Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Best Of 1996 - part 3

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1


Fifty down, 50 to go in my countdown of my favourite songs from 1996. Besides hearing songs out at clubs on a Saturday night, a lot of the music I discovered that year came from working in music retail. And, in 1996, I moved from working in the music section of a department store to a job at a dedicated music retailer.

Garbage: bringing pop and rock fans together in 1996

Well, Brashs also sold electronic appliances like stereos and TVs, but they were also one of Australia's biggest record stores until they went bust in 1998. The main appeal in changing one casual job for another was the discount - I went from getting 5% off all my music to 20 or 30%. Plus, the store I worked in was massive, with an entire room just for classical music. No wonder the company failed.


Number 50 "Love Is Everywhere" by Caught In The Act
Boy bands were big business again in 1996, thanks to the success of Take That and Boyzone - and Caught In The Act were a Dutch-based group who visited Australia on a promotional trip late in the year. Half the line-up was British, while one of the Dutch members, Eloy de Jong, was involved for a period of time with Boyzone's Stephen Gately. Like songs by Bad Boys Inc and Upside Down, as well as early Worlds Apart releases, Caught In The Act's music hasn't dated very well - but I did like this tune, which was one of their biggest hits.




Number 49 "Rock Me Gently" by Erasure
In my 1995 countdown, I mentioned how Erasure's more experimental self-titled album was their first to miss the number 1 spot in the UK since 1987's The Circus. In 1996, "Rock Me Gently" became their first single to not receive a release in Britain and to therefore not make the singles chart there. Edited down from the 10-minute album version, "Rock Me Gently" became more or less a straightforward Erasure ballad in the style of "Am I Right?" or "Stay With Me", and is possibly my favourite of their downtempo songs.




Number 48 "Wrong" by Everything But The Girl
Flush from the runaway success of "Missing", EBTG realised they were on to a good thing with this dance music business - and their Walking Wounded album embraced their new sound. This second single saw Todd Terry, the man behind the "Missing" transformation, once more on remix duties.




Number 47 "Nakasaki EP (I Need A Lover Tonight)" by Ken Doh
I always thought Ken Doh was the name of the singer of this vocal house release, which reached the UK top 10, but it turns out it was a group comprised of Steve Burgess and Michael Devlin. Nominally an EP, it essentially comprised lead track "Nakasaki (I Need A Lover Tonight)" and various remixes.




Number 46 "Surprise" by Bizarre Inc
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 45 "Disco 2000" by Pulp
I've talked about Motiv8 once or twice before on this blog - either in relation to tracks released under their own steam or remixes they did for other artists - and it's a name you're going to hear popping up over and over in the rest of this list. Everyone turned to Motiv8 in the mid-'90s for their trademark galloping bassline remixes - even indie favourites Pulp. I'd never really been aware of Pulp before 1995, even though they'd been recording since the early '80s, but thanks to tracks like "Common People" and the controversial "Sorted For E's & Wizz", they were propelled into the big league in 1995. Even without the Motiv8 remix (which you can hear by following the link in the song title above), "Disco 2000" would have made this list, but it's the version I prefer.




Number 44 "Jellyhead (Motiv8 mix)" by Crush
With fellow Byker Grove stars PJ & Duncan doing pretty well on the UK chart, two female stars of the UK teen series, Donna Air and Jayni Hoy, were launched as Crush - although the original version of this track sounded more like something another British female duo, Shampoo, would release. The song flopped in the UK, but in Australia, the Motiv8 remix was promoted to the main version and it became a modest hit.




Number 43 "Good Day" by Sean Maguire
Another UK soap star, another Motiv8 mix (which you can hear by following the link in the song title above). Sean had appeared on Grange Hill and EastEnders, and had been recording since 1994. His strained vocals were reminiscent of Jason Donovan's, but songs like "Good Day" and his cover of 1970s hit "Don't Pull Your Love" (number 76 on this list) were pretty damn catchy.




Number 42 "Stupid Girl" by Garbage
Becoming far and away their biggest hit to date in the UK and US, "Stupid Girl" really put Garbage on the map, with increased album sales and awards nominations coming as a result. Their self-titled album was also the one CD my rock-loving co-workers and I could agree on playing during a Saturday shift at Brashs.




