Saturday, 31 December 2011

Fresh 4 featuring Lizz E 'Wishing On A Star'

Chart Peak: 10


'Wishing On A Star' originally made No.3 in 1978 for Rose Royce, whose back catalogue has provided hits for acts as diverse as Jimmy Nail and S'Express... Fresh 4/Lizz E made the Top 10 in October 1989.

Clearly, this was the era for reworkings of late-70s tracks, with the tracks from De La Soul and Inner City on this album and the near-miss from Big Fun. And 'Wishing On A Star' is the gift that keeps on giving, with Jay-Z and Paul Weller adding to the diversity of the covers and making it one of the most-charted songs in UK history: a version by X-Factor finalists is on its way out of the Top 50 at time of writing, though a competing attempt by Seal found less favour.

For all that the song's only shown up on one Now! album to date, and it's this version from an act who drifted so far into one-hit-wonderdom that I can't even tell you what the "E" stood for. Band member Krust and producers Smith & Mighty went on to slightly bigger things as associates of Roni Size and his Reprazent collective, which would tip you off that this was a product of the Bristol scene if you hadn't already heard it in the accent of rapper Flynn. As it turns out this is really rather an impressive version, maybe the best I've heard: it's not dissimilar in approach from 'Dub Be Good To Me' around the same time and whilst I personally  don't think it's quite as good as that, it still has that slightly chilly air about it. A lot more than I'd bargained for and a pretty good way to end the album, if you can overlook the slightly rushed fade on this 7" edit.

Available on: Back To Life

Friday, 30 December 2011

Redhead Kingpin & The FBI 'Do The Right Thing'

Chart Peak: 13


American rapper Redhead Kingpin reached No. 13 in August 1989 with this track.

Anyone else get the impression they were losing interest at this point in the sleeve notes? No mention of the fact that Redhead Kingpin's real name is David Guppy (no relation to Darius Guppy of fraud fame, so far as I can tell) or to the fact that his mother was apparently a police officer. At least the picture of the band makes it pretty obvious where he got the stage name from.

I have to admit I don't remember this at all from the time, but at least that saves me from getting it mixed up with the similarly-titled Simply Red hit. It's somewhere on the border between rap and that New Jack Swing sound we heard earlier on this album from Bobby Brown, though there's more charm on offer here, and a positive message amid the over-familiar samples. He does sound a bit like he's filling when he starts listing various districts of New York in which people should be doing the right thing, and the record's probably about a minute too long but it's rather enjoyable all the same.

Available on: Pure Dance Party

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Neneh Cherry 'Kisses On The Wind'

Chart Peak:


Neneh's third Top 20 hit in a row following 'Buffalo Stance' and 'Manchild'... Surely the only Swedish-born artiste to appear on 4 Now albums in a row.
4 in a row? If they were anticipating putting her on Now 17, they were wrong. Mind you, I can't think of another Swede who's even managed three in a row - not even Ace Of Base. I'm open to correction on that though, feel free to do so.

The third hit from her solo debut did even better in the US than here, and seems somewhat forgotten now. In all honesty it's not as impressive as 'Buffalo Stance' or as melodic as 'Manchild', although it has some lyrical charm with its tale of a precocious teenage girl. Though I do remember hearing it at the time, I haven't really given it a thought in the last twenty years or so and it's not that surprising really. The production has dated worse than I expected too.

Also appearing on: Now 14, 15, 18, 29 [with Youssou N'Dour], 30 [with Cher, Chrissie Hynde and Eric Clapton], 35
Available on: Raw Like Sushi

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Oh Well 'Oh Well'

Chart Peak: 28

'Oh Well' was written by Peter Green, the original leader of Fleetwood Mac (it made No. 2 in late 1969)... Oh Well are a German trio and the song had taken them to No. 28 by 22nd October 1989.
Fleetwood Mac's original of 'Oh Well' is a bit of an anomaly in their catalogue. Their first (and in the UK, highest-peaking) hit on the Reprise, it's invariably ignored on compilations released by that label, which tend to ignore the Green-era blues recordings and concentrate on the more lucrative AOR recordings of the 1970s and 1980s. Another interesting little factoid: the title was translated differently in Spain, Mexico and Venezuela. I don't know whether that says anything about the lyrical content.

