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Interview: Susan Cadogan

Interview: Susan Cadogan

Interview: Susan Cadogan

By on - Photos by Michael Magnus - Comment

"I did an album for Lee Perry and got a million-seller. Who could ask for more?"


Interview opportunities can appear when you least expect them – and disappear just as easily! When Angus Taylor was covering the final day of the One Love Festival for United Reggae on August 21st 2011 he got the chance to have an impromptu chat with Susan Cadogan, the Jamaican librarian-turned-singer who hit the UK pop charts in 1975 with the Lee Perry produced cover of Millie Jackson's Hurt So Good and arguably sowed some of the seeds of lovers rock. The interview had to be terminated, however, when Susan's friend and fellow musical legend Dennis Alcapone hit the stage. But not before Susan had reminisced on her career, her relationship with the late keyboard maestro Glen Adams, reality TV singing competitions and most importantly, who made the distinctive "whop!" sound on her classic follow-up to Hurt So Good; Nice and Easy!

Susan Cadogan

Susan: Capone! Dennis! Oh he don't see me. Dennis! Dennis! (laughs)

I guess the first question I should ask is how well do you know Dennis Alcapone? (laughs)

Well I really got to know him well when we were in Jamaica when Glen Adams, you know the keyboardist, was dying. He was at the hospital with me. I'd met him on tour with the Slackers way back in 2004, but I really got to know him well since December last year.

Can I ask you about Glen? I know you were very close once upon a time...

Yes. Actually in 1975... well, I suppose everybody knows because it's in print... Glen and myself were kind of romantically involved (laughs). So and then I didn't see Glen again until 2001 when we worked together and we made two albums, we did some tours and stuff, you know? So we were really good, good friends and I'm glad I was there with him at the end.

Glen [Adams]... kind of felt like he didn't get enough recognition for the work he had done

What’s your abiding memory of Glen?

(laughs) Oh Glen was so miserable! You know he kind of felt like he didn't get enough recognition for the work he had done, as do a lot of people, because other people think that "Well, Bob Marley is great but Glen was around the time of Bob". Actually he wrote Who Is Mr Brown? you know, one of Bob's? And he used to play... you know I think, we used to say that Glen Adams shuffle. He had a real way of touching the organ and the Slackers loved him, they took him on tour. It's a pity that he didn't get to see all that he wanted happen before he died, you know?

Do you feel that you've achieved the amount of recognition you deserve in your career?

Well, for me it doesn't really bother me. What I really love is just the music and doing it. Sometimes I wish that I could really earn and get what was due to me so that I could live off of it so that I wouldn't have to work and worry, you know? Because I really haven't earned much from music. But the recognition - sometimes I think I get so much! I didn't even realise I was so well known! (laughs)

That's a great way of looking at it! You were exposed to the mechanics of the British music industry at a young age.

I was like 22 when I did Hurt So Good and luckily for me, a lot of people work so hard and battle for years in the business to get a hit, I had an overnight hit. To be picked up by Peter Waterman, who turned into Stock, Aiken and Waterman and have so much history! Of being with Peter Waterman every day, of his producing my first album. So BBC charts and London have always meant a lot to me, this is where I'm known, you know? Europe and things - more so than in my own country and by my own people.

I really haven't earned much from music. But the recognition - sometimes I think I get so much!

What do you think of the TV talent shows that Pete Waterman's involved in now?

You mean Pop Idol?


I watch them! I love to see people sing and I find them entertaining and also good because there's so much talent out there that goes unfound, unrecognised. I think they're ok; you've got some great singers from them, some of them haven't done that well, you know? Simon Cowell - since I've been here I've seen this X Factor thing, which is more or less the same thing. Pop Idol, X Factor, American Idol, America's Got Talent; people love reality shows.

Did you take part in talent shows when you were young?

Susan CadoganNever! Never. I used to sing in the church choir. I used to just love to sing and then one night all of a sudden I got the opportunity to sing this song for a friend. I was doing it at Perry's Studio and he asked me to sing Hurt So Good, and I did an album for him and got a million-seller. Who could ask for more? Lucky Susan! (laughs)

You’re meant to be performing with Mad Professor today...

I'm hoping to perform with Mad Professor! He's supposed to play. He has produced three albums for me. In 1991 I did some shows in Germany with him and his Robotics Band, then when the music business started to give, when records and CDs weren't selling so much, he found a new way of putting himself on stage, so he takes his mixing board and he does a dub. So he used to take me on tour with him and I would sing and he would dub and thing. So now that they asked me to do this show he offered to play: Susan Cadogan meets Mad Professor. I really hope he comes but I don't think they have the equipment he needs, so not sure but I have tracks.

If you play what can people expect tonight?

Most people of course know Hurt So Good. Hurt So Good is amazing after 36 years and it's still hurting so good. I have Fever, I have some new tracks with Mad Professor. I did a cover of Not With Your Boy and I'm Still In Love With You, Nice And Easy.

A lot of people work so hard and battle for years in the business to get a hit, I had an overnight hit

I was going to ask if you were going to play Nice and Easy. Can you tell me a bit about that tune? It's my personal favourite.

The Miracles sang it, Do It Baby. I used to go to Perry every Sunday and record, and I loved it so I said "Perry, can I record Do It Baby?" and he laid the rhythm, and Jimmy Riley and Glen Adams were there and they put on the (sings) "Whop, whop, whop"... and you know, we did it.


Oh! Dennis is about to go on stage!

Well I’ll let you go and watch him. Thanks for the interview – I’ve always wanted to know who made that noise!

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