Mar 15

BLACK LEGEND – “You See The Trouble With Me”

Popular61 comments • 6,656 views

#862, 24th June 2000

black legend No black legends were harmed in the making of this single: Barry White, whose 1976 song forms the dislocated spine of “You See The Trouble With Me” and whose vocal sample was meant as its centre, said no, and the job went to a rough soundalike. The track hit number one anyhow, which suggests it’s the idea and structure that’s driving this one, not Barry specifically. “Trouble” is built around a double peak – the sliced up vocal sample and its hints of disco backing, and the bouncy instrumental break that follows on its heels, a transfer across from the White song’s funk guitar.

In case we didn’t get the point, a cheering crowd hollers its approval of both of these – slightly louder on the instrumental break, if anything – which ought to be as annoying as a laugh track but actually helps give “Trouble” a rather sympathetic gloss. The jagged way the vocal is cut – and the wheezy way its sung – takes the rueful bonhomie of White and makes it into something a lot more laboured: this guy sounds out of breath, having to strain for every gasping line: “You! See!… trouble with me… can’t do nothin….”. It’s like he’s making a life-or-death effort just to do the record, and the thumping house breakdown comes as blessed relief.

With the crowd cheering him on, “You See The Trouble With Me” is like listening to music inspired by a weightlifting competition: the awful, grunting, wobbling heave as an athlete pushes beyond their personal best, and then the strut of triumph as they walk the stage afterwards. And of course once I’d started seeing Black Legend like that, rather than just another dance track that had bubbled up from European clubland on good fortune alone, I really got into it.



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  1. 31
    Chinny Reckon on 15 Mar 2015 #

    @22 # – “This version is as close as we’re going to get to that”.

    Plenty of copies of the version with the original sample for sale on Discogs at reasonable prices if you want one. http://www.discogs.com/Black-Legend-Well-Be-In-Trouble/release/155699

  2. 32
    punctum on 16 Mar 2015 #

    One of the more disturbing of number ones to have originated as a bootleg, and perhaps only accidentally so; Black Legend were from Italy and the track first did the rounds of the club as a straight mash-up of a live Barry White performance (“1975 – we brought you an album with a song”) and a self-generated hardcore House undertow. The original “You See The Trouble With Me” was White’s second biggest British hit, peaking at #2 in April 1976 behind, unforgivably, “Save Your Kisses For Me.” However, the producers couldn’t get clearance from White’s people to use the original for commercial release so had to re-record the vocal with one Elroy “Spoonface” Powell (who was British).

    The result is something of a Frankenstein’s monster of a record; “Spoonface” does his gruff best to reproduce White’s growls and entreaties but sounds distressed, can’t quite reach the extremes, and set against the fairly uncompromising rhythm pattern seems to take sweet soul down the darkest and least welcoming of alleyways; it does take the form of a waking nightmare with showbiz applause and orchestral flourishes ricocheting against the bullet-welcoming beats and not really that far away from how Shut Up And Dance might have tackled the song; even if it lacks the latter’s tricky depth, the altered-by-necessity end product far exceeds the original mix in terms of sheer strangeness.

  3. 33
    weej on 16 Mar 2015 #

    ‘House Of God’ is one of those tracks that only achieves its full potential in a mix, and I present as evidence of this Miss Kittin’s ‘Electroclash’ mix from the Muzik magazine cover CD in 2002 (it starts getting mixed in at about 20 minutes in if you want to cut to the chase.) I simply have to leave this here as it’s still my favourite DJ mix of all time, even though I wasn’t that into electroclash (and most of it is house music anyway – I think the name was an editorial choice) and I still listen to it every couple of months.

    As for Black Legend, 8 for the original mix, 6 for this one, just because it’s House Of God at #1.

  4. 34
    Rory on 16 Mar 2015 #

    All new to me, so I listened to the actual number one first; a bit one-note, and I lost interest before its 3:15 was up. A 4, I think, or maybe 5. Then listened to the white label, and it suddenly makes more sense; there’s more development, and just more Barry-ness; no disrespect to Elroy ‘Spoonface’ Powell, who does a perfectly decent job on the remake, but White is a hard act to follow. I’d go to 6 for that one.

    #30: “The blogger”? He’s right here, you know… in any case, it seems clear enough to me from the review that Tom knows the basic background to the track. But it’s reasonable to critique the crowd noises as a deliberate choice, not just as an accidental artifact of the source recording. For one thing, why was the white label sampled from a live version and not a studio version? For its particular effect, presumably. And why add crowd noises to the chart version, when you’re remaking everything in it anyway? Again, for the effect.

  5. 35
    wichitalineman on 16 Mar 2015 #

    Crowd noise, air horns and revving engines almost never fail to improve a record. A mix of House Of God and the 1976 studio version of YSTWM would have been less weird and way less exciting.

