a previous effort and just changed a few of the words without giving it my full attention and the dilligence that it deserves? Actually… lets not mention that, forget I said anything.
I like Aswad and they’ve delivered some classics, but this is not one of them. The video again is just following the blueprint of fun in the sun with hot girls looking good and acting as if they like the noys. That only works if you back it up with a good tune, or maybe the video is actually from another track as well? That would surely make this then the laziest offering we have ever reviewed?
Score: a 4/10 from me.Aswad+-+You're+No+Good+-+12-+RECORD_MAXI+SINGLE-195751

Aswad – You’re no good.
That could be my entire review. I’ll humour our audience with a few lines of fluff about this dreadful effort by one of my favourite bands and then I’ll get back to not listening to this and trying to delete it from my memory banks.
This one starts off slow with some standard Aswad beats, horns and strings. It doesn’t pick up pace, no rap or break with our young chap that lit up Shine, just 3 minutes or so of “You’re no good” repeated over and over again. The video is boring too; it lacks a lot. In fact I’m not even sure what it’s missing as I think I nodded off after 90 seconds.
Time to move on. A shame that after being  treated to a couple of good weeks on the blog we now have this mediocore effort.
Score: An uninspiring 3/10. Here’s a picture of Homer Simpson negging out to cheer us all up…1371447_10152243544073776_240217145_n

After the mighty neggae call to arms that was ‘Warriors’ Brinsley and the boys followed up with their take on the much covered ‘You’re no good’. Originally a hit for Betty Everett it was revived and made famous by Linda Ronstadt, however the version I was most familiar with was by the Swinging Blue Jeans as it sound tracked many a 2 day drive across France and Spain (followed by ‘Hippy Hippy Shakes’ on my Dad’s C90 I believe) as I was sat in the back seat with my two younger sisters, losing layers of skin as the faux leather interior didn’t stand up to the rigours of blazing Continental sun. That’s enough of my misty eyed recollections of getting third degree burns whilst listening to Genesis and Simple Minds and on with the review.
It starts with Brinsley’s slowed down almost choral singing of the chorus then the neg kicks in, well sort of, the beat reminds me of this rather than straight up neg but the horns add a layer of sun kissed authenticity to proceedings. As the song progresses there’s no real change up a sort of electronic didgeridoo sound’s introduced which is like Daft Punk covering ‘Sun Arise’ (do not click on this link if you’re easily offended by pedalos) but is hardly exciting. The vocals aren’t great and sound like they’ve been tampered with which is a bit unnecessary, these boys did ‘Beauty’s only skin deep’ they don’t need studio tampering. Lyrically there’s not a great deal going on but this isn’t the Azzas fault as the original could hardly be described as a wordy tome, a harsher person than me might say this is the lyrical equivalent of a Helen Keller tweet. The gist is they had a decent sort then much like Eve in the Garden of Eden were tempted away by forbidden fruit and it didn’t work out as they soon discover the pootang’s not always greener just because there’s a slagtag involved. They then ponder asking forgiveness but realise that the whole ‘no good’ thing could be flipmoded back onto them as they’ve basically broken someone’s heart because they’ve been blinded by the ability to suck a golf ball through a hosepipe. Thems the breaks lads, sometimes you have to take responsibility for your shoddy actions and take it on the chin, much like the brazen temptress of the piece did. I had a nagging feeling I’d heard this version before and then it dawned on me, that wasn’t the case, it just sounds like Boney bleeding M, and not one of their good’uns. Boney M with dreadlocks, pretty sure that’s been done before. They’re also lacking a guest rap about sporting stars which seems a golden opportunity missed with the chorus to berate people like Tom McKean who never really shone at the top level, Zeb must have been pissed off.
The video was clearly shot in the same weekend break that they did the ‘Warriors’ video which represents good business sense but loses points for originality which is a charge that could be laid on the whole video.

Neggae video checklist

  • Swimming Pool;
  • Scantily clad, unattainable women;
  • Sunshine;
  • Berking about with horns.

We’ve nearly got a full house here.
Although it’s nice to see Juan Pablo Sorin (the only Argentinean footballer named after a brand of Malt Loaf) popping up on 50 seconds.
Score: Although this may well be the only entry in the top 90 where the song title also acts as an introspective review of the song I can’t give it any higher than 4/10.

Keith De Vivre
In a probable first for the Neggae Hot 90, this may well be the only time a neg tune has been reviewed from the magnificent country of Bangladesh.
I’ve asked around a bit with the locals about whether the neg movement ever hit the subcontinent back in the day… Unfortunately, as I was met with blank faces, this survey yielded inconclusive results. But I’d be surprised if it didn’t. The shit was global. After two days here, I’ve noticed that the Bangladeshi people walk with a kind of swagger that could only be borne of a background of neg. What with the locals’ natural gait and the Ace of Base bangin’ out over a breakfast curry, it’s telling me the place was riddled with the neg circa 92-94. But to the job in hand… It’s Aswad.
Ah Aswad. Faithful Aswad.
You really can’t go wrong with Aswad can you? Everybody likes Aswad, even if it’s just to say their name. Aswad.

I’m going to have to keep this short and sweet before the sleeping tabs kick in:

  • For me, as a Neggae novice, they’re the epitome of the genre.
  • Dreads and hats look great.
  • You can’t go wrong with a synchronised horn section.
  • Bikini-clad women getting out of a pool in slo-mo is a cheap trick that delivers every time.
  • Was every neg tune a cover?
  • Getting on – and staying on – an inflatable swimming pool chair whilst staying bone dry is an art that deserves a point in itself.

That’s it.
It’s no Shine, but it’s Aswad. Solid stuff.
I’m going to bed.
Score: 6.5/10

In the 90s you see, the way it worked was like this:

Record company type: How d’you get on lads?
Aswad: Yeah we did OK, charted at Number 17. Went on TOTP and shit. All good?
Record company type: Marvellous! Here’s another 10k. Well done!
*rubs head, pats bum (a la Norm and the little Chinese barman in Weatherspoons).

And that’s how it was – bundles of cash to spunk on exotic videos and tours, which is what Aswad did.
After Shine and Warriors, Aswad enjoyed their spoils, and rather pointlessly covered this 60s standard. You’ll forgive my lack of enthusiasm, but I cannot stand the original record. From the age of 5 or 6, both Jamie and I were subjected to 60 megamix” double cassette volumes 1 and 2 in our Dad’s Datsun Sunny. A hellish, Jive Bunny style cut-and-shut affair – it was a who’s who’s of affordable also-rans of 60s music.. The Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Who, Motown and Stax artists – none of these were present because Telstar or K-Tel or Dino couldnt afford them.

You’re No Good was on there. Oh Yes. I must have heard “you’re no good” about 87 times in my life on a sh*t car stereo basically.  And at no time has it improved my life. I’m assuming it’s by some Merseybeat knock-off mob like everything that ever came out of Liverpool 63-65. Probably Gerry & the Dakotas. Or Billy J Cilla or whatever.
It sounds Beatlish but its not. I’m struggling to think of any stellar-superduper-amazing music that’s ever come out of Liverpool apart from the Beatles to be honest. Usually I look this sort of stuff up but its such a drainer I honestly cant be f*cked.
I don’t know who at Aswad HQ decided it was a good idea to give YNG the Ibeefa treatment, but whoever he (or she) was, deserves a pat on the back for being the laziest person in the history of Neggae. Cleary on a roll at this point, they spunked the cash on a decent video and covered an old standard with a few acidy squelches and horns.
Score: 2/10. Must try harder.