Feb 14

LL COOL J – “Ain’t Nobody”

Popular49 comments • 6,406 views

#759, 8th February 1997

Aint_Nobody A chart where singles sales are front-loaded to the first week is a chart that rewards fanbases, which is nothing to be worried about. Except the conveyor belt system keeps working even when there’s no fanbase hits to fill it. We’re now at a point where something is likely to go straight in at Number One whenever a previous record loses its grip – it doesn’t have to be hugely anticipated, it just has to be sitting there, discounted, in the new release racks.

The record labels aren’t quite as good at playing this game yet as they will be. For instance, it’s pretty obvious nobody else realised Blur was going to come back with a record like “Beetlebum”, because the biggest new entries in what would have been its second week are this and The Orb’s “Toxygene”. So “Ain’t Nobody” gets to the top because of lucky timing, and because it’s a cover of a reasonably well-liked song from a reasonably well-attended movie by a reasonably well-known act.

Ladies Love Cool James (for it is he) will always have a higher critical profile for his 80s work, but Britain came late to hip-hop, and the teenage tunnel-vision brutalism of the early Rick Rubin singles – “Radio” or “I’m Bad” – never found a mass audience here. Nor did the glorious “Mama Said Knock You Out”. He was better-liked by Brits for the loverman hip-hop he pioneered – the saucer-eyed hypersincerity of “I Feel Love” shaped UK expectations of him, and here he is, with a romantic rap for Valentine’s Day (a glance at the sleeve suggests this was not an angle marketers pursued).

“Ain’t Nobody” fit LL Cool J’s brand well enough, but it’s nowhere near his strongest record. In fact it feels lazy, in execution and concept. LL’s raps are a wave of the hand towards a general notion of seduction – “passionate interludes and such” – marking time before the song gets to the chorus, as if he knows as well as we do it’s the strongest part of the record. And it is – it carries the entire track – but the satisfied delight of “Ain’t Nobody” is undermined when it feels so unearned. LL is never skeevy, just bland – he only sounds awake in the closing ad libs, offering hokey advice and sex tips.

The song also has nothing at all to do with the film it’s tied to. This, as much as getting a good LL Cool J track to Number One, feels like a missed opportunity. If there was ever a show to justify a “Living Doll” style novelty record – or at least a novelty video – it’s Beavis And Butthead. It would have been extremely hard to get right – to move the pair’s toxic, hilarious a-cultural impulses into a song rather than leaving them impotently outside it – but the attempt would have been more interesting than this.



  1. 1
    Kat but logged out innit on 9 Feb 2014 #

    I bought ‘Love Rollercoaster’ instead. Backed w/ Englebert Humperdinck’s ‘Lesbian Seagull’! What a tune.

  2. 2
    Tom on 9 Feb 2014 #

    As soon as this went up on Twitter it was pointed out that the track I’m describing in the last para of course exists! Cher, Beavis & Butthead – “I Got You Babe”. I will listen to it and see how well it pulls it off.

  3. 3
    jg on 9 Feb 2014 #

    not quite a “Living Doll” style novelty record” but there was that version of I Got You Babe with Cher from a B&B compilation in 1993. Charted at 35 according to wikipedia (but was a top10-hit in the Netherlands).

    I don’t remember this tune at all…

  4. 4
    Doctor Casino on 9 Feb 2014 #

    Yeah, this … isn’t great. Would glide by okay in the midst of an album, a soundtrack, or greatest hits, and LL has enough personality that it’s not exactly generic (love the delivery of “erogenous zones”). But boy, would I rather be discussing “Doin’ It” or “Loungin’,” huge hits from the previous year that do his confident loverman thing much better. Interestingly, while those both did better in the US, they did decently in the UK – #15 and #7 respectively – whereas “Ain’t Nobody” did not make the US top 40 (though it made #4 on the rap chart)! Off the same soundtrack, “Love Rollercoaster” got a lot of MTV play but didn’t move much on the charts either. Perhaps Beavis and Butthead were more potent movers and shakers in Britain by this date? I remember feeling like the movie had come out a little too late to really capitalize on their momentum. What was transgressive and fresh when you’re 13/14 can seem totally old hat at 15/16.

