The One-Hit Wonders – The 90s Part 13.

Recently, I have been looking online at more videos of songs that were hits in the 90s, to determine if there are any more stories that I think are interesting enough to do a piece about, even if I don’t remember them from first time round. And when I was sat there and just thinking “well, whatever” at every video, and beginning to wonder why I was spending so much time doing this, I came across something that made me think “wow!” that made it all worthwhile.

The first thing that attracted me to Danielle Brisebois is that unlike some other women who have that first name, she has had a hit single in the UK, and it’s good to know that at least one Danielle has. It turns out that she has had a rather interesting career. Danielle was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1969. She first found fame in the late-70s as an actress in various TV shows.

She appeared as Stephanie Mills (not be confused with the Stephanie Mills who had a hit with “Never Knew Love Like This Before” of course) in the sitcom All In The Family (the American version of Til Death Us Do Part), and the spin-off Archie Bunker’s Place. She was then in other shows, but she doesn’t seem to have been one of those “child star goes off the rails” stories, and by the early-90s she had started to work in the music business.

Her first and only hit single in the UK was in September 1995 when “Gimme Little Sign” was released, a cover of the famous soul song by Brenton Wood which made the Top Ten in this country in 1968. This version was rather different though. I have to note that the producer was Gregg Alexander, who would go on to find fame (for a short while) as the frontman of New Radicals, and the video was co-directed by Kate Garner, who used to be in Haysi Fantayzee.

But the best thing about the video was that Danielle… had BLUE HAIR!! I know I sound ridiculous but, how terrific, I couldn’t believe it. “Gimme Little Sign” reached no. 75, the lowest place for a song to officially be a hit single in the UK, but surprisingly this wasn’t a hit in America. Eager to discover more, I found some videos on her Vevo, featuring singles released from her 1994 album “Arrive All Over You”.

They were “What If God Fell From The Sky”, and “Don’t Wanna Talk About Love” (where she had pink hair, and looked like Pink five years before Pink did), but neither of these were hits. After this, she continued to collaborate with New Radicals, and she has also been a songwriter for various singers. Among the most successful songs she has written is “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield, a Top Ten hit in the UK in 2004.

Great Moments In Pop – The 80s Part 26.

This is a British group who I wasn’t sure about featuring in this series because their story is rather well-known, and they have been popular for decades, but as they have made so many terrific singles, I do want to pick out my highlights. The Human League formed in the late-70s, and their frontman is Phil Oakey. I suppose that their philosophy is we’ve got a synthesizer and we’re gonna use it. In June 1978, their first single “Being Boiled” was released, but this didn’t make the chart.

By 1980, they did have some minor hits, and two members had left to form Heaven 17. But Phil wasn’t that concerned, because he discovered two women to replace them, and they never looked back really. 1981 would turn out to be a hugely successful year for them. In May 1981 they made the Top 40 for the first time with “The Sound Of The Crowd”, which is always a pleasure to hear on the radio. Next in August was their first Top Ten hit with “Love Action”, which was followed in October by “Open Your Heart”.

But it was in December 1981 when “Don’t You Want Me” was released that they finally became one of the best groups of the early-80s. This was the biggest-selling single of 1981 in the UK, and this was also a Transatlantic chart-topper. In January 1982, their debut “Being Boiled” was released again, and this time became a Top Ten hit nearly four years on, as interest in their earlier material increased after new fans wanted to discover more. They also won a Brit in 1982.

There would be further hit singles in 1982 with “Mirror Man”, in 1983 with “Fascination”, and in 1984 with “The Lebanon”, “Life On Your Own”, and “Louise”. The later songs hadn’t done as well though. In 1986, they decided to take a gamble and work with producers Jam And Lewis, who were much in demand at this point, and they would help to bring their sound into the mid-80s. Some sessions were reported to be tense, and Phil came close to walking out (I must avoid doing a “but this is Phil walking” pun here).

But even he had to concede that this was all worthwhile when in August 1986 “Human” became their first Top Ten hit single in the UK for three years, and also their second Number One in America. This left them in the rather unusual situation of being a British group who had more chart-toppers in the USA than they did in the UK. They didn’t make the Top 40 in the 80s again though, but at least they were still together.

And just when it looked like they were a group who had finally been confined to the past, 1995 turned out to be their most successful year for about a decade. In January 1995 “Tell Me When” made the Top Ten to become their biggest hit since the days of “Human”. Further hits “One Man In My Heart” and “Filling Up With Heaven” did well too. For some reason, they finished off this year with a remix of “Don’t You Want Me”, but this made the Top 20 for a second time.

