Nov 10


Popular110 comments • 8,767 views

#642, 3rd March 1990

Collage in pop is often an exercise in surprise – finding things which shouldn’t work together, but do. Throw too much into the mix and you can end up with a novel mess. But even then if you get the final element right it can salvage the whole creation. So let’s imagine the recipe here. Norman Cook is by this point already a well-known DJ with plenty of mix-and-match pedigree – he’s recently done some remixes of the Osmonds back catalogue, which the band are very wary of – and he’s got a B-Side called “Invasion Of The Estate Agents”, built round the skanking bassline from “Guns Of Brixton”, with snippets of Ennio Morricone and the occasional scratch. He throws in a kind of kazoo solo-ey thing for good measure.

It’s pretty good. It’s five or six years too early, to be honest – what Cook’s made, as he’ll often make, is a fine example of the goofball, beer-friendly dance music nobody in 1990 knows as “big beat”. Fun, lightweight, stuff. The track needs something else. So he puts vocals over the top – a singer called Lindy Layton singing an old SOS Band tune.

And it works. Oh how it works. The whole track flips over – now all the wacky bricolage stuff is supporting Layton’s stoic ache: the Morricone highlighting her weary hurt, the bassline strong but unforgiving. And Cook adds one last thing, a sample of a radio DJ – “Tank fly boss walk jam nitty gritty…”. The slick chatter frames Layton’s song, turning the track into a cartoon cityscape for her to wander through and giving “Dub Be Good To Me” the solid-gold earworm it needed.

And the latent cheekiness of the track – its lifts so flagrant, its components so random – gives it a warmth, a sense of reassurance that despite Layton’s desperation everything in Beats International’s world is going to be alright. So “Dub Be Good” ends up rather less polished or poised than some of its obvious models – Soul II Soul, for instance. Norman Cook has never made dark music – sadness in his pop is something the rest of the track is there to cure. Later on that will work against him, but for now it’s fine: there’s room for comfort in pop as well as intensity, and what’s also on offer here is the delight of seeing diverse elements alchemised into a confident, magnificent modern hit. Jam hot indeed.

(The kazoo bit is still ropey, but at this point who’s counting?)



  1. 1
    Tom on 2 Nov 2010 #

    A short scheduled break now – I’m off to Malta for a conference, then back next with with details of an exciting MULTIMEDIA POPULAR EXPERIMENT. Cor!

  2. 2
    Matthew H on 2 Nov 2010 #


    Actually, I’m a bit annoyed that you mention Invasion Of The Estate Agents. Everyone was mad impressed back then that I had a copy of For Spacious Lies – it was a right hip old secret – you had to find kudos where you could, I guess.

    There was much chatter that Lindy Layton starred in Press Gang, which confused a lot of people I knew, who were squinting to see if that really was Julia Sawalha on TOTP. Turned out Layton was “weeping girl” in one episode, or something.

    I’m just this second forming a theory that many who bought this didn’t remember/never knew the SOS Band original.

  3. 3
    Matt DC on 2 Nov 2010 #

    This is just an amazing record, the opening section was pretty much the first time I had ever heard anyone at school try and rap, the vocal line is heartbreaking. Not sure Norman Cook ever put his name to a record as good as this ever again.

  4. 4
    JLucas on 2 Nov 2010 #

    Oh yes this is very good indeed. You need only listen to this back to back with the recent Professor Green & Lily Allen cover to hear the difference between an intelligent, forward thinking cover version and a lazy, creatively bankrupt one recorded solely for the purposes of scoring an easy hit.

    I like Lily Allen a lot of the time, and God knows this isn’t the week to be taking potshots at her, but if you played the two covers to somebody with no knowledge of pop culture, I bet very few would identify Allen as the vocalist who was a huge star at the time, while Layton quickly vanished back into obscurity. Lily’s lacklustre rendition on the hook brings nothing new to the song whatsoever, wheras Layton’s vocal is a perfect approximation of teenage vulnerability with just a hint of petulance.

    To be fair to Allen, Layton has more to work with.

    As for Norman Cook, this is another stepping stone on one of the more bizarre roads to stardom ever taken by a chart regular. He must be due involvement in another out-of-the-leftfield #1 hit any day now, surely…

  5. 5
    punctum on 2 Nov 2010 #

    Of course the SOS Band original should have been a number one, rather than taking the best part of a year to sneak up to #13 (but then it does appear on The Hits Album/The Hits Tape, so I will get to write about it), but I’ve already described its time-beginning effect on me elsewhere and, among its many virtues, “Dub Be Good To Me” helps put history aright.

    As with Sinead’s “Nothing Compares,” we are again presented with a cover version which uncovers an entirely new perspective on the song. While MC Wildski’s enthusiastic variation on “The Boy From New York City” which begins the record, with an apposite background of street sounds, indicates some Daisy Age absurdist hip hop about to be made British, but the song then dovetails into what is essentially a bootleg, with the vocal melody of “Just Be Good To Me” superimposed on the rhythm track of “Guns Of Brixton.” The intermittent scratching noises sound less like an invitation to party than police sirens, or swift flicks of knives; the introduction of Harmonica Frank’s theme from Once Upon A Time In The West sets the record on a defiantly downbeat canvas.

    And just as the Clash original is imbued with its own guilty dread – revived with not-so-surprising brilliance three years ago by the Arcade Fire in a BBC2 broadcast, busking the song in the foyer of the Brixton Academy and making it sound not only direly relevant to the benighted, bullet-ridden SW2 of 2007 but also as old as the Corn Laws; in their hands, it becomes a thunderous, door-banging protest song such as the Chartists might have chanted 150 years previously (as well as providing a direct and palpable link to Paul Simonon’s work on The Good, The Bad And The Queen, a record whose power and imagination increase with every listen) – so does the “Guns Of Brixton” undertow turn the original Jam/Lewis song from a defiant fuck-me-anyway declaration into a hushed, covert guilt. Layton sings the notes with enough emotion and technique to make you believe her but doesn’t overdo the delivery; now she is clinging to the hope that her multiple-dealing sometime Other will find the mininum of time to devote to her, just so that she can keep breathing – the double meaning of “People are always telling me you’re a user” becomes more painfully palpable in this context. The song becomes a minor-key ballad of confusion, disorientation.

    Behind and around her Wildski continues to be the vital element of surreal; observe the moment of punctum on their TOTP performance came as he delivered his wordless, guttural chant mid-song, and when the backing track briefly dropped out, all the musicians crouched down together, as though avoiding bullets. But the overall mood is disconsolate and verging on desolate, a feeling amplified by Annie Whitehead’s mournful closing trombone solo that this is anything but “jam hot” – if anything, it provides a clear link back to “Ghost Town.”

