Ali Campbell – Let Your Yeah Be Yeah

James BC
After fifteen-plus years operating as a close-knit unit, a member of UB40 branches out with a solo side project. We’ve all enjoyed the blend, now it’s time for the single malt: what game-changing statement will the collective’s vocalist make, now that he’s been afforded the opportunity to share his unique musical vision with the world?
Imagine my disappointment to find that Ali Campbell freed from the shackles of UB40 sounds like… Ali Campbell in UB40. Except exactly one eighth as good, and the pleasing mathematical symmetry of this fact in no way makes up for the listening ordeal I have just been subjected to. Ali commits all the crimes against music that UB40 get accused of:
– cover version
– Casio preset production
– overly sentimental
– yet somehow with all the feeling sucked out at the same time
– coffee table version of reggae that a real rude boy would run 100m in 9.76 seconds to get away from
– sung by Ali Campbell

I will defend UB40 against these charges until the cows come, but when it’s just Ali on his own, and when he turns in cobblers like this, a house full of cattle is not a price worth paying and I am firmly on the side of the prosecution.
Where did it all go wrong?
To start with, the choice of song is poor. When Jimmy Cliff wrote this in the early 70s, reggae songs tended to start fading out after two and a half minutes. It was fine in that context but when padded out to a length suitable for 90s radio it wears as thin as Birmingham’s claims that its canal system makes it the English Venice. I don’t buy the argument, either, that UB40 had used up all the decent reggae hits already. Labour of Love III came out a few years later and was the best Labour of Love yet, so I’m afraid this is simply Ali C being a div.
Secondly, the production is what detractors call UB40 by numbers. Normally I have no problem with UB40 by numbers, but here the numbers are all wrong. The tempo is too slow, there are the wrong number of UB40 members (1 instead of 8) and in particular the horns seem way off – where real-UB40 horns can be rousing (Present Arms) or joyful (Can’t Help Falling) or soothing (Bring Me Your Cup) or spooky (Food For Thought), these fake-UB40 horns trailblaze new territory deep into the lost continent of Annoying. Ali’s voice ends up having to carry the whole thing and, with the best will in the world and coming from a UB40 fan, in this case it’s not up to the job.
It’s as if Ali believed all the haters who were saying that what UB40 do is easy: take an old hit, press the UB40 button and storm the top ten. He’s tried to do exactly that and in doing so, proved that the nay-sayers are wrong and there’s actually a lot more to the Yowbs than appearances suggest. His band comes out of it well, then, but this is almost as huge a misstep for the man himself as the shirt he’s got on in the video.
Score: 3 out of 10.

This week’s entry is Ali Campbell going solo and covering the Jimmy Cliff classic ‘Let your yeah be yeah’, the title was taken from Matthew 5:37 and ranks number 2 on my list of songs that take their titles from bible verses, number one is ‘A bitch iz a bitch’ by NWA from Eazy 4:19. This song had been previously covered by The Pioneers in 1971, achieving a chart position of number 5 and therein lies my problem with the Ali C version.  We start with a horn intro but I’m not sure it’s really neg horns as it sounds more like some incidental music from a seventies sit-com, probably a racist one and would be used when the token black character messes up, ‘you’ve done it again Chalky!’ *horn intro*. The beat kicks in and it’s a classic bit of yowbs production with an electronic piano, horns,  standard bass and like a Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross radio show has the odd bit of sax thrown in for good measure.
Ali Campbell’s vocals are decent as ever, he’s not really pushing the boat out but it’s a professional performance. Overall it’s a bit of a plodder, the tempo is slower than the original or previous cover version, the vocals are fine but not groundbreaking, it’s almost like Ali’s got another tax bill to pay and has churned this out to make some dosh.
The lyrics are a warning to people to be truthful with Ali, a little hypocritical given his dealings with the HMRC, as he can now see through it all and has no trust in them whatsoever and basic ally he holds no truck with heir Walter Mitty like existence.  I really wish my Dad had played this to me when I was a teenager, it would have saved numerous exchanges like this;

Dad comes into room, it stinks of smoke.
‘Have you been smoking Jamie?’
‘No Dad’
‘What’s that smell?’
‘What smell?’ – Desperately hoping the slightly open window combined with lynx and the stench of teenage sexual desperation will cover things.

‘The smell of smoke, cigarette smoke’
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’
Noticing there seems to be a fire under the bed he pulls out a mug with a still lit cigarette in there – ‘What’s this?’
‘Where has that come from?’ etc, etc. Painful.