Since then, The Human League have become more of a nostalgia group. When they occasionally release new singles or albums, the response is now usually “stop working on new songs and just give us the classics”. They have made nine albums, but unfortunately they are in the position of having had more best-ofs released than studio albums. And in March 2014, “Don’t You Want Me” made the Top 20 for a third time! They’re still on tour, and people will always be fond of them and their songs, together in electric dreams.

Down The Dumper – The 90s Part 20.

It’s well-known that trends and genres come and go very quickly in pop music, and I remember many years ago now, when I was much younger, that there was a time when there was a lot of what could be classed as “rave” music on the chart. This was rather different to a few years earlier, it took me a while to get used to this, and I don’t know how I could be so grumpy about something at such a young age.

But as the years have gone by and I have got older, despite the faceless producers and the thumping noises, I have come to appreciate this genre a little more, which contains what I think is one of the most extraordinary pop music stories of the 90s. Shut Up And Dance are a production duo from Hackney who formed in the late-80s, and they released their early singles and albums on their own record label.

They had already delighted us with some of their singles which reached the lower end of the chart in the early-90s, including “£20 To Get In” and “Autobiography Of A Crackhead”. But they caused a big stir in May 1992 when they released “Raving I’m Raving”. This was mostly based around American singer Marc Cohn’s 1991 hit “Walking In Memphis”, using the same tune, and some amended lyrics to describe rave culture.

There was also a contribution from Peter Bouncer (whoever he might be), and I’m sure that I can hear a dash of Raw Silk’s 1982 hit “Do It To The Music” in there too. But there were quickly problems, as the sample hadn’t been cleared, and Cohn had something of a sense of humour failure over the new lyrics. This meant that “Raving I’m Raving” had to be abruptly withdrawn, no further copies could be pressed, and any money made from the copies that were sold had to be donated to charity.

All of this did mean that “Raving I’m Raving” reached no. 2, and joined such other rave classics that made no. 2 in 1992 including “Sesame’s Treet” by Smart E’s, and, er, “On A Ragga Tip” by SL2. This also became the first single to peak at no. 2 and spend only two weeks on the chart. A version that sounded almost nothing like the original had to be performed on Top Of The Pops, and I’m still not sure if the original can be played on the radio all these years on.

They went on to have one more minor hit in 1992 with “The Art Of Moving Butts”. After this year of rather mixed fortunes, Shut Up And Dance returned in April 1995 with “Save It Til The Mourning After”, which sampled Duran Duran’s 1982 hit “Save A Prayer”, and sent them into the Top 40 for the final time. Finally in July 1995, “I Love U” reached no. 68. This sampled Perez Prado’s “Guaglione”, which had recently had a revival of interest after being used in a famous advert for Guinness.

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 32.

This is a British group who were at the forefront of the Britpop genre in the mid-90s, or maybe they weren’t, because it’s always difficult to put groups into genres, but whatever they were, they made some of the most entertaining and catchiest songs of this era. Supergrass were a trio who were rather young when they came on to the scene.

But it didn’t take them that long to build a following with their singles including “Caught By The Fuzz” and “Mansize Rooster”. They were considered to be some of the breakthrough stars of 1995 though. I must admit that I don’t really recall “Lenny”, which was their first Top Ten hit. It was in July 1995 when “Alright” was released, and joined the list of famous songs that agonisingly reached no. 2.

This did seem to be everywhere for a short while, and frontman Gaz’s sideburns soon became as much of a cultural significance for music fans as Jarvis Cocker’s glasses or something. But like with most groups, they seemed to have had enough of their most famous hit after a while. Luckily for them they had a huge amount of other great hit singles that they could fall back on.

They would go on to have further Top Ten hits with “Going Out” and “Richard III”. By 1997 they were bringing us hits like “Sun Hits The Sky” and “Late In The Day”. But their single released in June 1999 is memorable for me. This was “Pumping On Your Stereo” (although they actually didn’t seem to say “pumping” at any point), and this was shown frequently around the time that I got access to MTV.

And it’s no surprise that this was shown so often, as this featured the group practically being turned into Muppet-style characters. There is also a story that around this time they were invited to appear in their own TV show where they would have silly adventures in a similar style to The Monkees, but they turned it down, as they didn’t really want to turn into cartoon caricatures of themselves.

Also in 1999 was “Moving” (their final Top Ten hit single), and “Mary”, which had a rather gruesome video that really was scary (another Sophie Muller classic!). Supergrass would return in 2002, but they would only make the Top 20 one more time. When they did finally split, a lot of people said “I didn’t realise that they were still going”, which must’ve been rather disappointing for them.

