John Alford – Blue Moon

Release Date: May 96
Chart Position: 9

Jonny
Another important moment in neg history and another massive track to keep us on the straight and narrow as we head for home. John Alford offers up a tasty slice of sunny island fruit cake that compliments his debut nicely and stamps his authority on a genre that will soon become a happy hunting ground for him. The string intro offers a serious undertone to an otherwise lighthearted affair and Alford’s tones are able to melt the steeliest of hearts. Throughout the production he also thankfully demonstrates his diverse and impressive range of acting, Sci-Fi, 70’s Disco, mad man, safari man, its all there. It’s now clear to see where Dean Gaffney took inspiration.
……sorry, I can’t keep the sarcasm going. This is pig shit and is seriously making me consider taking up internet trolling.
2/10. Piss off Alford.

James BC
Remember the other John Alford song from a few weeks ago? This is just about the same as that. The one new addition is the weird Eurodancey intro, but after that Mike Stock and Matt Aitken’s reimagining of reggae kicks in and John deploys his just-above-average voice to the presumed delight of nans everywhere but not me. The badman MC is still in the background but his contribution has been significantly scaled back and the volume turned down – most likely some of the Horlicks drinkers who bought the last one found him a bit hardcore when fully audible.alford
Once again the best you can say about this is that it’s an important precursor to today’s foremost light entertainer, Olly Murs. There’s a long list of reasons why Olly is better, but the basic cheeky-TV-chappie-does-reggae-light idea started in large part with John and you have to give credit where it’s due. That said, Blue Moon isn’t any better than Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, so I’ll give it one point less for the lack of firefighting references and MC Badman’s marginalisation.
Score: 3 out of 10

Gouldy
So another John Alford song this week, better have a look at my last review and see if I mentioned the following;

  • Grange Hill – check;
  • London’s Burning – check;
  • Getting done for woof – check.

This is tough, this could be the shortest Neggae review in history. The intro is promising as it sounds like the Beloved have remixed Beats International, unfortunately this is the nadir of this track and after 10 seconds it descends into karaoke mediocrity. Yet another Stock and Aitken attempt at a reggae beat kicks in and we trundle along in this manner, this won’t be getting on the ‘Death in Paradise’ soundtrack anytime soon. There’s some lame attempts at authenticity were someone has pressed the ‘Random reggae cliché chant generator’ button on the keyboard so we got the odd ‘Oi, oi, oi, oi’ and ‘have mercy’, if you close your eyes you could be at Sunsplash. The vocals are ok, the sort that if you were at a karaoke night they’d grab your attention momentarily, before you were distracted by the alien object floating halfway down your pint in a plastic glass.
The video is interesting though, what initially looks like your standard ‘Neggae singer stuck in a TV’ storyline at first is revealed to be something far more sinister on closer inspection. The opening scene is John being banged up, which means he knew his fate before it happened and the reason for this makes Julian Assange look like schoolboy stuff.
In the scene directly after prison John is being seen chased by a reptilian, lizard like form which suggests he was already being pursued by the lizard overlords who run the world, as the video goes on the reasons become clear. We go to his first ‘character’, who is a seventies style singer dressed a bit like Elvis performing on a pop show, remind you of anyone? Someone whose gang you wouldn’t have really liked to have been in perhaps? The next ‘character’ is a white haired man dressed in a gold jacket, now if you remove the moustache it bears a striking similarity to someone who’d fix it for you, especially if you were under 16 or dead. Next we have a scruffy haired man in a cravat and safari suit standing in front of a map of the UK he’s just drawn, suggesting he’s come from foreign shores, now add facial hair, can you tell who it is yet? Basically Alford is trying to tell the whole world about the scandal which is now being investigated by ‘Operation Yewtree’ and predicting he’d be incarcerated by the reptilian powers that be for bringing to light these stunning revelations. This has to make you wonder the legitimacy of his coke bust and subsequent career ruining jail time.
This could have been the most politically charged Neggae song ever released with massive repercussions across the world of entertainment but was stopped in its tracks by shady forces at work.
1/10 – For any of the illuminati reading this I don’t believe a word of that, it was merely done to pad my review out, honest.

