Old Music Friday: reviewing all the tunes released 20 years ago today
Let's journey back to 1 December 1997
It’s never been easier to find new music. You simply load up your Spotify, whack on the New Music Friday playlist and then, after about 10 of the ‘hottest’ new tracks, lose the will to live and declare, “Is this really the best that the music world has to offer these days, it’s a load of bloody noise”.
And the existence of this playlist means that, really, it’s absolutely pointless anyone reviewing new singles. Why would you bother when you could just listen to them yourself? Here you go, do it yourself.
So we’ve decided to do you a better service: review old music instead. If music really was better in the old days, then even some songs which got nowhere 20 years ago are probably better than anything on the New Music Friday playlist. So we’re going digging for gold and reviewing everything that came out this week 20 years ago. Why 20 years? Well, 1997 was pretty great wasn’t it, and 20’s a nice round number. It’s art, we don’t need to justify it any more than that.
OLD MUSIC FRIDAY: New releases on 1/12/97
A mildly mammoth TWENTY-SIX new tunes to pick from this week, let’s get stuck in shall we?
(CLICK ON THE TRACK NAME TO WATCH THE VID).
A Swedish industrial metal band who I’ve not heard of before (and apparently reformed earlier this year). This is basically Limp Bizkit nu-metal stuff which should obviously be approached with high caution, but you know what? This is actually really quite good and should definitely have been used in some sports montages over the years.
Chart position: 94
Almost four minutes of pure slink with the whole first verse describing her “Waiting for your call, just to say hello, maybe ‘how are you?’”. See, I like Hinda already, very low expectations, she’d be a very nice girlfriend, no doubt. Until you forgot her birthday, then there’d be hell to pay. Nice enough, doesn’t go anywhere. The song, not the relationship. Maybe they’re still together, who knows, I’ve never met her so I have literally no idea.
Chart position: 89
Oh you know this one, this is the big beat one with the sitar thing on it - click it, you know it. Was this in Austin Powers or something? I can’t remember. Best summed up by ‘Dan Fossard’ on YouTube:
Dan is not wrong, it is a ruddy tune.
Chart position: 86
I was really hoping this was going to be a song about relaying your floorboards with high quality wood but, alas, no. It is, however, an absolutely banging slice of techno with some juicy 303 bass action and OBVIOUSLY there’s a great ‘rave survivor’ YouTube comment:
Yeah loving this one.
Chart position: 81
Since this is six solid minutes of exactly the same groove repeated over and over you certainly cannot do Global Communication via the Trade Descriptions Act. Good groove, bit dull.
Chart position: 76
We’d hazard a guess that Benny Benassi heard this song at some point before making ‘Satisfaction’ in 2003 - it’s essentially that same robotic/computer voice, as used by Benny, over a perfunctory dance track, made by Austrain DJ Christopher Just. It’s kind of hynoptically enjoyable and clearly quite forward-thinking even though it is basically a bit rubbish in that way that first attempts at things tend to be. Essentially I’m very confused about this but I like it. A bit like when I first drank Tab Clear.
Chart position: 72
A track from the one album Genesis did with Stiltskin’s Ray Wilson on vocals - so no Collins or Gabriel on this one. Like everything on that album it’s a bit limp, but it’s perfectly fine. Essentially, it turns out trying to replace Phil Collins - one of the greatest musicians of all time - is pretty difficult. Still, ’Inside’ was an absolutely monster tune wasn’t it? And, looking on Stiltskin’s Wikipedia page, it turns out they were Scottish. Always thought they were American; you live and learn guys, you live and learn.
Chart position: 54
Ah, a good old indie track smashing its way into the high 50s of the singles chart, lovely stuff. Catherine Wheel were from Great Yarmouth, which is a lovely part of the world, quite nice out-of-season actually - you don’t get the daytrippers and can walk the dog in peace. Oh, what’s the song like? Exactly what you’d expect an indie song from 1997 that charted at number 53 to sound like. Actually it’s a bit better than that, if Sleeper had done this it probably would have been a giant hit (gone in at number 35 instead).
Chart position: 53
Hello hello, what do we have here? It’s a bit of early UK garage, that’s what. This is like witnessing an early version of homo sapiens - you know where it’s going to end up but it’s fascinating checking out those early fossil skeletons. So if ‘Bound 4 Da Reload’ was the first big crossover hit, then this is like homo erectus - specifically actually this is like an early prototype of Artful Dodger’s ‘Movin’ Too Fast’ which we all know is one of the eternal bangers that will outlive us all. Is it great? Not really, but it’s very charming and, as discussed, a historical artefact. A bit like Stonehenge then. So which song is the A303? Hmmm, not sure.
Chart position: 51
HEMEL HEMPSTEAD MAKE SOME NOOOOOIIIIIISSSSEEEE! I CAN’T HEAAAARRRRR YOU!
This is bloody brilliant slice of epic trance/techno, reminds me of ‘Sandstorm’ but not quite that good, but then ‘Sandstorm’ is about a million on the anthemscale so that’s no disgrace. There’s like three different sections which could all be trance anthems in their own right. Well done Bruce, you can go back to saving Gotham City now.
Chart position: 44
Bloody hell, if you thought Bruce Wayne absolutely WENT OFF then just you wait till you get a bit of ‘Only If…’ in your ears. Jesus Christ this will take the roof off when you put it on the club. Nah only joshing this sounds exactly like every Enya song ever, although this one does have a bit of a beat to it, in an ‘Orinoco Flow’ style. Funnily enough actually we’d bet at least one limb on there being a trance version of this knocking about somewhere, which actually would take the roof off if you played it at Ministry. And if there isn’t then could someone sort one out (and hold my drink while I chop a limb off)? Cheers. And just as I finish typing, YouTube has autoplayed onto ’Anywhere’ - what an absolute bloody tune that is too, you can have that one for free guys.
