The Greatest Hits Of 1999 (Telstar, 1999)

Greatest Hits Of 1999

Greatest Hits Of 1999 r

Review
The 15th edition of Telstar’s Greatest Hits of the year arrived at the end of October 1999. All bar one track has already been compiled and discussed. Your starter for:
Now That’s What I Call Music 41: Steps – Heartbeat.
Hits ’99: Stereophonics – The Bartender And The Thief.
The 1999 Brit Awards: Fatboy Slim – Praise You.
New Hits ’99: Divine Comedy – National Express, Garbage – When I Grow Up, Shanks & Bigfoot – Sweet Like Chocolate, Blockster – You Should Be, Soulsearcher – Can’t Get Enough.
Now That’s What I Call Music 42: Boyzone – When The Going Gets Tough, Honeyz – End Of The Line, Steps, Tina Cousins, Cleopatra, B*Witched and Billie Piper – Thank ABBA For The Music, Armand Van Helden featuring Duane Harden – You Don’t Know Me.
Smash Hits Summer ’99: Phats & Small – Turn Around, Fatboy Slim – Right Here, Right Now.
Fresh Hits ’99: Another Level – From The Heart, Suede – Electricity, Catatonia – Dead From The Waist Down, ATB – 9PM (Till I Come), Wiseguys – Ooh La La, Chicane featuring Maire Brennan – Saltwater.
Now That’s What I Call Music 43: New Radicals – You Get What You Give, Texas – In Our Lifetime, Backstreet Boys – I Want It That Way, DJ Jurgen presents Alice Deejay – Better Off Alone, Basement Jaxx – Red Alert, Yomanda – Synth And Strings, Adam Rickitt – I Breathe Again, S Club 7 – Bring It All Back.
Big Hits ’99: Sixpence None The Richer – Kiss Me, Westlife – If I Let You Go, Moloko – Sing It Back, Phats & Small – Feel Good, Doolally – Straight From The Heart.
Now Dance 2000: Ann Lee – Two Times, Britney Spears – Sometimes, Paul Johnson – Get Get Down, Bob Marley vs Funkster De Luxe – Sun Is Shining, Onephatdeeva – In And Out Of My Life.
Huge Hits ’99: Steps – Love’s Got A Hold Of My Heart.

Modern R&B stylings, a subtle use of vocal counterpoint and harmony, acoustic rhythm piano. The sole uncompiled track is a rather underwhelming one from R Kelly, If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time. The fifth single from 1998’s R LP, it’s an overblown ballad about regret that runs for 6:17 on the album. The single edit shaves off about 80 seconds; it could easily lose another minute. As the song progresses, there’s a definite Unchanged Melody influence with the emotional levels sky high. It’s worth recalling that the first single off R – I Believe I Can Fly – was released as long ago as November 1996.

Time to take a look back at what else was occupying my time in 1999.
It’s March. Belle and Sebastian’s Tiger Milk has been advertised in the Sister Ray mail order list for the last four weeks. “Exclusive Japanese Import CD! £24.99. Coming soon. Reserve your copy now.” Like everybody else I missed out on it the first time round so I placed a credit card order immediately. “Not in yet, mate..”, “Sorry, there’s a problem with the distributors.” The latest twist is that B&S’s record label Jeepster have threatened legal action against its release. Why? Because the album is getting an official reissue in May on CD and LP and they feel that this import version will affect sales. At the moment the whole thing is “Up in the flaming air mate. . . ring back Friday.” I know it’s not going to happen and I’ll just have to wait until May. That doesn’t really bother me; what does bug me is the shameless publicity and hype that this has generated. Apparently Sister Ray have been inundated with orders (up to 4,000), the fans have got all excited and be even more eager to purchase the album when it eventually does come out. After hearing the latest twist on the phone today, I asked “Does the CD exist?” I was assured that it did and to top things off – “Look mate. I’ve got a vinyl copy if you’re interested. . £400 but yours for £350.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Who’s afraid of Y2K? I started to champion Hefner in 1998 but the following year saw Darren Hayman’s mob up the ante with a series of singles and a killer second album, The Fidelity Wars. Here are just two such reviews which I wrote in the spring of 1999.
Hefner – The Hymn For The Alcohol 7″: No-fi. An excellent drinking song and self-pitying in its choice of subject matter. Melancholic to boot but it sweeps along just fine with Darren Hayman’s vocals sounding very vulnerable rather than just whining. “I’m not good enough for whiskey, I’m not good enough for you.” Play when sad.
Hefner – The Hefner Heart CD: “Mary Lee is made up, she doesn’t exist.” say the CD liner notes. Mary Lee is Hefner’s rockiest tune to date, a song about having fucked-up parents and drinking more whiskey. With excellent backing vocals to complement the chorus, The Hymn For The Things We Didn’t Do, like all the other hymns, is worthy, stirring indie pope with traces of Palace. Karen starts off like UB40 unplugged and then veers off into Art Garfunkel territory, lo-fi style, while The Heart Of Portland is an acoustic-driven track about regret…with a little distortion thrown in. Finally another hymn: this for Thomas Courtney Warner. It uses a piano melody to creative a plaintive lament for a dead soldier.

