Suggs feat. Louchie Lou & Michie One – No More Alcohol

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been a journey which has been fraught along the way but we’ve come through the trials and tribulations to complete a historical document of the boom time of commercial Reggae.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.

James BC
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.
Score: zero.



Louchie Lou & Michie One – Good Sweet Lovin’

Release Date: June 96
Chart Position: 34

James BC
here’s a lot more of this RnB-type neggae around than I remember. Here’s another track that’s as silky-smooth as Ken Clarke’s tie and as vaguely jazzy as his musical taste, only qualifying as neggae due to the UK/Jamaica vocals.
Someone should do proper skanked up barbecue remixes of all these laid-back grooves since for me, the vocals are a bit wasted when taken out of their natural habitat. They’re like a proud lion made to live in Sevenoaks or Godalming – the mighty, righteous roar doesn’t have the same impact against a mundane, suburban backdrop, and you don’t get more mundane or suburban than this kind of gloopy RnB murk.
For what it is, Good Sweet Lovin’ is OK. I do like Louchie and Michie’s chemistry and they deserve to be known as more than just Suggs’s backing singers, I just wish they had gone in a more properly neggae direction musically. I notice Suggs is larking around in the video (I could have just said “Suggs is in the video” since the larking is a given) – I don’t know if he was their manager or something? If he was he should have hooked them up with his buddies Sly and Robbie but clearly he was too busy masterminding the Farm’s once promising career and (from a safe distance) laughing at Chris Eubank. All in all a missed opportunity and a bit of a waste of talent since they don’t seem to have had another hit.
Score: 5 out of 10


I’d like to think that after 85 weeks of this I’d be better mentally equipped to deal with neg than this, but the reality is that I think I am actually getting less capable of ‘just doing my f*****g review’ as the other neg elders put it. In the beginning it simply causes grumpiness, this then moved to aggression but ultimately building to a full mental breakdown on that Suggs effort that I can’t even bring myself to recall. I know we are on the home straight, but I am still struggling to deal with the pressures, in the beginning my wife asking ‘have you done your review yet?’ was met with a big sigh followed by some words of encouragement from her. Tonight it caused my eyes to roll over white, drooling, my head to tilt backwards and neck to bulge, thicken and turn a deep purple, all the time saying ‘Ya Man, Ya Man’ over and over again – tonight the neg fit was born.
Now another thing I have a learnt is that neg is a bit like being punched in the face, the dread, the fear, the fits are actually a lot worse than the actual punch itself and it’s all over and done with pretty quick and never as bad as your expectation (apart from that Suggs effort where I started self harming) and this week review proved this quite nicely.
It’s actually alright and Louchie and Michie do a nice job of this uncomplicated, smooth and sexy tune that has an instant feel good factor to it, the fact that they both look tidy only sweetens the deal. This is a marked improvement to their previous efforts and if I’m not wrong a glint in their eyes shows that maybe there is more to their on screen relationship than they are letting on.
Score: 7/10 from me, four more weeks!

Last night it dawned on me I’ve spent 2 years of my life doing this blog, using my time to repeatedly listen to Suggs, Shabba Ranks and loads of other dross. If I’d used this time constructively I think I’d have discovered a cure for cancer and brokered world peace but instead have spent eons thinking up new ways to call Suggs a twat, what a legacy. This week, unbelievably, Louchie Lou and Michie One make another fucking appearance, this time sans Suggs. As soon as this song starts you know it ain’t straight up Neg as it kicks off with a generic RnB bassline and production, it’s not offensive but comes down on the side of mehhh rather than murrrr. I recognise the sample, it might be ‘All Night Long’ but after two years this life sapping blog has stripped me of any desire for voracious research. The song is your usual bullshit about love, rhyming soul with control, blahblahblah, although the line ‘When you put your arms around me, holding me close as if I’m a baby’ does hint at an appearance on ‘Jim’ll Fix it’.
The video is a bit weird as they seem to have a women’s changing room in a night club, strange, which is open plan, stranger, and a load of blokes leering in at nubile ladies in their skimpys, getting stranger. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if there was a Director’s cut of this video which revealed a load of glory holes in the changing room. The two main protagonists are strutting their stuff around the club, one of them really reminds me of Troy Titus-Adams of EastEnders fame, whose sex symbol status used to confuse me as she was called Troy and resembled an unconvincing Transvestite.


