19
Sep 12

CHAKA DEMUS AND PLIERS – “Twist And Shout”

Popular40 comments • 3,665 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.)

6

Comments

  1. 1
    Pete on 19 Sep 2012 #

    I for one thought it was very brave for Chaka Khan to take her husbands name when she was already a well establish recording artist, but it paid off handsomely. Its no “Murder She Wrote” though.

  2. 2
    tommy mack on 19 Sep 2012 #

    Looking at Popular ’93 (and this), this was a great time to be a pre-teen: loads of kid-friendly pop-sass in the charts and then you had Nirvana and the first stirrings of Britpop for once your moody teens kicked in (although I hadn’t heard of Suede or any of the rest at in 1993, though I was very fond of Primal Scream’s Rocks)

  3. 3
    tommy mack on 19 Sep 2012 #

    #1 – looks like she’s let herself go a bit though…

  4. 4
    tommy mack on 19 Sep 2012 #

    Just seen the sleeve – ha ha, that is such an early 90s font!

  5. 5
    Rory on 19 Sep 2012 #

    Haven’t heard it before, but this is fun. I can see how it would appeal in early January, with Christmas behind you and a gloomy month ahead – spend those record vouchers on something sunny, quick! I’d stretch to 6 too.

  6. 6
    Cumbrian on 19 Sep 2012 #

    #5. Right on – from memory the video is “just” a bunch of people partying in the sun in the West Indies. Perfect for the middle of a cold British winter – a decent bit of escapism.

    Per Tom’s reference to the myriad different versions of this, has Twist And Shout made it to “standard” status? The song itself seems pretty bullet-proof – I mean only a couple of months ago I saw Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney (very quietly) pound this one into the ground interminably and it wasn’t the song that was the problem – it was the 3 false endings, the volume limited sound system and the plug being pulled on it that dampened the crowd’s enthusiasm.

  7. 7
    thefatgit on 19 Sep 2012 #

    I’d have to agree with Tom. “Twist And Shout” makes more sense as a summer release, but anything (well, almost anything) post-Blobby was welcome at the top of the charts. Yes, the sun is out and I feel very charitable towards it.

  8. 8
    Kat but logged out innit on 19 Sep 2012 #

    Still not 100% sure what “Me Barl!” means but I shall continue to yell it out anyway. Although it was Mr Mention that was on Ragga Heat Reggae Beat (and thus the one I listened to most), I think Tease Me is my favourite CD&P track:

    It’s like striking gold
    Catching a big fish
    You are on top of my Romance List

    I am pretty sure I had a Romance List in 1993 but catching a big fish was not on it.

  9. 9
    Erithian on 19 Sep 2012 #

    ##5/6: Indeed, as someone said, summers would never be the same again – for while this was number one we lost the great Brian Johnston of Test Match Special fame. One of a trio of people who’d contributed hugely to the hapiness of the nation and who left us this month, along with Brian Redhead of the Today programme and Sir Matt Busby. Raise a glass of rum punch to their memory.

  10. 10
    lonepilgrim on 19 Sep 2012 #

    I can imagine this being picked up mobile disco DJs for whom it would serve double time as an old-time classic and a new tune. I find hard to dislike but equally hard to get overexcited by it.

  11. 11
    Chelovek na lune on 19 Sep 2012 #

    Chaka Demus and Pliers were surely the best of the reggae acts to “cross over” during this period when quite a lot did so, and when major labels were pimping up and overproducing discs by acts of a lesser calibre that would never surely have passed the Dub Vendor test, or indeed the stricter Rodigan “bloody good records” one.

    This is a bit of fun, that used the January sales lapse to good advantage chart-wise. But both Tease Me and Murder She Wrote have the dogs bollocks that this one lacks – and which in fareness it was never intended to have.

    Thankfully thus far we have avoided discussion of Apache Indian, who appeared so briefly to promise much of interest

  12. 12
    Brendan on 19 Sep 2012 #

    Yes, I loved Tease Me (I do like some pop music, honest!) I would have been far better contributing to the songs that came 10-15 years before this one but hey-ho. But this one is just a nursery rhyme with a few production bells and whistles added on like so much of what has passed for pop in the last 25 years or so.