Vince
Blue Moon is a 20th century American standard. Written by Richard Rodgers of Rodgers & Hammerstein in 1934, it featured in countless MGM movies through the 40s and 50s and graced the Billboard charts on numerous occasions.
Elvis had a stab at it. So did Sinatra. My favourite version is this one by the Marcels:

Which closes the film American Werewolf in London. The wolf gets cornered and shot in a Picadilly Circus alleyway. Jenny Agutter looks distressed and sexy at the same time (standard), and everyone feels a bit of a wally when the wolf reverts to a human corpse. All rather sad. And then:
“ Bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom ba ba bom ba ba bom ba ba dang a dang dang.”
And you’re instantly reminded that actually, a lot of the film was daft and clever and it’s not that sad after all and to be honest it was probably for the best I mean it’s no way to live is it not knowing what you’re doing every night and massacring commuters on the London Underground and waking up in the Lion’s Den at London Zoo and having to steal balloons off kids to cover your knackers you can’t even go to the pictures because a zombified apparition of your best friend will talk all through the film and..
You get the picture. Clever use of a great song in a great film.

Which is the complete opposite of this shite.

Alford (and his shadowy puppetmasters Stock and Aitken – who will have pocketed most of the children’s pocket money that got spent on this turd) has somehow managed to ruin one of the greatest songs of the modern era.
I went to see Paul Weller play at the Forum in 2005. Good gig all in all. It was his drummer Steve White’s birthday – and as an excuse to have a break and a ciggie the band all swapped instruments. Weller went on drums, and Steve White was made to sing Blue Moon. How we all laughed. Here’s the clip:

EVEN THAT, EVEN A FLAT STEVE WHITE AND WELLER DICKING ABOUT AT A GIG I PAID £55 TO ATTEND IS BETTER THAN THIS POOP.
Where does one start?
The backing music is like a Karaoke tape; it’s like they’ve gone out of their way to specifically recreate the sound of a Sunfly Karaoke CDR you’d hear in Yates’ on a Monday night. It’s quite some feat.
Muted bass, tinny drums; I’m pretty sure NO live instruments will have been used on this. It reminds me of the bontempi keyboards we had in Music class at school. If you selected “REGGAE BOOGIE” from the preset menu, you’d get Blue Moon by John Alford. Swear down.
The song is easily the shortest on the blog; 2m55s but 40 seconds of that is intro and outro padding. So that’s something I guess.
As for the video – he’s referencing Suggs persona but with 10% of the budget and frankly charisma. The cheap set and costume amounts to titting about in the dressing up box on wet break. Also how does he get from out of the telly and into the girls bed? Unexplained. At least in Baby Come Back Pato Banton flew in and out of the TV in a pixelated timewarp beam of light. THAT made sense.
Score: What do you think? Nought out of ten.

NEGGAE SCORE: 1.5

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Suggs feat. Louchie Lou and Michie One – Cecilia

Release Date: Apr 96
Chart Position: 4

Vince
Egad, the 60s Neggae love-in continues apace. Until documenting all of this I really was not aware of how much 60s music and art was utterly plundered by the chief protagonists of the Neggae movement. The Beatles, Mamas & the Papas, Isley Brothers, the Equals and now Simon and Garfunkel. All seemingly coupled with videos that featured monochrome, Ready Steady Go! stylings or time travel. Or both.
This  is in keeping with the rest of the mid to late 90s pop music in the UK. Oasis were half-inching pages of chord sequences and melody lines from the Beatles, while Kula Shaker were dining out on Grateful Dead and Early Pink Floyd style psychedelia. Even the Spice Girls Stop! Or Boyzone’s Vision of You were clearly referencing Motown production, but in a horribly cheap way. This particularly sad avenue of British Pop was later christened Fauxtown by Neggae acolyte Simon ‘Rushie’ Rush. Spot on too.
But what of Suggs’ effort then? Well in my opinion, it’s not bad at all.
In fact, listen closely and it’s got a chunky little groove. In fact – this is MOOMBAHTON! Or at least Reggaeton. Either way it is a thoroughly modern riddim for which Suggs should be praised. I also like the Cypress Hill style squeak on the 4th beat. Whatever your feelings of Suggs’ efforts on this chart he always clearly spent a few quid in both the recording and TV studios.
The Louchie Lou and Miche One refrain is decent – no denying it. Excellent harmonies and a clever spin on the previously male-only protagonist narrative.
This is Suggs solo career highlight – his moment in the balmy spring sun of 1996. I guess without Cecilia, Madness would not have got the career rebirth that produced the excellent Wonderful featuring marvelous lead single LoveStruck. So that’s good. And of course there is the Chris Eubank moment on TOTP:

This deserves a point for that alone.
Score: Suggs’ best to date. 7/10.

