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Sep 11

THE SHAMEN – “Ebeneezer Goode”

Popular92 comments • 6,197 views

#680, 19th September 1992

Has an album ever spawned a weirder set of singles than Boss Drum? You got hands-in-the-air club confectionery (“LSI”), moody tribalism (“Boss Drum”), a twenty-minute spoken word piece by Terence McKenna – honestly, “Re:Evolution” alone would make it a contender. And then there’s this career-defining novelty, a cheeky but woeful pun stretched to song length, inventing Dickensian rave (and possibly more) along the way.

If The Shamen were ever serious about hiding “Ebeneezer Goode”‘s subject matter, their best hope wasn’t their bare-faced denials, it’s that no supposed Ecstasy song has ever sounded beerier than this one. The huggy spaciness of “Pro Gen”, “Omega Amigo”, and several summers of love is swapped out for a rammed pub party vibe: listening to it is like elbowing your way through a raucous crowd, and the bolshy “Eezer Goode! Eezer Goode!” chorus is more Oi than E. Something’s always happening – a twist of synth, a catchphrase, some smeared Happy Mondays-style guitar. The success of “Ebeneezer Goode” is generally pinned on a wish to tweak authority’s nose, but whoever scheduled this bustling, silly record to come out just before Freshers’ Week was a marketing demon.

Does it stand up? I think it’s surprisingly strong. It’s idiotic, yes, but it knows it’s idiotic and it sustains its conceit well and if you accept that you’ll have a good time with Eeezer and with this strutting, invigorating record. Back then, it made a star of Mr C and his preposterous geezer-hop: now, every second record in the charts boasts exaggerated London rapping. C isn’t the world’s most technically skilled MC, but that just made him more ripe for impersonation, and even if you couldn’t handle the flow you could manage a “naughty, naughty” or a “ya ha ha ha haaaa”. The sticking point might have been in assuming this single had much or anything to do with rave. With its good-time booziness, its music hall callbacks, its exaggerated characters, its student appeal and its cockney vim “Ebeneezer Goode” is really a cousin of and weird precursor to Britpop.

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Comments

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  1. 61
    Garry on 4 Oct 2011 #

    Being 15 at the time, I don’t think any song from that era has been more quoted by my friends over the last couple of decades. It’s a snapshot of a time but mostly musically – if any of these friends embrassed dance cultures, they did it later. However like Born Slippy, this song is a dance song everyone I know, dance fans or not, remembers, quotes and cheers whenever they hear it.

  2. 62
    lex on 4 Oct 2011 #

    Haha I didn’t see this entry go up at the time. Boss Drum was my first ever CD album, bought for me by my mother as a reward for passing the exam to get into the local public school. I think there might be irony in that. I didn’t “get” what “Ebeneezer Goode” meant until, like, 2001 (nor the somewhat tortuous reference of “Love Sex Intelligence”). I preferred the Shamen’s more soulful songs with Jhelisa Anderson to Mr C’s cheeky-chappie act. Weirdly I think of this as a song that’s made to be accompanied by beer, not E, that would feel a bit wrong.

  3. 63
    Izzy on 4 Oct 2011 #

    I’ve come to think of Ebeneezer Goode as the rarest of creatures: a one-song Imperial Phase.

    Certainly as I recall it they caught a real swell with Move Any Mountain, and in truth probably genuinely popularly united the tribes in the way Bobby Gillespie was dreaming of. I was surprised to see that LSI was their next release because, while competent and consolidating, it was hardly amazing and could just about have been a momentum-killer if things had gone wrong.

    Not Ebeneezer Goode though, it’s just an absolute spectacular monster of a track – the sound of a band who can both do whatever they like and can do no wrong, and pull everyone along in the rush. That’s an Imperial Phase, right?

    Boss Drum was kinda boring, and it seemed like immediately they were outcasts, trends moving away from them so quickly. But so few bands get an imperial phase at all, and we should be fond of them for this one.

    PS they also famously helped give birth to the Premiership era, attracting the crowd’s scorn as halftime entertainment at Highbury. Was it this song they played? Sadly I can’t find footage online.

  4. 64
    lonepilgrim on 5 Oct 2011 #

    talking of the rise and fall of Imperial Phases – isn’t it time that we said goodbye to Madonna?

  5. 65
    swanstep on 5 Oct 2011 #

    @64. She’s kind of alternated good and bad records since Music, so she’s certainly no longer Empress of anything. That’s fine, but the five year gap since her last good one (Confessions) is troubling, suggesting that M’s worthy though sub-imperial period might have ended too. Still, she’s reportedly working on a new album with William Orbit…so that slightly depressing conclusion (for fans) still feels a little premature.

  6. 66
    weej on 5 Oct 2011 #

    @64 – As we get into ’93 (three entries away) there’s a certain act with a run of eight number ones between then and ’96, so I suspect Madge’s days are numbered.

  7. 67
    Mark G on 5 Oct 2011 #

    Dont!