Number 41 "Un-break My Heart" by Toni Braxton
If the 1980s had been the decade of the pop/rock power ballad, then the 1990s was the era of the pop/R&B power ballad - and there were few better than this monster hit by the frequently bankrupted performer. As was typical in 1996, "Un-break My Heart" came with an upbeat remix (that you can hear if you follow the link in the song title above) - in this case provided by Frankie Knuckles - as well as the dramatic original version.




Number 40 "Stars (remixes)" by Dubstar
Mentioned below

Number 39 "Loving You More (remix)" by BT featuring Vince Covello
Originally released in 1995, this track from trance pioneer Brian Transeau's debut album, Ima, was dusted off in 1996, given a slight remix and as a result improved its UK chart position from the number 28 peak of the original to number 14. Unfortunately for vocalist Vince, his Wikipedia entry seems to have been deleted - not famous enough, perhaps?




Number 38 "Not So Manic Now" by Dubstar
After a slow start in 1995, British synthpop group Dubstar made some progress on the UK chart in 1996, with this track, a cover of a song by Brick Supply, denting the top 20 there. Motiv8 were called in to revamp debut single "Stars" and that remix (number 40 on this list) became their biggest British hit, reaching number 15.




Number 37 "So Pure" by Baby D
This was a third UK top 3 hit on the trot for the breakbeat group, following "Let Me Be Your Fantasy" and a cover of The Korgis' "Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime".




Number 36 "Got Myself Together" by The Bucketheads
Meanwhile, another British dance group followed up "The Bomb!" with this single, which sampled "Movin'", a 1975 hit by Brass Construction. I actually preferred "Got Myself Together" to "The Bomb!", but the charts didn't agree with me, with the song missing the top 10 in the UK and failing to register in Australia.




Number 35 "When I Fall In Love" by Ant & Dec
The pop duo's previous single, "Better Watch Out", had seen a significant branding shift, being the first track released under their real names, Ant & Dec, instead of their character names from Byker Grove, a show they'd long since left. Then, in "When I Fall In Love", Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly released what is, in my opinion, the best single of their relatively short career. The new era was short-lived, however, and in 1997 the pair were let go from their record deal amid allegations of song-stealing. Wonder whatever happened to them?




Number 34 "Say You'll Be There" by Spice Girls
No recap of 1996 would be complete without mentioning Spice Girls, who quickly made their presence felt on charts around the globe. In the UK, “Say You’ll Be There” was the second of three number 1s that year, which also included debut hit “Wannabe” (number 4 on this list) and Christmas chart-topper “2 Become 1” (number 67 on this list). In Australia, we were a little slower off the mark – although “Wannabe” got to number 1, it took two months to get there and this follow-up only reached number 12.



 


Number 33 "On My Own" by Peach
Like Dubstar, Peach (or Peach Union, as they were known in the US) was a band I read about before I heard - and the involvement of producer Pascal Gabriel suggested I would like their music. And, I did, with this debut single becoming a favourite of mine, even if it wasn't a success in the UK or Australia.




Number 32 "You Lift Me Up" by Rebekah Ryan
With K-klass having finished their run of dance hits, they turned their attention to producing this British singer, who didn't have any major success on the charts, but did well in the clubs with the Hi-Lux mixes of both this and "Just A Little Bit Of Love" (number 120 on this list). The Hi-Lux mix of "You Life Me Up" is below, while there's a link to the music video, which features the original version, in the song title above.




Number 31 "Don't Go (Dancing Divaz remix)" by Awesome 3 featuring Julie McDermott
Awesome 3 had been trying to get "Don't Go" in the charts since 1992. The song bombed on its original release and again in 1994, when it was remixed. The 1996 version finally saw it crack the UK top 30 - two weeks after a rival version of the track by Third Dimension (also featuring Julie McDermott) had entered the UK top 40.




Number 30 "The Lover That You Are" by Pulse featuring Antoinette Roberson
Sources vary about who was involved in Pulse - with David Morales, Jellybean Benitez and Hex Hector all mentioned on different sites. From what I can determine, this song was co-written by Morales, co-produced by Hector and Jellybean was behind the project. A dream team if ever there was one - and another great mid-'90s vocal house track.




Number 29 "Standing Here All Alone" by Michelle
One good vocal house track deserves another - and this song was the latest in a long line of great releases by the Positiva label. Michelle Narine also popped up a decade later on the Big Bass track, "What You Do (Playing With Stones)", which we'll reach whenever I get as far as recapping my favourites from 2007.




