Shaggy feat. Wayne Wonder – Something Different

Release Date: Mar 96
Chart Position: 21

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

sdiff

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

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

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

NEGGAE SCORE: 6.75

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John Alford – Smoke gets in your eyes

Release Date: Feb 96
Chart Position: 13

James BC
If you wanted to rip off a TV show back in the day, you put firemen in it. Fireman Sam was Postman Pat with firemen in it. Gladiators was It’s A Knockout with a part-time fireman in it (Saracen). And London’s Burning was Casualty and/or The Bill with firemen in it. What with regular appearances on Record Breakers and You Bet! as well, firemen were rarely off our screens in the early 90s. The nation’s parks resounded with plaintive meowing as the saviours of tree-bound kittens neglected their sacred rescuing duty. Entire streets burned to ashes while the nation’s brigades tried to shave the last few seconds off their pole-sliding You Bet! party piece.John+Alford

Enter John Alford. A lifelong devotee of Burning Spear and Black Uhuru, Alford had been looking for an opportunity to bring uncompromising rasta vibrations to the British public and fill every home with righteous Jah energy. Sensing that London’s Burning was the perfect firefighting-based vehicle to catapult him to stardom, he got himself a part (playing a fireman) and let the people’s insatiable appetite for fire safety in previously successful formats do its work. His name established, he sought out fellow natty dreads Mike Stock and Matt Aitken to produce the album that would cement his legacy. Its name: “John Alford”. The first single: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. Get it? Smoke, you see. Firemen.
It’s easy to mock, isn’t it. John is of course not an actual vibrating rastaman. And this isn’t the best, or even the second best musical spin-off from an 80s/90s fireman-based TV ripoff. The second best was my brother’s Gladiators: The Music tape featuring Green Jelly and EMF. The best was NOT Shadow’s recording of “War! What Is It Good For”, but the Fireman Sam: The Music tape that kept us entertained on successive family holidays – this was admittedly light on neggae, but “Sarah and James” and “Elvis Cooks The Lunch” were stone cold bangers that more than made up for it.
But on the other hand, for a lightweight teen-marketed pop single, this isn’t 100% terrible. It’s way above Adam Rickitt or Craig McLachlan. Looking back, one of the neggae era’s key discoveries may have been that a reggae-lite backing (with the greatest respect to the badman MC in the background, this is clearly reggae-lite) makes a forgiving vehicle for a rookie singer from TV land. Sean Maguire (who makes a comatose cameo in this video, lying in the bath) had pioneered the formula in 1994 with Take This Time, Sid Owen would of course go on to profit from it, and it would eventually find its true purpose in crowning our current Colossus Of Light Entertainment, Olly Murs. His Please Don’t Let Me Go is an unqualified delight that might not have existed if it hadn’t been for Alford’s work here.
Taking that account, I will say that John does an OK job. His “oh-oooohh” bits are pretty convincing. The song is soppy and has been done better but his voice is pleasant enough. The video is kind of fun what with the sax in the bed and the pristine undies and the Maradona bit with the loo roll. What it really needs is neggae’s 50s-ballad specialist Bitty McLean – in his alchemical hands it could have been something special. But failing that, it’s not an actively offensive listen.
Score: 4 out of 10