Anyway, it might not have seemed the most obvious candidate for a Eurodance makeover, but it was the late 1990s after all and I presume that it was a well-enough-known song in Germany for people to recognise it. This version is based only on the A-side Part 1, rather than the instrumental second half, and resets Green's surreal (possibly improvised) lyric over background music that sounds like the theme to a regional TV news programme - it even has one of those thumping endings where you can just imagine the anchors straightening their paper scripts against the desk, even though they're going to read the entire bulletin from the autocue. I thought this was quite fun at the time but it hasn't aged all that well.

Available on: Oh Well (download single)

Monday, 26 December 2011

Shakespear's Sister 'You're History'

Chart Peak: 7


Former Bananarama singer Siobhan Fahey, AKA Mrs Dave Stewart, found success in August 1989 when 'You're History' became the first British hit for Shakespear's Sister - It reached No. 7
For a while it was their only hit in fact, although you might notice that the notes refer to the act's origins as a Fahey solo project. Her first single in this guise flopped greatly though, so collaborator Marcella Detroit (aka Marcy Levy) was promoted to band membership, at least promotionally. And this seemed like the right place to launch the duo too: even though Fahey is technically the lead vocalist here, it's Detroit's very high-pitched delivery of the title line that is the real hook. You wouldn't want to hear her screech the whole song like that, but as the chorus it makes the ideal contrast with Fahey's low mumbled responses.

It also adds a layer of silliness that makes it easier to forgive some of the dubious rhymes. Yes, it's another one of those "go away useless ex" songs (maybe a stage forward from the situation in the Jimmy Somerville track, if you're listening on vinyl or cassette and haven't got Brother Beyond in between) but it's an unusually effective one, actually sounding generally glad to be rid of him. A record that's more than the sum of its parts.

Also appearing on: Now 21, 22
Available on: Sacred Heart

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Brother Beyond 'Drive On'

Chart Peak: 39


Our third and last CD-only track, so no sleeve notes again. It's a pretty minor hit, but one can only assume that at time of going to press it was expected to climb further than it actually did. With hindsight, Brother Beyond were something of a precursor to the boy-bands-with-guitars of the 2000s, their struggling career having been rescued the previous year by the intervention of our old friends Stock/Aitken/Waterman. After the first album finally became successful they made what they now acknowledge was the classic mistake of thinking they didn't need SAW and could do the next album on their own.

'Drive On' was a self-penned song; ironically enough guitarist David White is the brother of the band's original drummer Eg White, who later made quite a name for himself as a songwriter, with many a Top 10 hit under his belt. I did find a lot of them quite dull though, so I wouldn't necessarily say this was much worse, but it obviously wasn't the target audience wanted, with its grown-up moodiness and attempt at a political lyric. It also seemed to expose some less than brilliant singing and understandably only just grazed the Top 40. Even playing it safe with a cover version as the next single couldn't revive their career.

And on that not exactly uplifting note, Merry Christmas. Next post coming on Boxing Day.

Also appearing on: Now 13, 14
Available on: The Very Best Of Brother Beyond

Friday, 23 December 2011

Jimmy Somerville featuring June Miles-Kingston 'Comment Te Dire Adieu'

Chart Peak: 14


After a successful spell as lead singer with Bronski Beat ('Smalltown Boy', 'Why?' etc.) and then the Communards ('Don't Leave Me This Way', 'Never Can Say Goodbye' etc.), Jimmy looks to France for inspration on his solo debut - due for release on 30th October 1989.
Yes, that's yer actual French you know, although interestingly enough the song was originally written in English and had been a US hit for Vera Lynn of all people. It was given a French lyric by Serge Gainsbourg (which I think is his only contribution to the Now series, unless anyone knows different?) and recorded in that form by Francoise Hardy, which is presumably the version Somerville would have known; nonetheless, it seems that he may have been making a point by recording the song in a language other than English, with its attendant commercial disadvantages for the UK market.