Number 28 "Forbidden City" by Electronic
The supergroup formed by Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr (sometimes with Pet Shop Boys) were back with a second studio album in 1996 - and this was the first single lifted from it. The song was a modest UK hit, and the album, Raise The Pressure, was my favourite for the year, with a stack of potential singles on it.  




Number 27 "Ready To Go" by Republica
With numerous mixes and a couple of different music videos in existence, this debut single by Republica was endlessly confusing. My preference, which I think is called the "Original Mix", is below - and has a poppier sound (surprise, surprise) than the more guitar heavy "US Mix". Fronted by Saffron, the British group found success in America with the song and, eventually, in Britain, when it reached number 13 in 1997.




Number 26 "Virtual Insanity" by Jamiroquai
And, here's an act who'd been successful in the UK for years and finally broke through in America in 1996 thanks to the inventive video for this song, the lead single from Travelling Without Moving. "Virtual Insanity" didn't crack the Billboard Hot 100, but the video did win the MTV VMA for Video Of The Year and the album went platinum Stateside. Meanwhile, follow-up "Cosmic Girl" (number 63 on this list) became the group's first single to reach the Australian top 40.




In Part 4: the return of one of music's most successful acts of the previous 15 years and the best Eurovision song of all time (sorry, ABBA).


MY YEAR-END CHARTS
1979 II 1980 II 1981 II 1982 II 1983 II 1984 II 1985 II 1986 II 1987 II 1988 II 1989
1990 II 1991 II 1992 II 1993 II 1994 II 1995 II 1996 II 1997 II 1998 II 1999
2000 II 2001 II 2002 II 2003 II 2004 II 2005 II 2006 II 2007 II 2008 II 2009
2010 II 2011 II 2012 II 2013 II 2014 II 2015 II 2016

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

25 Years Ago This Week: August 28, 1988

What's in a name? And, can it make a difference to the success of a recording artist? This week in 1988 was a good one to ponder those questions, since among the breakers and new entries on the ARIA chart that week was everything from literal band names to stage names to a pretentious artsy band name.

The Fat Boys: fat by name, fat by... well, you know

Oh, and one song we'll recap from 25 years ago this week was actually released by a singer using their birth name. What a novel idea.

ARIA Top 50 Singles Chart - week ending August 28, 1988

On top of the singles chart this week in 1988, Fairground Attraction (named, presumably, with a safe and pleasant ride like a merry-go-round in mind, rather than a thrilling roller-coaster) ascended to the number 1 spot with "Perfect". In the process, they knocked off "Age Of Reason" by John Farnham, who'd once gone by Johnny, since, presumably, it made him more endearing.


Breakers
"I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love" by Chicago
Peak: number 60

Imagine if Australian bands followed the US tradition of naming themselves after the city in which they were formed. Silverchair would be called Newcastle, Savage Garden would be Logan City and Eskimo Joe would be Fremantle.
MOR stalwarts Chicago came together in the late '60s in the city of the same name - and the band members were clearly so unimaginative that most of their albums were also called Chicago.
By 1988, they were up to Chicago 19, and this power ballad was the first single lifted from that album. With vocals handled by keyboard player/guitarist Bill Champlin, the track reached number 3 in the States but missed the ARIA top 50.




"Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution" by Tracy Chapman
Peak: number 66

With "Fast Car" still inside the top 20 and her self-titled album selling solidly, everyone was talkin' 'bout Tracy Chapman in 1988 - but that didn't mean she could score another hit single. In fact, the folk singer (who recorded under her birth name) wouldn't hit the top 50 again until 1995, but when she did, it would be with another monster hit.




"Whisper" by Schnell Fenster
Peak: number 56

Split Enz had originally been called Split Ends, and while one spin-off group, Crowded House (initially called The Mullanes), were doing very well indeed in 1988, the group launched by Neil Finn's predecessor in Split Enz, Phil Judd, didn't manage the same chart highs.
Taking their name from the German for "quick window" - why? Because it was quirky - Schnell Fenster also featured former Split Enz members Nigel Griggs and Noel Crombie in the line-up. But, just as Phil's era of Split Enz was less commercial, so too was this group when compared to Crowded House - and despite "single of the week" billing on the chart, "Whisper" missed the top 50. There's a link to the video in the song title above.





