Friday, 17 July 2009

1986 Boris Gardiner: I Want To Wake Up With You

Boris Gardiner had already appeared in the UK charts way back in 1970 with his reggaefied take on Binge's 'Elizabethan Serenade' retitled 'Elizabethan Reggae', but since then he'd maintained a radio silence. Sixteen years is a hell of a gap between singles and it makes 'I Want To Wake Up With You' a surprising number one from a surprising source.

You'd think that a solo single from the former bassist with The Upsetters would come with a reggae thump deep enough to move furniture around the room, but not a bit of it - 'I Want To Wake Up With You' plays out to a laid back, lovers rock groove which, when hitched to Gardiner's no need to hurry vocal, creates a relaxed ambience as soothing as lying submerged in a warm bath.

And though it's nice while it lasts, even the warmest of baths will get cold if you stay in there long enough and 'I Want To Wake Up With You' slightly outstays its welcome when it's sheer repetition ceases to sound like a hypnotic mantra and starts bordering on the slightly creepy and obsessional. This feeling is not helped by the video that had Boris directing the lyrics toward a nameless woman who he seemed to be following around and who in turn had no idea he was watching her:

"I want to wake up with you

I want to reach out and know that you're there
I want you to be the first thing that I see
I want to wake up with you"

It's almost a prologue to The Police's 'Every Breath You Take', though I'm sure Boris meant no harm. And I say it's a surprising number one because on the face of it there is nothing here that sets 'I Want To Wake Up With You' apart from the scores of other identikit niche reggae ballads that get released every year; it's a harmless enough diversion in its own way, but there's little here that warrants repeated plays.

Putting it in the context of its release though, it was maybe the right song at the right time, one that tapped further into the same vein of public sentimentality that de Burgh had opened and in its way it's a natural successor to 'The Lady In Red', being a statement of intent of what the night had to offer after Chris had stopped darncing with her. And besides, any reggae song will automatically sound a hundred times better in high summer with the sun shining so maybe Gardiner did just get lucky, but better by far to see this at number than what preceded it.

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