The Best Of Shine (Polygram TV, 1998)

After 10 uniformly strong volumes and one impressive round up of 1997, Polygram TV wound down the Shine franchise with a Best Of released in late 1998. It was an enhanced CD which I dreaded as they always crashed my Compaq PC. Tracks sourced as follows:
Shine: James – Sit Down, Suede – Animal Nitrate
Shine Too: Elastica – Waking Up, Boo Radleys – Wake Up Boo, Paul Weller – The Changingman, The Stone Roses – Love Spreads
Shine 3: Pulp – Common People
Shine 4: Ocean Colour Scene – The Riverboat Song
Shine 5: The Wannadies – You And Me Song, Ash – Goldfinger, Shed Seven – Going For Gold
Shine 6: The Cardigans – Love Fool
Shine 7: Radiohead – Street Spirit (Fade Out)
Shine 8: Placebo – Nancy Boy, Mansun – Wide Open Space, Reef – Place Your Hands, Cast – Free Me, Eels – Novacaine For The Soul
Shine Best Of ’97: Supergrass – Richard III, The Seahorses – Love Is The Law
Shine 10: Embrace – All You Good Good People, Ian Brown – My Star, Cornershop – Brimful Of Asha (Norman Cook Remix)
Curiously nothing was included from Shine 9.

In what was presumably an incentive to buyers, 13 of the 38 tracks had not previously appeared on a Shine release, albeit none of them were obscure. These were: Garbage – Stupid Girl, Republica – Ready To Go, The Charlatans – The Only One I Know, Manic Street Preachers – You Love Us, Blur – M.O.R., Chumbawamba – Tubthumping, Oasis – All Around The World, Oasis – Wonderwall, Catatonia – Mulder And Scully, Space – Avenging Angels, Primal Scream – Loaded, Prodigy – Breathe, Underworld – Born Slippy

There’s a line in Garbage’s Stupid Girl that’s oddly prescient of social media. “You pretend you’re anything just to be adored” could sum up the user experience in any number of platforms. Nominations were numerous – two Grammy Awards, Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group, an MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist and an MTV Europe Music Award for Best Song. Shirley Manson said that it was about “squandering potential” which is something that many of us can identify with. Select referred to the song as “mighty doomy pop neatly tailored to enhance one’s natural discontentment.” No matter the outlook, it’s timeless for that generation & future ones.

SITU 30L was the catalogue number for the limited edition version of The Charlatans’ Some Friendly LP. It came in a white PVC sleeve in which the regular cover fitted snugly within. The street date – 8 October 1990 – was one week after the Pixies’ legendary National Stadium concert. In a marketing move that harked back to Factory’s c.1983, The Only One I Know was left off the vinyl. A top 10 hit during May, it became (and still is) the band’s signature song with its swirling organ sound like Hush. The follow-up, Then, a steady groover is included on side 1 and holds its own on what’s a very strong, spacious and melodic debut. The band would go onto release two non-album singles in 1991, Over Rising and the now almost forgotten Me In Time. Their second album, the atmospheric Between 10th And 11th was even better, benefiting from Flood’s amazing production.

The cobwebs are swept away by the rush and sheer energy of the Manic Street Preachers’ You Love Us. Yes, it’s the Heavenly version that’s on The Best Of Shine. I was one of the lucky ones who saw the band play a 25 minute set at the Back Of The Mansion, Waterford on 26 April 1991. The next day, Blitz Records was flooded with people the next day – all looking for the Motown Junk 12″. He had one copy in stock. You Love Us is just the equal of the previous single, a stupendously arrogant sentiment married to a thrilling musical performance. They would shortly sign to Columbia Records and life would never be the same again. On that fateful Saturday afternoon of 27 April, we boarded the Rapid Express to Dublin, catching the first date of Morrissey’s Kill Uncle tour at the National Stadium. What a rock ‘n’ roll weekend that was, still the most intense concert experience of my life.

Blur’s M.O.R. owes a massive debt to Lodger-era David Bowie, specifically Boys Keep Swinging and Fantastic Voyage. Bowie and Eno eventually received a credit on the Blur song after some legal intervention. Here we get the promo Road edit which lasts exactly 3:00. Meanwhile Space’s catchy Avenging Angels – contrary to popular belief – is not a cover of Robbie Williams’ Angels with slightly different lyrics. In summary, the Best Of Shine is a somewhat inessential yet solid listen with not too many surprises. Considering it just has two discs to work it, is an decent summary of a fairly sprawling period for those who don’t want to delve any deeper. If you do, take a look at Rhino’s The Brit Box, Martin Green’s top notch Super Sonics or Kevin Cummins’ Caught Between The Landslide.