Favourite tracks
Stereophonics – The Bartender And The Thief

Texas – In Our Lifetime

Catatonia – Dead From The Waist Down

Basement Jaxx – Red Alert

Chicane featuring Maire Brennan – Saltwater

Lest we forget
Steps – Heartbeat

Missing tracks and other thoughts
By now the Telstar compilers had almost given up on exclusives and instead were trying to tap the Christmas market with a selection encompassing the full year. There’s a rather redundant feel to all of it, and it would be last one that I’d buy. One more song?

Travis – Why Does It Always Rain On Me? Obviously sequenced after Stereophonics.

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

Huge Hits 99

Huge Hits 99 r

Review
The fourth year-end Hits collection was released in October 1999. In common with the previous three, many of the tracks had already been included on earlier Hits volumes. And the ratio of already compiled: new-to-Hits songs was seriously light – 37 vs 5.

To recap, 26 tracks had already made their first appearances on the last four Hits albums:
Hits ’99: Will Smith – Miami.
New Hits ’99: B*Witched – Blame It On The Weatherman, NSYNC – I Want You Back, The Corrs – Runaway, Manic Street Preachers – You Stole The Sun From My Heart, Shanks & Bigfoot – Sweet Like Chocolate, Another Level – I Want You For Myself, TQ – Westside, Tatyana Ali – Boy You Knock Me Out, Barenaked Ladies – One Week.
Fresh Hits ’99: Westlife – Swear It Again, Catatonia – Dead From The Waist Down, ATB – 9PM (Till I Come), Wiseguys – Ooh La La, Lauryn Hill – X-Factor, Glamma Kid featuring Shola Ama – Taboo.
Big Hits ’99: Eiffel 65 – Blue (Da Ba Dee), Louie Bega – Mambo No. 5, Ricky Martin – Livin’ La Vida Loca, Five – If Ya Gettin’ Down, Jamiroquai – Canned Heat, A1 – Be The First To Believe, Sixpence None The Richer – Kiss Me, New Radicals – You Get What You Give, Jennifer Lopez – If You Had My Love, Destiny’s Child – Bills Bills Bills.

And then there were the songs that were first snared by their rivals:
The 1999 Brit Awards: Fatboy Slim – Praise You.
Now That’s What I Call Music 42: Armand Van Helden featuring Duane Harden – You Don’t Know Me, Steps, Tina Cousins, Cleopatra, B*Witched and Billie Piper – Thank ABBA For The Music.
Smash Hits Summer ’99: Phats & Small – Turn Around.
Now That’s What I Call Music 43: S Club 7 – Bring It All Back, Backstreet Boys – I Want It That Way, Boyzone – You Needed Me.
Now Dance 2000: Britney Spears – Sometimes, Ann Lee – Two Times, Bob Marley vs Funkster De Luxe – Sun Is Shining, Onephatdeeva – In And Out Of My Life.