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    Kat but logged out innit on 9 Feb 2014 #

    I nearly did myself a mischief laughing at this in the cinema (aged 15), but I’d barely seen any of the TV show as I only ever got to watch MTV at my mate Shim’s house, so perhaps I was still ‘fresh’ to it? I can’t remember when they started showing it on Channel 4 but IIRC they cut out a load of the video-crit bits due to licensing beef. I saw TONS of episodes of Daria when that got syndicated on Five though. Daria was basically amazing in all respects except for Actual Daria herself who was sulky and rubbish.

  6. 6
    mapman132 on 9 Feb 2014 #

    It was already mentioned above that this missed the US Top 40 (#46 to be exact). I wasn’t a B&B fan and don’t remember if this got much airplay or not since it’s easily mixed up with the original recording in my mind, minus the rap of course. LL Cool J has never had a solo #1 in the US, although he did get a credit on JLo’s #1 (UK #2) “All I Have” in 2002. 4/10 sounds fine to me.

  7. 7
    Chelovek na lune on 9 Feb 2014 #

    Verging on the pointless rather than the dreadful. I’d completely forgotten about this; probably the most annoying aspect is that the singing in the chorus is not up to Chaka Khan’s grade . An odd interruption into Popular in so many ways (still: even odder to note is that LL Cool J’s biggest chart hits as main artist were not until 2005 and 2006) – quite some longevity of career there. Still, I would stick to “Around The Way Girl”. 4

  8. 8
    weej on 9 Feb 2014 #

    The song with Cher is pretty bad, by which I mean “not that funny” as that’s the only way to judge it really – (slightly) better is “Come To Butthead”. My housemates at university had the albums (there were two), that’s my excuse.

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    lonepilgrim on 9 Feb 2014 #

    bland blah redeemed by the original ‘Ain’t nobody’ melody – I liked LL Cool J enough to buy a single by him in the late 80s but this passed me by. I now associate him more with his role in NCIS: Los Angeles

  10. 10
    swanstep on 9 Feb 2014 #

    It’s alright – lots of LL mini-hooks here over the top of the sturdy Chaka frame with the best of them being ‘You can take it girl; stop running uh (Say What?).’ (The ‘Say What?’ reminds me of Peaches a little – would love for it to have been pushed further in that direction.) I certainly prefer this to the Chili Pepper’s clunky (Dave Navarro *really* not working out), utterly redundant ‘Love Rollercoaster’ cover which is all I remember getting airplay from the soundtrack in the US. Not quite as good as the other Popular ‘Ain’t No’ track of the ’90s in my books, but this is still for me a:

  11. 11
    thefatgit on 9 Feb 2014 #

    I suppose if one of Rap’s elder statesmen is going to get a UK #1 it would have to be LL Cool J, but “Ain’t Nobody”, for all its commercial sheen is meagre fare, compared to “Phenomenon” with its killer hook and “White Lines” lift from late ’97 or the scorching “” with DMX, Redman, Method Man and Canibus from the “Phenomenon” album. And his earlier stuff, “I’m Bad” and “Rock The Bells” were essential cuts alongside Run DMC and Public Enemy’s output from over 10 years earlier. He deserves recognition on Popular for a long and varied career, as well as being one of Rap’s enablers. It’s just a shame that the only positive thing I’m hearing on “Ain’t Nobody” is that borrowed bassline. Otherwise, there’s nothing vital or exciting. Did Alphonse Ribiero cameo on the video? ISTR it’s a Hip Hop comes to Center Parcs type thing.

    I don’t recall seeing the Beavis & Butthead movie, but I do recall “Love Rollercoaster”, on heavy repeat on MTV.

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    Tom on 9 Feb 2014 #

    My impressions of the B&B film are based on one viewing in the cinema at the time with my (now) wife – we both were way more entertained than we expected to be, and I have only vague but happy recollections of it. In fact I think it created a positive opinion of B&B which we never really had in their heyday. My feeling at the time was the film did the only thing it really could do – i.e. humanise the protagonists to some tiny extent – but having taken that step, it was obviously the end of the road. The incursion of such concepts as “plot” into the world of Beavis and Butthead basically breaks it.

    By the time this got to number one, King Of The Hill had premiered in the US – unfortunately, I can’t even find the most tenuous connection to any #1s for my favourite of the entire post-Simpsons animation-comedies wave.

