“Got to be some good times ahead”.
Like Smash Hits ’92, the 1993 edition contained 40 tracks. This time the tagline was “40 Top Chartin’ Grooves!”. As always, the compiler was Ashley Abram for Box Music Limited and while it doesn’t quite hit the heights and diversity of 1992’s selection, this double CD remains one of the key go-to points when reliving those halycon days of my early 20s.
Freddie Mercury lives on. The remix of Living On My Own – known as the No More Brothers Mix – stole our hearts during July and August ’93. It had the fire and force to knock Take That’s Pray off the top. Humans Lib: Haddaway’s What Is Love became one of the key Eurodance tunes of the year with Culture Beat’s Mr Vain becoming the hottest summer night sound. After the obligatory 2 Unlimited “techno techno techno techno”, Snap’s ultra-cool Exterminate kicks in. The beginning sounds like Enya trapped in a lift with Altern-8. Next comes the coolest brother in town – Will Smith – and his master blaster Boom! Shake The Room. And from stutter to Stakko Bo; the bouncy Here We Go.
SWV – Sisters With Volkswagons? Nah, Voices. Right Here is a superb reworking of Michael Jackson’s Human Nature. LA-based Jade’s Don’t Walk Away is another quality R&B jam of the era with a memorable promo video. We fly across the Atlantic to London’s East End for Michelle Gayle and her funky banger Looking Up. Zip left, zip right – it’s time for Chaka Demus and Pliers. Smokin’ summer hit Tease Me was written by Pliers’ brother Spana. Yes, they do live in a toolbox. Meanwhile Bitty McLean rolls back the years on the gentle It Keeps Rainin’. If Shake The Room is on, then Shack-A-Lak is never far behind. Bhangra meets ragga as Apache Indian becomes Britain’s first Asian superstar.
Lulu’s Shout is given a reggae makeover by Louchie Lou and Michie One. Call it Soho breakneck. Snow pops up with the heavily-caned ragga groove of Informer before two boys and two girls from Sweden – Ace Of Base – drop the bomb on All That She Wants. Four more ragamuffins from Walthamstow known as East 17 unleash their best four minute monster to date – Deep. It’s back to the reggae-mad summer for Inner Circle’s loopy Sweat (A La La La La Long). A song for Europe. Next is the brilliant Dina Carroll with her super soul sound of Express while M People’s life-affirming How Can I Love You More bringing the first half to a conclusion. Mike Pickering sure knows how to pick ’em.
“This is not a media hype
Maybe I’m just not that type
My rhymes that’ll lift you like a drug
Like a mat, I’ll be your rug”.
Disc 2: Take That mania reached fever pitch in 1993. Jet-setting to the USA and Japan; hitting #1 with the fervent Pray. Straight in at #2 [the highest debut new entry] was Gabrielle’s sublime Dreams before a slight return to dance pastures with Urban Cookie Collective’s The Key, The Secret. Former high school teacher Sybil shows us the way on When I’m Good And Ready. We keep things Waterman on Dannii Minogue’s dazzling This Is It. Just like on Now That’s What I Call Music 25, it’s followed by The Time Frequency’s headrushing Ultimate High. The party continues with Worlds Apart’s euphoric take on Everlasting Love before crashing on Craig McLachlan and Debbie Gibson’s Grease hokum.
Blossom star Joey Lawrence’s Nothin’ My Love Can’t Fix is sub-par New Kids On The Block. The hearts keep throbbing for Bad Boys Inc and their lightweight Whenever You Need Someone. Funk is restored with Jamiroquai’s wonder groover Too Young To Die. 4 Non Blondes, that band with no blonde hair, had one of the decade’s anthems with What’s Up? Riding side-saddle are the irritating Spin Doctors and the dentist rock of Two Princes. Thankfully Suede’s magnificent Animal Nitrate blows the cobwebs away; a devastatingly brilliant track from one of the greatest ever debut albums. “Taking it time after time”.
Leeds boys Jez and Tim met at a 70s disco. They subsequently became Utah Saints and Believe In Me is one of ’93s most epic 45s. Sunscreem’s Pressure Us is similarly fantastic, a late-night music video memory from Mount Pleasant Avenue. Quality street: Saint Etienne perfectly-realised 60s throwback You’re In A Bad Way. Watching LWT’s Billy Liar and comparing it with the film version. Lose yourself in London. Next comes Right Said Fred, the long-forgotten #32 hit Bumped. Duran Duran’s Ordinary World sneaks up on us, a bright light buried as the penultimate tune on CD2. And lastly it’s one for the car: Shara Nelson’s powerful Down That Road is a immensely satisfying set closer. Hey freedom.
SWV – Right Here
Jamiroquai – Too Young To Die
Saint Etienne – You’re In A Bad Way
Snap – Exterminate
Shara Nelson – Down That Road (Radio Edit)
Lest we forget
Michelle Gayle – Looking Up