So we reach the final edition of Now’s Millennium series. This 1999 entry differs from the others given that it only has nine months’ worth of songs to pick from – it was released at the end of September 1999. If it were up to me, I would have waited until February or at least March 2000. Jo Payton’s sleeve notes crackle with tales of Vengaboys and Cartoons before tackling the solo adventures of Boyzone and Spice Girls’ members.
Given the timing of this release, there were six tracks that hadn’t been compiled before. You can find discussion of the remaining 30 on the following albums:
Now That’s What I Call Music 41: Robbie Williams – No Regrets.
Smash Hits ’99: Billie – She Wants You.
The 1999 Brit Awards: Fatboy Slim – Praise You*.
New Hits ’99: Divine Comedy – National Express*, Stereophonics – Just Looking*, Steps – Better Best Forgotten*, Shanks & Bigfoot – Sweets Like Chocolate**, Inner City – Good Life (Buena Vida).
Now That’s What I Call Music 42: Lenny Kravitz – Fly Away, Terrorvision – Tequila (Mint Royale Shot), Emilia – Big, Big World, Boyzone – When The Going Gets Tough, Cartoons – Witch Doctor, Armand Van Helden featuring Duane Harden – You Don’t Know Me, DJ Sakin & Friends – Protect Your Mind (For The Love Of A Princess), Spice Girls – Goodbye, Mister Oizo – Flat Beat.
Smash Hits Summer ’99: Martine McCutcheon – Perfect Moment**, Geri Halliwell – Look At Me**, Phats & Small – Turn Around**.
Fresh Hits ’99: Wiseguys – Ooh La La**.
Now That’s What I Call Music 43: Chemical Brothers – Hey Boy, Hey Girl, New Radicals – You Get What You Give, Madness – Lovestruck, 911 – Private Number, DJ Jurgen presents Alice Deejay – Better Off Alone, Vengaboys – Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, Adam Rickitt – I Breathe Again, S Club 7 – Bring It All Back, Yomanda – Synth And Strings.
* Also on Now 42 / ** Also on Now 43.
“The fame thing isn’t really real.”
It was written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz and first became a hit for Keith Whitley, who took it to the top of the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart on December 24, 1988. Next came Alison Krauss, whose version was her first solo top-10 country hit in 1995. Lastly Boyzone singer Ronan Keating made it his first solo single and topped the UK and Irish charts during 1999. You will remember When You Say Nothing At All from Notting Hill. “Only a moment away from destiny.” Later on, things improve as we bounce along to Texas’ Summer Son, a sultry and alluring memory from August and taken from The Hush, their most assured album to date. Meanwhile viva Lolly but boo to her version of Hey Mickey. Described as “the ultimate bubble pop” by someone who hadn’t a clue. More like The Mini Pops re-invented for the end of the world. Also transformed was Sway or (Mucho Mambo) with Shaft on the controls. The follow-up was Mambo Italino.
Get ready for The Launch; DJ Jean’s progressive trance tune that reminds me so much of New Year’s Eve 1999, that party in Pearse Street, spinning to an almost empty room. Everybody waiting for the world to explode. On a similar vibe is Binary Finary’s 1999 or 1998 updated for one year on. A view from Bluebell 399: “For many people (at least those who were 19 years old in 1999) time index 3:01 was a defining moment of our lives. Hearing that in a club for the first time…you only get that experience once. The hands (and lighters) in the air, the lasers and then that bassline! It was almost spiritual, I was in Gatecrasher at the time and everybody around me knew that this was it, we had hit peak trance, even though we were all so young we just knew that this tune was “the one” and if you didn’t go mental when it drops, you have just missed out on life, of course every single person in the place went mental. And we was all correct because after this tune the uplifting scene died within months. This song killed trance but wow, what a way to go out. If you were there, you know what I’m talking about.”
The many faces of Nick Tilsley.
“I saw Adam Rickitt do a PA in a grim regional homosexual nitespot once which consisted of him taking his top off then singing I Breathe Again followed by a remix of I Breathe Again. It was amazing.” (I’d Rather Jack, Pop Justice)
Adam Rickitt has his own fan club:
The Adam Files
PO Box 101
Middlewich, CW10 9FL
Back in the late ’90s, Saturday was my day for doing the record shop circuit. I’d start in Virgin and HMV as the indie shops were too cool – maan – to open before 11.00am. From there I’d hit the likes of Freak Out, Trinity, Smile, Road, Big Brother, Spin Dizzy, Mac’s, Rhythm, Record Collector, Mojo, The Secret Book and Record Store, Tower, Comet, Borderline, Abbey Discs, Tag, Outlaw, Chapters and Freebird. I’d also drop off my zine Analogue Bubblebath. What follows is an extract from a longer article called Going Underground which was written by Evan Jameson and originally published in Analogue Bubblebath issue #3 on 13 June 1998.
