At the beginning of the Noughties another boyband burst on to the scene, proving that the phenomenon that reached its peak in the 90s hadn't quite finished: A1. I'd largely forgotten about them, but came across their greatest hits collection, released in 2009, on Amazon recently and decided to buy it, as it was available at the bargain price of under £4.
A1 were made up of Ben, Christian, Mark and Paul, and differed from other boybands in that they wrote many of their own songs and played their own instruments. They released three albums during their 2000-2002 heyday, and this collection brings together many of their hits.
The band's first album was Here We Come, released in 2001, and contributes an impressive five songs to this collection. Be the First to Believe and Ready Or Not are incredibly catchy pop tracks, which remind me a bit of 911. Summertime of Our Lives is, as the name suggests, a light summery song. Everytime and Like a Rose are decent ballads, the latter written by Ben when he was just sixteen. They are a bit soppy for my taste, but they have lovely orchestral arrangements which make them better than average boyband ballads.
The A List, the group's second album, contributes four tracks. Take On Me is the first of the band's covers (the other being Three Times a Lady, which is also on this album). It's nothing special, but a decent effort, and might at least have introduced the band's young fans to a different generation of music. In any case, two covers on a greatest hits album of 13 tracks is pretty good going. Same Old Brand New You is a brilliantly catchy pop track, a little like N'Sync, while No More is also a rather American-sounding pop song, with a strong backing beat. Living the Dream is a ballad, but not a particularly memorable one.
A1's third album Make It Good (2002) shows the band attempting to display a more grown-up side. Their music has a more organic pop sound and some of their songs deal with different themes. The title track, song 10 on this hits album, is possibly my favourite song by the band, dealing with the theme of a troubled young woman. Caught in the Middle, which opens this album, is another favourite, with poppy guitars and a catchy melody. Finally, another ballad, Learn To Fly, is included and this is possibly my favourite ballad by the band, with similar lush orchestral arrangements to Like a Rose.
I am really impressed with this album and I was surprised at just how many songs I recognised from it. I had never thought of A1 as belonging to the first rank of boybands but judging by this collection they had some really good pop songs - and not too many ballads which is a plus for me! I definitely recommend this CD, for reasons of nostalgia if for nothing else!
1. Caught in the Middle
2. Same Old Brand New You
3. Take On Me
5. Like a Rose
6. Be the First to Believe
7. Ready Or Not
8. Summertime of Our Lives
9. No More
10. Make It Good
11. Three Times a Lady
12. Learn To Fly
13. Living the Dream