Puss In Boops
November 09, 2012 10:48PM
Puss In Boops

Penny Reel prowls Miller’s Terrace with Super Cat

‘SWEET FOR MY SWEETS’, as first recorded by the Drifters, is one of the group’s less remarkable efforts. As rendered by the Searchers it is even more innocuous, despite earning them a UK chart topper. In the mangled gargle of Super Cat it becomes something suddenly awesome.

Some of you may remember Super Cat from a couple of years back as instigating a subsequent craze with his tune ‘Boops’ – Jamaican slang for a sugar daddy – which thrusts to the forefront of the reggae dancehall scene the self-styled "Wild Apache" from Cockburn Pen, who is in any case forging for himself a lively reputation with the then top sound Stero Mas.

Super Cat starts out in the dancehalls of Kingston 11 with the Soul Imperial set, prior to gaining wider local recognition with Killimanjaro, a residency which leads to his first record ‘Mr Walker’ for Techniques. In 1985, ‘Trash And Ready’ and ‘Ride And Shut Off’ for dancehall supremo Jammy earn him greater notice and a swift ascendancy from there with his next Techniques release ‘Boops’.

The subject matter of ‘Boops’ strikes a chord which reverberates keenly in the wider Jamaican community, with its implicit reference to the high incidence of one parent families and the social obligations imposed on the island’s young males. That the reggae fraternity comprises a sizeable proportion of the latter probably accounts for the outrage which ensues, prompting answer discs from dozens of local artists, including Sugar Minott, Michael Prophet, Little John, King Kong, Anthony Red Rose, even venerable Bunny Wailer. The legend boops is inscribed on every other T-shirt at the Notting Hill Carnival that year. There is even a black play called Boops, which even now still does the occasional rounds.

Coincidentally, Super Cat is on his first visit to Britain in the company of Stero Mas sidekick Nicodemus when ‘Boops’ breaks and the record goes on to achieve the rare distinction of being a simultaneous number one hit in both the Jamaican and UK reggae charts, even while its progenitor is playing barely advertised venues across London, in Luton, Nottingham, Northampton and other reggae centres around the country.

Now three years later, Mr Cat is back in town along with his younger brother Junior Cat, just as ‘Sweets For My Sweet’ is nestling in the higher regions of the national reggae chart. More coincidence? What is certain is that Super Cat, or simply "Indian" as everyone calls him, generates enthusiastic response wherever he plays on his current visit.

The recording in question is a brutal aural assault that battens the listener into submissive dance. A neutral, disembodied voice informs us we are to embark on "a journey into sound", at which point Super Cat introduces proceedings in a laconic drawl, before improvising freely on the familiar ‘Sweets For My Sweets’ melody and then suddenly switching into high speed gear in an instant that captures exactly the wild abandon of the live dancehall scene. "This is the Cat, the don, me are the wild Apache," he exclaims, before launching into a self aggrandising lyric chiefly concerned with the expansive capacity of his crowd pulling power.

And if you feel the tug, keep an eye on the black music press for intermittent dates with the likes of Josey Wales and Lieutenant Stitchie in the coming weeks. Or at least check out ‘Sweets For My Sweet’. It’s almost quite as exciting as the live thing itself.

Penny Reel, Music Week, 14 January 1989
Re: Puss In Boops
November 12, 2012 02:20PM
cool Mr. Reel.......I fulljoy your writing when I get it. Love all your liner notes on my old LP's too.....BIG UP!!!
Re: Puss In Boops
November 12, 2012 09:17PM