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The 90's was a great decade for music, better than the noughties, that's for sure! I mean all we have now is blooming r and b clogging up the charts. The nineties was all about proper songs, individuality and artists moving away from the really cheesy SAW pop sound of the eighties.
There are two discs here and I have selected some songs to highlight. The album blasts off with U2's number one 'Discotheque.' It was a bold step for them as they pushed their boundaries further, taking on a dancier sound than ever before and introducing a grimey industrial vibe to their music.
Spice Girls' best hit 'Wannabe' has dated badly, but is still a pop treat, such hooky lines and such excitement! On the subject of that, Pulp turned their career around with the stunning 'Common People.' Cocker's intelligent lyrics and ear for a catchy melody makes this a winner.
The Prodigy are just pure evil, with Keith Flint about to self destruct, this will be their calling card for years to come; 'Firestarter' is a showstopper. If you need to calm down after this, Whigfield's 'Saturday Night' should settle you and you might feel the need to do that dance routine!
Disc two starts with Boyzeon, not one of my faves, but the song has some merits. Keating's vocals are controlled and sexy and even Gately is less whiney then usual. They are followed swiftly by the All Saints with 'Never Ever.' A solid ballad but a minute too long.
Elevator music can be sourced in the Lighthouse Family, have that pillow to hand though! Much better is Coolio's 'Gangsta's Paradise' which is given a huge boost by some meaty vocals from LV.
Aqua's underrated ballad 'Turn Back Time' pops up, showcasing their softer side, it is a triumphant piece of music, full of haunting lines and melodic strings. The album closes with 'Killer' by Adamski, where Seal turns in a superb vocal full of soul and charisma.
There are many nineties CDs out there, this has chosen some of the better tracks, 39 songs should keep you busy. Perfect for deejays or for parties.
Music was hit & miss during the 1990's, I didn't care for much that was released during the decade but occasionally got caught up in the hype of a few songs now and then. Primarily for me I spent the 1990's protecting the free world (6 years in the RAF) as well as listening to 80's music although enjoyed some of the electronica offered by the rave & acid scene at the time.
This album is a collection of 39 tracks all of which were in the UK charts above the top 5 position or higher. Its 2 cds (with 20 tracks on CD1 & 19 tracks on CD 2), all chart positions are UK Singles Chart positions.
So whats on the album?
1. Discotheque - U2 (was #1, 1997)
To be honest this wasn't one of U2's better songs but sheer fan power got it to the #1 spot.
2. Let Me Entertain You - Robbie Williams (was #3, 1998)
Probably one of Robbies best known & quite surprising that it only reached #3.
3. Shoop Shoop Song - Cher (was #1, 1991)
Taken from the soundtrack of the movie "Mermaids" also featuring Cher, Winona Ryder, Christina Ricci & Bob Hoskins who all appear in the video (which is just segments of the movie).
4. Wannabe - Spice Girls (was #1, 1996)
The beginning of the movement that would be Girl Power, even today no bugger has a clue what "zigga zig ah" means.
5. Common People - Pulp (was #2, 1995)
Jarvis Cockers finest moment with Sadie Frost in the video before he went slightly mad & upset Michael Jackson at the Brit Awards.
6. Sit Down - James (was #2, 1991)
This was an anthem for the students & you could guarentee in most places that played it everyone would sit down on the dance floor and do nothing whilst the song played. I'd sooner hear "Bring A Gun" any day of the week, its a MILES better song.
7. Stupid Girl - Garbage (was #4, 1996)
A nice little rocky anthem that was Shirley Mansons biggest moment in the 90's, little did she know she'd go on to be a Terminator on The Sarah Conner Chronicles.
8. Love Spreads - The Stone Roses (was #2, 1992)
I clearly missed this release by The Roses 1st time around, its got a very country flavour with that steel guitar opening before settling down to a much more typically indie rock tune. It has a real feel of 70's prog too (think "Freebird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd).
9. One To Another - The Charlatans (was #3, 1995)
I didn't recognise this until the lyrics kicked in, its the one based on a Rolling Stones song. Nice and rocky with that 60's feel, still a cracking good song.
10. Love Is The Law - The Seahorses (was #3, 1997)
I don't think I'd ever heard of this song or band before, they sound a bit too much like Oasis trying to be The Beatles if I'm honest. The song sounds just like "I am the walrus" to me.
11. Girl Like You - Edwyn Collins (was #4, 1995)
Another cracking tune, this one is good today as it was then. If not better having weathered really well with age.
12. The Day We Caught The Train - Ocean Colour Scene (was #4, 1996)
Ocean Colour Scene always promised so much but only really delivered with this track, they always seemed like they had more to offer but never did.
13. Firestarter - Prodigy (was #1, 1996)
An excellent dance track that also featured on the soundtrack of the Playstation game Wipeout.
