The 15th edition of Telstar’s Greatest Hits of the year arrived at the end of October 1999. All bar one track has already been compiled and discussed. Your starter for:
Now That’s What I Call Music 41: Steps – Heartbeat.
Hits ’99: Stereophonics – The Bartender And The Thief.
The 1999 Brit Awards: Fatboy Slim – Praise You.
New Hits ’99: Divine Comedy – National Express, Garbage – When I Grow Up, Shanks & Bigfoot – Sweet Like Chocolate, Blockster – You Should Be, Soulsearcher – Can’t Get Enough.
Now That’s What I Call Music 42: Boyzone – When The Going Gets Tough, Honeyz – End Of The Line, Steps, Tina Cousins, Cleopatra, B*Witched and Billie Piper – Thank ABBA For The Music, Armand Van Helden featuring Duane Harden – You Don’t Know Me.
Smash Hits Summer ’99: Phats & Small – Turn Around, Fatboy Slim – Right Here, Right Now.
Fresh Hits ’99: Another Level – From The Heart, Suede – Electricity, Catatonia – Dead From The Waist Down, ATB – 9PM (Till I Come), Wiseguys – Ooh La La, Chicane featuring Maire Brennan – Saltwater.
Now That’s What I Call Music 43: New Radicals – You Get What You Give, Texas – In Our Lifetime, Backstreet Boys – I Want It That Way, DJ Jurgen presents Alice Deejay – Better Off Alone, Basement Jaxx – Red Alert, Yomanda – Synth And Strings, Adam Rickitt – I Breathe Again, S Club 7 – Bring It All Back.
Big Hits ’99: Sixpence None The Richer – Kiss Me, Westlife – If I Let You Go, Moloko – Sing It Back, Phats & Small – Feel Good, Doolally – Straight From The Heart.
Now Dance 2000: Ann Lee – Two Times, Britney Spears – Sometimes, Paul Johnson – Get Get Down, Bob Marley vs Funkster De Luxe – Sun Is Shining, Onephatdeeva – In And Out Of My Life.
Huge Hits ’99: Steps – Love’s Got A Hold Of My Heart.
Modern R&B stylings, a subtle use of vocal counterpoint and harmony, acoustic rhythm piano. The sole uncompiled track is a rather underwhelming one from R Kelly, If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time. The fifth single from 1998’s R LP, it’s an overblown ballad about regret that runs for 6:17 on the album. The single edit shaves off about 80 seconds; it could easily lose another minute. As the song progresses, there’s a definite Unchanged Melody influence with the emotional levels sky high. It’s worth recalling that the first single off R – I Believe I Can Fly – was released as long ago as November 1996.
Time to take a look back at what else was occupying my time in 1999.
It’s March. Belle and Sebastian’s Tiger Milk has been advertised in the Sister Ray mail order list for the last four weeks. “Exclusive Japanese Import CD! £24.99. Coming soon. Reserve your copy now.” Like everybody else I missed out on it the first time round so I placed a credit card order immediately. “Not in yet, mate..”, “Sorry, there’s a problem with the distributors.” The latest twist is that B&S’s record label Jeepster have threatened legal action against its release. Why? Because the album is getting an official reissue in May on CD and LP and they feel that this import version will affect sales. At the moment the whole thing is “Up in the flaming air mate. . . ring back Friday.” I know it’s not going to happen and I’ll just have to wait until May. That doesn’t really bother me; what does bug me is the shameless publicity and hype that this has generated. Apparently Sister Ray have been inundated with orders (up to 4,000), the fans have got all excited and be even more eager to purchase the album when it eventually does come out. After hearing the latest twist on the phone today, I asked “Does the CD exist?” I was assured that it did and to top things off – “Look mate. I’ve got a vinyl copy if you’re interested. . £400 but yours for £350.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Who’s afraid of Y2K? I started to champion Hefner in 1998 but the following year saw Darren Hayman’s mob up the ante with a series of singles and a killer second album, The Fidelity Wars. Here are just two such reviews which I wrote in the spring of 1999.
Hefner – The Hymn For The Alcohol 7″: No-fi. An excellent drinking song and self-pitying in its choice of subject matter. Melancholic to boot but it sweeps along just fine with Darren Hayman’s vocals sounding very vulnerable rather than just whining. “I’m not good enough for whiskey, I’m not good enough for you.” Play when sad.
Hefner – The Hefner Heart CD: “Mary Lee is made up, she doesn’t exist.” say the CD liner notes. Mary Lee is Hefner’s rockiest tune to date, a song about having fucked-up parents and drinking more whiskey. With excellent backing vocals to complement the chorus, The Hymn For The Things We Didn’t Do, like all the other hymns, is worthy, stirring indie pope with traces of Palace. Karen starts off like UB40 unplugged and then veers off into Art Garfunkel territory, lo-fi style, while The Heart Of Portland is an acoustic-driven track about regret…with a little distortion thrown in. Finally another hymn: this for Thomas Courtney Warner. It uses a piano melody to creative a plaintive lament for a dead soldier.
Stereophonics – The Bartender And The Thief
Texas – In Our Lifetime
Catatonia – Dead From The Waist Down
Basement Jaxx – Red Alert
Chicane featuring Maire Brennan – Saltwater
Lest we forget
Steps – Heartbeat
Missing tracks and other thoughts
By now the Telstar compilers had almost given up on exclusives and instead were trying to tap the Christmas market with a selection encompassing the full year. There’s a rather redundant feel to all of it, and it would be last one that I’d buy. One more song?
Travis – Why Does It Always Rain On Me? Obviously sequenced after Stereophonics.