The video seems to be based on a Stu-stu-studioline advert with Ali sitting in box designed by the same person who designs their packaging. It then cuts to an attractive blonde dressed in pvc, who looks like she’d be good fun for a night but don’t take it any further than that as she’ll have handcuffed to the radiator and be banging the postman in front of you whilst making derisive comments about your manhood and sexual prowess. Then we have one of those sliding picture puzzle games which annoyingly pop up on the ‘Nuts’ pub quiz picture round, it’s supposed to be a quiz game, not the ‘Crystal Maze’, fuck off. We cut to a wooden shelf covered in various trinkets which really reminds me of an album cover, I thought it was ‘Stanley Road’ but it’s not, so I’m deducting a point for annoyance factor.
We then have various people berking in and around the box, including the mental banshee doing her best ‘Robot Wars’ impression with a circular saw. Finally it becomes apparent why she’s a touch psychotic as she opens her mouth and reveals herself to be the daughter of Bond villain Jaws.
Score: Sorry Ali, this has been done better on two previous occasions and this version is a bit Butlins for me, so I score it 3/10

Hmm, Ali Campbell.
Initially when I saw this my heart sank and I grumbled a little under my breath at having to write another review about Ali or UB40. Then I snapped out of my funk, said to myself “How bad can it be?” So, I click away and start to “Let you yeah be yeah” unfold infront of me.
10 seconds in and I’m dizzy with all the colour and moving objects in the video. I persevere, watch on through squinted eyes trying desperately not to suffer an epileptic fit. I’ve been pretty harsh with Mr Campbell about his lack of creativity when it comes to his videos. I can only imagine what the production meeting were all about. So much for thinking outside the box, in fact, it appears that they though so far outside the box they ended up back inside the box. If you’re lost, I’m not surprised; I’m lost. Who exactly signed off on this? Who was the project manager? Someone had to watch this from start to finish and say, “Yep, that’s it guys, we nailed it. Well done.” Probably the same nonce that said all his other videos were quality. I dunno, it may be my anti-UB40/Ali side of me coming out again but I can’t help it.
The song starts off as most of his do, slow. Horns, Ali’s raspy vocals follow. Same sh!t, different song. This one never gets out of first gear, chugs along a woefully slow pace and has me bored to tears 30 seconds in. Music is supposed to be good for your soul, inspiring, energizing, uplifting et cetera. This is the opposite. My head is going to break if I have to listen to another verse by this guy. In fact as I’ve just spent the last half an hour listening to this the weather has changed with my mood. It was nice and sunny out, now it’s dark, cloudy and pissing down. Thanks Ali, you have not only ruined my ears with your monotone voice, you’ve hurt my eyes from that god awful video and to top it off you’ve ruined the weather as well. Great.
Score: In summary, poor effort, almost impossible to watch without feeling queasy. I can’t give this one more than 1/10. Time to step aside Ali.

I don’t seem to have learnt my lesson as I have not prepared well enough for the deadline again this week having only listened to the tune late last night. However to demonstrate my dedication to the cause and to my fellow neg elders I have made an intervention and am writing this review whilst I am in a meeting at work. So I have half of my mind on neg and the other half on the UK consumer buyer behaviours and patterns of feminine protection products. In that context somebody has just used the term ‘heavy flow’ which I am pretty sure won’t help me sleep tonight.
Let’s cut right to the chase here.
The song is pretty average, but the trademark Ali delivery goes a long way to make up for it and limit the damage. The tune seems to go round and round a little with poor development. However Ali sounds great and again shows us why the UBs were such a force through the 90’s. I also like the subtle and non over powering horn section in this, which is probably the best part of the production. Hold on! Somebody is just asking me a question about the additional manufacturing costs to make the wings bigger. I have no idea as I have not been listening for the last 5 minutes. I just said a quid a pad which nobody seems to have questioned. Looks like I got away with it, nice one, back to Neg.
The lyrics are pretty nursery rhymeish and I’m not entirely sure what he’s going on about? It seems as if he just needs his Mrs to talk straight to him, stop giving mixed messages and stop talking in riddles like Dungeon Master. Not sure he’s going to solve that never ending dilemma, but fair play to him for giving it try. Would have been nice if he had a follow up to this song outlining if he ever succeeded and if so exactly how. I am sure a few blokes out there could do with some similar help. The video does not initially seem like much however in hindsight I imagine was pretty breakthrough that leveraged nicely some new PC video editing software. It may have been the first of its kind to use the mixed perception of sizes and shapes of multicoloured cubes that clearly helped artists in the future, no one more so than Jamiroquai who if I remember correctly loved that sort of stuff.
Holy shit!
Just listening to the summary and wrap up of the meeting and the quid I quoted seems to be the financial backbone of a new product launch to have a triple winged maxi pad delivering significant incremental sales!
The team are all basking in the glory of this plan and see it as the biggest thing since digital application, so much so that the guy at the other end of the conference table has a pad stuck to his forehead with the word WINNER scribed on it and the one next to me is leaning back in his chair smoking a tampon as if it were a mock cigar!
Further to this I also seem to be getting the credit for it. Look out folks this might be hitting shelves near you soon if my estimate was accurate. However I am pretty sure it wasn’t in which case I am going to have to find somebody else to blame the failure of the project on.
Marketing! Going to spend the rest of the day trying to blame Marketing, bastards only colour shit in all day anyway!
Score: 6/10 over and out till next week.

