May 14

THE TAMPERER featuring MAYA – “Feel It”

Popular49 comments • 5,862 views

#791, 30th May 1998

tamperer An Italian chop-shop job, lashing together riffs and a bassline from The Jacksons’ bombastic “Can You Feel It?”, verses from an obscure club track (“Drop A House” by Urban Discharge), bludgeoning 4/4 beats, and even a bit of crude speed garage style vocal stretching. None of which it’s at all famous for: “Feel It” is remembered mainly, if not only, for Maya’s iron-voiced question on the chorus: “WHAT she gonna look like with a CHIMNEY ON HER?”

It may only be a black eye, but from the force Maya gives it I’m seeing entire smokestacks toppled in vengeance upon this man-stealing hussy. (You certainly feel the fella in question has got away remarkably lightly). That image of destructive wrath is fully backed by the fantastic time-stretched segment, where Maya’s voice hulks out in distorted electronic rage.

The whole thing is remarkably crass – and the formula would topple into total cheapness a record later, with the Madonna-biting, amusingly-titled “If You Buy This Record Your Life Will Be Better” (I did! It wasn’t!). But for this moment, it worked – “Feel It” appeared, shot to the top for a glorious and arbitrary instant, and then vanished before I could get sick of it. Its main weakness is that Maya’s vocals on the borrowed verses are sometimes a lot flatter than the chorus, but that aside it’s fine gonzo fun, the model of a one-week wonder.

Still, it’s not the first money-minded house respray we’ve bumped into in 1998, so I’ll try and answer the question: what makes this better than Jason Nevins, whose remixing was even more brutally straightforward? More imagination – not just the chimney, but working out how good the brisk anger of “Drop A House” would sound welded onto a pop song.

But it’s also the right pop song. “Can You Feel It?” is a gorgeous record, one I like more than “It’s Like That”, but its triumphalist utopian disco suits a full-on hard-house makeover a lot more than the cavernous noise of early rap. The rhythms match better, and the decadent pomp of the Jacksons’ song – released in the overripe autumn of the disco boom – can be turned towards violence surprisingly well. The Tamperer also borrows the right bits – the massed fanfares of “Can You Feel It”’s chorus, and the bassline (here oddly rubberised). Things that fit alongside a beat, in other words, rather than get smothered by it. Though on this showing, even the hardest beat seems unlikely to get in Maya’s way.



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  1. 31
    Auntie Beryl on 15 May 2014 #

    I’d call out the time stretched vocal as an important part of this hugely enjoyable 8/10 number one. It calls back to Goldie and Inner City Life three years earlier; it harks ahead to a soon-come veteran artist enjoying a surprise hit and the birth of a new production powerhouse.

    This sits in the middle, all innocent like. It’s one of the best number ones of the year.

  2. 32
    Auntie Beryl on 15 May 2014 #

    #30 Not much there verses? For me, with this particular record, the verses are memorable in that they tell a story and set up the chorus punchline.

  3. 33
    Mark M on 15 May 2014 #

    I would’ve expect a slightly higher mark from Tom for this, but that could be working on the wholly faulty reasoning that Tom likes this kind of stuff, I don’t normally, so if I quite like it, then Tom should really like it. I wondered whether this was because I had remembered it as better than it was, but no, I still like it. As Tom says, it does well with what it samples and how, which – contrary to the opinion of luddites – is not easy.
    If you’d asked me two weeks ago, I would have said that the beat on this and the one used by Jason Nevins were completely different, but it turns out they aren’t. But, again, I agree with Tom, it’s just a much better fit here.

  4. 34
    Tom on 15 May 2014 #

    I very nearly gave it a 7, then the final play made it fall a little flat: just that bit better in my memory than when I hear it.

  5. 35
    Paulito on 16 May 2014 #

    #30: Like you, my memory always pairs this and “Horny” together, and I agree that the latter is superior and probably more fondly remembered. And with good reason: where “Feel It” is a sullen stomper with rather nasty lyrical sentiments, “Horny” is bouncy, funny and good-natured – not to mention ludicrously catchy. Shame it won’t be getting a Popular entry.

  6. 36
    Billy Hicks on 16 May 2014 #

    ‘Horny’ is one of those songs that exists in two similar but noticeably different mixes, both of which were on the UK CD and it’s probably 50/50 to which one I’ve heard. One is the Boris Dlugosch mix (3:43) and the other is the ‘Horny ’98′ mix (3:07). The Boris mix – first on the CD tracklist – starts with some echoed “I’m horny all night long” vocals before the main riff comes in and generally has more of an upbeat deep house sound to it, while the original goes straight into the riff and has lots of bubble sounds over the chorus which the other removes. Most confusing of all is that both exist in edits opposite to each others timings – both a longer version of the ’98 mix (as used on the video) and a shorter version of the Boris mix exist on various countries’ releases.

    Otherwise pretty subtle, Youtube seems almost entirely full of the ’98 mix but here’s one example I found of the Boris mix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMWIoXd5yrE . One of many of the ’98 mix videos can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dH8WvayAo1M .

  7. 37
    swanstep on 16 May 2014 #

    @Billy Hicks, 36. Thanks for those links, but I can’t say ‘Horny’ does anything for me in either mix. Bring on Binary Finery I say.

  8. 38
    Tom on 16 May 2014 #

    I have a mild soft spot for “Horny” because it’s one of the few holiday Euro hits I heard when actually on holiday. But I don’t like it as much as this – it’s something about the vocals, they’re a bit harsh and nasal for me.