New Entries
Number 50 "The Twist (Yo, Twist!)" by The Fat Boys with Chubby Checker
Peak: number 21
Born Ernest Evans, Chubby Checker was the Los Del Rio of his day, responsible for the start of dance craze The Twist. The accompanying single (and the first of a few Twist-themed tracks Chubby released) was recently named as Billboard's all-time number 1 record, mostly due to the fact that it reached the top spot in the US on two separate occasions - in 1960 and 1962.
Nearly three decades later, rap trio The Fat Boys teamed up with Chubby for an updated version of the track, which was particularly big in Europe. "The Twist (Yo, Twist!)" followed a previous cover version of The Surfaris' "Wipeout", which had featured The Beach Boys on backing vocals.
Given their size, it's obvious where The Fat Boys got the idea for their name, but the individual members' names are quite something. Probably the most famous member is Prince Markie Dee (real name: Mark Morales), who had a solo career, and became a songwriter and producer after the demise of the group. Then, there was Kool Rock-Ski (real name: Damon Wimbley) and the late Darren Robinson, otherwise known as Buff Love (aka The Human Beat Box). Got all that?





Number 45 "Doctorin' The House" by Coldcut featuring Yazz & The Plastic Population
Peak: number 45
I wonder whether the sudden arrival of this British club hit on the ARIA top 50 was due to people buying it by mistake, thinking it was "that Doctor Who song". Or, whether the runaway success of "Doctorin' The Tardis" resulted in more people discovering the inspiration for that track's title.
Coldcut are duo Matt Black and Jonathan More, who, alongside The Beatmasters, made a name for themselves with a series of dance tracks featuring guest performers who'd go on to bigger things in subsequent years. In this case, the featured singer was Yasmin Evans, who recorded under the name Yazz. We'd hear more from her by the end of the year.





Number 33 "Monkey" by George Michael
Peak: number 12
This week's biggest entry came from the man born Georgios Kyriacos Panagi√≤tou, who changed his name to the more anglicised George Michael ahead of his career as a pop superstar. "Monkey" was yet another number 1 single for George in the States (his fourth on the trot) and dealt with the topic of drug addiction - the "monkey on your back" of the song's lyrics.





Next week: an Aussie legend and a brand new homegrown band arrive with new singles, as well as an international singer who found an appreciative audience (and eventually a home) here in Australia. Before that, I'll conclude my countdown of my favourite songs from 1996.


Back to: Aug 21, 1988 <<<<<<<<<<<<<  GO  >>>>>>>>>>>>> Forward to: Sep 4, 1988


Monday, 26 August 2013

The Best Of 1996 - part 2

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1


We're a quarter of the way into my top 100 for 1996, and as I write this next post, I'm also watching this year's MTV Video Music Awards. In 1996, many of the big winners at the VMAs were rock acts: Smashing Pumpkins, Alanis Morissette, Beck, Metallica and Foo Fighters.

Daniel Jones and Darren Hayes shot to fame in 1996

If you've read any of my posts before, you'll know I'm not the world's biggest rock fan, so I was pleased that genre's stranglehold of music started to loosen in 1996 - and in this batch of songs is our first glimpse of five ladies who helped pop stage a comeback and two Australian acts who'd be our biggest pop groups for the next few years. First, some more dance tracks...


Number 75 "So In Love With You" by Duke
The alter ego of the not-as-impressively named Mark Adams, Duke was behind this song, which, like all good club classics, took a couple of releases to make its mark, finally reaching number 22 in the UK in late '96.



Number 74 "Breathe" by The Prodigy
1996 was the year The Prodigy went ballistic, thanks to the two-pronged attack of "Firestarter" (number 118 on this list) and this follow-up, which spent months in the Australian top 40. Bridging the gap between electronic and rock, the British group pretty much created a whole new genre and proved than dance acts could sell albums, too. For a short period of time, they were the hottest band in the world. Then, "Smack My Bitch Up" happened. 




Number 73 "I Don't Wanna Be A Star" by Corona
OK, so when I talked about "Baby Baby" in my 1995 countdown, I promised I'd discuss the question of who actually performed on Corona's hits, like this disco-tastic fourth single from The Rhythm Of The Night. Turns out that, like Black Box and C&C Music Factory, Corona used vocals by one singer and had another person entirely front the act. In this case, Italian vocalist Jenny B performed "The Rhythm Of The Night" and British singer Sandra Chambers performed "Baby Baby" and the rest of the debut album. Brazilian Olga Souza was hired to lip sync in Corona's music videos and do live appearances - although apparently she did get to sing on later records by the group. Yep, Corona did have more than the one album.




Number 72 "This Is Your Night" by Amber
More Eurodance now from the German-based singer born Marie-Claire Cremers, who had a big hit in Europe, Australia and the US with this, her debut single. "This Is Your Night" is one of the rare examples of a Eurodance song being big here but not in the UK.




