16 October 2010

Eddy Phillips - Limbo Jimbo (re-up)

Eddy Phillips - Limbo Jimbo
Label: Charisma
Year of Release: 1976

So many flop would-be pop stars of the sixties managed to find success in the seventies that it's tempting to argue that the decades weren't really as distinct as most would suppose, and almost bled into each other stylistically speaking.  Mud, Marc Bolan and The Sweet tried and failed to find favour initially in the former decade, as did David Bowie.  So much of glam rock owed an almighty debt to previous sounds, and in its most basic form was essentially just the earliest rock and roll and beat records produced with a more crunching, working man's club friendly stomp.

Given this, the fact that Eddy Phillips of cult mod heroes The Creation would have tried to find favour with the pop market halfway through the seventies probably shouldn't be surprising.  The way he went about it, on the other hand, beggars belief.  "Limbo Jimbo" is a Typically Tropical-styled reggae version of their minor hit "Painter Man", the lyrics seemingly being a jokey knock-about piece of fun about - how can we most politely put this? - black immigrants who came over and didn't quite understand English culture and made tools of themselves.  Nope, there's no way of politely or decently putting it, is there?  Whilst "Limbo Jimbo" sounded like it could have been a hit, the lyrics make you thank the heavens it came nowhere near.  We are treated to tons of cringeworthy false Jamaican accents, observations about how our man Jimbo was arrested for "limbo dancing under a lady's door" (as could so easily happen), and how he wants to return to the land of "cheap rum" and "DA TORNADOS!"  It's not quite as bad as it sounds - Phillips shies away from outright mockery - but it is a horrible case of lazy stereotyping.

Given that "Painter Man" is something of a sixties mod pop classic, this is a fine way to piss on its legacy, so the fact that barely anyone has heard this record is probably a blessing.  That also means that barely anyone has heard the country-rock of its flip "Change My Ways" too, which is actually pleasing in a much more adult way, sounding rather like The Who in the seventies if they'd taken a trip down some winding hick roads.  This B-side leads me to suspect that Phillips had some more interesting material up his sleeve, but we'll probably never know that for sure (unless somebody did pay for studio time and his demos are still locked away in the vaults somewhere).

Otherwise - this record is a classic example of how not to revisit your own work.  Next week, we'll take a closer look at The Downliners Sect's aborted seventies comeback single "Gaylord Gary" (to the lawyers of the Sect - this doesn't exist, obviously).

Readers who know their pop history will also obviously observe the fact that whilst this version of "Painter Man" didn't chart, Boney M did take a rather more dancefloor tinged version of it to the top ten in 1979, either being unaware or perhaps being otherwise unbothered by this particular effort.

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