    As someone mentioned a while ago, though, it is the First Hit To Mention The Internet.

  9. 39
    Steve Mannion on 16 May 2014 #

    I am always mentioning that, although I still can’t quite believe it to be the case.

  10. 40
    James BC on 16 May 2014 #

    Hot ‘n’ Juicy were trailblazers in various ways. Their TOTP appearance was also the first time I’d seen a woman rocking the underwear-visible-over-trousers look (though MN8 had broken down that barrier for men some three years earlier).

  11. 41
    DanH on 17 May 2014 #

    When I was sampling U.K. #1’s a while back, this one stuck out, found myself really liking it in spite of myself. I later found out why…most prominent sample of “Can You Feel It” (it’s all in this song’s title “Feel It,” so a duh moment for me). Gonna be controversial and say that “Can You Feel It” is my favorite Michael Jackson-involved song ever. A sports arena played it a lot years ago, and I was shocked to find that it did jack here in the U.S. (but obviously much better in the U.K.) It could be more of me going for the underdog instead of the big overplayed MJ hits…but there’s something uplifting and great about it.

    Back to this song…it’s got a thomping galluping beat, the ‘chimney’ hook, and at least the mix I have, some weird voice (John Waters at 33 RPM?) saying “is it sexxxxx/or is it looooove.’ But those sound oh so good with that sample. Shame U.S. never caught on to it…but by mid 1998 I was rebelling by hating anything that was remotely popular, so I would have passed on it at the time anyway.

  12. 42
    punctum on 19 May 2014 #

    Enter, in earnest, bootleg pop, and the question is immediately raised: when you combine two samples to make something reasonably new, does it have a greater impact, or even sound newer, if you’re utilising elements two thoroughly familiar tracks or balancing the well-known with the obscure? That question is unlikely to be answered properly for a few more Popular years until what may still be the greatest example of the latter technique reaches number one. “Feel It” certainly has no fear on that front; while everyone would immediately recognise the backing track from the Jacksons’ then eighteen-year-old “Can You Feel It?,” albeit beefed up considerably by hard 1998 block beats and a subliminal trace of the Daft Punk drumming-as-game-of-volleyball approach, but few would be able to ascribe the vocal track to its original source, namely “Wanna Drop A House (On That Bitch)” by Urban Discharge featuring She – and yes, I had to look it up.

    As with Livin’ Joy, The Tamperer masked an Italian production team with an imported American singer – one Maya Days – to recreate the original bootleg mix; and while the tale of two-timed spleen is initially quite fetching when set against the unforgiving beats, and eventually rather sinister and threatening with the refrain of “What’s she gonna look like with a chimney on her?” – especially in the record’s centre when the vocal is slowed down to a grinding, inhuman sprite – the overall architecture of the track lets it down; while demonstrably great to dance to, it doesn’t fulfil its original promise, or threat. Instead of spreading out like a fearsomely gigantic peregrine falcon to visit apocalypse on pity-free prey, it sets up its stall and then more or less stays there, eventually petering out into a not-very-much-of-anything fade. Subsequent freelance hellraisers would not repeat that mistake.

  13. 43
    ciaran on 20 May 2014 #

    For something that was so unavoidable at the time it seems to have been totally forgotten. Anytime I heard the Jackson Five version in the years passed I don’t ever think about the connection with this.

    Repetition of the Chimney line aside it’s got me nodding along to it today.Incredibly short aswell for a single in the CD era.The sample does overshadow everything else a bit but the video does fit in very well with it. 6 is just about spot on.

  14. 44
    weej on 1 Jun 2014 #

    Like some commenters above I mentally classify this with ‘Horny’ ‘Remember Me’ ‘Sex Bomb’ and ‘Music Sounds Better With You’ as the soundtrack to crap nights in provincial nightclubs, but unlike ‘Remember Me’ I’ve almost come round to it now. Yes, it’s not much more than a vocal laid on top of an obvious sample, but Maya’s vocal easily does enough to sell the concept, and it (the video version at least) doesn’t overstay its welcome.

  15. 45
    Rich on 7 Oct 2014 #

    #21 indeed, Feel It took six weeks to reach the top (3-4-3-5-2-1); a very rare thing between 1997-2006.

  16. 46
    Russell on 21 Oct 2014 #

    Just to put this straight, the verse lyrics are DIRECTLY SAMPLED from the Urban Discharge track- they have not been resung.

  17. 47
    punctum on 23 Oct 2014 #

    Were you in a bad mood when you got up on Tuesday morning?

  18. 48
    Gareth Parker on 1 Jun 2021 #

    #47 He’s in a bad mood because he is interacting with someone like you that’s why! A generous 8/10 for The Tamperer from me.

  19. 49
    Mr Tinkertrain on 12 Apr 2022 #

    I loved this when it came out (as with some previous Popular entries, I wasn’t familiar with the original source material) and I liked the follow-up IYBTRYLWBB even more. And yep, there was plenty of speculation at the time over what a ‘chimney’ meant in this context until a schoolmate from down south cleared it up for us. Listening back now, it’s not quite as fun as it was when I was 12, but the big beats remain enjoyable. I’d go for a 7.

    Other chart highlights: astonishingly, in the week this hit the top, there wasn’t a single new entry in the top 10 (highest new entry was Smashing Pumpkins’ excellent Ava Adore, at #11). That can’t have happened very often in the 90s other than the post-Christmas charts, surely?

    There were, however, updated versions of Kung Fu Fighting and Fight For Your Right (To Party) in the top 20. What a time to be alive.

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