  13. 13
    Mark G on 19 Sep 2012 #

    File it alongside Scritti/Shabba’s “She’s a Woman”…

  14. 14
    thefatgit on 19 Sep 2012 #

    I remember an episode of “2 Point 4 Children” where Claire Buckfield (or it could be Woodward!) was asked by Gary Olsen what she was listening to (“Tease Me” if memory serves). “Chaka Demus & Pliers” Claire replies. Cue Olsen looking a bit dumbfounded and clueless. I always pegged Olsen’s character as a bit of a Bad Manners fan tbh.

  15. 15
    wichita lineman on 19 Sep 2012 #

    Tease Me was the cat’s miaow, and I was also very fond of She Don’t Let Nobody (I still don’t think I’ve heard Curtis Mayfield’s relatively obscure original). But this bored the pants off me. It’s a pale re-run of Oh Carolina without the neat historical twist: Shaggy’s Oh Carolina felt like it was paying homage to the roots of Jamaican pop, but with Twist & Shout, as Tom says, CD&P couldn’t have chosen a more hackneyed cover.

    There was a fictional pub in Little Britain fan called the Chaka Demus and Pliers. If the Freaky Trigger pub dream ever becomes a reality…?

  16. 16
    Kat but logged out innit on 20 Sep 2012 #

    We could call the goat Maxine.

  17. 17
    James BC on 20 Sep 2012 #

    In full, this was credited to “Chaka Demus and Pliers with Jack Radics and the Taxi Gang” (look, you can see it on the sleeve). I believe the Taxi Gang was Sly and Robbie, which presumably would make this the first number one hit that they had a hand in, having been active since the 70s.

  18. 18
    Jimmy the Swede on 20 Sep 2012 #

    The Freaky Trigger Pub??.. A wonderful dream indeedy. The pub on top of Beachy Head would be ideal for this and the goat would be called Rosie. This is nothing at all to do with Popular’s own dear and much respected contributor. Rosie the goat has rather special properties and would be gazing longingly out towards the direction of the Alps between Switzerland and Austria waiting for the presidential order to launch. Meanwhile on the cliff-top ouside the newly named Freaky Trigger, tanked-up patrons will be lined up ready to take the plunge to the sound of their favourite record.

    And that, dear friends, covers the core storylines of my two novels, “Pick Your Own Strawberries” and “Hailing Chiefs”.

    Yeah, I know. Shameless.

  19. 19
    swanstep on 20 Sep 2012 #

    Pleasant enough I suppose (so a 5 for me), but it’s a bit depressing (looking down the charts) that this gets to #1 in the New Year interregnum and things like Big Time Sexuality (esp. the Lion Rock Wigout mix!) get nowhere near.

  20. 20
    MikeMCSG on 20 Sep 2012 #

    Absolutely nothing in it for me- the continuation of a terrible run of number ones.

  21. 21
    Izzy on 20 Sep 2012 #

    Bewildered that anybody would choose to cover this. There’s a whole raft of olde songs that I just can’t imagine touching – Johnny B Goode, Rock Around The Clock, and so forth – and this is very much one. How much of yourself could you really put into it?

    The very idea reminds me of the one time I’ve watched X-Factor, where Sharon Osborne had a poor guy who’d been plucked from his band to be ‘the rock singer’, and every week he got to wear a leather jacket and do ‘Sweet Child O Mine’ or ‘Livin On A Prayer’. Listening by choice to anybody do ‘Twist & Shout’ is like trying to muster enthusiasm for that guy’s week eight, where we wait to see what on earth he might come up with for ‘The Final Countdown’.

  22. 22
    Cumbrian on 20 Sep 2012 #

    Looking at wiki, there are loads of Twist and Shout covers listed – though admittedly a lot of them are claims of artists doing them on tour. I guess it’s a good song to do near the end of your set as a bit of a party time effort – or to pick the mood up after you’ve done your mid-set ballads/weepies.

