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Sep 12

CHAKA DEMUS AND PLIERS – “Twist And Shout”

Popular38 comments • 2,002 views

#700, 8th January 1994

Looking back on the Summer of Ragga (and indeed the Winter Of Ragga), what strikes me is how cuddly its chart presence was. Dancehall was a controversial import: for a pop audience used to reggae as good vibes unity music, the arrival of young lions like Shabba Ranks was a shock. Particularly as the sex, swagger and silk trousers might be mixed up inextricably with vicious homophobia. But none of that drama showed up in the charts. While The Word took time out from dousing students in beans to grapple with the issues, pre-watershed ragga was a brighter, sunnier experience.

Chaka Demus – the rough one – and Pliers – the smooth one – thoroughly retool a pop standard but it’s hard to imagine anyone being annoyed (or thrilled) by the resulting jollities: “Twist And Shout” is the kind of song which is so often covered you’d think it can’t have purists anymore. It has survived dozens of styles and, for that matter, will endure its current life in reality show limbo.

This particular version is all twist and very little shout – cheerful, almost languid, cantering along without any real spark but entertaining all the same. Musically it’s not taking many risks – there’s a lascivious intro from richer-voiced guest Jack Radics, a nagging backing yelp that sounds like a persistent terrier locked in the studio, and a twangy arrangement positioning the track as an “Oh Carolina” style blend of old and new. Pliers cajoles, his voice fluttering around Chaka Demus gruffer commands, but both men are more memorable elsewhere and their performance is a microcosm of the track: nobody does anything wrong, and somehow it fails to stick anyway.

(For those still intrigued by the idiosyncracies of Popular’s marking system, this was on the absolute 5/6 cusp until I listened to it with the sun out.)

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Comments

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  1. 26
    Chelovek na lune on 20 Sep 2012 #

    Not sure, I thought Anything was a bit too weak and generic. I LOVED their next one, though, “World In Your Hands”, which I recall (possibly exaggeratedly) as being really rather weird, gloomy and melancholic – nodding back to Der Erdbeermund, which is of course where we first encountered them (and which still remains heads and shoulders above their more obviously poppy stuff, especially any of the mixes that retain the rather sinister German vocal)

  2. 27
    Cumbrian on 20 Sep 2012 #

    #23. I thought It’s Alright was pretty fantastic at the time. Just looked up the video though and the song itself is overshadowed by the ridiculous headwear/haircuts on show. Brian Harvey looks like he is wearing some sort of egg timer shaped beanie and Tony Mortimer has a ridiculous dreadlocked rat tail hanging down from his fringe (I guess this makes it a reverse rat tail or something similar). Probably a one to listen to rather than watch, as the song still has something for me (though it might be a Proustian thing).

  3. 28
    Kat but logged out innit on 20 Sep 2012 #

    #24: I bought that Bad Boys Inc single for my mum for Christmas!

  4. 29
    enitharmon on 21 Sep 2012 #

    No recollection of this either, although obviously I know the song now that Tom has confirmed that it’s the old Isley Brothers classic in disguise. It’s not always clear that a familiar title refers to a familiar song.

    Would it be about this time that I recall abluting in the bathroom of the flat in Chesterton Road while listening to an item on Today in lament of the decline of the pop charts, illustrated by a snippet of a piece that simply featured a voice singing “boing boing boing boing …” ad nauseam in a flat monotone? And thinking how glad I was that my chart-following days were long gone?

  5. 30
    Erithian on 21 Sep 2012 #

    If we’re talking decline, wait till Nick Clegg gets to number one with “I’m Sorry” – and not a Brenda Lee cover either…

  6. 31
    Tom on 21 Sep 2012 #

    #29 Rotterdam Termination Source – “Poing” would be the record in question Rosie!

  7. 32
    flahr on 21 Sep 2012 #

    This would be so much better if they had Flashie going “get higher baby” over the “aaaaah”s (5)

  8. 33
    Mark G on 21 Sep 2012 #

    #29, quite: I see they also had a hit with a song called “I wanna be your man”, so hmmm…

  9. 34
    weej on 21 Sep 2012 #

    ‘Poing’ is a landmark record, sure. I’d hesitate to use any positive adjectives, as it’s as objectively terrible as music gets, but you have to sort-of-admire how relentless and pointless it is.

  10. 35
    flahr on 21 Sep 2012 #

    “Poing” = (8)

  11. 36
    Billy Smart on 8 Oct 2012 #

    TOTPWatch. Chaka Demus & Pliers performed ‘Twist and Shout’ on Top of the Pops on 16 December 1993. Also in the studio that week were; East 17 and Take That, plus two live performances via satellite from Diana Ross in Paris and Haddaway from Disneyworld, Florida. Tony Dortie was the host.

  12. 37
    Erithian on 11 Jan 2013 #

    Rory all the way up at #5 had it about right – I’ve just watched the video in the early days of January on the coldest night in a while, and it does you good. Tuneful, fun, everyone’s having a ball, no-one’s getting dissed, and although there’s no great merit to the re-working, I’m sure the Isley Brothers wouldn’t mind – and you’d want to hit the dancefloor for it too.

    Oh, those TOTP hosts of the anti-personality era – did they ever get to be even recognised in the street? No? Their own homes?…

  13. 38
    Patrick Mexico on 26 Mar 2013 #

    Don’t mind this, and today’s weather probably isn’t the most appropriate environment – but can’t give it any more than a 5. Why? Because the backing track sounds like someone doing the midnight boogaloo with a squirrel.

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