So Ali Campbell conforms to the egotistical traits espoused by many a lead singer. Leaving his brothers-in-arms with their proverbial dicks in their hands, he went off to make a pretty woeful solo album, with this mehdiocre cover of and old Jimmy Cliff tune one of the singles.
The production is SO UB40ish that it’s hard to see why Ali felt the need to do it. I mean, I wasn’t expecting lo-fi indie shoegazing, but I can’t imagine Astro, Robin and the boys were that impressed. It does have one redeeming feature; a beautiful sub-bass moog line that I wasn’t expecting. But that’s it.
The video has a nice, Brooklands College Graphics A-level feel to it. Jigsaws, sliding puzzles, printers tray, ripped paper lines, toy cars. I pretty much used all of these techniques in gaining my A-level ‘C’ grade around this time. Should have got a job making pop videos clearly.
Must have been something in the Pop legend water supply, because the video is VERY similar to Paul Weller’s Changingman released a few months earlier. But whereas Weller visually references 60s PopArt and Peter Blake, Ali Campbell has loftier ambitions by telegraphing Modernist pioneer Piet Mondrian.
Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red 1937-42 by Piet Mondrian 1872-1944

And that people, shows you what happens if you fail the secondary subject in your combined honours degree and have to do History of Art for a year. Just glad it finally came in useful.
Score: 5 out of 10 (and 2 of those are for the video)



Shaggy ft Rayvon – In the Summertime

Release Date: July 95
Chart Position: 5

In the words of Donovan, ‘The area of Surrey was a County, Which lay before the great flood, In the area we now call the Thames’, basically I’m on a bit of a downer as it’s been raining for 3 months non-stop. This has resulted in me playing football once this year and has meant I’ve spent my weekends doing DIY, which I’m terrible at, although with the amount of practice I’m getting I should be able to knock up an Ark in the next month. Fortunately this week’s entry is shining sunshine into my life as the negfather Shaggy returns with a cover of the Mungo Jerry classic ‘In the Summertime’ and is ably supported by the puntastically named Rayvon (shame on you Peter Kaye, you chubby plagiarising Boltonite). As an interesting side-note Rayvon went on to have solo success with his own CBBC series which was basically an updated ‘Knightmare’.
We start off with a typical bit of bombast from Shaggy with his trademark cry of ‘SHAGGY HAH, oh and that ray bloke as well’ with the production being pretty faithful to the original version just with some added Neg beats. The most distinctive timbre in Neggae compliment Rayvon’s soulful vocals perfectly and the combination of Mungo Jerry and Neg is a great Anglo-Jamaican fusion which paved the way for greats such as Gin and Lilt and ‘Death in Paradise’.*

*Gone downhill a bit since Ben Miller was replaced by that goon from ‘My Family’ and BT ads.

Lyrically it’s the usual Neg story of ‘Sun’s out, got my American sportswear on, time to go and bag a raving sort’. Not overly sure about ‘If her daddy’s rich take her out for a meal, if her daddy’s poor, just do what you feel’, seems to be condoning raping people based on the amount of money they have, did George Osborne write this song? I can see it now, him, BOJO and Dave the rave cooking up bare lyrics under the influence of Taittinger and bugle on a Bullingdon beano. Shaggy then gives a warning of the risk of too much free love, STDs, she might be sweet like honey but if you’re not careful your japs eye will be stinging like a bee, pretty sure that’s what he means anyway.
The video pretty much adheres to the B formula of neg videos;

  • Birds;
  • Beach;
  • Blue Sky;
  • Big House;
  • Bogling;
  • Bad Boys;
  • Bloke rollerskating.

