Dec 07

KEN BOOTHE – “Everything I Own”

FT + Popular61 comments • 4,479 views

#359, 26th October 1974

“Give up my life, my heart my home” – Boothe sings this high-stakes plea like a man who’s already lost the bet: he wants to continue abasing himself, piling more and more onto his end of the scales, potlatch-style, but his lover has simply got up and walked away. “Everything I Own” is a thoroughly dejected record, but also a pathetically lovely one, with the rising “is there someone you know” plea at its hopeless centre. Boothe’s vocals are the deal maker or breaker here. His phrasing is impeccably precise – he knows this is the last time she’ll pay attention and he’s weighing, choosing, and forcing out every word even though they’re just carefully-placed straws to cling to. Even his consonants tremble! To be honest his nerdy neediness inspires more pity than sympathy (in other words, you can intuit why he’s got the push) but as an old school indie boy I can get down with pity too. 



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  1. 51
    Marcello Carlin on 18 Dec 2007 #

    And has no compunction about playing homophobic rap tracks which repeatedly use that particular F word without ambiguity of intent.

  2. 52
    Waldo on 18 Dec 2007 #

    Flann O’Brien may or may not be Puccini to Joyce’s Wagner (these things come in cycles, you know) but there’s one thing which I agree with him without equivocation: “A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN!!!” How wise…and how true!

    Without wishing to incur again the terrible wrath of Rosie and one or two others with regards FToNY, I shall never be swayed from truly detesting this with a passion. It’s so far up its own arse it’s unbelievable. I do however accept that I’m probably a lone cry in the wilderness on this point as I am yet to encounter anyone who agrees with me.

    Marcello’s point about homophobic rap guys can be easily explained. In the entirely unpleasant society we endure today, being dubbed “homophobic” or indeed “sexist” is not as serious as being labelled a “racist”. It’s as simple and uncomlicated as that.

  3. 53
    Marcello Carlin on 18 Dec 2007 #

    I’m absolutely in agreement with Waldo re. FToNY – speaking of which, shouldn’t they also censor the title? I mean, FAIRY Tale of New York? What were they thinking?

  4. 54
    intothefireuk on 20 Apr 2008 #

    Well with thoughts of Christmas & fairies far behind us I’ll try and turn attention back to dear old Ken Boothe.

    The one thing that stood out when I revisited this track some years ago was how damn slow and difficult to dance to it was (not that dancing comes anywhere near naturally to me) although that never stopped people trying when it came on at parties – especially after a few sherberts. It does have a lovely skanking reggae feel to it and Ken’s vocal is nicely overwrought (if a little too concise at times). At the time I thought it quite pleasant but probably preferred the original(the proper version as I used to say). However subsequently I have come to love this version and I would easily now give it a 7 or an 8.

  5. 55
    wichita lineman on 25 May 2008 #

    This used to scare me, mainly thanks to the eerie vagueness of the middle eight: “You may lose them one day, someone takes them away, and you don’t hear a word they say”. This is edging into Johnny Remember Me territory. In fact, it’s creepier – it sounds more like Ken’s gal has been abducted.

    It kind of makes sense when you know he’s altered David Gates’ death-related lyric, but still. Maybe Ken only did it to try and land some royalties (see no.1 from Xmas ’78 and another from early ’80).

    My nomination for Ken Boothe’s best 45, much as I love EIO, is The One I Love (Caltone, 1967): quiet pent-up verse, screaming desperation on the chorus, it borders on deep soul super-intensity.

    And another JA cover that trumps the original: The Wailers’ What’s New Pussycat.

  6. 56
    hectorthebat on 6 Jul 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    Michaelangelo Matos (USA) – Top 100 Singles of the 1970s (2001) 26
    Paul Roland (UK) – CD Guide to Pop & Rock, 100 Essential Singles (2001)
    Jamaican Poll – The Top 100 Jamaican Songs of 1957-2007 (2009) 18
    New Musical Express (UK) – Singles of the Year

  7. 57
    fat slob on 3 Jan 2016 #

    ROSIE you lose all credibility when you call someone a, “fat slob” – even if it is chris moyles

  8. 58
    thefatgit on 3 Jan 2016 #

    @57 credibility lost in the eyes of the oppressor or the oppressed? Moyles has plainly been on the side of the oppressor for ages.

  9. 59
    Mark G on 4 Jan 2016 #

    This seems to be a good place to add one of those misheard lyrics loved by so many..

    You didn’t hear The Clash on the radio much, and even when you did it wasn’t all that clear on my old mono radio. So, I used to think Joe Strummer was singing “You can’t put UK pop reggae through backing fine sound systems” like what he wanted was the real thing.. In fact, it was “Ken Booth, UK pop reggae, with backing (etc)” which wasn’t anti.. And then, eventually, I found out more about what the song was about and it makes sense now.

  10. 60
    Erithian on 4 Jan 2016 #

    And re Marcello’s comment at #49 above: eight years on, “Driving Home for Christmas” finally became a top 30 hit last month!

  11. 61
    Tommy Mack on 4 Jan 2016 #

    #59 – I always thought Strummer was singing “Ken Boothe, UK pop parade…” – as in reggae is taking the charts by storm. Which I suppose would have been quite odd coming from the anti-TOTP Clash.

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