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    Tom on 9 Feb 2014 #

    And re. LL – a few months before this his greatest hits compilation, All World, had come out – hip-hop artists were starting to get hits compilations (KRS-One had a good one out too) which were invaluable primers for mainstream UK audiences in a pre-Internet world. I remember All World as being particularly solid, once you got over the track-by-track flips between his tough guy and loverman personae. Wikipedia says this is on it as a bonus track – I don’t remember if that’s a later thing, it didn’t make it to my C60 anyhow. Everything on it, even “Big Ole Butt”, is better than this, and as Thefatgit points out there was good stuff to come (tho I can’t remember any of his post “Luv U Better” hits)

    A good distinction between a legit fanbase No.1 and a flotsam-and-jetsam hit like this might be “Can you imagine this being a fan of the act’s favourite song?”. “Beetlebum” passes. “Ain’t Nobody” surely doesn’t.

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    anto on 9 Feb 2014 #

    As with Tori Amos this one was a double-take on the Daily Express weekly ‘pop page’ – A well-known artist, but not exactly a regular visitor to the top 5 and even within rap kinda old hat by 1997, surely? I don’t remember hearing this at the time and any lasting impression has been minimal.

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    Doctor Casino on 9 Feb 2014 #

    Actually, now that I think about this some more, it’s interesting… “Doin’ It” and “Loungin'” had a similar impact on me in 1996 as B&B did in 1994 – they seemed “adult,” and like something I didn’t want my parents to catch me watching. “Doin’ It” in particular is this wonderful marriage of a smooth groove, sharp delivery, and sort of creepy, unquestionably erotic video that together imply more raunch than can actually be found in the lyrics. Boy, would that have made a fine #1, though I have to admit it would be deflated considerably were the video interrupted by cartoon antics and a spliced-in “Huh-huh.”

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    Doctor Casino on 9 Feb 2014 #

    Agreed, by the way, that All World is an excellent compilation – hardly a bad cut on it, and manages to hang together despite the diversity of material. The somewhat ‘monumental’ presentation, with LL’s intense stare looming out of the cover, may have something to do with that, in a way. Certainly better-packaged than most greatest hits records of that era. Not sure about the UK version with this song added – the original release date was November 1996, and “Ain’t Nobody” saw its single release the same month. Maybe they were just thinking ahead, or figuring that even if the song flopped it would still be fine as “bonus” material to the hits record…

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    Ed on 9 Feb 2014 #

    The best live show I have ever seen was LL Cool J supported by Eric B and Rakim and Public Enemy, at the Hammersmith Odeon in November 1987. He was not yet 20; I was a couple of years older, and my friends and I were probably the oldest people in the audience. The crowd was absolutely volcanic – it’s the noise you hear at the beginning of ‘It Takes a Nation of Millions’ – and I am sure the closest I will ever come to Beatlemania or ‘Rock Around the Clock’.

    Even then, it was clear they were a mismatched package: Public Enemy were militants, Eric B and Rakim were artists, and LL Cool J was an entertainer. For now, hip-hop was still young enough for its borders to be fluid, and the three of them could share an audience. ‘I Need Love’, which got to number 8 that year, had provoked some accusations of selling out – it was Britain’s first romantic rap hit, I think – and it was already clear in which direction LL’s career was heading. (Its success was also responsible for much of the crowd’s excitement, of course.)

    ‘I Need Love’ is a much better record than ‘Ain’t Nobody’, though: fresh and inventive rather than old and tired. LL was still not yet 30 when AN came out, but it felt like he’d been around for a very long time.

    I wouldn’t begrudge him any of his success. Thanks largely to NCIS, I suppose, he is a now a luminary of the American pop establishment, hosting the Grammys for the past two years. But it’s impossible for me to see his career as anything other than a decades-long decline from that one perfect moment in Hammersmith.

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    AMZ1981 on 9 Feb 2014 #

    I disliked this with a passion at the time and I’m still prejudiced against it now for several reasons. Something about the song Aint Nobody irritates me and I can’t understand why something so dreary is such a popular choice for a cover (Diana King’s version wasn’t that old at the time). Also I’ve never liked Beavis and Butthead – but that’s just my personal taste.

    For me this record felt like the next stage in the devaluation of the number one slot. It was the fourth new number one in as many weeks but Tori Amos was at least a climber, Blur (and the act who follow) were one of the biggest bands around and White Town could be treated as a special case. Obviously seventeen years I do appreciate that changes in marketing were changing the way we listened to and bought music but to my chart obsessed sixteen year old self seeing stuff like this enter at number one and plummet the next week just felt wrong.

