Scatman John
Review By: Gringo

I am the bearer of bad news. Scatman John is dead. In fact, he died back in December, 2000. This article/review/whatever you want to call it is a celebration of the life and music of Scatman John. Well, no. It's really a quick introduction to him and a look at two of his songs; Scatman and its follow-up Scatman's World. Sadly, none of his other songs made much of an impact on the music scene. Some people have no taste. But that's usually because some accident has caused them to lose the functionality of their taste buds.

So who was Scatman John? Let me tell you. John Paul Larkin had already been alive a great many years before he burst onto the often-dire early-nineties music scene. This was the era of Color Me Badd and their classic hit I Wanna Sex You Up. Yes, those morons. However, there were a few gems to come out of that time, and I think the Scatman qualifies as one of those diamonds in the rough. We're not talking preachy Michael Jackson stuff here (and definitely not talking melt-face plastic surgery); the Scatman knew what the real world was like and knew what he wanted to see happen.

Onto the songs! The first is the aptly named Scatman. From the very start of this song, Mr. John introduces us to a sample of his fine scatting talent. This is essentially just him saying nonsense very quickly to sound something like "SKI-BO-BA-SKO-BET". The intro to this song also features a defiant statement by John about who he is. Oh, Scatman John, you were so helpful. Actually, it's not that bad a song if not particularly fantastic. There's a lot of crazy scatting, some dance beats in the background and...that's it. Sure beats listening to the Backstreet Boys though.

Scatman's World. Following the success of his debut single, Scatman John unleashed this song on an mostly unsuspecting world. Once again, the song itself is preceded by a helpful introduction with John doing his thing and telling us the title. We learn that there is a place called Scatland, which is the Scatman's World, and that John is calling out from it. Calling what, you may ask? I'd say "Help! Get me the hell out of here!" but no. Instead, he's calling out once more his desperate plea for peace, love and understanding. Didn't Elvis Costello already do that? Yes he did, but he also only brought out one or two good songs. Scatman John by contrast...well, the Scatman never made a bad record in his life. True, I've only heard two (he released a whole album or two of similar songs), but if both Scatman and Scatman's World are anything to go by, well, I'm in flavour country. Flavour being music in this example. Um...moving on...

This is a guy - the first of his kind, that I know of - who managed to put words to bit-bot-unz-unz kind of music. Usually I hate it; stupid noises and people waving their hands in the air. Which reminds me of a story! I was sitting in Leicester Square in London, England - the movies like adding the country name on at the end - reading a book (hi, I am a dork). Anyway! So I was in this busy little patch of green in the greyest city on the face of the earth. There were all sorts of crazy loonbeasts around, and not just the kind who'd write for this site. Chief Crazy for that day appeared to be an old man, proudly clutching a whistle. Where the hell he got a whistle from when his clothes came from 1776 (revolution, papa!) is anybody's guess.

Now, normally I try and avoid even looking at these crazies, in case some inadvertent eye contact brings them over and they have to suffer talking to me. However! This crazy old man was the provider of supreme justice. There was a right twat (not a left one) zooming up and down on a skateboard, trying to show off his latest phat skills, yo. This idiot was trying to skate in time to some highly irritating unz-unz music coming from a stereo nearby. For about five minutes the old whistle guy watched this twat racing up and down. Then for no reason whatsoever, the next time the skateboarder passed him, he blew hard on his whistle. I mean hard - you could hear the fucking thing in Baghdad. Well, no, that part's a lie. Mr. Skateboarder was so disturbed by the whistle that he tripped, fell on his stupid face smack down on the concrete and stayed like that for several minutes, with no-one going to help. Truly, the best whistle ever.

Anyway! We were talking about some guy called John? Scatman John's brief stay in the spotlight was well earned; his classic SKI-BO-BEP music will no doubt be passed on from generation to generation. In a period awash with some truly appalling music, John managed to ignore the critics and unleash constant streams of crazy songs for all to hear. He even released an entire album of scat songs! I never bought it. I am bad. More importantly, Scatman was writing about love, peace and all those other things, filled with a healthy dose of crazy scatting. If you can't embrace Scatman John and all his music stood for, you need to go and see a cynicism doctor. Not that a doctorate in anti-cynicism exists. It might. But not that I know of. And I do, quite simply, know everything.


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