Now That’s What I Call Music 43 was released in mid July 1999. It contained a total of 41 tracks. 12 of these have already been discussed on the following compilations:
New Hits ’99: Shanks and Bigfoot – Sweet Like Chocolate.
Smash Hits Summer ’99: Martine McCutcheon – Perfect Moment, Phats & Small – Turn Around, Geri Halliwell – Look At Me, Precious – Say It Again, Fierce – Dayz Like That, Fatboy Slim – Right Here, Right Now, Stereophonics – Pick A Part That’s New.
Fresh Hits ’99: ATB – 9PM (Till I Come), Tina Cousins – Forever, Wiseguys – Ooh La La, Chicane featuring Maire Brennan – Saltwater.
Anne Murray singing You Needed Me. Now there’s a childhood memory from the late 1970s. The song was one of my mother’s favourites. Back then our 3-in-1 stereo was in the “good” room. Sometimes she’d sit there and play LPs. Us children would play quietly or read. We had a compilation called Country Life (released on EMI during 1979) that had 20 tracks – all in the same vein: Ode To Billie Joe, Take Me Home Country Roads, Snowbird, The Gambler etc. Sadly Boyzone’s cover fails to capture the moment and it’s a rather dull experience. In a head-to-head battle with Geri Halliwell’s Look At Me, Boyzone came out in top and outsold Ginger Spice by 700 copies to hit #1. Much more satisfying is I Want It That Way, a pretty fine pop ballad from the Backstreet Boys. Taken from their Millennium album – people were really getting geared up then – it topped the chart in 25 countries.
S Club 7 get into the groove on their uptempo debut single Bring It All Back. The stars of BBC series Miami 7: Jon, Bradley, Hannah, Jo, Rachel, Tina and Paul shot straight to the top of the charts. The colonel was Simon Fuller who had been fired as the Spice Girls’ manager at the end of 1997. We boom once more with the Vengaboys torturous third single before the situation is remedied by Basement Jaxx’s Clinton-inspired Red Alert. The primary sample is Locksmith’s Chinese Funk Song. Moving on: Without Love saw Dina Carroll’s relaunch as a dance diva. Originally she planned to release a cover of Son Of A Preacher Man but was shelved due to Dusty’s death. Elsewhere Coronation Street’s Adam Rickitt broke out of his Nick Tilsley character role to release his debut single, I Breathe Again. I was cynical before I heard it but I have to say – top stuff. Like a male Madonna fronting a Euro dance outfit. Its bare-all promo video helped achieve a top 5 placing.
“Lolly is a super cool funster from the West Midlands who loves shopping, rollerskating, fluffy jumpers and Hollyoaks.” Vive La Radio is anodyne bubblegum but looks deep, complex and intricate when compared the Cartoons’ monstrous and offensively dire Doo Dah. Slowing things down are Honeyz with the syrup R&B jam Love Of A Lifetime, a nice slow burner. Sadly, 911’s version of the Stax classic, Private Number – sung so well by Judy Clay and William Bell in 1968 – is watery stuff. Culture Club’s reunion continues with the underrated Your Kisses Are Charity which unfortunately couldn’t repeat the success of I Just Wanna Be Loved. Wrapping up the first half are Beverley Knight’s summer anthem Greatest Day and Melanie G’s ill-advised train wreck cover of Word Up.
“Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young.”
This column by Chicago Tribune journalist, Mary Schmich, and published in June 1997 was framed as hypothetical commencement speech. In it she forcefully recommends the wearing of sunscreen, and dispenses various pieces of advice which are intended to help people live a happier life. The complete text of the essay was used by Australian director Baz Luhrmann for a track on his 1998 album Something For Everybody. The original seven minute track was cut down to 5:05 for a 1999 single release which went to #1 in both Ireland and the UK. Listening now, it comes across as both weirdly uplifting and intensely sobering. And naturally, it makes a lot more sense to me now than it did in 1999.
Texas’ second coming continued with their another massive album – The Hush – which was a worthy successor to 1998’s White On Blonde. The rather serious In Our Lifetime was also included on the Notting Hill soundtrack. Meanwhile the New Radicals sound like a hybrid between Wham! and Wheatus on the anthemic You Get What You Give. Annie Zaleski for The A.V. Club wrote that the song was “surprisingly influential on popular music, just in a non-obvious, almost obscured way”, and that it was “both a nostalgic artifact and a song that transcends any era.” One for a road trip – Supergrass’ catchy glam rock of Pumping On Your Stereo – before the inclusion of a brand new single by Madness, the charming Lovestruck which was the band’s first fresh material of the decade.
The Chemical Brothers’ Hey Boy, Hey Girl can be filed under total dance stomper. The vocal sample “Hey girls, B-boys, superstar DJs, here we GO!” was taken from The Roof Is On Fire by Rock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three. The music video features skeletons. And in some neat sequencing, Chicane’s Saltwater is followed by their remix of Bryan Adams’ Cloud Number Nine, a reworking that’s exceptionally memorable. We’re on a roll now, Blur are next, Graham Coxon singing about his battles with alcoholism on the superb Coffee And TV; here we have the 5:03 radio edit. You can also hear the song on the Cruel Intentions soundtrack. Cast’s Beat Mama is a good song that’s hard to find, first single from the upcoming third LP that seems to have been lost in the millennium rush.
Bring It On sees Gomez use the name of their debut album on the lead 45 from the second LP, Liquid Skin. A stop / start track with only sudden bursts of melody, the video carries a health and safety theme, “Music can be dangerous.” Clearer: Semisonic’s crunchy Secret Smile with a guitar riff that’s once heard, never forgotten. After 1998’s Best Of, back come James with the direct sound of I Know What I’m Here For. I remain unconvinced. For the last three tunes we return to the club zone: Yomanda’s Synth And Strings brings us back to 1980 with is samples of Liquid Gold’s Dance Yourself Dizzy while Better Off Alone is the sound of the Euro trance wave crashing on rocks. Finally we get some decent and uplifting house music: Masters At Work presents India – To Be In Love. Ibiza ’99 forever.
Baz Luhrmann – Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)
Supergrass – Pumping On Your Stereo
Blur – Coffee And TV
Masters At Work presents India – To Be In Love
Bryan Adams – Cloud Number Nine
Lest we forget
Cast – Beat Mama
Missing tracks and other thoughts
A mixed bag. The first disc is a struggle but CD2 ups the game with a pretty ace selection. Here’s a few more recruits that should have been drafted in:
Electronic – Vivid. Arthur Baker back in the game. No confusion.
Moby – Run On. Let us play.
Happy Mondays – The Boys Are Back In Town. After a seven year absence.
Shed Seven – Disco Down. Let it ride.
Gay Dad – Joy. The next big thing. Hugely underrated and lashings of glam.
Orbital – Nothing Left. Arrival from the middle of nowhere.
Thanks to Smash Hits Mag for this advert.
Promotional poster courtesy of the Now That’s What I Call Music Collectors Group UK.