Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 23.

This is a group that had a few hits, but they were better known for their production and remix work, along with collaborating with some other famous acts. And there is a surprise twist in their career too. The Dreem Teem (not to be confused with Sky One’s Dream Team) were the trio DJ Spoony, Mikee B, and Timmi Magic. They met when they were working on pirate radio stations in the mid-90s.

They then went on to host shows on Kiss and BBC Radio 1, and they are considered to be rather major players in the development of the UK Garage genre. By the time they joined Radio 1, there were specialist late-night shows in various genres, meaning that there was a clash between different tastes as they tried to cater for everyone, and a lot of other hosts were rather snobby about them.

I’m sure that Mark Radcliffe used to call Spoony “DJ Spoonfed”, while rather inevitably, Chris Moyles used to call Timmi Magic “Timmy Mallett”, but for the people who did like their style, they were an essential listen. They first made the chart in December 1997 when “The Theme” was released, and this reached no. 34. Then in November 1999, “Buddy X ’99” reached no. 15, to become their biggest hit.

This was a garage remix of Neneh Cherry’s “Buddy X” which was originally a hit in June 1993. This meant that Neneh was still having hits over a decade on from “Buffalo Stance”. I remember that this was played a lot on Kiss at the time, although this was just after they changed their policy, and practically became a “play the same 12 songs all day” station, but this one did manage to get into the loop, and it was always good to hear.

And in December 2001, “It Ain’t Enough” reached no. 20. This was a collaboration with The Artful Dodger, who a couple of years earlier had introduced the world to Craig David. They also contributed to the ITV documentary series The Dance Years, and in 2001 they even had their own show on UK Play. Now I used to watch this channel very regularly, so I am surprised that I don’t really remember this.

But That Dreem Teem Thing was supposedly made “at their flat in Bethnal Green”. Now this is where I live in London, and once again the thought that where they remixed their big hits, and hung out with their mates including Mis-Teeq, could’ve been just over the road from me, was rather remarkable. Why are there so many pop stars here? They were probably on the floor above Bananarama.

I am pleased that every edition of this show is online, I must have a closer look. In more recent years, Spoony sat in for Trevor Nelson on his BBC Radio 2 show, and it is odd to think that even he could now be considered to be more suitable for and more familiar to a Radio 2 audience, it wasn’t that long ago now, was it? Maybe UK Garage is now a genre that is old enough that the biggest hits can be considered to be “golden oldies”, and The Dreem Teem probably remixed all of them.

Great Moments In Pop – The 80s Part 19.

This is a British group that I wanted to feature, not just because they made some memorable songs, but they also achieved something that I’m fairly sure is unique, and is a great piece of trivia. In April 1987, before The Beloved had any hit singles, their frontman Jon Marsh appeared as a contestant on Countdown, when he was still an aspiring singer/songwriter.

He did rather well, becoming an octochamp, winning his eight games before retiring undefeated (he actually played nine games, because one was a draw and required a replay, before the tiebreaker rule had been introduced). “Your record had better be a hit after all this”, said host Richard Whiteley. Marsh qualified for the knockout stages at the end of the series as the number 1 seed.

But he was knocked out in the semi-final, meaning that he missed out on that big bunch of dictionaries. He returned in June 1987 to take part in the Champion Of Champions series, but this time he was eliminated at the quarter-final stage. But I suppose that it’s one way of increasing your profile. In October 1989, The Beloved finally had their first hit single when “The Sun Rising” reached no. 26.

Now this was a nice piece of chill-out dance music, you really do feel that you could close your eyes and drift away whilst listening to this, and it was always great to hear this on the radio. In January 1990, their next single “Hello” was released. This was a rather remarkable song that namechecked everyone from Kym Mazelle to Bobby Ball, and this reached no. 19. They also appeared on the cover of Melody Maker around this time.

In March 1990, “Your Love Takes Me Higher” made the Top 40 at the second attempt, after failing to chart on its first release a year earlier. It then went quiet for a little while, but they returned in January 1993 with “Sweet Harmony” (not to be confused with the hit of the same name around at the same time by Liquid, which was totally super-duper, as the children would say nowadays I’m sure).