Surprisingly for Gainsbourg, the lyric isn't obviously rude, barring any innuendo detectable only to native speakers. It's notable for the many "ex" rhymes - including references to Kleenex and Pyrex; you can take the song out of English, but you can't take the English out of the song. I quite like that image of a Pyrex heart, impervious to warmth, actually. Anyway, the song isn't best-suited to a duet performance, but Somerville and Miles-Kingston sound like they're having a lot of fun (and look like it in the video too, but if they're pretending to be French shouldn't the car be left-hand-drive?). The dancey production doesn't exactly have the sophisticated air of Hardy's version though and the finished article hovers dangerously between entertainment and in-joke.

Also appearing on: Now 17, 18, 31
Available on: Read My Lips

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Cliff Richard 'I Just Don't Have The Heart'

Chart Peak: 3

Cliff's 101st British single was written and produced by Stock, Aitken and Waterman... It reached No. 3 on 27th August 1989. The follow-up 'Lean On You' was a Top 20 hit in October.
It's tempting to suspect an element of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" here, since Cliff's hundredth single was kept off the top of the chart by an SAW act (more on that if we ever do Now 15), but as both songs are from the same album it's unlikely in reality. However, it's easy to forget that for the first thirty years or so of his career, part of his survival plan was adapting to changing trends: a decade or so before this he'd proved the point with the discofied 'We Don't Talk Anymore' and the oddly dark new wave style of 'Carrie'. In a sense it was only logical that he'd gravitate in this direction soon enough. I'm not quite so sure what was in it for the producers though.

It goes without saying that, love him or hate him, Cliff is on a different level of performing skill than Big Fun, and he was presumably a bit higher up the pecking order for songs too: 'I Just Don't Have The Heart' is more memorable than 'Can't Shake The Feeling' (at least, I remembered it more, despite there being many bigger Cliff songs to distract me from it) and coincidentally almost the exact opposite in sentiment - he doesn't need or want to shake the feeling, he wants it back. Catchy as it is though, it's not one of the trio's more inspired compositions - the way the entire song seems to be put on hold for that handclap in the chorus gives it a curiously clumsy air at odds with the mechanical production. It seems to have been one of his last attempts to sound modern, though that's probably just as well unless you wanted to hear him collaborating with Chase & Status in 2012.

Also appearing on: 6, 10, 15, 17
Available on: The Platinum Collection

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Big Fun 'Can't Shake The Feeling'

Chart Peak: 8


Big Fun are Jason, Mark and Phil... Their first hit was 'Blame It On The Boogie' - a cover of the Mick Jackson/Jacksons hit, it made No. 4 in early September... This is the follow-up which is due for release on 13th November 1989.
It probably won't have escaped your notice that 'Big Fun' was also the title of a hit by Inner City, and it wouldn't have been totally surprising for them to have been sequenced next to each other for that very reason, although the effect is undermined somewhat by putting them on different sides of the record. And had they actually included 'Blame It On The Boogie' they could have had three revivals of late seventies pop in a row. Incidentally, a note to younger readers: Mick Jackson was not related to The Jacksons, but he did write that song and his version was released in competition with the more internationally famous Jacksons rendition.

You can sort of tell I'm trying to put off writing about 'Can't Shake The Feeling' can't you? It is of course, a Stock/Aitken/Waterman composition and production, coming at the tail end of their imperial phase of success. They'd suffered a backlash as long as they'd been as famous as the acts in front of them of course (I should know, I was part of it) but it has to be said that Big Fun really are everything the SAW detractors accused them of - even with the benefit of studio techniques it's obvious that they couldn't sing, and on the evidence of that TotP appearance they couldn't really dance either. Even the song is pretty second-division for  PWL, a sort of high-NRG without the energy. I'm sure Big Fun were lovely lads but they didn't really have enough going for them to overwhelm the criticism and within nine months of this hit their chart career was over.

