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Monday, June 12, 2006

Session 15: The Librarian, the Hit Man, and The Upsetter

Susan Cadogan
Minister's daughter Alison Anne Cadogan was plucked from the obscurity of a library job at the University of the West Indies by maverick Jamaican sound sorceror Lee 'Scratch' Perry after she made an impromptu appearance at his legendary Black Ark studios in the late summer of 1974. Anne blew the mad doctor away with her voice after she had been coaxed to sing one the song 'Love My Life' written by her dj boyfriend Jerry Lewis. Scratch had for some time wanted to release his take on Millie Jackson's saucy hit 'Hurt So Good', and Anne's appearance at the Ark was a fortuitous event. For a shy librarian, she had one hell of a seductive voice, and the ambiguous lyrics left little to the imagination.

Once the track was laid down (with Boris Gardiner on bass), Lee took the liberty of changing Anne's name to Susan Cadogan, as he thought that sounded more sexy. Already having been diverted from the straight path, Anne happily aquiesced. This minister's daughter had embarked on a life of disappointment at the hands of music men...

For the next few months Anne/Susan arrived at the Ark every Sunday, and by Christmas she and Perry had recorded over a dozen songs. The fact that keyboardist Glen Adams was on hand might have influenced this burst of creativity, as the newly-named Susan and he were 'involved' for a time.

'Hurt So Good' was not initially a success in its homeland, however in the summer of 1974 Londoners went wild over Anne's song when it was aired at the annual Notting Hill Carnival by Clifton 'Larry' Lawrence, one of Perry's London contacts from the late '60's when he acted as unofficial road manager (read: 'party organiser') for the Upsetters. However, Lawrence missed this boat, as the official UK release was handled by Jamaican immigrant and Manchester University graduate Dennis Lascelles Harris, who had established the DIP label in South East London. Scratch, ignoring his contractual obligations to Trojan, dealt with Harris directly, and 'Hurt So Good' gained its first official UK release

Pete Waterman pictured with Michaela Strachan The DIP release (of 2,000 copies) proved popular, and paved the way for the next musical Svengali to take advantage of young Cadogan. Aspiring pop-music producer 'Hit Man' Pete Waterman (pictured here with Michaela Strachan) heard the song playing in a record shop, and took a copy of it to the Magnet label. Magnet licensed the song from DIP and Magnet launched it; by April 1975 'Susan' Cadogan's take on 'Hurt So Good' was at No 4 in the UK charts, propelled by an appearance on influential pop show Top of the Pops by a bewigged and bewildered Anne, whisked out of Jamaica under the nose of the Mighty Upsetter.

Scratch heard that his protogee had been whisked to England, and his iration was high. Flying to England, he confronted Cadogan in her hotel room, and threatened that should she sign anything with Magnet he'd make sure she'd never get a cent.

Feeling indebted to Magnet for her flight and accommodation in the UK, Anne nevertheless signed a contract with Magnet, for which she got £3,000. Interestingly, sales for 'Hurt So Good' were excluded from this arrangement, and Anne soon found that her air fare, hotel accommodation, food and clothes were all deductible from this payment, so she ended up indebted to Magnet.

Pete Waterman wasn't so unlucky. For his pains Magnet bought him a new Jaguar, and he began his mercurial rise to the top, on the back of a song that inexperienced Alison Anne Cadogan had sung at the Black Ark almost a year before. Magnet told Anne that she didn't need a car as she couldn't drive... The £3,000 she received from Magnet would be the only money she would get from 'Hurt So Good' until its re-release in 1998, and incredible 24 years afterwards.

In June 1975 Anne was summoned to a meeting at Magnet to discuss who had rights to the hit. Alone she was faced with the Magnet legal team, Perry and his lawyer, DIP and their lawyer, and even a representative from Warner Brothers who owned rights to the song. The outcome was to order Susan to record material with Pete Waterman. Waterman's unerring pop sensibilities (or vibrations from outer space) directed him to accompany Anne on a version of 'Would You Like To Swing On A Star With Me' to the backing of the London Symphony Orchestra. To everyone's great surprise, this didn't become a hit...

Perry, on the other hand, waited until the Magnet debacle was over to release the material he and anne had recorded. 'Susan Cadogan' finally surfaced in the UK in November 1977. Only the single 'Nice and Easy', with backing from Jimmy Riley, ever got anywhere. Eventually Anne dumped the name Susan, and went back to work at the Library. Pete Waterman emerged to become one of the powers behind the rise of such 'talents' as Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and Rick Astley in the '80's.

This sad tale has a sort of happy ending - Anne still likes to sing, and once in a while can be found leaving her desk and going on stage with the likes of Toots Hibbert and Boris Gardiner in her Jamaican homeland. And God's blessing on her.

KoB won't post 'Hurt So Good,' but one of Alison Anne Cadogan's other Lee Perry tracks, the sublime 'Nice And Easy,' a smooth slice of reggae, easy on the ear and gladdening to the heart. Ladies and Gentlemen, for your enjoyment:
Susan Cadogan: Nice and Easy (1975) [mp3 | 03:17 mins | 192 kbps | 4.62 MB]

Buy "Hurt So Good" by Susan Cadogan from Amazon
File under: Music Industry Exploitation

[Click on the link and you’ll be taken to rapidshare where you can download the track. First come first served people, only 10 days allowed! If you like the music, please support the artist]

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P.S. - Much of the material for this feature on Susan Cadogan was gleaned from the indispensible guide to Lee Perry and the Black Ark, David Katz' 'People Funny Boy; the Genius of Lee "Scratch" Perry.' Buy It!!!

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