Thursday, 5 June 2014

10cc 'Dreadlock Holiday'

Chart Peak: 1
The group's third British No.1 single, 'Dreadlock Holiday' topped the chart for one week in September 1978.
Great, so we've started this album with four unassailable classics.  So are we bound for a whole 30 tracks of them? Well, no. This is the second track in a row to have been a UK hit in 1978, and something of a surprise success for the duo (Godley and Creme had of course left by this point) after a run of flops. It wasn't really a comeback, because all the follow-up singles flopped as well, and their only Top 40 appearance since this was with an acoustic remake of 'I'm Not In Love' in 1995.

I think it's partly a generational thing that I recoil slightly from obviously white British people doing poor reggae in cod-Jamaican accents. Maybe in 20 years' time it'll seem ridiculous to even notice, but even so this track suffers from a case of cultural stereotyping as our protagonist takes a holiday to Jamaica and discovers that everyone is either a robber or a drug dealer, and they seem to have "dark" voices, whatever that means. The best that can be said for the lyric is that at least our narrator isn't portrayed much better, insensitively boasting how much he loves cricket, reggae and Jamaica itself in an attempt to fend off trouble; presumably that's why the album was called Bloody Tourists but somehow it still leaves an unpleasant taste behind. Even beyond the accent it's no great shakes musically, although there are some guitar parts that would sound decent if they weren't pretending to be reggae - they're surely rich for sampling on something better, as the well-known mash-up of this with Destiny's Child proves. I did notice listening on headphones that Graham Gouldman does sort of grunt into the background at the first mention of a "dark voice", which is good production of a bad idea. Still, in the balance this is quite a poor song and it feels slightly offensive when it shows up on reggae albums. Here it's just bad.

Not sure our former council leader has remembered the words properly though.

Available on: Dreadlock Holiday: The Collection [+digital booklet]

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