  8. 68
    ajr on 5 Oct 2011 #

    Kunt and the Gang spring to mind…

  9. 69
    fivelongdays on 5 Oct 2011 #

    @68 I thought I was the only Kuntchum on here…

  10. 70
    ergood on 2 Nov 2011 #

    It is not surprising to hear all the credit given to Mr C about The Shamen and Ebeneezer, but in fact Colin Angus was the frontman and 99.9 of the shamen’s work was his inspiration and 0.1 belongs to Mr C, however Angus (cleverly) remained untouched by the media while C was left to pick up the pieces with the journalist…. the melody maker said it ; one dim, the other one deep!

  11. 71
    George on 13 Nov 2011 #

    ”She’s gone too far this time” was the popular refrain around this period.

    This is as fitting a place as any to discuss Madonna since we won’t see her on Popular for another six years and it’s also around this time that ‘Erotica’ and ‘Sex’ are released (simultaneously in Oct 92). The risible ‘Body Of Evidence’ would come along right at the beginning of the following year.

    It’s this troika where the line in the sand was drawn for the huge audience who previously might have casually bought The ‘Immaculate Collection’ and the odd single, but otherwise couldn’t have cared less for the woman.

    Of course by the end of the decade she had come back with an album that sold a gazillion copies .

  12. 72
    Steve Mannion on 13 Nov 2011 #

    She’s an Evita good?

  13. 73
    Snif on 14 Nov 2011 #

    “… we won’t see her on Popular for another six years”

    Time to replace her up there (gestures to top of page) then?

  14. 74
    punctum on 15 Nov 2011 #

    BUNNY BUNNY BUNNY

  15. 75
    George on 15 Nov 2011 #

    ”Time to replace her up there (gestures to top of page) then?”

    Her time as passed – it’s the brave new world of Ace Of Base and 2 Unlimited soon.

  16. 76
    punctum on 15 Nov 2011 #

    BUNNY BUNNY BUNNY BUNNY ORANGE ALERT ORANGE ALERT

  17. 77
    Jimmy the Swede on 15 Nov 2011 #

    BUNNY…NOW APPROACHING!!…NOW APPROACHING!!!…George attempting to escape in one of OUR vehicles…ORANGE ALERT!!!…

  18. 78
    Erithian on 16 Nov 2011 #

    Tom, the class is getting restless and needs something to get stuck into! Wishing you joy and happiness, etc…

  19. 79
    punctum on 16 Nov 2011 #

    Is Popular dead, like world democracy?

  20. 80
    Mark G on 16 Nov 2011 #

    Well, it’s only been 26 days…

  21. 81
    Cumbrian on 16 Nov 2011 #

    Tom should trail his next entry with a Youtube video of him rapping/speaking, in a highly regional accent and over a rave influenced backing track, the names of previous #1 charting acts before it segues into a synth version of I Vow To Thee My Country (rather than Jerusalem) and the legend on screen “Popular Will Rise Again”.

  22. 82
    Rory on 16 Nov 2011 #

    No matter how long it is until the next entry, Popular, I will always lo*mmff, mfff*.

  23. 83
    Davyboyb on 17 Nov 2011 #

    New on here (last couple of weeks). What a fantastic blog, a real treasure trove.

    A bit of a hiatus is good as enables me to gradually catch up on all the posts of the last 6-odd years for earlier number ones.

    I’m up to the early/mid seventies glam-rock era now i.e onto Glitter/Sweet melodies (and other such sounds of the era).

  24. 84
    Erithian on 17 Nov 2011 #

    Welcome aboard Davyboy, it’s a marvellous moment when you realise just what a wealth of material there is on here! I joined in when Tom was midway through 1967 and it was exciting enough then when he’d only just got going. Please feel free to add your thoughts on any thread.

  25. 85
    punctum on 17 Nov 2011 #

    Don’t put the Shamen in the microwave thinking that they’re currants. They could explode, just saying like.

  26. 86
    Jimmy the Swede on 20 Nov 2011 #

    Apropos microwaves, you can use one to turn a duck into a soul singer. Simply place the duck inside, close the door, turn the dial and wait until its bill withers.

    Alright, I’m going..

  27. 87
    hectorthebat on 12 Mar 2012 #

    Of course, he’s now playing for Chelsea: http://www.chelseafc.com/page/AcademyProfiles/0,,10268~1333478,00.html

  28. 88
    DanH on 31 Jan 2013 #

    My first memory of this was seeing the video on Beavis and Butthead…it gave Beavis a seizure. Good times.

  29. 89
    mrdiscopop on 1 Nov 2014 #

    A lot of the credit here goes to The Beatmasters, whose remix / radio edit made the song the bubbling earworm we all remember. They give the song a propulsion the original lacked – and they performed similarly sterling work on the rest of the Boss Drum singles.

  30. 90
    Auntie Beryl on 2 Nov 2014 #

    “Re-Evolution” was an unpolishable turd, mind.

  31. 91
    Tom on 2 Nov 2014 #

    Are you telling me that history is NOT the shockwave of the eschaton?

  32. 92
    Auntie Beryl on 2 Nov 2014 #

    Now I’m not sure. Damn you, Angus and C.

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