Jonny
Did this really happen? Or have I just blanked all recollection of this from my mind? John Alford riding the crest of fame and fortune ploughs into the neg top 90 with an ironic tune about smoke getting in his eyes. I think he and his management had more health issues than that, I reckon that they might have smoke inhalation resulting in short term brain damage. This can’t have been thought through whilst being in sound body and mind can it? Now having said that the tune is actually not that bad, and if any of the big boys had knocked this out we might have been raving about it, but they didn’t and its been delivered by nobodies favourite Firefighter at Blue Watch, Billy Ray.
Billy Ray was the rogue who played by his own rules and was never shy in challenging his superior officers at the station about life at the Watch and working conditions. Basically he had a massive case of small mans syndrome that really annoyed him when it came to fire hose holding and pointing training and the water pressure carried him up in the air like in a cartoon, the bants monsters at the Watch never let him live that down. His argumentative approach I fear may have hampered his career opportunities, but did see him get promoted to mess manager in series 6 taking over from Bayleaf who was carving out a far more conventional career path for himself. But being mess manager did not live up to everything Billy Ray had expected and he was soon bad to his old tricks of answering back and annoying Sicknote and the other higher ranking officers resulting in an overall unhappy camp at Blackwall. It all got too much for everyone and eventually Billy Ray decided to up sticks and leave for Spain with his stripper girlfriend, presumably to start up a successful three track solo career in pop music.
So this was his first effort which peaked at no 13 in the UK charts, and believe it or not his second effort ‘Blue Moon’ managed to make it to no 9. This offering tells a likeable tale of John being in a club and staring a girl out that he has spotted in the distance. After making her and her friends uncomfortable enough to leave he continues to ogle her in a somewhat threatening manner as she leaves. I think it was supposed to look romantic, but the production guys have misjudged it and made it all quite sinister. It then cuts to him being at home either getting ready to go out or having just got up in the morning (I can’t quite work it out). The punch line of the tale being that the doorbell goes and we expect it to be the girl that he creeped out at the club, but instead it is his grandmother / elderly next door neighbor who makes a move on him! I clearly lost what it was all about, but it looks pretty weird. As I have said the track is not a disaster, it’s got nice development and has a strong and catching tune complimented by some toasting in the bridges, but the delivery is at best average. Not the most memorable moment of the neg blog so far, but always nice to see a familiar face from Sunday night TV.

5/10 from me!

Vince
You young’uns wouldn’t know this, but in the 90s, actors from your favourite film and TV shows regularly released songs that sold in large numbers. Here’s a few I can remember, there are loads though:

table

Of course it doesn’t happen these days, which is a shame as I reckon Cumberbatch and Freeman could be the Simon and Garfunkel for the Hench generation. It does mean however, that the world is saved from some quite woeful music, none worse exemplified by John Alford.
Cheeky Chappie Alford for me is the prime example of Neggae jumping the shark. Soap stars and pop music has never been a good thing. Name me one, go on. You can’t. Jumped up Karaoke entrants treating the top 40 like a Sunday night down their local. And Alford capitalized on the fad. It’s a shame is musical preferences were clearly of the Neggae bent.
You can tell from the get-go that we are in trouble. Although there is a distinct reggae groove with the beats on 2/4 – everything about it sounds so plastic and in\authentic. It’s the Neggae equivalent of a Yates Wine Bar or O’Neills (which incidentally sit 10 yards from each other in Woking town centre – in an area of the town that has recently been christened Claimant Benefits corner due to the steady day time drinking club that reside there.
There are two reasons why it sounds so awful – Mike Stock and Matt Aitken. Sensing there was cash to be made from the Neggae cow, these two vultures swooped in for their pound of flesh, and delivered the first of several killer 1996 blows to this once beautiful creature.
John Alford Poundland crooning can’t save this dead horse – maybe if they’d chosen a reggae standard he’d have a chance. But they haven’t – they’ve versioned Smoke Gets in Your Eyes  -the 50s easy listening standard from the Platters because they knew Mums and nans would lap it up.  And they did, for shame.
This is the end, my one true friend, the end. 0/10

Gouldy
This week marks a historical week for Neggae, we’re down to single figures with reviews left to do. I’m slightly concerned that I only have 9 weeks’ worth of making Jonny’s life a misery. I’m not sure what I’m going to do after the nine weeks is up, I’m going to have to start a bullying campaign on his social media sites. The track we’re reviewing today is from crack thespian John Alford, the great white hope of Neggae but unfortunately as you’ll find out his career ended in ignominy much like his counterpart in the Heavyweight Boxing division, Tommy Morrison. Alford had a serious grounding in showbiz having played Robbie, a Scouser’s sidekick in ‘Grange Hill’ (more of which later) before progressing onto heavy hitting Sunday night drama ‘London’s Burning’. The opening credits of which always inspire a sinking feeling for me as it was generally the point of no return regarding doing my homework so I knew I was in for it on the Monday.alford
Undoubtedly buoyed by their previous successes with Australian soap actors SAW decided to take it to the street and unleash Alford’s heavy hitting, uncompromising reggae on an unsuspecting British public. Just as it seemed his career was set for a stratospheric meteoric rise he hit the self-destruct button. It seems he got a bit greedy and started knocking out bugle to supplement his lifestyle, unfortunately for him the tabloid press got wind of his reputation as the Marquis of Mozam and set out to expose the Chief of chisel. If John had heeded the ‘don’t get high on your own supply’ rule of dealing he might have thought there was something a little suspicious about a Qatari prince flying into England to specifically buy gear off him but like many others he was completely taken in and became another victim of the infamous tabloid sting merchant, the fake sheikh.ziggy

