Sep 07


FT12 comments • 4,862 views

3. The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode

‘Ebeneezer Goode’ could theoretically have been about a man who was cheerful and who enjoyed the music of Vera Lynn…

I was eleven years old and even I knew it was entirely about drugs. So what? I was about as likely to drop an E as I was to grow another head. Never mind the fear of instant death (remember Leah Betts, kids!) or complete cluelessness of how to acquire such substances – the fear of getting into trouble was enough to put me off even smoking a cigarette until I was 18, let alone dabbling with illegal drugs. Just as with ‘Jump Around’, I loved the quickfire verses of ‘Ebeneezer Goode’ but had no idea what ‘veras’ were (something terrible, no doubt). I duly learnt the mystery words anyway and sang them in the playground to impress my mates, but in all honesty ‘Goode’ was never among my favourite rave tracks. The associated comedy legends* and constant wink/nudging made it difficult to appreciate at face value. Only when I finally got round to purchasing a copy of Boss Drum some years later could I disassociate The Shamen from our friend Mr Goode, and objectively consume the rest of their material, for better or worse.

The public outcry surrounding the song (banned from airplay, censored by the BBC, Daily Mail readers hunting down Mr C with burning torches etc) was obviously an overreaction to a simply structured catchy play-on words. Compared to the potentially riot-inciting clarion calls of ‘School’s Out’ or ‘Another Brick In The Wall’, I doubt ‘Ebeneezer Goode’ will have irreparably tainted many of the nation’s youth. In fact, this particular song makes drugs sound so uncool that it probably had an inoculative effect, ensuring any wayward teenagers who were possibly considering a future filled with reckless hedonism would stay firmly put in their bedrooms for the next ten years, strumming away on a £12 half-sized acoustic guitar from Argos. Scare-monger hacks and concerned parents alike should have been thanking The Shamen!

Watch the video to ‘Ebeneezer Goode’ on Youtube

*The most famous of which still deserves repetition: during their TOTP performance, Mr C changed the lyric ‘Anyone got any salmon?‘ to ‘Anyone got any underlay?‘ When accosted afterwards by furious BBC chaps, the singer explained that it was “a gratuitous rug reference”. Oh come on, it’s still funny.


  1. 1
    katstevens on 11 Sep 2007 #

    Tom – this is the only Popular cross-over entry! I’m sure you’ll have something different to say though :)

  2. 2
    Pete Baran on 11 Sep 2007 #

    And who knows, it could easily be in the top 50 songs of ALL TIME which we are about to get to.

    I wonder how noted misanthrope Jerry Sadowitz feels about this now.

  3. 3
    Tanya Headon on 11 Sep 2007 #

    My views on this subject.

  4. 4
    CarsmileSteve on 11 Sep 2007 #

    i once won a selection of Jack Daniels branded merchandise at a karaoke evening for my (almost word perfect) rendition of this. i still have the playing cards, and i probably still know all the words. i am not proud of this.

  5. 5
    Steve on 11 Sep 2007 #

    My Shamen intro was being wowed by ‘Make It Mine’ on some TV show – probably the Chart Show. When ‘Pro-Gen’ got re-released I bought the single and listened repeatedly writing down the lyrics. By the time ‘Ebeneezer Goode’ came around I was a bit older and less impressed but I liked that having jumped on the rave bandwagon to some extent Angus and C, effectively taking their cue from The KLF, actually had the brains to make it work and score such a success as this. They had pretty decent production knowhow as a pop-dance duo (and a palette distinct enough from their contemporaries) and C’s lyrics in this particular case had an entertaining level of wit alongside the ‘oi oi saveloy’ crafty geezerness – insufferable or embarassing as this may have ended up becoming by the end of that year. In recent years through absence I’ve become fond of it again and rather like the extended mix as an instrumental in it’s own right.

  6. 6
    Ken Shinn on 12 Sep 2007 #

    For some reason, I still have very fond memories of Jerry Sadowitz’s show-stealing antics as Ebeneezer in the video. The fast-motion dog-walking particularly sticks in my mind…

  7. 7
    Pete on 12 Sep 2007 #

    Yes, talking of the individual sound palette, the very clean “do do do” sound of their keyboards syncopated to the drums was very Shamen, plus a low in the mix dirty fuzz guitar.

    I always think of this as more Mr C’s record than the Shamen, which is probably incorrect, and probably not how he would like to be remembered. Still the money almost certainly paid for AKA, so in a lot of ways a very influence dance record!

  8. 8
    Kat on 12 Sep 2007 #

    Readers who don’t regularly skim through the clubbing flyer sections in Sister Ray may be interested to know that Mr C is alive, well and a prominent tech-house DJ playing regular gigs in/around London. Sometimes the flyers don’t even have ‘The Shamen’ in brackets after his name.

  9. 9
    sholten on 19 Nov 2007 #

    Does anybody know a name of this lovely blonde dancer from this video? ;)

  10. 10
    Steve on 20 Nov 2007 #

    i take it you’re not referring to Mr C

  11. 11
    kalkulator pko on 12 Oct 2010 #

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  12. 12
    Gareth Parker on 12 Jun 2021 #

    It always cheers me up this great single. Good fun in my opinion.

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