    Though nominally colourful and playful, there is an undercarriage of dread to the cautious sunniness of “Dub Be Good To Me” which made it the starkly ideal number one record – it was its last day at number one – on the day of the poll tax riots. Our experiences there, and as written by me at the time, are also recorded elsewhere; yet it is difficult to forget emerging from Piccadilly Circus tube station into the blearily hot Sunday lunchtime sunshine and viewing the dazed wreckage all around us. Almost twenty years after Dammers got it right, the first of 1990’s two number ones made by lapsed Housemartins came along at its precise, scheduled moment – not just in terms of helping to make the charts interesting and exciting again, but also with regard to the broader canvas against which these beats did beat.

  6. 6
    Mark G on 2 Nov 2010 #

    It’s early enough to mention Bootmixes, so I would recommend the mix of “Let ’em in” Wings with the vocal off this (ref: GoHome Productions), and the result broadcasts the sadness and desperation that neither track has.

  7. 7
    punctum on 2 Nov 2010 #

    Please sort out post #5; there are only two links there. Thanks.

  8. 8
    Chelovek na lune on 2 Nov 2010 #

    @2 Oh yes, Freedom’s Just a Song by Wham, but we pretend… indeed.

    (Obviously, I owned a copy of “For Spacious Lies” too, but don’t recall anyone being impressed by that, alas. Though it was a fun bit of breezy pop, JUST about the right side of taking itself too seriously.)

    I’ll comment more later, but be warned that I will be most uncomplimentary about Lindy Layton.

  9. 9
    will on 2 Nov 2010 #

    Hmm, t’was a neat trick but I don’t think time has been so kind to Dub Be Good To Me. These days it just sounds lumbering and gauche compared to the still-sparkly SOS Band original.

    I’m not sure it’s true to say that Norman Cook has never made dark music either (didn’t the second Beats International album contain a fairly ropey cover of In The Ghetto?) He tried it, found he wasn’t good at it and wisely left that to others

  10. 10
    Matthew H on 2 Nov 2010 #

    #7 Sorry, yes, they were more impressed by the b-side.

    #8 The 12″ mix of In The Ghetto had a rather good Galliano-esque sparring rap at the start.

    If you can have “a rather good Galliano-esque sparring rap”.

  11. 11
    lord darlington on 2 Nov 2010 #

    This still sounds clean, fun, DIY and delightful. The SOS Band version was one of my favourite records of the 80s so Beats Intl had to tread lightly, and did. I’d say it was a pre-cursor to mash-ups/bootlegs rather than big beat, tho.

    Hats off to Norman’s Reigate dj buddy for coining the expression “this is jam hot”, jam having the propensity to hold more heat than any other substance known to man.

  12. 12
    Billy Smart on 2 Nov 2010 #

    Hm, well this is certainly fun – juggling all of the elements, keeping a groove going, throwing new things into the mix – I do concede. And it works especially well in the context of the album, ‘Let Them Eat Bingo’ – a real forgotten classic, like a great party, packed with enjoyable and imaginative pleasures.

    But I have a problem in deriving any deeper emotional engagement from the song or Lindy Layton’s vocal. This certainly isn’t the case in the devastating SOS Band original, a deeper and deeper groove of masochistic devotion that has an astonishing, almost breathtaking effect, particularly when extended to nine minutes. Nor does it have the integrated urban cityscape effect of ‘Guns of Brixton’ either, come to that.

    Sixth form reaction was grudgingly positive, I’d say, seeing ‘Dub Be Good To Me’ as a cartoony sort of thing holding questionable street credentials when placed alongside the likes of Soul 2 Soul, and therefore nothing to be embraced.

  13. 13
    Rory on 2 Nov 2010 #

    This was new to me when I checked out the video yesterday. I like it, but in the context of what was to come in the ’90s it doesn’t stand out for me — a 6, then.

  14. 14
    Billy Smart on 2 Nov 2010 #

    Number two watch. Two weeks for Various Artists’ ‘The Brits 1990’ an underwhelming megamix of recent dance hits not all that much superior to Jive Bunny, followed by the start of a three week reign for The B-52s chirpy ‘Love Shack’, a single that I only find enjoyable in theory (‘Roam’ was good though).

  15. 15
    Steve Mannion on 2 Nov 2010 #

    Cook, Layton and Lester adorned a particularly fine cover of Record Mirror at the time, posing with a Dalek – now officially a symbol of defunct evil technology (or just “Evil Michael Grade”), and consequently kitschier than ever before. Fitting enough.

    In that issue Cook talked of his concerns over the track’s massive success wrt how the Clash lads were taking it, and being afraid Paul Simonon was going to beat him up due to some predictable fuss over sample clearance and royalties. As a result I’m not sure Cook made much cash out of this in the end – maybe just enough for a couple of Hawaiian shirts as an investment that would really pay off…

    This wasn’t quite an instant hit with me (same is true with Back To Life tho) but quite a grower. The rap hook and inimitable “mmm”ing are surely more celebrated than anything else – Layton’s voice is fine but unremarkable on its own, relying on the sad ambience under it for strength. It’s probably one of the “saddest” tracks to be widely acknowledged as a ‘club anthem’ (tho there’s another one coming right up so maybe I’m overstating that aspect).

    These days I much prefer the brilliantly brasher SOS Band original, but this was a relatively interesting experiment orchestrated by a man who continued to seem like an affable chancer for much of the rest of the decade, despite demonstrating a real Midas touch for fun party music that owed pretty much everything to US music yet could only have been made and succeed here.

  16. 16
    Rory on 2 Nov 2010 #

    Wow, the SOS Band original is a totally different animal, isn’t it? Good stuff.

  17. 17
    Billy Smart on 2 Nov 2010 #

    TOTPWatch: Beats International performed ‘Dub Be Good’ to me on Top Of The Pops on four occasions (details of the Christmas show will be supplied at a later date);

    8 February 1990. Also in the studio that week were; Yell! and The Beloved. Gary Davies was the host.

    22 February 1990. Also in the studio that week were; Tina Turner, Chris Rea, Guru Josh, Adam Ant and Sinead O’Connor. Mark Goodier was the host.

    1 March 1990. Also in the studio that week were; Shakin’ Stevens, Jamie J Morgan, Electribe 101 and Michael Bolton. Jakki Brambles was the host.

  18. 18
    Steve Mannion on 2 Nov 2010 #

    I should add that it seems like Cook was making a big statement here, summarising the scope of his peers tastes. To love punk as much as soul (as ideas), essentially. He was quoted in Smash Hits as thrilled that “anyone can have a number 1 hit these days”. “Give ’em enough rope” I expect his critics duly responded.

  19. 19
    punctum on 2 Nov 2010 #


  20. 20
    Billy Smart on 2 Nov 2010 #

    Light Entertainment Watch: Just the one UK TV appearance is listed;

    WOGAN: with Ginger Rogers, Charlie Sheen, Amitabh Bachchan, Beats International (1991)

  21. 21
    punctum on 2 Nov 2010 #

    Oh, fuck this.

  22. 22
    Tom on 2 Nov 2010 #

    Sorry punctum – moderating by iPhone on a train here – should be sorted now tho

  23. 23
    Rory on 2 Nov 2010 #

    It was worth the wait. I might have to listen to The Good, the Bad and the Queen again.

