New Hits ’99 (Global Television / Sony / Warner ESP, 1999)

New Hits 99

New Hits 99 r

Review
The 36th volume of the Hits series, New Hits ’99, was released in March 1999. Making the “featuring” section of the front cover were Whitney Houston, Blondie, Steps, Cher, The Corrs, Robbie Williams, Boyzone, B*Witched, Fatboy Slim, Five, Another Level, Savage Garden, N Sync “and many more.”
Just four of the 42 tracks had already appeared on previous compilations:
Now That’s What I Call Music 41: Robbie Williams – No Regrets, Boyzone – No Matter What.
The Brit Awards 1999: Fatboy Slim – Praise You, Pras – Blue Angels.

Hallelujah! B*Witched make it four number ones out of four attempts with Blame It On The Weatherman. Rain symbolizes tears. The weatherman is everyone who didn’t warn Edele that heartbreak is inevitable. Her tears won’t stop falling. The music video was directed by Michael Geoghegan and features the band floating on a large upside-down articulated lorry through a flooded London, picking up numerous floating items from the water and also rescuing a puppy. And then, a most surprising comeback – Blondie’s first single since 1982’s War Child – the driving Maria. A burst of dopamine when Debbie sings “You got to see her.” Next comes the neo-R&B of Whitney Houston’s It’s Not Right But It’s Okay while Steps leave the past behind with the resigned Better Best Forgotten.

After the rather bland ‘n’ grey grooves of Another Level’s I Want You For Myself, comes the punchy Strong Enough, another step in the Cher reboot. Meanwhile Tatyana Ali takes care of scarves, sorry business on the jacked-up Boy You Knock Me Out with TQ rocking the urban sound on the dope Westside. Justin time: making their debut were N Sync on the superb I Want You Back – with its brilliant vocal and beat. It’s a boyband game as Five drop the slick It’s The Things You Do while Mr Oizo’s Flat Beat is a prime example of electro house – all nagging bassline and headbanging puppet. Get into the garage – it’s Shanks and Bigfoot’s most clinical banger Sweet Like Chocolate.

On the Ministry Of Sound label – Brandon Block AKA Blockster’s house meets disco take on the Bee Gees’ You Should Be Dancing. The past keeps coming back to haunt us: the underrated Dreaming is the 19th and final single from M People, the second single lifted from their greatest hits album. Elsewhere Savage Garden’s I Want You gets another push after the success of Truly Madly Deeply and To The Moon And Back. Next comes the uptempo and positive This Kiss, a crossover hit for Faith Hill. Equally upfront, Ace Of Base’s Motown sound on Always Have, Always Will – the intro samples The Supremes’ Where Did Our Love Go and The Four Tops’ I Can’t Help Myself. Last one before half-time: Isaac Hayes or Chef’s Chocolate Salty Balls (PS I Love You), the Christmas #1 all the way from South Park. We get the rare radio version which comes with an extra verse.

CD2 starts with a remixed version of Runaway, which was originally released in September 1995 as The Corrs’ debut single. The Tin Tin Out Remix sees the bass moved into the foreground, standing out but not overpowering the gorgeous vocals. The Barenaked Ladies rather unsubtle One Week comes next before we slip inside the indie disco. First up are the Manic Street Preachers and the bruising You Stole The Sun From My Heart described by Nicky Wire as “a mix of New Order and Nirvana.” And then the jaunty National Express by The Divine Comedy, based on Neil Hannon’s observations of life from the window of a coach. To a song for shop assistants by the Stereophonics, the wistful Just Looking before Garbage’s memorable juggernaut, the glam stomp of When I Grow Up.

Bang on: Underworld’s menacing advance that is Push Upstairs. Definitely one of their most atmospheric creations, a progressive pre-millennium tension reliever. Slotting in after, the armageddon meets psych bop Mystical Machine Gun from Kula Shaker. Next: the powerful house blast that’s Supercar’s Tonite and the loopy disco sound of Mirrorball’s Given Up. Which nicely leads into Cevin Fisher and (You Got Me) Burning Up which features diva vocals by Loleatta Holloway. More of the same – Soulsearcher’s freshly served anthem Can’t Get Enough before an updated version of Inner City’s 1988 classic masterpiece Good Life. One for summer fiestas everywhere.

Time for some old skool funk with a new twist; the party jam Candy from Big Willie Style, utilising Will Smith’s trademark friendly ‘n’ humorous pop-rap with classic Cameo samples. Following this, the Psycho-inspired Gimme Some More from Busta Rhymes. The rap is frantic, the video has a nightmarish Looney Tunes edge. Jam on with Ginuwine’s brutal What’s So Different which comes with top Timbaland production. And there’s more local R&B – Kleshay’s pleasant jam Rush – and in its wake, slow dance time. We get A Touch Of Love – another single from Cleopatra’s debut LP and then, Ultra’s top 10 breakthrough Rescue Me. Finally it’s breakfast time with Johnny Vaughan and Denise Van Outen,the presenters of the Channel 4 show, getting together to cover Especially For You.

