Released- 12th August 1996
KISS and the Sex Pistols reform. The Sex Pistols have the decency to admit it’s all about the money (it’s called the Filthy Lucre tour), but I fall in love regardless. Other than that, a quiet few months. MTV2 launches, and the first video is Where It’s At by Beck. I know I buy Odelay at the time, and start another great obsession.
It’s that first Summer break from secondary school. I think it’s one of the first times I go to Spain on holiday too. We go to Puerto Pollenca in Mallorca, and I develop a taste for paella, tortilla Espanol, and giant Tic Tacs. It’s all kinds of brilliant, and I still love Spain to this day, as you may realise from my recipes…
If I had to save one track from this album, and the rest were to be headed the same way as John Major (bless his cricket loving soul), that track would be… Wannabe. There are better, worthier songs on here. I mean dammit, I went to see Mad Max At the weekend and I want it to be California Love so the video can match. But there hasn’t ever been a better pop debut. Fact.
Track by Track Breakdown
Spice Girls – “Wannabe”
As a statement of intent, there are few better in the history of pop. The concept of the band, the style, the attitude, all summed up in 3 minutes. They never top it.
Robbie Williams – “Freedom”
Robbie Williams covers other successful boy band escapee, George Michael, in the style of the Happy Mondays to try to establish some indie cred. Shamefacedly transparent.
Peter Andre featuring Bubbler Ranx – “Mysterious Girl”
Famous for this song and marrying the plastics and retardation magnate Jordan. I can’t work out which is worse. This song is liked ironically by the sort of man who thinks unwanted groping is just ‘bantz’. That’s how bad it is.
Dodgy – “Good Enough”
Maybe it’s the fact that a I write this, the sun has come out for what feels like the first time in weeks, but a resounding yes and a click of the heels for this one!
Ocean Colour Scene – “The Day We Caught the Train”
The first band I ever saw live! At Margate Winter Gardens about a year after this album. This is a good old fashioned reminisce about a summer’s day song with a singalong chorus. An enjoyable one at that.
Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton – “Theme from Mission: Impossible”
They should do more stuff without Bono! I mean, you can’t get the Mission Impossible theme wrong really. Roll on their jazz triptych.
Underworld – “Born Slippy”
Stream of consciousness last train back to Essex nonsense, delivered over a dance beat with a real sense of urgency. It all adds up to make a high watermark for the current tranche of dance music.
JX – “There’s Nothing I Won’t Do”
Lots of bits I might like, but the sum of it’s parts end up so much less.
Gina G – “Ooh Aah… Just a Little Bit”
Amongst the UK’s more successful Eurovision failures, this one. Covers all the obvious 90’s pop bases. Eurodance beat, call and response, almost good female vocalist. Still fond of it though.
Pianoman – “Blurred”
Half arsed dance version of the chorus to Blur’s Girls and Boys. A monkey with Ableton could knock this up in half an hour.
Livin’ Joy – “Don’t Stop Movin'”
Not as good as Dreamer, but admirably close. Nice backward hi hat.
Louise – “Naked”
Finally, a good post Eternal pop song from Louise. It’s both terrible and inane, and fun and silly as good pop should be.
Mark Morrison – “Return of the Mack”
God, this song was huge at the time. It might be good, but he has a stupid voice, like he’s storing food, hamster style, in his cheeks, which ruins the whole affair.
2 Pac featuring Dr. Dre – “California Love”
They left Roger Troutman off the credits, for shame. His repurposing of the chorus of West Coast Pop Lock is what makes this song. West and East coast enmity killed in the space of one song. Classic.
Pato Banton – “Groovin'”
Once again lifting from the 60’s playbook, The Young Rascals classic given a reggae twist this time, and the original is so great there was no way this could be bad.
Reel 2 Real – “Jazz It Up”
Okay, they did a good song without ‘move’ in the title. Hyperactive ADHD amusement for the man dem.
Maxi Priest featuring Shaggy – “That Girl”
More 60’s sampling ragga. Green Onions by Booker T and the MGs this time. Proof, if proof were needed, that even the most average song can be made good by the inclusion of a deep enough 60’s cut. Booker T and the MGs also recorded the song which, if I were king, would be our national anthem, Soul Mambo, better known as the theme from Test Match Special.