Number 71 "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) 96" by Dead Or Alive
Next, we have a remix that also performed well in Australia but did nothing in the UK. The original version of "You Spin Me Round...", of course, had been released in 1985 and gave producers Stock Aitken Waterman their first British chart-topper. Eleven years later, this new version, remixed by Sugar Pumpers, coincided with the Australian and European release of the Nukleopatra album (which had come out in Japan the previous year). Dead Or Alive toured Australia at the time, and - brush with fame alert - I got my copy of Nukleopatra (as well as their other albums) signed by singer Pete Burns at a Virgin Records in-store appearance.




Number 70 "Hot Shot (Never Never Gonna Lose Control)" by Barbara Tucker
She's popped up in both my 1994 and 1995 year-end charts, and here she is again with another club favourite, which sampled N'Joi's 1991 dance classic, "Anthem". I'm not sure if a music video was ever made for the song, but enjoy instead the homoerotic YouTube clip below.




Number 69 "Lifted" by Lighthouse Family
Mentioned below

Number 68 "Anything" by 3T
Calling themselves The Jackson Three might've been a bit tacky, but Michael Jackson's nephews (sons of his brother Tito) did incorporate their names, Toriano (or Taj), Taryll and Tito (TJ), into their group moniker. 3T looked like they might take after their father and his brothers when this slush-fest of a debut single shot to number 2 in the UK and went top 20 in the US, and four follow-ups (including "Why", a duet with Michael) also performed well in the UK. But, it was over as quickly as it began and the trio didn't have another hit after 1996.




Number 67 "2 Become 1" by Spice Girls
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 66 "My Love Is For Real" by Strike
They'd remixed Paula Abdul's original in 1995 and obviously liked the results so much that they decided to release a more or less identical version themselves the following year. Unfortunately, the British dance act didn't manage to beat Paula's chart performance and "My Love Is For Real" became their third single to miss the UK top 20 in a row.




Number 65 "One And One" by Robert Miles featuring Maria Nayler
"Children" had been a monster record in 1995 - and was responsible for the emergence of a new sub-genre: dream trance. After soundalike single "Fable", the Italian-based producer mixed things up by enlisting a vocalist for this third single, which was another huge seller across Europe. Robert didn't have as much luck with his second album, and "One And One" was his last major chart appearance in most countries.




Number 64 "One By One (Junior Vasquez mix)" by Cher
From "One And One" to "One By One", and a track from Cher's (mostly) covers album, It's A Man's World, on which she tackled songs originally recorded by Marc Cohn, James Brown and Don Henley, among others. "One By One" had originally been recorded by The Real People and then covered by double Eurovision winner Johnny Logan - but Cher had actually co-written the song with The Real People vocalist Anthony Griffiths in the late '80s. The version of the song on It's A Man's World was quite different to this poppier dance mix, which became a top 10 hit in the UK.




Number 63 "Cosmic Girl" by Jamiroquai
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 62 "I Want You" by Savage Garden
I remember when this single first came into the record store where I had a casual job in 1996 and thinking it sounded like it could be by Roxette. At that stage, no one knew anything about the Queensland duo and "I Want You" was released on film distributor Roadshow's fledgling record label, which meant it didn't have the established machinery of a BMG or Warner behind it. Still, a song this catchy was bound to get noticed, and before long "I Want You" was climbing the ARIA chart and Savage Garden were taking their first steps towards becoming Australia's biggest musical export of the 1990s. This is still my favourite of their singles, since I was never a big fan of their ballads - too saccharine for my taste (and that's coming from someone who like 3T's "Anything"). There's a link to the original Australian video in the song title above and the new clip they filmed for the international market below.




Number 61 "In The Evening (remix)" by Sheryl Lee Ralph
She was the Beyoncé Knowles of her generation. Well, she played the Deena Jones role in the original stage production of Dreamgirls - and this track was originally released in 1984 from her album of the same name. Quite why it scored a remix in 1996, I'm not sure - but there was no escaping it in clubs up and down Sydney's Oxford St strip that year. Although a career in pop music didn't ever bear fruit, Sheryl has sustained a successful acting career, with roles in TV shows like Moesha and Designing Women.