Enough of this sad riches to rags story, I’ll get on with the review. The intro cleverly references his TV career with an uncredited toaster declaring ‘Hear them say New York City’s well hot, but London’s Burning’. Then some frankly woeful synth strings kick in as John starts singing the famous show tune. The production meanders on throughout in this pretty mundane style, with the odd refrain from the unknown toaster and the odd bit of backing vocals. At one point someone has a shit stab at a sax break which adds nothing to the song. Alford’s vocals aren’t terrible but they’re very karaoke, which describes this whole song really, the whole thing sounds cheap. If it ever appeared in the poundland chart of woe you’d have to say it would be overpriced.
The video starts off with John awaking after a heavy night on the nosebag. He then goes to his bathroom to discover a corpse in his bath, wait a minute, it’s his old Grange Hill school mate Ziggy Greaves. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like John was knocking out the cleanest of woof and whatever he’s cut it with has caused Ziggy to do a ‘Danny Kendall’, as you can see by the clip both parties were first on the scene here, coincidence? I think not. The video plays out with John, Ziggy and a couple of others having a night out at a pony looking club interspersed with shots of John doing kick ups with toilet roll. John has been eyeing up a young lady for most of the night but not had the guts to speak to her. He eventually plucks up the courage but is too late as she’s just leaving, still he manages to pass on his details so it’s not a complete loss. The next day he’s poncing about in front of the mirror, ignoring the dead scouser in his bath, when there’s a knock at the door. His heart leaps as he scrambles into his clothes and answers the door expecting to welcome the girl he left his details with. He gets a bit of a shock as the big end reveal is the old woman he grabbed hold of later on in the kebab house on the way home, by this time he’d done so much whanger he’d completely forgotten about it in the morning. The whole sorry tale slams home the point he should have listened to his previous classmates and ‘Just said no’.
This really is a pile of steaming dog shit – 1/10

NEGGAE SCORE: 2.5

Shaggy feat. Grand Puba – Why you treat me So Bad?

Release Date: Jan 96
Chart Position: 11

Vince
Reggae’s US cousin from the late Sevs to present day is naturally hip-hop, and both share many of the same characteristics. DJ’s selecting dubplates, MCs controlling the flow, Reuse and rebirth of music through sampling and versioning. Many of the key players of the scenes have dipped their toes in both genres – one of my favourite tunes of the last few years As We Enter by Damian Marley and Nas highlights how great this hybrid can be.
We’ve seen a lot of hip-hop/swingbeat crossover tunes on the Neggae Hot 90 – but no full on, blunted, buckwilin’ hip-hop. We do now, and it’s a F@CKIN treat of a tune.
Mid-90s hip-hop was dominated by Gantsta Rap or G-Funk from the West Coast scene, with the likes of Dre, Snoop and Warren G raiding the P-Funk back catalogue and chronicling the mean hoods of Compton over laid back grooves.

Compton (Surrey)