  24. 24
    Alan Connor on 2 Nov 2010 #

    First instance known to me of the Addled typeface on a chart single. Prove me wrong!

  25. 25
    Lex on 2 Nov 2010 #

    I love this record – not sure when I first heard it, though I do remember being astonished when I learned that Beats International = Norman Cook; at the time I was only familiar with his Fatboy Slim work, and this seemed so different – so feminine and emotional. I actually had no idea until today that every element was taken from somewhere else, though!

  26. 26
    23 Daves on 2 Nov 2010 #

    I’ve probably spent more time than most people in my life wondering why exactly Lindy Layton didn’t have more of a career – and having chanced upon some of her other singles going cheap second hand recently, I think the answer I came to was that she didn’t manage to get much decent material handed to her after this.

    Ultimately though, she had a voice and a manner which was really accessible and easy to relate to, her vocals always drifting backwards and forwards between chipper and vulnerable. She had a hell of a lot of charm too, and felt like she should have been a major pop star of that time (oh, OK, I fancied her, so it’s possible that’s really skewing my critical judgement).

    “Dub Be Good To Me” is without question a really impressive single, but is sadly one which felt like the backdrop to most of 1990, and so I can’t help but feel that my over-familiarity with it doesn’t lead to me appreciating the work as much as I should do. Still, as said elsewhere, there are flashes of Cook’s later work already at play here, and it’s slightly surprising that he too drifted into the wilderness (relatively speaking) for a number of years after this as well. Although Freakpower won’t have helped…

  27. 27
    Billy Smart on 2 Nov 2010 #

    I remember Paul Heaton pointing out at the time that Lindy Layton was simultaneously appearing on northern televisions in an Army recruitment ad campaign, which provoked ill-feeling towards her.

  28. 28
    Lex on 2 Nov 2010 #

    I always assume that either hard behind-the-scenes graft or blind luck is necessary to turn vocalists on dance tracks into a pop star in their own right, such is the emphasis placed on producers – so many stellar singers have been lost over the years, living on only as anonymous (but also so not anonymous) voices on tracks like these (and lucky if, like Layton, they got a “featuring” credit).

  29. 29
    swanstep on 2 Nov 2010 #

    Like a lot of other people here, the SOS Band original was one of my fave records of the ’80s, just monumental. Interesting how in 1990, that record’s genius producers/writers, Jam and Lewis, *still* couldn’t buy a UK hit for Janet Jackson, whose Escapade was #1 in the US for three of the 4 weeks Dub Be good was at the top in the UK.

    Anyhow, Dub be Good was new to me when I ear-peeked ahead for Popular a few months ago…. and it was a pleasant surprise, for the reasons Tom outliness. It’s a lot harder to do collage well than it looks/sounds, and everything here does work wonderfully well….. with, for me, the slight exception of Layton’s vocal (not strong enough or characterful enough to be worth its slight pitchiness in my books).

    To be honest, tho’, this doesn’t sound quite like a #1 record to me. But it’s a useful sequel to Back to Like tonally and definitely must have felt like a useful solidification of, as it were, the new dance music culture’s hold on the charts if you were there at the time:

    p.s. Why was Thatcher so intent on the pushing through the Poll Tax? Why would she want to pick a seriously ‘nasty party’ kind of fight like that after so many years in power? Shouldn’t she have been cruising at that point/enjoying her status as co-winner of the Cold War, and the like?

  30. 30
    Billy Smart on 2 Nov 2010 #

    Re Thatcher at 29: Good question. I have a few theories;

    1. That all Prime Ministers should quit after the first five years. After that point their judgment goes, and they really start to believe that they are great statesmen of unique insight and infallible instinct – Thatcher, Blair – or they become exhausted and peevish – Wilson, Major.

    2. A fault that a lot of governments make when they start a term in office is to have a stubborn point of principle that they will not rescind a policy, which has an increasingly deleterious effect. Think of Wilson failing to devalue the pound, or Heath refusing to implement a statutory incomes policy. The Poll Tax is the most egregious example of this in recent years.

    3. Picking ‘nasty party’ fights was part of Thatcher’s make-up and approach – “People who drivel and drool about caring”, etc.

    Also remember that the recession was just about to kick in in earnest at that point.

  31. 31
    swanstep on 2 Nov 2010 #

    @Billy Smart, 30. Thanks for that. V. interesting.

  32. 32
    rosie on 2 Nov 2010 #

    swanstep @ 39

    p.s. Why was Thatcher so intent on the pushing through the Poll Tax? Why would she want to pick a seriously ‘nasty party’ kind of fight like that after so many years in power? Shouldn’t she have been cruising at that point enjoying her status as co-winner of the Cold War, and the like?

    Hubris, swan, hubris. By this time Thatcher thought she was invincible. Behind the scenes the whisky was taking its toll. And rumours of the late-night tantrums were rife on the media grapevine, to which I had a source by then. But Nemesis, in the wooly form of Geoffrey Howe, was not far away now. Just wait until we reach Thanksgiving Day 1990!

  33. 33
    Chelovek na lune on 2 Nov 2010 #

    Actually, having dug out some tunes, I’m feeling more charitable towards Lindy Layton than I was expecting to. I was going to criticise what I recalled as the lack of emotional range in her voice, and the way that she doesn’t seem to “own” the words that she sings here, or apparently or too evidently to be affected by the situation she is singing about.

    But (a) in a rather different style that latter point is kind of true of the SOS Band version too – although there is an arrogance and sense of the singer being in charge of her situation there that is lacking on this version (and in response to @2, well, I was 14 at the time, and had never knowingly heard the SOS Band version when this was released)

    and (b) a focal side-arm part of my attack fell apart when I listened to Layton’s version of “Silly Games”. I was going to really lay into her for making something – ordinary – out of something – extraordinary (which really is what Janet Kay’s original is, or becomes towards the end). But, while that is essentially still true (and the video is really very silly), it’s actually not so bad (and Janet Kay presumably approved, as she is in the background, or at any rate appreciated being momentarily returned to public vision after a long time well away from it), and, she really does have a more than adequately decent voice in a kind of nearly Lisa Stansfield way.

    Does it work on Dub Be Good To Me? More or less, I think it does. The production creates a great, deep, Massive Attack-style atmosphere that the singing more or less floats over – and which holds the tune more or less unaided. Even the odd hint of desperation is hinted at when it comes to the enunciation of the “we could be together….” part …Actually this all reminds me somewhat of Tricky circa “Overcome” (aka “Karmacoma”), so the notion that it is a few years ahead of its time seems to stand up. The mix-match and cut-up of all the different elements works to high effect, but not to the extent that they distract from or intrude upon the song.

    So, sorry, the anticipated evisceration of Lindy Layton’s singing skills has been cancelled. Apologies to those who were looking forward to such a thing. I had been thinking about making comments about the limited singing range of minor soap opera actors (and expressing thanks that neither Craig McLachlan nor Stefan Dennis had troubled us here). But, no, I am won over. Harsh thoughts over.