Like the song there’s nothing original about it but that doesn’t matter as it looks like a good laugh and is certainly getting rid of my SADS.
The sun has come out since I’ve been playing this, Spurs won convincingly last night, even Vince making up a meeting so I have to come into the office and haven’t wanked worked from home is failing to dampen my spirits – 7/10

James BC
Let’s start with the best bit: the video. If want to know what should be in a neggae video, this one sums it up. Sun, sea, the beach, a big white house,
Shaggy looking dapper in braces, Shaggy looking casual in a T-shirt, Rayvon flashing a nipple in the car, lots of lovely ladies and handsome men dancing about and having a good time. A few local characters doing their thing. Rayvon’s hat.Shaggy-In-The-Summertime-62028-991
If, like me, you’re a fan of pairs of men doing formation dance moves, you’ll particularly enjoy this one. 2000s hip hop was brilliant for this – think Puff Daddy and Usher in the I Need A Girl vid, or Nelly and Akon in Body On Me – but once again we find that neggae blazed the trail for everyone else to follow.
As for the song, it ticks all the boxes without doing anything especially spectacular. It’s not fireworks – or if it is, it’s one of those tins of assorted small ones designed for back gardens. The groove chugs along nicely, wisely conserving the ‘ch, ch-ch’ noises from the original. The vocals are pretty good, and Shaggy’s winning personality can’t help but come through and raise a smile. But it ends up being a bit repetitive, giving the feeling of going round and round like you’re trapped in a one way system – haven’t we had that verse before? Yes, and I definitely remember that chorus… we’re lost! Should we ask for directions? No, it’s fine, the song’s finished and Supercat’s coming on. Good.
Score: 6 out of 10. Fine on a compilation but not one of the artist or genre’s shining lights.

Shaggy, it’s been a while mate. Good to have you back on the Hot 90 with this Malibu worthy stunner! This tropical beauty starts off nicely with a rustic drum intro then unloads quickly with some island beats. If there was any question about who was responsible for this one, that was answered 6 seconds in when Shaggy announces that “It’s a summer time affair, Shaggy, HA, Rayvon!” Boom, here we are, head bobbing and dancing right from the off. Shaggy’s unique, sub-baritone voice delivers the lyrics in typical Shaggy fashion and is complimented by Rayvon’s light hearted vocals. These two have similar chemistry to Chaka Demus and Pliers in my opinion, simply a joy to listen to. As Shaggy pick up in pace, the word seem to roll of his tongue with ease. Oh, by the way, it’s not that easy. I’ve been trying to sing along to Shaggy for decades now and can’t get anywhere near. Maybe it’s my West Byfleet accent that doesn’t lend itself to copying one of Neggae’s superstars. On to the video. Brilliant, absolutely worth a watch. It keeps you entertained from start to finish. Again, this has all the ingredients for a successful Neg video. Sun, women, open top jeep/buggy packed with people, beach scenes and a mansion with Shaggy looking suave, a la Don Johnson in Miami Vice. In conclusion, I’ve really enjoyed this one. Whether you have the video or not, it doesn’t matter. This song will put you in a good place on it’s own. Trust me, it’s now snowing here in Va Beach for the third time in 3 weeks and I’m drifting away to happier, sunnier places. And that happier, sunny place has me on a beach, sipping my Malibu giving this beauty a whopping 9.5/10! Thanks Shaggy for making my day and briefly ending this polar vortex the east coast of the USA is stuck in.1940273_10152595558228776_1162805164_n

Mungo Jerry’s all time classic has been covered more times than the noon deadline has been missed, but very few covers will stand up to Shaggy’s epic rendition turning it into a neg masterpiece. The original is great but when you add Shaggy waxing lyrical with his gruff delivery over the top it takes it to a new level that is hard not to appreciate. Very few tunes sum up neggae quite so well as this and very few tracks make you feel as happy as this when it comes on the radio, or when played on loop repeatedly when chilling out drinking tropical fruit punch in the garden. Following drink driving lobbyist protests Shaggy has quite shrewdly played with the lyrics a little to ensure it does not cause offence and make it more commercially acceptable for the 90’s. But apart from that he has left the heart and soul of the track intact. We can however forgive the Mungo’s for this as I think drink driving was big in early 1970’s Britain with cars being designed to be less sensitive to booze than they are today. They should bring those designs back, they might have guzzled a bit more fuel but look at the bigger picture people! My favourite bit is when Shaggy recommends that if your new girlfriends dad is quite wealthy, you should wine and dine her, but if not do what every you want. Just take her to Spoons or something? Who cares, she is fair game! This instantly makes you feel good and there are only a handful of tracks that you can really say that about, it is almost as if nothing else matters and for 3mins 44secs everything is cool. Maybe if James Prest had listened to this Sunday morning a few times it would have helped him out a bit? The video is up there with some of the best video footage we have reviewed to date. It is not that original, but just does the basics so well. Chicks, beaches, summer house, pool and lilo action, it’s all there in all its glory for you to enjoy. Unfortunately however the reality is that the song does in fact have to end after those magical almost 4mins and I still have 4 angry elders that are pissed at me for not doing my review on time. Think I’m going to play this on loop over and over again until they forget about it, which I don’t think will be long. They are not normally the sorts to hold grudges and make a meal of things. Well done Shaggy 10/10!

