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Aug 11

KWS – “Please Don’t Go”/”Game Boy”

Popular176 comments • 11,261 views

#676, 9th May 1992

It’s hard to muster much love for “Please Don’t Go” – a barely adequate trot through a good song. “Begging” has never sounded so thoroughly rote. It’s a good example, though, of one of the nineties least-regarded, most revival-immune style, the generic dance cover version.

Dance music is notorious for its stylistic interbreeding, its rapid mutation: a music constantly in flux. Tracks like “Please Don’t Go” are what happens when dance stands still: the basic chassis of house music turned into a plastic mould that can be applied to any old song. From KWS to Mad House’s Madonna versions, any given 90s chart seemed to have a handful of these things in it. Pundits now complain about the effects of instant access to (almost) anything on popular culture, but let’s not forget that when people can remember something and not access it, the resulting gap doesn’t always produce productive mis-rememberings. It also produces cheap knock-offs. “Please Don’t Go” isn’t quite as deathly as the king of the dance cover version, Undercover’s formica take on “Baker Street”, but it’s never memorable. That this nullity got five weeks at the top says more about the immobile singles chart than any double-digit run.

A quick shout-out, though, to its notional double A-Side, the unremembered “Game Boy”, which is as near as we’re ever going to come to a hardcore track in Popular. As ‘ardkore goes, it’s poor, a collection of five years of weary dance tropes in search of even one good hook – Beltram-style hoover noises, house piano, cut-up vocal samples, a dubby bassline, none of them sticking around long enough to make an impact. It reminds me more of cover-mounted CD-Rs (“100 Banging Sounds”) on computer music mags than any kind of clubbing experience. But it’s there.

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Comments

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  1. 151
    Mark M on 24 Aug 2011 #

    Re 148: Indeed, early-ish Reynolds and Stubbs seem to be all about the epic battle of minds with… Pat Kane.

    149: I remember that issue, too, and think its wrongness was evident at the time, even for those of us who had been nowhere near the hip-hop heartlands.

  2. 152
    AndyPandy on 24 Aug 2011 #

    I only came into contact with the (rock) music press from the occasional copy I used to see left in the canteen (I was working in a supermarket at the time) at work by one of the blokes who used to work Saturdays and being me I’d glance through it (I’m sure it was the NME he used to get). This would have been the (early) mid 80s and being a fan of hiphop etc I would always I’d always be drawn to articles/reviews about that music – but invariably they’d always end up winding me up. As they seemed to end up seizing on some very mild fun teenage record along the lines of “Girls Ain’t Nothing but Trouble” (maybe not that exact record but in that area) and lambast it as the most unforgiveably sexist thing ever. I’d be thinking “why do they even bother?”.

    So yes I think they had a very dubious relationship with modern (post-about 1974!) black street music in general…

  3. 153
    Ed on 24 Aug 2011 #

    @151. Ah, but those were different times. You have to remember that in those days Pat Kane and people like him ruled the world, or at least the dominant discourse around British youth culture, which if you were a shallow pop-loving teenager amounted to the same thing. Stuart Cosgrove, for example, went on to be a big wheel at Channel 4, and some of the other fellow-travelers got into pretty influential positions. Certainly more than Reynolds and Stubbs did, anyway.

  4. 154

    “Pat Kane and people like him ruled the world, or at least the dominant discourse around British youth culture” <– this is total nonsense Ed.

  5. 155
    Mark M on 24 Aug 2011 #

    Re 141: I get that, but the feeling that if you blinked, a whole pop cultural moment could’ve come and gone was certainly for me part of the fun of being a teenager in London in the 1980s.

  6. 156
    Mark M on 24 Aug 2011 #

    Also, to the casual punter, I can see that it might have been possible in, say, the year and a half between White Lines and The Show, to imagine that we might be coming to the end of (non-comedy) rap.

  7. 157

    I’ve made this pont before more forcefully, but there wasn’t a pin-downable one-note “they” running any of the rock papers: the effect on the reader was a consequence of an aggregate of very different voices and sensibilities vying with one another, with factions moving in and out of influence all the time. There were individual writers at NME who were very good on what Andy’s calling “black street music post-74″ — but they weren’t necessarily dominant in any given week — and there were writers like Cosgrove who knew this stuff like the back of their hand, but often wrote about it in an offputtingly embattled and brittle way. (Cosgrove was the first editor to give me much of a break, so I’m always a bit conflicted by his writing: it was a strange mix of Burchillist style and left-academic polemic, generally in service of musics that neither of these would had much fondness for…) (He was a lot older than most of us, also, a determined and highly intelligent 70s scotnat soulboy).

    And he wasn’t a contributor in 84: he wrote for Black Echoes mainly then, and maybe Blues & Soul.

  8. 158
    Ed on 24 Aug 2011 #

    @154 Maybe. But for me as an NME-reading , Tube and TOTP-watching teenager, it felt that way. What was the year ‘What’s Going On’ was the NME’s official Greatest Album of All Time? 1985?

