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Jan 12

SHAGGY – “Oh Carolina”

Popular71 comments • 5,591 views

#686, 20th March 1993

Shaggy’s take on “Oh Carolina” acknowledges its debt to the past right away – sampling the intro from the Folkes Brothers’ 1960 original. Not just a nod of respect, it’s a canny move, as the crackling, wheezing shanty-town piano sounded like nothing else on 1993 radio, giving “Oh Carolina” instant cut-through.

But everything about Shaggy’s breakthrough hit is shrewd. His “Oh Carolina” is shooting for crossover smash and party smash at the same time, which means that every touch the production adds – bells, brass, “Peter Gunn” bass – is trying to bring new people into the tent. It’s shameless, but it works. The Folkes Brothers’ track is shockingly raw – Count Ossie’s drums mixed aggressively high, so the group’s lilting song gets buried under their clattering, peg-legged rhythm. And you could argue dancehall works best when it’s stripped down likewise – the novelty of the riddims and the swagger of the MC mixing confrontationally, without compromise. “Oh Carolina” is comparatively eager to please, but the theme park version of old Jamaica it conjures up is still a terrific place to spend a few minutes.

If anything lets the track down, it’s Shaggy – at the start of his career, pushing ragga MCing out to an international crowd, he sounds more hesitant than you remember, with growls scattered around the track but less of the gruff brio of later hits. Never the flashiest of MCs in any case, Shaggy here is having to spell out what ragga is and does for a big chunk of its new audience: at two decades distance, with that educational work done, his patience doesn’t seem so much of a virtue.

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Comments

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  1. 31
    Jimmy the Swede on 1 Feb 2012 #

    # 28 and 29 – We’ve got a couple of cuzzies at Gatwick, who have always worked together. They’re great lads but they’re not the sort to mess around with. We call them Rock and Gravel. Or collectively, The Slag Brothers.

    Penelope Pitstop! What a gal!!

  2. 32
    Billy Smart on 1 Feb 2012 #

    TOTPWatch. Shaggy performed ‘Oh Carolina’ on Top of the Pops on four occasions;

    25 February 1993. Also in the studio that week were; Bizzare Inc featuring Angie Brown, Dina Carroll, Tasmin Archer, Bryan Ferry and 2 Unlimited. Tony Dortie was the host.

    11 March 1993. Also in the studio that week were; Sister Sledge, Bryan Ferry, Jamiroquai and Cliff Richard, plus two further live performances by satellite in New York from Shabba Ranks and PM Dawn. Tony Dortie was the host.

    18 March 1993. Also in the studio that week were; Hue & Cry, Snow, Therapy?, Big Country, The Grid and Monie Love. Mark Franklin was the host.

    25 March 1993. Also in the studio that week were; Sybil, The Bluebells, Jade, Robin S, Cliff Richard and Lulu & Bobby Womack. Tony Dortie was the host.

  3. 33
    Billy Smart on 1 Feb 2012 #

    Light Entertainment Watch: Not all that many UK TV appearances from Shaggy on the list;

    ANGELA AND FRIENDS: with Jeremy Edwards, Jayne Middlemiss, Tara Newley, Shaggy (2009)

    FRIDAY NIGHT PROJECT: with Rihanna, Kim Cattrall (Guest Host), Shaggy, Gok Wan, Gerry Stergiopoulos (2007)

    FRIDAY NIGHT PROJECT: with Geri Halliwell (Guest Host), Sam Sparro, Joe Dempsie, Shaggy, Caroline Pearce (2008)

    NAKED CITY: with Caitlin Moran, Johnny Vaughan, Shaggy, Smashing Pumpkins, Courtney Love, One Dove, REM, Jesus Jones, Apache Indian, Father and Son (1993)

    NEVER MIND THE BUZZCOCKS: with Mark Lamarr, Sean Hughes (Team Captain), Phill Jupitus (Team Captain), Marie Du Santiago, Mark Little, Suggs, Shaggy (1997)

    THE WORD: with Margi Clarke, Shaggy, Shaun Ryder, Sub Sub, Hole, James Taylor Quartet (1993)

    The first series of ‘Naked City’ was must-see music TV for my 20 year-old self, Johnny Vaughan notwithstanding, the highlights in my memory being the self-filmed videos for ‘Venus as a Boy’ – Bjork walking around some geysers at home – and ‘La Tristessa Durema’ – The Manics performing on a park bandstand to an audience of pensioners, an inverted visual cover version of the promotional film for ‘When You’re Young’ by The Jam.

    #27 The most electrifying moment in the history of ‘The Word’ happened at about the same time that ‘Oh Carolina’ entered the chart at the end of January 1993 – The incendiary appearance of Huggy Bear performing ‘Her Jazz’, fiercely intelligent gatecrashers refusing to accept any of the expectations of the witless show.