Number 60 "Hide-a-way" by Nu Soul featuring Kelli Rich
I know nothing about this group or the featured singer - but, like quite a few songs on this list, it's a damn fine vocal house track that was not the big hit it should have been. Like so many dance tracks from the mid-'90s, it came to my attention thanks to the Dance Zone series of compilations.




Number 59 "Keep On Jumpin'" by Lisa Marie Experience
Here's a club track that was a top 10 hit - at least in the UK. One of two versions of the disco classic released in 1996 - the other was by Todd Terry featuring Martha Wash & Jocelyn Brown - this peaked one place higher on the UK chart. Despite the big names on that version, I preferred the LME take on the song, which had originally been recorded in 1978 by Musique.




Number 58 "I Got The Vibration (A Positive Vibration)" by Black Box
It had been a tough few years for the Italo house group that'd been unstoppable at the start of the decade, and it only got slightly better for Black Box in 1996 with this song, which sampled Diana Ross' "Love Hangover" and narrowly missed the UK top 20. "I Got The Vibration..." would be their final chart appearance of any note.




Number 57 "Wishes" by Human Nature
Proof positive that sometimes it's not worth trying to be something you're not came with the Australian top 10 success of Human Nature's third single. A radio-friendly ballad with four-part harmonies, "Wishes" followed previous singles "Got It Goin' On" and "Tellin' Everybody", which saw the Aussie quartet imitating overseas boy bands like Backstreet Boys and Take That. Once Sony Music Australia realised Human Nature could sell records by being true to their barbershop roots, they were onto a winner.




Number 56 "Don't Let Go (Love)" by En Vogue
Although the four-piece vocal group scored their biggest hit with this track, taken from the soundtrack to the film Set It Off, it was the last hurrah for the original line-up with Dawn Robinson quitting for a solo career the following year. The three remaining members carried on, landing a couple more hits from the EV3 album, but the group would never be the same again - no matter how many different line-ups and reunions have been attempted in the years since.




Number 55 "Deliver Me" by The Beloved
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 54 "Le Voie; Le Soleil" by Subliminal Cuts
Here I was thinking this piano house track was another song I knew next to nothing about, when it turns out Subliminal Cuts was one of many aliases for Dutch producer Patrick Prins, who popped up in my 1994 countdown as The Urban Sound Of Amsterdam, and also released records as Movin' Melodies, Ethics and Artemesia.




Number 53 "Everybody (Move Your Body)" by Diva
Norwegian blonde bombshells Helene Sommer and Elene Nyborg almost had a hit with their 1995 cover version of a-ha's "The Sun Always Shines On TV", and released this original track the following year to as much disinterest.




Number 52 "Stay With Me Tonight" by The Human League
Taking advantage of their renewed success with 1995's "Tell Me When", The Human League released a new greatest hits compilation, which featured this original track as well as a fairly awful remix of 1981's "Don't You Want Me". "Stay With Me Tonight" sneaked into the bottom position of the UK top 40 and the group wouldn't be heard of for another five years.




Number 51 "Goodbye Heartbreak" by Lighthouse Family
UK R&B duo Lighthouse Family took a while to get up and running, with their first two singles, "Lifted" (number 69 on this list) and "Ocean Drive" (number 99), flopping in 1995. But, in 1996, they were one of the UK's biggest-selling acts with both those songs doing much better on re-release and this third single following suit. The album, Ocean Drive, went multi-platinum and easy-listening radio had a new go-to group.




In Part 3, more Motiv8 remixes than you poke a stick at. But, before that, my regular ARIA chart recap from 25 years ago.


MY YEAR-END CHARTS
1979 II 1980 II 1981 II 1982 II 1983 II 1984 II 1985 II 1986 II 1987 II 1988 II 1989
1990 II 1991 II 1992 II 1993 II 1994 II 1995 II 1996 II 1997 II 1998 II 1999
2000 II 2001 II 2002 II 2003 II 2004 II 2005 II 2006 II 2007 II 2008 II 2009
2010 II 2011 II 2012 II 2013 II 2014 II 2015 II 2016

Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Best Of 1996 - part 1

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1


After being side-tracked by Madonna, I'm finally getting around to counting down my favourite songs from 1996. At the start of that year, I turned 21, but I still had two years to go on my university degree, so other than having a big party, it was pretty much business as usual for me.

There was no doubt Gwen and the guys were one of 1996's hottest new acts

In fact, nearly every weekend was someone's 21st party and, on several occasions, I got roped in to provide the music (a series of pre-recorded tapes). How much easier it would have been if iTunes had been invented at that stage. Here are some of the songs that made it onto my personal tapes (for playing in the car or on my Walkman) that year...