The Impact of the Anomalous Weather of 1995 on the U.K. Economy – And how Shaggy and Rayvon benefitted from it.
The summers of ’94 and ’95 are noted as some of the sunniest on record. 1995 in London in particular – no rain for both July and August. If I wasn’t working on a fruit and veg stall (awaiting my GCSE results)  – I was spending money on :

  • Chips at Guildford Lido
  • Kronenbourg at The Litten Tree in Woking (RIP)
  • Neggae vinyl at HMV in Guildford
  • Tartan Trousers at Bluebird Garage  Kings Road

The whole country went a bit bonkers basically. “It’s hot and sunny, earn money then spend it on something” was the national mantra. And with that Shaggy and Rayvon took this pile of pooclaart to number 5. What were we thinking?
Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been a fan of the Mungo Jerry DUI anthem; that deep south banjo Great Gatsby vibe just doesn’t rock my boat. Never has. No amount of Neggaefying is going to rectify it unfortunately.
Shaggy and Rayvon give it a go, but their toaster-singer combo just comes off as a poor man’s Chakademus and Pliers. Ropey lyrics, half-arsed delivery. It all sounds rather distracted, like it was recorded in 90˚ heat with 100 tidy birds in thongs gyrating nearby.
Great video mind.
Score: Come on Shaggy you can do better than this (what’s that? He will do in the next few Neggae entries? Oh good.) 6/10.


Diana King – Shy Guy

Bad Boys video:

Original video:

Release Date: Jul 95
Chart Position: 2

“I don’t want no Fly Guy, I just want a shy guy, that’s what I want yeah, you know what I want yeah.”

You and me both Diana. You see, I work in xml publishing, and generally have a Fergie-like recruitment record. I have a knack of spotting good graduate coders that I know will enjoy the thrill of delivering valid, well-formed xml on time and to the needs of the product. Unfortunately once I took a punt on a ‘fly guy’ – a young chap that appeared to enjoy enjoying himself as much as I do. He didn’t last. So these days, like Diana, I like my guys as shy as possible.
What a tune though. The opening acapella vox calls to mind Brownstone’s If you love me or the Acapella remix of Soul II Soul’s Back To Life. You’d be forgiven for assuming this is a standard New Jack Swing, sorry R’nB (its 1995 not 1992) tune. It’s even got that HUGE New Jack Swing guitar sample that I should know but I don’t so please answers in a tweet to @Modernings if anyone knows it.

The break drops, BUT HOLD ON! The riddim is placed square in the 2 and 4 beat. This is Neggae plain and simple. Diana’s half-patois-half-US-soul-chanteuse shtick is beautiful. Clearly an antecedent to Welwyn Garden City’s very own Alesha Anjanette Dixon. Diana King has clearly a cracking set of lungs on her and delivers the song with aplomb. We’ve seen some swingbeat-Neggae abominations on this chart but this isn’t one of them.
Score: I  ♥ DK. 8/10.

What a beauty, we’ve had a pretty good run of late with Supercat, Marley and now a stellar effort from the talented Ms King.
What I really like about this is the video. The exact opposite of UB40, Dawn Penn, some Bitty and some that couldn’t even be bothered to make a video to compliment their offerings. As you can see, no expense was spared by Diana and her producers. We are treated to Will Smith and Martin Lawrence berking around, having a dance off that would be fit for the JazzMine’s fag ashed, Kronenbourg drenched dance floor. Then as the song progresses, we are treated to a Hollywood film of sorts condensed into 4m21s. Action packed from start to finish, everything we need:

  • Guns
  • Fire
  • Police helicopters
  • Main character running open shirted with gun
  • Fast cars on runway with plane about to take off (high speed chase of sorts)
  • Mike Lowery jumping on a taxi
  • Bad guy doing a Klinsmannesque headfirst dive on the mens room floor, skidding past some urinals
  • Exploding buildings

Needless to say, I was impressed with Diana’s planning and execution of this visual treat to go along with a stunning vocal performance.
Onto the song.
It starts strong, great pace and has me head bobbing from the beginning. I was put into a groove straight away, a good groove, a fun groove, a non-UB40 groove. Her island stylee voice is a treat, clear and crisp delivery, JA tones that are easily deciphered throughout this joyous voyage of Neg. Her voice ranks up there with anyone I’ve listened to. So smooth that you need to listen to this in the sun, kicking back, feet up with a Malibu and Lilt on a beautiful beach in Jamaica or Litten Tree beer garden/car park which was my alternative.
So, how do we score this ‘un? I thoroughly enjoyed this Bad Boy (pun intended) from start to finish. I was entertained mainly by Diana’s sweet vocals, excellent rhythm and pace of this tune. The videos was a plus.
Score: Put me down for a 8.5/10