Favourite tracks
N Sync – I Want You Back

Manic Street Preachers – You Stole The Sun From My Heart

Garbage – When I Grow Up

Underworld – Push Upstairs

Busta Rhymes – Gimme Some More

Lest we forget
Kula Shaker – Mystical Machine Gun

Missing tracks and other thoughts
The 1999 spring tide brings forth a fresh and most satisfying journey. I wouldn’t have objected if the following trio made the team:

Unkle featuring Ian Brown – Be There. Another rich dance meets indie clash.
George Michael featuring Mary J Blige – As. Ladies and gentlemen – doppelgängers.
Beth Orton – Stolen Car. A suitable example of the late-period VH1 style.

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The 1999 Brit Awards (Columbia, 1999)

Brit Awards 99

Brit Awards 99 r

Review
The 1999 Brit Awards were the 19th edition of the biggest UK pop ceremony and took place on 16 February at the London Arena. The host was Johnny “Big Breakfast” Vaughan. The accompanying album contained 39 tracks and was the 11th in the series.

Many of its songs have already been covered here. You’ll find them on:
New Hits ’98: Natalie Imbruglia – Big Mistake, Another Level – Be Alone No More, Five – When The Lights Go Out, Cornershop – Brimful Of Asha (Norman Cook Remix).
Now That’s What I Call Music 39: Billie Myers – Kiss The Rain, Radiohead – No Surprises.
Smash Hits Summer ’98: Massive Attack – Teardrop.
Fresh Hits ’98: Catatonia – Road Rage.
Now That’s What I Call Music 40: Eagle-Eye Cherry – Save Tonight, All Saints – Lady Marmalade.
Big Hits ’98: Des’ree – Life, Manic Street Preachers – If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next, Jamiroquai – Deeper Underground.
Now Dance ’98: Lynden David Hall – Sexy Cinderella (Cutfather and Joe Remix), Billie – Girlfriend (D*Influence Real Live Mix).
Now That’s What I Call Music 41: Robbie Williams – No Regrets, The Beautiful South – Perfect 10, Sheryl Crow – My Favourite Mistake.
Hits ’99: The Corrs – So Young, B*witched – Rollercoaster, Will Smith – Miami.

Daysleeper was the lead single for R.E.M.’s 11th LP, the much undervalued Up. It’s sung from the point of view of a night shift worker and deals with the disorientation of time and circadian rhythm in such a lifestyle. Or crashing out when others are at work. Surely the solution is not to go to bed when you get home from a night shift? Music from another room: Savage Garden’s rather lush Truly Madly Deeply, a song that takes me back to a different lifetime. Pras drops some quality hip hop on the slammin’ Blue Angels while Hinda Hicks’ I Wanna Be Your Lady is a prime slice of sensual R&B, a Blackmarket slow jam. Elsewhere the inclusion of 1983’s Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) is due to the nomination of Eurythmics in the Outstanding Contribution To Music category.

The 1999 Brit Awards is great for gathering up some of the missing tracks that I wanted to see on 1998’s Now and Hits albums. There’s Alanis Morissette’s Thank U, a terrific and hypnotic tale of spiritual awakening with a crystalline melody. Next come Air and Kelly Watch The Stars, all retro electronics and table tennis. Their debut LP, the long-awaited Moon Safari remains a superb AM listen. Meanwhile Lauryn Hill’s crucial Doo Wop (That Thing) comes off as classic rap meets neo soul uptown. The journey continues for Fatboy Slim and Praise You which features samples from Camille Yarbrough’s Take Yo’ Praise (vocal), JBL’s Balance And Rehearsal (piano) and from an old Disneyland compilation, It’s A Small World (guitar). Staying big beat: the Propellerheads’ frantic Bang On.

From the soundtrack of Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels comes E-Z Rollers’ wicked jungle blaster Walk This Land. Down votes to Fun Lovin’ Criminals and the inexplicably popular Love Unlimited before Beck’s gorgeous Tropicalia which was lifted from his masterpiece Mutations (beloved of Blue Jam). Mercury Music prize champions Gomez’s Whippin’ Piccadilly is a sheer joy, beefed up drumbeat for single release. The distinctive sound of Flood is on PJ Harvey’s uptempo A Perfect Day Elise, lead 45 for Is This Desire? The indie disco sees us home – there’s Placebo’s grinding raw power of Pure Morning. And free from the shackles of The Stone Roses and Suede are Ian Brown and Bernard Butler. My Star is nicely played space rock; see you in Asda. And we close with an epic: Stay.
Select magazine nailed it on their singles review page, February 1998: “A classic rock collage: descending chords a la Dear Prudence, Whatever, The Changingman, an impassioned middle eight that sounds almost gospel-esque, a huge arrangement, and plaintive lyrics, sufficiently simple to need no deciphering whatsoever.”

