Aug 11

KWS – “Please Don’t Go”/”Game Boy”

Popular177 comments • 12,634 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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  1. 101
    AndyPandy on 22 Aug 2011 #

    re 95 that Acid House article is a bit of a disaster being so full of inaccuracies (even by Wiki’s standards)that the kindest thing that could be done for it would be for it to be quietly put out of its misery.It sounds like its been written by people who possibly weren’t even born in the 80s and have got their “information” about 3rd or 4th hand!

    Re100:I can see what you’re saying with the term “suburban soul” but could your term be perhaps connected to the fact that much of the music was synonymous with the Chris Hill/Robbie Vincent “Soul Mafia” scene which tended to revolve around clubs in the London suburbs/rest of South East England? But which doesn’t take in to account the parallel (not that there wasn’t a lot of crossover) and far more black/inner city scene based around Greg Edwards, George Power, Steve Walsh etc and certain of the pirates. Most of the punters there were from the inner city either south London or Hackney etc in the north.

    I went to a few Greg Edwards/Steve Walsh-type nights at the Lyceum etc where the attendees were far more inner city but it was broadly similar music and SOS Band/Cashmere would have been big on both. Come to think of it the inner city massive even sometimes travelled to the suburbs as one of the nights was in Windsor at Blazers.

    And then there were the Brixton Frontline (soul tribe) who were firmly part of Chris Hill’s more suburban scene despite being from Brixton so its more confusing than it at first looks.

    I remember Lisa Lisa (especially at the time of “I Wonder If I Take You Home”) were thought of as electro.

  2. 102
    Steve Mannion on 22 Aug 2011 #

    Think I would’ve liked “Subsoul” as a term.

    #101 If you think that’s bad you should see the DnB wiki page…beyond redemption.

  3. 103

    also good:

    sibsoul: soul sung by brothers or sisters
    sobsoul: self-explanatory
    sybsoul: soul of a hedonistic or decadent type
    sabsoul: soul inspired by or redolent of WAR PIGS etc
    sebsoul: there is no such thing

  4. 104
    punctum on 22 Aug 2011 #

    There’s plenty of Sebsoul about. Who could beat the testifying of “I’m A Cuckoo”?

  5. 105
    Alan not logged in on 22 Aug 2011 #

    (i think that that same reynolds book is quite scathing about P Orridge’s impact on acid house/rave, so yeah, pinch o salt on wikip’s implication there)

  6. 106
    punctum on 22 Aug 2011 #

    That’ll be the same Reynolds who endlessly bigged up Jack The Tab in Melody Maker throughout 1988 saying it was everything acid house promised to be but wasn’t (see also the shortly-to-be-republished Blissed Out).

    Yes I know but I married young and had to get a proper job.

  7. 107
    Steve Mannion on 22 Aug 2011 #

    Saabsoul: Ten Sharp’s “You”

  8. 108
    Chelovek na lune on 22 Aug 2011 #

    So many reasons to avoid anything of an even potentially Kenny Thomas nature…and stick to Salsoul…

  9. 109
    AndyPandy on 22 Aug 2011 #

    Kenny Thomas no longer bothering the charts but now I believe what is called a “cult artist” on the modern soul (or should that be R&B?) circuit – something he definitely wasn’t back in his pop chart hit days. I don’t know how I know this seeing as I haven’t had anything to do with the world of soul/funk for the best part of 25 years but I think he headlined Caister or Southport (if that’s still going) a year or so ago.

    On a different subject now I’m going to listen to ‘Gameboy’ as I’ve never knowingly heard it and it says here it was a double A side.