Favourite tracks
Garbage – Stupid Girl

Blur – M.O.R.

Ian Brown – My Star

Paul Weller – The Changingman

Lest we forget
The Stone Roses – Love Spreads

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Shine 10 (Polygram TV, 1998)

The front cover of Shine 10 is like a Network 2 graphic or programme slide. Or a promo for Heineken’s Green Energy Festival that was a regular May bank holiday event. Very 1998. The chosen artists are Eagle-Eye Cherry, Garbage, Space, The Seahorses, Reef, Radiohead, Pulp, Fatboy Slim, Catatonia, The Dandy Warhols, Ian Brown and Embrace. Good times.

Garbage are Shine 10’s Kajagoogoo with two entries, both from Version 2.0. I Think I’m Paranoid is first, full of bendy twists and turns. Later on we get the dark Push It; Shirley said “It’s about the schizophrenia that exists when you try to reconcile your desires and demons with the need to fit in. It’s a song of reassurance.” Both tracks were heavily caned on MTV and are burned-in heavily on my memories of that era. Here come ace Catatonia whose Road Rage is instantly dated as late ’90s with its “We all live in the space age” lyric. Next is the gentle strum of Eagle Eye Cherry’s Save Tonight – “Fight the break of dawn” always gets me while Ian Brown’s My Star is nicely played space rock. In its wake, the death row blues of Embrace and All You Good Good People. Trigger Happy TV. Just say no! The Dandy Warhols smug anti-drug anthem Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth still raises a knowing eyebrow; caught in the shadow of Bohemian Like You.

The ubiquitous Rockafeller Skank was everywhere in ’98, its repeated line “Right about now, the funk soul brother / Check it out now, the funk soul brother”, a truncated vocal sample of rapper Lord Finesse on the Vinyl Dogs’ Vinyl Dog Vibe. Meanwhile Space are Shine 10’s UB40 with two entries, neither of which are Avenging Angels. Begin Again carries a certain orchestral flourish but doesn’t hold a candle to Natalie Imbruglia’s sprawling Big Mistake. Later on there’s the enchanting Ballad Of Tom Jones featuring Cerys Matthews. Next are Mansun and the almost epic Closed For Business before the cinematic genius of Rialto’s Untouchable, proving that lighting can strike twice. Two drummers as well. And then Reef’s Yer Old, the obligatory to post for your friends’ FB birthday timelines. Elsewhere Warm Jets’ Hurricane, a much improved radio edit which leads into the Super Furry Animals’ superb Badfinger-style ballad Ice Hockey Hair. 1997’s best album was Primal Scream’s Vanishing Point and Burning Wheel, already a classic was a magnificent banger. Check out the Echo Dek remix album too; a box of 45s or 8 track LP.

As I write this, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones have racked up 29 million views for The Impression That I Get, a key example of the ska punk genre that’s impossible to dislike. Unlike Chumbawamba’s hypocritical Amnesia which is one of the few blights on the disc which ends with the Norman Cook Remix of Brimful Of Asha. CD2 starts with Pulp’s thoughtful A Little Soul, equally gentle like Help The Aged. I recently revisited the deluxe 2CD of This Is Hardcore and the extra tracks are real lost classics. Radiohead’s exquisite and mystifying Karma Police blends into Bernard Butler’s almost gospel Stay. Meanwhile The Best Of James was trailed by the immaculate swagger of Destiny Calling: “Cute ones are usually gay.” whereas The Seahorses’ arrogance manages to carry Love Me And Leave Me over the line. Going quiet, Travis drop the melodic love song More Than Us before Shed Seven’s rare misstep She Left Me On Friday and Silver Sun’s catchy Golden Skin.

Drugstore join forces with Thom Yorke for the (still) slight El Presidente while the landfill beckons for Puressence and their cliched This Feeling. Pop fans will delight in spotting Sophie Ellis Bextor as fronting The Audience on the wry and knowing A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed. Shades of Simpsons Moz when looking back now. And speaking of such things…Gene’s Where Are They Now is a melancholic masterpiece. For the last furlong, there’s a step down in quality starting with Baby Bird’s aimless dirge Bad Old Man and bottoming out with the atrocious Nanny In Manhattan (Lilys). In between there’s Ocean Colour Scene’s sentimental It’s A Beautiful Thing and the Stereophonics’ driving Local Boy In The Photograph and The Levellers’ upbeat Celebrate. Bringing up the digital rear are Symposium and the anthemic Blue while we finish with a relative obscurity, Comfort’s The Proof Of You, a strangely anodyne creation that draws you back in. “Just a plastic chair.”