Favourite tracks
Alanis Morissette – Thank U

Gomez – Whippin’ Piccadilly (Turbo Version)

Lauryn Hill – Doo Wop (That Thing)

Air – Kelly Watch The Stars

Lest we forget
Bernard Butler – Stay

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The Best Of Dance ’98 (Telstar, 1998)

Best Of Dance 98

Best Of Dance 98 r

Review
Telstar’s Best Of Dance ’98 contains “44 massive hits of the year.” The packaging reminds me of the Pet Shop Boys’ Relentless. You’ll have already read my thoughts on many of these tunes in previous reviews. Some appear in remixed form here – in brackets:
Smash Hits ’98: Bamboo – Bamboogie.
New Hits ’98: Run DMC and Jason Nevins – It’s Like That, Cornershop – Brimful Of Asha (Norman Cook Remix).
Now That’s What I Call Music 39: Wildchild – Renegade Master ’98, The All Seeing I – The Beat Goes On, Billie Myers – Kiss The Rain (TP2K Radio Remix on BOD), Camisra – Let Me Show You, Rest Assured – Treat Infamy.
Smash Hits Summer ’98: The Tamperer featuring Maya – Feel It (Blunt Edit on BOD), Perpetual Motion – Keep On Dancin’ (Let’s Go).
Fresh Hits ’98: Tzant – Sound Of Wickedness, Bus Stop featuring Carl Douglas – Kung Fu Fighting, Lutricia McNeal – Stranded.
Now That’s What I Call Music 40: Mousse T vs Hot ‘N’ Juicy – Horny, Ultra Nate – New Kind Of Medicine, Fatboy Slim – The Rockafeller Skank.
Big Hits ’98: Steps – One For Sorrow, Aqua – Turn Back Time (Love’s To Infinity Classic Radio Mix on BOD), Energy 52 – Cafe Del Mar ’98 (Original Three ‘N One Radio Edit), Love Station – Teardrops (Flava Mix ’98 on BOD).
Now Dance ’98: Fatboy Slim – Gangster Trippin’, T-Spoon – Sex On The Beach, Jennifer Paige – Crush (Dance Mix), Baby Bumps – Burnin’ (Blockster Edit on BOD), Sash featuring Tina Cousins – Mysterious Times, Bus Stop featuring Randy Bachman – You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.
The Greatest Hits Of 1998: Alda – Real Good Time (Stonebridge’s Club Reykjavik Vocal Mix on BOD), Sash! – Move Mania, E17 – Each Time (Sunship Remix Edit on BOD).

Flashback to disco juice: Byron Stingily really nails the glitterball sound of You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) – a smoother production and a glossy filtered superclub groove. Then there’s Rose Royce’s Car Wash, updated for ’98 via its Mustard Edit. Come on and sing it. Roll up for house, breaks, Euro house on Afrika Bambaataa vs Carpe Diem’s Got To Get Up. All a far cry from Looking For The Perfect Beat. Trance time – the massive sound of Da Hool’s Meet Her At The Love Parade. And then the absolutely crucial Deeper Love by Ruff Driverz, wicked bassline proving that speed garage had staying power. You can air drum the pain away with The Fog’s Been A Long Time while Queen Pen takes us back with All My Love, complete with Luther Vandross Never Too Much sample and interpolation.

N-Tyce, the new Eternal or Destiny’s Child? Telefunkin’ is decent R&B. For insomniacs there’s the house sound of D’Menace’s Deep Menace and Mount Rushmore’s You Better. Top it all off with Eddie Amador’s subliminal House Music. “It’s a spiritual thing.” The lingering sound of big beat comes to the fore on Double Six’s frantic Real Good while Encore step up the trance quotient with cheesy royale sound of Le Disc Jockey. Following on comes a well-worn classic from Agnelli & Nelson, the banging El Nino. Last: slight return from Ruff Driverz and the flamenco-tinged Dreaming. Featuring Arrola and a most seriously blinding bass. Respect to Katherine Ellis.
“Let’s go out in the sunshine, every day is a celebration.

Favourite tracks
Ruff Driverz – Deeper Love (Ruff Mix Radio Edit)

Da Hool – Meet Her At The Love Parade

Agnelli & Nelson – El Nino

Eddie Amador – House Music

Ruff Driverz presents Arrola – Dreaming (Ruff Driverz Ruff Radio Edit)

Lest we forget
Double Six – Real Good

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