Shabba Ranks – Let’s Get it On

Release Date: Apr 95
Chart Position: 22

James BC
This isn’t a pleasant listen at all. Even though the vocal style is still there, it’s hard to believe this is the same Shabba who made Mr Loverman. He must have been getting some very poor advice. The backing here sounds like an attempted Barry White homage, but the strings end up being more horror film than Love Unlimited. Strings rarely feature in reggae, and now we know why.
Then there are the lyrics. Shabba is trying to put the moves on yet another poor lady, who he rudely addresses as “Big body gal” right out of the gate, line 1 verse 1. Maybe he’s trying to capture some of the magic of Gal Wine, but you need to be a cheeky Chaka Demus to get away with that sort of thing, not a shouting Shabba. Later he starts up with “Shabba is a human waterbed” – so perhaps by this point in his declining career he’d gained a few pounds as well? Perhaps the song is supposed to paint a Fernando Botero-esque picture of plus-sized seduction? If so it won’t work because of Chaka’s Law: big body gal love slim body man, not men who resemble 1980s novelty bedroom furniture.
A bit of excess weight would at least explain the audible inhalations between each line, which you can’t stop hearing once you notice them. Something must be hampering Ranks’s lyrical flow: by the end the inspiration has dried up entirely and he’s resorting to “You do me and I do you.” Not exactly Marvin Gaye.
I don’t know who is singing the chorus, but I assume it’s not Maxi Priest because he’d surely at least throw in a “Shabba!” to liven things up. Whoever it is, it doesn’t provide much of a hook and Shabba keeps talking over it anyway. 
You have to feel a bit sorry for Shabba here. Overweight, out of ideas and with only RnB freaks and violin players to collaborate with, he tries to recapture the old Mr Loverman magic but the feeling is gone. My sympathy won’t make the song any better, though, and it’s all the more disappointing after the promise in the intro that it would be “action packed”.
Score: 2 out of 10.

Jonny
Firstly happy new year to our followers, but to be honest I’m feeling pretty negative about the whole neg-train post Christmas and this will show in the quality of my review this week.
The first week after a period of neg downtime is seriously taking its toll. Friday mornings for the last few weeks have been about how much food and booze I can put away before lunchtime and before having to leave the house. Now we are back to reality where I have to get up at the crack of dawn to write something, just anything to avoid being cyber bullied by the other elders.
My high hopes of the young Jewish drummer Franks bringing some new found life into the blog have been dashed – he retired without a single submission. If such musical inspiration has so little passion for the genre I am starting to wonder if we are all wrong about it? Further to this it now means we are now paying off three reviewers, the financial pressures are far from over and my expenses will never get paid. Looks like that Capri Sun and Rasta Wig will be coming out of my own pocket!
Vince the grump is back and it has only taken until the 9th day of the new year for him to remind me that Negbatz coupled with a few too many pints of Estrella do not mix. The simple notion and joke of being late and a half hearted request for an extension was batted back swiftly from the dictator including language that I cannot repeat on here and a threat that I my position can easily be replaced. Given the debacle since his little brothers’ departure I doubt that? (But please Vince don’t take that the wrong way and fire me!). Clearly he didn’t get those Johnny Gill socks he was after for Christmas.
Lastly after finally looking like we have found a more than capable replacement for mini-Synan, Keith De Vivre and Franks the downside is that James BC can seriously write and I am feeling a little intimidated by the thought of having to raise my game between now and the end of this blog. Instead of doing the right thing, manning up and investing some extra time in wording an eloquent and well thought out review, for this week I will be reverting back to a teenage state and shall deliver this entry in Facebook/txt speak. So here, *ahem* goes:

Shabba.ranks dun a gud tune hear and I like it lots.it is really chilled out and I like its vyb.when i herd it 4 the 1th time in years it remindeded me of gud times with my m8’s. I am shure that it is was used in a movie from 90’s, just cant not remember which 1? Boyz N The Hood, Mo Money,New Jack City? Somink like that?
Shabba is his normal self and it is easy n well quik to pic up his deliver style. I got know clu what he be wrapping about as I cant hear his words proper,but I expct that from him n doesnt’ bother me 2 mch. I actually like that bout him.I tried 2 look on interweb for words 2 song bt culd not find know words 2 song. I fink that no1 else across the world with interweb compooter got no ideas neever?
The best bit bout Shabba I fink is that althou I no understand his word the sampl is always v strong (bit like Loverman,Housecall). Nw dont get me bad,ths is not good as Mr Loverman or Shabba other gud songs but is stll a gud song that I like much.
shabba

My petulance is back firing on me and the above few lines have taken me twice as long as if I had applied myself correctly. Think next week I will go back to English.
Score: A solid offering form Shabba – 7/10 from me!