  4. 34
    Erithian on 1 Feb 2012 #

    Wichita #29 – it wasn’t a dig, of course – I was just struck by the coincidence. I hadn’t got around to YouTubing some of the early 50s songs until the other night, and re-read the Rosemary Clooney thread on the very day you’d posted your Shaggy comment. Had a good chuckle about that, but I’m sure I’ve repeated myself similarly on here and so have many others! As for Wacky Races characters in Popular, there are any number of contenders for the title “the Gruesome Twosome”.

    Oh, and I do remember the reggae top 3 being a biggish deal at the time.

  5. 35

    In a sense the charts are never not modelled by the Wacky Races

  6. 36
    Erithian on 1 Feb 2012 #

    Who could Simon Cowell possibly be?

  7. 37

    oh Dick D is *always* Malcolm McLaren, whether or not he has something in the charts/still walks among us etc.

  8. 38
    Tom on 1 Feb 2012 #

    The Hanna-Barbera/chart/ragga crossover goes still deeper – viz the works of MC Snagga Puss, whose entire career is based on a vocal schtick taken from Snagglepuss.

    “When I came back from New York in 1992, nothing was going on for me. People used to mouth me and say that I was a dead stock. So I decided that I needed a comeback and I turned to the Father of God for help in finding a style of my own. The Father came to my aid one afternoon while I was watching Yogi Bear on television”

  9. 39

    Blimey, the “Father of God” no less <--- Snagga Puss very sensibly guessing that this personage has rather more time on his hands than his overworked offspring, perhaps :)

  10. 40
    Jimmy the Swede on 1 Feb 2012 #

    There’s not a doubt in my mind that Mutley’s really Faust.

  11. 41
    wichita lineman on 1 Feb 2012 #

    Re 34: Oh, no offence taken! Senility innit. I’m hoping that when I finally deliver my book (first draft in 2 weeks!) the editor will gently but firmly point out that I’ve used the same comparison/expression/cliche in three different chapters.

    I think the Gruesome Twosome are yet to appear on Popular. Here’s a clue (and vital to bookending my book) – the first no.1 not to appear on anything but a digital format.

  12. 42
    Mark G on 2 Feb 2012 #

    #30, I always heard it as “Roman Catholic” as well

  13. 43
    Erithian on 2 Feb 2012 #

    Wichita – I bet you’ve always wondered, if you were to take all the Wacky Races that ever took place (only 34 in 17 episodes believe it or not), and allocated points according to the Formula 1 scoring method in place at the time the series was made (1969), which car would come out on top? No? Well someone has, and Wiki gives the data. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wacky_Races

    The Bouldermobile (with the Slag Brothers, Liam and Noel) emerges as champion Wacky Racer, with Rufus Ruffcut’s Buzzwagon (Bryan Adams) second. All the racers (except of course Dastardly who never had a podium finish) had either 3 or 4 wins. Of those who were allowed to win, a long way last in the points table, with 3 wins and 1 second place, is the Army Surplus Special (James Blunt and Billy Bragg, or indeed Jimi Hendrix and Shaggy).

  14. 44
    Richard Buckley on 2 Feb 2012 #

    Re #30 and #42 – it sounds (fairly clearly to me) like an invitation to “listen carefully”.

    Can anyone else say where the sample is from? Following the Hanna Barbera discussion above, it would be very neat if it were sampled from a kids cartoon, which it might be.

    Terrific song, by the way – back then it came across as being very odd and very familiar at the same time, which is a neat trick.

  15. 45
    Jimmy the Swede on 2 Feb 2012 #

    I commend Erithian for the information he has imparted to Lino. A vital survey to be sure. I’m assuming that Dastardly is Mr Gadd.

  16. 46
    Mark G on 2 Feb 2012 #

    What would an episode of Wacky Races look like with Dick Dastardly edited out though?

  17. 47
    Jimmy the Swede on 2 Feb 2012 #

    Actually, Mark, my guess would be that they would keep him in, since he always gets turned over in the end and thus never has a podium finish (or in TOTP parlance, a record in the top three).

  18. 48
    Erithian on 2 Feb 2012 #

    Even Wiki points out that Dastardly’s car is so much faster than the others that he can get ahead and set booby traps for them all, so if he didn’t do that he’d win every time. Would have killed off the show though.

    As we noted on the Readers’ Poll thread at New Year, Klunk from “Stop The Pigeon” = Jessie J on the Christmas TOTP.

  19. 49
    Tim on 2 Feb 2012 #

    Other cartoon-reggae crossovers include Scoobie, Top Cat and a whole sub-genre of ragga named after Barney and Betty Rubble’s daughter Bam-Bam. I bet there are more.

  20. 50
    Izzy on 2 Feb 2012 #

    I don’t remember the Jamaican influence as anything more than a sideshow, myself. Certainly there were a few hits; but as a movement, bookended by rave and (I suppose) britpop, it never really happened.

