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.