James BC
I seem to have joined the neggae blog in a bit of a slow patch. The last top ten hit was Here Comes The Hotstepper from January ’95 and it’s taken until now, six months later in neggae time, to reach another one. What’s more, both these songs had a film soundtrack connection, strongly suggesting that the public lust for skank was in a slump: songs that would have been number 1 for a month in 1993-94 needed a Hollywood push just to go top five a year later.
All that is irrelevant when it comes to Shy Guy, though, because it would have been a smash hit in any era. It is an immense pop song that once listened to will be in your head for days – whenever one bit stops buzzing round your brain another will pop in to replace it. The number of hooks is outrageous: the verses, bridge, chorus and middle 8 could each carry a track in their own right.
(If you’re watching on Youtube, make sure you find the original video rather than the Bad Boys one or you’ll miss out on the “Shy man I wanna hear you” bit, one of many highlights. Instead you’ll get a weirdly empty instrumental section and a lot of clips of comedians reaching for pixellated-out guns.)
However, despite the hatstand full of hooks and a pioneering vocal performance that switches effortlessly between patois toasting and RnB singing like a proto-Lauryn Hill, I find that I like Shy Guy rather than love it – I respect it, but I can’t embrace it like I do the true neggae classics. It’s very much an American take on the form, its production a little too smooth and stringy, its lack of brass potentially fatal. It’s the Man City of neggae: the quality is undeniable but its success seems like such a forgone conclusion that I can’t get completely excited about it.
Score: A solid 8 out of 10, but for me it lacks the bit magic needed to go higher.

I actually find myself having little time for the bling neg/jazz affair and the inclusion of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in this Diana King effort ironically entitled Shy Guy is a little laughable. I don’t find it does much for the movement but only dilutes the credibility of reggae through this important era. I find it pretty non-offensive and perfectly acceptable as background tunage, but further than that would not and still don’t pay much attention to it vs. the rest of the hot list.
I find it a real bandwagon effort to leverage the commercial success of Bad Boys and why we need a further advertisement of Will and Martin is beyond me? It’s got all the elements to a good track, it peaks and troughs, builds throughout and has some pretty strong delivery from Diana King, but I find it all too soulless to find it appealing. The real knife to the gullet is then the trade mark Will and Martin jokey dancing including classics such as stirring the pot and the running man. Genius!
I think she did a version of Stir It Up for Cool Runnings which implies to me that at the beginning of her career she did little more but hang around studios sniffing out potential soundtracks, actually pretty smart from a business perspective, but loses credibility as an artist in my book.
Score: I hope I cheer up and don’t kill myself today – 4/10 from me.

This week’s offering is from Diana King, who’s something of pioneer in the Jamaican music scene by being openly gay, not sure what Shabba Ranks made of it? I get the impression it was only men he objected to although his religious justification is sound, I’m sure we all know John 3:17 ‘and thou shall make countless records boasting of sexual prowess’, but props to Diana for coming out you brave, beautiful, beanflicker you.
I’m sure neggae elders of the past would argue this is more RnB than Neggae but I think the fact there is Steel Drums and a skanking bass put it firmly in the church of Neg. The intro is a nice neg/hip hop crossover sampling the Average White Bands ‘Schoolboy Crush’ (A hip hop staple since being used by Eric B and Rakim) with a skanking beat. Diana then kicks in with the vocals which carry on the hip hop links as they were previously used by N.W.A (interestingly the same acronym is used by the Crystal Palace hooligan firm – Nigels With Axes). Throughout the song Diana demonstrates her impressive vocal flexibility by switching between toasting and more conventional RnB stylings, backed by the tight production of Andy Marvel it’s a heady combination of New York and Kingston riddims. Lyrically the jist of the song is that Diana is fed up of being pursued by Alpha male types and all they do is give it the big I am and can’t be trusted. She’s after a Wolowitz basically, someone who’s going to treat her right and not mess her about. Of course we know now that this isn’t strictly true but in the crazy world of pop anything goes, Freddie Mercury sang of his lust for Fat bottomed Girls whilst Elton John asked Kiki Dee not to break his heart and then got married to a woman, Rupaul!
The video includes scenes of the film this was on the original soundtrack for, the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ spin off ‘Bad Boys’ which followed the exploits of Will and Carlton after they left college and joined the police. Going by the clips from the film it seems a policeman’s lot in Miami isn’t a bad one at all, sports cars, helicopters, nightclubs, women and blowtorches. I don’t remember Reg Hollis in ‘The Bill’’ getting any of these perks, mind you Reg Hollis was a little bit suspect. As this is a Fresh Prince spin off there’s the obligatory shots of Carlton and Will dancing interspersed with Diana in front of some of her biggest fans. The end of the video is classic Carlton as he and Will walk off the set and he can’t resist a bit of stupid dancing, the only real disappointment is there’s no footage of Uncle Phil throwing Jazzy Jeff out the front door.
Score: Overall this scores a regal 8/10 from me.