Gaz then went off to make some solo albums, and after a while, they did eventually get back together, as pleasingly they did finally realise that all of their singles really were rather good actually, they also made six acclaimed albums, and their teeth are nice and clean. I can imagine that plenty of these songs are still pumping on a lot of people’s stereos to this day.

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 24.

I know that I have said before that I am not really interested in the rock or metal music genres, but I felt that I had to do a piece on this group because this was one of those moments in the 90s that made me (and probably many others) simply go “huh?”. Whale (not to be confused with later group Noah And The Whale) were a rock group from Sweden.

In March 1994 “Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe” was released. This was a song about, it says here, “effluent women who bring homeless men home to have their way with them”. The video was soon saturated by MTV, which meant that this was shown rather frequently, and this was also a winner at the 1994 MTV Europe Music Awards. I bet Beavis and Butt-Head were fans. This reached no. 46 in the UK, and no. 102 in the US.

In July 1995, “I’ll Do Ya” was released, which reached no. 53, and in August 1995, their debut album “We Care” just missed the Top 40. But for some reason, somebody clearly felt that “Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe” still had the potential to be their big breakthrough hit that would make them stars. So this was then re-released in November 1995, and this time reached no. 15.

This turned out to be their first and only Top 40 hit single in the UK. But this did lead to a memorably shambolic performance on Top Of The Pops, and they must be the only act in that show’s history to attempt some crowdsurfing, although they weren’t having any of it. I don’t know if this was intended to be amusing, but I remember just laughing at all of this, it was definitely one of the more bizarre hits of this era.

As far as Swedish rock groups go, it was rather unlikely they were going to be as successful as Roxette or The Cardigans. Whale returned in July 1998 with “Four Big Speakers”, which reached no. 69, and in August 1998 “Crying At Airports” reached no. 94. Both of these were a collaboration with Bus 75. Whale split not long after, but they definitely did something rather different.

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 22.

This is a British R & B singer whose career took in some good songs along with a few unusual turns in the 90s. Desiree Weekes (wasn’t 80s singer Princess’s real first name also Desiree?) was born in London, and in August 1991, her debut hit “Feel So High” was released, but this reached only no. 51. It was determined that this could do better, and this one eventually managed to gain some more exposure.

At the end of 1991, Des’ree featured on The ITV Chart Show end of year special as one of the acts to look out for in 1992 (they usually got their tips of the big time totally wrong, but they turned out to be fairly successful in this case). In January 1992, “Feel So High” was released again, and this time reached no. 13, to become her first Top 40 hit single.

Her first of three hit albums (which all made the Top 30) was released not long after. I also remember that “Feel So High” featured on one of those CDs that were given away free with weekend newspapers when there was a brief craze for that. It was good to hear this again, and it’s one of the few songs on those compilations that I felt was worth listening to more than once.

After two minor hits that missed the Top 40, in June 1993, “Delicate” was released, this was a duet with Sananda Maitreya (as Terence Trent D’Arby would prefer you to call him now), and this reached no. 14. I remember that this often turned up fairly late at night on some local radio stations for a while, but it was always nice to hear this whatever time of day it was.

In April 1994, “You Gotta Be”, which is one of her more famous songs, was released, and this reached no. 20. After two more minor hits that missed the Top 40, in March 1995, “You Gotta Be” was released again, and this time did a little better, reaching no. 14. That big Top Ten hit single was still elusive though, and she released no singles in 1996 or 1997.

She returned after her break in June 1998 with “Life”, and this reached no. 8. It’s rather unusual for an act to have their first Top Ten hit single seven years on from their debut. However, the lyrics were much mocked, and they even won a competition to determine “the worst pop lyrics ever”. She was probably disappointed by all this, and then in November 1998 “What’s Your Sign” reached no. 19.

But she did go on to have the last laugh somewhat and probably didn’t worry about the stir around “Life” much more when she won Best British Female at the Brit Awards in 1999. And then, in April 1999, would you believe, “You Gotta Be” was released for a third time, and this time reached no. 10, to become her second and final Top Ten hit single in the UK.

It was great that this one had finally got there, although it was a little odd seeing a now five-year-old song in the Top Ten. I’m just surprised that they didn’t take the opportunity to give “Feel So High” a third go too, that should’ve been a bigger hit. But Des’ree never made the Top 40 ever again after this. And I got through this piece without making a joke about toast. Oops!

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 21.

