Tank fly boss walk jam nitty gritty… Dub Be Good To Me tops the charts [March 1990]
Beats International‘s Dub Be Good To Me, which topped the charts 28 years ago this week, marked a turning point in the career of former Housemartin (and soon-to-be Fatboy Slim) Norman Cook.
The track, originally called The Invasion of the Estate Agents, first appeared as a B-side instrumental on another, lesser-known Norman Cook single, For Spacious Lies, before being repackaged and reworked into the dub crossover classic we know today.
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Sampling had been around for a couple of years – Bomb the Bass and M/A/R/R/S being early aficionados – and Dub Be Good To Me is a masterclass in mashup artistry, nicking the bassline from The Clash’s Guns of Brixton, the vocals from The SOS Band, drums from God Make Me Funky by The Headhunters, and a harmonica riff from Ennio Morricone.
As Cook explained in Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh’s 1,000 UK Number One Hits, it was singer Lindy Layton’s idea to “do a cover of the S.O.S. Band’s 1984 hit Just Be Good To Me’ I knew it would go well with other beats because i’d tried it as a DJ. I used the bassline from The Clash song Guns Of Brixton’, which was me tipping my hat to The Clash as I was such a big fan. I also wanted to do something slower than the current house music, yet something funky you could get into.”
The iconic vocal snippet, “tank fly boss walk jam nitty gritty you’re listening to the boy from the big bad city, this is jam hot, this is jam hot” is from a 1983 hip hop track by Johnny Dynell and The New York 88, Jam Hot.
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As a Spin review of Beats International’s albumLet Them Eat Bingo put it, “Everything is imitation, from rap, house and funk, to blues, gospel, reggae and rock’n’roll: nothing means anything.”
Rarely, however, does imitation sound this good.
[Kudos to G R O O V I S S I M O for the YouTube upload]