  23. 23
    Billy Hicks on 20 Sep 2012 #

    The top 5 for the second week this was #1 is rather fun:

    1) This
    2) The next #1
    3) East 17 – It’s Alright (completely overshadowed by a future bunny now but otherwise one of their best, an absolutely huge worldwide hit that’s been somewhat forgotten)
    4) K7 – Come Baby Come (if just for the awesome “ba-ding-da-ding-d-d-d-ding ding” beginning)
    5) Culture Beat – Anything (blew me away when I first heard it a couple years back, one of Eurodance’s greatest moments)

    I don’t really mind this…yeah you can’t compare it to the original but I’m a bit of a sucker for the pop-reggae sound, especially on a sunny day. 6/7 is about right though.

  24. 24
    wichita lineman on 20 Sep 2012 #

    Re 19: Flipping the chart upside down makes for an intriguing parallel universe.

    There are several entries I’m quite happy that I never heard/can’t remember. Was Bono and Frank Sinatra a real duet, or a Nat King/Natalie job? I mean, Frank S was still alive.

    Did a double take and imagined for a moment that Bad Boys Inc had covered the Snowman song for a Christmas single.

    But, yes, if we had to have a “quiet week” number one I’d have preferred Bjork, the Bee Gees, or Culture Beat’s weird, 150bpm, third hit (“should my hair be red or shall it be blue?”)

    1 Chaka Demus & Pliers – Twist And Shout
    2 Mr Blobby – Mr Blobby
    3 Take That – Babe
    4 East 17 – It’s Alright
    5 Dina Carroll The Perfect Year
    6 The Bee Gees – For Whom The Bell Tolls
    7 K7 – Come Baby Come
    8 B:Unny
    9 Meat Loaf – Bat Out Of Hell
    10 Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle – A Whole New World (Aladdin’s Theme)
    11 Haddaway – I Miss You
    12 Bryan Adams – Please Forgive Me
    13 Mariah Carey – Hero
    14 Meat Loaf – I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)
    15 Janet Jackson – Again
    16 Elton John & Kiki Dee – True Love
    17 Shabba Ranks featuring Patra – Family Affair
    18 EYC – Feelin’ Alright
    19 M People – Don’t Look Any Further
    20 Frankie Goes To Hollywood – The Power Of Love
    21 Pearl Jam – Daughter
    22 Diana Ross – Your Love
    23 Culture Beat – Anything
    24 DJ Duke – Blow Your Whistle
    25 Pet Shop Boys – I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing
    26 Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart & Sting – All For Love
    27 Ice-T – That’s How I’m Livin’
    28 Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You
    29 Hulk Hogan With Green Jelly – I’m The Leader Of The Gang
    30 The Doobie Brothers – Long Train Runnin’
    31 Bad Boys Inc – Walking On Air
    32 Wet Wet Wet – Cold Cold Heart
    33 Frank Sinatra With Bono – I’ve Got You Under My Skin
    34 Cypress Hill – I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That
    35 Cliff Richard – Healing Love
    36 Bjork – Big Time Sensuality
    37 Soul Asylum – Runaway Train
    38 Eternal – Save Our Love
    39 Terrorvision – My House
    40 Nirvana – All Apologies / Rape Me

  25. 25
    wichita lineman on 20 Sep 2012 #

    Re 23: The rap is pretty dreadful but the chorus on Anything is so good – I wonder if there was a rap-free mix, No Limit-style?

  26. 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)

  27. 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).

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

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

  29. 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?

  30. 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…

  31. 31
    Tom on 21 Sep 2012 #

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

  32. 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)

  33. 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…

  34. 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.

  35. 35
    flahr on 21 Sep 2012 #

    “Poing” = (8)

  36. 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.

  37. 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?…

  38. 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.

  39. 39
    Lee Saunders on 6 Jan 2018 #

    I love how three #1 singles (Let’s Dance, the Masses Against the Classes and Can We Fix It?) all borrow the Twist and Shout intro, but when Twist and Shout finally gets to #1 itself, that intro is nowhere to be found at the start (it does crop up mid-way through IIRC).

  40. 40
    Andrew Farrell on 30 Jan 2018 #

    In fairness, it’s not the intro to the Beatles’ version either…

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