Chart position: 43
Ah, the classic extra single to bang on a greatest hits compilation which then isn’t a hit but never mind because you’ve already bought the album and bloody hell The Lightning Seeds really have produced an absolute ton of solid gold indie-pop classics and Ian Broudie is probably one our most underrated songwriters (and producers while we’re at it). Actually this song isn’t half bad, with some lovely backing vocals from the lass in the section before chorus two. Yeah this is good this, deserved better than number 41, you heartless lot.
Chart position: 41
I mean, it’s a brilliant, bonkers song this, and I’d never heard this version before and it is also brilliant and bonkers. Best bit though, scouring Wiki, is that Sparks’ Ron Mael, who wrote the song, paid absolutely no attention to whether Russell Mael would be able to sing it or not, saying: “‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us’ was written in A, and by God it’ll be sung in A. I just feel that if you’re coming up with most of the music, then you have an idea where it’s going to go. And no singer is gonna get in my way.” Too bloody right, Ron, singers have it far too easy, make ‘em work for it.
Chart position: 40
Terry Callier appears on two of the four tracks on this EP, but not on the title track, so sorry about that Terry fans, just listen to his amazing Massive Attack collab instead. Is the title track any good? Hmmm well it kinda bobs along for four minutes and sorry I can’t really remember a single thing about it. Quite nice I guess? Actually just listen to Terry and Massive Attack instead.
Chart position: 36
Ah, this must be the A303.
Chart position: 34
Let’s be honest here, this slab of MASSIVE TRANCE with a breakdown and a soulful girl singing total nonsense airy-fairy lyrics is absolutely better than anything ever produced by Tom Waits. And I’d probably sacrifice Neil Young too to get this tune. Luckily, it does exist and music is not a zero-sum game so don’t worry Tom and Neil, you’re safe. For now.
Chart position: 27
You could say *arches eyebrow* this is the sound of *arches eyebrow further* Will Smith on *arches eyebrow even further* autopilot.
Mind you, ‘90s Will on autopilot is still better than most (including you guys Tom and Neil, watch your step) so obviously this is great.
Chart position: 23
I’ll let you into a little secret: I absolutely hated Mariah Carey as a kid. Hated her pointless arseing around with melodies, rendering them unrecognisable like a mutilated corpse identifiable only via their dental records. JUST SING THE COCKING TUNE MARIAH. Listen to Whitney - she did it right, bang out the melody so you know what’s going on, then unleash the acrobatics in the latter part of the song rather than fluttering away from the first bloody second. Oh god I’m two minutes in and I want to punch her stupid voice.
Chart position: 22
This is a bit like ‘Deeper Underground’ only a bit more uptempo. Which means it’s great (and it turns out ‘Deeper Underground’ was the single after this one). Lovely hi-hat work in the chorus too, sounds really crisp. Love me a crispy hi-hat I do.
Chart position: 20
This is a comically smooth and vomit-inducing slow jam version of The Beatles’ classic and the video, set in London, may be one of the naffest things I’ve ever seen. Sorry guys. ‘No Diggity’ was good though, right? Should have done more of those imho.
Chart position: 18
Ah, The Seahorses, the band the Stone Roses could have been. Oh I jest, but actually The Seahorses did some absolute Clint Boons during their time and this is (just about) one of them. I absolutely love the enthusiasm of this YouTube comment too, even though really what he’s describing is just ‘any indie club’.
Chart position: 15
God it’s boring talking about Bond theme tunes isn’t it. Every single film, “Ooh who’s going to do the Bond theme” and honestly who really cares, although to be fair it has produced some 24-carat bangers - ‘Live and Let Die’, ‘The Living Daylights’, ‘Skyfall’ - all unarguable classics. This one though? It’s alright isn’t it. Better than Madonna’s one and about ten million times better than the Jack White and Alicia Keys one. Good god that was awful.
RATING: 007/10 lol
Chart position: 12
NOW YOU ARE TALKING. Every single second of this - audio and video - is amazing, including some phenomenal ‘boyband walking down a corridor’ footage. Of course it was written by Max Martin like 97% of all amazing pop music ever.
Chart position: 10
Can’t see this one doing much.
Seriously, though, genuinely brilliant song isn’t it? And also, listening properly to it for once, it’s actually a pretty understated vocal from Robbie. Nothing too over the top, just sincere.
Chart position: 7
What an absolute tune. Peak ‘90s pop-dance sound, lovely vocal from our Janet, perfect production from Jam and Lewis, cracking melody. There is nothing funny to say about this tune, it’s just really great.
Chart position: 4
Dear reader, I have to be honest with you and admit that I bought this. On cassette. I just thought it would be funny if it got to number one. And it did. What is truly remarkable about this song is that the lad who does most of the singing (the narrator chap) absolutely cannot sing to save his life. ‘Po’ is not even close to being the right note. And instead of making him re-sing it, the producers thought, “Sod it, idiots will still buy it and it’ll get to number one anyway”. Idiots like me. It is bloody catchy though, isn’t it? Is it any good? No, of course it isn’t.
Chart position: 1
BEST NEW OLD MUSIC OF THE WEEK:
Janet Jackson - ‘Together Again’
Five - ‘Slam Dunk (Da Funk)’
Robbie Williams - ‘Angels’
Bruce Wayne - ‘Ready’
Space Brothers - ‘Forgiven (I Feel Your Love)’
Dave Pike Set - ‘Mathar’