The video is pretty standard throughout, although I’m not sure what the extras are dancing too as they’re badly out of time if it’s meant to be Good Sweet Lovin’. Then right at the end Suggs pops up, just to put the icing on the cake although a more accurate idiom would be ‘the slug on the dogshit’. Overall this is the neggae equivalent of a pint of Fosters, bland, watered down and inoffensive.
Score: I’m giving this 2/10 because I’ve just looked at the Hot 90 and seen they make another fucking appearance.

Whatever we think of the song, HAVE YOU SEEN LOUCHIE LOU AND MICHIE ONE IN THIS VIDEO?! To quote the Daily Mail, they are ‘all grown up.’ Gone are those awful Jeri-Curls, the heavy plaid shirts, and the girl-next door vibe they had about them in the Shout video. That video looked like every house party I ever attended around Surrey in the 90s; had they been there I’d have definitely made a play for one if not both of them. But the Good Sweet Lovin’ video? OUT OF MY LEAGUE.
It’s like when you see a girl from school that fancied you and was always lovely but a bit plain and she asked you out but you turned her down because you were chasing after the school babe but she broke your heart and then years later you bump into the plain looking one in a bar in London and she’s now super hot really successful and you hate yourself for the entire train journey home to Woking for yet another missed chance. We’ve all been there.
I’ve summed up their butterfly like transformation here:
lm The video is suitably swanky too – the girls swapping a terrace party in Walton-on-Thames for what looks like the Mash Bar off Oxford Street. The song is much of a muchness, Lazy All Night Long sample with some obvious G-Funk stylings. I’m pretty sure it’s a straight rip of George Michael’s Fastlove (bloody love that song) which topped the charts a few months before this release. Michie’s ragga badgyal toasting is the only Neggaesque feature of the song really. That and Suggs titting around in the background – must have been a free bar.
Score: 5/10


John Alford – Blue Moon

Release Date: May 96
Chart Position: 9

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

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.

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:

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.


Suggs feat. Louchie Lou and Michie One – Cecilia

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.

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

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.


Suggs – The Tune

Release Date: Dec 95
Chart Position: 33

So testing times this week at Neggae Towers, with bust-ups, spats, tantrums, walkouts – but ultimately some  bold decision-making that is going to see us through the tough times we face ahead.
Frankly, morale is low – we’ve not had a decent tune in weeks and when you look out on the the Neggae Hot 90 horizon and all you can see is this tosser:alfordcokeIt gets you down. I know exactly how the lads feel.
But.. we’ve only got 11 weeks to go so if we can dig deep and plough through we can end this blog with a Crystal Palace-like flourish to give this beautiful genre the send off it deserves.
Before I get on with the music, a few of housekeeping points that need addressing. Firstly, we are very sad to see Chris ‘Norm’ Lamont bowing out from the Neggae blog. Inventor of the genre, spreader of Neggae through the American colonies, lover of Lilt and the Egg, Chris is taking some time out to spend it with his family, and we absolutely resect that. All the best Chris, we’ll have a pint of Red Stripe at the bar at the wrap party when we’re all out the other side of this.
This week we were initially to review the Orinoco Flow knock-off that is Somethin’ Stupid by Ali and Kibibi Campbell. By a flaw in the data retrieval process, this accidentally got added to the Neggae Hot 90. Well, after closer Quality Assurance control it transpires this is definitely not Neggae; it’s Holy Communion Party Karaokeggae. It doesn’t belong here. So to honour this genre and the brand of UB40 it’s therefore been managed out.
Finally, there’s been a few personal barbs made in Suggs’ direction recently that I believe have overstepped the mark into bullying of the ex-Nutty Boy. Some of the more powerful elders have I believe been exerting influence over the weaker judges, creating a frenzy not unlike the ending of Lord of the Flies. A meeting took place, and you’ll be glad to know that all views were taken on board, and a decision was reached – pretty much like this:

Readers of this blog can now expect much more measured reviews and complete agreement on all of this I’m sure from the other Elders’ reviews below.
On to the song..
The Tune was Suggs’ 1995 Yuletide effort with a fantastic ‘Blackadder Christmas Special’ style video complete with lashings of Fake Snow and Victoriana. Suggs’ hopes of capping his comeback year with an Xmas number one were unfortunately dashed as the song only reached 33, getting nowhere near Earth Song and ensuring that Michael Jackson slept with ease over the Christmas period (probably after bumming a child.)
“But is it any good Vince?”  I assume you ask in your inner monologue. Well, not really. Sounds like his last two – which all sound like the theme to the Coco Pops adverts. I like the skittering drums and the deft piano, but ultimately there’s nothing there. And it’s 3 minutes too long – with pointless instrumental bridges. The middle eight bizarrely recalls the melody from Chain Reaction by Diana Ross. Which is her worst song by the way.
The video’s good though – the time machine and the dressing up box and shit. I liked that.
Score: There’s a reason this doesn’t feature on ANY Xmas compilation albums. 2/10

