Pato Banton & The Reggae Revolution – Groovin

Release Date: Jul 96
Chart Position: 14

James BC
With a few days of this summer left at best, it’s about time we got to Groovin’ – Neggae’s answer to Summertime by Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Pato‘s followed Will Smith’s instructions to the letter and given us a soft summer mix, and since it ain’t broke he won’t try to fix it.
All the PB vocal trademarks that we love him for are here to enjoy: putting his own name in where it doesn’t really rhyme, repeating the same word to fill space in the bar, random bits of nursery rhyming, overconfident instructions to “watch this!” followed by long silences. I especially enjoyed the rambling digression about how he doesn’t like the winter weather, nicely dramatised in the video too. Of all the performers who found themselves in the right place at the right time, the neggae explosion was particularly good to Pato.
As ever, Mr P. A. T. O. Banton’s great strength is the people he has around him. The lazy harmonica and retro record scratches are perfect for this tune and his singer has a great reggae/soul voice. His video director has done him proud too – as well as the fake snow freezin’-me-bits-off bit there is some laugh out loud comedy where a member of the Fun Police tries to stop Pato and friends enjoying the summer. I would have liked to see the casting advert for that role – WANTED: Man who looks even less cool than Pato Banton. But they found him and it’s much to all our benefit.
My only complaint is that, as the proud owner of 100% Reggae vol. 3, I’m aware of a very similar song by someone called Tyson, miraculously on Youtube here that I would say is even better. It’s exactly the same idea – are they both covers of some earlier song I haven’t heard? – but with a Soul II Soul beat, lusher production and arguably better rapping. There’s a bit that goes “Live your life a lover!” so it’s pretty much a can’t miss. None of that is Pato‘s fault, though, so I’m not knocking any points off – it would be like criticising Michelangelo for not being as good as Leonardo Da Vinci.
Score: 8 out of 10 – never change, Pato.

Well it’s been quite the week of enlightenment:

  • Sky TV and Direct Line are ripping me off, badly, and if they do it for much longer I might make a half hearted attempt to do something about it. You have been warned!
  • Singing the theme tune to Escape to Victory in my head whilst playing does not make me better at football.
  • This version of Groovin was delivered by Pato Banton. I didn’t know who did it, I remember the song but for some reason thought it was someone else’s piece of averageness.

It’s OK, but that’s about it, it’s no car crash but it’s no ‘This Cowboy Song’ either. I’ve certainly got zero time for the Benny Hill’esque performances from the likes of the Park Keeper. I had thought Pato was above that kind of thing, but then I had a quick flick through some of his other stuff and remembered the whole ‘Bubbling Hot’ production. When I reflect on it Pato has delivered some of the finer moments of this list, but he has also contributed significantly to the devaluing of the whole movement.
Score: 5/10 from me.
P.S. I have a full on neggae chubby as we enter the penultimate week.

Only two more songs after this one to complete this epic journey throughout the period forever known as Neggae. The journey has gone on so long I’m starting to feel like Ulysses and if Homer were alive today I’m pretty sure he’d pen a poem about it.

Ulysses: looks a bit like my Dad

Ulysses: looks a bit like my Dad

This week we’ve the final offering from the Emerald Isle’s favourite Neggaeist, Pat O’Banton (I realise this is a terrible joke I’ve used in every review he’s been involved in but its taken on a heroic quality in my mind) with ‘Groovin’. He’s sampled the song of the same name by the Young Rascals which was a favourite on the chopper after we’d returned from a firefight with the Vietcong. Ok if you subsitute ‘Groovin’ for ‘Striaght out of Compton’, chopper for Storton’s car and Vietcong fro Badshot Lea that’s a more accurate picture but it was my own personal ‘Nam, I saw things man.
I think the vibe Pato was going for was a Neggae ‘Summertime’ but in my humble opinion he’s not scaled the dizzy heights of his ambition. The song starts with the sample and the now standard Neggae beat which should now be a default setting on Casio keyboards as its far more relevant than rumba or bossa nova. That’s pretty much as far as the production goes, the only good thing is the sample the rest is Neggae by numbers, lazy Pato.
Pato’s singing is ok, he’s got a mate chipping in who’s ok as well but if Chaka Demus and Pliers are the neggae equivalent of Champagne then these two are Blue Nun. Lyrically it’s Pato going on about the summer being better than the winter, a truly original observation and also quite subjective, it may well be in World Cup and Euro years but what about the other two?
The video is set in a park with Pato and his cronies setting up an illegal rave in a park bandstand and follows the attempts of the comedic park keeper to bring an end to this. Whoever did the casting for this really missed a trick as the prak keeper role is tailor made for Blakey or at a push Dynamo Doug Digby, instead they just got some no-mark in and the video  is none the better for it. We go on as the video’s narrative follows the hilarious mishaps these boys get into, summing up it’s a four minute Benny Hill sketch with no scantily clad ladies of the eighties, great. Overall this sums up Pato’s career, the ingredients sound good but there’s something missing and it ultimately fails. The song is also symptomatic of the decline of Neggae as, like the Beatles after they got back from India and got into all that wacky baccy and funny business, the good songs are few and far between.
Score 3/10 – Mehggae

The last effort from Pato Banton then, and it’s another typically positive yet slightly gauche offering that we’ve come to expect off this Cbeebies presenter of a pop star. Ploughing the same fields as Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s summertime – its another example of UK Neggae coming off a bit Lidl in comparison. Jazzy Jeff is (still) one of the greatest DJ’s the world has ever seen (I was in this crowd at this year’s Southport – he killed it.) In his hands, the relatively unknown Kool and the Gang Summer Madness instrumental coupled with killer beats and a clever new chorus became a worldwide smash.
With Groovin’ – Pato, the Reggae Revolution (I assume the chaps doing all the singing) and local producers the Beatmasters attempt the same magic with an old Young Rascals sample – but it just lacks that bit of magic. The beats are a bit more formulaic, there’s less invention on the chorus. The sample is a bit more obvious. Everything is a bit more average – which was ultimately reflected in the respectable but not earth-shattering chart placement.
Still there’s a couple of humourous lines in it, notably the passage regarding Pato’s dislike for the winter months. And the Reggae Revolution boys chip in their vocals with gusto. The video too is a lot of fun, Pato and the lands creating a pop-up carnival in the sleepy old Stratford-Upon-Avon Park. Here it is with some local types:

Lots of white people.

Lots of white people.

The Parky character seems all rather het up that Pato and his boys have taken up residence in an area traditionally used for trad jazz meets. But in true carnival style and after a few lugs on Pato’s baton he’s skanking with the rest of ’em. He even laughs when they drive their cadillac into the River Avon! By the end of the video they are all bezzies; to the point where he later joined them for a secret Wild Bunch shebeen at cooler than cool Bristol nightspot the Dugout.

Such is the power of Neggae my friends.
Score: Middle of the river five out of ten from me.



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