On the East Coast, the response was a similarly relaxed offering called Boom-Bap. Protagonist DJs such as Pete Rock and J Dilla eschewed the perhaps more obvious 70s Electro P-Funk samples for noodly Jazz and Funk riffs, all layered over heavily compressed,  yet natural sounding drums. The rolling sound produced a beautiful, head-nodding response – and the sound became known as Boom-Bap. Grand Puba and his group Brand Nubian were key players in the genre – so it is no surprise (and a beautiful thing) that the Boom Bap sound shows up on the Neggae Hot 90.
THIS IS A FANTASTIC POP RECORD. And who do we have to thank for the nagging keyboard line that drives the song along? Sir Bob Marley, that’s who. Robert Livingson, Shaggy’s go to producer has pulled the rabbit out of the hat by layering Boom-Bap beats over the beautifully wonky Mr Brown keyboard line (one of Bob’s earliest and lesser know tunes). And from there it just gets better. The female vocals are beautifully poised, and call to mind the close-knit female harmonies of 40s jump blues outfits like the Andrew Sisters.
Shaggy toasts with typical verbosity and invention. When all is said and done on this blog, I will look upon Shaggy in a different light. My view of him was somewhat tainted by his noughties efforts like It wasn’t Me and him titting about on Ali G’s cash-in – but everyone deserves a paycheque I guess. EVERY entry of his on this chart has been a delight, and for me he is a worthy runner-up behind the masters Chaka Demus and Pliers.
Grand Puba’s noncheloquent (made-up a new word there) spittin’ is sublime – this is easily the best rapping on the Neggae Hot 90. And hats off to the producer Robert Livingstone for bringing all these seemingly disparate elements together in va beautiful Casserole of groove.
As for the video, well it’s no Virtual Insanity but does the job perfectly. It is a typical mid-to-late 90s MTV staple; beautiful looking 20 year olds of all sexes and races getting down in riot of colour and noise. It was almost as if video producers knew that on a Sunday afternoon in the teenagers all over the UK would be melting into their collective sofas in somnumbulant bliss (after returning from the Spar with more kingsize rizlas, strawberry Yop and curl-wurlies.)
Score: 8 out of 10. Well done Orville.
Shaggy+-+Why+You+Treat+Me+So+Bad+-+12-+RECORD_MAXI+SINGLE-196408 (1)

Jonny
I hate to say this but I think Shaggy has got this all wrong. In terms of a misjudgement of mood and audience it’s up there with Vincent Synan telling a Gabrielle joke to a one eyed man outside Wetherspoons. In fact you can see a similar change in facial expressions half way through the track to Vince that night when he realised mid way through ‘am I really telling this joke? Keep going it will be OK, Jonny’s here and he’ll soften the blow somehow.’ Well neither the joke or the track are OK and my reaction to both was to simply pretend it’s not happening and look in a different direction.
I’m going to take a punt at this, but I don’t think that they are really in that slightly seedy under section of the Brooklyn Bridge. Which begs the question; if you have the means to superimpose any background, of all the locations in the world why there? Why not stick to the neg blueprint? Beaches, booty, fruit punch, sunshine? It’s all there for the taking, but no, let’s use an autumnal New York Bridge, not the good bit where you get nice views, the shit bit where all the crack addicts hang out! Another massive error from the Shaggy and Pube boy!
Now thankfully Shaggy still has a few entries left in the hot list , I would hate for this to be our last meeting.
On a more positive note we are now 90% of the way through this with only 9 more tracks to cover. Which by my reckoning means that on the 1st of August we will be done and will all be celebrating in a similar style to someone who has been released from prison. We’ll get planning, but hope to see you all at the closing party!
Score: Shaggy why did you get it so badly wrong? 4/10 from me.

 

James BC
‘m a bit disappointed to find out that Shaggy had minor hits. I thought he was a serial one-hit wonder, popping up every few years with a tune of jaw-dropping perfection and staying completely off the grid in between. Seems I was wrong because this is definitely minor. If Oh Carolina was Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and Boombastic was the Starry Night, Why You Treat Me So Bad is that picture of a chair.
Shaggy’s voice and flow are as good as ever, of course. I’m less sold on Grand Puba: he provides the track’s most memorable moment with the “Ain’t no honey fly enough, ain’t no booty fat enough” bit, but for the rest of the time he’s reminiscent of late 90s rap’s human filler machine Ma$e.
Filler is the word, really. There’s nothing to object to in the groove, or the chorus, or the verses, but nothing much stands out either. It’s a shame everyone in the video is having a whale of a time, taking CJ Lewis’s original concept of berking about in an underpass to the next level. But I’m afraid I didn’t enjoy this as much as they did.
Score: 5 out of 10

Gouldy
Been a bad week, had a three day headache from an unwitting suicide attempt by alcohol poisoning over the bank holiday and have chronic back pain, but the meds aren’t bad, Naproxen mmmmmm. Fortunately to drag me out of this body decaying induced funk we’ve got Shaggy (my favourite solo Neggaeist) and former Brand Nubian Grand Puba who was responsible for Golden Age classics such as this, this and also delved into Acid Jazz with this. I’ve a confession to make, although I’m now a fully-fledged disciple of the church of Neggae my first love was Hip-Hop. This culminated in the biggest hip hop night of the Boom-bap era at Addlestone Community Centre, which sticks in my mind for a number of reasons;