Apparently this week we’re not allowed to let personal opinion enter the review of this song, which I thought was the whole point of a review? I’m still undecided whether Vince’s editorial edict is yet another attempt to enforce an Orwellian air of censorship over the blog or just him trying to get the song better marks because he likes it, either way that jive turkey can swivel, I’ll write what I want.
This week is the return of that odious spunk bubble Suggs who took time off trawling Soho pubs with his mum to pebbledash all over the Hot 90 (I do owe an apology to Suggs having recently referred to him as a Gooner, he is in fact Chelsea which is really endearing). The song is called ‘The Tune’(!) and starts off reasonably enough with a horn section, jaunty beat and sax it’s the neggae equivalent of a cockney drinking song. I can imagine Chas and Dave wearing Rasta wigs and covering this and it’d be alright, apart from maybe the wigs. Then Suggs joins in with his affected vocal style which is a particular bugbear of mine, he tries too hard. The equivalent of that bloke at work who tries to make a joke out of the most mundane comment;

‘Sorry I’ve had to pull out of that meeting as I’m too busy’
‘Pull out? Didn’t want to make the meeting pregnant eh? Geddit? Geddit?’
‘You are destined to die alone and crying in a bedsit surrounded by piles of used, crusty wanksocks’

You know the type. SUGGS The Tune 7 A
Lyrically the song is a bit of a nonsense, I think the gist of it is being at a party in a psychiatric ward and personally I’m with Nurse Rathcett on that idea. I think that’s the gist of the song anyway as Suggs seems to have played a bit of sentence roulette and chucked anything in there. The video is typical Suggs and by that I mean zany, zanier than Billy and Alex Zane riding space hoppers in Tanzania. We’ve got the lot

• Mugging to the camera;
• Sped up camera work;
• Literal acting out of the lyrics;
• Other assorted berks;
• People coming out a box.

I was pretty disappointed to see this bloke had sold out though, I’m assuming DVDs did for his career. Overall this isn’t his worst by a long stretch but I’ve seen the hot 90 and know there’s much, much worse to come.
I’m now about to send this to Vince for publication so fully expect it to appear like this:

redactorama-thumbScore: 4/10 – jog on you suggy c*nt

James BC
Revisionism strikes.
Up until lunchtime on Friday the next song to review was going to be Something Stupid by Ali and Kibibi Campbell (that’s his daughter, who couldn’t have been more than ten years old at the time). However Vince has now stricken that from the record on the grounds that it is not reggae enough, has no skank, and has no connection to neggae whatsoever except for the Campbell name, itself severely compromised by this point thanks to the Yeah Be Yeah debacle. It’s hard to argue with the decision but it does mean we’ll never know what the other elders think of that effort. To me it has “cutesy album filler” written all over it so I’m baffled at to how it was a single – I dread to think what the rest of the Big Love album must have been like.
And then I go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like “I’m going to make a solo album and recruit my tiny daughter to help me reinterpret the Sinatras.”
It does seem like a missed opportunity, since the more I think about the prospect of ALI CAMPBELL covering FRANK SINATRA, the more blackly hilarious it gets. But perhaps including terrible songs just to take pot shots at them runs contrary to the positive One Love philosophy of the neggae blog and the neggae movement in general, may it last forever. (Don’t believe anyone who tells you it ended in 1996, Snoop Lion is living proof that they are wrong.)
Anyway, instead of Something Stupid we have The Tune by Suggs, which whatever else you might say about it, cannot be accused of lacking skank. Unlike the three Suggs tracks we’ve encountered already, The Tune is much more ska than it is reggae: Suggs drops the sunny afternoon observations in favour of a frenetic party tune much more in the early Madness vein. Lyrically it’s a neggae equivalent of Blinded By The Lights by the Streets, except that instead of pills, Suggs‘s party takes a turn for the messy due to (1) having had a little more to drink than is wise and (2) having suddenly got old and uncool without realising it until that exact moment. The lyric comes from the point of view of a man who hasn’t been clubbing for a while but finds himself in a going out scenario, perhaps on the spur of the moment after a work do, sort of having a good time but also realising that the scene has shifted in his absence and he has no chance of properly comprehending the music that is now popular. He blunders about dancing badly (Suggs is very suited to this role) and veering between euphoria – if anything having a little more fun than is healthy – and a queasy contemplation of his own limitations and ultimate mortality. Just like the “madman’s song”, which today would be Skrillex or Magnetic Man, and at the time would have been the Prodigy or the Chemical Brothers, or some of that freaked-out Kula Shaker shizzle, he himself is not quite wrong but not quite right either.
This moment is a universal part of the human experience, so if you haven’t lived it yet then you can be thankful – but also be aware that your youth will not last forever. One day you too will be old and modern music will be too much for you. Even if you enjoy it you will not quite get it, you will become an outsider on the dancefloors you once dominated and the young people who truly belong there, even if they sort of admire that an oldster like you can still try to get your groove on, will not recognise or accept you as one of their own.
None of this is in the video, but I swear it’s there in the song. The Tune is firmly in the Madness tradition of seemingly jaunty songs that actually plumb the dark depths of human experience, a worthy successor to Embarrassment and House of Fun even if it’s not quite in the same league as those two classics. The lyrics were written by Madness’s background genius Mike Barson, but Suggs does a great job of fleshing out the role. The dad-style humour of the spoken “one, two, four, five” and “do you know my brother” bits, which help to fill in the loveable yet pitiable character of the protagonist, can only have come from him. And he even went full method actor on the B-side by covering Alright by Supergrass – the sound of this 80s star and Virgin Radio personality insisting that “We are young” over weirdly exhausted 1950s production adds massively to the pathos.
I’ve already said how I think recruiting Sly and Robbie to update him for the 90s was a masterstroke by Suggs, but they aren’t actually involved much with this one, only being credited with “additional production”. Sadly no one has yet come out with a meticulous history of the recording of the Lone Ranger album like they do with the Beatles so I can’t tell you exactly what the legends’ contribution was – maybe the honking sound at the end of every four bars? But as a true believer in the Madness boys’ genius, it’s reassuring for me to see that they put together something this danceable, poignant and multi-layered without outside help. Well done Suggsy.
Score: 9 out of 10

