Thursday, 18 December 2014

Hot Chocolate 'You Sexy Thing'

Chart Peak: 6
Errol Brown's 'You Sexy Thing' was originally a No. 2 hit for Hot Chocolate back in 1975... It hit the Top 10 again in 1987 and is due for re-release by public demand on 3rd November '97 following its use in the hugely successful movie The Full Monty.
Now, my recollection from seeing the film is that they used the original 1975 mix of the song (as they used many other songs from that era, although the setting was contemporary) and indeed the soundtrack album uses that version. It was the lead track from the CD single too, and even the Now 38 booklet uses the 1975 copyright date but somehow, by accident or design, the actual CD plays the 1987 Ben Liebrand remix. That's a pity because it duplicates the version on Now 9 (admittedly never available on CD) and, as I've previously mentioned, the remix isn't all that good. It sounds especially out of place on a 1990s album - a 1997 remix might be dated now but at least it would have been somehow fitting at the time, but this is just disappointing.

If you do consider the versions together, this was an unprecedented Top 10 run in separate decades for the track. In another little curiosity, this was the third version of the song to chart within as many months. A cover by T-Shirt slipped in at 63 just a couple of weeks after the film was released (surely too soon for an intentional cash-in) and went on to be a major hit in Australasia, whilst Clock took the song to the Top 20 in October (as 'U Sexy Thing') and that version overlapped in the chart with this reissue.

Also appearing on: Now 2, 9 [same track]
Available on: The Best Of Hot Chocolate

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Tina Moore 'Never Gonna Let You Go'

Chart Peak: 7
'Never Gonna Let You Go' broke onto the UK clubscene when it was discovered on the B-side of Rosie Gaines' anthem 'Closer Than Close'... Released as a single in its own right it peaked in the charts at No. 7.
I'm not sure exactly which version of 'Closer Than Close' this was ever the B-side to: presumably a white label 12" since the formats of the Gaines single which went Top 10 were all mixes of the same song. Either way, of course, I was entirely unaware of this track until it entered the chart although when it did I recognised the looped vocal from the hit 'RIP Groove' by Double 99; that had been a minor hit earlier in the year and was about to be re-issued to greater success. We're in the first big wave of crossover success for UK garage, which produced a number of hits and popular remixes in 1997 and early 1998 and then seemed to disappear (commercially) for a couple of years until the emergence of the two-step sound at the turn of the century. Although the original version of the song had been a minor US RnB hit a couple of years before, it's a fairly generic track and it's only the "Kelly G Bump-N-Go Vocal Mix" the made the song a UK smash. Not the sort of music I cared about at all back then but listening back it has a rather broken, jerky sound that I quite like - it gives it more energy and personality than a lot of dance tracks.

Available on: The Masters Series: 90's RnB

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Dario G 'Sunchyme'

Chart Peak: 2
Dario G sampled the Dream Academy's classic 'Life In A Northern Town' to score a No. 2 smash in September with 'Sunchyme'.

It's probably not the record they wanted to break, but 'Sunchyme' has its own place in history: of more than a thousand singles that have now peaked at 2, none has been as many sales behind the Number One as this was on the chart dated 29th September 1997. Of course that Number One was the biggest seller of all time, 'Candle In The Wind 97' in its first full week of sales so theirs was no disgrace - actual sales were pretty good.

Back in 1997 I hadn't knowingly heard 'Life In A Northern Town', and if you'd asked me to guess what the sample source for 'Sunchyme' was, I'd never have guessed it was a wistful ballad about Nick Drake. It just sounded like another euphoric pseudo-ethnic dance track and I was more irritated than anything else. I don't mind it so much, even despite hearing Chris Evans play it on the radio just after I arrived at work almost every Monday this year.

