Monday, August 26, 2013

E is for 'Ebeneezer Goode'

This is a track by The Shamen. It was released as a single in September 1992 and also appears on their album Boss Drum. The Shamen were on a bit of an upswing at the time. Partly the world had caught up with their electronic dance music sound, but I think also they had managed to craft their work into something sufficiently polished to attract daytime radio play.

By this point Will Sin, one of the classic Shamen duo, had died in a drowning accent in the Canaries. The reconstituted Shamen comprised Colin Angus (the other one of the duo) on music and one Mr C on rapping, with various other musicians and singers on bits and bobs. I think I saw this line-up, pre-'Ebeneezer Goode' at Glastonbury in 1992, and I did not like it. My recollection is that Mr C was annoying and that their "raved up" music attracted a rather unruly element to hear them play.

But 'Ebeneezer Goode' changed my tune. The track is a euphoric up-tempo dance tune, but what really makes it is the contribution of Mr C. He raps the tale of some shifty promoter from the early days of rave, the eponymous Mr Goode, but to anyone with half a brain this promoter is more than that - he is a human stand in for the popular dance drøg Ecstasy. Mr C raps about how this Mr Goode character is responsible for all the good times on the dance scene, that he is perhaps a bit edgy and must always be respected for all that he is the main geezer and a real crowd pleaser. And the chorus, where even the especially hard of thinking must have started wondering if there was something else going on:

"Eezer Goode! Eezer Goode!
He's Ebeneezer Goode!"

In the ponderous words of Wikipedia, "the first part […] is audibly identical to, "E's are good" – 'E' being common slang for the drug ecstasy". Despite this, the song went to number one, was played on the radio and the Shamen even got to perform it on Top of the Pops (it is said that Mr C told the BBC that his cries of "Underlay! Underlay!" were not a nod to Speedy Gonzales and amphetamine use but rather a "gratuitous rug reference").

I suppose this was the moment when all this crazy dance music started being semi-respectable and impressionable young people started thinking that it might be worth engaging with, and perhaps, just perhaps, this mysterious death drøg Ecstasy might itself be worth giving a go.


An inuit panda production

No comments: