“Where are those happy days, they seem so hard to find
I tried to reach for you, but you have closed your mind
Whatever happened to our love?
I wish I understood
It used to be so nice, it used to be so good”.
Like Smash Hits 1991, the 1992 edition contained 40 tracks. This time the tagline was “40 Big Hits! Sorted!”, the fad for partial-mixing was ditched and the edited tracks were kept to a minimum. It was compiled by Ashley Abram for Box Music Limited and the selections are spot-on; a perfect snapshot of the year’s pop action with razor-sharp sleeve notes.
It’s a 1990s boy band spectacular face-off. On one side Take That – Howard, Gary, Mark, Jason and Robbie – finally became famous with It Only Takes A Minute. Their opponents were the ruffians of East 17 with the beezer House Of Love. The energy rush continues with Bizarre Inc. and the irresistible I’m Gonna Get You. Step forward Kris Kross; two 13 year olds from Atlanta with their infectious Jump. We got Georgia on our minds as Arrested Development are next and give us the mellow rap of Everyday People. Get ready for TLC: T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli with their condoms as fashion accessories and groovy update of The Temptations’ Ain’t Too Proud To Beg. And Betty Boo bounces back with a new image and a song that stole the summer – the cracking Let Me Take You There.
John Matthews (in Undercover guise) raved up Gerry Rafferty’s 1978 hit Baker Street. It really makes you shake off the Monday blues. The disco stomp of Erasure’s Abba-esque EP took a quick step back in time with their shimmering take on 1975’s S.O.S. Desperate melancholia in drag. Also reaching the #1 spot were Right Said Fred and the gentle sway of Deeply Dippy. It was the era of computer-based dance records so Simon Harris and MC Einstein came together as the Ambassadors of Funk and cashed in with the furious loops of Supermarioland. Things get serious with Snap’s turbo-charged Rhythm Is A Dancer. Memories of sweaty dancing in the Royal. Elsewhere Rage bleeped up Bryan Adams’ Run To You while Utah Saints made hay with the street-walking sandblaster Something Good.
A great band once wrote Ebeneezer Good. This naughty naughty classic caused no end of furore with concerned parents and got to #1 regardless. 2 Unlimited never stopped raving in 1992 and had four top 10 hits. The aptly-named Workaholic is frantic stuff with Ray and Anita cutting beats to the bone. Four technoheads from Essex next: The Prodigy’s Everybody In The Place. All freaking dancing and crazy acid moves. An experience. Messiah continue the love on the progressive dance of Temple Of Dreams with its nagging “Did I dream” This Mortal Coil sample. Priceless. Time to start running on the spot as SL2’s On A Ragga Tip drum ‘n’ bass kicks in. This beat-filled first disc comes to an end with KWS and their palate-cleansing cover of George McCrae’s Rock Your Baby.
I Want Your Sex revisited: The primeval Too Funky was George Michael’s final single for Sony and was initially earmarked for a follow-up to the album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. George then shelved the idea and donated it and two other songs to the project Red Hot + Dance, which raised money for AIDS awareness. Also cutting some rug in July ’92 was the smooth shuffle of Jimmy Nail’s Ain’t No Doubt. Shanice’s I Love Your Smile is a one-off, sweet soul while Curiosity’s return [Hang On In There Baby] was snappy low-key pop with cool violins. Ce Ce Peniston’s We Got A Love Thang continues to grow on me with its sassy backing vocal from Kym Sims. And despite its gigantic presence, Simply Red’s Stars continues to bring on the golden memories. To the funky divas – En Vogue and My Lovin’. A total jam with The Payback sample running all the way through.
There’s the inevitable toilet break track when Curtis Stigers hits the speakers. You’re All That Matters To Me was a sensitive but uneventful ballad. Thankfully The Temptations arrive with My Girl and show him how its done. The Macaulay Culkin film of the same name was a huge draw, set in 1972 with a classic 1960s soundtrack. The slow set continues with Annie Lennox’s beautiful solo debut Why. And then One. A song about coming together but not being the same. We have to get along together in this world if it is to survive. They’ve played it in every concert since its release. Slowly but surely the tempo rises with the next track – Primal Scream’s joyous Screamadelica-opener Movin’ On Up which was the lead track on the Dixie Narco EP. Black Box Alternative / Smash It Up; Fat Bob and the boys got happy on Friday I’m In Love. A brief goth romance flourished.
Divine Madness marked a turning point, a 24-carat compilation of hits. An essential LP in my DJ bag that summer. House Of Fun was reissued and reached #40. The real heat was with Abba. Then Erasure covering Abba. And some Australian Abba impersonators covering Erasure. Björn Again’s Stop = shamelessly great. Sunscreem’s Love U More makes me cry into a pint; too much too young. An absolute masterpiece, and not just necessarily dance. A melting pot of sounds, some disco, part new wave and the (then) current early ’90s rave. Ahead of their time. Revolution, revolution, – the Manic Street Preachers finally arrived with a cover of the M*A*S*H theme Suicide Is Painless. For Ruby Trax, the NME’s 40th. They played for 25 minutes in The Mansion House, Waterford on 26 April 1991. And Morrissey in The National Stadium the night after. Sing your life.
Marc Almond’s groovy interpretation of The Days Of Pearly Spencer pops up near the end and is a gem. From sex to sin. Féile ’92: The Trip to Tipp. Three men in a holey tent. Fosters everywhere. Burgers and chips. A ghettoblaster with Chumbawamba’s Shhh on repeat. The hare krishnas. The massive tent like a house that was stolen the following year. The rain during Christy Moore. Rubbish. The flooded tent. Whipping Boy’s Submarine on the stereo Monday morning. The final comedown. Shakespear’s Sister had high Saturday billing. The epic Stay closes disc two. On the Friday evening Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine played; the thoughtful Only Living Boy In New (C)ross is here. So that was 1992. Hello, good evening, welcome and goodbye.
“Did I dream? You dreamed about me”.
U2 – One
Erasure – S.O.S.
Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine – The Only Living Boy In New Cross
Sunscreem – Love U More
Messiah – Temple Of Dreams
Lest we forget
Björn Again – Stop