Sunday, 1 March 2009

1982 Tight Fit: The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Following a long tradition of jerry built bands knocked up to front a surprise hit single, Tight Fit were created purely to publicly perform this version of 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' that producer Tim Friese-Greene (who went on to better things with Talk Talk and Thomas Dolby) had recorded with some anonymous session singers. Incidentally, the line up of this Tight Fit had no overlap with the previous version of Tight Fit who recorded the two 'Back To The Sixties' medleys the year before.

Confused? Perhaps. But there's no need to be, and there's no need to be overly critical of manufactured bands either - the song is the thing here and your reaction to this will depend on what you think of it. Written by South African Zulu musician Solomon Linda in 1939, its had a chequered history dogged by lawsuits, copyright issues and mishearings of the lyrics, leading Karl Denver to have a hit with a version called 'Wimoweh' in 1962 which remains the standard reference point for subsequent versions.

The version by 'Tight Fit' does not rock the boat in any way - lyrics, tune and general African feel are faithfully re-created with some rather fine sounding djembe drums being needlessly overlaid by some telltale 'eighties' electronic beats and phasing on the chorus. There's even some squawking bird and chimp effects lest anyone forget we are we in African territory here. Nothing wrong with that I guess.

Bottom line, it's a faithfull enough version that was a staple of any school disco worth it's salt for a few years after and in many ways it encapsulates the eighties for anyone who wasn't there and think it was ten years of big hair and bright colours - if you liked the song before then you'll like this. If you didn't, then Tight Fit are not going to convert anyone.

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