Monday, 22 July 2013

The Best Of 1995 - part 2

JUMP TO: 100-76 II 75-51 II 50-26 II 25-1

Twenty-five songs down, 75 to go as I continue to count down through my favourite songs from 1995. Although I'm generally a fan of British music, you won't find many songs on my list from the dominant genre in the UK for 1995: Britpop.

I liked British pop like PJ & Duncan more than Britpop in 1995

1995 was the year of the showdown between Britpop rivals Blur and Oasis - with Blur's "Country House" pipping Oasis' "Roll With It" to the number 1 spot in the UK. Neither track makes my favourite 200 songs for the year, although "Wonderwall" does scrape in at number 176 and Blur have featured in previous countdowns.

Britpop didn't really catch on in the same way in Australia, with very few of the bands associated with the genre cracking the charts here. I did try to give groups like Cast, Ocean Colour Scene, Shed Seven and The Bluetones a try, since the Now That's What I Call Music CDs I bought on import from the UK generally featured a generous amount of Britpop - but few tracks made much of an impression. Here's what I was listening to in 1995 instead...

Number 75 "Real Love (Nush remix)" by Driza Bone
The original of this track almost made my top 100 for 1991, and it was dusted off, and given a remix and re-release for 1995. Well, when I say "a remix", I of course mean "multiple remixes". The one by Nush was my favourite - and very sensibly omitted the original's rap, which included a line that was very timely in 1991 but not so much in 1995: "a love this real has got me crazy like Seal".

Number 74 "All Time High" by Count Basic
Acid jazz pioneers Jamiroquai, Incognito and Brand New Heavies were all chart fixtures by 1995, so it made sense for there to be a wave of imitators - one of which was this group, that up until now I didn't realise came from Austria. "All Time High" was taken from debut album Life Think It Over.

Number 73 "You're The Story Of My Life / As Long As You're Good To Me" by Judy Cheeks
After releasing a string of club-friendly singles over the previous couple of years, Judy finally got around to releasing an album through Positiva records, and both sides of this double A-side release were included on it. "You're The Story Of My Life", which was written by power ballad specialists Diane Warren and Desmond Child, was a bit of a change of pace for Judy - but it was vocal house track "As Long As You're Good To Me" that I preferred.

Number 72 "Sweet Harmony" by Liquid
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 71 "Search For The Hero" by M-People
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 70 "The Bomb! (These Sounds Fall Into My Mind)" by Kenny "Dope" presents The Bucketheads
A big dance and chart hit in 1995, this track produced by Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez took its horn riff and vocal hook from "Street Player" by Chicago, a fact I never knew until now. Who knew the group behind "If You Leave Me Now" and "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" had so much funk in them? Of course, like the title of Black Box's "Ride On Time", the subtitle of "The Bomb!" wasn't accurate - the sampled lyric is actually "street sounds swirling through my mind". Kenny is one half of production duo Masters At Work (with Little Louie Vega), who we'll see in a subsequent year-end countdown. We'll also see Bucketheads again, since "The Bomb!" wasn't the only great song released under that name.

Number 69 "Santa Maria" by Tatjana
After reuniting in 1994, producers Mike Stock and Matt Aitken got busy in 1995, releasing a stream of dance/pop singles from the likes of DJ Scott featuring Lorna B, Jayne Collins, bnd and Mobius Loop. Never heard of any of those? That's because none of them were hits. Neither was this track by the Croation Playboy model despite it being released in the UK on more than one occasion (it finally reached number 40 there in 1996). "Santa Maria" was also a very minor hit in Australia as well, managing a number 50 peak. It wasn't all bad news for Stock and Aitken, who were responsible for producing the UK's highest-selling single of 1995: Robson & Jerome's double A-side cover of "Unchained Melody"/"(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs Of Dover", although the less said about that the better.

Number 68 "Love Enuff" by Soul II Soul
Here's a band that made a very welcome return in 1995 with Volume V: Believe (actually only their fourth studio album since Volume IV had been a greatest hits collection). The album's two singles, "Love Enuff" and "I Care (Soul II Soul)" (number 75 above), both made the UK top 20 and were as good as anything else they'd released in the '90s, but the heady days of the group being a UK and US chart sensation were behind them.

Number 67 "Close To You" by Brand New Heavies
In between studio albums, the acid jazz collective released this single in 1995 from the soundtrack to Pret-A-Porter. "Close To You" wasn't a massive success but it did keep fans satisfied until 1997's Shelter was released. Another track from Pret-A-Porter would be a big hit in 1995: Ini Kamoze's "Here Comes The Hotstepper".

Number 66 "Movin' Up" by Dreamworld
Time for some Eurodance - and this Swedish track was a number 12 hit in Australia, but not successful at all in the UK. Three more singles followed from the album, Heaven Sent, but none made an impact and the group had broken up by 1997, which was also the year Dannii Minogue recorded a version of this song for her Girl album.

Number 65 "Going Round" by D'Bora
Like the Tatjana track, this song by the American singer (D'Bora is her real name) stalled at number 40 in the UK. I discovered it on one of the double CD dance compilations I routinely bought on import from the UK during the mid-'90s - and it was the Dancing Divaz mix (which you can hear in the link above) that featured. In fact, I didn't ever hear the original until just recently. It's not as good.