    Now I’ve finished ranting, it’s worth noting that this week saw No Mercy rise to number two with Where Do You Go, a song which outsold all of the five one week wonders that opened 1997.

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    taDOW on 9 Feb 2014 #

    yeah ll by this point wasn’t quite put out to pasture, he was still a legit enough figure that an up and comer like canibus could seek to establish himself by calling him out and ppl could hope said calling out might inspire him to be the rapper he was before we knew what he looked like w/o a hat on (and he approached this kinda w/ ‘4,3,2,1’). the eye of the tiger though was gone and he was effectively already the ll of ncis:la, the ll of ‘going back to cali’ was gone. it’s interesting you can mark this w/ ‘ain’t nobody’ – the original had very very prominent placement in breakin’, part of a wave of mainstream hollywood cash-ins of early hip-hop culture (alongside beat street, krush groove, and of course the quickly generated sequel breakin’ 2: electric boogaloo) . the movie is generally awful (george michael and moz otm about that at least) but it does manage to capture some elements of the first old school at the moment it was becoming old school and yielding to the new school, something that if you wanted to attach a specific event to mark it a very strong candidate might be the release of the first def jam single – ‘i need a beat’ – which was also the debut single of one ll cool j. 5.

  20. 20
    Another Pete on 9 Feb 2014 #

    I always assumed this got to number 1 because the track was inescapably huge in the US but #6 suggests otherwise. Even at the time I found the release date for this odd, as Beavis and Butthead do America got it’s UK release in late May, RHCP’s Love Rollercoaster was released shortly after as you’d expect with a film tie-in. It’s hard to argue they’ve missed a trick here because here we are discussing it. But I’d of thought to follow up a top ten hit (Loungin’, Oct 96) in a country where your success has been limited (especially with a greatest hits package out) you re-release something from that, or is that something the hip-hop world just doesn’t do. Then follow it up with this when the film comes out.

  21. 21
    Query on 9 Feb 2014 #

    The fantastically visceral “Mama Said Knock You Out”, and of course “Doin’ It”, are both great LL Cool J singles, but this one ain’t, its only redeemable quality being the great sample from the Rufus & Chaka Khan version. The latter only made it to #8 in the UK charts, but would probably have earned a 7 or 8 from me, partly for Chaka Khan’s vocal delivery, glaringly absent from LL’s remix. Obvious credit to Rufus’s Hawk Wolinski for the great synth work.

    Still, it’s interesting how this kind of lush mid-1990s hip hop production – also visible the year prior “Doin’ It” and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s US #1 “Tha Crossroads” – prefigures the recent turn towards reverb-heavy “cloud rap” that many would have you believe is wholly original.

  22. 22
    Steve Mannion on 9 Feb 2014 #

    If you’ve not seen it I recommend this clip in which Marley Marl talks about the making of ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2bhfL342nY

    I liked ‘Loungin’ (can’t believe it was only his second top 10 hit) but this was a disappointing follow up. I don’t think I knew it was from the B&B movie so was bemused by its success at the time even with a new #1 almost every week.

  23. 23
    Garry on 10 Feb 2014 #

    Wait – what? Toxygene for to number #4? I’m frankly amazed because while it’s parent album isn’t as blah as some of the subsequent Orb releases, I thought this was when a certain Orb-by-numbers started creeping in – at least compared to the wonderfully chaotic Orbus Terrarum album.

    Being in Australia I never had a clue of where the Orb sat in the musical conscience of their home. I’m pleased they got another burst of recognition.

    As for LL – I’ll have to go and hear it again. I can’t remember a thing about it.

  24. 24
    Tom on 10 Feb 2014 #

    My sense with “Toxygene” was the same: it was the first time they’d consciously tried to make “an Orb record” rather than just going where they would. It wasn’t their crassest record – that would be the terrible single mixes of “Perpetual Dawn” with the bodyform ad vocals ruining one of their most charming tracks – and it was pretty enjoyable, but very much a band who’d run out of ideas. I haven’t kept up with them since.

  25. 25
    Billy Hicks on 10 Feb 2014 #

    Always found it unusual that both The Orb and Orbital had their two biggest hits within weeks of each other, both in early 1997. Neither their most remembered though and both simply taking advantage of the low January-February single sales.