  10. 110
    AndyPandy on 22 Aug 2011 #

    Bloody hell I’m shocked – I can’t think of the last time I tried to listen/diownload something and i couldn’t find it – yes there’s no “Gameboy” obn the web as far as I can see

    …did give Double You “Please Don’t Go” a listen though and I think it’s far superior to this one – brighter more engaging singer, better organ sound etc – and it was their idea. Would have given it a 5 rather than the 4 I gave this

  11. 111

    just came rushing here to say RIP the man who invented the term “rhythm and blues” — only to realise at the last minute i was muddling jerry wexler with jerry leiber

    anyway, rip jerry leiber

  12. 112
    Mark M on 22 Aug 2011 #

    Re 101: Yes, everything was electro for a while – White Lines, for instance. I’m inclined to think that Lisa Lisa was at the start of whatever came next – but still struggle to think what it was.

    I’ll bow to your far greater knowledge when it comes to the likes of Greg Edwards and so on – I’m basing my memories not on clubs but on school, birthday parties, the sounds coming out of car stereos etc…

    The suburbs start very soon after Brixton, mind.

  13. 113
    AndyPandy on 22 Aug 2011 #

    Re Mark at 112 – Probably at the time of her later hits ‘Let the Beat hit ‘Em” she was but I was thinking more of ‘I Wonder If I Take You Home’ with early rap/electro crew Full Force (I’ve just noticed there was about 6 years gap between that and her biggest hit!) which was a hit in early 1985 but had been around in clubs/imports/pirates for a quite a few months back into the real golden electro era of 1983/1984 the time of Shannon, ‘White Lines’, Hot Streak etc.

    Although the first time most people would have heard the term hiphop would have been spring/summer of 1983 with Man Parrish ‘Hip Hop Be Bop’ I should think that no-one in the UK talked about hip hop as opposed to electro and then just rap until about about 1986 although my memory could be playing tricks.

    PS Managed to track down ‘Gameboy’ as part of a mix on Youtube and like Tom says it is basically a collection of samples etc to “make your own hardcore record”.
    I also noticed from Polyhex that KWS managed to stretch their chart career to about 7 hits all or nearly all seemingly using the updating a 70s soul/disco hit with a post-house production template. They even got the Trammps to appear on their version of ‘Hold Back The Night’!

  14. 114
    Ed on 23 Aug 2011 #

    @113 I think that’s right about 1986. The Streetsounds compilations, which were how a lot of us discovered that music, were first called ‘Electro’, and then sometimes ‘Electro Hip Hop’, or ‘Hip Hop Electro’. Run-DMC felt like a decisive break: it became clear that they were not soul or funk any more, in a way that Cameo, say, still were. Partly because of the rockism, of course.

    @97 Good spot. IIRC, the Yardbirds thought Antonioni was an idiot. He was excited about The Who, but couldn’t get them, so booked the ‘birds instead, and made them smash their instruments, under protest.

  15. 115
    MarkG on 23 Aug 2011 #

    Well, that scene was a failure, as the music the Yardbirds played was not the sort that’d have an audience stare in non-moving stunnage, let alone make the band smash things up. Pink Floyd maybe, The Velvet Underground (who it nearly was but the entourage would have been too expensive for a trip from NY to Windsor, UK) would have been perfect…

  16. 116
    wichita lineman on 23 Aug 2011 #

    I moved from Croydon to Peterborough in ’85. There was a kid in the local HMV who gently told me that no one used the term ‘electro’ anymore, it was ‘hip hop’. I imagine the Street Sounds comps were slightly behind the ‘street’ on this, as was I. Besides, the early artwork was so crisp and beautiful it did feel like a shame to me, and presumably to Morgan Khan, when they shoehorned ‘hip hop’ into the title.

    Re 115: I love that scene! It looks like Jeff Beck is bored stiff with the performance, with the film, and probably hates Antonioni too, which adds to the blankness of it all. I imagine that’s exactly what Antonioni wanted. Great song, too, basically a cover of Train Kept A Rollin’.