Number 100 "Reach 96" by Judy Cheeks
In fact, this was a song I'd been listening to since 1994, when it almost made my year-end top 10. Two years on, and "Reach" received a remix by Dancing Divaz in the hopes of improving its chart fortunes. Not only were songs that had never made the charts being remixed to try and turn them into hits, but now songs that had been relatively successful ("Reach" made it to number 17 in the UK in 1994) were remixed with the aim of turning them into even bigger hits. It didn't work, with "Reach 96" peaking at number 22. The same thing happened with Hyper Go-Go's "High 96" (number 101 on this list), which peaked at number 32 in the UK - two places lower than its original position.




Number 99 "Ocean Drive" by Lighthouse Family
Mentioned in Part 2

Number 98 "Jump To My Love / Always There (remix)" by Incognito
This single tried a similar tactic, by pairing a Masters At Work revamp of UK top 10 single "Always There" with new song "Jump To My Love" (taken from the acid jazz group's remix album). Unfortunately, the double A-side barely dented the UK top 30.




Number 97 "How I Wanna Be Loved" by Dana Dawson
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 96 "Is This A Dream (remix)" by Love Decade
Success, finally, for this do-over of 1991 single "Dream On (Is This A Dream)". Well, "success" is a relative term, since this new take on the song only reached number 39 in the UK - but that was 13 places higher than in 1991. There's a link to an audio clip of the song in the song title above.




Number 95 "I Feel It" by DJ Darren Briais vs DJ Peewee Ferris
A slice of Australian dance music now - and, in a nice coincidence, it's a track that took its hook from a song by the group at number 94. Love Decade's "I Feel You" just missed my top 100 for 1992, and it was reinvented in 1996 by two local DJs, who landed a top 20 hit on the ARIA chart for their efforts. Peewee Ferris is the better known of the two, thanks to his production and remix work over the years, as well as a series of Big Day Out appearances.




Number 94 "Baby, Don't Cha Leave Me This Way" by Royal T
Here's a song I remember dancing to a lot in 1996 - since it, together with a few other tracks that'll turn up on this list, was on high rotation at one of the clubs I spent a lot of Saturday nights that year. Unlike Candy Girls' over-the-top "Fee Fi Fo Fum" and "Wham Bam", it was just the right side of camp for my taste - but only just.




Number 93 "Always Breaking My Heart" by Belinda Carlisle
Mentioned below

Number 92 "You & Me Song" by The Wannadies
Taking a pause from the barrage of club tracks, we find this song, which was featured in Romeo + Juliet and came from a Swedish indie pop group (is there no genre in which the Swedes don't make awesome music?). "You & Me Song" dated back to 1994, when it was titled "You And Me Song", but it took the rest of the world a while to catch on.




Number 91 "Follow The Rules" by Livin' Joy
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 90 "Give Me A Little More Time" by Gabrielle
After instant success with the singles from Find Your Way in 1993, British soul singer Gabrielle hit the jackpot again with this first single from her self-titled second album. The Motown-inspired feel was a bit of a change of pace, but the British public lapped it up, with the song sticking around in the top 10 there for weeks on end.




Number 89 "Who Do U Love" by Deborah Cox
She started her career as Canada's answer to Toni Braxton, with R&B tracks like this and "Sentimental" (number 161 on this list) performed in a similar husky style - but throughout the rest of the decade, thanks to a series of club remixes by the likes of Hex Hector and David Morales, Deborah was transformed into a dance diva. For me, she didn't release anything better than this track, which was her second single.




Number 88 "Do Watcha Do" by Hyper Go Go and Adeva
A match made in handbag heaven. On the one hand, you had Hyper Go Go, who'd been behind such piano house classics as "High", "Raise" and "Never Let Go". On the other, there was one of the original house divas, whose songs "Warning!" and "I Thank You" had helped the genre cross over in the late '80s. Put them together and you have this club hit.




Number 87 "Desire" by Nu Colours
They'd been around almost as long as acts like Incognito and Brand New Heavies had been landing hits, but it wasn't until 1996 that this British R&B/acid jazz group came onto my radar. Unfortunately, songs like this and "Special Kind Of Lover" (number 196 on this list) didn't get on enough other people's radars and they both just scraped into the UK top 40.