And so this seemingly endless assignment continues. Today was the first day for a while I got the genuine neg fear, the feeling I get when I know I have to deliver something, just anything to be able to move on with my life for another week. I was supposed to do this last night, but just blanked it from my mind only to wake up at 4am this morning in a state of distress knowing that the task and the elders are not going anywhere and will not have forgotten to bully me via various online social networks as soon as they awake.
‘Come on Jon, you can do this, you have managed far more complex and challenging tasks in your life to date. Don’t let this get you down!’ I kept repeating to my myself in the mirror this morning, a bit like the final scene from Boogie Nights, actually a lot like that in more ways than one! My wife heard me and could tell I was in some kind of emotional turmoil. She comforted me and promised she would cook me my favourite meal tonight if I got on with it and gave it my best effort. ‘What’s the song this week? Is it a good one?’ she asked, but to be honest I don’t even know, I haven’t even listened to it yet. All I know is that it is not a blockbuster as they seem to be drying up by now and I would have spotted it if it was. ‘I’m sure it’s a good one, you might enjoy it. Just listen to the song and think of how it makes you feel and any fond memories that it brings back’ she offered in support.
So I picked myself up off the bathroom floor, wiped away the tears, got dressed and headed for work to deal with it like a man. I even put on Stay Young by Oasis in the car, that song always makes me feel like I can achieve anything. I parked up and strolled into the office confident and with a new sense of purpose ‘I can f*****g do this!’ I said as I walked up the stairs and even had a little fist pump to help motivate me. I open up my PC and check out which artist and song it is.
I feel like a dagger is being pushed slowly and very deliberately through my chest by the Grim Reaper dressed up like Bob Marley. I can’t breathe and I push my chair back a bit and rest my head on my desk. A cleaning lady doing her early rounds stops to makes sure that I am OK but I put a brave face on and thank her for her concern.
After taking a few minutes to pull myself together and again build myself up, I am ready to listen to the tune ‘stay open mined’ I keep saying to myself, ‘it might be one of his better ones’.
I hit play.
After 30 seconds I am in the full foetal position under my desk, shaking and grinning almost hysterically. Like in a cartoon when Tom gets knocked out somehow and has little Jerry’s spinning round his head laughing, I have the same, but they are all neg artists laughing at me; Johnny Gill, Aswad, Bitty Mclean, Bob, Patto, they are all there laughing at me. A guy in my team, who is also in early arrives to see this all going and offers some support. ‘I’ll be OK thanks, I’ve just got some personal issues’ I explain to him, ashamed and embarrassed that listening to a Suggs tune released almost 20 years ago can reduce me to such a state. ‘OK man, but if you need anything or need to talk let me know’ he offered, but how can I share this? He won’t understand. Nobody does.
When will this all end? Who bought this crap in the 90’s? How did Suggs have a career? Does he know what this has done and is still doing to people? I can’t bring myself to write anymore, I have to move on and put it behind me.
At least my wife will now be cooking my favourite meal tonight.
Score: 0/10 – please please make this stop!