Norm
Let’s Get it On by Shabba and his ever changing wardrobe is this week’s delight. I’ll give it to him, that boy knows what he likes and isn’t shy about it. In one scene he’s gyrating in the Island equivalent of a Rab C Nesbitt string vest. Classic, not many people can pull that off and look the part.
Shabba Ranks and my pal from Govan, Rab C Nesbitt. The more I think about these two characters, the more I find they have in common. I have a hard time understanding either of them. They both talk gibberish  be it slow and steady or a fast paced rap (in Rab’s case rant). They both gyrate, Shabba for the ladies, Rab for his next pint of beer.
rabc
So, my wife just came in and said “What’s taking you so long to write your review? How much is there to write about that song? You’ve played it 5 times in a row and it gets worse every time!” Apparently, I’ve spent the last hour playing Shabba and Rab C Nesbitt clips and she is now a little agitated because not only is Shabba not exactly appropriate for the little ears in my household, neither is Rab C.
So, in closing, I will keep this short and sweet.
Shabba puts out a fair to middling tune, starting off with a classic line about him being your waterbed, and the pillow on your head. How can you go wrong with such a lyrical genius you say? A fashionista and pioneer of the organic island rap that is attempted by many but never duplicated to the high standards that Mr Ranks has set. A man so comfortable in his skin, he shows it all…..all the time. It just seems that everything Shabba produces sounds the same, just different lyrics. Even the videos are borderline the same. Girls in bikinis, Shabba in various states of undress, grinding vocals…… you know the drill.
I used to give credit for artists that showed some willing with the video aspect of their production, but I’m starting to get a wee bit bored of Shabba’s inability to be more creative. Maybe if he and UB40 got together – no, on second thoughts, scrap that.
Score: Put me down for 5.5/10 Shabba Nesbitt did ok, just didn’t blow me away.

Gouldy
Oh god, not this berk again, the Tom Cleverley of Neggae makes another appearance in the Hot 90, but much like Cleverley’s international career, no-one knows why. Whenever a Shabba song comes up I get the same feeling as I used to on Sunday nights when I had homework to do for Monday.
‘Hmm, I should really have done that instead of berking around with my mates all day. It’ll be fine I’ll do it after London’s Burning’ ‘Right London’s Burning has finished I’ll do the homework, actually, hold the bells, Hale and Pace is on. I’m pretty sure I can knock up a project on the Cabinet War Rooms in 20 minutes anyway.’
Cut to Monday morning – ‘Dad, yeah I feel quite ill, I don’t think I should be going to school today really’.
I don’t remember this the first time round and was bracing myself for a bastardisation of the Marvin Gaye classic but fortunately we’re spared that potential nightmare as this is in fact an ‘original’.
The intro is standard Shabba, some accapella toasting which I think I understand and he finishes the opening stanza with the declaration ‘relaxing flute’ which is strange because I didn’t have him marked down as a fan of James Galway.  Then the beat kicks in and yet again its neggae credentials are questionable as it’s more of his budget RnB sludge, more Teddy Sheringham than Teddy Riley. The one plus point of the production is the guitar lick they loop throughout but otherwise it’s mid-tempo formulaic dirge, I prefer this Shy FX version as there’s more drums and less Shabba, but I digress. Lyrically the song is standard Shabba fare as he lets the world know about his sexual prowess, personally I wonder what Freud would make of a man who feels the need to release 14 albums proclaiming himself the greatest lover of all time, actually fuck Freud I think he’s got a tiny cock and suffers from erectile dysfunction.
The video starts off with some close up of Shabba’s face and it struck me his eyes weren’t fully developed in the womb as he can’t open them properly, it’s like a newborn calf or Moley from ‘Wind in the Willows’. He then stands under a tree with more roots on display than a Westfield wedding, the tree’s roots are incredible and by far the most interesting thing about this whole production although I did find myself wishing they were actually some kind of carnivorous space worms which were going to kill and eat him. I think the plot of the video is some kind of Jet-ski treasure hunt which naturally involves a lot of ‘big batty women’ bogling under waterfalls and in swimming pools, beats Anneka Rice though to be fair. Then a mermaid appears which brings up one of the age old conundrums that’s foxed mankind throughout the ages, can you bang a mermaid? I understand how you can get a chew but actual sex? Do fish have vaginas? Would you want to have sex with a fish vagina? I don’t know and it’s making my brain hurt, did Darwin have any theories on this I wonder. The whole sorry affair culminates with Shabba and his Jet Ski bredren finding a load of treasure, which will keep Shabba in string vests for years to come, whilst Shabba does another shoutout to James Galway and goes for a bit of Daliesque surrealism by comparing himself to a water bed.
Score: 4/10 – let’s turn it in you bombastic ballbag.

Vince
So this is it then, the final appearance of Shabba on the blog. No-one’s ever really liked him, probably because he has an annoying habit of waving his tumescence (musically and physically) all up in everyone’s collective grill. Nothing wrong with getting all excited around the ladies – but come on mate, a bit of light and shade eh?
The 6th song, and its the 6th song about banging basically.
He sticks to the tried and trusted Neggae-NewJack crossover sound, with his Ragga toasting complimented with softer US soul production. I for one was always partial to a bit of Swing, and actually think this is one of his better efforts. The strings are well produced, and the female vocals compliment Shabba’s standard foghorn riddims. At times the minor key groove reminds me of the closing credits of the Fresh Prince, or the Isley Brothers Between the Sheets. And whatever way you slice it, Shabba’s opening lyric of “I’ll be your Waterbed” is pop genius.
The video is decent enough – all of the indigenous beauty and beauties of Jamaica on show in a typically exotic promo. And of course the sex-mermaids, naturally.
I’m surprised at myself for not owning or even remembering this song first time round – although with hindsight my swingbeat infatuation that started in 1991 had  probably come to an end by now. And by 1995 Britpop was entering its imperial phase – I imagine I picked this record up in HMV in Guildford, only to put it down and pick up Some Might Say by Oasis instead. The beginning of the end for Neggae.
Score: No hard feelings Shabba (unlike yourself) – 6/10

NEGGAE SCORE: 4.9

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