Saturday, 20 July 2013

The Best Of 1995 - part 1

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

So here we are, halfway through the '90s and once again I'm going to count down my favourite 100 songs, this time from the year of silverchair, The Offspring and Sheryl Crow (none of whom will feature in this list).

Janet and Michael made history together in 1995

It was also another good year for big ballads, with Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and Tina Arena dominating album sales for the year. Tina's Don't Ask was actually the highest-selling album in Australia for 1995, and I remember personally selling a good number of copies in my music retail job (and refusing to play any of those three albums during my shifts). So what was I listening to that year? I'm glad you asked...

Number 100 "Feel The Spirit" by Giant City
I know very little about this song, which I came across when I bought Freshen Up, a compilation of Fresh Records releases (every self-respecting dance label released their own various artists CDs that showed off their roster in the '90s). As well as songs by Strike, Lovestation and Eden, this slice of male vocal piano house (which was remixed by Strike) became a favourite.

Number 99 "U Make Me Feel Alright" by Amadin
In 1994, Amadin made my year-end top 100 with a slice of Dr Alban sound-alike Eurodance. The following year, the Cheiron duo comprised of John Amatiello and Kristian Lundin did it again with this galloping track, which featured vocals by Jessica Folcker.

Number 98 "Crazy Cool" by Paula Abdul
Mentioned in Part 2

Number 97 "Protection" by Massive Attack featuring Tracey Thorn
Another singer having a surprisingly big year was Tracey Thorn, the vocalist for Everything But The Girl, who we'll see further up this list. As well as becoming a chart force with EBTG, Tracy defied expectations with this guest spot on the title track from trip-hop group Massive Attack's platinum-selling second album.

Number 96 "Father And Son" by Boyzone
Mentioned in Part 2

Number 95 "Never Forget" by Take That
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 94 "Creep" by TLC
Like Massive Attack, R&B trio TLC didn't find their second album particularly problematic, with CrazySexyCool earning diamond status (for sales over 10 million) in the US and majorly improving their chart fortunes in Australia. Lead single "Creep" was my favourite release from the album, while global hits "Waterfalls" and "Red Light Special" left me a bit cold.

Number 93 "Adored And Explored" by Marc Almond
This was a blast from the past - since the former Soft Cell frontman hadn't featured in one of my year-end charts since 1988 (with "Tears Run Rings"). He'd had the odd UK chart appearance in the '90s, the biggest of which was top 5 hit "The Days Of Pearly Spencer" in 1992, but this lead single from the Fantastic Star album was the first track to pique my interest - and would be his final UK top 40 entry. There's a link to the music video in the song title above.

Number 92 "Hideaway" by De'lacy
And here we have our first club hit (of many) on the list. "Hideaway" was a bit heavier than the handbag house and vocal-driven garage tunes I usually liked, but the song was everywhere in 1995, so I guess it wore me down.

Number 91 "I Get Lifted" by Barbara Tucker
By 1995, I'd started paying as much attention (if not more) to who'd remixed a track as to who'd written or produced it. In the case of Barbara Tucker's latest club hit, it was remixers Loveland who got my attention - and whose mix of "I Get Lifted" is below.

Number 90 "Reach Up (Papa's Got A Brand New Pig Bag)" by Perfecto Allstarz
And here's a song masterminded by remixer Paul Oakenfold. A revamp of the 1981 Pigbag track, "Reach Up..." was the only single released by Perfecto Allstarz, but it wasn't Paul's only musical output in 1995, as we'll see shortly.

Number 89 "Keep Love Together" by Love To Infinity
Another name normally associated with remixes, Love To Infinity branched out into recording in their own right in 1995 with this track, which just scraped into the UK top 40. A couple of other singles followed, but pretty soon the production/remix trio returned to focus solely on improving other people's records.

Number 88 "The Wonder Of Love" by Loveland featuring Rachel McFarlane
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 87 "Scream" by Michael Jackson / Janet Jackson
Mentioned in Part 2

Number 86 "You Belong To Me" by JX
Continuing to prove that less is more, dance act JX (aka Jake Williams) released only one song in 1995 - this follow-up to 1994's "Son Of A Gun". "You Belong To Me" became JX's biggest hit in Australia, reaching number 4, but it's actually my least favourite of his four '90s singles.

Number 85 "Don't Let The Feeling Go" by Nightcrawlers
Were it not for remixer MK, producer and DJ John Reid (who recorded as Nightcrawlers) would not have had a music career to speak of and this single would likely never have eventuated. MK (aka Mark Kinchen) was responsible for totally transforming Nightcrawlers' 1992 single, "Push The Feeling On", and it's that version that became a top 5 smash in the UK in 1995. Soundalike "Surrender Your Love" followed, but it was "Don't Let The Feeling Go" which I liked best from 1995. Naturally, it was another remix, this time by Tin Tin Out, that I favoured - and you can hear that by clicking the link in the song title. The original version is below.

Number 84 "The Sweetest Days" by Vanessa Williams
Time for a breather from the relentless dance tracks with this ballad offering from Vanessa's third studio album of the same name. A minor hit, it was overshadowed by another of her singles from 1995, the Pocahontas theme, "Colors Of The Wind", which won the Oscar for Best Original Song and would be the singer/actress' last big hit to date.

Number 83 "What'll I Do" by Janet Jackson
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 82 "Tell Me" by Groove Theory
Some R&B for a change, and this debut single from American duo Groove Theory was a top 5 US hit and reached number 6 in Australia. I didn't like a lot of American R&B in 1995, a year dominated by acts like Brandy, Blackstreet and Jodeci whose mid-tempo songs all sounded the same to me.

Number 81 "I Care (Soul II Soul)" by Soul II Soul
Mentioned  in Part 2

Number 80 "Spirit Inside" by Spirits
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 79 "Keep Warm" by Jinny
Italo house group Jinny popped up on my 1993 countdown with "Feel The Rhythm" and, for some reason, their 1991 track "Keep Warm" received a re-release in 1995 and became a big hit in Britain. I wonder if they were inspired by the success that year of fellow Italians Corona?

Number 78 "Not Over Yet" by Grace
Here's Paul Oakenfold's other musical enterprise for 1995, a group he and fellow Perfecto founder Steve Osborne formed with singers Patti Low and Dominique Atkins, who both appeared on different versions of this track. "Not Over Yet" has been remixed and re-released numerous times over the years, but the 1995 version is my favourite.

Number 77 "Try Me Out" by Corona
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 76 "Here I Go" by 2 Unlimited
All good things must come to an end, and this was the last single by 2 Unlimited I liked. One more track, "Nothing Like The Rain", would be lifted from Real Things and a greatest hits album (with the requisite new tracks) would follow, but this was the end of the road as far as I was concerned. Rapper Ray and singer Anita left the project after Hits Unlimited, and two new members were recruited by the producers for a new album - but it flopped and the ring-ins quit soon after.

In Part 2, the return of two of my favourite acts from the late '80s/early '90s and a track by a pop duo who scored their first UK number 1 earlier this year.

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