UB40 – Until my dying day

Release Date: Nov 95
Chart Position: 15

James BC
Until My Dying Day is where UB40’s digital neggae sound finally reaches its peak. They’ve now computerised every aspect of the track to the point where the band could probably walk off stage (possibly after a disagreement about royalties from the Geffrey Morgan album) and the song would carry on playing exactly the same. Normally you can at least rely on the brass to bring a bit of acoustic warmth, but here Brian Travers has got his hands on 808 state’s old electro-clarinet and replaced his lusty parping with an atmospheric tootling effect. Meanwhile the standard reggae keyboard stabs give way to a fiddly synth figure and Jimmy Brown has given up completely and delegated the drumming to that syndrum pad from Phoenix Nights that “shits on a cowbell”.
Up to this point, the more digital UB40 have got, the cheesier they’ve got. But on this track the complete abolition of any human input actually takes them back to something a little more like their 1980 sound: spooky, menacing, questioning, unresolved. You can’t really call it reggae, which is shocking to say about a UB40 track, but the fact is if skank was water this would be the Atacama Desert. Even so, there is a fair bit to like:
that endless synth figure draws you in and gets under your skin, the moody strings for once don’t sound out of place, and Ali’s voice really suits the mood: often mealy-mouthed on the love stuff, he sounds sinuous and compelling slinking around in the synthy gloom, singing about how he’s not going to tell us the thing he’s telling us he’s not going to tell us.
Overall, then, this does a lot wrong, but gets a fair bit right almost by accident. If every neggae song had sounded like this then I doubt Vince and the boys would have bothered with the blog, but I can go with it as a one-off. Bonus points as well for using the same four chords as Get Lucky – sing one over the other on your tea break and enjoy.
Score: 6 out of 10.

Another bout of UB40. That’s two weeks in a row of inspiring, islandic beats and tunes…. I think not. In fact, I’m not even sure how this makes it on to the Hot 90. I’ve come to the realization that you either love UB40 (Ali Campbell) or you hate them. I fall into the latter category. I’m tired, I’m bored of having to review this group over and over again. When will it end? It seems that we get a UB40 hiatus every now and then, I recover mentally and boom, there they are, same $h*t different day. This is gonna be hard to review as I only had a chance to listen to it a couple of times before the link broke. Maybe it’s for the best. My first impressions are not good, I did try to locate another version, found some dodgy remix that made it slightly more acceptable to listen to than the one provided. Here are my initial thoughts.
1) This is bad
2) This is too slow
3) The Ali C show has run its course
4) They still employ the same videographer
5) This is bad
6) I wish I was listening to Shaggy
1/10 – no explanation needed – see above notes

ub40 dying day
I think that this is worst song we have do so far. I had to play youtube link a number of times on different devices as I was convinced it didn’t work and even looked for different versions online as I thought there was some kind of error, but it really is that shit. What the hell were they doing? Ali’s sounds like he’s doing an impression of Vic and Bob doing an impression of Ali Campbell with a cold. The delivery is so bad, I was expecting better from the UB’s….
I really can’t think of a single positive…..its no longer than 3.42mins long? As far as I am aware no one has died? But that is about it. I’m starting to think that the ride is over, neg is dying.
Although its bad I do think that UB40 have offered up a very poignant moment in neg history, with it symbolising the death of something once loved by so many. Like Airwolf, The A Team, Michael Jackson and Heartbreak High, you just wish it could have ended on a high, but they kept on and on at it. Neil Young once wrote ‘it’s better to burn out than to fade away’, and I feel this is never more true than this effort from the UB.
A sad day, the beginning of the end for neg 1/10.