  • People from Addlestone threatening to stab people from Chertsey and Byfleet and vice versa, looking back I think these were idle threats but when you’re fourteen it was totes ghetto;
  • My girlfriend going off with the local nutter, 5 years older than me and turns up in a leather jacket and stonewash jeans whilst I’m popping fresh styles in my NY Yankees polo neck and baseball top combo paired with Jordan IVs, and I lose my bird to some old f*cker dressed like a gyppo Michael Knight, great;
  • The night culminating with my mate Franks landing a helicopter, which had flown from Amsterdam, on the community centre roof and stepping out bedecked in full Adidas tracksuit and accompanied by Run DMC! Oh no, actually that was a lie he told to ingratiate himself with the riff raff when he switched from a prominent private school to our New Haw comprehensive. What a chief.

Anyway that’s enough of the whimsical walk down memory lane, or Addlestone High Street as it’s more commonly known, I’ll get on with reviewing the song. The intro sees Puba and Shaggy competing for plaudits which is no bad thing as the England squad with Shilton and Clemence proved. Then the production kicks in which could be a bone of contention with other elders question it’s Neggae authenticity. I’m going to say yes because it samples this mighty bassline from the man who made Neggae possible, Bob Marley. The beat is classic golden era hip hop fare as is the production generally, I don’t know who produced this but if Pete Rock tried his hand at a bit of Neggae I don’t think the results would be too dis-similar. There’s a nice vocal hook in the chorus and combined with Shaggy’s consistently excellent toasting and Puba’s exceptional flow it marries hip-hop and Neggae perfectly.
Lyrically it’s not an original theme as Shaggy and Puba bemoan the fact that women can be prone to riding roughshod over their man’s feelings. Well lads the simple answer is because they f*cking can (re:  second bullet point above). The best thing to do is not over analyse and just move on with no bitterness and not write about it in a Neggae blog 24 years later.  The video was shot by the canal under the M25 Bridge on the Byfleet/New Haw border. Now I spent a fair bit of my childhood knocking around there and this is not an accurate reflection of what it was like, there weren’t multitudes of models hanging around dancing but instead the odd dead rat, yet another example of hip-hop glamourising ghetto life.
Although this might not be the most authentic Neggae track we’ve had it’s like Mozart compared to a lot of the dross I’ve had to sit through, so for that reason I’m giving it 8/10.

NEGGAE SCORE: 6.25

Pato Banton ft Sting – Spirits in a Material World

Release Date: Jan 96
Chart Position: 36

James BC
Neggae’s Mister Nice Guy Pato Banton is back and this time he’s abandoned the fun larks in favour of a moody, atmospheric skank through a Police song. Sting wasn’t particulary busy so he’s along for the ride as well, furthering his and Pato’s weird relationship – at this point they are neggae’s second most prolific duo after Chaka Demus and Pliers.
First the negatives: the song is not one of the Police’s best, the verses being obvious half-baked gubbins and the chorus being Sting’s usual trick of repeating the same line over and over again. Sting at times seems to be doing a Typically Tropical accent rather unbecoming of the saviour of the rain forests and future Julio Iglesias collaborator. And there’s the perennial problem of Pato’s flow. I like “Mr P-A-T-O Banton” (just “Pato Banton” would have fit the song better) as much as anyone but puppyish likeability can only take you so far and I do wonder if he might have been better just doing his 14 lines on Baby Come Back and calling it a day.
On the plus side, though, whoever produced this has done a bang-up job turning unpromising materials into, if not gold, solid neggae bronze at least. If there’s one thing that Shaggy, Suggs and the gang have failed to show us so far it’s the dubby, reflective side of reggae and this song goes some way to setting that right. It’s beautifully unhurried, giving the snaking synths and echoing drum fills time to breathe and getting inventive with those operatic backing vox drifting in and out. The engineer has done a particularly fine job going to town on Pato’s rap, adding enough interest in the background to create the illusion of competence if you don’t listen too closely.
Caution: also in circulation is this terrible version, which only goes to show what a crucial role the production plays here.
How this song was appropriate to Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls is beyond me. To be fair I haven’t actually seen the film so maybe there is a scene where the gargoyle faced hamster locator contemplates his position as a spiritually conscious being in opposition to the venal world around him. In fact, there almost certainly is, isn’t there, and just thinking about it makes me want to chuck down a zero and give up. But when considered outside Carrey’s malign orbit the song is pretty enjoyable. Once again we can thank the neggae era for giving Pato his moment in the spotlight so that we can all enjoy it (and posterity for largely forgetting about Ace Ventura).
Score: 6 out of 10