The video also caused something of a stir, because it seemed that Marsh was continuing to have some trouble keeping his clothes on in them. This was also performed on shows including ITV’s The Beat. “Sweet Harmony” reached no. 8, to become their biggest hit, and I would presume that Marsh is the only person to have been a Countdown octochamp and also have a Top Ten hit single, what an achievement.

Two more Top 40 hits followed in 1993 with “You’ve Got Me Thinking” and “Outerspace Girl”. After another break, in March 1996 “Satellite” made the Top 20. And curiously, in August 1997, their final Top 40 hit single was the same as their first, when eight years on, “The Sun Rising” returned to the chart, this time in remixed form, reaching no. 31, and it was still great to hear.

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 14.

There were a lot of quirky British production groups around in the late-90s, and having recently looked back at All Seeing I, here’s another one that made some entertaining songs. Bentley Rhythm Ace were from Birmingham, consisting of Richard (who had previously been in Pop Will Eat Itself) and Mike. They took their name from a drum machine, seemingly not realising the acronym was BRA.

Also helping them out was Fuzz Townshend, who had a minor hit by himself in 1997 with “Hello Darlin'”, which I only remember because I heard this played on BBC Radio 1 once, and it started to skip at the end, but it took a while before the host noticed. In May 1997, Bentley Rhythm Ace released their first album (which was self-titled), and this made the Top 20. vlcsnap-00413

But it was in September 1997 when they had their biggest hit with “Bentley’s Gonna Sort You Out!”, which reached no. 17. Now I liked this one, as there were lots of weird “boing”-type noises which is always great, although some felt that this veered a little too close to the “novelty” genre. This was also the soundtrack to plenty of TV shows and adverts. They were good value in magazine interviews too, going on about finding old vinyl records in car boot sales which could feature songs or sound effects to influence them. vlcsnap-00414

And I remember them going on about their “wonky teeth”. They would also perform on stage with comedy beards, and with innovations like that, soon people were very eager to check them out. They then vanished off the scene for about three years, and they returned with another rather strange song. In May 2000 “Theme From Gutbuster” was released, which became their second and final Top 40 hit single. vlcsnap-00415

I remember seeing the video on MTV, along with their explanation in an interview of what a “Gutbuster” actually was, which all sounded rather horrible really. And one critic seemed to be rather amused by the couplet “feel the rhythm in your gut/get up and move your butt“. Their second album “For Your Eyes Only” failed to make the Top 40, and they haven’t been heard of much since.

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 13.

Here’s someone from America whose music interested me for a short while in the late-90s. Paula Cole is a singer/songwriter and producer, who had previously worked with Peter Gabriel, before launching a career of her own. In June 1997, Paula had her first and only Top 40 hit single in the UK when “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone” reached no. 15 (and this also made the Top Ten in the US).

Now from what I can tell, this is one of those songs that manages to divide opinion somewhat. I don’t actually usually like songs in the genre, but this one caught my interest because this was rather unusual, with spoken parts and a story being told. I class this one as being part of the soundtrack to my summer of 1997, that I was rather enjoying until things suddenly went rather weird at the end of August. vlcsnap-00408

It was during this summer that I decided to listen to various music stations more, and I always took notice when this one came on. I also remember that years later this one featured in an episode of Family Guy, although there have been so many episodes every 80s/90s pop culture reference must’ve been featured by now. It could be said that Peter found this to be rather irritating, I don’t know if that’s the majority view though. vlcsnap-00409

I don’t know if I should admit it, but I even have this one on CD. In July 1997 second album “This Fire” was released, but this reached only no. 60. and spent just one week on the chart, being her only hit album in the UK. Paula also won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1998, which was rather fancy. Although there are so many categories that anybody who releases a song in a year is almost guaranteed to win an award. vlcsnap-00412

There would be only one more chart success for Paula when in August 1998 “I Don’t Want To Wait” reached no. 43. This was the theme to the US teen drama series Dawson’s Creek (not to be confused with My So-Called Life, The OC, One Tree Hill, Party Of Five, or the many others around at the time). This one was also referenced in Family Guy, although I got the feeling that Peter didn’t really know the lyrics. Maybe he really was a fan. Paula has now made ten albums.