Los Del Mar – “Macarena”
I still know the dance. And this is why I don’t deserve nice things. Trying to judge a song like this on its merits is impossible, so ingrained in consciousnesses and bad discos. It just is, like a god or lint.
Umboza – “Sunshine”
How dare you sample Gipsy Kings, then pollute them with moronic platitudes about summer. Just listen to Bamboleo by itself instead. The rest of this song is shite.
Wink – “Higher State of Consciousness”
Here comes trance. On the strength of this, it sounds fucking amazing! Brain melting noises over house beats. Yes please.
Another familiar review, this time, from last year’s Now 32. You may have dropped Josh from your name, but you’re fooling NOBODY!
Todd Terry featuring Martha Wash and Jocelyn Brown – “Keep On Jumpin'”
Fun enough, but incredibly facile and by the numbers.
Robert Miles – “Children”
I hated this back then as it had no vocals and only indie was worth my time at the time. Now it’s possibly a bit obvious, but it’s a lovely little piano line it’s built around. Has a sense of motion and chilliness. All in all, I can say I was very wrong in 1996.
George Michael – “Jesus to a Child”
George Michael grows up. In the
sense that he becomes boring. Musically at least. His driving and weed smoking makes him a lot more interesting than back when he was clean cut!
Oasis – “Wonderwall”
The one they never topped. The lyrics are complete bollocks, but sound so very meaningful. To quote Hunter S Thompson, on a clear day, you can still almost see where the wave broke. On a side note, I once met the clown from the video. No not Liam you droll wit!
The Bluetones – “Slight Return”
One of the best songs of the Britpop era. Jaunty and full of longing, and never topped, in spite of some great efforts.
Paul Weller – “Peacock Suit”
Yet more stodgy, lumpen crap from Mr Weller. About a 3 on the Bristol Scale. If you don’t know, don’t look it up…
Bon Jovi – “Hey God”
1994 is the Bon Jovi cut off point. After that, it stops being fun low rent Bruce Springsteen, and starts becoming embarrassing men who should know better mouthing rawk platitudes.
Bryan Adams – “The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You”
Hideously, unironically terrible. As embarrassing as catching your Dad dancing round the living room in your Mum’s underwear to Luther Vandross.
Belinda Carlisle – “In Too Deep”
So bland, I’ve just listened to it and I remember nothing. It was kind of upbeat?
Suggs – “Cecilia”
Sounds like it was produced by Major Lazer or something. A weird mess. And obviously nowhere near as good as the original but still enjoyable.
Blur – “Charmless Man”
Joyfully cynical. It’s just a shame that the awful type of person lambasted in this song now makes up most of the cabinet here in the UK. Great song all the same.
Suede – “Trash”
Their first album without guitarist Bernard Butler, and their reaction is to record the best David Bowie goes pop album they can. This is a wonderful, slightly sad song for the outsider. Still a joy to hear.
Joan Osborne – “One of Us”
Morose, cod philosophical joy. There really was a glut of fantastic female artists in the mid 90’s, to my aural joy.
Crowded House – “Instinct”
Very standard, but compelling sll the same. I can’t work out why this is better than Paul Weller, but I wish he could.
Lighthouse Family – “Ocean Drive”
Like the hum of electrical cables, you only really notice how horrible it is in the absence of any other noise.
Tina Turner – “On Silent Wings”
Thirteen years of Tina Turner songs, and until now, none of them have been less than pretty good till now. An incredibly rare let down.
Everything but the Girl – “Wrong”
Admirable, but inevitably doomed attempt to catch that Missing lightening in a bottle twice.
OMC – “How Bizarre”
Yeah, still love this song. He has a stupid voice, but the summery feels this one has covers for any flaws.
OMD – “Walking on the Milky Way”
Ha! You see what they did with the artist names there? Lollicious. The song is terrible, sadly.
Space – “Female of the Species”
Scouse bands seem to get a raw deal. This is a great song, and huge credit for bringing back the xylophone as a going concern. Their first album, Spiders is a bona fide classic, with a great sense of humour, but one backed up by great tunes.
Cast – “Walkaway”
Nice but unremarkable. It’s one original touch is in John Power delivering it in his natural accent, which sells the emotional punch very effectively.
Boyzone – “Coming Home Now”
Wetter than Mumford and Sons bed, but actually not entirely offensive.
23 out of 42. Given the high level of scoring at the moment, a disappointing 57%.
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.