    Other than to say that her vocal style on the follow up (and, surprisingly, only other top 40 hit credited to Beats International) “Won’t Talk About It” which seems overly childish and playful (rather than vulnernable sensu stricto) still really annoys me, and really isn’t a patch on the rather high-pitched take on the track that Billy Bragg did and was released in Cook’s own name the previous summer.

    But all of that is slightly to one side: Dub Be Good To Me still sounds great.

  34. 34
    lonepilgrim on 2 Nov 2010 #

    I’ve always enjoyed this and it makes a satisfying mixture of its principal ingredients – balancing summery skank with urban dread.

    The GoB bassline has always struck me as being heavily ‘influenced’ by Augustus Pablo’s ‘Baby I love you so’ which Colourbox had covered in 1986 adding a more US soul style vocal and samples from ‘Escape from New York’ – including gunfire. The B-Side: “Looks Like We’re Shy One Horse” / “Shoot Out” features dialogue and Harmonica Frank’s theme from ‘Once upon a time in the West’ – suggesting that Norman Cook, like many artists wasn’t above stealing an idea or two.

  35. 35
    Billy Smart on 2 Nov 2010 #

    Re 35: What I always think when I hear Billy Bragg’s perfectly acceptable falsetto on ‘Won’t talk About It’ is “Why ON EARTH can’t you ALWAYS sing like that?”

  36. 36
    anto on 3 Nov 2010 #

    I appreciate this track for showing how it is possible to merge about 4 or 5 styles on one record and still come up with something cohesive.
    Appreciation is the best I can manage but I prefer it to any Fatboy Slim records which I just think of as sonic equivalents of Norman Cooks Hawaian shirts.
    For all Cooks ingenuity though I reckon Lindy Layton steals the show.
    Possibly the most artless vocal on a Popular entry since Althia and Donna and all the more appealling for that.

  37. 37
    Mark M on 3 Nov 2010 #

    Re 29: worth remembering/knowing that contrary to the retrospective impression of an instant masterplan*, the Thatcher experience was in some way quite gradual and piecemeal, not really hitting its stride until after The Strike. For instance, top rate tax was at 60 per cent for most of her time in office, and the big spike in inequality didn’t happen until the second half of the ’80s. Far from coasting at this point, things were accelerating: water was privatised in 1989, electricity in 1990…(And also, although the Poll Tax certainly wasn’t the answer, there was certainly an argument that local taxes needing reforming).

    *The current government is trying to do much, much more in a hurry

  38. 38
    wichita lineman on 3 Nov 2010 #

    Re 33/36: I’d say Lindy Layton sounds like a good karaoke singer, and that’s not meant as a slight. Artless is right. There’s no chance she’s going to reach the depths of the SOS Band singer’s optimistic but clearly but doomed rendition (“friends tell me I am crazy” – with those chords, Jesus, yes so doomed). So she comes over with a nod and a wink, a little like a proto Lily Allen, altogether more casual, and it works a treat.

    This is no easy victory – Undercover took the weight out of Baker Street around this time (I think, not consulting a book) and obv UB40 did it over and over with deadening effect (still more evidence to come on Popular, unfortunately). A bow, then, to Lord Quentin and Lady Lindy. An 8 from this seat, and a 9 for the SOS Band.

  39. 39
    Lex on 3 Nov 2010 #

    “Insouciant” is how I’d describe Lindy Layton’s vocal here, which is perfect for the song: the lyric is vulnerable, placing herself in a position where she’s exposing herself to potential, even likely, hurt; so her street-casual, insouciant approach comes off like a self-defence tactic (“I care…but in case you don’t, I’ll say it like I don’t”) that’s psychologically true and actually reinforces the impact of the words.

  40. 40
    Lex on 3 Nov 2010 #

    @29 – I find the fact that Janet Jackson won’t be showing up on Popular probably the most outrageous example of pop injustice in the past 30 years. How the hell has Janet Jackson – JANET EFFING JACKSON! – never had a British No 1? Massive fail on the UK public’s part, there.

  41. 41
    wichita lineman on 3 Nov 2010 #

    Has she had a number one as part of a mob-handed effort? I think We Are The World was just too early for her.

  42. 42
    MikeMCSG on 3 Nov 2010 #

    #37 Thatcher was delivering on a pledge to abolish domestic rates she’d made when first elected leader of the party. In her early years in power she’d always been steered away from it by more sensible members of the Cabinet but she’d gradually whittled them down (I suspect Ken Clarke let it through because he realised it would finish her). What she didn’t take into account was how many of her own supporters – people owning small terraced houses – would be adversely affected by the process.

    #32 Rosie, don’t give Geoffrey Howe all the credit. David Bellotti helped her on her way by winning the Eastborne by-election. Which is why I got a bit annoyed by those Brighton fans whingeing about him a few years later. Which brings us neatly back to Mr Cook.

    # 18 Steve, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there. That’s exactly what this record is , a statement of what was cool at the turn of the decade. I’m not very fond of any of its constituent parts but put together they made a very effective radio record.

    Wasn’t Lindy also in a spaghetti advert where her boyfriend catches her making silly faces to her little sister ?

  43. 43
    Lex on 3 Nov 2010 #

    Not according to Wikipedia (closest non-solo singles were “The Best Things In Life Are Free”, with Luther – No 2, and “Scream”, with Michael – No 3). By herself, “That’s The Way Love Goes” reached No 2; “What Have You Done For Me Lately?”, “Let’s Wait Awhile” and “All For You” reached No 3. Cf her TEN Billboard No 1s!

  44. 44
    MikeMCSG on 3 Nov 2010 #

    #40 Well right on the opposite side of the spectrum to you Lex, I find her long list of hits in the Guinness book profoundly depressing. She has no EFFING talent, a weak-voiced dancer lending her name and looks to the producers of the moment. How many of her hits can you sing along to ? That’s why she’s never got to the top.

  45. 45
    Lex on 3 Nov 2010 #

    I can sing along to pretty much every Janet hit I can think of offhand! And certainly you can dance along to most of them.

    I probably wouldn’t dispute “weak-voiced dancer” – certainly she’s no one’s idea of a virtuoso singer – but she’s always used her voice in compelling ways in terms of conveying a song’s emotion; and what she lacks in range, she makes up for with an incredible elasticity and sense of rhythm (a modern comparison is Ciara, who possesses much the same qualities and who happens to be my favourite pop star at the moment, so these are qualities that really appeal to me). Being better dancers than singers is actually crucial to getting both Ciara and Janet’s vocal strategies – the elasticity of their voices mirrors how they use their bodies.

    And then there are the themes Janet covered and the visual impact she made – I mean, who else could have given the world something like this performance?

  46. 46
    MikeMCSG on 3 Nov 2010 #

    #45 Maybe a generational thing Lex. A year or so back I was using youtube to acquaint myself with minor hits from 90-91 for pop quiz purposes and obviously there were a lot of rave tracks to wade through. The comments boxes were full of things like “Banging classic tune” and I could only think “What tune can they discern there ?”

