Release Date: Apr 96
Chart Position: 4
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.
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.
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
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.
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