Favourite tracks
Primal Scream – Burning Wheel

Rialto – Untouchable

James – Destiny Calling

Gene – Where Are They Now

Lest we forget
The Audience – A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed

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Into The Blue (Polygram TV, 1998)

Into The Blue was released with the tagline “36 atmospheric tracks” and is effectively a companion piece to Ambient Moods, also released by Polygram TV two years previously. There is some overlap: Bjork and David Arnold – Play Dead, Leftfield featuring Toni Halliday – Original, Everything But The Girl – Missing (Todd Terry Club Mix), The Beloved – The Sun Rising, Saint Etienne – Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Art Of Noise – Moments In Love, Kate Bush – The Sensual World while the regular mix of Dubstar’s Stars is on Into The Blue (Mother Dub on Ambient Moods).

Disc 1 begins with Youssou N’Dour – of Shaking The Tree and In Your Eyes fame – and his sublime duet with Neneh Cherry; 7 Seconds. It’s a well-trodden path to start as we slip into Dubstar’s dreamy masterpiece Stars and Smoke City’s beguiling Underwater Love. Strings alert! It’s Kylie’s grown-up scorcher; the John Barry sound was all over Confide In Me.
And the touching Winter In July, Bomb The Bass featuring Loretta & using the 3D sound system which leads into the Wicked Mix of Garbage’s Milk. Spot the theme – the Cocteau Twins’ Blue Bell Knoll (one of two good tracks on their worst album; the other is Carolyn’s Fingers) and Moby’s divine Into The Blue – lifted off the underrated Everything Is Wrong. Mimi Goese’s vocal is absolutely sublime here. Another highlight: Salt Tank’s momentous Eugina, trance with a heartbeat. MTV nostalgia overload on couches in flatland.

10 June 1991: Primal Scream released Higher Than The Sun. The 7″ version was backed by The American Spring Mix which in turn also appeared on the 12″ with an extended A-side. The remix 12″ contained A Dub Symphony In Two Parts backed by Higher Than The Orb. It remains one of my favourite ever songs, dark and dreamy: “I’ve glimpsed, I have tasted, fantastical places. My soul’s an oasis, higher than the sun.” For another experience, try the Japanese CD Souls. Speaking of The Orb, they conclude CD1 with the juicy bounce of Blue Room which is preceded by their spiritual brothers Orbital’s The Box. Stop and start.

CD2 of Into The Blue is a marked contrast to the first half. The dance element is gone and instead it plays like a well sequenced list of downbeat tunes. Bernard Butler’s epic Stay is first, all descending chords and an almost gospel construction. Next is the radio edit of Perry Blake’s intense & watchful Genevieve (The Pilot Of Your Thighs), the moodiest of trip hop. In such company, the Velvet Underground’s tinkling Sunday Morning makes sense as does Prefab Sprout’s timeless When Love Breaks Down. Terence Trent D’Arby’s Delicate is magical and captivating and features a great turn from Des’ree. We go back to the ’80s for the melancholy strains of Eurythmics’ Here Comes The Rain Again, All About Eve’s sparse Martha’s Harbour and Clannad’s windswept In A Lifetime. Classic Bono vox.

If you’re after the single edit of Julee Cruise’s Falling then look no further. But the biggest draw here is Japan’s Nightporter. The 3:38 DJ edit appeared on the the promotional 7″ single, and it is also the soundtrack to the music video. It’s here on CD and as far as I know, has never been included anywhere else. Oboe and double bass; absolute classic masterpiece. Meanwhile Boy George’s rendition of The Crying Game is most hauntingly beautiful and expertly produced by the Pet Shop Boys. Next is a surprise; Suzanne Vega’s chilly Small Blue Thing. Her National Stadium gig of December 1986 a bright memory. Elsewhere we get the original of Lou Reed’s Perfect Day (a highlight of Trainspotting and a subsequent charity single) and Duran Duran’s sweeping Save A Prayer – in a 4:08 mix which could possibly be the Australian promo edit. We end with Tasmin Archer’s enduring moon landing tribute Sleeping Satellite and Bryan Ferry’s Taxi-era I Put A Spell On You.

Favourite tracks
Japan – Nightporter (DJ Edit)

Primal Scream – Higher Than The Sun

Salt Tank – Eugina

Boy George – The Crying Game

Lest we forget
Moby – Into The Blue

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