  47. 47
    Matt DC on 3 Nov 2010 #

    Given that even Michael Jackson underperformed in terms of UK #1s it doesn’t surprise me that Janet failed to get there.

  48. 48
    swanstep on 3 Nov 2010 #

    @44, MikeMCSG. I sort of know what you’re getting at – something feels a little inorganic about Janet’s whole career. Still, Control and Rhythm Nation compare pretty favorably with Off the Wall and Thriller as state-o’-the-art, hit-packed beasts I reckon (although Rhythm Nation is scarred by inter-song chatter if you play it straight through). Indeed, I thought almost everyone gave it up for at least 4 or 5 tracks on each album – only, ha ha, everyone has a different 4 or 5 (that’s the way it worked with MJ’s key albums too, where almost every track could be and normally was a single at some point)!

    Anyhow, Come Back to me, Escapade and Love will never (do without you) were all fab sing-along-able tunes from 1990 Janet in my books (each w/ a truly fab. mega-$ vid, worth tracking down on youtube).

  49. 49
    Lex on 3 Nov 2010 #

    @48 I love ’80s Janet – Control and Rhythm Nation – as much as anyone, but it’s the darker ’90s Janet that really blows my mind, when she really pushed everything further outwards on janet. and The Velvet Rope. “If” is probably my favourite single of the ’90s, hands down (the break, holymotherofgod the break).

  50. 50
    swanstep on 3 Nov 2010 #

    @Lex, 49. Thanks for the suggestion – I don’t know later JJ well at all after her first three albums (not sure why that is to be honest). Also, a belated thanks for your long comment on Sinead the other day (really useful links).

  51. 51
    DietMondrian on 3 Nov 2010 #

    I was vaguely aware of the SOS Band’s original but had not really listened carefully before, so I gave the nine minute version a go on YouTube – good lord, what an enormous sound! Marvellous. The vocal is anonymous, though – it’s as though she’s just reading the words rather than meaning it (man). I much prefer Layton’s vocals – I believe her. (And perfectly described upthread as artless.)

  52. 52
    ciaran 10 on 3 Nov 2010 #

    Looking back at this I wouldnt say it was 5/6 years ahead of its time.it would have sounded dated in 1996.If anything it sounded like a late 80s afterthought.a de la soul rave style workout.

    Like most of the popular songs this year this almost screams 1990 at me.without being too cliched it is very much of its time and we have/will come across better records.

    A good pass away the time hit for sure but in no way is it a 9.7 from me

  53. 53
    MikeMCSG on 3 Nov 2010 #

    Thinking about it my sing along comment was a bit silly since if you like any artist enough to buy their records you’ll get familiar enough with the material to sing along whatever its melodic strength. What I meant to say was that none of Janet’s records have the melodic strength of say “Dancing Queen”; they usually seem rhythm-driven rather than tuneful.

  54. 54
    Lex on 3 Nov 2010 #

    Oh, I’d absolutely agree that Janet’s hooks are (mostly) rhythmic rather than melodic – but I don’t think rhythm is necessarily less catchy than melody, and certainly not inferior (esp in the context of their being club hits as well as radio hits). I’m probably more drawn to rhythmic hooks, tbh – obviously a strong melody is a strong melody, but it’s never been enough to really draw me toward songs like “Dancing Queen” (gimme Janet’s aesthetic and discography over Abba’s aaaaany day).

  55. 55
    swanstep on 3 Nov 2010 #

    Hmmm, her band doesn’t have anyone to play Jimmy Jam’s astounding trilling keyboard fills, but Mariah Carey live sings the hell out of a pretty straight cover of Just be good to me.

  56. 56
    MikeMCSG on 3 Nov 2010 #

    # 54 Yes of course. People who want different things from music will like different records and that’s great. I’m always a bit suspicious of people who like virtually everything.

    For me rhythm is important – I don’t want to listen to slow ballads all the time – but always secondary to “the tune”. I realise that for people who aren’t 6’4 and therefore less self-conscious on the dancefloor it might be the other way round.

    This is definitely a decade where the latter were in the ascendancy even if that wasn’t enough to get Janet to number one !

  57. 57
    pink champale on 3 Nov 2010 #

    as punctum and stevem nail, the lyrics to DBGTM are probably the most self-abasing we’ve had since ‘freedom’*, though like that (or ‘help!’, for that matter) the greatness of this as a record lies in the lightness with which that’s worn – lindy’s artless/insouciant vocals (inventing 00s girlpop?) and the downright bouncy backing. unlike punctum, i don’t much hear dread in the music itself, though probably because i’ve always heard ‘guns of brixton’ as celebratory (method) outlaw bragging rather than anything genuinely spooked.

    *i imagine aiden grimshaw is working up a SLOW and INTENSE and therefore SIGNIFICANT version for Saturday’s X Factor as we speak.

  58. 58
    Lex on 3 Nov 2010 #

    @55 amazing. Mimi actually manages to bring out the fundamental gangsta in the song – which acts as a precursor to a ryde-or-die anthem. I’m surprised that one great line “people always take about – reputation” hasn’t been sampled more extensively.

    @57 I do hope that Cher’s already having done this – v well too! – will prevent that horrific scenario.

  59. 59
    Erithian on 3 Nov 2010 #

    #57 – Too late, Cher Lloyd has already done a hilariously bad version of “Just Be Good To Me” complete with meaningless rap bit in the middle. (I see Lex got in first with this and we differ wildly in our verdicts.)

    Anyway, to happier things – this record. Superbly put together, every ingredient fits in beautifully even though you wonder about the mind that had the idea of throwing them all in. The harmonica theme alongside Guns of Brixton – madness, but it works. The vocal is mighty fine as well despite the faint praise upthread. Will #9 calls it lumbering and gauche, which actually put me in mind of an appearance by Fatboy Slim on a chat show (might have been with Frank Skinner) where he demonstrated his dancing style – wiggling his arms around while bending his knees in various directions. Lumbering and gauche, but an impossibly cool lumbering and gauche!

    Re the poll tax riot – anyone remember the BBC TV stand-up comedy show that was on at the time, broadcast either live or very shortly after recording? I can’t remember which comic it was who commented on the irony of doing subversive stand-up material on stage while there’s an ACTUAL BLOODY RIOT going on outside the theatre!

    Re #11 “Jam hot” and how jam holds heat – wasn’t it around this time that Pop Tarts were introduced into the UK? Subtle marketing ahoy…

  60. 60
    Steve Mannion on 3 Nov 2010 #

    Annoying pedantry watch: Wikipedia indicates that “The track also features the distinctive vocals of David John-Baptiste, more commonly known as DJ Deejay or just DJ. The opening and closing line “tank fly boss walk jam nitty gritty you’re listening to the boy from the big bad city, this is jam hot, this is jam hot” was from Johnny Dynell’s 1983 hit “Jam Hot” and became an instant classic and was repeated often, being used as the most common reference to the song.”

