Best Dance ’99 (Telstar, 1999)

Best Dance 99

Best Dance 99 r

Telstar’s annual Best Of Dance compilation underwent a slight name change in 1999. The layout is somewhat confusing with the front cover designed like a back inlay with the tracklist and barcode sitting on the booklet. Best Dance ’99 contains “40 huge dance hits.” You’ll have already read my thoughts on many of these tunes in previous reviews.
Now That’s What I Call Music 36: Sash! – Encore Une Fois.
Now That’s What I Call Music 40: David Morales presents The Face – Needin’ U.
Now Dance ’98: Vengaboys – Up And Down.
Hits ’99: Spacedust – Gym & Tonic, Jay-Z – Hard Knock Life
The Best Of Dance ’98: Ruff Driverz presents Arrola -Dreaming.
The 1999 Brit Awards: Fatboy Slim – Praise You.
New Hits ’99: Underworld – Push Upstairs, Cevin Fisher featuring Loleatta Holloway – (You Got Me) Burning Up, Soulsearcher – Can’t Get Enough, Supercar – Tonite, Mirrorball – Given Up, Steps – Better Best Forgotten, Blockster – You Should Be, Inner City – Good Life, Garbage – When I Grow Up.
Now That’s What I Call Music 42: Armand Van Helden featuring Duane Harden – You Don’t Know Me, Sash! – Colour The World, Tina Cousins – Killin’ Time.
Smash Hits Summer ’99: Phats & Small – Turn Around, Ruff Driverz & Arrola – La Musica.
Big Hits ’99: Moloko – Sing It Back.

The E-17 resurrection continues: Betcha Can’t Wait is a more uptempo tune than the rather sedate Each Time and all the better for it. It’s followed by the dark and poisonous Give A Little Love, an epic clubbing memory courtesy of The Invisible Man or Jerry Dickens. For funky house with an uplifting edge, look no further than Capriccio’s joyous Everybody Get Up and Blackout’s euphoric melter Gotta Have Hope. 2001 samples at the ready – still the future back then. Take yourself to another universe with What U Do from Colours ably assisted by Stephen Emmanuel and Eska. Big on Kiss FM. Next: DJ Eric’s Hall & Oates-sampling We Are Love; seems to be the FunkForce Faithful Mix. Do not pass go: Bus Stop let us down on Jump. Garage days revisited: Da Click bringing their Good Rhymes to Top Of The Pops. Ruff Driverz inject James Brown’s Funk On Ah Roll with some spacey deep funk sounds.

When trance was trance: bow down to Push’s cosmic Universal Nation and the amazing melodies of Three Drives’ Greece 2000. Zoom in on Mike Koglin’s full-on emotional cover of Enjoy The Silence. One of the most intense tracks of 98/99 was Up To Tha Wildstyle with its daring rooftop video. Roll back the years as Grooverider remolds the Stone Roses’ Fools Gold into a breakbeat banger – remix and additional production for RUN courtesy of Prototype Recordings. More oldies: gotta get up for Bizarre Inc and a brand new update of the slamming Playing With Knives. And then Inner City’s Good Life. Still crazy after all these years. Listen to Twilight’s take on I Want Your Love with Roger Sanchez at the helm. And then Juliet Roberts giving Donna Summer a run for her dosh on Bad Girls. We end with Nancy’s torch song from Oliver!, As Long As He Needs Me covered by Barbara Windsor. Boy George & Kinky Roland Right Royal Radio Edit! Absolutely fabulous.

“You developed late
Weren’t the nineties great?”


Favourite tracks
Push – Universal Nation

Porn Kings vs DJ Supreme – Up To Tha Wildstyle

Blackout – Gotta Have Hope

Three Drives – Greece 2000

Mike Koglin – The Silence

Lest we forget
The Stone Roses – Fools Gold (Grooverider’s Mix – Edit)

Posted in Best Of Dance | 3 Comments

Smash Hits 2000 (Virgin, 1999)

Smash Hits 2000

Smash Hits 2000 r

The 20th Smash Hits album was released in December 1999. 32 of its 42 tracks had already been compiled and discussed. Check out these reviews for more information:
The 1999 Brit Awards: Fatboy Slim – Praise You.
New Hits ’99: Shanks and Bigfoot – Sweet Like Chocolate.
Now That’s What I Call Music 42: 911 – A Little Bit More, Spice Girls – Goodbye, Boyzone -When The Going Gets Tough, Cartoons – Witch Doctor.
Smash Hits Summer ’99: Fatboy Slim – Right Here, Right Now.
Fresh Hits ’99: Westlife – Swear It Again.
Now That’s What I Call Music 43: S Club 7 – Bring It All Back, Backstreet Boys – I Want It That Way, Alice Deejay – Better Off Alone, Adam Rickitt – I Breathe Again.
Big Hits ’99: Sixpence None The Richer – Kiss Me, Stereophonics – I Wouldn’t Believe Your Radio, Moloko – Sing It Back.
Now That’s What I Call Music 1999: The Millennium Series: , DJ Jean – The Launch, Shaft – (Mucho Mambo) Sway, Lolly – Hey Mickey.
Now Dance 2000: Ann Lee – 2 Times, Britney Spears – Sometimes, Tin Tin Out featuring Emma Bunton – What I Am (Groove Chronicle Remix), Geri Halliwell – Mi Chico Latino (Charlie Rapino Version), Bob Marley vs Funkster De Luxe – Sun Is Shining, Alice Deejay – Back In My Life (Thrillseekers Remix Edit).
Huge Hits ’99: Steps – Love’s Got A Hold Of My Heart, Tom Jones & The Cardigans – Burning Down The House.
Now That’s What I Call Music 44: Tina Cousins – Angel, Geri Halliwell – Lift Me Up, Melanie C – Northern Star, Bran Van 3000 – Drinking In L.A., Robbie Williams – She’s The One.
Hits 2000: Phats & Small – Tonite.

We start with a brand new tune. Kiss (Where The Sun Don’t Shine) was the lead single from Vengaboys’ Platinum Album. The end result is far less annoying than usual – for about the first 30 seconds – before descending into hell. As an added bonus, the video shot in Tokyo. Meanwhile Martine McCutcheon remade the Bee Gees’ Love Me which also doubled up as the BBC Children in Need single for 1999. Our Tiff’s performance of the song at the telethon saw her supported by 100 children between the age of 8 and 13. Proving that they’re just a flash in the plan are BB Mak with the bland Still On Your Side. Upping the quality is Beverley Knight with a supreme slice of heartfelt soul, Sista Sista.

Arrival: Atomic Kitten’s Right Now. Natasha Hamilton, Kerry Katona and Liz McClaron. All the way to #10, a catchy and well-performed debut single. Into the dance zone with Perfect Phase’s lost continent stadium trance of Horny Horns. Inspired by the film Contact, Paul Van Dyk’s Another Way works as a melodic and less frantic anthem for an exclusive superclub. Elsewhere Michael Moog gets wild and reaches for the skyline with the delightful That Sound which contains a sample of The Detroit Spinners’ I’ll Be Around. Less fondly remembered are Solid Gold Chartbusters (Guy Pratt and Jimmy Cauty) whose creation of the Nokia ring tone menace I Wanna 1-2-1 With You still makes me wince in grim recognition. Trigger Happy TV meets the Moody Boys uptown. Make mine 1999.

The closing track on Smash Hits 2000 is by the Cuban Boys. Cognoscenti Vs Intelligentsia topped both John Peel’s Festive 50 and my own top 50 of 1999. You know the score, the song is based on one of the first internet memes, Hampster Dance, which itself was based on Roger Miller’s Whistle Stop. Peel played the demo heavily from spring onwards and it became continually requested. The single was eventually released at the beginning of December in a effort to became the Christmas #1. It got fourth place. I was obsessed with them all through the year and wrote about them extensively in Analogue Bubblebath.

Oh My God! They Killed Kenny: “If Rome burns it’s because we dropped the match”, the message of the inner label reads. Bold statement. Unfortunately for all you cynics out there, those who believer The Cuban Boys to be mere media / cyber hype, this record more than lives up to the rumours. Originally recorded for a one-off John Peel session in 1998 (it reached #6 in his Festive 50), those good people at For Us have decided to press just 500 7″ singles coupled with (Let’s Get) Raunchy and sell them exclusively through Rough Trade’s London shop. The song in question is filled with obvious South Park samples and glides along like a glam rock pastiche with a house beat in the background. A communal chorus gives the mayhem a nice touch. The B-side is a hybrid of dancehall and big beat and “it’s so fresh!” samples.

Blueprint For Modernisation EP: Foggy Mountain Breakdown is the opener, a banjo-fuelled bastardisation of a certain Rednex track complete with euphoric and blissful banjo breakdown. The Helium Hardcore Remix of Kenny comes next, old-style rave complete with rude samples. I Like Everybody shows that Les Rhythms Digitales isn’t the only one stuck in an early ’80s vibe with cheesy synths and futuristic vocal samples that remind me of Visage crossed with Air. Last year’s “hit” Cuban Boys appears again in remixed form taking in dancehall and swingin’ London ’60s style vibe – like Lionrock with a sense of humour. And the vocal samples, cliched and corny as hell (“It’s time to get busy”) complementing the big band swing sound so well. “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kiss ass” announces the sampled man on the beginning of the best track here, Stardust (Part 1 – They Came From Outer Space) before it blends into a gorgeous joke-house tune with a deadly sampled female vocal talking about “the meadows of her heart”, the perfect comedown track for the millennium celebrations. Finally the CD ends with a computerised accapella, Message One. Press skip and play again.

“And this is your Uncle Dan saying good night.
Good night, little kids, good night.
We’re off? Good, well that oughta hold the little bastards.”

Cuban Boys

Favourite tracks
Cuban Boys – Cognoscenti Vs Intelligentsia

Robbie Williams – She’s The One

Paul Van Dyk – Another Way

Atomic Kitten – Right Now

S Club 7 – Bring It All Back

Lest we forget
Michael Moog – That Sound

Posted in Smash Hits | 3 Comments

Hits 2000 (Global Television / Sony / Warner ESP, 1999)

Hits 2000

Hits 2000 r

The 40th volume of the Hits series, Huge Hits 2000, was released in December 1999 with the tagline “41 hits for the millennium”. On the “featuring” section of the front cover were plugs for Macy Grey, Steps, Five, Westlife, TLC, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Geri Halliewell, R Kelly, B*Witched, Vengaboys, Another Level “and many more.”

A dozen of its songs had been previously compiled on the following albums:
Now That’s What I Call Music 43: Vengaboys – Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, Alice Deejay – Better Off Alone.
Big Hits ’99: Eiffel 65 – Blue (Da Ba Dee). The Original Ice Pop Radio Edit now appears.
Now That’s What I Call Music 1999: The Millennium Series: Ronan Keating – When You Say Nothing At All.
Now Dance 2000: Geri Halliwell – Mi Chico Latino (Charlie Rapino), Ann Lee – 2 Times.
The Greatest Hits Of 1999: R Kelly – If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time.
Now That’s What I Call Music 44: Backstreet Boys – Larger Than Life, ATB – Don’t Stop, Groove Armada featuring Gram’ma Funk – I See You Baby (Fatboy Slim Radio Edit), Liquid Child – Diving Faces, Tina Cousins – Angel.

The Hits series gives us the other side of the boyband coin – Westlife and Five. Flying Without Wings made it three number ones in succession but the song remains the same, a stairway to hellish blandness. Keep moving: Five finally reach the top with their likeable second 45 from album #2, Invincible. Next comes the sublime I Try, Macy Gray’s second R&B bullet and winner of Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 2001 Grammy Awards. Sung with emotion and sincerity, it’s a true classic that endures. More cowbell? Britney Spears’ hard-edged (You Drive Me) Crazy with its intense dance club video and impressive choreography. Meanwhile Steps’ thoughtful After The Love Has Gone shows them decked out in jade outfits accompanied by Chinese lanterns and a dancing dragon. Their former manager Tim Byrne was now managing A1 whose sickly Everytime is here.