The thick bass sounds from the basement, the heavy thumping of shoes coming down the stairs, that ‘clack-clack-clack’ as the second-hand and new CDs are thoroughly flicked through again. For 23 years Freebird Records has provided shelter (from rain and reality) and advice for a multitude of music fans. Founded in 1978 by Brian Foley, joined later by Des Kiely and originally situated above Bus Stop Newsagents at 6 Grafton Street, the shop moved to its current home in the late 1980s. Renowned as one of the city’s great indie stockists and more recently developing into a fine dance music outlet, Freebird , thanks to its well-informed staff And modern approach, is flourishing. Hip-Hop addict and Shelbourne fan, John Dee Has been working there since 1989. He first heard of Freebird from a mod and a rocker in his class. He describes his first visit to the shop in its old Grafton St. location on October 31 1983.
“I remember going in and being really scared by it because of all the punks that used to hang out at the bottom of the stairs and then there was another flight of stairs which led to a kind of landing where all the mods were. Into the shop and the Goths were inside. So being an impressionable, skinny 13 year old who’d not been in town previous to that without the company of his mother, I was nervous. I remember my mod and rocker friends going in and buying The Merton Parkas and Iron Maiden and I can’t remember what I bought, probably something naff.” Soon he was hooked “I kept going into it. In about ’85 or ’86 I got talking to a guy who worked there who was really into stuff like The Swans and Sonic Youth. He used to lend me his records, and that’s how I got to know the employees. After a while I was giving as much advice as I was receiving.”
This precocious talent soon landed John a job in Freebird. “At the time there were two small sacks of CDs, the rest of the shop was vinyl. Loads of soul, loads of indie stuff, loads of punk. The second-hand vinyl section was amazing then.” So what have been the most significant changes of the last 11 years? “The move to CD. Outside of that, the rise of dance. I think indie peaked in 1994. The changeover just gradually happened. The staff changed, my tastes changed. hip-hop, drum and bass, techno just got bigger and the other sections got smaller and smaller.” Another great change has been the dance inspired vinyl revival. “For a couple of years vinyl sales (apart from second-hand) had been down to almost zero. Now we are trying to find more room for it. putting decks up on the counter is an indication of changed times.”
Freebird prides itself on its wide- ranging selection of music. How do they decide what records to stock? “Normally what we read in magazines, what we see on telly, what we hear people are looking for. I’m not really taken in by record company guff. So mainly from magazines I suppose.” Can you think of a big purchasing risk that paid off? “I ordered in a load of Wu Tang Clan’s Enter The Wu Tang when they weren’t at all popular. The album went on to be one of Freebird’s biggest sellers. I loved it. They were what rap needed at the time.” And any big flops? “We won’t mention Oasis’ last album.”
Famous Freebird clients have included Elvis Costello, T-Bone Burnette, Sonic Youth, The Beautiful South, Joe Jackson, Phil Lynott, Paul Weller (he bought a Flying Burrito Brothers LP), Kathy Bates (she bought Veedon Fleece by Van Morrison). J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr. popped in the day after a Dublin gig and bought albums by Nick Drake and Al Green. Morrissey made a visit but people started hassling him for autographs so he left quickly. All U2 used to be regulars up to The Unforgettable Fire. John is very proud to be part of Freebird. “It’s a good shop. I like the people I work with. We meet a lot of people over the counter and have made many friends.” And the future? “Constant change.”
New Radicals – You Get What You Give
Fatboy Slim – Praise You
The Wiseguys – Ooh La La
Texas – Summer Son
Lest we forget
Adam Rickitt – I Breathe Again
Missing tracks and other thoughts
To the end: while Now That’s What I Call Music 1998: The Millennium Series is surely the nadir of the entire run, the 1999 instalment runs close. The opening sequence is rather oily while the run of dance tunes is a well-trodden path. You Get What You Give seems ageless while the six previously uncompiled tunes are at least a bit fresh (no guarantee of uniform quality). CD2 is much of the same – flashes of brilliance (Breathe Again, Good Life, 1999) mixed in with mediocrity. The Robbie Williams tune was first compiled on 1998’s Now 41. There were three regular Now albums released in 1999 – albeit one came after this final Millennium edition – and 30 of the songs here appeared on them (some were included on other compilations first) while three more would end up on Now Dance 2000.
1999 saw 36 songs reach the top of the UK charts; about 27 of these occurred in the first nine months of the year. 10 number ones feature here. Most lamented are Baz Luhrmann’s deep Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen), Blondie’s storming comeback Maria and The Offspring’s abrasive but melodic Pretty Fly (For A White Guy). Otherwise I’d really love to see the following: Blur – Tender, Shawn Mullins – Lullaby, Eminem – My Name Is, Supergrass – Pumping On Your Stereo, Britney Spears – Sometimes, Steps – Heartbeat, Christina Aguilera – Genie In A Bottle, George Michael & Mary J Blige – As. In late 1999 all households in Ireland received millennium candles which were to be lit for the Last Light ceremony of 31 December. A sensitive and symbolic commemoration of the final sunset. “Station announcer, station announcer.”