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    Fivelongdays on 10 Feb 2014 #

    ‘it just has to be sitting there, discounted, in the new release racks’

    Uhhuhuhhuhhuhhuhhuhhuhhuh…you said ‘racks’

  27. 27
    Fivelongdays on 10 Feb 2014 #


    This is a perfectly perfunctory version of a decent enough song, and because it’s not quite my thing, I’ll give it four. I can’t help but think that, were I a fan of hip-hop, it might have got an extra point or two on the grounds of “blimey! It’s LL Cool J at Number One!”

    Beavis and Butthead, though…ahhh, for any provincial teenager who liked Rock music in the fallow years between Cobain’s suicide and something kinda bunnyable, they were great. I rather liked the ‘plot’ bits of their shows, but it’s the videos that stand out.

    The one’s I remember best were:

    “Creep” by Radiohead (If you didn’t have the part that sucked, you wouldn’t have the cool bit)

    “Mouth For War” by Pantera (The only thing cooler than bands who get chicks are bands that scare chicks).

    “November Spawned a Monster” by Morrissey (Quit whining, you wuss).

    Some unknown country track (Country music’s cool when it’s about drinking whiskey and kicking ass).

    I loved the film, saw it with a couple of mates in the cinema when it came out. Contrary to the metalhead/rocker stereotype (which we kinda knew B&B perpetuated but we didn’t care), the 15-year-olds turned into an engineer, a reporter (albeit casual) for a national newspaper and a Cambridge graduate who does something that no one really understands, but makes him a shedload.

    Only slightly odd thing about this as the soundtrack’s lead off single – B&B liked rap, but they would’ve possibly turned it over in favour of something more rocking.

    @25 – If Satan had placed a couple of places higher, then the ‘Dance Music Doesn’t Have To Be Shit’ Trilogy of ’96 would’ve been the ‘Dance Music Doesn’t Have To Be Shit’ Quadrilogy (is that the right word?) of ’96/’97…but then (I think) we wouldn’t have ever had Your Woman at number one…and that one meant something.

  28. 28
    Steve Mannion on 10 Feb 2014 #

    Loved ‘Toxygene’ and how high it charted (and the ‘Orblivion’ album – not exactly new from them but I was a bit older and could appreciate their ambient stuff more at that point). Nice comfy chairs in the TOTP performance of it too. Minor claim to fame in that Alex Paterson included my mash-up of it with Eminem’s ‘Without Me’ in his DJ sets a few years later.

  29. 29
    punctum on 10 Feb 2014 #

    You would have thought that the obvious big hit single from the soundtrack of Beavis And Butthead Do America would have been the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Love Rollercoaster” with its seemingly irresistible B-side of Engelbert Humperdinck’s “Lesbian Seagull,” but while that did well enough, the now nearly forgotten biggest hit from the film turned out to be L.L.’s equivalent of “My Ding-A-Ling.” Just as the Light Programme of the fifties avoided Chuck Berry like the plague, and the Ohio Players’ original “Love Rollercoaster” – an American number one – flopped completely in a Britain more intent on sending drivel like “Barbados” and “Combine Harvester” to the top, so “Rock The Bells,” a literal beginning of time and perhaps the loudest such in pop since “Maybelline,” was ignored by most of our radio stations and nearly all of the music press. The first two L.L. Cool J. albums – Radio (1985) and Bigger And Deffer (1987) – remain touchstones for nearly all of the hip hop that followed and still sound raw and revolutionary today. Thereafter he became rap’s Van Morrison, issuing endless streams of largely indifferent records out of which you could make a highly listenable seventy-minute CD, though Mama Said Knock You Out (1990), 14 Shots To The Dome (1993) and 10 (2002) all have their moments of iridescent brilliance.

