Telstar’s Story Of The Year for 1997 is chock-full of chart toppers. 11 in total. The front cover highlights: Spice Girls – Aqua – No Doubt – Oasis – George Michael – Boyzone – Backstreet Boys – R Kelly – Olive – Sash! – Blur – Gala – Coolio – Robbie Williams.
Four #1s to start with. It’s a dynamite beginning as the Spice Girls click into gear on Who Do You Think You Are. They opened their Brit Awards ’97 performance with this. Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack dress; one Cool Britannia’s most iconic symbols. The song also became the official single of the 1997 Comic Relief, a video with the Sugar Lumps — a satirical group — was released to help raise money for charitable causes and donated all the proceedings from the single. Aqua’s inane Barbie Girl is next; a tour de force of froth. No Doubt’s Don’t Speak and Oasis’ D’You Know What I Mean? make up the quartet.
As Long As You Love Me is a stunning ballad, the zenith of the Backstreet Boys’ recording history and a dead ringer for Boyzone who pop up on the soothing Isn’t It A Wonder. Stuck in the middle is George Michael’s funky Star People. Familiarity breeds contentment for the remainder of disc 1. There’s R Kelly – I Believe I Can Fly, a spacey jam. Dance this mess around to Olive – You’re Not Alone, Sash! – Encore Une Fois, Gala – Freed From Desire, Tori Amos – Professional Widow, Rosie Gaines – Closer Than Close, The Blueboy – Remember Me, Coolio – C U When U Get There. Take it down some on Mary J Blige – Everything, East 17 featuring Gabrielle – If You Ever, Gary Barlow – Love Won’t Wait, No Mercy – Where Do You Go. Sexed-up pair of brassers last; Clock vs N-Trance.
CD2 digs deeper. Sash! again, this time featuring La Trec on the emotional Stay. Old Mk 1: The Prodigy’s November ’96 fuzz of Breathe. Old Mk 2: Robbie Williams’ melancholy aging rock star jam Old Before I Die. Old Mk 3: Blur’s re-invention as Wowee Zowee pioneers on Beetlebum. White Town’s bedroom synth Your Woman is followed by Smoke City’s exotic Underwater Love. There’s more Britpop: Radiohead’s “difficult” (progtastic) Paranoid Android and Ash’s soaring teenage punk of A Life Less Ordinary. More: Ocean Colour Scene’s dust one down for the road trip, Travellers Tune while Tim Burgess and The Charlatans continue to swagger on the effortlessly cool North Country Boy. Closer: Supergrass’ menacing / dramatic Richard III and the Eel’s portentous Susan’s House.
Here comes a soulsaver: Finley Quaye comes in colours on Sunday Shining. Conner Reeves strums a maudlin tune on the haunting Earthbound (denoted as new, hot/press), Ant and Dec ruffle up Shout while Damage murder Wonderful Tonight. The sound of the streets: Warren G’s P-funk of Smokin’ Me Out. Next comes Blackstreet’s sparkling R&B pusher Don’t Leave Me. And then the queen of neo-soul, Erykah Badu and her misty-eyed late night jam On and On. And the beat goes on for Lutricia McNeal’s gritty Ain’t That Just The Way before we wrap up on N-Tyce’s moving and twisting We Come To Party.
Spice Girls – Who Do You Think You Are
The Charlatans – North Country Boy
Radiohead – Paranoid Android
Ash – A Life Less Ordinary
Blur – Beetlebum
Lest we forget
Eels – Susan’s House
Missing tracks and other thoughts
Top praise – The Greatest Hits Of 1997 is one of the best of the decade. Decent sequencing and a killer Britpop section topped off with some feelgood R&B jiving. Missing?
Elton John – Candle In The Wind 1997. Being here now.
Elton John – Something About The Way You Look Tonight. If I can’t have you etc.