Until My Dying Day was a non-LP single, released as a tie-in for UB40’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2. If you look at the tracklisting, they should have really called it “UB40: The Neggae Years” – as without the resurgence in the popularity that we are covering on this blog, I don’t think the LP (and therefore this lead single) would have been created or released. So Until My Dying Day is basically the most Neggyist of Neg – It’s self-fulfilling Neggae.
A fairly downbeat and melancholy number, it attempts to deal with age old issues of trust and confidentiality in love. Unfortunately, the questioning-slash-bargaining tone of the “tell-me-your-secrets-and-I-won’t-tell-a-soul” lyrics just come across as a little bit paranoid bordering on passive-aggressive.  A lot of UB40 music is imbibed with the positive qualities of Marijuana – the bouncing, good vibes , the cheery lyrics. Well this is the flipside.
Sonically it is great, a very modern sounding production which I bet would still sound great on a decent digital radio today. For me it’s certainly 90sdance-influenced, with the synth washes and electronic baselines highlighting that the YowBees must have been to a rave or three. And is it me, or is the melody a rip from the verse part of this banger?
Where UB40 are clever musicians though you can still here the reggae influences throughout. Top stuff.
Videowise, well it’s not going to win any awards. UB40’s videos are always a fairly bland experience; and after a couple of weeks of Suggs mugging for the camera this feels like a Ingmar Bergman short. Moody look bass-playing, stroppy drumwork, a touchy performance from Ali – its what you expect. Wasn’t expecting a burial scene in a modern 90s apartment. Whose death was being commemorated though? Yitzak Rabin was assassinated in November 1995 when this came out – but its not him.
In fact, its not a person they are putting six feet under; its Neggae itself. This is UB40’s last effort on the Neggae Hot 90 – and they’re saying “Without us, this scene is dead”. They’re metaphorically taking the ball home because their Mum’ just shouted that the Findus Crispy Panakes, chips and beans are ready. She’s called time on the Neggae kickabout.
Score: A Show-closing 8 out of 10 for me.

This week we find Ali and the chaps in cagey mood with ‘Until my dying day’. I can only think that the boys had some moody funk before recording this as there’s a paranoid almost cold war like feel to this, it’s the Le Carre novel of Neggae.  The production could be by Vangelis from the ‘Blade Runner’ soundtrack with its minimal electro feel and sinister strings.
Lyrically Ali is promising not to reveal an un-named person’s secret for love nor money until the day he dies. I’m not sure of the sincerity of this promise as he could die at any moment, he can’t predict being fatally crushed by a palm tree or falling into one of Birmingham’s many canals and drowning, I can only assume he used one of those internet life expectancy clocks and actually thought it was true.  He seems to be directly referencing the tabloids at one point saying he won’t sell at any price (although given some of the shit they’ve churned out for cash I’m not sure this is strictly true)
‘Don’t ask me what I saw
You know my secrets not for sale’
Which makes me wonder what this neggae secret is, so I’m running a book* if anyone is interested.
*In the event of a palpable error no bets will be settled or stakes refunded.

Evens – Shabba Ranks bums cats;

5/1 – Chaka Demus and Pliars are the neggae equivalent of Milli Vanilli;

10/1 – CJ Lewis is actually Dion Dublin;

20/1 – Snow was actually Jon Snow in disguise and was an international hoodwink on the scale of Orson Welles doing ‘War of the Worlds’;
The video looks like it was shot in some shitty bar/club in the nineties, or present day if you’re in Woking, and doesn’t have a lot going on in it. It mainly consists of moody shots of the boys dressed in their Foster suits and black shirt and tie combos and sums up the whole thing pretty well as it’s pretty mundane.
This sums up the mood when the bar runs out of Red Stripe, Neggae is supposed to be fun.
4/10 as they’ve done worse.


Suggs – Camden Town

Release Date: Oct 95
Chart Position: 14

Camden Town is effectively Suggs’ loveletter to his old stomping ground, an affectionate ode to the streets where he are the Nutty Boys grew up and cut their teeth. Take note, this is not about London per  se– but specifically NW1. Madness were famously travel-shy, failing to capitalize on their National fame in the early 80s by missing tour after tour. A fondness for the plethora of North London boozers, caffs, the green stuff and lie-ins were the general reasons cited. As manager Dave Robinson cited in the excellent “If it Aint Stiff” BBC4 docco, “Madness didn’t want to leave Camden Town” LET ALONE THE BIG SMOKE.suggs camden town

So its no surprise Suggs felt the borough should be committed to vinyl – but is it any good? Yes, it is actually. It’s no Boombastic, but it doesn’t deserve some of the scorn that I’m sure the other Elders will heap on it. Suggs turned in some stinkers during the fag-end years of Neggae don’t get me wrong, but (just like the place itself) Camden Town is not without its charms.

Seeing instantly recognizable 90s London filmed over a reggae soundtrack gave me a pang of nostalgia for the Opening Credits of Desmonds. Don’t Scratch My Sofa. F*ck me what a tune. Like Free Nelson Mandela but with added record scratches. But instead of young, beautiful, black urbanites we have Suggs doing his drunken-tiptoeing-to-bed-so-I-don’t-wake-the-missus danceendearing when he was 19 but less so with a middle-aged derby. Fair play to the video producers for shelling out on a trip to JA though – I reckon this video alone cost more than all of Bitty MaClean’s put together.