Madness were one of the most successful British pop groups of the early-80s. Although they only had one chart-topping single, they had lots of Top Ten singles and albums, and they barely ever seemed to be absent from the chart. By the mid-80s though, their hits had started to get smaller, and they ended up going their separate ways for a while.

In the late-80s, there was the spin-off group The Madness, but this was rather short-lived, and by this point the line-up just about consisted of frontman Suggs and some blokes. Going into the early-90s though, all of the original line-up finally got back together, and they had a new wave of fame with some successful concerts, a best-of, and their first Top Ten hit single for a long time.

In the mid-90s, for the first time, Suggs decided to go out on his own, and launched a solo career, which seems to have been a little maligned when compared to his Madness work, although he did have a few big hits plus some memorable moments. The idea was to perform some ska-tinted cover versions of classic songs which didn’t take themselves too seriously, along with a few original ideas, and this did go to plan to some extent.

In August 1995, his first solo single was released, a cover of “I’m Only Sleeping” by The Beatles, and this reached no. 7, his first solo Top Ten hit. This was followed in October 1995 by “Camden Town”, a tribute to the area in London where Madness formed, but this missed the Top Ten. In the same month, his album “The Lone Ranger” was released, and this made the Top 20.

In December 1995, “The Tune” was released, becoming his third Top 40 hit single of the year. Going into 1996, in April “Cecelia” was released, a cover of the Simon And Garfunkel song. This got off to a quiet start, but then he performed this on BBC1’s The National Lottery Live, back when this was a very big show, and was getting about four times the ratings of Top Of The Pops.

This led to a remarkable leap up the chart of 24 places, to become his second and final solo Top Ten hit single, which eventually peaked at no. 4. Next in September 1996 was “No More Alcohol”, which sampled “Tequila” by The Champs. In May 1997, being a big Chelsea fan, he was invited to perform their song for the FA Cup Final (this is a tradition that seems to have gone from the chart in more recent years though).

“Blue Day” didn’t make the Top 20, but all these years on, this is still considered to be something of an anthem by Blues fans. Also around this time he became the host of Channel 5’s pop music game show Night Fever. Finally, in September 1998, “I Am” was released. This featured on the soundtrack to the critically-panned film The Avengers, and he was just about the only one who escaped from all this with some dignity.

I remember that he was also among the pop stars who sent a farewell message to the final edition on ITV of The Chart Show, what a kind guy. “I Am” reached no. 38, to become his seventh and final Top 40 solo hit single, which is probably more than most people expected he would have. By 1999 though, he had finally got the old group back together once again.

Madness also went on to have their biggest hit single for a very long time, and this turned out to be a successful reunion. Since then, Suggs has continued to work with Madness (and do adverts for fish fingers), and they have made several more albums, along with going on more tours, and The Nutty Boys (or is it The Nutty Granddads now?) are still very fondly thought of by lots of fans.

The One-Hit Wonders – The 90s Part 7.

This is a song that almost strays into a “novelty record” area, but I still wanted to feature it. A while ago I reviewed the BBC2 comedy Glam Metal Detectives. I hoped that this could be released on DVD one day, but this still hasn’t happened, and maybe it’s too late now. It seems that nowadays it would be more likely to be made available on streaming services and the like, but this hasn’t happened either.

Glam Metal Detectives was created by Peter Richardson of The Comic Strip Presents… fame, and starred a rock group that aimed to rescue the world with their music. During the run of the series, in March 1995 “Everybody Up!” was released, and would you believe it, this reached no. 29, meaning that they had an unlikely Top 40 hit single. This was now one of those rather unusual moments where fictional characters spilled out into the real world. vlcsnap-00231

And of course this meant that they earned themselves a Top Of The Pops appearance (which was on BBC1 at the time, so that’s some great cross-channel promotion there), and they were going to make the most of it, and tell us all about their “funk ‘n’ justice“. As a fan of this show, seeing them do this and realising that this wasn’t a plot from one of their episodes was a rather odd experience. I wonder how many people watching this realised all was not how it seemed though. vlcsnap-00232

This meant that among the comedy talent that could now boast that they had appeared on Top Of The Pops were Doon Mackichan (also known for Smack The Pony and The Day Today, and probably the only cast member of that show to have a Top 40 hit, Steve Coogan just missed out with his Tony Ferrino character), and Phil Cornwell (off World Of Pub, Stella Street, I’m Alan Partridge, and much more) who I imagine really liked being in this band. vlcsnap-00230

Glam Metal Detectives only ran for one series, and I’m fairly sure that there was only one single released too. They did manage to stretch the joke a little more though, as there was a whole album of this, produced by no less a figure than Trevor Horn, who knows a thing or two about how to make a chart-topper, although this wasn’t a hit. But for a brief moment, they were all rock stars for real, and this definitely gets my approval.

