Before the guys and gals of Steps teamed up in 1997, they were already in training for a life of stardom; Faye was the star of a cabaret band, Lisa was touring as a singer/dancer, Claire was singing in her first band TSD, Lee was working in the theatre and "H" was entertaining kids at a holiday camp... 'Deeper Shade Of Blue' gave Steps their 7th Top Five hit in April 2000.Apologies to anyone who was hoping to see this post yesterday but even I have better things to do on Christmas Day than to write blog posts about Steps. This also means that I'm writing this as the news arrives of Gerry Anderson's demise, which is a bit of a coincidence given the vaguely Thunderbirds-esque look in parts of the video, although the blue uniforms also slightly resemble the costumes Scooch wore for their Eurovision appearance seven years later (maybe not a total coincidence). Meanwhile, in the fantasy sequences Faye and Claire appear to be inventing Lady Gaga almost a decade too soon whilst Lisa is auditioning for Avatar.
It's the second dose of Steps on this album, of course, a rare event for such an established act, but at this point in their brief career they were flinging out hits at such a rate that it was becoming hard to keep track of them - obviously more easily done by a non-songwriting act and apparently this particular tune was originally recorded by Tina Cousins. Unlike their other contribution, 'Deeper Shade Of Blue' was a song that actually attracted my attention at the time and it's probably as close as I ever came to buying a Steps single, although I could never be bothered with all the remixes so I never did it. Although it doesn't sound to me especially similar to any Abba record, it does perhaps come close to their combination of the euphoric and melancholic, blending a big dancey chorus with the more downbeat verses; whilst those two elements should in theory undermine each other they actually dovetail pretty well, maybe because there's no attempt at gravitas. We're comfortably in dance-to-forget-your-troubles territory and even if I've rarely been able to do that successfully I like the idea. Plus this is appealing enough melodically not to demand much thought. Though it's inevitably dated a little over the last 12 years it's still one of their best singles, despite having the shortest chart run of any of their first run hits. It's a decent end to the album, although it does fade a bit weakly so maybe it should have been reshuffled a bit.
Also appearing on: Now 39, 40, 41, 42, 44, 45, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51
Available on: The Ultimate Collection