    “Ain’t Nobody” was his flat take on the old Rufus standard and inaugurated one of the more regrettable trends of Popular 1997; eighties karaoke rap, familiar hits with inoffensive but urgent-sounding platitudes hollered in a rush to reassure a slowly ageing audience scared by those new-fangled Wu-Tang fellows (yet another imbalance which TPL will put right). Remarks such as “throw your butterscotch body beneath the red light” indicate that I will never be the right kind of listener for this sort of thing, no matter how proudly L.L. cites “When Doves Cry” or The Road Less Travelled; the number one-ensuring hook of “You can take it girl, stop runnin’, uh” inspires many adjectives in my mind, none of which is “forgivable.” When he belches out the line “I’ll give you a full plunge, uhhhhhhh,” I have sudden visions of Robin Askwith in Confessions Of A Plumber (and if there is no such film, then there oughtn’t to have been one). The closing “I Feel For You” parody is akin to rubbing sulphuric acid into the wound. At least “My Ding-A-Ling” was both good humoured and funny. Business as usual with Popular 1997, then; when the number ones are good, they are very good indeed – but when they are bad, they are truly diabolical. I had to listen to “Go Cut Creator Go” six times in a row afterwards to cleanse my soul, and learn about dignity, and, um, stuff.

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    Alan not logged in on 10 Feb 2014 #

    blimey, I do NOT remember Satan doing so well in the chart. (UK #3!) odd. perhaps I was way later coming round to Orbital than I now tell myself I was – or just off them (and majorly on Underworld). Certainly I owned green-yellow/brown but didn’t hugely take to InSides (which most fans rate highly)

  31. 31
    ciaran on 10 Feb 2014 #

    Other than the chorus I had no recollection of this at all and even after 1 play a few minutes ago I’m struggling to remember it.

    A very dull chart-topper.Not fit to lace Chaka Khans boots. LL Cool J and his Mr, Loverman act here is not endearing in the slightest. 4 is about right.

    Phenomenom would have been a far more interesting Number 1.

    The only thing that stands out is what looks like Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – the bunny will be looking for his memory eraser) in the video.They did a lightweight sitcom called ‘In the House’ in the late 90s which was shown a fair bit over here and that I suppose is my lasting memory of LL Cool J and David Baddiel claiming that LL was short for Lionel Lionel!

    Havent heard much of the early work except for ‘I Need Love’ which is ok. I know Tom also had “Mama Said Knock You Out” on the best hits of the 90s. His later stuff like ‘Control Myself’ with J Lo was terrible.

    #29 Rap’s Van Morrison – Brilliant!

  32. 32
    thefatgit on 10 Feb 2014 #

    Well, I took a look at the video, and I spotted “Carlton” and there’s a Wayans (which one, I’m not sure) in there as well. If he was going for African-American sitcom stars goofing off at the water park, he missed a trick by not including Bill Cosby (in all fairness, Bill was too classy for this kind of video anyway). Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell were probably too young for this ride.

  33. 33
    Mark M on 10 Feb 2014 #

    I have no clear memory of this at all. I was still mostly writing about hip-hop at this time, but LL was a distant irrelevance to the state of the art at the time – you could count about six or seven eras of the genre that fit in the time between his blazing arrival* and this… My favourite single of his remains Going Back To Cali. There have been occasional bright moments in later years (unlike Ciaran, I like Control Myself).

    *Rock The Bells and Go Cut Creator Go are awesome in themselves, but also educational for people who didn’t realise the link between Jay-Z’s 99 Problems and hip-hop history.

  34. 34
    Cumbrian on 10 Feb 2014 #

    The original is better than decent and this doesn’t rise to that level – simply waiting for the chorus to come to its rescue all the way around the verses. Shame it wasn’t Mama Said Knock You Out – but LL Cool J is hardly the first, nor will he be the last, artist to get to the top with a work markedly inferior to his career highlights.

    Re: “you can take it girl, stop running” – not very smart but at least there is gumption enough present on the track, for the female voice to answer “say what?”, as if to question just why someone who it is claimed the ladies love, would say something quite so crass at best, threatening at worst.

  35. 35
    anto on 10 Feb 2014 #

    #18 – I feel something similar about the much-covered ‘You Got The Love’. Each time I ask myself, do I really want to hear another version of this huffing, puffing repetitive drag of a non-song, and now Coca-Cola have got a kiddies choir to sing it, great!

  36. 36
    23 Daves on 10 Feb 2014 #

    #27 That was the view expressed by a couple of my (hip-hop loving) friends, actually.

    “LL Cool J’s at number one!”
    “Yes, but the single’s not very good, is it?”
    “But, but… you don’t understand! LL Cool J’s at number one!”

    I never heard them play this in their cars or at parties, and I’m sure they still don’t – but a hip-hop pioneer reaching the top of the singles chart was important to them. It felt correct (They’d respond a lot more enthusiastically to another bunnyable track).

