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Monday, May 14, 2012

"Dub Be Good to Me"

Beats International - "Dub Be Good to Me" (1990)

"You brought two too many."

This is a late night summer track. This is an end of the night "who are you going home with tonight" track. Sung by a woman imploring a player to stay with her tonight but not really trying to force the issue for any longer than the night. Written by Norman Cook, six years before he became known the world over as Fatboy Slim. It's based on a well known Reggae fusion song by The Clash and a lesser known song from U.S. R&B act S.O.S. Band. "Just Be Good to Me" was written and produced by 80s and 90s hit-makers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, so it has been covered and used in samples by acts as diverse as Mariah Carey and 2Pac. Rather than sample this song, Cook had singer Lindy Layton record the vocals with a little more bounce, to fit with the Reggae style Dub track he imagined. Two more major elements finish off the song. The harmonica comes from the soundtrack to the film Once Upon a Time in the West. The spoken word bit is Johnny Dynell from his 1983 track "Jam Hot". The whole album this is on, Let Them Eat Bingo, and in fact the whole point of Beats International was so that Norman Cook could combine samples he liked in order to create new songs. Much like Girl Talk does now, but with longer samples. The only part of the song I can't find reference to existing previously is the trombone solo that starts in the last thirty seconds of the song. I don't know who it is, but three years after this album, and still a few years from becoming Fatboy Slim, Cook started another band called Freak Power with a trombonist named Ashley Slater and I'm willing to guess it's him.

So despite the fact it's plunderphonics, or perhaps because it's Fatboy Slim before he was famous, the song has been covered. Dido sings the hook on the version by Faithless; Lilly Allen sings the hook on the adaptation by Professor Green. The most original (and by no means best) cover is the acoustic thing The Ting Tings do live. Without the reggae bass from The Clash it just doesn't do much for me, but I do respect the limb they are going out on.

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