  6. 36
    James BC on 16 Mar 2015 #

    Some of this song’s success must be down to the Fun Lovin’ Criminals, who had made Barry White sort of kitschily cool with their song Love Unlimited a year or two earlier. Or at least put him back in people’s minds.

    I recognised the BOOP-BOOP sound from Mad’house’s dancey Madonna covers from a couple of years later. I wondered whether they were the same people, but apparently (says Wikipedia) it’s because they got the idea from a Black Legend/Madonna mashup, so it’s a homage not a recycling.

    Mad’house were a lot better than this, since the songs were Madonna songs after all. Funny that there haven’t been more covers of Madonna.

  7. 37
    Billy Hicks on 17 Mar 2015 #

    The amount of chart songs circa 2002-2003 that are based on unofficial mashups is ridiculously huge, and makes me wonder if there’s a list online of all of them somewhere. That and slowed-down pop-trance covers of happy hardcore hits were two major trends for a while.

  8. 38
    Billy Hicks on 17 Mar 2015 #

    For the record I never liked Mad’House’s ‘Like A Prayer’ – it genuinely sounds like a mess and just makes you want to hear the (ten out of ten) original. Now 52 used a remix that was much much better, as it did its own thing rather than clumsily plonk the now twelve-year-old House of God beat over the Madonna soundalike.

    Original: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4vSbVWm6F8

    Almighty/Now 52 mix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8ty6CAIFFQ

  9. 39
    Andrew on 17 Mar 2015 #

    Mad’House’s Like a Prayer was enjoyably trashy, harmless Euro fun. I remember hearing it a fair bit on holiday in France the summer of 2002.

    The album, Absolutely Mad, is (unsurprisingly) slightly harder work. All of the songs are Madonna covers but two (one of which is a blatant ‘homage’ to Music). An interesting curio as a Madonna fan but listening to the whole thing is a total endurance test, even if you allow each track just 60 seconds before skipping to the next. Buse’s eager, rather expressionless voice is fairly short on charms and wears you down quite quickly.

    The majority of it is fairly rote house and trance, but for La Isla Bonita in the style of Ace of Base (quite smart) and Papa Don’t Preach in the style of Wamdue Project (not so much).

  10. 40
    swanstep on 17 Mar 2015 #

    One of my all-time favorite bands, The Meat Purveyors has a great bluegrass/alt-country Madonna-medley called ‘The Madonna Trilogy’. It’s not on youtube but it is on spotify. Highly recommended.

  11. 41
    Kinitawowi on 18 Mar 2015 #

    The crowd noise things end up reminding me mostly of the not-quite-bunnied-but-inexplicably-TPL-embargoed Scooter, who just annoyed me intensely.

    YSTTWM has just recently found its way into the mix we end up listening to at work (I think they usually tune one of the DABs into Kisstory, or something), and it’s just reminding me of how much I don’t need to listen to it any more. Mashup of a song, mashup of a video, a whole load of eh.


  12. 42
    Billy Hicks on 18 Mar 2015 #

    Scooter were briefly my *life* as a teenager, supporting a bunnied act (though for the wrong song) at my first ever live music gig in March 2008. They ripped a lot off from other acts but they have some astonishing tracks – Hyper Hyper is mid-90s happy hardcore heaven, and The Logical Song is a huge noughties classic.

  13. 43
    James BC on 18 Mar 2015 #

    Scooter’s crowd noise is one of their many homages to the KLF.

  14. 44
    katstevens on 18 Mar 2015 #

    #42 omg Billy was that the Clubland Live tour? We went and it was AMAZING. Especially the surprise appearance of Samantha Mumba.

  15. 45
    Izzy on 18 Mar 2015 #

    One thing I realise I like on records, but have never thought about before, is the noise of voices too-many-to-be-backing-vocals, too-small-to-be-a-crowd, but too-ramshackle-to-be-a-chorus.

    Hey Ya (incredibly not bunnied) is the sort of thing I have in mind – Hey Now fellas! Yee-aoh? – and Black Legend is of that type. But there must be other pop examples? Otherwise I’m thinking more of shouty stuff like The Clash at their most joyous.

  16. 46
    Andrew Farrell on 18 Mar 2015 #

    The lack of bunnied Scooter (so far!) is a shame – I’d suggest that you could mentally append “Scooter would have done this better” to most of the 6-and-lower entries and you’d match Tom’s views more often than not.

    #45 – The-Dream was addicted to “male crowd yelling YEAH” to an extent that actually creeped me out – though that was arguably used as an effect rather than any suggestion people were miked up for any given record.

  17. 47
    swanstep on 18 Mar 2015 #

    @Izzy, 45. Betty Davis’s immortal funk side, ‘If I’m In luck I Just Might Get Picked Up’ has what you’re looking for: https://youtu.be/b2B0FBdzGis.

