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.
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
NEGGAE SCORE: 4.0