Also appearing on: Now 48
Available on: The Workout Mix - Beach Fit! [+Digital Booklet]

Monday, 15 December 2014

Sash! featuring La Trec 'Stay'

Chart Peak: 2
'Stay' was the third massive hit of 1997 for Sash!... They are the first act to start their UK chart career with 3 consecutive No. 2 hits, the others being 'Encore Une Fois' and 'Ecuador'.
Not just three Number 2s, but also their first three hits were in different languages, albeit that the music of Sash! was not particularly noted for its lyrical complexity. That said, 'Stay' is a more conventional song with a full lyric (unsurprisingly in English) and for that reason less distinctive than the previous two hits. Nothing actually wrong with it but it doesn't really seem to go anywhere or do anything for me.

Also appearing on: Now 36, 37 [with Rodriguez], 39, 41 [with Shannon], 42, 45, 71 [with Stunt]
Available on: The Best Of

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Gala 'Freed From Desire'

Chart Peak: 2
Gala's 'Freed From Desire' was probably the biggest dance hit of the summer... Firstly it was a hit all over Continental Europe and then a No.2 monster hit in Britain.
One of the bigger dance hits of the era, though I remember it mostly for a slightly awkward Top Of The Pops appearance which demonstrated why energetic choreography and live vocals don't always mix. When she had her second hit she just stood at the microphone. In case you're scratching your head there, 'Let A Boy Cry' peaked at 11 and sold one copy to my brother, who had a habit of buying the follow-ups to big dance tracks. She even snuck a week at 38 with the title track of her album, which isn't a bad run for a Eurodance act from this era.

Back to 'Freed From Desire', it's a song that teeters on the very edge of irritation, and if you dislike the phrase "na-na-na" it'll tip right over that edge. The melody is quite minimal and her voice rather different from typical dance-diva stuff, whilst those lyrics that aren't "na" seem to be aiming for some sort of Zen ideal. There's something insistently unforgettable about it though.

In case you were wondering, this was the start of Side 2 on the cassette version, so I've taken the opportunity to include a photo of the CD. Yeah, I know that doesn't make a lot of sense but it seemed the least bad place for it.

Available on: Come into My Life (10th Anniversary)

Friday, 12 December 2014

Louise 'Arms Around The World'

Chart Peak: 4
'Arms Around The World' made No. 4 in late September '97 and Louise's 6th solo hit since leaving Eternal in 1995... Her 7th hit, a cover of the Average White Band's 1980 classic 'Let's Go Round Again' is due for mid-November release.
Second sleeve note running to plug the follow-up single, which seems a bit like it's underselling the track it actually has to offer. Perhaps they were hoping to keep the 70s retro connection going, tenuously. It's slightly odd to be reticent about this, which proved to be her biggest-selling solo single, although admittedly it was favoured by being the first single from the album, released at the peak of her career and in one of the best years ever for single sales.  It's fair to say it's not the song she's most remembered for these days but it's actually not bad, although it is one of those songs that starts with a panoply of different "ethnic" instruments and then reverts to conventional late-90s pop. Still, it's got a good positive-sounding chorus and at least it makes me want to like it.

Also appearing on: Now 32, 33, 34, 35, 39, 46, 47, 50
Available on: Greatest Hits: 90s

Thursday, 11 December 2014

All Saints 'I Know Where It's At'

Chart Peak: 4
All Saints are Melanie Blatt, Shaznay Lewis and sisters Natalie and Nicky Appleton... 'I Know Where It's At' was a No. 4 hit in early September '97 and the follow-up 'Never Ever' is due for release in early November.
And the Seventies rock connections continue, as the distinctive piano intro is sampled from Steely Dan's song 'The Fez', and indeed the  remainder of the song is close enough in rhythm that I'm surprised Becker and Fagen didn't demand a writing credit. The single was actually released in late August 1997, but as I mentioned last time All Saints cropped up on here, it was one of the new entries on the unbroadcast chart on the 1st of September. I wasn't massively impressed with the track at the time and liked it even less as I became more and more tired of the group. But taken for what it is, this is a decent funky pop record, though Shaznay Lewis's pseudo-TLS rap in the middle seems unfinished and it better forgotten. So the song has sort of grown on me, although ironically hearing how the best parts come from the Dan has put me off a bit again.

Also appearing on: Now 39, 40, 41, 42, 47, 65
Available on: All Saints / I Know Where It's At