Available on: A Pocketful Of Dreams

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Inner City 'Whatcha Gonna Do With My Lovin'?'

Chart Peak: 12


Inner City - Kevin Saunderson and Paris Grey - have already had 4 Top 20 hits in Britain in the last 12 months. This track is due for release on 6th November 1989 and was originally an American hit in 1979 for Stephanie Mills.
Side 3 spins to a close with one of only two American Top 100 hits for the duo (and neither of those made the Top 70). With hindsight some of their material seemed to have pretentions toward being a new Chic, and for a while it worked but they were never totally in the same class. This is a perfectly decent cover version of a perfectly decent track but there's nothing especially exciting about it - possibly some of the club mixes went down better but it's a slight non-event in this form.

Also appearing on: Now 13, 14, 15
Available on: Good Life - The Best Of

Monday, 19 December 2011

De La Soul 'Eye Know'

Chart Peak: 14


The third British Top 30 single of the year for De La Soul... 'Eye Know', which is based around Steely Dan's 1978 American hit 'Peg' followed 'Me Myself And I' and 'Say No Go' into the chart... had reached No. 16 by 22nd October 1989.

Sorry it's not the real video, I couldn't find a full version on YouTube. It's not very good anyway. There's no video for the Steely Dan track either, but then you wouldn't have expected one in those days. I thought I should listen to it for research as the only previous time I can recall hearing it was about 22 years ago,being played on the radio by a DJ who evidently relished the opportunity De La Soul had given him. Although my Dad had (and to the best of my knowledge still has) a copy of Aja, and has always been quite keen on Steely Dan, I don't remember him actually playing it much. Maybe it just wasn't the sort of thing that made an impression on a child.

De La Soul were certainly a band I remembered actually hearing and liking though. Naturally at the time I was too young and naive to place them in any sort of musical context or to be any more than subconsciously aware of the source material: the battle between gangsta rap and the jazzier more upbeat version on offer here was totally unknown to me. Of course being a wimp I grew up with more of an affinity for the latter and nowadays the rap section of my record collection is dominated by the positive vibes of Jurassic 5, Ugly Duckling and other non-Now acts. Inevitably, I ultimately acquired the seminal 3 Feet High And Rising, a seminal work in hip-hop history that was famously called the Sgt. Pepper of the genre; it's also been compared to Dark Side Of The Moon, although that's not as close a match to the colourful and humorous style of this album. One way 3 Feet differs from both those precedents is that it produced multiple hit singles: four of them, in fact, which I'm pretty sure was unprecedented for a rap album in the UK and hasn't happened much since either.

The third of those hits, 'Eye Know' isn't quite my favourite but it's still a brilliant single, one of the few attempts at a hip-hop love song that isn't utterly cringe-making. And it has a brilliant swing in its step that - perhaps controversially - I don't hear in the Steely Dan track which is a bit too pedantic to feel really soulful. It doesn't seem at all wrong that they sample the whistle from Otis Redding, and what greater praise could I give?

Also appearing on: Now 15, 61 [with Gorillaz]
Available on: 3 Feet High And Rising

Saturday, 17 December 2011

D-Mob Introducing Cathy Dennis 'C'Mon And Get My Love'

Chart Peak: 15


The third hit for D-Mob following 'We Call It Acieed' and 'It IS Time To Get Funky'... Had reached No. 23 by 22nd October 1989.
And indeed, this was the single that launched Cathy Dennis to an unsuspecting world, as well as becoming D-Mob's biggest US hit. It wasn't his or her biggest success back home though and seems little remembered now, although it does come from the largely ephemeral field of pop-dance. It's a fun and upbeat track that reminds me rather of Kylie's work around this time (though dare I say it better sung) but who would ever have guessed that over a decade later Kylie would still be around and having be hits with songs written by Cathy Dennis?

