Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Clock 'Axel F'

Chart Peak: 7

YouTube
Masterminded by Manchester DJ Stu Allan, 'Axel F', which had reached No. 7 by 12/3/95, is Clock's 3rd UK chart hit following 'Keep The Fires Burning' and 'The Rhythm' last year... Clock are rapper DC MC and Latania Mitchell.
I'm slightly surprised this is the first time I'm writing about Clock here, given their lengthy run of success in the second half of the decade. 'Axel F' (officially a double A-side with 'Keep Pushin', a title Nightcrawlers never quite got round to) was in fact their fourth Top 75 single but their third Top 40 and first Top 20. It's also one of nine cover versions they charted with, apparently more than anyone else managed in the 1990s.

Although Clock were clearly patterned after 2 Unlimited, with unseen producers making the backing tracks and a male/female rap/vocal duo fronting the act, this particular track is actually mostly instrumental, with only occasional vocal samples popping up to give it some colour. It's interestingly bounced around the stereo spectrum too. Mostly the track is just a pumping version of the famous soundtrack hit and I'm surprised to say that I rather enjoy it. Actually my favourite of the three versions of the tune on Now albums.

Also appearing on: Now 31, 35
Available on: Big Tunes Back To The 90s 2

Monday, 1 September 2014

Corona 'Baby Baby'

Chart Peak: 5
YouTube
Corona are Italian writer/arranger/producer Francesco Bontempi and vocalist Olga De Souza.. They had a huge hit with 'Rhythm Of The Night' in 1994 and 'Baby Baby' - due for release on 27th March '95 - is hotly tipped.
It's notable that quite a few of these dance tracks are appearing somewhat upfront; the tracks were included even though they had yet to prove themselves as hits at time of going to press. Of course, this was easier to do with dance tracks that were already successful in clubs than with other types of music.

This is the second track in a row that I don't recall, and in this case it's not even a cover of a song I knew (although it's not actually an original either - Bontempi recycled the song from a 1991 flop by another of his acts, Joy & Joyce). I even seem to have lost all memory of the cover version by Sunblock that went Top 20 in 2007. The reason is that this song is profoundly unmemorable. I sometimes feel a bit mean saying this because I realise that there are people who love this sort of track and I don't begrudge them their pleasure in it - it just seems too context-dependent. It's not even as interesting to me as other Corona tracks. At least De Souza looks like she's having fun in the video.

Also appearing on: Now 29, 32
Available on: The Rhythm of the Night

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Tin Tin Out featuring Espiritu 'Always Something There To Remind Me'

Chart Peak: 14
YouTube
Tin Tin Out are Darren Stokes and Lindsay Edwards... 'Always...', due for release on 13th March '95 features the vocals of Vanessa from Espiritu and is a dance reworking of the Bacharach-David classic.
The title is given as 'Always...' on the sleeve image in the booklet too, but elsewhere the full title seems to be used. Perhaps the publishers insisted. This is also the first track on this particular disc I have no memory of from the time.

An odd little phenomenon in 90s music, Tin Tin Out were successful remixers and had a decent crop of hit singles of their own (this is one of six from their debut album) yet seem little-remembered and little-noticed even at the time; I never heard of anybody identifying themselves as Tin Tin Out fans. Indeed, the success and low profile might almost have been part of the same thing; they never seem to have tried to develop a strong identity of their own, treating each single as a one-off commercial effort. The parade of different vocalists fronting different tracks didn't make Stokes and Edwards any more famous either.

The other problem for posterity might be that they were trying so hard to create tracks that suited the dancefloors of the time, and however well that worked then it's not a recipe for making a song that would make sense years later. Nowadays this just sounds like the chorus of the original song being sung over generic dance beats, except that once it's sung in Italian for no apparent reason. I hesitate to be negative but it does nothing for me now.

After the duo's success, Edwards apparently became an academic physiologist. You can download his paper on The Reproducibility of 31-Phosphorus MRS Measures of Muscle Energetics at 3 Tesla in Trained Men, which is something I heartily approve of from an open-access perspective.

Tin Tin Out also appear on: Now 39 (with Shelley Nelson), 44 (with Emma Bunton)
Available on: Always

Friday, 29 August 2014

Nightcrawlers 'Push The Feeling On'

Chart Peak: 3 [previous mix 22 in 1994]
YouTube
'Push The Feeling On' has been one of the biggest club records of the past couple of years... This new remix finally pushed the Glasgow band into the upper reaches of the national chart when it peaked at No. 3 in March '95.
Back in 1995 I remember this video never seemed to be off MTV, which considering that it looked every bit as cheap then as it does now seems quite a good return on their investment. We used to joke that it sounded like he was singing "You're lying in a pool of sperm," a phrase which in this case thankfully didn't make it into the song title. In fact this track has a bit of topicality about it since the hit version is a remix by MK [the specific version here is MK Dub Revisited Edit] and at time of writing, another MK remix has put 'My Head Is A Jungle' by Wankelmut and Emma Louise into the Top 10 (and possibly into contention for Now 89).