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 3.

Has anyone ever really cared about what the Christmas Number One is going to be? Is it as important as it used to be? Well this is an occasion when the race was rather exciting. Oasis had recently released “Wonderwall” which had been a big success, and one of their biggest hits so far. Then along came Mike Flowers Pops, who in December 1995 released a cover version of this in a totally different genre.

This version was rather like Easy Listening, it was rather unusual to hear, and it was definitely something of a novelty. I remember a show at the time that looked at the contenders for what the Christmas Number One would be that year, and this one entered the race so late that it barely featured, even though almost out of nowhere this became a frontrunner. I do remember having this single, and I was so amused that I played it twice in a row, and I can’t recall many other songs that I’ve done that with. vlcsnap-00159

This meant that this one gained a lot of publicity, including trying to find out who this Mike Flowers character actually was, along with the important question, did he wear a wig. As it turned out, “Wonderwall” didn’t go all the way, reaching no. 2. It was another rare occurrence of two versions of the same song being in the Top Ten at the same time (this also happened with “I Found Lovin'” in 1987). vlcsnap-00161

Mike did hang around a little longer though, including an appearance on the cover of Melody Maker, he went on tour, and he also made various other TV appearances, including an advert, and he also did his thing on Top Of The Pops, which was a great moment, and one he probably did except to happen not so much earlier. Mike did go on to have a couple more hits by covering classic songs in this style. vlcsnap-00301

His third and final hit came at the end of 1996, maybe another attempt at making the Christmas Number One to make up for the disappointment of the previous year. But his cover of “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” made only no. 30. It could be said that the joke was beginning to be a little thin by now, and he was barely heard of again after this, although he has continued to work in music. His brief moment of fame was something enjoyably different in 90s pop music though.

Friday 26 May 1995 (continued).

Page 37. On we go then. The TV listings start with Friday which include a tribute to the great Kenny Everett on BBC1. There’s also a strange description for Stars In Their Eyes on ITV on Saturday. es0001

Page 43. A full-page advert for the Millionaires card game. To play along you have to watch Carlton on Tuesday at 7:30. There’s always a catch, isn’t there.

Page 44. A page of satellite and cable TV listings, including long-gone channels such as The Family Channel and Wire TV.

Page 45. A page of radio listings, including all the national and local London stations such as BBC GLR, Jazz FM, and Melody FM.

Page 46. Horoscopes with Patric Walker, and also some celebrity birthdays. Helena Bonham-Carter is 29 today.

Page 50. A business article entitled “Don’t be afraid as machines take control” which informs us “Barclays has a special unit looking at the ways the group can benefit from using new electronics. It already pumps product information on to the Internet and is set to launch an Internet shopping service next week”.

Page 52. The comic strips page. This is another thing you don’t get in the Standard any more. There are five strips, Modesty Blaise, The Wizard Of Id, Augusta, Bristow, and Garfield. Bristow was a particularly long-running strip (indeed, this is episode 9,452). Also on the page is a recipe, Bridge, Chess, and crosswords. es0002

Page 53. The letters page. You couldn’t email in those days though so make sure your fax machine is ready. And there’s another crossword!

Page 54. The start of some pages of theatre reviews and lots of adverts for gigs and new films coming out. Who remembers the likes of Richie Rich, Bullets Over Broadway, A Feast At Midnight, and Circle Of Friends now?

Page 62. The start of lots of pages of property adverts, also including the results of The Evening Standard New Homes Awards 1995. es0003

Page 73. The start of the Sport section. Because the football season has just about ended, there is little coverage. There is a lot about other sports though, including the ongoing Rugby World Cup, newcomer Greg Rusedski hoping to do well at Wimbledon, and cricket results.

Page 76. Features an advert for the short-lived cable channel Channel One. There always seemed to be a lot of adverts for that channel in the Standard, I can’t find anything online so I’m not sure if there was a connection, it was probably the London Live of its day. es0004

Page 80. The back page which features the headline “Atherton Inspires England” in the cricket, how Nick Faldo is doing in the golf, and another crossword. And that brings issue 51,844 of the Evening Standard to an end.

This piece is intended to be a one-off but I do have a few more vintage editions of the Evening Standard around but none as old as this one so I might look at another one soon if people found this interesting. Also, this is my 99th post on here so in my 100th tomorrow I’ll take the chance to look back at the classic TV shows that I’ve reviewed already and reveal the ones that are still to come, plus a few other things that I have lined up for the future.