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Oct 10

JIVE BUNNY AND THE MASTERMIXERS – “That’s What I Like”

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#634, 21st October 1989

Five weeks of “Swing The Mood” and six of “Ride On Time” were more than enough for Jive Bunny to get a follow-up into the shops, the charts, and back to number one: the creature was now a phenomenon. As one of the commenters on the previous hit mentioned, the wonder is that Jive Bunny had the field to himself: if competitor singles did exist, they surely flopped. The Mastermixers, who’d been in this game a while, had a catalogue of material to work with but more importantly had the Bunny himself. As much as a pop smash, this is a branding success story, and on “That’s What I Like” the voice of Chubby Checker (“I’m gonna sing my song – it won’t take long”) seems to become that of Jive Bunny Incarnate, a cheeky compere of his own hit.

This is, for what it’s worth, the best of the three Jive Bunny number ones. “Hawaii Five-O” isn’t quite as good a riff as “In The Mood” but it fits the other selections a lot better: novelty dances, surf rockers and the gonzo end of late 50s pop. There’s even one moment which comes close to bona fide mash-up thrill-power, when the intro riff from “Wipeout” slips neatly into “Great Balls Of Fire”: unfortunately the relentless beat is too high in the mix at this point for any of the other sources to carry much charge. After that the record just fizzles out, and the return of the “Hawaii Five-O” theme (with bonus syndrums!) comes as the expected relief. More of the same, then, but – the unspeakable sleeve aside – mildly more bearable.

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Comments

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  1. 1
    Steve Mannion on 6 Oct 2010 #

    Lazy b’stard Bunny should be doing his bit with the paddles on that boat.

  2. 2
    lonepilgrim on 6 Oct 2010 #

    worse than their other number one – largely because I find Chubby Checker irritating to begin with

    nevertheless there’s something so unremittingly crass about it that I find it has a strange fascination

  3. 3
    Mark G on 6 Oct 2010 #

    Well, for once I am early to a Popular article.

    But I have nothing to add.

  4. 4
    Billy Smart on 6 Oct 2010 #

    The sole point of interest that I can discern in ‘That’s What I Like’ is that it contains less evidence of any artistry than ‘Swing The Mood’, which was no work of particular craftsmanship or imagination in the first place. At least the first one had a few memorable tropes that stuck out in it – the cut up stammering “C-c-come on”s and treated “whoooap” vocal bits, and the out-of-time ‘In The Mood’ foundation. But there’s nothing at all for this listener to latch onto here, and you feel that it didn’t take much longer to put together than it takes to listen to the thing.

    The weakest part of the Bunny Trilogy.

  5. 5
    Sarah D on 6 Oct 2010 #

    The cover really is extraordinarily unpleasant. My rock’n’roll loving dad was properly distressed by Jive Bunny, and particularly by a neighbour’s habit of always putting it on at parties and insisting that my dad would like it.

  6. 6
    Dominic on 6 Oct 2010 #

    DEFINITELY the best of their three number ones: but, well, amongst a mostly dismal batch of late-year chart-toppers yet to be mentioned here, the worst of the them (by far) is yet to come…

    The fact that this had a vocal hook as its “chorus” (and one used sparingly) probably counts in its favour. And the Hawaii Five-O theme works well too.

    But, ah, sod it, sometime between “Swing The Mood” and this one I’d discovered the Stone Roses.

  7. 7
    Billy Smart on 6 Oct 2010 #

    Number two watch: The start of three bland weeks for ‘Girl I’m Gonna Miss You’ by the retrospectively controversial Milli Vanilli. Not as good as either ‘Baby Don’t Forget My Number’ or ‘Blame It On The Rain’

  8. 8
    Rory on 6 Oct 2010 #

    Another video I couldn’t watch the whole way through. That makes it another 1 from me.

  9. 9
    punctum on 6 Oct 2010 #

    They didn’t waste time, did they? The ex-miners, who may or may not have crossed picket lines during the 1984 strike and may or may not appear pseudonymously and contemptuously in David Peace’s GB84, mined their fifteen minutes with prompt gusto. “That’s What I Like” is essentially more of the same, though the John Anderson Big Band framing device on this occasion is the Hawaii Five-O theme, so I’m inclined to give the record one point, both for getting the tune into the UK charts where both the Ventures and Sammy Davis Jr had failed and also for the minor touch of inspiration in the intro as Hawaii Five-O – picking up on its twisting tempo – is underscored by Chubby Checker’s intro to “Let’s Twist Again.” Almost worthy of a prototype Avalanches demo tape.