    Not sure if that means it was a straight sample of ‘Jam Hot’ or not but Wildski himself who iirc was British and sounded a lot more like Silver Bullet has no involvement on this particular BI track.

    As mentioned on the previous entry, ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ was covered atrociously by The Stereophonics for the NME/Warchild ‘1 Love’ compilation in 2002. The very next track on that comp is the Faithless & Dido cover of “Dub Be Good To Me”, which I doubt is worth hearing really tho probably better than Green & Allen’s take.

    I saw Layton in the late 90s, rocking peroxide blonde hair and specs, performing with Steve Proctor as Hardknox. She’d followed Norm into Big Beat – which he suggested with the excellent ‘Song For Lindy’, opener of his first LP as Fatboy Slim – tho Lindy’s voice is nowhere to be heard on it.

    An interview with her and Proctor in NME (or maybe MM) around that time included an anecdote about having their output mocked by someone else in the studio who turned out to be the Rebel MC (by that point recognised as a credible Jungle producer…but, as fun as his own pop singles were, still easy to counter-zing frankly).

  61. 61
    pink champale on 3 Nov 2010 #

    @58, 59 oops, she did, didn’t she! i actually saw it too, but had entirely forgotten the fact (in my defence I was round at someone’s house in the midst of lots of shouting children so it didn’t make that much of an impression). i’m not quite sure what to think of cher more generally. in the context of the x factor shows her slightly nutty ‘urban’ styles stands out a mile and seems pretty great, but i have a nagging feeling it would seem totally hokey if you came across it on channel AKA or whatever. (much as x factor’s token rawk singers are always AWFUL).

  62. 62
    Billy Smart on 3 Nov 2010 #

    Re 59. Yes, I remember it well! The comedian was Jeremy Hardy, live on BBC1’s ‘Paramount City’. Also in the studio that Saturday were; Arthur Smith, Dennis Leary, Monica Paper, Angie Clark, Curtis & Ishmael, Helen Lederer, The Christians and The Notting Hillbillies (1990)

  63. 63
    Lena on 3 Nov 2010 #

    I just want to second everything Lex has said about Janet; it is unfathomable to me that she hasn’t had a #1 here, songs like this veritable epic make me want to do the #2 US hits (it was merely #23 here)! (I realize it may have suffered from the everyone-has-the-album-already syndrome…)

  64. 64
    Steve Mannion on 3 Nov 2010 #

    All but one of Janet Jackson’s 31 top 40 hits peaked inside the top 25 which is a remarkable stat (at least before bloody Westlife show up) itself before you add the ‘no #1’ oddity – seemingly routine bad luck/timing, although like her brother she had a habit of releasing too many singles from each album.

    At this point it’s worth mentioning that ‘Dub Be Good To Me’ was effectively the first appearance by The Clash on a top ten hit. Carrot, anyone?

  65. 65
    Chelovek na lune on 3 Nov 2010 #

    I am mildly fond of some of Janet’s stuff, but still from this period I’d say that “Rhythm Nation” the song was surely just a militarized dance, and drum pattern, awaiting a tune or coherent composition, and “Miss You Much” wasn’t even that. “Escapade” and “Black Cat” were …uninteresting, “Come Back To Me” wasn’t a patch on “Let’s Wait Awhile” (excluding the duet with Luther, imo her best track, probably), and, well…they released far far far too many singles from that album…

  66. 66
    Steve Mannion on 3 Nov 2010 #

    What’s wrong with ‘Rhythm Nation’ being just a dance track? Sonically it has a lot in common with a forthcoming Popular entry which I’m sure was heavily inspired by J&L’s work with Janet.

  67. 67
    Lex on 3 Nov 2010 #

    @65 yes that’s why “Rhythm Nation” is great! And what a beat, so much going on in it – that amazing bass loop, the high synth pulse, the actual beats so insanely full of frenetic energy, the sax coming in towards the end the BREAKDOWN…and then on top of that you have this multitude of desperate, yearning, layered Janet voices, climaxing in that astonishing “SING IT FOR THE PEOPLE!” coda. It’s dance as political protest: you get the feeling that if Janet had organised a march on the White House, it would have been in the form of a fast, furious choreographed routine.

  68. 68
    Chelovek na lune on 3 Nov 2010 #

    @66 Nowt wrong with it (much right with it, even: it’s a fine dance track. But definitely one to dance to, rather than to listen to in any other context…)

    But…and for some reason Sandy Nelson’s “Drums Are My Beat” spring to mind …….I can’t help thinking that that the whole album represented in many ways the triumph of marketing (much of which, certainly involving Janet herself, was very slick and interesting and impressive), and of style and form over content or substance.

    (“Rhythm Nation” itself is by no means the most blatant example of that, and does at least have some memorable innovations of its own: I did think “Miss You Much” was a disappointing comeback single, though). Not having much of a tune in itself doesn’t necessarily detract from a decent single (e.g. “Never Let Me Down” by Depeche Mode, the vocal track of which wanders about on about 3 or 4 adjacent notes for most of the song), but I just felt there was something missing here. Too much time and money spent on the videos, not enough on writing tunes…. Just one really memorable, classic, single (yes, like “Thriller” from among the (was it 8 or 9?) that were released from the album surely would not be too much to ask?

  69. 69
    Steve Mannion on 3 Nov 2010 #

    One thing that might’ve improved ‘Rhythm Nation’ is Chuck D and the Flav dropping in halfway thru to try and (re)claim the sound but quickly giving up and joining forces.

  70. 70
    Kat but logged out innit on 3 Nov 2010 #

    #59 I don’t know if you know already but Cher’s rap was taken from the Professor Green/Lily Allen version – she’s a much stronger rapper than she is a singer and was playing to her strengths by incorporating something fresh in the minds of the voting public. And look at the bit of the song she actually used: “But as crooked as I am, I’ll be as good as I can, I’ll try and try, but we’ll settle that my angel face is a disguise for the devil inside“. That’s quite some statement for a 16 year old girl in the middle of a popularity contest who has had to deal with constantly being called a worthless anorexic meth addict in the national press. I don’t think that rap was meaningless at all.

  71. 71
    wichitalineman on 3 Nov 2010 #

    Re 68: The flaw in this argument, in Britain at least, is that Rhythm Nation sold really badly compared to Control; Black Cat at no.15 was the highest charting single. I’m inclined to agree with you, though, in that nothing on the album sticks. I’ve tried, I’ve tried, I love the packaging but I can’t even remember how Miss You Much goes though I’ve heard it plenty of times.

    Drums Are My Beat? In what way?

    Re 70: An old man writes… I’ve skipped X Factor until now but checking youtube, god yes, she’s a far better rapper than a singer. Clumsy but charismatic. Is she likely to win?

  72. 72
    Lex on 3 Nov 2010 #

    @71 Unlikely to win – I’ve no idea how large her fanbase is, but she has a substantial amount of haters (words that crop up a lot: “chav”, “pikey”, “arrogant”, “why’s she always got to fucking rap all the time”). Likely to go deep in the competition. Most likely to have an actual interesting career.