Second out the traps is a single that was 12 months old by the time Huge Hits 99 emerged. Outside was the lead single from George Michael’s 1998 compilation, Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best Of George Michael. It was his first release since his arrest in Beverly Hills and subsequent coming out. The song takes a swipe at the circumstances surrounding the incident with the music video features a number of public affection scenes which end with the police taking action. It’s wonderfully satirical and begins with a parody of a 1970s porn film. Outside reached #2 in the UK, held off by the Cher juggernaut of Believe, and stayed on the chart for 20 weeks. The title of the Best Of is also a dig at toilets. All together now: “I’d service the community but I already have.” A jubilant classic.

Steps’ Love’s Got A Hold Of My Heart was the first single taken from their second album, Stepacular. The video was shot in Cannes and directed by Dani Jacobs. The main plot sees the group chase a man who has stolen the film reel for Steps: The Movie, interspersed with clips of the band jiving on a jetty dressed in yellow outfits like some form of weird ‘n’ zany futuristic Men Without Hats. All in all, a great package; a fantastic carefree pop song with the usual shades of ABBA. Reload: it shouldn’t work but it does – Tom Jones & The Cardigans tackling Talking Heads’ 1983 tune Burning Down The House. The Welshman’s voice is perfect for it while the production by Tore Johansson (chosen by The Cardigans) is perfect. B-Sides included covers of EMF’s Unbelievable and The Beatles’ Come Together.

CD2 kicks off with the radio edit of Whitney Houston’s My Love Is Your Love, all mid-tempo reggae produced by Wyclef Jean. Totally gorgeous stuff which displays a real soulful maturity (she just turned 36 as it climbed the charts). A song that’s both rhythmic and blue. Another #2 hit. Last of the new tunes is from Thunderbugs, a short-lived girl group cut from the same cloth as the poptastic Hepburn. Friends Forever was their wonderful and sole hit. An extremely well-crafted tune. Remember them –
Jane Vaughan: lead vocals
Stef Maillard: bass and backing vocals
Nicky Shaw: drums and backing vocals
Brigitta Jansen: guitar
An interesting postscript to the story: “Back in 2015 I was photographer for a wedding in Ireland. The lead singer got up and sang this song for the bride and groom. I found out she’s living in Killybegs, Co Donegal.” (Pauric McGinley)

Favourite tracks
George Michael – Outside

Whitney Houston – My Love Is Your Love

Sixpence None The Richer – Kiss Me

Tom Jones & The Cardigans – Burning Down The House

Steps – Love’s Got A Hold Of My Heart

Lest we forget
Thunderbugs – Friends Forever

Missing tracks and other thoughts
I’m remain unconvinced by the need for a mop-up end of year compilation given that the Hits team were releasing regular volumes throughout the previous 12 months. However the public disagreed and it went straight in at #1 on the compilations chart. To be fair, the five “new” songs are top quality. Two more that could have gone on?

Madonna – Beautiful Stranger. Killer tune from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Cliff Richard – The Millennium Prayer. Although inclusion may have affected sales as the single wasn’t released until mid-November. Would have been a nice exclusive.

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Now Dance 2000 (EMI / Virgin, 1999)