As for the song – well it the Theme tune to Coco pops isn’t it? Have a listen.

That or Um Bungo.
I’ve always been partial to both of these ditties, but I’ve never felt the urge to base a pop song around it. That said, Noel Gallagher launched his career off the back of an Old Coke jingle – so maybe they’re on to something. Maybe in 20 years time I should dine off that Reisen song. Might get a number one out of it. Although by then I imagine pop music will be reduced 6 second Vine holograms consumed by domestic help drones scanning a barcode directly into humans eyes. Actually I’m not going to bother. Can’t be f*cked with it.

Back to the here and now –the production is what truly saves this. Sly and Robbie, the Leiber and Stoller of Neggae, craft a gorgeous low slung groove that covers all of the imperfections listed above. Echoed drum breaks, punchy keys, heavy horns – it’s a delight. I’d quite like to hear a dub version of it actually. with Finley Quaye on vox. And at least Suggs is mullering his own record, and not murdering the Beatles or Simon and Garfunkels.
Score: 6/10 – well done Suggs.

James BC
Here’s Suggs again, and once again I dread to think what the others are writing. Sometimes it seems I’m the only person in the world who looks back fondly on the Suggs’s 90s solo work, and that includes the nutty man himself: in his recent autobiography he dedicates a princely one paragraph to it, almost all of which is taken up with that anecdote everyone already knows about Chris Eubank introducing Cecilia on Top of the Pops. If on the other hand you want to know what happened when Suggs went cycling around Italy with Clive Langer, you’ll be delighted to find an entire chapter on the topic. Basically nothing is the answer, by the way.
But on I press: no amount of apathy from the man himself, or antipathy from everyone else, is going to dampen my enthusiasm. Camden Town is a perfect example of what’s great about the The Lone Ranger album: a relaxed groove backing some twinkly, off-beat lyrics, this time about Suggs’s home part of London, Camden. Suggs does a good job of capturing the buzz of the place, wide-eyed visitors trying to take everything in at once, with a subtle frisson of menace in the “tourists sing” and trombone bit in the middle, plus the drunkenness and petty crime chucked in among the multicultural vibrancy. Sly and Robbie’s production is key once again – Suggs wears it so lightly that you’d hardly guess he’s working with two of the all-time greats, but their quality does take the song up a notch.
I’m not ever so keen on the sax solo, but I’d say it’s outweighed by the valiant attempt to shoot a proper neggae video (beach dancing, larking about, sand, horns etc) on a budget of £1.75. All in all a likeable effort.
Score: 7 out of 10 – might have been more if he’d specified which exit of the underground to meet at.

Suggs, I find your music boring and about as inspirational as a toasted parsnip and mayonnaise sarnie. If you’re into that you may very well enjoy Suggs and Camden Town. I however, am not.
What did I learn from this song? Apparently Camden is a very diverse place that has a lot going on. Excellent. But having to listen to Suggs and his monotone voice for however long this song goes on is is Johnny-Gill-esque. It is painful and it irks me.
Dont get me wrong.
It has some positives.
Not many but some.
There’s some nice neggae beats, drum and horn background bits and pieces throughout. I liked that. But…
The video is annoying.
Suggs prancing around does my head in. I’ve watched this 4 times in a row trying to come up with something constructive to write but can’t. Sorry.
I wish this week’s challenge was to write a twitter style review and keep it under 140. It would’ve gone something like this:
Score: Suggs, Camden Town #cack #fellasleep #2/10


  • Screech in Saved by the Bell
  • Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars prequel debacle
  • Ross in the latter stages of the Friends saga
  • Suggs in the mid 1990’s UK Neggae scene

What do these all of these characters have in common? They became irrelevant add ins to what were otherwise important social and cultural movements.

Suggs has started to ruin it for everyone with his jokey dim-witted approach. I got Madness (I think?) and although I was not their biggest fan, I did understand the relevance of their music, but Suggs on his own has contributed very little. Nothing of any importance anyway.

‘In Camden Town, I’ll meet you by the underground’ – Is that really what you have just offered up? Twat!