James  BC
This is Suggs‘s biggest solo hit and although I don’t like it as much as some of his self-written material, I can see why it captured the nation’s imagination. It’s a deft choice of cover, playing up toSuggs‘s strength as an end-of-the-pier shaman: an embodiment of or conduit for undemanding family fun. Not to mention that it sneaks in a surprisingly hard dancehall beat – probably the tuffest we’ve had since Boombastic – along with the novelty sound effects and attempted Hey Jude-style singalong.Suggs_Cecilia

Louchie Lou and Michie One’s interlude is the highlight for me, giving the song a bit of extra bounce and much-needed variety since there’s only one proper verse. The interplay between them is the thing – the young Rizzle Kicks must have been paying attention because it seems to be the template for all their solo material and especially their bit on the Olly Murs behemoth Heart Skips A Beat.

I don’t have too much else to say so I’ll leave you with ten facts about Suggs:

1. The sleevenotes to The Lone Ranger album reveal that its cover is “based on an idea by Marcel Duchamp” – an homage to the cubist classic Nude Descending A Staircase.

2. Suggs recently curated a three-disc CD compilation called ‘The Suggs Selection’. The most recent track featured, wholly incongruously among the Motown and mod classics, is ‘Teardrop’ by Massive Attack from 1998.

3. Suggs used to manage talented baggy also-rans The Farm in the wilderness years of the early 90s.

4. Suggs‘s favourite day of the year is pancake day. He does a great trick where he puts a jumbo sized pancake on his face and eats it with no hands.

5. Suggs happened to be in the next studio when George Michael was recording the Older album. If you listen closely to Fastlove, you can faintly hear his voice joining in on the “ooh ooh baby baby” bits.

6. One of The Lone Ranger’s album tracks, 4am, was reworked for Madness’s Wonderful album a few years later. In defiance of all expectation and sanity, the Suggs solo version is actually better.

7. Suggs wrote lyrics for Madness but another band member would almost always write the music. The only single where he’s credited as sole writer is the band’s (first) swansong “Waiting For The Ghost Train”. None of the band were speaking to each other so he had to come up with a tune himself.

8. Suggs came up with his name by opening a book about jazz musicians at random. He didn’t like the name that came up so he went with Suggs instead.

9. Suggs‘s great uncle on his mother’s side was a prince of Liechtenstein. The royal palace there has a plaza named in his honour, the Jardin des Suggs.

10. In his autobiography Suggs admits to being a prolific graffiti artist, finally solving the mystery of who was writing SUGGS all over London in the 70s.

(I could only think of seven actual facts so three are made up.)
Score: 6 out of 10

Gouldy
Like a bad smell Suggs has yet again turned up, I hope this is his last entry but I’m too scared to look at the remaining entries in case it’s not. This time he’s taken on another sixties classic, Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Cecilia’.
I remember this coming out and being absolutely disgusted by it however, listening to it now it’s not half as bad as I remember, writing that has made me feel like I’ve just had a one on one art class with Rolf Harris, I need a shower.
We start with a classic drum roll intro and naturally some sound effects as this is Suggs after all. The production is upbeat throughout and there’s all sorts going on, accordion, flute, Hammond, this is basically the neggae equivalent of Dario G’s ‘Carnaval De Paris’, which featured an instrument from every country taking part in the 1998 World Cup (Steel Drums for the Reggae Boyz natch). Suggs’s vocal delivery is his usual style, the bloke’s more arch than Marble. He’s then helped out by Louchie Lou & Michie One and they do actually add something to it, providing a counterpoint to Suggs whinging about being treated badly by Cecilia by rightly pointing out he was treating the place like a hotel and taking her for granted. The line ‘And you know I wouldn’t stray’ is delivered in pure Ace of Bass style. Overall the jaunty production counteracts the lazy delivery of Suggs and they rub along nicely together.
The subject matter is Suggs being played by a woman and who can blame her frankly, you can just imagine what it would be like;