Number 64 "Believe In Me" by Raw Stylus
We heard from Count Basic in Part 1, and here's another group clearly influenced by the likes of Brand New Heavies - and another group that unfortunately didn't make anywhere near as big a splash on the charts.

Number 63 "Absolute E-Sensual" by Jaki Graham
After finally landing an Australian hit in 1994 with her cover of "Ain't Nobody", British singer Jaki Graham, who'd been releasing music by this point for over a decade, narrowly missed the Australian top 50 with this follow-up. You can hear the mix by Sleazesisters (which was played pretty much every Saturday night at a club I went to at the time) in the link above, while the music video with the single version is below.

Number 62 "You Are Not Alone" by Michael Jackson
It was hard to miss Jacko in 1995 - especially in London, where he floated a giant statue of himself down the Thames river. Meanwhile, together with sister Janet, he released "Scream" (number 87 on this list), which boasted the most expensive music video ever made. All of this activity was in support of his first greatest hits collection for Sony Music, which came with the just as over-the-top title of HIStory: Past, Present And Future, Book 1 (there never was a Book 2). The second single from the disc of new tracks was this ballad, written by R.Kelly and featuring Michael's then-wife Lisa Marie Presley in the off-putting music video. The song's presence on my list is largely due to the remix by Frankie Knuckles, which you can hear in the link above.

Number 61 "Message Of Love" by Love Happy 
Love was a popular word in vocal house groups in 1995. We saw Love To Infinity in Part 1 and, later on, we'll hear from Lovestation and Loveland - and here is the one and only single (that I'm aware of) by Love Happy, which missed the UK chart completely.

Number 60 "Happy Just To Be With You" by Michelle Gayle
Two years after releasing her first single, "Looking Up", Michelle was still lifting tracks from her debut self-titled album - but for this fifth single, a bit of help was received from Chic's "Good Times". The new sample-added version of "Happy Just..." was a huge improvement on the original - and matched the number 11 peak of "Looking Up" in the UK. It wouldn't be the last time we'd hear "Good Times" sampled on a British female R&B singer's record, with Beverley Knight making use of the disco classic in a few year's time.

Number 59 "Is There Anybody Out There?" by Nicki French
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 58 "Stuck On U" by PJ & Duncan
They're now known the world over as Ant & Dec, hosts of shows like I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here, but in 1995, the boys from Newcastle were just another pair of soap stars-turned-singers who'd scored a UK top 10 hit with the novelty-esque "Let's Get Ready To Rhumble" in 1994. By 1995, the duo's songs actually started to get quite decent, with this track and "Perfect" (number 124 on this list) proving they could compete with the likes of East 17 and Boyzone on the pop front.

Number 57 "Change" by Lightning Seeds
Mentioned in Part 4

Number 56 "Key To My Life" by Boyzone
Speaking of Boyzone, here are the Irish boy band with their second UK hit, an original ballad (a rarity for them) which followed "Love Me For A Reason" into the British top 5. Next release "So Good" would repeat the feat, but it was Christmas single "Father And Son" (number 96 on this list), that would turn the group into pop heavy-hitters as it notched up platinum sales in the UK and gave them their first (and highest-charting) Australian hit in early 1996.

Number 55 "Where Is The Feeling?" by Kylie Minogue
It's not one of her best known singles - and, in fact, the video version (which there's a link to in the song title above) is a bit of a mess. But, the third single from the Kylie Minogue album did come with a version I quite liked - the Brothers In Rhythm Bish Bosh mix, which is below. Her lowest charting single in Australia since 1992's "Finer Feelings", it would be the last we'd hear of club-friendly Kylie for some time, with her duet with Nick Cave later in 1995 signalling a change in musical direction for the rest of the decade.

Number 54 "My Love Is For Real" by Paula Abdul
You've got to give her points for creativity. Rather than returning to music with another perfectly palatable pop/dance ditty, Paula went a bit left of centre with this Eastern-inspired track which featured a vocal contribution from Israeli superstar Ofra Haza (who featured in my 1988 countdown). The risk didn't really pay off in the US or UK (it reached number 28 in both countries), but it did land inside the Australian top 10. As a result of its disappointing performance around the world, subsequent singles from third album Head Over Heels, like "Crazy Cool" (number 98 on this list), bombed. I was a fan of the original version of "My Love Is For Real", but I also liked the piano house remix, which you can hear in the link above and which led to a remake by remixers Strike in 1996.

Number 53 "Rise" by Hannah Jones
This song by British house diva-in-waiting Hannah Jones doesn't seem to be on YouTube at all, but it was another anthemic track with wailing female vocals, big piano chords and a remix by Loveland, so naturally I was a big fan of it.

Number 52 "Shine Like A Star" by Berri
Mentioned in Part 3

Number 51 "Everytime You Touch Me" by Moby
He featured in my 1993 countdown, and in 1995, Moby was still cranking out fast and furious club hits like this, which followed "Hymn" and "Feeling So Real" into the UK top 30.

Before we get to my top 50 for 1995, we'll revisit the ARIA chart from this week in 1988 on Wednesday. Then, in Part 3, prepare for the return of one of my year-end chart-toppers from the '80s and a song that's as close to liking Britpop as I get.

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