Release Date: Sept 96
Chart Position: 24
‘And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain’
It’s the last one, unbelievable, after two years of toil, hardship, listening to some utter dogshit and having to bully Jonny we’re finally there. I’m going to start with a shout to the homies who didn’t make it.
Jamie – Started the blog writing about the Republic of Ireland’s 1994 World Cup campaign and often missed deadlines as he was dressing up his dog as Spiderman. Once he was told it was a nineties reggae blog the output improved dramatically. The China Black autograph story is my favourite neggae based anecdote ever, like a Jamaican Peter Ustinov. – 7/10
The late Keith De Vivre (God rest his soul) – Inconsistent delivery, often dependent on availability of class As, booze and whores. At best creative genius, at worst lazy f*cker. – 5/10
Franks – Who? I hear you ask, in a signing reminiscent of Arsenal signing Clive Allen he didn’t manage one review and then became the Neggae equivalent of Richey Edwards as he dropped off the face of the earth (well the Neggae message group anyway) – 0/10
Norm – Initially suspected of being under contract from Lilt, Malibu and Egg with the amount of product placement contained in reviews, soon grew into it and liked the gauging the kid’s reactions to songs proving that Neggae spans generations. Still not been fully forgiven for his role in the Dawn Penn scandal. – 7/10
James BC – Came late to the party and has consistently delivered on before deadline with a writing style that puts the rest of us to shame. Some very dubious scoring though, particularly the Shaggy efforts with Grand Puba and Maxi Priest. 7/10
Now to my two fellow survivors of Neggae, it’s been a journey which has been fraught along the way but we’ve come through the trials and tribulations to complete a historical document of the boom time of commercial Reggae. For this we can be proud of ourselves.
Jonny – After a very shaky start he responded positively to coaching, advice and constant bullying from his fellow Neggae elders he really turned it round. The unsung hero of the blog, the Neggae Makelele, as he worked very hard to create very little and made the rest of us look good. – 9/10
Vince – Creator of the blog, without him there’d be no documenting of Neggae. Started off strongly but then like Capello’s England rein lost the dressing room with a disciplinarian approach which included censorship and rejecting reviews, Jonny and I used to call him Postman Pat behind his back. Took a leaf out the Manchester United board’s book during the Moyes rein and promoted his star player to a coaching role which improved results immediately. – 9/10
Gouldy – The only reason I read this blog – 10/10
Now onto the last ever Neggae hot 90 entry and fittingly it ends with my old nemesis Suggs. The first thing I had to was refresh the link four or five times as I thought Vince had supplied the wrong one, it’s the f*cking ‘Macarena’ isn’t it? So basically we start off with the Macarena then the famous sax riff from ‘Tequila’ kicks in (I always preferred the Terrorvision song) so in summing up this production is Jive Bunny lite, abysmal. Suggs gurns his way through the song and ropes in Louchie Lou and Michie One to tell him off again, which is a bit weird and shows masochistic tendencies. Lyrically Suggs jokes his way through a description of alcoholism, making light of what’s basically a disease. Let’s look at some facts.
- Every year alcohol causes around 4% of cancer cases in the UK, about 12,500 cases;
- Heavy drinking can reduce the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which can trigger type 2 diabetes;
- Alcohol is linked to suicide, self-harm and psychosis;
- There are over 8000 alcohol related deaths in the UK every year.
So nice one Suggs, laugh it up, can’t wait for your ‘Cancerbantz’ single.
The video is a confused mish-mash which starts off with cowgirls doing a line dancing version of the Macarena. The standard bloke on sax being lifted through the air on a wire shot, nice to see some originality in the Suggs-related canon of music videos. We continue to Suggs as a boxer, then the unthinkable hell of multiple Suggs. It finishes with Louchie Lou and Michie One dressed as Neggae versions of Nefertiti before the final act of everyone falling down, because they’re drunk, great stuff! I have to say it’s a shame a period of such epic highs and lows has to finish off with this shit but it does go a long way to explain the subsequent success of Embrace and other shit-pop bands, they seem like the Beatles in comparison to this. Suggs, you’re a wretch of a man.
Score: 1/10 – Farewell Neggae, it’s a shame your death was as dignified as Stephen Milligan’s.
Everyone agrees that the neggae era properly ended with Mysterious Girl, reviewed last week, but like that hilarious guy in assembly who had to keep clapping longer than everyone else, there was always gonna be one twerp who didn’t know when to stop. And it was always gonna be Suggs. If you look at the charts for 95-97 you’ll see that Suggsy somehow got embroiled in a single-releasing competition with George Michael – a big mistake as it turned out, since no matter how dirgetastic George’s tunes got, all EIGHT of them made the top three, while this, the sixth track to come off The Lone Ranger album, only got to number 24.
