An interesting sub-genre: #1 singles with the best intros. ‘That’ll Be the Day’, ‘You Really Got Me’, ‘I Heard it Through the Grapevine’… All blown out the water by this next chart-topper!
Double Barrel, by Dave & Ansil Collins (their 1st and only #1)
2 weeks, from 25th April – 9th May 1971
I am the magnificent! a voice announces, W O O O… I have no idea what he’s talking about, but he does it with such conviction, with such exuberant certainty, that you know this is going to be a good song. It literally echoes off the walls.
This record is really hard to classify. It’s reggae? Or is it ska? Is it an instrumental? Is it rap?? (It can’t be rap, because according to every musical history ever rap didn’t exist in 1971!) Is he a DJ? A dancehall MC? These are things I didn’t think I’d need to be asking until at least 1989…
There’s a catchy piano hook, a bass-line that answers along to each riff, and an organ that swells every so often before fading. All the while a voice, either Dave or Ansil’s, or both maybe, calls on us to Work it! And to Hit me one more time! He sounds like James Brown leading an aerobics class, shouting stuff like Good God! Too much! I like it! Soul poppin’!
This is a cool, cool number one single. It’s uncompromisingly funky, straight from the streets of Kingston. The obvious comparison to make is to Desmond Dekker’s ‘Israelites’ from exactly two years ago – the first true reggae single to make #1 in the UK. The organs hint at the piano instrumentals of the ‘50s, especially Dave and Ansil’s fellow West Indian, Winifred Atwell. But the rest of the record looks way, way into the future, to the late eighties, early nineties, when huge hit records could just be snippets of a rhythm with some vocals chanted over the beat.
Dave, and Ansell Collins were a Jamaican duo (Dave is actually Dave Barker… If ever a band name needed an Oxford comma it is theirs). It is his vocals you hear throughout the song. There’s some confusion over whether his partner was ‘Ansell, ‘Ansel’ or ‘Ansil’. It was the latter which was printed on the British copies of ‘Double Barrel’. The duo had one further hit single when ‘Monkey Spanner’ reached #7 later in the year.
So, just as we were working up a glam rock groove, this comes along like a short, sharp blast from another planet. The early 1970s throws us another curveball. Not that I’m complaining. If only all the curveballs could be as funky, catchy and as goddamn cool as this record!
Listen to all our previous number ones with this playlist.
16 thoughts on “299. ‘Double Barrel’, by Dave and Ansil Collins”
Definitely reggae. Whichever of the two that is singing sounds a lot like Billy Ocean.
Maybe he is saying that he is “the magnificent wooo.” I have a woo in my house:
Nothing beats “I am the god of hellfire…” 😆
Oh man, I forgot about Arthur! How’s that possible? Maybe one day I should do a feature on the best intros to #1 singles…
I like the ‘wooo’. Cute!
This is a cool little song man. I never heard it before. I can’t believe it didn’t do better in the States.
You are a hard man to find…when I click on your name I get a hongkong address.
Yeah that’s my old blog address. This blog is technically my side-blog, though it’s the only one I publish on these days
Oh ok…I bookmarked it now.
Cool. Do my posts not come up in your feed, though?
Yes they do…with certain people I make sure I have enough time to read thoroughly. You are one of those people and I wait until I have time to listen to the song without being bothered… and read what you have…that is why sometimes you don’t see me until a little later.
Like you wanted to hear all of this lol.
Well, thanks for always taking the time to read my nonsense!
But it’s great nonsense!!!
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Collins is a legend in Jamaican music of the 70s. A member of dub pioneers The Revolutionaries (check out the LP Leggo Dub by Ossie’s All Stars – superb), he also played with or produced many of the big names of the time, Jimmy Cliff, Black Uhuru, Scientist, Augustus Pablo to name a few. Dave Barker was what is known as a toaster – definitely an early style of rapping. For me, one of the best tracks to ever make it to number one, helped on by the skinheads who were buying it along with other records of the same vein.
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