As much as I enjoyed this track I don't find myself with a huge amount to say about it. I suppose it falls slightly between the stools of serious fashionable dance and out-and-out pop, or maybe it's because Dennis can afford not to do comeback tours and stuff that her hits are less in the public eye nowadays than some of her contemporaries.

D Mob also appear(s) on: Now 13, 15, 17
Cathy Dennis also appears on: Now 20, 36
Available on: FFRR Silver

Friday, 16 December 2011

Adeva 'I Thank You'

Chart Peak: 17


The Success of 'I Thank You', which had reached No. 17 by 22nd October 1989, gave Adeva her 4th British Top 30 hit of the year... It followed 'Respect', 'Musical Freedom' (with Paul Sampson) and 'Warning'.
If you ignore that Paul Sampson track, this was her third consecutive hit to peak at 17, a chart position it shares with such memorable hits as 'Making Plans For Nigel' by XTC, 'Live With Me' by Massive Attack and indeed the other two Adeva songs. But this one I'd totally forgotten, and I can hear why. It's pretty much house-by-numbers: well-sung and not unpleasant to hear but it's straight in one ear and out the other.

Also appearing on: Now 14
Available on:Pure Summer

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Lil' Louis 'French Kiss'

Chart Peak: 2


CD bonus track time again, so I've had to guess that the version you actually got was the same one on YouTube. Unlike the Fine Young Cannibals track on the first disc, I can make an educated guess that this was relegated to the more expensive format because of its top-shelf content. The younger sections of the audience might not even have known this track, as it was largely banned from daytime radio and presumably owes most of its success to late-night shows and clubs. That said, it's hard to know how anyone actually would dance to this with its constantly slipping tempo and stops; but that might say more about my dancing ability than the record. It's easy to see why people in their late teens would feel very cool about buying it and playing it when their parents weren't around.

I don't want to sounds like I think it's a bad record because it obviously isn't, but by the standards of pop music it's not especially sexy, and to be honest I've always found it a bit creepy. I can appreciate the invention and skill involved and I do sort of like it but I don't really know when I'd want to listen to it.
If ever there was a big hit you wouldn't expect there to be a knock-off version of by the Top Of The Poppers, this is surely it (video possibly NSFW).

Available on: Ibiza 1991-2009

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Technotronic featuring Felly 'Pump Up The Jam'

Chart Peak: 2


Felly, a Belgian-born former model and fashion designer, teamed up with studio wizards Technotronic to make her first single 'Pump Up The Jam' ... It made No. 2 in in early October 1989 for two weeks.
Well the chart info is accurate anyway - those were also the last two weeks at the top for Black Box, which must have been the moment when a lot of older people stopped being interested in the chart. However, it's pretty well-known known that Felly didn't sing on the record (and indeed couldn't speak English at the time): the vocals were apparently by Ya Kid K, who openly fronted some of their later singles. Oh, and she wasn't born in Belgium either, but in DR Congo, or Zaire as it would have been at the time.

Although I do remember some criticism at the time when it became obvious that Felly couldn't have been the singer, there was none of the same sort of outrage as with Milli Vanilli - I guess people didn't feel as duped with dance music because they don't really believe in it or take it seriously in the same way to start with. It's the kind of music I knew I was supposed to be a bit superior about even at the age of 11 and I didn't expect to have much time for it in my thirties but actually it's aged surprisingly well as simple and fairly minimalist dance - they called it "hip-house" back then apparently. The lyrics are as good as they need to be, ie not very, but they do accurately draw your attention to the fact that the beat is pumping. The space in the arrangement actually makes it feel a bit fresher now than it did then, especially to those of us who've heard the 2005 remix.

