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



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