    But that’s as far as my tolerance goes, since it then sinks back into pseudo-jolly predictability; so we get both “The Twist” and “Let’s Twist Again” (and both sounding like re-recordings) plus original bones plucked from, inter alia, Chris Montez’ “Let’s Dance,” “Wipeout,” “Great Balls Of Fire,” “Good Golly Miss Molly,” “Chantilly Lace” and, with astonishing incompetence, Dion’s not remotely twisting “Runaround Sue.” But the subtext remained the same – those times were better than these, our lives were better than yours, our laughs brighter, our ages your age now, and Christ don’t we hate you for it.

    Needless to say, “That’s What I Like” was the total antithesis of what I actually did like in 1989 – De La Soul restoring primary colours and playful madness to hip hop with 3 Feet High And Rising, their mirror image NWA establishing themselves as the Sham 69 of rap, the Beastie Boys arriving at the true beginning of time with Paul’s Boutique (now THIS is how you can use samples to create new art), Neneh Cherry beginning our own time with Raw Like Sushi, Inner City’s warm coolness, the Cowboy Junkies’ icy warmth, Kitchens Of Distinction revitalising old ghosts, New Order creating new ones, Kate Bush and her “ooooooooooooh yessssss,” Paul Buchanan’s life-proposing pauses on the Blue Nile’s “Let’s Go Out Tonight,” the coloured pencils of Pop Will Eat Itself (now THIS is how you can use samples to make people truly happy) and Les Negresses Vertes, Neil Young’s inhuman scream on the “guitar” of “On Broadway,” the summer spaces of the Pixies’ “La La Love You,” Aaron Neville calmly singing “A Change Is Gonna Come” as the world digitally collapses around him, Van Morrison’s “over the hill to Ardglass in the jamjar,” Jane Scarpantoni’s ‘cello as lead guitar on Bob Mould’s Workbook, “Kennedy” by the Wedding Present, the awe of AR Kane’s “i” and the Young Gods’ L’Eau Rouge (now THIS is how you can use samples to become immortal), Barry Adamson’s Moss Side Story on a watery, sunny Sunday early spring afternoon in the King’s Road, Big Audio Dynamite’s “London Bridge is falling down, but I still love this town, from the Tower to the Underground,” Freaky Trigger by Win, Spacemen 3’s whispers, Liza Minnelli and the Pet Shop Boys demolishing “Twist In My Sobriety” (they’re gonna do the Twist and it goes with a ZEE), “Fight The Power” over the opening credits of Do The Right Thing and the entire cinema audience standing up and dancing as though they’d already been liberated, Harriet Wheeler’s “England, my England,” the genius cutoff on Dinosaur Jr’s “Just Like Heaven” and have I mentioned Manchester yet? – but I suspect you’ve already guessed what I did, and still, like, and love.

  10. 10
    Tom on 6 Oct 2010 #

    #9 inspiring stuff DJP – more of this when we reach the end of 1989’s long haul, but it was (like ’67) a far better year than the number ones suggest.

  11. 11
    Billy Smart on 6 Oct 2010 #

    9 – and not even having the narrative wit to put ‘The Twist’ *before* ‘Let’s Twist Again’!

  12. 12
    lonepilgrim on 6 Oct 2010 #

    thanks punctum for reminding me of what a fantastic year 1989 was – ‘Fools Gold’ was soon to be released about this time too

  13. 13
    wichita lineman on 6 Oct 2010 #

    An astonishing year, really, so much going on which I guess we’ll revel in a few entries on. Not much to note other than Chubby Checker’s original versions of The Twist and Let’s Twist Again first appeared on cd three or four years ago. Can’t imagine the Bunny having much vinyl in his hutch, so I guess these are re-recordings.

    The Bunny himself pulls off the almost impossible act, for a cartoon rabbit, of not looking cute or cuddly, but looking like a paedophile.

  14. 14
    Steve Mannion on 6 Oct 2010 #

    oh well at least he’s fully clothed. they must’ve been tempted to draw him in jimmy saville type garb at some point.

  15. 15
    Tom on 6 Oct 2010 #

    As any child who visited Thorpe Park in the 80s can tell you, this act is not SO impossible.

  16. 16
    Billy Smart on 6 Oct 2010 #

    ‘BAN THIS SICK POP BEAST’

  17. 17
    Tom on 6 Oct 2010 #

    Next thing you know he’ll be sampling Gary Gli – oh.

  18. 18
    wichita lineman on 6 Oct 2010 #

    Tom, are you referring to this chap?