Score: Not wasting any more time with this. Go away Suggs!! 1/10

Suggs makes an unwelcome return to the hot 90 this week with his ode to Camden Town; I’m going to try to be objective about this entry as I think I managed to get rid of my vitriol in his last appearance. Being of an impressionable age during the Britpop era I spent quite a lot of time in Camden as a yout’ myself and can’t help thinking Suggs is somewhat overegging the romanticism of the place, I’ll go into details later.
I like the start to this song, it’s a proper neggae intro with the classic drum roll start and jaunty bassline that sounds like it could have sound tracked a cartoon. Obviously Suggs is still singing so this puts a bit of dampener on it but the horns are nice as well. Not so sure about the synth that’s introduced for the chorus but must admit the guitar break in there is nice and evokes memories of Siouxsie and the Banshees covering ‘Dear Prudence’. There’s a tribute to ‘Ghost Town’ later on with the vocals but I could do without his spoken refrains, it’s all bit like the elder Kevin doing voice overs in the ‘Wonder Years’, in case you were wondering Winnie Cooper turned out to be decent. The song meanders on in this manner and you know what? It’s ok, there are still a few ‘Stoppit and Tidy Up’ style noises but they’ve not been done to death.

Lyrically I have to take issue with this song with the main objection being this

In Camden Town I’ll meet you by the underground’

Don’t do that, you’ll just get hassled up by teenage drug dealers and end up getting skanked by buying a piece of bark for £10 under the misapprehension it’s a bit of solid, happened to a friend of a friend of mine and wasn’t me, no sireee, nothing to do with me, honest guv. After this frankly shocking piece of advice he follows it up by advocating the use of drug paraphernalia

‘There’s tapas, fracas, alcohol, tobaccos
Bongs, bongo bingo, Portuguese maracas’

Which is all very well, but this is simply a gateway to buying a load of Yellow Submarine legal highs at ‘Herman’s Head Shop’ asking the shop assistant how many you should take to get really f*cked and then thinking ‘I’m an experienced psychonaut who’s been on many missions of spiritual and physical ecstasy, I will take double the maximum recommended dose, like I do with Night Nurse’. Apparently this can then lead to nearly passing out on a crowded tube then thinking you’re better so going for a pint to level you out but then realising you’re not that much better as the pint comes straight back up into the pint glass. Don’t be pithy about these things Suggs, it’s a serious matter.
Suggs has also ignored one of my biggest gripes about Camden or more specifically promoters who hold events there and the lack of information they give out. Picture the scene, you’re in the World’s End pub enjoying a few pre club Lowenbraus and testing out the night’s Mick Mills, you have a full on gag whilst dropping the first one so you know you’re in for a good night. The pub starts calling last orders at around 11 so you move on to the Underworld for London’s Premier Britpop night. Paying your money in a state of delirium you start to sense something’s a bit wrong but can’t quite put your finger on it. You advance down the corridor and the music sounds a bit different making you think ‘Blimey, Kula Shaker’s new one sounds a bit heavy’. The doors to the main venue open and you find yourself surrounded by people wearing black make up adorned in ‘Cradle of Filth’ t-shirts, bedecked in a vintage Brazil football t-shirt, combats and a blue corduroy jacket with the Jamiroquai logo as the zip pull it’s fair to say you’re standing out as the twat who didn’t know the night had changed. Unperturbed by this experience you return to Camden a few weeks later to go to the mod night ‘Blow Up’ which is located in the upstairs of the Laurel Tree pub.  You pay your money at the door getting some strange looks form the person collecting it, as you turn the corner of the staircase you’re confronted with a crowd of burly ageing skinheads in bomber jackets as yes, ‘Blow Up’ has changed dates and you’re at a skinhead revival night with the whole scene resembling a sevs prison gym. The night out culminates with you sitting in a lounge in Hounslow at 6am whilst vomiting into a saucepan due to ingesting too much cheap speed whilst an ex con tells you he wishes you could have been in Feltham Young Offenders with him as ‘it was a right laugh and you’d have loved it in there’. Suggs had the chance to stop future generations making these mistakes and I feel his carefree attitude has meant him missing a chance to give back to society.
The video starts off with Suggs doing his ‘hilarious’ berking about shtick round Camden, he then gets the tube to Jamaica. This is again irresponsible as London Underground staff are going to have to deal with American tourists asking them which line they need to get to Jamaica. A good job Bob Crow’s not about to see this as it would drive him to a state of apoplexy. The rest of the video is Suggs basically lording up on a Tropical beach somewhere which to me seems a bit hypocritical when the whole song is singing the praises of Camden. If the lyrics were ‘Camden Town, its ok I suppose but I’d much rather be in the Caribbean’ then this would be forgivable.
Score: I’ll give this 3/10, its no ‘Waterloo Sunset’