Down The Dumper – The 90s Part 7.

If you are a regular to this blog, you will know that I am a fan of Cathy Dennis. I have already taken a look back at her interesting pop career in the 90s (which has had a lot of views, so thanks for that), but as she also qualifies for this series, I thought that I would take a closer look at the story behind what turned out to be her final single.

Just to go over her career again quickly, Cathy had her first hit single in 1989, but the peak of her career was in the early-90s, when she had hits around the world, the biggest being “Touch Me (All Night Long)”, and she continued to do well until 1994. After a break in 1995, Cathy returned in 1996 with the first single from her third album “Am I The Kinda Girl”.

Cathy’s sound had changed somewhat since her early singles, moving away from dance-pop, and in 1997 she had a hit with her cover of “Waterloo Sunset”, which was a rather bold move, as this is a much-loved song from the 60s. It was then decided to release another single, this time an original one. So in June 1997 “When Dreams Turn To Dust” was released, hopefully becoming yet another Top 40 hit.

I remember that Cathy appeared on a lot of TV shows to promote this one, more than the usual amount that a pop star would do, including children’s TV, Surprise Surprise, she even appeared on Channel 5 and everything. As the album hadn’t done that well, maybe this was her final chance to give her career a boost. But this unfortunately didn’t make much difference though.

“When Dreams Turn To Dust” missed the Top 40 and reached no. 43, and the album missed the Top 75 altogether, which was a very disappointing end to her pop career, it was a shame that she ended on a low commercially after releasing a lot of great songs. Looking back now, the only really interesting thing about this song is that the video featured a pre-fame Vernon Kay.

But as one door closed, another one opened. Cathy went on to become a very successful songwriter for many other acts, contributing to chart-topping singles and winning several awards for her work, putting her years of experience to good use. And not so long ago Cathy performed her first gig for a very long time, which seemed to go down well. Could this mean that there could be a chance of another album one day?

Down The Dumper – The 90s Part 3.

This is one of the perfect examples of an act that came and went very quickly, and yet their most famous moment has endured for longer than most chart-toppers from this era. There has been a lot said about the advancement of music production technology to the point where you could create songs at home, even in your bedroom, and it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that was how this one was created.

There was first a buzz around “Your Woman” when Mark Radcliffe made this the Record Of The Week on his BBC Radio 1 show. Now I listened to this show a lot over the years, and it was often said that Mark had the “reverse Midas touch”, with a lot of his choices getting nowhere near the chart, and people were beginning to say that they didn’t want their songs to be his Record Of The Week as it would finish them off. So according to the law of averages, there would have to be a song that would create a huge interest and instantly top the chart out of nowhere, and that’s what happened here. vlcsnap-00078

This song by an unknown act was receiving the high-profile radio exposure that most bands and labels would be desperate for. When “Your Woman” was released in January 1997, it spent one week at Number One, with people being intrigued by the mix of trumpets and keyboards, along with the cryptic lyrics. However, White Town was another act that could be classed as “faceless” to some extent, as very little was known about them. The single caused such a stir all by itself that it barely needed to be promoted by anybody anyway. vlcsnap-00079

There was a black-and-white video made, but that was about it, and Top Of The Pops had no other option but to show this. It was later revealed that White Town was the work of Indian-born Jyoti Mishra, and he had been making music at home since the early-90s. He later commented on his success “I’m glad that a porky Asian bloke’s been to Number One, because it’s different”. “Your Woman” also did well around the world and reached no. 23 in America. Well this was a very interesting story about how to have a chart-topper in an unconventional way, but would anyone be interested in his next move? whitetown0001

In March 1997 the album “Women In Technology” was released, but this reached only no. 83. White Town did eventually have a second hit single in May 1997 when “Undressed” was released, but this all seemed a little underwhelming by comparison, and reached only no. 57. “Your Woman” would be a hit again in August 2005 when Tyler James released a cover version, it has also been sampled on several songs, and White Town has gone on to release five albums. vlcsnap-00080

All these years on though, a lot of people still seem to be very fond of “Your Woman”, and Mishra seems to be content that he can say he had a big hit single. And guess what, when looking online for more about his career, I found a video of Mishra performing “Your Woman” in 2017 at a church in Bethnal Green, not too far away from where I live. These pop stars just can’t keep themselves away can they.