Technotronic also appear on: Now 17 (with MC Eric), 18
Available on: The Workout Mix: 5k &10k

Friday, 9 December 2011

Bobby Brown 'On Our Own'

Chart Peak: 4


I didn't think I'd seen Ghostbusters 2 (I was certainly far too young to have seen it at the time) but I'm all the more convinced of it having seen the video for the tie-in single: none of the clips look familiar. Mind you, there's not much of the film in there, as this video combines its state-of-the-art-in-1989 visual effects with more of the sort of celebrity cameos that featured in the clip for the theme from the first film. I even recognised some of them. Well, Donald Trump anyway.

That's where the similarities with the previous title song end though. 'Ghostbusters' is one of the highlights of Now 4, as endearingly light-hearted as the movie it was written for. This time around, what we get is, like the video, up-to-date RnB of the time from the hugely successful writers/producers Babyface and LA Reid, fronted by the Brown (no relation) who was a big star in the late 1990s if never likeable - he's also one of only two people on Now 16 to have appeared on the first Now! album, back when he was in New Edition. The song doesn't seem to have all that much to do with the film, aside from the rapped precis which opens the track and is repeated towards the end, rather suggesting that it was something already in the can. It's a perfectly OK record but nothing more than that, and deservedly failed to have anything like the afterlife of the first theme song, despite being one of his biggest hits at the time.

Also appearing on: Now 15, 30, 31
Available on: Dance Ya Know It

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Rebel MC and Double Trouble 'Street Tuff'

Chart Peak: 3


The Rebel MC (Mike West) and Double Trouble (Leigh Guest and Michael Menson) successfully teamed up in the summer of '89 on 'Just Keep Rockin'... 'Street Tuff' is their second hit and had reached No. 3 by 22nd October 1989.
Now, this is a bit more like it. Unfortunately the one thing they do have in common with Milli Vanilli is that one of them is no longer among us: Michael Menson was murdered in 1997. I felt like I had to mention that somewhere but best to get it out of the way first so we can cast our minds back and hear the song as we would have at the time.

For those who don't remember this one from the time, we're still in the early days of non-novelty British rap; so much so that at one point Rebel MC takes it as a sign of his rapping prowess that you'll "Feel the music, and you wonder, is he a Yankee? No, I'm a Londoner." As with Derek B a few albums ago, he evidently expected his audience to be thinking good rapping=American, although to be fair to them they wouldn't have heard P-Diddy yet. As with much hip-hop of this era, his lyrical agenda is largely limited to telling us how good he is at rapping, but to give the guy his due he's not bad at it.
It's possibly more interesting to consider the music, based on a sped-up version of the bassline from '54-46 That's My Number'  by Toots and The Maytals, which in turn refers to 'What'd I Say'. As Desmond Carrington would say, the music goes around. Although some of the samples laid over it are rather of their time, it has an appealingly chunky quality to it now, at least for those of us who remember it from our younger days. A fun, if dated, dance record.

Also appearing on: Now 15, 17 [Rebel MC only]
Available on: Dave Pearce Best Of The Dance Years 1988-92

Monday, 5 December 2011

Milli Vanilli 'Girl I'm Gonna Miss You'

Chart Peak: 2

This American chart-topper gave Milli Vanilli their 3rd British Top 20 hit... It is the group's most successful single to date and had reached No. 2 by 22nd October 1989.
And so Side 3 picks up roughly where Side 2 had left off, with a drippy ballad that peaked at the same chart position at approximately the same time. Ah, but as soon as you saw the names you'll have noticed the one important difference, won't you? It's forever the fate of Milli Vanilli to be remembered for what they didn't do, rather than anything they did - this proved to be their last significant UK hit and it was only a year after this that they had to hand back their Grammy Award. Which is kind of understandable (at least, more understandable than their winning it in the first place) but looking back now there's a side of me that wants to be above worrying about that. After all, nobody seemed to care whether Boney M were singing on their records, so why should Frank Farian's other projects be treated any differently.

Fortunately, there's another reason to avoid the question: the record itself isn't really any good. I suppose it sounded OK when I was 11, but soppy cliches are more tiresome to me now than more upbeat ones. There's no residual charm for me now.