  19. 19
    Dominic on 6 Oct 2010 #

    Oh. Beaten to it. (#17)

    For all that this is less objectionable than “Swing The Mood” (and the quality of the remakes used in the medley is less egregious than there, too), I am really bloody angry that this post has put this “song” in my head. Grrrr. Run, rabbit, run rabbit, run, run, run…

  20. 20
    Tom on 6 Oct 2010 #

    More the man-size costumed version who used to lumber round the park. No visual evidence for him seems to exist online though!

  21. 21
    wichita lineman on 6 Oct 2010 #

    Re 2: sometimes I think there isn’t a single second wave r’n’r singer who DIDN’T cut a lost psychedelic classic, but even so, LP, I think Chubby Checker will win your heart and mind with this staggeringly nutso recording, cut in 1971 and released as the b-side of the awful Reggae My Way in ’75.

  22. 22
    MikeMCSG on 6 Oct 2010 #

    #13 A subliminal influence on Donnie Darko perhaps ?

    “Hawaii Five O ” has to be the best TV theme ever; the show itself was always a disappointment following it. I remember a so-so Charles Dance serial in the late 80s called I think “The Secret Servant” which had a really good theme tune which just disappeared into the ether.

    # 9 Out of interest MC is there any year for which you don’t think you’d be able to pull out a similarly lengthy list of enthusiasms ?

  23. 23
    Steve Mannion on 6 Oct 2010 #

    I didn’t know but Hawaii Five-0 was recently re-imagined! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawaii_Five-0

    “Critics received an early copy of the pilot with a synthesizer and guitar-based version of the original theme. After negative reaction to the reworked song spread quickly online, Kurtzman said he and others realized that changing the music that much was a mistake, and arranged for studio musicians,[9] including three who had worked on the original from 1968,[10] to rerecord the theme “exactly as it was”

    Bl00dy rockists. Actually, I take that back, given my dislike of the modern Doctor Who theme.

  24. 24
    lonepilgrim on 6 Oct 2010 #

    re21 Thanks wichita, that was certainly, erm, interesting – but I still can’t say it really endears me to the Chubster

  25. 25
    23 Daves on 6 Oct 2010 #

    #21 – Chubby Checker’s early seventies album “Chequered/ New Revelation” features such absurdities as “Stoned in the Bathroom”, “No Need To Get So Heavy” and “My Mind Comes From A Higher Place”. Sadly, it’s not as good as many collectors would have you believe.

    Erm… I don’t have anything else to say about Jive Bunny at the moment, to be honest. I exhausted my energy on the previous JB entry.

  26. 26
    thefatgit on 6 Oct 2010 #

    This one has poo stuck to it’s arse.

  27. 27
    Rory on 6 Oct 2010 #

    Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers currently have two entries in the Populist bottom 10 – will they be the first band to get three? Come on, everybody!

  28. 28
    Tom on 6 Oct 2010 #

    I have just realised the astonishingly rubbish fact that this was what was #1 when the Berlin Wall came down.

    (CARMOLODICS DEPARTMENT: “Let’s Twist Again” was in the charts (well, the US charts) in August 1961 when the Wall went up!)

  29. 29
    Billy Hicks on 6 Oct 2010 #

    (formerly known as just ‘Billy’, I’ve registered with my surname to avoid confusion with Mr Smart)

    Well…just as my favourite part of ‘Swing The Mood’ was the sampled ‘Way-woah-way-woah-way-wake up little Susie”, the best moment of this is simply the entire ‘Runaround Sue’ section, simply because I adore the original.

    I have this on the compilation album ‘Monster Hits’, which unbelievably I found in a CD shop in Battersea last year, for one pound, and the shrinkwrap still attached after twenty years. From that album, the songs I copied to my iPod were these criminally underrated classics:

    Starlight’s ‘Numero Uno’
    Donna Summer’s ‘Love’s About To Change My Heart’
    London Boys ‘My Love’
    Liza Minelli’s ‘Losing My Mind’

    …and this.

  30. 30
    swanstep on 6 Oct 2010 #

    The underlying tunes for the first half of the record are so great and fit well together, but beyond that…? And doesn’t the wrong-era, Hawaii 5-0 tune stick out like a proverbial sore thumb here? I was expecting in the vid. a bunny insert into the iconic crazed helicopter shot from the show’s credits: the figure at the top of the building spins around, and, freeze, it’s Steve McBunny (or something). But no such luck.

    The Jive Bunny records are a definite bummer (probably not worse than Crazy Frog in 2005 now I think about it tho’) in what certainly felt like a really fast forward, high energy year in music generally.

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