    (She’s only really hit her stride in the past two weeks in terms of singing.)

  73. 73
    wichitalineman on 3 Nov 2010 #

    Thanks Lex. That’s depressing. I’m really looking forward to the day when people think of the term “pikey” in the same way as “wop” or “the Paki shop”. It’s not acceptable in our house, and nor is “chav”.

  74. 74
    Alan Connor on 3 Nov 2010 #

    Go! Discs: At the time, I sometimes reflected that DBGTM was a Go! release and so came from the same space as the two Billys (Bragg and The Fish). Did that mean something more for yer indie-likers (of whom not me) – or did the Go! Beat imprint count against that imprimatur?

    Clash: I was 18 at this point and the Clash song I knew best might, no kidding, have been Cut The Crap. My chief resources were Radio 1, inkies, Smash Hits, briefly RM and the telly, none of which really communicated the band to me. I remember being told to eat my Clash greens in the ’90s, but not in the late ’80s. Maybe I missed the message – or was there a bit of a Clash doldrum until the bunnyable Levis ad?

  75. 75
    Billy Smart on 3 Nov 2010 #

    Not at all – 1988 was the first time that a Clash Greatest Hits had been released, the attendant rerelease of ‘I Fought The Law’ getting into the top 30, and The Clash attracting a lot of attention from journalists who had been around in the 1970s, part nostalgic and part soulsearching. Strummer even got on the cover of the NME again, posing with Roddy Frame, and gaving some silly interviews about football hooligans being working-class heroes.

    ‘The Story of The Clash’ has a baffling reverse-chronological tracklisting, a trick repeated by Take That on their first attempt at a Greatest Hits.

    On the strength of DBGTM, an inferior remix of ‘Guns of Brixton’, ‘Return To Brixton’, struggled to number 57 in the charts.

  76. 76
    DietMondrian on 3 Nov 2010 #

    A couple more reverse-chronological greatest hits:

    Sisters of Mercy: A Slight Case of Overbombing
    The Best of Roxy Music

    Any more?

  77. 77
    thefatgit on 3 Nov 2010 #

    Late to this one and most of the relevant stuff has been mentioned already.

    I like the way Norman Cook plays with sparseness and how he uses that sparseness to create texture. Quite special.

  78. 78
    flahr on 3 Nov 2010 #

    Inches by Les Savy Fav* is in reverse chronological order HA HA I SO INDIE

    “Dub Be Good To Me”, then: pretty great all told, as has been established in detail above. What’s the deal with the cover art? Is it representative of something or just a picture Cook liked?

    *a singles collection rather than a GH

  79. 79
    anto on 3 Nov 2010 #

    Re 76: Not really a greatest hits but the before-they-were-famous Pulp compilation Countdown starts with stuff like My Legendary Girlfriend where you can hear the hit-making sound sliding into place and then on the second side goes all the way back to the forgotten stuff from the eighties with a teenaged Jarvis Cocker sounding endearingly earnest strumming the love songs from the IT lp.

  80. 80
    Gavin Wright on 4 Nov 2010 #

    Re #76: Sonic Youth’s Screaming Fields Of Sonic Love compilation starts with tracks from Daydream Nation and works backwards – you can sort of see the rationale there, front-loading the album with the more accessible songs.

    As for Janet Jackson, I’m drawing a blank with most of these Rhythm Nation-era song titles (I probably haven’t heard any of them in well over a decade) but I recently listened to Control for the first time and recognised more songs than I expected to so maybe I should give it a go.

  81. 81
    lonepilgrim on 4 Nov 2010 #

    the Rickie Lee Jones ‘best of’: ‘Duchess of Coolsville’ features two discs of tracks in alphabetical order plus one disc of rarities. Perhaps the reasoning was that in these days of iTunes shuffle the order is no longer significant but even as a fan this seemed a perverse decision

  82. 82
    flahr on 4 Nov 2010 #

    actually entirely reasonable, it is scientifically provable that songs beginning with A,B,C,D and E or U,V,W,Y and Z are better than those beginning with mid-alphabet letters

    thus your compilation begins well, then gets worse in the middle when you’ve stopped listening anyway, then gets better at the end when you tune in again

    (i have just checked and my initial intuition that there are no good songs beginning with X proved to correct)

  83. 83
    lex on 4 Nov 2010 #

    DMX “X Gon Give It To Ya”, Ruff Sqwad “Xtra”, Mariah Carey “X-Girlfriend”, DJ Clock “Xavatha” and Greyman “XZero” would disagree with that assertion!

  84. 84
    El boludo on 4 Nov 2010 #

    Coincidentally, this song featured on the music round in this week’s University Challenge! The theme of the round was songs with Clash samples. It was surprising to me how many good ones there were as I’ve always found ’em a bit dull. Might have to reinvestigate (struggled to make it through London Calling, let alone Sandinista!)

  85. 85
    Mutley on 4 Nov 2010 #

    Re 82. Songs beginning with X. The ‘B’ side of “See You Later Alligator” sung by Bill Haley and His Comets (highest UK position number 7 in March ’56) is called “The Paper Boy (On Main Street U.S.A.)” and begins with “Extra, extra, read all about it” making it a double X.

  86. 86
    wichitalineman on 4 Nov 2010 #

    X Offender by Blondie is no slouch either.

    There are a couple of repetitive sample-able library tracks by Eddie Warner called Xylophagus and Xylo spleen – never in any danger of inclusion on Popular, but more fun than Xanadu.

  87. 87
    Steve Mannion on 4 Nov 2010 #

    worth mentioning ‘Xtal’ by Aphex Twin and the UR ‘X-101’ stuff too.

  88. 88
    justfanoe on 4 Nov 2010 #

    “X-Defect” by Bis

  89. 89
    El boludo on 4 Nov 2010 #

    “Xplosion” by Outkast? Also it won’t be everyone’s idea of a “good song” but “X” by Claro Intelecto is quite nice.

  90. 90
    flahr on 4 Nov 2010 #

    haha i knew by the time i got back i’d have a list of recommendations :) there is also “XXSex” by We’ve Got A Fuzzbox… [they made a ‘comeback’ this year with an, er, interesting cover of “Pop Muzik”].

    (my intensive research consisted of listening again to “XR2” by M.I.A. and “Xylophone Track” by The Magnetic Fields and confirming that neither was much cop)

    (whereas every song i have ever heard beginning with Z has been great)
    (well, except “Zebra” by The Magnetic Fields)

  91. 91
    swanstep on 4 Nov 2010 #

    I *adore* Zebra…. I mean, seriously, rhyming Louvre, manoeuver, and Hoovre as in ‘I must stay home and Hoovre up the gold dust’ in a song that’s written from the point of view of a ’20s (Hoover period) Gatsby-style decadent, whose Zebra’s called ‘Zelda’, and who at the end want’s another zebra….