What I didn't realise until this week was just how much MK had done to this record. I finally looked up the 1992 original of 'Push The Feeling On', and it's barely recognisable as the same track, it's more of an Acid Jazz/ funk track than a dance single. And hence the explanation for the indecipherable lyric: it's just brief samples from the first verse of the song (the annotations on that YouTube video show where they come from), not even complete words in some cases, so no wonder John Reid struggles to mime to it in the video. Even the few repeats of the original chorus seem almost like they're there on sufferance to make the song identifiable - the main hookline is definitely the synth part that MK himself added. In fact, I have to wonder whether he actually disliked the original and decided to use as little as possible of it. Whatever the reasoning, he and Reid clearly did rather well out of it.

After the original MK remix had done well in clubs and become a minor hit, he returned with this slightly revised version, which was credited officially to "Nightcrawlers featuring John Reid" (number of permanent members of Nightcrawlers who weren't John Reid: zero) and had one of the biggest dance hits of the 1990s - something which only spawned further remixes. Making hay with this change in career direction, a whole barrage of suspiciously similar Nightcrawlers singles including the shamelessly titled 'Let's Push It' and 'Don't Let The Feeling Go'. He later wrote a Number One for Westlife, but this inane yet unforgettable track remains his calling card. If such people as Pitbull fans exist, they might find this part of the album somewhat familiar since both this and (indirectly) 'The Bomb' were sampled on later hits by him.

Available on: The Pete Tong Collection

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Kenny "Dope" presents the Bucketheads 'The Bomb (These Sounds Fall Into My Mind)'

Chart Peak: 5
YouTube
'The Bomb' is an infectious disco dance floor gem out of Brooklyn, New York City... Kenny is half of hot production team Masters At Work and this cut exploded into the UK Top 5 in March '95.
Mondegreens or misheard lyrics are hardly uncommon in pop music, but it's more unusual to find one in the very title of a song. Yet, famously, that's what we have here as this track is based on 'Street Player' by Chicago, and the lyric that gives the song its (sub)title was recorded as "Street sounds falling through my mind". Here I'm reminded of a tweet by the critic Simon Price where he mentions that he once paid £20 for an imported Chicago CD just to hear the source of the sample; whatever you might say about changes in the music industry since 1995, some things have definitely improved for the consumer.

The other unusual thing about this is that it's a 1990s dance track that I actually liked at the time. Perhaps it's hypocritical of me after what I wrote about 'U Sure Do' but I think this is an example of a sample used right: mind you, I wasn't willing to spend £20 to listen to Chicago, a band I knew only for their sappy ballads, so I only knew this interpretation. I still prefer this one though, one of the best neo-disco tracks of that era, with that odd crunching sound that keeps coming in over it giving it a bit more bite and stopping it from sounding like a Muzak pastiche. The other proviso is that I've only heard the short edit versions - as featured here - and not the full 15-minute version, which I suspect would be a bit more boring. At this length, though, a triumph.

You can now acquire the Chicago track for considerably less money on Nile Rodgers Presents Disco Inferno should you wish.

Available on: Henry Street Bombs Vol. 1

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Strike 'U Sure Do'

Chart Peak: 4 [31 in 1994]
YouTube
Strike are DJs Andy Gardner and Matt Cantor plus Australian vocalist Victoria Newton... 'U Sure Do', a huge club tune for some months now, is set for re-release on 20th March '95 and is bound for the national Top 10.
It obviously was not uncommon for a dance track to be a minor hit at first and then chart much higher re-released, though this does seem to have been a remarkably quick turnaround.

The main vocal hook is, as fans of 80s soul would know, sampled from 'Serious' by Donna Allen, which has the most 1987 video imaginable. The tune comes from 1991 rave hit 'Night In Motion' by Cubic 22 which I hadn't heard until I came to write this post, and it has to be said that whilst it's not a direct lift, and Strike certainly have added some of their own material, it's harder to credit them for catchiness that's obviously so secondhand. Yes, it's well-produced and from a 1995 perspective you can see that it would have been more "relevant" than Donna Allen and more commercial than Cubic 22. You can certainly see why it would go down well in clubs but it does feel a wee bit pointless now.

Also appearing on: Now 35
Available on: Big Tunes Destination Dance

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Alex Party 'Don't Give Me Your Life'

Chart Peak: 2
YouTube
Alex Party are Italian brothers Paulo {sic} and Gianni Visnadi and DJ/Remixer Alex Natale together with English singer Shanie... 'Don't Give Me Your Life' had raced to No. 2 in the UK by 5/3/95.
Second track on Disc 2, and as you might expect we continue with the dance tracks that tend to dominate the second discs of Now albums in the mid-90s. A somewhat "purer" dance act than the Outhere Brothers rap/dance hybrid, Alex Party were named after a track that was named after their DJ. However the Visnadi brothers, also members of Livin' Joy, may have been more important to the sound.

'Don't Give Me Your Life' recycles elements from their eponymous hit, particularly those twinkling synth parts, but adds a fresh melody and lyric. That's just as well since the song was later re-worked again as 'Read My Lips'. This is probably the best version though, at least it has a bit of a story to tell with a rejected lover turning the tables and rejecting the rejector. Shanie is a decent singer too, even though she looks like she's been forced to do the video at gunpoint. This doesn't quite cross the boundary into being a song I love, but I can recognise it as a good example of its type.

Also appearing on: Now 32
Available on: The Best Off Dance 90 [Explicit]