  18. 48
    Izzy on 18 Mar 2015 #

    Ooh yeah – I haven’t heard much of her, but the first time I did she blew me away. Such a strutting sound.

    I did once mention her to someone else who said she’s great in every way … except that she can’t sing. I can kind of see what he meant now, but that’s still a fine record.

  19. 49
    Mark M on 18 Mar 2015 #

    Re47/48: Tying us back into 2000, as I remember it, its resemblance to the songs of Betty Davis was Peel’s explanation for why he was so into Kelis’ Kaleidoscope.

  20. 50
    Billy Hicks on 19 Mar 2015 #

    44: It was! As an extremely overexciteable teenager it was quite the experience, the highlight was definitely hearing Kelly Llorenna perform ‘Set You Free’ live at the start.

    Ministry of Sound immediately then held their own copycat version called Dance Nation Live, with a 2008 bunny headliner I’ll probably be the only one giving any sort of praise whatsoever to when Popular reaches there, and, brilliantly, Sash! as sub-headliner who’d just got back in the charts with an Encore Une Fois remix. ‘Ecuador’ being performed live was all kinds of wow.

  21. 51
    Alan on 19 Mar 2015 #

    (Auto post cos ‘scooter’ mentioned) I still regret not going to that Clubland Live :-(

  22. 52
    StringBeanJohn82 on 19 Mar 2015 #

    45: I agree with you entirely, now you mention it. Perhaps the best example in recenter years is the wonderful ‘Float On’ by Modest Mouse. I think I like the idea – sometimes – that when it comes down to it, pop music is more often than not a bunch of young blokes pissing around in a studio, living the dream.

  23. 53
    swanstep on 19 Mar 2015 #

    Another great classic example of the sonic enchantment we’re all appreciating here is Archie Bell and the Drells’ Tighten Up, surely one of the greatest US #1s that never charted in the UK. On the more recent front, I’d say Pharrell always seems to inject some of the vibe we’re all liking here into his records…bunny city to discuss any of that in detail of course.

  24. 54
    Izzy on 19 Mar 2015 #

    Those are great, thanks! And ‘when it comes down to it, pop music is more often than not a bunch of young blokes pissing around in a studio, living the dream’ is totally the vibe, as well as all kinds of beautiful.

  25. 55
    katstevens on 21 Mar 2015 #

    Chatting w/ schoolchum Kirst this evening we recalled a banger than neither of us could name without extensive googling: Get Get Down by Paul Johnson (“down down down down DOWN DOWN DOWN DOWN”) which was a good 6 months old by Tenerife o’clock but which we were fond of for other reasons. I’ve added it to my Ibiza Classix Spotify playlist.

  26. 56
    Auntie Beryl on 21 Mar 2015 #

    Paul Johnson’s Get Get Down contains one of the finest half-arsed “whoo”s in pop history, another being on I Believe I Can Fly.

  27. 57
    Rory on 21 Mar 2015 #

    There needs to be a band called Half-Arsed Whoo. (Also, found my next sock-puppet!) (Also, sounds like Matt Smith’s last series.)

  28. 58
    ciaran on 10 May 2015 #

    It’s a shame that Sandstorm didn’t get to the top. Even though its a record you would imagine being worshipped by young obsessed car heads who go round racing each other its a clear 9. I’m even as big a fan of the more or less identical follow ‘Feel The Beat’ but that didn’t have the universal appeal of Sandstorm so hasn’t been as well remembered.

    I’m nowhere near as sure about Black Legend. I always assumed it as ol Walrus of Love himself because I didnt hear it that often – maybe 2 or 3 times- and it’s at a time when a Number 1 could be forgotten in a fortnight so it didnt stay around all that often.

    That said it’s a little bit more enjoyable to listen to than I would have imagined. A good bit more memorable than the original its based on. Nowhere near my favourite disco smash of 2000 but not Millennium Prayer hateable either. 5

  29. 59
    Adam on 19 Oct 2018 #

    Just found this website and stayed up till the small hours reading the brilliant reviews. This one in particular made me helpless with laughter at the description of this wheezing, struggling singer! Like everyone else, I found there’s “something” indescribably appealing about this shoddy remix, that on paper should be awful but somehow works. I like that banging, metallic, bass sound.

  30. 60
    Lee Saunders on 20 Oct 2018 #

    I’d like to echo earlier comments that this is one of the more avant number ones. The BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM is positively weird considering its the only real hook on a number one single. The audience sounds and the vocal bits make it sound even stranger.

    I’m giving this an 8 for what its worth. Always been very fond of it.

  31. 61
    Gareth Parker on 20 May 2021 #

    I would agree with Tom’s 6/10 here. An enjoyably bonkers concept in my opinion, which sort of works.

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