3. The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode
‘Ebeneezer Goode’ could theoretically have been about a man who was cheerful and who enjoyed the music of Vera Lynn…
I was eleven years old and even I knew it was entirely about drugs. So what? I was about as likely to drop an E as I was to grow another head. Never mind the fear of instant death (remember Leah Betts, kids!) or complete cluelessness of how to acquire such substances – the fear of getting into trouble was enough to put me off even smoking a cigarette until I was 18, let alone dabbling with illegal drugs. Just as with ‘Jump Around’, I loved the quickfire verses of ‘Ebeneezer Goode’ but had no idea what ‘veras’ were (something terrible, no doubt). I duly learnt the mystery words anyway and sang them in the playground to impress my mates, but in all honesty ‘Goode’ was never among my favourite rave tracks. The associated comedy legends* and constant wink/nudging made it difficult to appreciate at face value. Only when I finally got round to purchasing a copy of Boss Drum some years later could I disassociate The Shamen from our friend Mr Goode, and objectively consume the rest of their material, for better or worse.
The public outcry surrounding the song (banned from airplay, censored by the BBC, Daily Mail readers hunting down Mr C with burning torches etc) was obviously an overreaction to a simply structured catchy play-on words. Compared to the potentially riot-inciting clarion calls of ‘School’s Out’ or ‘Another Brick In The Wall’, I doubt ‘Ebeneezer Goode’ will have irreparably tainted many of the nation’s youth. In fact, this particular song makes drugs sound so uncool that it probably had an inoculative effect, ensuring any wayward teenagers who were possibly considering a future filled with reckless hedonism would stay firmly put in their bedrooms for the next ten years, strumming away on a £12 half-sized acoustic guitar from Argos. Scare-monger hacks and concerned parents alike should have been thanking The Shamen!
*The most famous of which still deserves repetition: during their TOTP performance, Mr C changed the lyric ‘Anyone got any salmon?‘ to ‘Anyone got any underlay?‘ When accosted afterwards by furious BBC chaps, the singer explained that it was “a gratuitous rug reference”. Oh come on, it’s still funny.