Musical Memories – 13 December 1997.

This is the first of these so I’ll start off by explaining how it works. I wanted to share some memories of hit singles so I decided to do this by picking a UK singles chart at random. I put the numbers 1-31 in a bag to select the day, January-December in another to select the month, and 1985-2012 in a third to select the year. The first date that I created was 13 December 1997 so I will look at that chart and pick about ten songs that I want to share my memories of. I have noticed that most charts run to a Top 100, to officially be a hit your single must peak at number 75 at least so I may even be able to review some non-hits from 76-100 if I can remember them. A few credits: all chart information is taken from http://www.officialcharts.com, all record sleeve pictures are taken from http://www.chartarchive.org, and all memories are taken from my own mind. Let’s go then…

1 (new entry) “Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh!” – Teletubbies. Well I have picked a really good one to start with here, haven’t I? The Teletubbies were really big in 1997 to the point that they had that year’s Christmas Number One single. I remember that most TV and radio stations didn’t play this song much, not because it was banned as such, but because I imagine that it couldn’t be tolerated by anyone over the age of three. Somebody must have bought it though. 40557-raw

2 (down 1) “Perfect Day” – various. The previous week’s Number One. Lou Reed and co. get together to tell us how wonderful the BBC is. I remember one critic at the time described this song as from “that achingly cool pay your TV licence ad”. However, it would return to Number One in early-1998.

3 (non-mover) “Barbie Girl” – Aqua. This was another mighty chart-topper in 1997. But I never really liked it. I did used to listen to the Top 40 with Mark Goodier on BBC Radio 1 around this time, I remember not being very impressed when this song was in the Top Ten endlessly. Aqua would go on to have two more number one singles in the UK.

12 (new entry) “Tomorrow Never Dies” – Sheryl Crow. This was the theme to the new James Bond film. I’ve never really been a big fan of this genre of films but Bond themes are always a big chart success. It’s a surprise to realise that no Bond theme has ever been a UK number one single. That might all change soon though with the theme to the new Bond film Spectre coming to the chart. 16326-raw

14 (down 5) “Ain’t That Just That Way” – Lutricia McNeal. Now this was a song that I liked and it was the first of Lutricia’s three Top Ten hit singles in the UK.

38 (down 2) “Tubthumping” – Chumbawumba. This was a big hit for the angry anarchists in the summer of 1997. During this year I listened to Capital regularly which was about the only time that I’ve ever done so, and even they were always playing it. I can’t imagine a single like this on Capital nowadays. You always know when your song has made an impact when the lyrics briefly become a national catchphrase, and “I get knocked down, but I get up again” seemed to be shouted by almost every wally at the time. It even went on to be a hit in America.

51 (new entry) “My Desire” – Amira. I have always liked records like this in the dance genre. However, like most dance acts I know almost nothing about Amira, but this song was re-released a few times and finally made the Top 20 in 2001.

90 (down 4) “Bitter Sweet Symphony” – The Verve. The breakthrough single for the Wigan group who also had a number one single in this year. The famous video was made on Hoxton High Street, not far from where I live, indeed I’m fairly sure that it is a road that I have been down myself. The video was also famously parodied a year later for Fat Les’s World Cup song “Vindaloo”. The Verve’s follow-up single “Lucky Man” was also on the chart this week, and the video was famously banned from appearing on The Chart Show15966-raw

96 (re-entry) “I Know Where It’s At” – All Saints. The first hit single for the girl band. I must admit that I was never a big fan of them, but this is my favourite single by them. Also on this chart was the follow-up “Never Ever” which was in the Top Ten and would eventually become a Number One in early-1998. 16111-raw

That’s it for now, I hope you’ll enjoy these memories, and I will try and review at least one chart from every year from the mid-80s to the early-10s, we’ll just have to see what date is picked at random next. Also, I have remembered that there is a box featuring some old CDs and cassettes somewhere so I might have a raid through that and review some of the classic singles (or otherwise) that I find on here too.