Bitty Mclean – We’ve Only Just Begun

Release Date: June 95
Chart Position: 23

James BC
Here’s the 28th Bitty McLean song of the neggae story and it’s yet another cover, once again pillaged from your mum, dad or gran’s easy listening box. Not a promising prospect, and one that I was fully expecting to be irked by, but then Bitty’s sweet, sweet voice came in and all was forgiven. If I’m Homer Simpson, Bitty’s the world’s biggest hoagie – how can I stay mad at him?
Any worry that covering the Carpenters might be a step too far into cardigan territory turns out to be completely misplaced. In fact the song is perfectly suited to Bitty’s uncomplicated, amazed-by-the-world vocal style. It’s a fragile song in need of nurturing, so Bitty picks it up, gives it a hug and sends it off into your ears with a big grin on its musical face.Bitty+McLean+-+We've+Only+Just+Begun+-+5-+CD+SINGLE-367540
After a couple of weeks of more organic production, we’re now back to the UB40-style digital neggae sound. I don’t mind that – it keeps the song bouncing along and gives plenty of space for the warm, radiant sounds of the horns and Bitty’s voice. The strings might be a tad too much, but there are enough horns to drown them out at the key moments. An unusual touch, giving a nice school concert flavour, is the prominent triangle all the way through. In my imagination that’s played by the UBs’ percussionist Norman Hassan, who must have been looking for some extra work after his band switched over to drum machines in 1989.
Covering the Carpenters was actually all the rage in the mid-90s. The year before this came out there had been a tribute album featuring Sonic Youth, American Music Club and various other acts whose music you have no need to ever listen to – 90s equivalents of the Cold War Kids or Cherry Ghost. Their version of We’ve Only Just Begun, as interpreted by one Grant Lee Buffalo, doesn’t have a tenth of the zip of Bitty’s rendition, but it might explain the low chart placing of number 23 – were the public Carpentered out by this point? Or had Sonic Youth’s efforts given them some kind of Carpenters PTSD? Either way it seems Bitty wound up as collateral damage from this ill-conceived alt-rock vanity project as this is the last we’ll be seeing of him. If only Thurston Moore could have kept his mouth shut, Bitty might have fared better and been given the chance to put those glorious vocals on a few more tracks. What were you playing at, Thurston – he’d only just begun.
It’s pleasing, though, that Bitty’s last song is his best since It Keeps Raining. Thanks Bitty, and now as Pato Banton might say, bye Bitty bye bye bye bye, Bitty bye bye bye.
Score: 8 out of 10

Crash bang wallop back to reality following the highs of last week! There I was thinking that this was getting better and we had hit another purple patch of neg busters only to be reminded of the guff that this movement regularly spat out. The fact that this Carpenters classic has been covered no fewer than 30 times by various unknown artists only highlights the lack of any creative thinking. A total non event by someone I had expected better from and someone who has contributed so much this list. He really has done nothing but put it through the neg blender on max setting! Its been pumped and negged up a little but nothing you wouldn’t find on a Casio pre set! The last entry on the list from Bitty I believe and what a roller coaster of highs and lows since It Keep Rainin. Actually I think it just went straight downhill from then hitting rock bottom with this smelly turd, such a shame.
1.5/10 – move along swiftly please.

