Release Date: Jan 96
Chart Position: 36
Neggae’s Mister Nice Guy Pato Banton is back and this time he’s abandoned the fun larks in favour of a moody, atmospheric skank through a Police song. Sting wasn’t particulary busy so he’s along for the ride as well, furthering his and Pato’s weird relationship – at this point they are neggae’s second most prolific duo after Chaka Demus and Pliers.
First the negatives: the song is not one of the Police’s best, the verses being obvious half-baked gubbins and the chorus being Sting’s usual trick of repeating the same line over and over again. Sting at times seems to be doing a Typically Tropical accent rather unbecoming of the saviour of the rain forests and future Julio Iglesias collaborator. And there’s the perennial problem of Pato’s flow. I like “Mr P-A-T-O Banton” (just “Pato Banton” would have fit the song better) as much as anyone but puppyish likeability can only take you so far and I do wonder if he might have been better just doing his 14 lines on Baby Come Back and calling it a day.
On the plus side, though, whoever produced this has done a bang-up job turning unpromising materials into, if not gold, solid neggae bronze at least. If there’s one thing that Shaggy, Suggs and the gang have failed to show us so far it’s the dubby, reflective side of reggae and this song goes some way to setting that right. It’s beautifully unhurried, giving the snaking synths and echoing drum fills time to breathe and getting inventive with those operatic backing vox drifting in and out. The engineer has done a particularly fine job going to town on Pato’s rap, adding enough interest in the background to create the illusion of competence if you don’t listen too closely.
Caution: also in circulation is this terrible version, which only goes to show what a crucial role the production plays here.
How this song was appropriate to Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls is beyond me. To be fair I haven’t actually seen the film so maybe there is a scene where the gargoyle faced hamster locator contemplates his position as a spiritually conscious being in opposition to the venal world around him. In fact, there almost certainly is, isn’t there, and just thinking about it makes me want to chuck down a zero and give up. But when considered outside Carrey’s malign orbit the song is pretty enjoyable. Once again we can thank the neggae era for giving Pato his moment in the spotlight so that we can all enjoy it (and posterity for largely forgetting about Ace Ventura).
Score: 6 out of 10
So after last weeks mental breakdown I thought I needed to pull myself together for this weeks effort. The standard backwards and forwards about which version we were covering did not help me in that quest. This expected non value added piece of complexity has become the norm in neg towers with elders seemingly trying to out do each other of their knowledge of various versions released on similar dates. Neg showboating is something I have come to expect, but have little time for. So after the to-ing and fro-ing I was given the choice of a number of versions to listen to and of course I was going to go with the Ace Ventura version (later I found out that there was actually no difference and the neg muscle flexing was all just a load of shite, not even a video with either version).
The opening line is ‘Pato and Sting Touchdown again’ – oh what a joy! I think it could be very easy to give this a total panning, but that fact that I really like the original Police offering and this does not deviate too much from that original script, which was already quite horn heavy, gives it quite a soft landing with me. Actually as it goes on it is not straight forward to to see what Pato has added to the whole affair, until he arrives at about 2mins in with a bit of roasting, toasting and boasting and he does quite a nice job of it actually. Needless to say Sting sounds as good as he always does. As I said I liked the original track, but this version becomes a bit moody, which I don’t think works that well. It’s almost as if they are trying too hard to make it that way, I would have preferred Pato to lighted it all up somehow, which was clearly not on his agenda. The bit that I am confused about most though is recalling at what stage this appeared in Ace Ventura (When Nature Calls), I am not bothered enough to find it online, but it’s not an obvious scene that springs to mind. It must have been in a slightly reflective part of movie. Maybe that piece that inevitably appears in all Jim Carey movies when the jokes and funny voices and faces disappear for a minute and he realises he’s just a weirdo with no friends or family and all the jokes are covering up a pretty dark and harrowed individual who would sooner murder you, gut you, then have sex with you and consume your flesh over a long period of time than have any type of interaction with you. All successful serial killers were great at standup, we all know that! Anyway, lets wrap this up for another week, 6/10 from me.
So this time last Friday I attended the Southport Soul Festival, and was subjected to some of the finest music I have ever heard in my life. Mr Scruff’s set in particular was a masterclass of crate digging, and I urge all of you to go and see him soon if you like music like this, this and this.
So on returning I’ve been a little despondent – and if I I’m being honest rather disillusioned about the Neggae blog. When editor-in-chief Gouldy shouted at me because I was late with submitting this yesterday, I honestly thought about tossing it all in. But then I made him do loads of incremental xml testing on his birthday day off. I’m much happier now.