Jonny
So after last weeks mental breakdown I thought I needed to pull myself together for this weeks effort. The standard backwards and forwards about which version we were covering did not help me in that quest. This expected non value added piece of complexity has become the norm in neg towers with elders seemingly trying to out do each other of their knowledge of various versions released on similar dates. Neg showboating is something I have come to expect, but have little time for. So after the to-ing and fro-ing I was given the choice of a number of versions to listen to and of course I was going to go with the Ace Ventura version (later I found out that there was actually no difference and the neg muscle flexing was all just a load of shite, not even a video with either version).pato_banton_with_sting-spirits_in_the_material_world_s
The opening line is ‘Pato and Sting Touchdown again’ – oh what a joy! I think it could be very easy to give this a total panning, but that fact that I really like the original Police offering and this does not deviate too much from that original script, which was already quite horn heavy, gives it quite a soft landing with me. Actually as it goes on it is not straight forward to to see what Pato has added to the whole affair, until he arrives at about 2mins in with a bit of roasting, toasting and boasting and he does quite a nice job of it actually. Needless to say Sting sounds as good as he always does. As I said I liked the original track, but this version becomes a bit moody, which I don’t think works that well. It’s almost as if they are trying too hard to make it that way, I would have preferred Pato to lighted it all up somehow, which was clearly not on his agenda. The bit that I am confused about most though is recalling at what stage this appeared in Ace Ventura (When Nature Calls), I am not bothered enough to find it online, but it’s not an obvious scene that springs to mind. It must have been in a slightly reflective part of movie. Maybe that piece that inevitably appears in all Jim Carey movies when the jokes and funny voices and faces disappear for a minute and he realises he’s just a weirdo with no friends or family and all the jokes are covering up a pretty dark and harrowed individual who would sooner murder you, gut you, then have sex with you and consume your flesh over a long period of time than have any type of interaction with you. All successful serial killers were great at standup, we all know that! Anyway, lets wrap this up for another week, 6/10 from me.

Vince
So this time last Friday I attended the Southport Soul Festival, and was subjected to some of the finest music I have ever heard in my life. Mr Scruff’s set in particular was a masterclass of crate digging, and I urge all of you to go and see him soon if you like music like this, this and this.
So on returning I’ve been a little despondent – and if I I’m being honest rather disillusioned about the Neggae blog. When editor-in-chief Gouldy shouted at me because I was late with submitting this yesterday, I honestly thought about tossing it all in. But then I made him do loads of incremental xml testing on his birthday day off. I’m much happier now.
With hesitancy then I looked up this week’s song to review and thought “Great, it’s Paddy Bantz and that tosser from the Police. And the song appeared on that BBC1-at-11.35pm-on-a-Tuesday-night perennial Ace Ventura 2?! This is going to hurt.
Well, for the first time in my life I was completely wrong.
Spirits in a material world is a rework of an old Police song, and itself sounds like another old police song, “I can’t stand losing you” – the good news is they are all melancholy skanking beauties. The Neggae aspect of the rework lies in the fantastic modern day instrumentation, notably the 4/4 ‘Exodus style’ reggae stomp favoured by Dreadzone and the like a few years later. The reggae drum fills are digitally crisp, and psychedelic radio chat feedback drifts in and out in a style not dissimilar to Paul Weller’s go-to sounddesk monkey Brendan Lynch.
Jamiroquai’s clear production is also called to mind, with a lush bottom  end, excellent keyboard washes and flourishes and a nagging jazzy 808 wiggle throughout. Every so often a psychedelic Rotary Connection style operatic wail enters inna nu-Psyche stylee. Interesting to note this is a motif of top current psychonauts Amorphous Androgynous, who would not even have been a twinkle in the eye of their parent The Future Sound of London.
As for the vocals, well they don’t disappoint. Great soul-searching and portentous lyrics that stand up today as they did back in 1981. Sting’s voice is in fine fettle, and Pato’s toasting sets it all off beautifully – proving he can do the heavy stuff as well as his usual jockey cap berking.
We have been dished an absolute treat here – in fact if you want to here me mix this into the UK Garage remix of Brandi and Monica’s The Boy is Mine then come down the West Byfleet Albion end of season party at the Blue Anchor on Sunday 25th. Because these two down-low bangers are going to fit (to paraphrase Ace Ventura himself) ‘Like a Glove’.
Score: 9/10. Superb.