    And Pat Kane was a proper pop star, too, which made him seem like a much more important figure.

  9. 159

    Pat Kane did not make “What’s Going On”, Ed.

  10. 160
    thefatgit on 24 Aug 2011 #

    For an awful minute there I thought he was talking about Pat Sharp!

  11. 161

    he did rule the world

  12. 162
    punctum on 24 Aug 2011 #

    I pretty much gave up on the NME the same time Mark S did and I remember absentmindedly leafing through a copy in WH Smith about six months later and they were having a go at Ciccone Youth for giving their album a racist name (The Whitey Album) so no real change there, yet.

  13. 163
    MarkG on 24 Aug 2011 #

    Well, I ‘gave up’ as opposed to ‘gave up on’ the NME the week they gave the free Coldplay single. (That’s not why)…

    .. more because it really had nothing to say apart from “here’s a new band, they admit they’re not doing anything new but HEY THEY ARE FAB!”..

    Latterly, a change in editorship and style (not being afraid of anything recorded before “Nevermind” anymore helps) renders it readable once again, and I might get one once in a long while or so.

    “Renders it readable” ha, unlike my prose style, but hey I don’t get paid so hey.

  14. 164
    Tom on 24 Aug 2011 #

    I started buying it a bit after you and Mark gave up and there was plenty of cognitive dissonance going on – their review of Straight Outta Compton just ended up throwing up its hands and saying, look, this is a 10 but we can’t give it that (6).

    (Hello Popular people! I’m on holiday in France but I’ve just done the Erasure entry.)

  15. 165
    Tom on 24 Aug 2011 #

    #163 I think generally the NME is in a better place now than for a decade or so (not saying much at all) – the sheer number of Mojo-esque covers these days floors me a bit though.

  16. 166
    MarkG on 24 Aug 2011 #

    And yet, the circulation figures seem to suggest it’s only a matter of time…

  17. 167
    AndyPandy on 24 Aug 2011 #

    166: I read somewhere that they are the lowest figures since it was founded (below 30,000) – surely that isn’t sustainable as a mass magazine?

  18. 168

    Same problem right across print journalism though, if that’s counter-sales? I wouldn’t expect NME to be immune, but arguably — as a “cross-media platform” or whatever they’re called — it’s in a better position
    than publications that don’t come with a radio station attached.

    Last copy I read had D.Bowie on the cover, a fact I can’t quite parse even now (it was last year). It couldn’t be less like the mag I wrote for, but that was 25 years ago and vanishing under me.

  19. 169
    MarkG on 24 Aug 2011 #

    Maybe I’m a dull traditionalist, but the one thing I liked about it when I started reading it (Faces flexi – Dishevelment blues), was that it was a newspaper, i.e. printed on cheap newsprint like The Times, seemed to suggest that the stories and reviews had importance.

    Now, of course, it is heavily picture-bound, and like any other magazine.

  20. 170
    Mark M on 24 Aug 2011 #

    Re 166/7/8: Yes, the ABC figures are terrible (almost everyone’s ABC figures were terrible, but the NME’s were shocking) but as Mr Sinker says, their brand is stronger than ever. This is a problem all publishers are wrestling with: is the paper magazine (or newspaper) still necessary to lend aura to the rest of the products that bear its name?

  21. 171
    MarkG on 24 Aug 2011 #

    Well, “Top of the Pops” magazine is still going (strong?)

  22. 172
    LondonLee on 24 Aug 2011 #

    Saw the latest (?) NME this morning at a newsstand in Harvard Square (!) and thought it WAS Mojo for a second with its black and white pic of The Clash.

    I work in the mag business and it’s not so much sales that are bad but that advertising revenue has vanished. Our website makes more money than the print publication but taking that element away would seem to reduce the “brand” somewhat. There is still more prestige attached to a magazine than a website.

  23. 173
    AndyPandy on 24 Aug 2011 #

    I saw one earlier in Tescos (Undercliffe, Bradford) with Muse on its cover – weird as I hadn’t knowingly seen one for ages but maybe this thread brought its presence there to my consciousness.

  24. 174
    hardtogethits on 26 Aug 2011 #

    Many apologies if I missed this in any of the above; I’ve just found out this record went gold in the US (sales >500k) and made no 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.

    Honestly, I’m staggered – not least because Double You had been so utterly successful in Europe (see comment #3).

  25. 175
    AndyPandy on 26 Aug 2011 #

    Maybe that American hit and the subequently raised profile’s how they got not just the Trammps but Teddy Pendergrass and Gwen Dickey (Rose Royce)to guest respecively on 3 of their later hits. Can’t think of any other production crew of that era who had that many relatively well known artists appear on their tracks.But it was obviously unusual for the average UK rave (or in this case vaguely ravey hit) to cross over to the US at all yet alone go Top 10.

  26. 176
    some highly on 24 Jul 2014 #

    Thanks for taking the time to post. It’s lifted the level of debate

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