Mel Cooke, Freelance Writer
Nadine Sutherland. - Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer
There was U.S. Billboard chart action for the Nadine Sutherland and Terror Fabulous combination of the Dave Kelly penned and produced 'Action' in 1994, but chart positions come and chart positions go, bubbly ditties about the all-time "tender satisfaction" are spun and forgotten.
However, when 15 years after its release a song makes the top 20 of Vibe Magazine's all-time greatest duets, that rating supported by a guaranteed party 'forward' across borders and generations, it is an Action that is here to stay.
For Nadine Sutherland, Action came at a transformative point in her musical life in 1993, almost fulfilled every dream of pop stardom and then the bubble of big label signings popped and it was back to terra firma.
"I went to England because I had some contacts. I had a manager, Erskin Thompson. I was bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and I was going to be an international star," Sutherland told The Sunday Gleaner.
"First we tried to do some R&B, then Shabba bus out with dancehall and we decided to do dancehall," Sutherland said, adding that it was during that time she auditioned for Soul II Soul, but that deal got mangled between managers.
Her manager, Erskin Thompson, suggested that she go home and pursue the dancehall route. For Sutherland that was no problem, as "I liked dancehall".
So home to 'yard' she came, the song Wanna Go Home, written in England, putting her homesickness on record. Before Action, though, came Wicked Dickie, a song with Buju Banton, but not exactly done with the Gargamel in 1993.
From demos to no 2
"I did some demos and one day I walked into a record store and a lady said congratulations. I said for what and she said the big tune Wicked Dickie with Buju Banton, which is at number 2. I learned that the sang had been spliced (Sutherland's Wicked and Wild with Buju Banton's Dickie) and it was a hit. To this day. A crossover too, but not as big as Action," Sutherland said.
That was in about September, then in Christmas 1993 Action hit the streets. It was one of the demos she had done, this one for Dave Kelly who wrote and produced it, Sutherland saying "I take no credit for the funkiness of Action and the brilliance of it".
There is another brilliance to Action, the voice of the man who intones "not a bag a mout'" after Sutherland croons 'action'. Sutherland calls Terror Fabulous "that incredible deejay, that up to this day I don't know what is in his voice".
The chemistry on the record is not the result of a long association, as Sutherland says "the day I went to do Action was the day I met Terror".
"He was always on key He was just an incredible artiste, one of the better deejays we have had," she said.
Unfortunately, Terror Fabulous faded to mental problems, the two performing Action together at Cocoa Tea's New Year's Eve 'Original Dancehall Jam Jam' in Hayes, Clarendon, two years ago for the first in a very long time.
At that concert Sutherland said "I bawled. Is like you stand up helpless and see him. You remember being in Japan a do Action, in some obscure parts of the U.S. We worked that song. It was a lot of work, sometimes in the cold".
'Action' amazed US
When Action hit, Sutherland says "the ethnic market in America embraced it. Terror was then signed to East West. His first tune was Gangster's Anthem. The second song was Action."
The song was credited to "Terror Fabulous featuring Nadine Sutherland, which was under-standable because he was signed". In fact, the credits on the video did not even include her at first, then the labeling was changed.
"It is when you get older you can look back and say the vision we did have never normal," Sutherland said. "If East West did give me the chance we woulda done the world."
That chance did not come, because although Action led to her being signed by East West times changed. "Reggae was a fad, stopped selling as they wanted," she said. Her album for the record label, Island Girl, was shelved, but Nadine Sutherland lost more than an investment in studio time.
There was the diet, the weight-training, the dancing. "I cut off everything and focused on the moment. I lived, slept, breathed music. It just did not work out," she said.
However, it was not a waste as she says "Action still opens doors for me. It has not died and never will. When you go to parties in the U.S. they still play it."
There are no regrets ("not at all") over doing a song that stated a desire for sex with "I need some action, tender satisfaction/My chemistry is flowing, can you cause a chain reaction". "That was probably the most risque I would get. Action is mild. There are so many ways of speaking about sex," she said.