Number 86 "Just A Girl" by No Doubt
Here's another group that'd been around for quite a while - a whole decade, in fact - but, unlike Nu Colours, the US ska-influenced group certainly made an impact in 1996. Singer Gwen Stefani had joined the line-up in 1989 but it wasn't until 1995's Tragic Kingdom that things started to take off. "Just A Girl" became their international breakthrough hit and, of course, even bigger things were to come in 1997, a year and a half after Tragic Kingdom had originally been released. I just discovered that the producer of Tragic Kingdom was Matthew Wilder, whose 1983 hit, "Break My Stride", received a new lease of life in 1996 due to a fairly awful Eurodance cover by Unique II.




Number 85 "Where Do You Go" by No Mercy
Speaking of Eurodance... this song started off as a La Bouche album track (oddly, their mega-hits "Be My Lover" and "Sweet Dreams" never appealed to me despite my love for other Eurodance tracks from the same era). American trio No Mercy covered the song, giving it a bit of a Latino twist, and hey presto, another global mega-hit.




Number 84 "In Too Deep" by Belinda Carlisle
Now a decade into her solo career, Belinda was still able to come up with the pop goods - turning this flop Jenny Morris single into a big UK and Australian hit. Jenny's version had been released as recently as 1995, but the fact the song was written by Rick Nowels (also behind tunes like "Leave A Light On" and "Heaven Is A Place On Earth") no doubt brought it to Belinda's attention. "In Too Deep" was taken from her sixth album, A Woman And A Man, which also contained "Always Breaking My Heart" (number 93 on this list), a single written by Roxette's Per Gessle.




Number 83 "Don't Make Me Wait" by 911
Mentioned below

Number 82 "Keep On Pushing Our Love" by The Nightcrawlers featuring John Reid & Alysha Warren
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 81 "6 Underground" by Sneaker Pimps
With Massive Attack, Tricky, and the new and improved Everything But The Girl scoring huge sales with their downbeat electronica, the way was paved for a band like Sneaker Pimps, who scored their first hit with this song in 1996. "6 Underground" would be even bigger in 1997 after it had been featured on the soundtrack to the film version of The Saint.




Number 80 "Anymore" by Sarah Cracknell
After releasing the best single of their career in the form of 1995's "He's On The Phone", Saint Etienne took a break for a few years, during which time vocalist Sarah Cracknell recorded a solo album, Lipslide, which featured this single. I actually preferred one of the remixes on the CD single, but you'll have to make do with the main single and video version below.




Number 79 "Crazy Chance" by Kavana
Eighteen-year-old Anthony Kavanagh had been discovered by Take That's manager, Nigel Martin-Smith, and this debut single was co-written by TT member Howard Donald so you'd think it would have been a bigger UK hit than it was (it reached number 35 in 1996). Well, it was - in 1997, when the not-very-different "Crazy Chance 97" cracked the top 20.




Number 78 "Love Sensation" by 911
Another British pop act that took a while to warm up was three-piece boy band 911. They'd debuted with a cover of Shalamar's "A Night To Remember" (number 135 on this list) which just made the UK top 40. "Love Sensation" was their follow-up and it just missed the UK top 20, while their final single for 1996, "Don't Make Me Wait" (number 83 on this list), gave them their first hit inside the UK top 10, somewhere they'd be spending a fair bit of time for the following three years.




Number 77 "No Surrender" by Deuce
After two pop acts on the way up, we come to a pop act whose success was winding down - and that was despite the help of songwriters and producers Stock and Aitken, who threw Deuce a lifeline after they'd been dropped by their previous record label. With new member Amanda Perkins onboard (she'd replaced Kelly O'Keefe), Stock and Aitken gave Deuce this original song rather than making them record a cover version, like pretty much every other act they worked with around the same time. Even so, "No Surrender" only got to number 29 in the UK, but it wasn't the last we'd hear of the song...




Number 76 "Don't Pull Your Love" by Sean Maguire
Mentioned in Part 3


In Part 2, one of my favourite '80s tracks reared its head again, while two incredibly successful Australian pop acts made their debuts.


MY YEAR-END CHARTS
1979 II 1980 II 1981 II 1982 II 1983 II 1984 II 1985 II 1986 II 1987 II 1988 II 1989
1990 II 1991 II 1992 II 1993 II 1994 II 1995 II 1996 II 1997 II 1998 II 1999
2000 II 2001 II 2002 II 2003 II 2004 II 2005 II 2006 II 2007 II 2008 II 2009
2010 II 2011 II 2012 II 2013 II 2014 II 2015 II 2016