Release Date: May 95
Chart Position: 22
Well, this is an absolute joy. It’s a privilege to have Dancehall royalty such as SuperCat grace the Neggae Hot 90, and he does not let us down. My Girl Josephine skanks and crackles for 3m 43s of pop magic, and reinforces the very reason we do this every week. An old song I’d forgotten about has brought a little bit of joy into my life and I hope you enjoy it too.
For starters, Super Cat is one cool f*cker. I first became aware of him via one of the greatest mixes of all time, John Carter Live at the Social Volume 2. Every home should own a copy of this. SuperCat’s cut up vocals kick off the mix, sampled by Kenny Dope on opening track Supa. “Dada, now he’s a Super Cat man ah you a Don Dada” – These words have swirled around my head for days on end – the flat yet gravelly vocal style tough yet rhythmic. Like any DJ with borderline OCD I immediately snaflled up any Super Cat music I could find.
Super Cat, like Chakademus and Pliers, was a bonafied 80s Dancehall star. His production and credits lists on discogs read like a who’s who of the JA 80s scene, so it was inevitable that he would turn up at the Neggae party at some point. The fact that the crystalline production on My Girl Josephine was completed by Sly & Robbie should come as no surprise. It just sounds fantastic.
Filtered drum rolls, echoed toasting, tabla, huge horns section – I think this might be the greatest production on the Neggae hot 90. Everything sounds turned up to 11. Listen to My Girl Josephine, then go back and listen to Boom-Shak-a-lak. Makes the latter sound like a Stock Aitken and Waterman production frankly – and that’s no slight on Apache Indian by the way. This record is just too good.
Like Oh Carolina, Super Cat takes a big ole Fats Domino sample and makes something new out of it. Sampling Fats Domino was clearly a shoo-in for Neggae chart success, yet no-one thought of sampling Blueberry Hill – his most famous song. I’m just imaging Suggs toiling through it now actually. Probably best left alone.
Super Cat though. What a boy. Sounds like U-Roy, looks like Chris Kamara. And ably assisted by Jack Radics on the chorus, who if you recall from Twist and Shout was essentially a cross between Billy Preston and Baloo from the Jungle Book when he’s in disguise in an attempt to storm the monkey castle to save Mowgli:
He’s smartened up his act a little in this video though which is to be applauded.
Until this week’s review I’d forgotten all about this song. Upon first listen though, I was instantly transported back to the Student Union common room in Brooklands College in 1995. Whiling away the lunch playing 40p games of pool with Dom and Jonny, and trying to commandeer the jukebox with Britpop classics. In those days the battle for jukebox supremacy often involved running from class to the SU the second lunch break started, to load it up with a couple of quid to ensure the goths didn’t put crap like Ich Bin Ein Auslander on rotation.
Anyway, one day I was a bit slow off the mark, and some bloody girls had got there first. Josie Farnsworth and Phillipa Walker played 2 songs on rotation for the whole lunch hour – Waterfalls by TLC and My Girl Josephine (AKA ‘Josie’s song’). Waterfalls I could take or leave, but My Girl Josephine was just dandy. So thanks Josie, great choice (didn’t need to play it seven times in a row though.)
Score: a ten from me.
Super Cat, my man. After reading up on this fella, mucho respect to him. He grew up in the rough and ready Seaview Gardens neighborhood in Kingston (I know, sounds really tough, probably similar to West Byfleet if I had to guess), he is the older brother to Junior Cat and his nickname of “Wild Apache” was given to him by his friend and mentor Early B.
Early in his career he would DJ under the name of Cat-A-Rock and switch between that and Wild Apache until he settled for Super Cat. Anyway, his bio is fascinating, I love the names that they come up with and roll with. In my opinion, he nailed it with Super Cat.
So, onto the song. Another one that I really don’t remember all that well. I did a little double take when elder Vince posted the link on the communal Neggae message board. Super Cat? Nah, never heard of this guy. So, I click on the link, not knowing what to expect and I’m pleasantly surprised. This song compliments last week’s effort from Bob and has renewed my faith in sweet Neggae music. A stellar version of Fats Domino’s original. I love the intro, island toasting accompanied by horns and what appears to be some sort of snare, or not – I don’t know my instruments that well. I’ll defer to Vince for clarification on the light background drum type of noise. The big band style is a nice twist, something I was not expecting. Jack Radics and Super Cat really work well together. Sublime vocals to go with some fun and light-hearted lyrics. For me, it keeps you entertained and head bobbing from start to finish.
Score: I’m down with Super Cat. My Girl Josephine scores a very competitive 8/10. A nice treat and excellent addition to the Neggae Hot 90
Did he shoot Nitty Gritty? Didn’t he? Was it a member of his band? Was he involved in someway or another? Who knows? There is a lot of circumstantial evidence to it, but nothing concrete. At the end of the day I am not that familiar with this Nitty Gritty character and all I know is that Super Cat has absolutely kicked the crap out of this version of Josephine and for that alone should be proved innocent of anything he has ever done. Anyone who cant take a Fats Domino’s track and add this level of top spin gets a massive ‘iree iree’ from me!
