Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 10.

This is a group that first found fame on the chart in the mid-90s, and I was rather pleased that they did. Divine Comedy were formed in the late-80s, and released the first of their 12 albums as early as 1990. Their frontman was Neil Hannon, although after several line-up changes, he essentially became the only regular member, and also played various instruments.

Before having a hit, Hannon wrote the theme to sitcom Father Ted, was namechecked in an episode, and also performed “My Lovely Horse” which featured in Ted and Dougal’s dream, which is a great achievement. Another song was briefly used as the theme to Tomorrow’s World. In May 1996, their fourth album “Casanova” was the first to be a hit. Their first hit single was in June 1996 when “Something For The Weekend” reached no. 14, which is one of my favourites by them, and indeed is one of my favourite hits of 1996. vlcsnap-00368

Around the same time, Super Furry Animals released a single with the same title, so this was amended to “Something 4 The Weekend” to avoid confusion, although I don’t know if that’s right or not. Shall I make the inevitable “how on earth is that now 25 years ago?” comment? Well I just did. I also looked forward to the follow-up singles which were “Becoming More Like Alfie” and “The Frog Princess”, and these were very good as well. vlcsnap-00369

Hannon was someone who was rather witty and stylish, although he was insistent that he was never, ever a fop, nor indeed a rake either. In 1998 he contributed a head-spinning version of “I’ve Been To A Marvellous Party” to a Noel Coward tribute album, and it was by this point that he was appearing on magazine covers. In September 1998, “Fin De Si├Ęcle” was their first album to make the Top Ten. vlcsnap-00371

And in February 1999, “National Express” became their first and only Top Ten hit single, a fascinating tale about coach travel. Later in 1999, a best-of album was released, which reached no. 3. Hannon has continued to release many more singles and albums since. And in 2009 he launched the side project The Duckworth-Lewis Method, which makes concept albums about cricket. The most recent Divine Comedy album “Office Politics” did make the Top Ten.

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 8.

Here’s an indie band (were they Britpop? Well possibly) who I enjoyed in the mid/late-90s as they made lots of witty songs and videos, and for a brief time they were fairly successful. Space were a band from Liverpool (not to be confused with another band called Space from France who had a hit single in 1977 with “Magic Fly”), and their frontman was Tommy Scott. These are some of their highlights.

Their first hit single “Neighbourhood” missed the Top 50 in 1996. And then there was “Female Of The Species” which was their Top 20 breakthrough. This was followed by “Me And You Versus The World”, and this became their first Top Ten hit. And well, a song that begins “I first met you hanging knickers on the line” deserves to be successful. Then their first album “Spiders” was released, and this made the Top Ten too. By now they were welcome on music shows like TFI Friday, Top Of The Pops and The White Room. vlcsnap-00313

They decided to finish off 1996 with a rerelease of “Neighbourhood”, which this time did much better, narrowly missing the Top Ten. This success was deserved and must’ve been satisfying for them. I do find it difficult to choose favourites, but this one has a good claim to being my favourite single of theirs. They only released one single in 1997 which was “Dark Clouds”, yet another Top 20 hit. vlcsnap-00314

They returned in 1998 with “Avenging Angels”, their biggest hit single yet. By this point, they were appearing on magazine covers, and their songs were receiving a decent amount of radio airplay. Next was their biggest hit. “The Ballad Of Tom Jones” featured a guest vocal from Cerys Matthews of Catatonia (who had just hit the big time themselves), with the fascinating tale of how the veteran crooner influenced their lives, which reached no. 4. vlcsnap-00316

Shortly after this, second album “Tin Planet” was released, and this made the Top Ten too. Space were also among the bands that contributed to England United’s “(How Does It Feel To Be) On Top Of The World”, the official song for the 1998 World Cup, and yes, it was finally that collaboration between Spice Girls and Echo And The Bunnymen that we’d all been waiting for. vlcsnap-00315

They finished 1998 with the hits “Begin Again” and “The Bad Days EP”, which included a cover of “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”, originally by The Animals. And then, that was it. Space’s two (and a bit) years of fame on the chart were up, and they had no further Top 40 hits after this. Their third album was constantly delayed, finally being released almost two decades later, and they have now made six albums.

Down The Dumper – The 90s Part 13.

