Released- 14th November 1994
Albums of the year time again!
1.Jeff Buckley – Grace A+
2.Oasis – Definitely Maybe B+
3.Weezer – Weezer A
4.Portishead – Dummy A-
5.Nirvana – MTV Unplugged In New York A
6.Green Day – Dookie C
7.Nas – Illmatic B
8.Blur – Parklife A
9.Soundgarden – Superunknown C+
10.Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral B
In my head I’m the master of forty forty over the summer of 1994. I’m sure this is a regional name for it, but it’s a version of hide and seek where the seeker stands at a base, counts to forty then goes looking, and then when trying to find everyone, they have to sneak back without being tagged. Now I’ve typed this I’ve realised there’s totally an ARG app to be made from this game. I copyrighted it right here! Get the hell away from my idea!
I should refrain from writing this while drunk of a bank holiday…
If I had to save one track from this album, and the rest went into the garage with a shotgun and a sense of guilt about selling out, that track would be… Incredible. I remember New Year’s Eve 1994 was the first time I was left to stay up past midnight with my friends, and we played Donkey Kong Country and listened to this track on repeat. I’m still not bored of it now.
Track by Track Breakdown
Pato Banton with Robin Campbell and Ali Campbell – “Baby Come Back”
Budda bye bye bye bye. A swansong for UB40 and a great song to boot. Blessed with a great chorus stolen from the 60’s (a trend in 90’s reggae) and a great sense of humour often missing from a lot of popular reggae. Come back with my colour TV and my CD collection of Bob Marley.
Cyndi Lauper – “Hey Now (Girls Just Wanna Have Fun)”
It is a crappy song to begin with, as mentioned in an earlier now. Doing a reggae version and not even having the nous to call it Girls Just Gwan Have Fun adds insult to injury.
Big Mountain – “Baby, I Love Your Way”
Peter Frampton cover. But it was brilliant when he did it, and remains brilliant with a reggaefied cover. Totally uncool, in the best of all ways.
Take That – “Sure”
God, they were really good in the 90’s weren’t they? Explains why everyone forgives one good song (Patience) in a decade from them now!
Michelle Gayle – “Sweetness”
Lou Reed should sue over the intro to this song. But everything that follows is breezy and endearingly…well…sweet.
Whigfield – “Saturday Night”
A million talented songwriters would be too self conscious to create a song this brilliant. Terrible lyrics, no depth, four chords. Basically the pop equivalent of the Ramones. Meant as very high praise.
MC Sar & The Real McCoy – “Another Night”
My memory of this song was an amazing pop house stomper. Sadly the reality is fairly mediocre plodder. Damn my rose tinted memory.
Corona – “Rhythm of the Night”
Thankfully, my memory of this song being brilliant was entirely accurate! Dance like a fool time is here again!
New Order – “True Faith ’94”
Not as good as the original, as they’ve removed the snappiness of the original drum pattern, and without the fantastic drum loops, New Order would be a pretty bland mid level indie band.
Sophie B. Hawkins – “Right Beside You”
A strange arpeggiated synth and a minor key melancholy really makes this song come together brilliantly. Smashing.
Youssou N’Dour featuring Neneh Cherry – “7 Seconds”
Atmospheric and actually quite moving. It’s very rare that any world music crossover is this good without David Byrne of the Talking Heads!
Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories – “Stay (I Missed You)”
Okay, it’s totally Dawson’s Creek, but it is genuinely sad and touching. Hopefully I’m at the point in my adult life I’ll never get dumped again, but if I did, I’d totally listen to this song on repeat and cry.
Crash Test Dummies – “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm”
This song gets a lot of shade thrown at it undeservedly. I love it, his rich baritone, the killer hook, the odd subject matter. I’m still unsure what it means. I have assumed it’s just a guy thinking about unfortunate stuff (the verses) then eating cake to cheer himself up (the chorus).
Louis Armstrong – “We Have All the Time in the World”
One of the most beautiful songs ever written. The sentiment is not true, but it is the most beautiful fantasy of what life could be. Cheers Satch.
Robert Palmer – “Know By Now”
Dull plod rock, but nowhere near as bad as I had been dreading, so there’s a small mercy.
R.E.M. – “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”
Reasonable single from the much maligned follow up to Automatic for the People, Monster. It’s actually not a terrible album, but it probably could have done with another 6 months and a few more choruses.