C- ‘Suggs we really need to discuss how we’re going to pay this month’s mortgage, since you lost the Channel 5 gig the money’s dried up’
S – *raises finger, mugs to camera, raises eyebrows* ‘There’s reggae in the jeggae, there’s music everywhere’
C – ‘!’

He somehow gets her back in the end, I can only imagine his new compilation album, ‘The Suggs Selection’ has done ok.
The video is a mostly monochrome affair and shows that Suggs has been punching to say the least, she all dat. An added bonus is you could save money on recreational drug use by just getting her to walk about in that dress and inducing acid flashbacks (the neggae blog does not condone the use of drugs in anyway, here’s an anti-drug message to hammer home the point, groovy). The best thing about this video is Cecilia’s utter disdain for Suggs throughout the majority of the video, mirroring the thoughts of a nation. ‘Interestingly’ this isn’t the only Neggae link with Cecilia as Ace of Bass released the self-penned sequel, I didn’t get to find out what happened to her because I couldn’t sit through that shit, although ti does throw a lot of weight behind the ‘Ace of Bass aren’t neggae Vince you dick’ campaign.
Score: As dirty as it makes me feel I didn’t mind this and in unprecedented scenes I’m going to give Suggs 7/10, although the fact I’m slightly in love with the girl with the video may have swayed me.

Jonny
This effort from Suggs is a bit like Brazil’s goal against Germany the other night, the damage has already been done and this is very little consolation for an otherwise stupid solo career. Suggs is a bit like a joke that you don’t get but for some reason a few other people do, despite them explaining it to you it still doesn’t make sense, and then you start hate them aswell. Thank the Neg Gods that this is the last appearance from him on the hot list; I don’t think I can go another round with him after this one.
So the track itself is by far away his best offering through these very eggy few years for Suggs. Its probably the only song of his I would dream of singing along to if I heard it on the radio, and probably the only one of songs that is in my collection somewhere today. Its actually alright, catchy, simple and cuts right to chase in what its all about. It’s about as light hearted as Suggs could be before he gets weird like he has done in some of his earlier work we have reviewed.
Not sure about the video, looks to me like they found some new functionality in the studio and had to test it out quickly to get their moneys worth from it. It might have looked impressive then, but now its totally idiotic, makes no sense and is irrelevant.
Score: 6/10 for me on this one, an extra point for it being the last time I have to talk about Suggs ever and an extra point because we are now only 6 weeks away from the end of this nightmare.

NEGGAE SCORE: 6.5

Shaggy feat. Wayne Wonder – Something Different

Release Date: Mar 96
Chart Position: 21

Jonny
With England out of the World Cup and the weekly neg train rolling again life is pretty sweet! Given how Football is currently dominating our lives I was going to deliver this review in some kind of style that would pay homage to it, but i’m struggling to be that creative. Although the thought of watching Adrian Chiles and the ITV panel discuss a neg entry has made me smile a little bit. I think that they would over contextualise it a little whereas the BBC I think would be a little bit more direct with their feedback. I can vision both Alan’s shaking their heads ‘rubbish, utter rubbish! what the hell is he gibbering about? ‘Hansen would proclaim. Rio unsure on what his opinion should be and offering the type of value add you would expect of a four year old ‘I fought it was a good song wiv good singing in it’, nice one Rio, Cheers mate! Anyway, I’ll keep this one simple, just as I ease back into things and get stuck into the home straight. A slightly better entry from Shaggy since his last outing, it’s a nice track with a beautiful chorus. The harmonic delivery from Wayne is the real standout of the show, but mix that up with Shaggy going Shaggy style and you’ve got a real winner. As with a couple of tunes we have reviewed this would have been great soundtrack to a film, when I listened to to that was one of the first thought that entered my head. But I don’t think that it was, not that I could find in my very minor research on line. Even the video looks as if it was straight out of a cheap Boomerang alternative film, maybe starring a Queen Latifah instead of Halle Berry? Anyway – all good with this one from me – 8/10 from me.

