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An ode to Scatland

27/09/2010

These days I may blog about mopey guys with guitars and all that stuff, but where I come from musically is a whole different thing. I wasn’t one of the kids who grew up on a diet of classic bands by a musical family – both my mum and dad have more interest in schlager pop, my sister’s punk rock was a bit too harsh for my childhood ears and I’ve still no idea what on earth my other sister listens to as I now think of it. My source of music in my growing 90’s were the pop hit collections left by my sisters in some corner they had forgotten them and salvaged by me. I had very little notion about the concept of albums as cohesive entities or even artists as anyone with history and more works than the one you knew. I did like music quite a bit as experienced by the eurodance hits of the day blasting out from my cassette player (much to the cringe of my sister in the room next to mine). The first ever album I ever owned as my own was either Scatman’s World or Power Rangers: A Rock Adventure.

Scatman John was my childhood musical hero. And the musical hero of my best friend at the time as well. The difference between us was that he pronounced it publicly in a newspaper interview after his participation in a national children’s karaoke contest, when he was asked for his favourite artist or song. I just played it loud in my bedroom and sang along to the English words which meaning I didn’t even fully know at the time.

John was truly a different sort of artist in the 90’s eurodance scene. He wasn’t a handsome young lad paired with a boobalicious lady to sing the choruses. If you look at his music videos he looks completely out of place in them, with his wrinkles, manly moustache and old garbs. His music was the trendiest thing there was at the time but John himself looked like someone who was more out of a smoky jazz club band. Which where he probably belonged as well, with his trademark scatting skills (back in the innocent days when ‘scat’ didn’t have a widespread dirtier meaning).

I’m all grown now and I can see what he was trying to do. He wanted to reach to us kids. Give a listen through Scatman’s World, his debut (he had two other albums too, did you know?) and pay attention to the lyrics. Hell, it’s enough if you just pay more attention to the words in his two big hits. John wants world peace. John wants racial equality. John is teaching us to respect our fellow humans no matter the colour, he’s teaching us to finish our education and follow a straight and honest path, he wants us to know that we need to leave this world in a good condition for the generations that will eventually follow us. He teaches how we can overcome all our odds if we try. He’s telling us about the darker side of life, the homeless and the misjudged, and what we should do to prevent all that. And he is telling us about the magical Scatland where human race will, hopefully, eventually drift towards, where peace and love towards all man reign.

He wanted to reach to us kids and tell us about these important lessons in life. What better way to do that than to place his messages over the trendiest, catchiest music of the moment?

He never sounds insincere or corny either. He actually pulls it off. The only cheesy moment is the closing ballad “Song of Scatland” but even that’s heartwarming cheese. It’s even rather touching in retrospect, knowing about his demise and hearing the album end in a thank you and a good night.

The songs are still ace. The hit singles are all classics, particularly “Scatman’s World” which is one of the best songs ever in my books. “Quiet Desperation” is more bittersweet and introspective than any other eurodance song. The album as a whole is 90’s eurodance in its best bliss – fast beats, 90’s house pianos, awesome vintage synth sounds, and of course John’s scatting. The two bonus tracks tacked at the end of the album are rather terrible but we don’t count them to the proper album.

Kudos to you, John.


Scatman’s World

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