Now Dance 2000

Now Dance 2000 r

Review
The first forward-looking volume of Now Dance was released in October 1999. Just over 70% of the tracks had featured on previous compilations. See the following:
Smash Hits Summer ’98: LCD – Zorba’s Dance.
The 1999 Brit Awards: Fatboy Slim – Praise You.
New Hits ’99: Shanks & Bigfoot – Sweet Like Chocolate, Soulsearcher – Can’t Get Enough, Inner City – Good Life (Buena Vida), Blockster – You Should Be.
Now That’s What I Call Music 42: Armand Van Helden featuring Duane Harden – You Don’t Know Me, Tina Cousins – Killin’ Time ’99, DJ Sakin and Friends – Protect Your Mind (For The Love Of A Princess).
Smash Hits Summer ’99: Phats & Small – Turn Around, Mister Oizo – Flat Beat, Fatboy Slim – Right Here, Right Now, Powerhouse featuring Duane Harden – What You Need.
Fresh Hits ’99: ATB – 9PM (Till I Come), Wiseguys – Ooh La La, Chicane featuring Maire Brennan – Saltwater.
Now That’s What I Call Music 43: Basement Jaxx – Red Alert, Chemical Brothers – Hey Boy, Hey Girl, S Club 7 – Bring It All Back, Vengaboys – Boom Boom Boom Boom, DJ Jurgen presents Alice Deejay – Better Off Alone, Precious – Say It Again, Yomanda – Synth And Strings.
Big Hits ’99: Moloko – Sing It Back, Doolally – Straight From The Heart.
Now That’s What I Call Music 1999: The Millennium Series: DJ Jean – The Launch, Shaft – (Mucho Mambo) Sway, Binary Finary – 1999 (Gouryella Remix).

Sun Is Shining is one of those Bob Marley tracks that really only took off after his death – despite a rather ‘busy’ history. It first appeared on Soul Revolution in 1971, and then on African Herbsman in 1973. Marley later re-recorded the song for his 1978 album Kaya. In the summer of 1999, a reggae fusion remix arrived credited to Bob Marley vs Funkstar De Luxe. The latter was Martin Ottesen, a Danish producer who gave the song a massive oomph with it becoming on the year’s key hits. Mash up! Onephatdeeva’s In And Out Of My Life welded the vocal of Adeva’s In And Out Of My Life with Fatboy Slim’s Right Here, Right Now. Big party record. To the groove: Paul Johnson’s addictive Get Get Down. The sweat and strobe of Rathmines’ TramCo. Cassius is in the house. Another ubiquitous banger from that era, the 12″ was picked up from Killian Murphy’s legendary Big Brother Records shop on Fade Street. A regular weekly visit with lunch afterwards in neckbeard central Simon’s Place. The filtered French funk house sound beloved of those Roulé 12″s.

Anyone for Buddy X, a tune from The Dreem Team Vs Neneh Cherry. Nice garage with a touch of harpsishcord. We go down under for Madison Avenue’s effortlessly groovy Don’t Call Me Baby which features a bassline sample from Pino D’Angio’s Ma Quale Idea, which itself is based on Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now by McFadden & Whitehead. CD1 concludes with the banging disco swirl of Big Time Charlie’s On The Run. Elsewhere Eternal reached the end of the line with the low-key What’cha Gonna Do. Stepping onto the starting line was Britney Spears, the slow burning pop ballad Sometimes revealing hidden depths and a maturity beyond her years. Ace key change too. It’s followed by a surprisingly good cover of late ’80s sleeper What I Am (originally by Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians) now given the Tin Tin Out treatment with Baby Spice, Emma Bunton on vocals. She’s not alone as Geri Halliwell pops up later on with the Charlie Rapino retooling of Mi Chico Latino.

More: Ann Lee’s dayglo Euro dance stormer 2 Times. Then the euphoric trance of Bullet In The Gun, courtesy of Planet Perfecto. Aging like one of Genazzano’s fine wine, Fragma’s blissful Toca Me with the unforgettable Eva Martinez on vocals. Faster – Mauro Picotto’s powerful Lizard, massive rush factor. Remember the good times: “You’re in the club, this drops.. tingling sensation all over your body as every single hair stands on end, every single problem you’ve ever had, every worry, every single obstacle you’ve ever faced just evaporates into thin air and you’re just stood there, arms in the sky with your eyes shut just feeling every single second. Incredible. Take me back!” (Richie Nrg) Closing out the unfamiliar is Alice Deejay’s sensational Back In My Life (Thrillseekers Remix Edit).

Favourite tracks
Cassius – Cassius 1999

Britney Spears – Sometimes

Ann Lee – Two Times

Fragma – Toca Me

Mauro Picotto – Lizard

Lest we forget
Big Time Charlie – On The Run

Posted in Now Dance | 4 Comments