  17. 117

    Am I alone in being a bit sceptical of all these things that nearly happened to the Velvet Underground: nearly signed by Epstein, nearly in Blow-Up, nearly toured Africa introducing Fela Kuti to the concept of funk…

  18. 118
    wichita lineman on 23 Aug 2011 #

    Not alone.

    Something else I don’t believe – Bowie and Eno hearing Scott Walker’s songs on Nite Flights and thinking “he’s done it”. Any contemporary proof of this? He was completely off the radar prior to the Julian Cope-compiled Fire Escape In The Sky in ’81.

  19. 119
    ace inhibitor on 23 Aug 2011 #

    seeing as the thread is still live… the TOTP clip of Please Don’t Go is an amazing example of the kind of total mismatch between words and performance that the generic-house-cover-version offers; someone described the uncomfortable neediness of KC’s original vocal as ’emotional fascism’ but clearly KWS couldn’t hear it – the cheery smiles, the bouncing, the summery shirts and shorts, the palm trees – good grief (so to speak). My favourite of this can’t-hear-the-words-cover-version genre was a (bunnied) madly grinning version of a Bee Gees song, but this pushes it close.

    Which is either deeply jarring, or its the cartoon pop version of the happy/sad tension at the heart of all (‘proper’) house music, or so I’m told by a friend who always said that the thing about clubbing in the 90s was that you had to keep dancing, because when you stopped and actually listened to the music it overwhelmed you with melancholy.

    Reggae can be good for the words/music mismatch too. I’m particularly keen on Jacob Miller’s ‘Sinners’, a bouncy rub a dub number with the heartwarming singalong chorus ‘Sinners! you’re gonna weep some more, cos the wages of sin is death!’ etc.

  20. 120

    Not completely: Nite Flights was well reviewed in NME (Angus Mackinnon maybe?)

    I bought a cheap European copy in a cut-out shop in Shrewsbury at the time it came out, so can’t entirely disbelieve that B/E had heard and liked it. I certainly don’t recall DB ever discussing SW back then the way he talked eg abt Neu — and I’m reasonably sure the NME review stated pretty bluntly that the Ws were jumping on the Bowie train, albeit rather well.

  21. 121
    punctum on 23 Aug 2011 #

    The point being: if they didn’t, then they should have, history being fluid and playful (otherwise why set it?).

  22. 122
    Steve Mannion on 23 Aug 2011 #

    #119 I think Rage’s cover of ‘Run To You’ mostly succeeds where this fails in that respect. Both stronger and deeper vocally and bass-wise, well contrasted by the dreamy synths and piano, all reflecting that dance-thru-melancholy vibe pretty well. Their ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ follow-up was unwise however.

  23. 123
    vinylscot on 23 Aug 2011 #

    Although I haven’t been able to follow a lot of what’s being discussed here, I’d like to thank all contributors – it’s been an education.

    From memory, I first heard the term hip-hop in late 84/early 85. Record Mirror seemed sure it was going to be the next big thing, and went on and on about Little Benny and The Masters “Who Comes To Boogie” along with some others about which I have completely forgotten. (Prince Charles, maybe~?)

  24. 124
    punctum on 23 Aug 2011 #

    “Who Comes To Boogie” was Go-Go.

  25. 125
    Ed on 23 Aug 2011 #

    ….and Prince Charles was Funk.

    According to the Soulfunkjazz blog, (Prince) Charles Alexander was a fascinating transitional figure through that evolution. The City Beat Band was funk (marketed as “punk funk” or possibly “funk punk” by ROIR, I seem to remember), and he then went on to work with Jodeci, X-Clan, Mary J Blige, Puff Daddy, Destiny’s Child and Alicia Keys, among others. He also teaches at NYU and Berklee.

    Cash (Money) is nearly 30 years old, but its mix of semi-rapped verses and sung choruses still feels bang up-to-date. The lyrics are all too contemporary, as well.

    Google Images gives you a lovely selection of those fantastic StreetSounds Electro album covers: http://bit.ly/pa6SGN

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