Also appearing on: Now 13
Available on: Frank Farian Summer Hits

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Richard Marx 'Right Here Waiting'

Chart Peak: 2


After phenomenal American success, Richard Max finally made his British Breakthrough this year firstly co-writing Cliff Richard's big hit 'The Best Of Me' and then reaching No.2 in late September 1989.

There's certainly no argument about the scale of the American success: this was his second Number One single over there and he'd had a load of hits from a debut album that was largely ignored here in the UK. With hindsight, it's maybe a little more questionable how permanent a breakthrough this was for him: he did go on to have three more Top 20 hits over the next five years, but never really made himself a consistent hitmaker. There's no disputing the bigness of this song, though; it sat in the runner-up position behind Black Box's all-conquering 'Ride On Time' for a fortnight, but we can safely guess that it had greater pan-generational appeal and would have been more of an airplay hit, though the sort of radio I listen to back then was playing both.

The record itself certainly seems of its time, though as I've noted here before, his 1990s recordings don't really sound any less 1980s. The whole aesthetic is very late-80s AOR: the gruff voice, the mullet, the pseudo-rebellious album title (Repeat Offender). In fairness, this does set itself apart with a relatively sparse production, concentrating mainly on piano and vocal and avoiding big thuddy drums. This does focus attention on the song itself though I can't entirely celebrate that as it's a bit too formulaic for me, as real as the emotion apparently is, and as much as I know that the silent majority of the general public lap this up. I'm only surprised Westlife haven't covered it, to be honest.

Also appearing on: Now 22, 23, 27
Available on: Repeat Offender

Friday, 2 December 2011

Living In A Box 'Room In Your Heart'

Chart Peak: 5


The 6th British hit single for Marcus, Richard and Tich A.K.A. Living In A Box and also their 3rd hit this year... Had reached No. 7 by 22nd October 1989.
Yes, another Box and another act who had more hits than you might have thought. Strangely, the eponymous hit that was their signature song seems to have eluded the Now! series, but we do get their other Top 5 single.

Certainly, we're back in sharp-suited soul territory here, although there's a little bit more oomph to this than to the Wets or indeed Then Jerico. Richard Darbyshire is a fairly convincing facsimile of a soul singer until he starts overdoing it, and the song, co-written by Albert Hammond, moves in a logical enough direction but it's a bit too predictable to do the trick in retrospect. I was interested to learn when researching this post that the bizzare edit I remembered hearing on the radio, which lops out most of the second verse irrespective of rhythm or rhyme, is also the video edit; however the full verse features on Now 16 itself.

Keyboard player Marcus Vere now makes vehicle-related DVDs for little children. I'm quite cheered to know that.

Also appearing on: Now 14
Available on: Gatecrashing

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Then Jerico 'Sugar Box'

Chart Peak: 22


'Sugar Box' was the group's 3rd Top 40 single in Britain this year following 'Big Area' and 'What Does It Take'... It made No.22 in late August 1989.
Back to vinyl for another hit of comparable size to 'I'm Not The Man I Used To Be', but one that certainly made less of an impression on me. In fact I can honestly say that I have no memory of ever hearing it before I brought Now 16 home to time it.

I didn't remember much of that experience either, except noticing that Mark Shaw sings the phrase "Lips Like Sugar", also a song title for Echo & The Bunnymen, and it occurs to me that the two acts have a certain amount in common. Well, they both had stupid names that imprinted themselves more on my mind at the time than the actual songs (so maybe they weren't so stupid after all), and they both seemed like they wanted to be taken quite seriously. They both seem like they were groping towards the same sort of musical territory, but that sort of self-conscious anthemery is always a bit of a turn-off to me. For my money, U2 did this better, Simple Minds did it with more ruthless efficiency and the Bunnymen failed more interestingly. Not only do I not know whether "Sugar box" is meant to be be something rude, I can't even make myself care.

Also appearing on: Now 14
Available on: The Best Of Then Jerico