    I had to go on to YouTube to remind myself of how his version of this went (never a good sign) and after twenty seconds or so it clicked with me. It was on the radio relatively frequently back in the first half of ’97, and I think still gets irregular airplay now, but there’s nothing in LL Cool J’s approach to leave you firmly remembering anything except the chorus, which had already been handled better beforehand anyway. It’s not a bad record in that it doesn’t have you running towards the ‘stop’ button, but there’s no real reason for it to exist.

  37. 37
    Billy Hicks on 10 Feb 2014 #

    #35 – I have a love/hate relationship with You Got The Love. I think there’s only one truly brilliant version of it, and sorry to the purists but for me it’s the 1997 mix. The original ’91 mix is too minimal for my tastes (to be fair it’s essentially just a mashup of an old vocal with an old early house track), the 2006 re-remix is just a slightly subdued and inferior version of the ’97 mix…and then there’s Florence’s version which I *really* hate, which took a promising solo act (her first album is excellent) and began her descent into cheesy, commercial chart-friendly bollocks. Seeing her cavort around in videos to a pounding Calvin Harris beat a few years later seemed like such a waste of an initially brilliant talent, an act who started off sounding completely different to anything else in the charts ending up sounding exactly the same as everything else. See also D***** R***** in about a decade’s time. Also it annoys me how a whole generation now think it’s a Florence original, similar to Ellie Goulding’s (not bunnied!) Your Song a year later.

    But the 1997 Now Voyager mix is glorious, the only one that properly takes that epic vocal and gives it a backing to be proud of.

  38. 38
    Garry on 11 Feb 2014 #

    #24 Tom – I’d give at least a cursory listen to both their recent albums with Dave Gilmour and Lee Perry. The collaborators give the Orb some focus which has been missing for a while – plus you can tell they had heaps of fun making them.

    I especially enjoyed the Gilmour one. In my mind it’s a confirmation of the big influence on ambient by the many strands of 70s prog rock in general and Pink Floyd in particular.

    (I’ve always found Banca De Gaia’s Big Men Cry album sound like a love song to Floyd.)

  39. 39
    Garry on 11 Feb 2014 #

    I just listened to Aint Nobody and it doesn’t register in my memory at all.

    I do remember my hatred of Beavis and Buthead but fans I knew soon put it away once it was replaced by South Park as the unorthodox/edgy/whatever animation of choice. Even I watched South Park.

  40. 40
    swanstep on 11 Feb 2014 #

    Living with ‘Ain’t Nobody’ for a few more days (and taking the opportunity to listen to a lot more LL Cool J), it hasn’t worn well. I therefore want to retract my ‘6’ score at #10 and to concur with Tom’s:

  41. 41
    Mostro on 3 Dec 2016 #

    Re: The Orb and “Toxygene”. According to Wikipedia- with sources, to be fair- it had started out as a remix of Jean-Michel Jarre’s “Oxygene 8” (from the recently-released sequel to “Oxygene”), but Jarre had rejected it because it bore too little resemblance to the original- they’d disassembled the original and reduced it to a few isolated samples. So perhaps it’s not the case that they consciously set to create an “Orb” record.

    That said, what was it with the 90s and “remixes” that bore virtually no resemblance to the alleged source anyway? Nothing against sampling if it’s done creatively, but there’s a point at which you’re no longer offering a different take or perspective on the original track- an unrecognisably out-of-context two second sample of the original looped over a generic and repetitive dance backing where any claim to *be* the original is pure marketing rather than artistic reinvention (c.f. the “D’Still’d”/”Distilled” mix of Space’s “Female of the Species” which *was* the main track on the 12″ release). I get the impression that in many cases, any samples of the “original” existed purely to justify the connection with the source, the equivalent of the tiny percentage required for a cheap soft drink to claim “contains real fruit juice!”

    CD singles were often full of these- in the typical “two part” release, one version usually had two or three new “B side” tracks and the other contained remixes of the main track by “name” producers.

    I vaguely remember reading an interview in the NME or Melody Maker where some fairly well-known producer/DJ of the time (forget who) said he’d been commissioned to remix a track for some rock band (might have been U2- again, my memory is hazy). Apparently they completely forgot about it until the time came to deliver, at which point they basically grabbed some completely unrelated track they’d been working on off the shelf and handed it over.