With hesitancy then I looked up this week’s song to review and thought “Great, it’s Paddy Bantz and that tosser from the Police. And the song appeared on that BBC1-at-11.35pm-on-a-Tuesday-night perennial Ace Ventura 2?! This is going to hurt.”
Well, for the first time in my life I was completely wrong.
Spirits in a material world is a rework of an old Police song, and itself sounds like another old police song, “I can’t stand losing you” – the good news is they are all melancholy skanking beauties. The Neggae aspect of the rework lies in the fantastic modern day instrumentation, notably the 4/4 ‘Exodus style’ reggae stomp favoured by Dreadzone and the like a few years later. The reggae drum fills are digitally crisp, and psychedelic radio chat feedback drifts in and out in a style not dissimilar to Paul Weller’s go-to sounddesk monkey Brendan Lynch.
Jamiroquai’s clear production is also called to mind, with a lush bottom end, excellent keyboard washes and flourishes and a nagging jazzy 808 wiggle throughout. Every so often a psychedelic Rotary Connection style operatic wail enters inna nu-Psyche stylee. Interesting to note this is a motif of top current psychonauts Amorphous Androgynous, who would not even have been a twinkle in the eye of their parent The Future Sound of London.
As for the vocals, well they don’t disappoint. Great soul-searching and portentous lyrics that stand up today as they did back in 1981. Sting’s voice is in fine fettle, and Pato’s toasting sets it all off beautifully – proving he can do the heavy stuff as well as his usual jockey cap berking.
We have been dished an absolute treat here – in fact if you want to here me mix this into the UK Garage remix of Brandi and Monica’s The Boy is Mine then come down the West Byfleet Albion end of season party at the Blue Anchor on Sunday 25th. Because these two down-low bangers are going to fit (to paraphrase Ace Ventura himself) ‘Like a Glove’.
Score: 9/10. Superb.
So this week should have been a good week, it was my birthday and I took Friday off. Imagine my surprise when at 9.15 on Friday morning I get a call from a tearful Vince;
‘Gouldy, please can you test this new version of the system today? If you don’t I’ll be exposed for the fraudulent huckster I am and will definitely lose my job, basically the future of this company depends on you, we need this ready to release by the end of the day.’
Never one to ignore a friend in tears, no matter how embarrassing and uncomfortable it is, I told him to blow his nose, stop the tears and I’d sort it for him. So after spending 8 hours working with last night’s Malbec threatening to make an appearance at any time he decides there’s no need to release after all (that may be the most middle class sentence ever to appear in the neggae blog). Frankly it’s poor business decisions like this that led us into the spiral of recession in the first place. With this in mind Paddy and Gordon had better pull something out the bag because I’m not really feeling the sunshine vibe.
I must say early signs aren’t good as initially the production sounds like it’s going in the direction of that cyber hippy sound which sound tracked the Matrix Reloaded Party Scene, winner of that year’s Oscar for ‘Most pointless and most obvious load of filler scene in a disappointing sequel’, although looking back now it’s a bit racier than I remember, movement. To my relief the bass line kicks in and we get the classic reggae drumroll and everything is irie. This is clearly a cover of the Police original which despite the title isn’t a homage to Stain Devil but a sociopolitical comment on how the modern world is no place for a spiritual lifestyle as it’s a cesspit of commercialism and corruption, a magnified Yates’s basically. The production, though unmistakably reggae, isn’t your standard neggae fare as it has a more dubby and paranoid feel to it, this is edgy neggae. I find this strange as it was recorded for the soundtrack of wacky comedy film ‘Ace Ventura- When Nature Calls’, whilst not having perfect recollection of this film I don’t remember the scene when Ace smoked some moody funk and spent 3 hours wandering round his living room avoiding space bats and cowering away from his own shadow. Overall the production’s good, some nice strings, driving reggae beats and even a bit of opera singing which is reminiscent of the Warren G classic ‘Prince Igor’.
Lyrically Sting repeats his lines from the original whilst Pato adds his plea for peace, unity and all that other good shit. The two compliment each other nicely and the earnest heart-felt message is effective, in fact it’s had a direct impact on my actions. I was going to set fire to the house next door as the prick living there refuses to do anything about the Japanese knotweed that’s encroached into my garden but now I’m just going to key his car and place a decapitated Crow’s head through his letter box with a threatening note which will have a Satanic and occult theme, Pato and Sting you’ve taught me temperance and I’m eternally grateful for this.
Overall this is like going to see a film, expecting it to be shit and in fact it turns out to be great. 8/10
Neggae Score – 7.25
In other news I’d like congratulate Vince on his Eurovision win, below is an exclusive action shot from his rehearsal for the big night.