sdiff

James BC
This is an exciting combination. Shaggy needs no introduction, and can we have a big round of applause, preferably in the Diwali riddim, for Mr Wayne Wonder. I know Wayne from his second-wave-of-neggae smash No Letting Go and subsequent excellent Wyclef collaboration but I had no idea he was also a first-wave original. The ingredients are promising so let’s take a bite of the pie.
Something Different turns out to be very much at the RnB end of the spectrum – no one-drops or guitar chops here. It’s all in the neggae spirit to embrace any song with the merest reggae influence so I’m not going to mark it down for that, but then again it does sound like the kind of thing Shabba Ranks would rap over, or try to.In fact if you imagine Shabba slogging and wheezing through Shaggy’s bits, that tells you all you need to know about the difference between them – there’s more charm and personality in Shaggy’s “Mmm!” in the intro than in most whole Shabba songs. I don’t know how many other people used to read Laura Barton’s Hail Hail Rock ‘n’ Roll column when it used to be in the Guardian. I gave up around the time she started musing on what her favourite syllable in all of recorded music was, but I’d now like to rescind my derision – for the concept, if not her woeful non-neggae nominations – and crown that “Mmm!” as the clear winner. From there Shaggy’s flow continues as stylishly as ever, keeping the rhythm tight and bouncing between different melodies while keeping the signature Shaggy twinkle.
Wayne’s vocals are sweet enough to play the Pliers role, complementing the star of the show nicely. I like the way he switches up the order of his chorus and bridge sections although I do find the lyrics a bit contradictory – is doing something different supposed to be good or bad, or only OK? Does it matter what the different thing that you do is? I don’t know if this is the best relationship advice to be honest – being spontaneous is all very well but it can equally end with chocolate mousse on your valance if you’re not careful. But credit to Wayne, these doubts only crept in when I started to overanalyse and on a relaxed listen he makes me think of picnics and other innocent joys rather than Alan Partridge’s sordid seduction scenarios.
I really like the Shaggy/Wonder combination. The song still goes on a bit but between them they make it more than it really should be, without hitting the heights of Wayne’s later work.
Score: 7 out of 10

Vince
Wayne Wonder. The Abedi Pele of Music. Commandeering the name of your hero when you’ve got a tenth of their talent is bold I’ll give them that. Unless they’re related somehow? A journalist once asked Stevie if he thought Wayne looked like him. Stevie wasn’t sure.
Anyway… A quick view at www.wayne-wonder.com tells us that Wayne was UK balloon modeller of 2013, and is now kind of a big deal in children’s parties across the Home Counties. Hold on a minute, that’s Wayne Murphy – Children’s entertainer. He He’s half-inched our Wayne’s domain name! This man has nothing to do with Neggae so please don’t make the same mistake I did and book him for a bashment rave at the St Paul’s Carnival. Never again.
A quick view on Wikipedia shows that Wayne Wonder joins the Neggae party late but acquits himself well I think. A reggae wunderkid, Wayne (real name Von Wayne Charles – why would you change THAT name? It’s superb! ) bubbled around the reggae scene in JA throughout the 80s and 90s never really getting the break his talent deserved. His vocal style was a cross between the traditional Jamaican crooner (Pliers) and the more stylised US r & b style typified by Bobby Brown and the like. This is exemplified in this song; It’s called ‘something different’ but musically it’s that New Jack – Neggae crossover we’ve heard before. It’s got a groove though, and I’m sure would have been rinsed in the upstairs MOBO room at Bojangles in Guildford in 96. I for one would have definitely got my swerve on to it; it’s disco stylings and heavy bottom end are decent.
Gun for hire Shaggy does what he does best and delivers inventive and melodic flow. The video is pretty hi-gloss as are most of Shaggy’s – he can never be accused of skimping on the promo budget. And my goodness, what a saucy viddy it is! The story opens around Shaggy living in a hotel waiting for a mature yet not unattractive black lady to visit. Is he a male prostitute? I think he is. The similarly hot maid smirks at the lady john as she enters the room. Like she knows something the client does not. Has Shaggy just given the maid a freebie? I think Shaggy has just given the maid a freebie. Now he’s canoodling with a secretary type – and rubbing ice cubes all over her fantastic booty. A girl who I shan’t name put an ice cube down my back at a school disco once, in a flirtatious manner. Result? One wet YSL shirt and a vaguely annoyed Vince. If I’m honest it’s put me off ice cubes as an erotic device ever since. Next scene, he’s Dogging on Brighton Pier – bold as brass. The fourth notch for him in less than three minutes is the maid. In the bathtub. With the massive dildo. Shaggy Cluedo. I think this holds the record for the most sexual encounters documented in a pop video. Feel free to prove me wrong folks. All the while Wayne Wonder doesn’t get a sniff. Just loitering in the background, singing and watching. Maybe that’s what he likes to do. Takes all sorts I guess. Score: Sex out of Ten. Sorry, six. Six out of Ten.