And that’s despite the efforts of Suggs‘s marketing team who, canny as ever, realised that the millions of people who had already bought The Lone Ranger would need an extra incentive to stump up again for this single, so they came up with this pretty substantially remixed version of the original song. On the album, Alcohol (not No More Alcohol) is as much a queasy, woozy, clammy cautionary tale as it is a knees-up. No More Alcohol, on the other hand, doesn’t let its knees drop for a second. It speeds things up, bins the original chorus and most of the instrumentation, loops the Tequila interpolation and mixes in the Macarena for added subtlety, plus another all-new Louchie Lou and Michie One rap.
Does it work? No, not really. If you want the Macarena, get the Macarena. If you want Tequila, get Tequila. If you want both of them, get Now That’s What I Call Butlins Chucking Out Time Volume 4. Suggs‘s contribution doesn’t add a lot when the original, menacingly double-edged lyric is completely lost in a fug of enforced fun. And even Louchie and Michie are in very poor form compared to their game-saving performance on Cecilia. I hate to say it, but their appearance seems almost like filler that is purely there to pad the track out to the requisite three minutes.
As for the video, most of it is classic Suggs mime-dancing and acting out lyrics, backed up by line dancing cowgirls who must have made an impression on Pete Waterman’s mind at least. Just over a year later the audition process was complete and “the mighty” Steps were unleashed on the public, with the glory of neggae a distant (though never fading) memory.
And that’s it. No More Alcohol, No More Neggae. That is to say, with the greatest respect to T-Spoon, Mr President, Kevin Lyttle, Sean the Paul, the Second Coming of Shaggy, Snoop Lion and all the rest who followed later, the neggae glory years were done. Let’s remember the highlights, not this somewhat shoddy afterthought.
Score: 4 out of 10
So here we are at the final hurdle and how fitting that it is a massive low vs. last week as it typifies this whole experience. Mysterious Girl was masterpiece of summer fun that cheered everybody up when they were down and reminded us all of care free open air boozing. This unfortunately only reminds me of the lows of the era.
Is this even neg? Is Suggs even a person? Strictly speaking do cowgirls line dancing on a beach classify as neggae, reggae, or anything like that? I don’t think so. Having said that and given that this is the final review I am not in quite as bad a place as I would normally be with it, although I am not softening my opinion of Suggs. The only positive I can take is that it reminds me of the Macarena which does bring back some great memories, most fondly of cheap nightclubs and loose girls which were both very important parts of my life almost 20 years ago.
I’m not going into too much detail of the tune, it is what it is really, a classic irrelevant Suggs affair that did nothing other than cheapen the movement.
Score: 2/10 from me on this one.
So there we are, I made it, I must confess there were times when I thought I would buckle. But unlike Synan Jr, Rushie, Keith and Norm (couldn’t bring myself to include Franks) I didn’t bottle it. I hope that my irrational anxiety of ‘new message’ alerts will ease now.
In the history of pop music. genres often end with a whimper rather than a bang, a sold-out, wheezing, end-of-the-pier facsimile of their more vital selves only a few years earlier. The Beatles conquered the US in ’63 because all the original rock’n’roll rebels has been replaced by sugary momma’s boys. Elvis, Richard, Berry and Lee Lewis through a combination of the draft, finding God and incarceration (for underage sex – natch) effectively went missing – and the first wave of rock n roll limped to a close with the likes of Gene Pitney, Bobbys Vee and Vinton. Clean cut, good looking guys that would shift units but stay out of trouble.
The excellent recent BBC4 Northern Soul documentary Living for the Weekend thoroughly examined the death of this Great British movement. Northern Soul was built on a finite stock of rare, 60s soul hidden gems. When these started running out, the key DJs of the scene panicked in two different directions. The Wigan Casino ‘purists’ wanted anything from the 60s with a 4/4 beat, so head DJs such as Russ Winstanley started scrabbling around for anything that had the ‘Wigan Stomp’ – even turning to ropey instrumental TV themes. At rival nightspot the Blackpool Mecca, Ian Levine was trying to move the genre forward, exploring the burgeoning New York disco scene. His acolytes loved it but the purists hated it, to the point where they printed and wore “LEVINE MUST GO” T-shirts. Levine would go out of his way to troll them, and ended up playing blatantly homosexual disco-pop such as Sylvester’s You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real). Years later he would regret this decision, stating his playlist became so pop it wasn’t much different from that at any Youth Club Disco up and down the country.
Neggae too, ends in a similarly forlorn fashion. Suggs cashing in on the summer holiday hit Macarena – complete with line dancing cowgirls and (ashamedly) making Louchie Lou and Michie One spit a few bars in the only Neggaeish part of the song. Suggs has killed Neggae, pissed on it, dressed it up in a “Y VIva Espana” summer dress, put some lippy on it, had his way with it, and then put it away in his dungeon ready for the next time he’s bored. An ignominious end to one of the last truly great pop movements.
I’d like to thank everyone who has written, read, shared, commented or liked anything on the Neggae blog – its been hard work but much fun. Watch this space for the Wikipedia page, Guardian articles, OED definition and BBC4 documentary which will all be worked on next.
NEGGAE SCORE: 1.75