The second coming of B*Witched – the Awake And Breathe era – began with rather corny Jesse Hold On and a somewhat disappointing #4 chart placing. To quote Jacqueline Jeunesse, “Ah, orange foundation, frosted blue eyeshadow and lank, over-straightened hair, that was ‘the look’ of 1999!!” You can pump up the volume with Tonite from the smarmy Now Phats What I Small Music but it’s still rubbish. Thankfully we are saved by the twisted and peppery garage sound of The Artful Dodger and the deadly Re-Rewind The Crowd Say Bo Selecta. Craig David on vocals. It gave Leigh Francis’s Channel 4 comedy series Bo’ Selecta! its name. Massive. It’s followed by Mario Piu’s baffling Communication, a tune from a time when everybody’s ringtone sounded the same. And back to the garage with Basement Jaxx’s edgy Jump ‘n’ Shout featuring a top ragga vocal by John Slarta.

CD2 begins with some TLC and the guitar-driven Unpretty, an empowering song with an indie vibe. This leads into Jennifer Lopez’s truly iconic cover of 3rd Party’s Waiting For Tonight, a celebratory anthem for the upcoming millennium celebrations. After Ricky Martin’s dull Shake Your Bon-Bon, Destiny’s Child drop Bug A Boo (not a cover of the A House Doodle EP track), all crazy beats. In the zone, Another Level’s earnest Bomb Diggy and Glamma Kid’s so solid Why, the video being Jacob’s Ladder meets dancehall. More: Shola Ama’s sparkling Still Believe is a fine example of quality UK R&B that hasn’t really been recaptured since. Two giants next: Simply Red’s Ain’t That A Lot Of Love, a 60s tune updated for the progressive house era. And Eurythmics made their return to the chart for the first time since Sweet Dreams ’91 with the stunning I Saved The World Today. Perfect theme for a Bond film e.g. The World Is Not Enough.

Like You Do… Best of The Lightning Seeds marked the end of an era when released in late 1997. They returned with Life’s Too Short, and a large dance element to their music. Doesn’t work. There’s an indie sequence next. Stereophonics’ Hurry Up And Wait is a nice, anthemic slowburner that was relegated to disc 2 of Decade In The Sun. Sixpence None The Richer cover There She Goes with zero charm while Thunderbugs fail to hit the spot with second single, It’s About Time You Were Mine. Meanwhile Catatonia got inspired by Stars In Their Eyes and wrote the rather ineffectual Karaoke Queen. Last lap: Apollo 440’s scattered Heart Go Boom and Roots Manuva rapping over a Leftfield tune on the seriously good Dusted. The spell is broken by NYSYC’s soppy God Must Have (Spent A Little More Time On You) – radio edit at least – while it’s a Latin finale with Marc Anthony riding the Ricky ‘n’ Enrique wave on the hooky but ultimately disposable I Need To Know.

Favourite tracks
Jennifer Lopez – Waiting For Tonight

Macy Gray – I Try

Eurythmics – I Saved The World Today

Stereophonics – Hurry Up And Wait

The Artful Dodger – Re-Rewind The Crowd Say Bo Selecta

Lest we forget
Leftfield featuring Roots Manuva – Dusted

Missing tracks and other thoughts
When it’s good, it’s very very good and when it’s not, dullness and mediocrity reign. Here are five more big tunes that rocked my world and should be there.

The Offspring – The Kids Aren’t Alright. When the future was so bright.
Suede – Everything Will Flow. The singles off Head Music don’t fail me now.
Beth Orton – Central Reservation. A New York state of mind.
Christina Aguilera – Genie In A Bottle. Made a big impression.
Will Smith – Will 2K. Rock The Casbah!

Posted in Hits series | 6 Comments