    That having been during the 90s, I can quite believe it.

  42. 42
    weej on 4 Dec 2016 #

    Mostro – IIRC that story is from an Aphex Twin interview – and he didn’t identify the band involved, though he did release “26 Mixes For Cash” a few years later, so someone could probably do a bit of detective work if they felt like it.

  43. 43
    Andrew Farrell on 4 Dec 2016 #

    Mostro – How would you feel about Jazz covers in the vein of EG John Coltrane’s My Favourite Things?

  44. 44
    Mostro on 4 Dec 2016 #

    #42 Weej; Ah, thanks- I had a niggling suspicion it might have been him, but I wasn’t sure enough to bring up his name. As I said, my memory of something I read around 20 years was a bit hazy.

    #43 Andrew Farrell; Good question. I don’t claim to be a jazz aficionado (though that’s a pretty well-known cover), but in that case, it’s clear that it’s still the original song at its core, even if it’s being used as a jumping-off point. Even if it lost any connection to the original, that wouldn’t necessarily make it a bad thing, it’s just a question of identity. To me, a “remix” should have some resemblance to the original track (even if it massively deconstructs it) beyond a token sample. Maybe that just reflects my own prejudices and limited perspective, but I suspect a lot of those 90s remixes weren’t so much Coltrane-like reinvention as producers flavouring their own tracks with a brief sprinkling of the source (either for legitimate artistic reasons or as the required “real fruit juice”) and marketing going along with it.

    The example that’s remained stuck in my head for over 20 years as the archetypal “pull the other one”- was on the Pet Shop Boys’ “Disco 2”. The “remix” of Liberation that appeared there had no audible resemblance to the original whatsover. No samples, no melodic or rhythmic similarity, *nothing* beyond the fact both include the word “liberation” (in this case from a female singer). Regardless of what one thinks of it, there’s no apparent connection. It’s not even a cover.

    Anyway, I’ve come across the full version on YouTube- it’s called the “E Smoove” remix. The comments include “despite not actually being a remix of its namesake song at all” and “[PSB fans hated it because] it wasn’t even a remix, it was just an E-Smoove production that talked about ‘liberation'”, so I guess I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t buying it. (#)

    (What’s odd is that the 7″ “edit” of that remix also appears on YouTube and that *does* feature Neil Tennant’s original vocals plastered on top. Which raises the question as to whether E-Smoove’s backing track was designed around that or not. Given that the PSB-less full remix sounds complete in itself and the 7″ version sounds like a mashup, I’d assume not. Anyway, one might have thought they’d have used the 7″ version on Disco 2. Strange.)

    As I said, in this environment, one can easily believe that Aphex Twin got away with the deception. Not that I blame him; I suspect that the record company either wasn’t fooled and/or didn’t care so long as they could sell it as such regardless.

    (#) FWIW, I wish I hadn’t bought the abysmal “Disco 2” full stop..!

  45. 45
    Izzy on 5 Dec 2016 #

    42: I recall that as well, and I’m fairly sure the band in question was The Lemonheads. I also remember that a few weeks beforehand Curve had been in the same pages, gushing about a remix he’d done for them – “we can’t work out where he took the sample from” – but didn’t seem quite so smart once he’d pulled back the curtain.

  46. 46
    flahr on 21 Feb 2017 #

    #12: “By the time this got to number one, King Of The Hill had premiered in the US – unfortunately, I can’t even find the most tenuous connection to any #1s for my favourite of the entire post-Simpsons animation-comedies wave.”

    You’d already passed the point at which you could mention it – one of the series’s three composers, John O’Connor (1998 BMI TV Music Award winner), was half of “Star Trekkin'”‘s The Firm. Here’s an interview with him in Sound on Sound from ’98: https://web.archive.org/web/20140914162546/http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/dec98/articles/joconer.258.htm

  47. 47

    It’s a shame the Rufus and Chaka Khan original only got to #8 in 1984, that would be a solid 10.

  48. 48
    Patrick Mexico on 14 Feb 2020 #

    This arguably isn’t even the best Ain’t Nobody cover/reworking of 1997 – and this one also got to #8!


  49. 49
    Gareth Parker on 2 May 2021 #

    As much as I want to say this is a bit lazy/pointless, I don’t find this totally without appeal. A generous 6/10 from me.

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