Saturday, 30 June 2012

Pass The Dutchie by Musical Youth

This classic 1982 hit was released in September 1982 and has to be one of the most successful one-hit wonders ever.  Musical Youth really were a boy band and were aged 11-15 when this song was released.  Could it happen even now that a group of black children could release an album, never mind be picked up by a label and have a 4 million selling song?  Amazing, and a real sign of the times as there was so much great reggae and reggae inspired music around at that time, from The Specials, Madness, UB 40 of course, so really, the perfect time!  Apart from Madness, all of the others were Midlands bands, which was the centre point for this type of sound back then here in the UK.

The boys were all from Duddleston Manor School in Birmingham and formed as a band in 1979. 

An appearance on the John Peel show led to them being signed by MCA.  Pass The Dutchie was their second single and the first off their first album with MCA called The Youth Of Today.  The song entered the Uk charts at number 26, and then hit number 1 the following week.  When it was released in the USA it eventually reached number 10 but hit number 1 in another 5 countries.  4 million in sales is amazing for a first hit!

The song is actually a cover version of Pass The Koutchie by The Mighty Diamonds, from the same year.  I think there has been a certain amount of debate about what the lyrics mean on the Musical Youth version, but the Might Diamonds version is about cannabis and a koutchie is a cannabis pipe.  Not surprisingly, the drug references were removed from the Musical Youth cover, such as the line "how does it feel when you got no food" being inserted instead of "how does it feel when you got no herb".  Even with the references removed, I would be amazed if this could happen now, with our lovely PC brigade!

The video was directed by Don Letts and was filmed across the water from the Houses of Parliament in London.  They were the first black artists to appear on MTV, some months ahead of Michael Jackson!  Amazing!

In March this year they were in court (the surviving members) over a royalties battle.  They lost, and it seems they may have been duped somewhat as minors when they signed deals in the 80's.  The case related to the use of the song in the movie "The Wedding Singer". Sad, I hope they get some money.

Finally, here is the original version by The Mighty Diamonds.


  1. Very good post about an interesting group. Your article also does a good job of bringing out what a remarkable era the early '80s (or all of the '80s for that matter) were in terms of music: a time when a "boy band" really did consist of young kids, and young black kids playing reggae-influenced music at that!! The '80s are often ignored for just how ingenious and breakthrough some of its music is (although we sometimes hear no end to how supposedly groundbreaking '90s "alternative" stuff is, even when its garbage).

    The songs bring back great memories too!! :)