Well, if we are going to follow Supercat with anything Neggish, it may as well be Bitty. It seems like he’s had an entry every other week or so. I’ll be honest with you guys, he’s starting to wear thin on me and I’m also running out of nice things to say about one of my favorite artists on the Hot 90. I’m not sure how many free passes I can slide his way. At some stage he needs to sort himself out and produce something worthwhile. Sadly, this isn’t the one and I’m left pining for more Supercat. “We’ve only just begun” has me wishing this one hadn’t even started. I’m in a Bitty time warp at the end of the first verse. I get the feeling that Bitty is just pumping out music just to pump out music. No real passion, no real enthusiasm, no umph. I get a strong whiff of UB40 with the background music and it is extremely unsettling. The more I listen to this song (eyes closed) I can see Ali Campbell and friends in some poor, low budget black and white video swaying side to side being as creative as West Ham and their 19th century style of football (according to the special one). If I haven’t said anything good about this song yet, it’s because I’m just not into it. Not even Bitty can cheer me up or even make me smile. The boring, monotonous tone from the outset never recovers my attention. No head bobbing, no Malibu and lilt. Even Gazza in the dentists chair would say this song is a pile of cack. As you can tell, my mind is wandering to some odd places. On that note, I’m off. Off to listen to my man Supercat. Put me down for 2/10 See ya later Delroy.

This is it then, the 7th and final entry for the Neggae Young Player of the Tournament, Delroy ‘Bitty’ Mclean. We shall miss his cheeky chappy demeanour, his meticulous production, and his sugarsweet vocals. And his bogling; never forget the bogling.
We’ve watched him develop and grow – and now he’s leaving. Actually this feels a bit like a final school report; with Bitty leaving the school of Neggae of to the big wide world of Reggae proper. Worth noting that, unlike the majority of artists on the Neggae Hot 90, Bitty is still gigging and performing currently. LOOK AT HIM AT THE JAZZ CAFE LAST YEAR!
Still got it. Hasn’t aged a day.
In my opinion, with We’ve Only Just Begin, Bitty graduates from Neggae Hill Comprehensive with a steady B grade. He’s delivered better coursework on the likes of ‘It’s Raining It’s Raining‘, but by sticking to the Neggae covers territory he’s comfortable with Bitty gives us a lovely rendition of the Carpenters mawkish original.
The production is ‘Another Bostin Creation’ – the Dolby recorded, metronomic digital Neggae we’ve come to expect from Bitty and his tutors UB40. But it’s not soulless – there’s are some lovely Hammond flourishes and the brass section is gawjus – no half-arsed sax solos on show here. And Bitty’s vocals once again absolutely shine.
As for the video, well I’m pretty sure MJ didn’t lose any sleep over it. It serves a purpose, using the moving-house-because-we’ve-just-begun metaphor to adequate purpose. It looks like Bitty has employed UB40 in their sideline Property Logistics Company – ‘Iriemovals’. And like clockwork, its 11am so Ali and the boys have popped to Greggs for a Bean and Sausage Slice and a strawberry milkshake. Knowing them, they’ll have preceded that with a massive cone too.
Bitty’s left alone with his lady, so while she concerns herself with the lack of progress, he calms her nerves via serenade. And d’you know what? He’s right to sing to her. He’s paid Astro and the lads to do the lift and shift – let them earn their money. Plus, she is a beautiful looking thing; graceful, with a gorgeous smile – and sporting a cracking pair of Sambas. Great old school trainers too.
Score: Farewell our Kid – solid 7 from me.

This week it’s Bitty’s final foray in the Neggae Hot 90 and sees him taking on the Carpenters, not the West Indian family from Eastenders which would have been apt, but the brother and sister duo Richard and ace food recycler Karen.Tony_Carpenter We kick off with some standard Neggae production values of a horn section, Casio beats and synth strings. It’s a nice song but then doesn’t really go anywhere which unfortunately is the nature of the song. I’m not a fan of the original but unfortunately does Bitty’s neggae makeover improve it in any way? Not for me I’m afraid. Bitty’s vocals are as flawless as ever, throughout his canon of work his vocals have remained pretty flawless even when his song choice and production have been questionable. The video is based around Bitty and his good lady moving into a new house and although Bitty has unpacked his huge model aeroplane and Dynamo Dudley manager’s player of the year trophy this seems to be the extent of his contribution. Whilst his better half is getting down to the nitty gritty of unpacking Bitty’s just berking about, following her round the house doing an Easy Listening skank. This may seem charming initially but if Bitty’s not careful the novelty is soon going to wear off. Mrs Bitty comes home from a hard day at work to the walls unpainted AGAIN and Bitty bopping round the house.
‘Bitty you’ve had all day to paint the walls and you’ve not even started, what the hell have you been doing?’
‘Sorry, I was going to make a start but then some Andy Williams came on the radio and I just had to dance round the house to it’
This isn’t going to cut it Bitty, take it from a man who knows from bitter experience. You need to get down to ELA (Easy Listeners Anonymous) and get on the 5 point program before this spirals out of control and you find yourself single, friendless and in the gutter.
Score: So long Bitty, following your neggae career has been the equivalent of following Spurs, a bright start, fresh hope but ultimately a disappointing spiral into mediocrity. 5/10