14. Praise You - Fatboy Slim (was #1, 1999)
Norman Cook under his alter ego boring us to death with his love of very old obscure records, the silly "people dancing outside a cinema" video is one of the reasons for its success.
15. Turn On Tune In Cop Out - Freak Power (was #3, 1995)
Its amazing how an advert for jeans can help sales of a record, for Freak Power all it took was a transvestite in a taxi with a portable shaver and a pair of jeans to guarentee their hit record.
16. Horny - Mousse T & Hot 'n' Juicy (was #2, 1998)
Take an annoying vocal sample, an equally annoying music sample & slap on 3 extra notes and this is the result. Its the bastard child of music that has no right in calling itself a song or tune as its neither. Its a mutation, nothing more.
17. Mucho Mambo (Sway) - Shaft (was #2, 1999)
Ah, one of the Latino numbers that people seemed to love so much in the dying years of the decade. It's harmless enough, the samples are annoying as hell though.
18. Closer Than Close - Rosie Gaines (was #4, 1997)
A serious piece of bassy Deep House, obscenely simple lyrics a la 2 Unlimited (thought wasn't a required thing as far as lyrics went in the 90's sadly).
19. Saturday Night - Whigfield (was #1, 1994)
Good old Sannie Carlson who you probably know better as Whigfield, cute, blonde & extremely perky. I still have no clue what shes saying at the start of this record! And no she didn't invent the dance either, the lass who created the Macarena invented it.
20. Twist And Shout - Chaka Demus & Pliers/Taxi Gang (was #1, 1993)
If "Tease Me" hadn't already sent you mental Chaka Demus & his toolbox mate Pliers gave us this, a rather annoying reggae cover of The Beatles Twist & Shout. If theres anything worse than a reggae song its a reggae cover.
This CD offers an impressive 7 #1's, 5 #2's, 4 #3'sand 4 #4's. 2 tracks are from 91, 1 from 92, 1 from 93, 1 from 94, 4 from 95, 4 from 96, 3 from 97, 2 from 98 and finally 2 from 1999.
1. No Matter What - Boyzone (was #1, 1998)
You could record Boyzone singing the ingredients of a packet of Rice Crispies and their fans would get it to #1 so this being yet another chart topper was no big deal.
2. Never Ever - All Saints (was #1, 1998)
The rather sultry track penned by Shaznay Lewis who asked a few pretty friends to sing along and All Saints was born.
3. If You Ever - East 17 & Gabrielle (was #2, 1996)
I thought I knew East 17's material pretty well but I had never heard of this track, it remindes me of Billy Preston & Syreeta's "With You I'm Born Again" both the tune & the vocal harmonies do.
4. Lifted - Lighthouse Family (was #4, 1996)
Another band who had 1 really good song then just totally failed to follow up on it, this was a really good mellow tune that was absolutely everywhere when I used to go out at weekends.
5. Finally Found - Honeyz (was #4, 1998)
Initially I didn't recognise the name of the tune or the band but as soon as I heard it I remembered it right away, it was a nice soul song that bands like SWV and En Vogue were well known for. Sadly The Honeyz also failed to follow up on the success of this track.
6. Underwater Love - Smoke City (was #4, 1997)
I think this one was an advert as well but also partially based on the James Bond theme too (go on, you mean you never noticed those are the chords to the 007 theme?), it is very tripped out and so laid back its horizontal. It reminds me a bit of "Manchild" by Neneh Cherry.
7. Gangsta's Paradise - Coolio & LV (was #1, 1995)
From the soundtrack of Dangerous Minds featuring Michelle Pfeiffer who also appears in the video from this track. Its hard to know what Coolio is more famous for, this track or his mad hair.
8. Turn Back Time - Aqua (was #1, 1998)
I have no memory of this being #1 but it only held the top spot for a week, Lena sounds really sexy here & its totally untypical of the band. It sounds more like The Cardigans ("Love Fool" or "Erase & Rewind"), I read its from the soundtrack of Sliding Doors and it does sound like it belongs on a film soundtrack. Its only a shame that Aqua didn't record more tracks like this to garner a more serious reputation than being known as the bubble pop act that everyone remembers them as.
9. Heartbeat - Steps (was #1, 1999)
Its not fair to say this was #1 because it wasn't, it was part of a double A side release with the other track being a cover of the Bee Gees song Tragedy but this still gets a credit as having earnt the coveted top of the charts spot. If it was number 1 then I don't remember it but I've never overly cared for Steps so it would make complete sense to not recall it.
10. Crush - Jennifer Paige (was #4, 1998)
This was an excellent song when it came out, Paige had an amazing voice but she just seemed to vanish after doing this. It's seriously fabulous and extremely underrated.
11. Ballad Of Tom Jones - Space & Cerys Matthews (was #4, 1998)
An odd mixture of Cerys & her lulting Welsh tones then the Scouse sounds of Tommy Scott, the subject matter about 2 lovers about to fall over a cliff in a crashed car who discover their mutual love of Tom Jones.