    ‘Informer’ is an incredible record, I’m delighted to have had it brought to my intention. I can’t get my head round how such a thing comes to be – his wikipedia biography barely explains it.

    Speaking of wikipedia, it tells me Shabba’s 2010 autobiography was titled ‘Kill Dem Batty Man’, suggesting a charming lack of repentance. There are no independent references to the tome elsewhere on the net, though, so I suspect this is untrue.

  21. 51
    Jimmy the Swede on 2 Feb 2012 #

    # 49 – Hair Bear is Don King, obv.

  22. 52
    thefatgit on 2 Feb 2012 #

    There might not be a Shabba Ranks biography, but there is a Shaggy book called “Shaggy: Dogamuffin Style” by Micah Locilento.

  23. 53
    swanstep on 2 Feb 2012 #

    Dastardly’s car is so much faster than the others that he can get ahead and set booby traps for them all, so if he didn’t do that he’d win every time.
    Snicker, snicker, snicker (Muttley’s laugh).
    A version of this problem infects a lot of ‘fiendishly clever and powerful villain’ plots. If the villain were smart enough and powerful enough to have every long-shot possibility covered (as it turns out they do) then they would never have done what they actually did earlier (indeed conceivably they would have no use/need for the MacGuffin they’re supposed to be after). A sub-species of this is the ’70s paranoia thriller where fiendishly powerful corporations keep on killing any reporters etc. who get the slightest hint of what’s going on with them. It’s always true in such thrillers that all the Parallax Corp (or whatever it might be) had to do was just ignore/deny any half-baked ideas/allegations some nobody might have about them, but instead they proceed to kill all such nobodies, which inevitably draws lots of attention…

  24. 54
    Jimmy the Swede on 2 Feb 2012 #

    I’m bloody loving all this!

    Perhaps the Advanced Level study group can similarly consider Wile E Coyote’s pursuit of The Roadrunner. Wile E is neither fiendish nor clever and powerful. Basically he’s a lunatic and a fuckwit. It’s clear that satifaction of appetite has nothing to do with what he’s doing or he would simply retreat to KFC and be done with it. Coyote instead invests in a succession of ACME contraptions, all of which fail. The capture of the Roadrunner thus itself becomes a means to an end. As Dostoyevsky argues in “Crime and Punishment”…

    (Continued on P.94)

  25. 55
    Erithian on 2 Feb 2012 #

    I think they’ve finally found our level Jimbo!

    Didn’t someone do a sort-of scientific paper on the optimum time Coyote (or Bugs or whoever) can stay suspended in the air before they realise the cliff is no longer there?

    And I suspect (#50) that “Kill Dem Batty Man” is a gag somebody inserted in the Wiki article on Shabba that has been adopted in sites that lift wholesale from Wiki. To quote a cartoon in this week’s Private Eye: (schoolteacher to pupil) “This homework is incisive, original and full of accurate facts… Wikipedia must be down again”.

  26. 56
    Jimmy the Swede on 2 Feb 2012 #

    Well, Erithian, as I mentioned previously on Popular (I can’t recall where), I once penned a thesis on: “The Tragedy Which Is Captain Black”. Honest to God, the story of this poor tormented guy is a harrowing tale of Greek proportions. I always write freehand and it was a mercy that I wasn’t in The Beachy Head Tavern at the time…

    How long do you think we can go on like this before Management cuts us off?

  27. 57
    Erithian on 2 Feb 2012 #

    As long as we mention Shaggy occasionally (without reference to Fred, Daphne and Velma).

  28. 58
    Richard Buckley on 2 Feb 2012 #

    I suggest a further honourable mention to add to Punctum’s short list at #20 of rave/ragga crossover anthems – Leila K’s stupendous ‘Open Sesame’ which made the UK top 40 in early 93 after European success the previous year. I absolutely adored that one.

  29. 59
    Another Pete on 4 Feb 2012 #

    #44 Back in 1993 it sounded like it was Daffy Duck, which cartoon not sure probably the classic Duck Dodgers. Downloaded it recently and its a different sample telling us to ‘listen carefully’ this may be down to retrospective copyright issues.

  30. 60
    Tommy Mack on 10 Feb 2012 #

    Dick Dastardly seems like a classic case of neurosis brought on by low-self esteem: either his self-image is so low that he’s blinded to the superiority of his car and believes the only way he can win is to cheat: a delusion continually reinforced by the fact that even when he does cheat, his traps backfire and he never wins the race. Or even worse, he can’t even imagine winning on any terms and has settled for pissing on other people’s chips.

    Either that or he’s over-revving his engine to get ahead and knows that his car can’t maintain that speed for the duration of the race.

    Those are my thought on Dick Dastardly.

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