Here’s the story of yet another pop star who suddenly found fame. It must be a rather odd experience for your debut single to be a chart-topper. You work for a long time to define your style, go through the process of putting some songs together, aim to get a record deal, and then when the time comes to launch your career, you go from being a virtual unknown to the biggest pop star around in a very short time, and this is just about what happened here.

Tasmin Archer is a singer-songwriter who was born in Bradford. In September 1992 her debut single “Sleeping Satellite” was released, this was a chart-topper for two weeks (and there were two videos made), and this also made no. 32 in America. Now I do like this one, although as you should know it isn’t my favourite Number One single of 1992! It’s a rather interesting listen, and one of the highlights is an organ suddenly coming in halfway through. It’s rather different and haunting compared to what else was on the chart at the time. vlcsnap-00014

The idea behind this one is rather ambitious, and a lot of things are attempted to be covered, many people have tried to decipher the rather cryptic lyrics, what could this possibly be all about? One theory is that this is about the space race, and now that the aim of landing on the moon has been achieved, where do we go next, all of those expensive satellites are now redundant and forever flying around as space junk. Or maybe it’s not about that at all. “Sleeping Satellite” has also been covered by several singers, including Kim Wilde in 2011. vlcsnap-00265

In October 1992 her debut album “Great Expectations” was released, and this reached no. 8. And not long after, in 1993, Tamsin won a Brit Award. It seemed to be the perfect start to a career. But she would have no more Top Ten hits, and people might not realise that she went on to have five more hit singles, but each one charted lower than the previous one. In 1993 there were “In Your Care”, “Lords Of The New Church”, and “Arienne”, followed in 1994 by a cover of “Shipbuilding”. vlcsnap-00264

After a break, Tasmin returned in March 1996 with “One More Good Night With The Boys”, but this only made no. 45, and shortly after her second album “Bloom” barely made the Top 100. Tasmin left the music scene after this, and more people seem to remember the badger character named after her in Harry Hill’s show than most of her hits now. She eventually returned a decade later in 2006 with her third and final album “On”, although this wasn’t a hit.

The One-Hit Wonders – The 90s Part 2.

This one does stretch the rules somewhat as this group features people who have had much more success with other groups, but as it brought back memories and it was a curious one-off, I thought I might as well share this one. Did you know that there was once a supergroup that featured members of bands including Blur and Duran Duran? Well it did happen, and during what could be considered to be the peak of Britpop as well.

The main members of Me Me Me were Alex James from Blur, and Stephen Duffy (no longer known as “Tin Tin”), who was in the original line-up of Duran Duran, but left before they hit the big time, and he went on to have a couple of great hits in the mid-80s with “Kiss Me” and “Icing On The Cake”, before going on to form The Lilac Time. Some of Elastica also took part. “Hanging Around” (which was barely two minutes long) was released in August 1996 and reached no. 19. They also performed this on Top On The Pops.

But this isn’t the main reason that I remember this one. You might be beginning to think based on various pieces that I am mildly obsessed with The Chart Show, and well, you’d be right really. One week, a part of the “Hanging Around” video was shown at the end of an edition to preview what was coming next week as the credits ran. The video featured a party in a front room (that the group were also at).

Someone who was going to attend the party bought some x-ray glasses. He then turned up and put the glasses on, and he looked really shocked by what he had seen. What was it exactly? Well we didn’t know because it was at this point the “STOP”/”EJECT” graphic appeared, and the show ended. Oh no, what a cliffhanger, they almost certainly did this deliberately, I remember being so frustrated at the time.

And this was back in the days when you would have to wait a week to find out what would happen next. But, we eventually we got the big reveal and discovered that he saw everyone at the party in a state of undress. Disappointed, he bought another pair of stronger x-ray glasses, hoping they’d be nude presumably, but this time he saw everyone as skeletons, it was horrible! If the video were to go viral, would it be an internet Me Me Me meme?

Following “Hanging Around”, James went back to having success with Blur, and also contributed to Fat Les (of “Vindaloo” fame), and Wigwam (with Betty Boo no less), along with also appearing on some game show celebrity specials including The Chase and Pointless, while Duffy has gone on to have some more success as a songwriter, including being behind a chart-topper for Robbie Williams.