The Great British Public has a long and warm relationship with smut – stuff that is somehow about sex without making anyone actually want to do it. A part of our national psyche is forever a 12-year-old boy. As times and manners change, the balance between cheekiness and directness has tipped, from seaside postcards and George Formby to Judge Dread and Roy “Chubby” Brown. The itch remains the same – show us something naughty. So it’s not that surprising that the Outhere Brothers (debut single: “Pass The Toilet Paper”) wind up with two number ones.
If the urges the Outheres appealed to were age-old, the ways radio dealt with them had changed. Blackouts and bans were counter-productive, and left the station on the wrong side of most arguments. The preferred solution? Radio edits – or, as in this case, full radio remixes. Which led to the odd situation that the record on the radio and in the chart wasn’t at all the one people had been hearing in the clubs and buying. That hefty call-to-arms of “Wiggle Wiggle!” aside, the original mix and the radio edit are strikingly different*, and if all you heard was the hit, the track’s filthiness might come as a wicked surprise.
The differences between the mixes go further than cleaning up the lyrics. The “Eskimo Nell” style call-and-response on the full version – “Put your lips on my face!” &c – is the track’s most unusual, though crudest, idea: the UK radio edit drops it for more wiggling. Its directness gets replaced by an in-your-face blurt of a synth riff, an addition which shifts the track into more familiar, ravey territory. Unfortunately that comes at the expense of the original’s clicky, chunky, nicely loping house beat, which was the best thing about it.
The worst thing about “Don’t Stop” remains whatever the version: Keith Mayberry’s hoarse, range-free bellow. It’s all strain, no fun – it’s just a man yelling at you about genitals. For that first ten seconds or so it’s effective – a foghorn cutting through anything else on the airwaves. But that’s all the song does. Or to put it another way, “Don’t Stop” shoots its load far too quickly and ends up an awkward mess.
*Very Boring Clarification: I didn’t hear this on the radio, so I’m assuming the version played is the 3’06” “Townhouse Radio Edit” that was Track 1 on the UK CD and ended up on Now 30, which leaves off the call-and-response verses. There is also a full but clean version, which keeps the verses but switches “pussy” for “kisses”. And of course the original version, which I heard played out. I expect we’ll have more ambiguities like this as Popular picks its way through the CD single age. Meanwhile knowing the different version of Outhere Brothers hits is my cross to bear.