    And as for your generalization about songs beginning with x, the Passage’s XOYO will see you outside.

  92. 92
    Billy Smart on 4 Nov 2010 #

    Xmas With Simon by The Fall is very good. And ‘X, Y & Zee’ by Pop Will Eat Itself is highly enjoyable…

  93. 93
    swanstep on 4 Nov 2010 #

    And, consulting the ipod, xl-30 by Shuggie Otis is xcellent. (As is xtal above – one of of aphex’s best)

    Didn’t cocteau twins have a song or two about xylem and phloem?

  94. 94
    flahr on 4 Nov 2010 #

    Right, quickly:

    “X Gon’ Give It To Ya” – ace, though i’d prefer it with half a minute taken off
    “Xtra” – “DOWN DOWN DOWN DOWN” but they miss an opportunity to rhyme with “Yoshi”; on other hand “cos I ain’t been gymin’ it” is awesome
    “X-Girlfriend” – not for me (wobbleboard?)
    “Xavatha” – pretty good
    “XZero” – the music is a bit too far back :(
    “X Offender” – fairly clearly learning-the-ropes stuff
    “Xylophagus” & “Xylo Spleen” – actually pretty groovy
    “Xtal” – beautiful
    X-101 – as far as I can tell an album rather than a song
    “X-defect” – better than pretty much any facet of its context suggests it should be
    “Xplosion” – good
    “X” – can’t find
    “XOYO” – could quibble but broadly in favour of
    “Xmas With Simon” – good
    “X, Y & Zee” – I prefer their, er, poppier stuff
    “XL-30” – ooh I like this one

    “Zebra” – suspect it is the rather bludgeoning accordion I object to rather than the lyrics (looking it up, my Official Initial Opinion was “this one seems good, but it actually isn’t”)
    (then again, I also h8ed “The Book of Love”)

  95. 95
    wichita lineman on 5 Nov 2010 #

    RIP Cola Boy, an undersung hero of what was once called ‘indie dance’. His fanzines were great, a necessarily smutty alternative to the Peter And Jane side of C86. Bye bye, old fruit.

  96. 96
    Steve Mannion on 5 Nov 2010 #

    HE IS COLA. Very sorry to hear this WL.

  97. 97
    Billy Smart on 27 Dec 2010 #

    MMWatch: Simon Reynolds, February 3 1990;

    “I really enjoyed Norman Cook’s ‘Blame It On The Bassline’, it was witty and nifty and funked like a mutha, and his reincarnation from jangle-pop drummer to dancefloor maestro is wonderfully bizarre. This is a triffic, deep dub version of the SOS Band’s fabulous ‘Just Be Good To Me’, the heartquake synths of the original replaced by sonar bleeps, ocean bed alarums, lugubrious horns and a lonesome, ‘Midnight Cowboy’ harmonica. Just fine.”

    Reynolds awarded single of the week to AC Marias’ (quite awesome) ‘One Of Our Girls Has Gone Missing’. Also reviewed that week;

    The Beloved – Hello
    The Cramps – Bikini Girls With Machine Guns
    Bob Dylan – Political World
    The Wedding Present – Brassneck
    Depeche Mode – Enjoy The Silence
    Fatima mansions – Only Losers Take The Bus
    Faith No More – Epic

  98. 98
    Kinitawowi on 10 Feb 2013 #

    #84: suddenly curious as to what the other two were. Train In Vain -> Stupid Girl by Garbage, probably, and…?

    Christina Aguilera’s Christmas album has a track called Xtina’s Xmas. Yeah.

  99. 99
    rabbitfun on 11 Feb 2013 #

    #98: Rock the Casbah -> Will 2K by Will Smith, possibly

  100. 100
    Steve Mannion on 11 Feb 2013 #

    Straight To Hell -> MIA’s Paper Planes, very probably.

  101. 101
    Kinitawowi on 12 Feb 2013 #

    Just looked it up on dat Youtube, and yeah, that’s all four. MIA first, then Beats International, Garbage and Will Smith as the bonuses, definitely.

  102. 102
    mapman132 on 9 Aug 2014 #

    Last (for now) in my unlikely series of Songs First Heard on Transatlantic Aircraft….

    After having a mostly good time on my exchange trip to England in the summer of 1989, I managed to finagle another exchange trip in the summer of 1990, this time to Germany. Without going into details here, the Germany trip was unfortunately a total disaster for me personally. On the flight home I pretty much sat by myself, even refusing meals, doing nothing but listening to the plane’s looping current hits channel over and over and over again. Most of the songs were already familiar to me from being hits in the US, but one that wasn’t was “Dub Be Good To Me”. Even though it would be years before I heard it again it definitely made an impression on me. The odd nonsensical rap got my attention first and the haunting vocals kept it. I remember the channel DJ referred to it as a song that “sounded very old, but was brand new”. I couldn’t figure out what sounded “old” about it, or even if I agreed with the assessment, but it certainly sounded strange and interesting and I began to look forward to it every time the channel looped back.

    I assumed it was never released in the US, never hearing it on the radio here, but I was wrong: #76 on the Hot 100 according to Wikipedia. Too bad I pretty much stuck to Top 40 at the time. Anyhow, finally purchased it for my phone last night. Should be a good listen on my planned overseas flight in October – hopefully a better trip than the one 24 years ago.

  103. 103
    Lazarus on 9 Aug 2014 #

    #76 and others – the Genesis triple-CD ‘Platinum Collection.’

    I tend to play disc two, mostly.

    And I still like ‘Xanadu.’

  104. 104
    Mark G on 9 Aug 2014 #

    #76 and others, I knew I knew one, and I was right..

    Countdown (1992-1983) – Pulp

  105. 105
    Ed on 11 Aug 2014 #

    @103 Is that Xanadu: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7m1UWSD-FaA

    or Xanadu: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEuOoMprDqg ?

  106. 106
    Lazarus on 11 Aug 2014 #

    I meant the much-decried ONJ/ELO combo. The other is a band that’s rather passed me by, though I’m listening to that track now. Are they rock or prog? About the only one of theirs I knew was ‘Spirit of Radio’ which I suspect is no guide to their output.

  107. 107
    Andrew Farrell on 26 Aug 2014 #

    They are the definition of prog, for the record.

  108. 108
    Ed on 27 Aug 2014 #

    @107 That’s true, although they are definitely Rock as well.

    They have been through many phases in their career, from Led Zep wannabes on the first album to prog-metal in the 70s to Police-inflected AOR in the early 80s (the ‘Spirit of Radio’ phase) to synth-pomp and then back to metal with Grunge shadings. It doesn’t get any more Progressive than that, I guess.

  109. 109
    hectorthebat on 13 Mar 2015 #

    Critic watch:

    1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010) 1-1001
    Melody Maker (UK) – Singles of the Year 11
    Rock de Lux (Spain) – Songs of the Year 33

  110. 110
    Gareth Parker on 10 May 2021 #

    Doesn’t quite work for me, so I don’t like this as much as Tom. I would go with 6/10 here.

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