12. Don't Be A Stranger - Dina Carroll (was #3, 1993)
A rather nice ballad, Dina had also done The Perfect Year which was very similar to this.
13. Show Me Heaven - Maria McKee (was #1, 1990)
This song was EVERYWHERE during 90, you couldn't heave a brick without hitting a pub dj who was playing it. And after hearing it 50 billion times you certainly felt like heaving bricks at people who were still playing it to death.
14. Stay Another Day - East 17 (was #1, 1994)
The rather cool Christmas number 1 from '94, Tony Mortimer always wrote really good songs and Brian Harvey gave it large in his deliverance at the front. John & Terry provided great backing vocals on awesome harmonies, subtle to the point of you almost forgetting they were actually in the band but they certainly did a good job here.
15. Stay - Shakespear's Sister (was #1, 1992)
I best remember this because of the French & Saunders parody of their video. Siobhan always seemed to be barking mad & was rather distracting from the relatively sexy Marcie Detroit.
16. Dance The Night Away - The Mavericks (was #4, 1998)
Its classed as country but its a bit too uptempo to be proper country music to be honest, it feels more like a big band piece of the semi orchestral construction. Its upbeat and too happy to hate. You can't not like it but I don't think you can take it seriously either.
17. Brimful Of Asha - Cornershop (was #1, 1998)
This reminds me of an OMD tune (after careful consideration I decided it sounds like Tesla Girls), its another fun upbeat tune that gets a tad on the monotonous side with the exceptionally repetative beat. Asha was an asian singer who sang backing vocals to make "stars" look talented and this was Cornershops tribute.
18. Feel It - Tamperer & Maya (was #1, 1998)
Take "Can You Feel It" by Michael Jackson which was sheer brilliance then add elements of The Wizard Of Oz "What ya gonna look like with a chimney on ya?" (did you not know where that came from then?) and devolve it into a rather awful dance track that was FAR too popular and certainly didn't deserve to be either.
19. Killer - Adamski (was #1, 1990)
Adam Tinley and Seal Samuel got together and made magic, NRG (Adamskis other hit, not many people are aware he even had another hit though!) may not have been a huge hit but when Seal provided vocals for Killer it made for a smash hit for both of them. Adam may not have followed up but Seal is still making music & releasing albums today. Its a great dance track that can still fill floors today.
This CD offers an impressive 11 #1's, 1 #2, 1#3 and 6 #4's. 2 tracks are from 90, 1 from 92, 1 from 93, 1 from 94, 1 from 95, 2 from 96, 1 from 97, 9 from 98 and finally 1 from 99.
Considering you get 18 number 1's from 39 tracks I think you get good value for money here. If you don't already own all of these then I'd say its well worth the money. Especially when you consider its 37p a track. Thats cheaper than 1 mp3 on Amazons download service.
Looking at the 206 songs that were number 1 during the decade there were many much worse (such as The Teletubbies and Mr Blobby) but having looked at all those other songs I really can't see anything that was truly brilliant. The 90's wasn't a great time for music but things like Millenium by Robbie Williams were occasional high points whilst being fun at the same time.
(this review also appears on Ciao)
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Discotheque - U2
2 Let Me Entertain You - Williams, Robbie
3 Shoop Shoop Song - Cher
4 Wannabe - Spice Girls
5 Common People - Pulp
6 Sit Down - James (1)
7 Stupid Girl - Garbage
8 Love Spreads - Stone Roses
9 One To Another - Charlatans (1)
10 Love Is The Law - Seahorses (1)
11 Girl Like You - Collins, Edwyn
12 Day We Caught The Train - Ocean Colour Scene
13 Firestarter - Prodigy (1)
14 Praise You - Fatboy Slim
15 Turn On Tune In Cop Out - Freak Power
16 Horny - Mousse T & Hot 'n' Juicy
17 Mucho Mambo (Sway) - Shaft (2)
18 Closer Than Close - Gaines, Rosie
19 Saturday Night - Whigfield
20 Twist And Shout - Chaka Demus & Pliers/Taxi Gang
Disc #2 Tracklisting
1 No Matter What - Boyzone
2 Never Ever - All Saints
3 If You Ever - East 17 & Gabrielle
4 Lifted - Lighthouse Family
5 Finally Found - Honeyz
6 Underwater Love - Smoke City
7 Gangsta's Paradise - Coolio & LV
8 Turn Back Time - Aqua
9 Heartbeat - Steps (1)
10 Crush - Paige, Jennifer
11 Ballad Of Tom Jones - Space & Cerys Matthews
12 Don't Be A Stranger - Carroll, Dina
13 Show Me Heaven - McKee, Maria
14 Stay Another Day - East 17
15 Stay - Shakespear's Sister
16 Dance The Night Away - Mavericks
17 Brimful Of Asha - Cornershop
18 Feel It - Tamperer & Maya
19 Killer - Adamski