Oasis – “Cigarettes & Alcohol”
When you try and remove yourself from knowing what happens over the next 20 years, Oasis sound really exciting. All promise, no dissapointment. Brilliant.
The Rolling Stones – “Love Is Strong”
Post 70’s Rolling Stones. You know it’s going to be somewhere below average.
The Cranberries – “Zombie”
This was like, the third song anyone of my generation learned on the guitar, after Wild Thing and Wonderwall. Just an observation, not a criticism, the song is brilliant, angry and desperate.
East 17 – “Around the World”
I’ve worked out the golden formula for East 17. Drunk on the night bus home rap East 17 good. Sensitive ballad East 17 rubbish. This is the latter. There is an exception to this, but we may have to wait for Christmas for it.
Red Dragon featuring Brian and Tony Gold – “Compliments on Your Kiss”
I never realised my local Chinese restaurant had released a hit single! Or that it’s a sweet little mellow number that has a pleasant bounce. Credit due.
Chaka Demus and Pliers – “Gal Wine”
Almost exactly by the reggae numbers. No surprises to be found here. Boo.
R. Kelly – “She’s Got That Vibe”
A great bouncing joy of a song. Sadly, he has that vibe of a man who enjoys micturation in the bedroom.
Brand New Heavies – “Midnight at the Oasis”
Their best song. Not that there’s any competition. Lounge music, but in quite an entertaining way. Not brilliant, but definitely listenable.
China Black – “Stars”
If Baby Come Back represents a peak for the 90’s reggae revival, this and the following track are it’s Red Wedding. Yes, in this metaphor reggae is the Starks, and I suppose Britpop is Joffrey…
Music Relief – “What’s Going On”
Not Band Aid 30 bad, but frankly it smells as bad as if they had literally, rather than metaphorically, dug up Marvin Gaye’s corpse and kicked it around for 5 minutes.
Celine Dion – “The Power of Love”
Canada is representing here. First crash Test Dummies, and now Celine Dion bringing back the power ballad in style. It needs only Leonard Cohen to jump in and I’d have to rethink my opinion on ice hockey.
Kylie Minogue – “Confide in Me”
Kylie first true classic single. Eastern feeling and suspenseful and actually genuinely good rather than cheesy fun. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Massive Attack – “Sly”
With hindsight, a strange choice for a single from the fantastic album Protection. Both the title track and Karmacoma seem more accessible. Not that this isn’t great, a slice of reggae soul, infused with THC.
Eternal – “So Good”
There’s a reason why the golden rule is three singles and an album. Eternal aim for a fourth here and it’s definitely one which should have remained in a dark nook around track 11 of the album.
Ultimate KAOS – “Some Girls”
R&B performed by 10 year olds. Cuter than kittens misbehaving, even if the song is pants.
Reel 2 Real featuring The Mad Stuntman – “Can You Feel It?”
Aaaand they’ve lost it. Dissapointing, as they were on a really good run before that. The whole kit and caboodle just seems very much phoned in.
M Beat featuring General Levy – “Incredible”
The jungle song everybody knows. For good reason. It’s an absolute breakneck ride. It’s actually a very simple track, but it’s sheer frenetic pace makes. Jungle is massive.
Shampoo – “Trouble”
Irresistible brat pop. Their album was the second I ever owned… the third was cooler! Also, they ran a Manic Street Preachers fanzine. Which is really cool.
Blur featuring Phil Daniels – “Parklife”
The song that sold me once and for all on Blur. It is the same Phil Daniels as was in Quadrophenia and Eastenders! Relevant over five decades! It also introduced me to the term ‘brewer’s droop’. Yuck.
Erasure – “I Love Saturday”
Not their finest four minutes. The backing sounds like an early 2000’s ringtone.
Sparks – “When Do I Get to Sing “My Way””
A quick thing before I start. Franz Ferdinand have formed a supergroup called FFS, and have a track called Collaborations Don’t Work. Secondly, Sparks are amazing, this is amazing, and if you don’t own a copy of Kimono My House, rectify this, please and thank you.
2wo Third3 – “I Want the World”
Terrible name, terrible song. Only saving grace is that for the first two chords it sounds like it might just be a Jan Hammer soundtrack.
23 out of 38. 61%, and anything which breaks through the sixty barrier is pretty impressive.
This article is part of a series, chronicling a foolish attempt to chronicle the history of modern pop, through the Now That’s What I Call Music series. All the previous articles, and some other fun stuff, can be found here.