Gouldy
So this week should have been a good week, it was my birthday and I took Friday off. Imagine my surprise when at 9.15 on Friday morning I get a call from a tearful Vince;
‘Gouldy, please can you test this new version of the system today? If you don’t I’ll be exposed for the fraudulent huckster I am and will definitely lose my job, basically the future of this company depends on you, we need this ready to release by the end of the day.’
Never one to ignore a friend in tears, no matter how embarrassing and uncomfortable it is, I told him to blow his nose, stop the tears and I’d sort it for him. So after spending 8 hours working with last night’s Malbec threatening to make an appearance at any time he decides there’s no need to release after all (that may be the most middle class sentence ever to appear in the neggae blog). Frankly it’s poor business decisions like this that led us into the spiral of recession in the first place. With this in mind Paddy and Gordon had better pull something out the bag because I’m not really feeling the sunshine vibe.
I must say early signs aren’t good as initially the production sounds like it’s going in the direction of that cyber hippy sound which sound tracked the Matrix Reloaded Party Scene, winner of that year’s Oscar for ‘Most pointless and most obvious load of filler scene in a disappointing sequel’, although looking back now it’s a bit racier than I remember, movement. To my relief the bass line kicks in and we get the classic reggae drumroll and everything is irie. This is clearly a cover of the Police original which despite the title isn’t a homage to Stain Devil but a sociopolitical comment on how the modern world is no place for a spiritual lifestyle as it’s a cesspit of commercialism and corruption, a magnified Yates’s basically. The production, though unmistakably reggae, isn’t your standard neggae fare as it has a more dubby and paranoid feel to it, this is edgy neggae. I find this strange as it was recorded for the soundtrack of wacky comedy film ‘Ace Ventura- When Nature Calls’, whilst not having perfect recollection of this film I don’t remember the scene when Ace smoked some moody funk and spent 3 hours wandering round his living room avoiding space bats and cowering away from his own shadow. Overall the production’s good, some nice strings, driving reggae beats and even a bit of opera singing which is reminiscent of the Warren G classic ‘Prince Igor’.
Lyrically Sting repeats his lines from the original whilst Pato adds his plea for peace, unity and all that other good shit. The two compliment each other nicely and the earnest heart-felt message is effective, in fact it’s had a direct impact on my actions. I was going to set fire to the house next door as the prick living there refuses to do anything about the Japanese knotweed that’s encroached into my garden but now I’m just going to key his car and place a decapitated Crow’s head through his letter box with a threatening note which will have a Satanic and occult theme, Pato and Sting you’ve taught me  temperance and I’m eternally grateful for this.
Overall this is like going to see a film, expecting it to be shit and in fact it turns out to be great. 8/10

Neggae Score – 7.25

In other news I’d like congratulate Vince on his Eurovision win, below is an exclusive action shot from his rehearsal for the big night.

eurovision

 

Suggs – The Tune

Release Date: Dec 95
Chart Position: 33

Vince
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

Gouldy
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

Jonny
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.
Suggs!
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!

NEGGAE SCORE:  3.75

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.

Norm
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
Jonny
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.

Vince
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?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frCFXsInI4U
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.

Gouldy
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.

NEGGAE SCORE: 4.0

Suggs – Camden Town

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CyaEEYeR7w

Release Date: Oct 95
Chart Position: 14

Vince
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.

Norm
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

Jonny

  • 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

Gouldy
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’

NEGGAE SCORE:  3.8