This is amazing and the only disappointment I have is that I don’t remember this tune at all. If I had heard to before I definitely would have remembered it as its is maybe my favourite track on the list so far. I know that is a massive call but I mean it. Its authentic dancehall sound makes you listen with intent as it drops in. Its got great rhythm and peaks and troughs nicely, all the time building and building getting better and better as the track goes on. This has real pedigree and you know from the beginning that the tune oozes class and demands respect. This is Head and Shoulders (trademark Procter&Gamble) above the other stuff we have been reviewing lately or dare I say since the beginning of the blog. I normally pick no bones about how sometimes I really find this process a chore and how Thursday nights/Friday mornings can often fill me with dread. But hearing this makes me really change my tune and turns it into a joy! This has brightened up my day. Yes we just got pumped at 5-a-side tonight, yes Knivo dodged his round in the pub again, but you know what? Who cares! I always lose at 5-a-side and Knivo never buys a round, life goes on and so will this track! I enjoyed every minute of it including the easy going video of them hanging around that dusty old town that has a certain amount if charm to it, I’d even like to visit it someday.
Score: A magical 10/10 from me!
This week we’ve got one of my favourite modern reggae artists with his only Hot 90 entry; Supercat enters the fray ably supported by neggae collaborator Jack Radics. Super first tasted global success after taking advice from his American cousin (MC Skat) and got involved with the burgeoning Commercial Hip Hop Scene (Chipshop) appearing on a remix of Jump by Kriss Kross, RIP Daddy Mack, I’m literally pouring a Fruit Shoot in your memory right now. He then had a few more biggish songs without really troubling the UK chart. Then, at Sophia Loren’s insistence, he was included on the soundtrack of neggae fashion film ‘Prêt a Porter’ with this Fats Domino cover which burst into the charts and peaked at number 22 around the time of my 20th birthday, when the long summer days were mainly spent locked in a dark garage doing bongs until my Dad found my ‘hubbly bubbly pipe’ and clearly didn’t believe it was a prototype of water filtration tool designed to help 3rd world communities.
The song starts with some top Neggae drum samples in a similar vein to ‘Carolina’ with a declaration of love to his girl Josephine. Then the horns kick in shortly followed by the beat and piano and we’re off basically, the song is chugging along like a six pack of mini Heinekens and you can’t help but tap your feet. The production doesn’t change up much throughout but it doesn’t need too as the producer has lovingly reworked the original and kept a Michael Carrick-like simplicity to the whole piece, unlike last week’s overegged pudding of a rework. Vocally the Cat/Radics combo is as sweet a combination as Shearer and Sheringham v Holland in Euro 96. Without this song I’d go as far as to say this new wave of the new wave of Neggae classic would never have come to light or Nu-Wop as I like to call it.
Lyrically it’s a the Cat Radics combo imploring childhood sweetheart Josephine to remember the good times they had together as innocent youths and follows up with attempts to woo her with their dead Grandad’s possessions which include a car, a helmet, some Cuban cigars and a pocket watch. I’m not sure this is really going to work unless Josephine is in fact Miguel Angel Jimenez but you’ve got to credit the effort. I also have visions of the handover from the Grandad being a Caribbean take on this. The song carries on in this vein and like a David Lynch film there’s no definitive ending and you’re left to draw your own conclusions, personally I think Josephine is in the Black Lodge with Laura Palmer and Agent Cooper.
The video is actually reasonably stylish for a neggae effort with Jack and Super dressed like Bugsy Malone characters. There’s an old bloke in a suit dancing about who’s a bit of a worry, he can’t seem to put his tongue in his mouth and looks like my cat when he’s thirsty, it could be the result of a stroke but he’s smiling so like the end of a massage in Goa it’s a happy stroke. The heroine of the piece is dressed demurely for a neggae video which is refreshingly lacking in misogyny preferring to concentrate on her sunny demeanour and friendly manner, don’t get me wrong though she’s still a right facking sort and given half a chance I’d be up it in a shot. The gist of the video is that Josephine walks round with a rhythmic swagger, like a Jamaican Rooty Tooty, which is infectious and spreads happiness wherever she goes. How charming and harks back to a more innocent time before Shabba was even a potential stain on his dad’s stomach.
Score: 8/10 – A shame this is Supercat’s only entry.
This is a delight. What we have here is good-time twelve-bar rock ‘n’ roll meets good-time Neggae uptown – possibly the sunniest genre combination imaginable. There’s nothing complicated about it at all: Twist and Shout show-stealer Jack Radics and relative newcomer Supercat pass the mic back and forth over a bouncy Bitty McLean-style groove. Then again there’s no need for fancy stuff when you’ve already got everything you could want – a strong chorus (a Fats Domino cover, a quick poke about reveals), neg ‘n’ roll piano, industrious percussion and a neat horn break in the middle.
Compared to Twist and Shout this is a nicely controlled vocal from Mr Radics – he leaves the adlibs to his accomplice and only shows a hint of the raucousness he’s capable of, managing this time out not to sound like a complete maniac. Supercat has quite a polite deejaying style, which here is as simple and effective as the rest of the track. He might not be the quickest or the flashiest, but he scores big on charm – in fact I’d go so far as to say he’s a worthy successor to Fats Domino in that department.
It’s charm that makes this song: the whole package is just hugely likeable. Impossible to dance well to and impossible to sit still to, it would be guaranteed to unite any room, barbecue or major sports venue in joyous, terrible bopping. Sure it’s repetitive, but if that was a bad thing I wouldn’t have felt the need to keep replaying it as I’ve been writing – I’ve now played it seven or eight times and far from being bored, I’m enjoying myself nearly as much as the old geezer in the video.
I’d never heard this track before having to write about it, which just goes to show how rich the Neggae era was. The Shaggys and Shabbas may have grabbed the headlines but even the subs’ bench was packed with talent – much like the England squad at the time, when legends like Robbie Fowler or Ian Wright could barely get a game. Heady days.
Score: 9 out of 10
NEGGAE SCORE: 9