Gouldy
World Cup fever took over the Neggae Elders for a bit, hence the lack of recent activity, but now with the Reggae boys not qualifying (It’s not a proper World Cup unless Robbie ‘Irie’ Earle is playing imo) and Stevie Me reverting to type and setting up a couple of Suarez goals we can get back on with it. This week’s entry teams up Neggae legend Shaggy (who I mistakenly thought had died last week) with NWONWON (New Wave of New Wave of Neggae, pronounced N’WonWon) chart topper Wayne Wonder. I struggle a bit with a Neggaeist called Wayne as it always invokes images of the slightly pikey kid at school, the type who had an ear-ring and sovereign ring at the age of 5 and not a soulful crooner of the Caribbean. There are rumours he’s Stevie’s son born from the pulsing Island beat of the ‘Master Blaster (Jammin)’ recording sessions, however this can’t be confirmed as Stevie refuses to see him.
We start off with a Max Roach-a-like drum roll and expectations are high, then quickly tempered with the RnB lite production usually associated with Shabba Ranks and his cronies. The production meanders along in this mid paced vein like a James Milner run down the wing. Shaggy’s toasting is as good as ever and Wayne’s vocals hit the spot as well so it’s a shame about the limp production behind it as two such talents deserve better. Lyrically it’s about doing something different, you know like deciding to go camping for a weekend despite being the wrong side of 35 and being financially able to afford to stay in a permanent structure like a B and B or hotel. Jonny and I endured this only last week and I can tell you it was more like ‘Sophie’s Choice’ than ‘Carry on Camping’. The only good thing about the whole experience was knowing Jonny was in much more pain than me due to a combination of severe sunstroke and food poisoning, small mercies. Thanks for the advice Shaggy and Wayne but I won’t be taking it.
Upon closer inspection and with the aid of the video it seems when Shaggy is referring to doing ‘something’ different he means women. He’s clearly been wearing his Lynx Africa for this video because the treacles can’t get enough of him. Whilst Wayne nonces about in the background like a voyeuristic Dwayne Wayne it seems Shaggy can do no wrong with the ladies. First some hoighty toighty business woman arrives at his pad and indulges in a bit of Lady Chatterley type shenanigans with Shaggy as her Mellors figure. Then his meeting with his accountant turns a bit saucy as he invokes the ‘cinema special’ and slyly gets an arm round her whilst studying his tax returns, from this point all pretence of spreadsheets goes out the window as the ice cubes (not the rapper) come out to play. He then approaches a stranger from behind and grabs her and weirdly she doesn’t mind. When I attempted this I got three years on D-Wing, my food spat in every day, every time I left my cell I was subjected to chants of ‘sex case’ and I was placed on a register, funny how real life differs from music videos. Lastly it shows his maid trailing rose petals to the bath where she waits for Shaggy to discover her. It must have cut out the scene immediately afterwards where she’s sacked on the spot for making such a mess, as a maid one of the main responsibilities on her job description is to keep the place clean and tidy.
6/10 from me, 5 for the vocals and 1 for the strong waistcoat representation throughout the video.

NEGGAE SCORE: 6.75