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Old Music Friday: reviewing all the tunes released 20 years ago today

Let's journey back to 1997 when music was better

Old Music Friday: reviewing all the tunes released 20 years ago today

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 24/11/97

A mammoth THIRTY-THREE new tunes to pick from this week, anyone would think it was the run-up to a time of year popular with the shops or something.


Johnny X - ‘Call On Me’

YES, we’re off with a big old faceless dance tune. Obviously it’s not on Spotify and there are around 3,246 remixes on YouTube - none of which are ’(original)’ so God knows if I’m reviewing the right one but the chorus to this sounds a bit like the Bee Gees if they’d really embraced Chicago House and done a load of pills. And, looking back, it’s a real shame that never happened isn’t it?

RATING: 6/10

Chart position: 92

Alpha - ‘Sometime Later’

Well this is rather beautiful. A quick google search reveals that this (from their debut album) was released on Massive Attack’s label Melankolic, which makes complete sense and a further search reveals that they’ve done a ruddy load of albums and are, in fact, still going. Not sure I can be bothered to write the rest of this as I’d quite like to investigate the rest of their back catalogue.

RATING: 8/10

Chart position: 91

Montrose Avenue - ‘She’s Looking For Me’

Don’t worry I’m still here, I couldn’t let you down when you’re thirsty for more brand new bangers (from 20 years ago). I remember Montrose Avenue, a sort of folky indie/rock band from Wokingham - I had a mate at school who absolutely bloody loved them. ‘Where Do I Stand’ - that was their best tune, really good. This one? Probably a reason it only goes in at number 88 next week lads I’m afraid.

RATING: 5/10

Chart position: 88

Third Eye Blind - ‘Graduate’

Proper bit of American alt rock here, I’ve never really got round to listening to any Third Eye Blind - other than ‘Semi-Charmed Life’ of course - I’ve not been dead for the last 20 years - so now’s my chance. Yep, solid. Solid. Good tune. Not as good as ‘Semi-Charmed Life’ but then what is? Actually quite a few songs but I haven’t got time to get into that here.

RATING: 7/10

Chart position: 83

Dave Angel - ‘Funk Music’ 

A crushing disappointment in that this isn’t Dave Angel from the Fast Show so this isn’t the one that goes ‘moonlight shadow (shadow)’. Instead Dave is ‘an important figure in international techno’ according to his Wikipedia page, which I strongly suspect was written by himself. This is - and let me shock you - a vaguely funky bit of highly repetitive late nineties house. So it is not, technically, funk music so we can only imagine this only got to number 76 because people returned their cassettes under the trade descriptions act. Good for a couple of minutes then a bit dull truth be told.

RATING: 5/10

Chart position: 76

Machine Head - Take My Scars

Good bit of metal this. Actually quite tuneful as it goes, just a little bit of growling. Maybe the singer was in a good mood the day they recorded it? Anyway it’s obviously really heavy and really good. Unless you hate metal.

RATING: 7/10

Chart position: 73

Chimira - ‘Show Me Heaven’

I literally typed in the words ‘sadly not a cover of the classic Maria McKee power ballad’ as a techno beat was banging away in the intro and then - BOOM - in comes Maria’s vocals (or someone else singing them to avoid paying the royalties) and never has the phrase ‘be careful what you wish for’ been more appropriate. This is absolutely horrible.

RATING: -100/10

Chart position: 70

Buckshot Lefonque - ‘Another Day’

What a bloody superb name, how was this guy not massive? ‘Hi, and what are you called?’ ‘Buckshot. Buckshot Lefonque. But you can call me Buck. Or Lefonq. Your call girl who will definitely now sleep with me.’ Oh, just looked it up and apparently it was a group of eminent late-nineties jazz cats led by Branford Marsalis, brother of amazing trumpeter Wynton. Anyway, this is really lovely in a kind of soulful nineties Sting way. AND WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT CLIVE YouTube has autoplayed ‘Englishman in New York’ straight after. I am, folks, a genius so appreciate my writings.

RATING: 7/10

Chart position: 65

Tanya Donelly - ‘The Bright Light’

Lovesongs for Underdogs is the solo debut album by American singer Tanya Donelly, who had formerly recorded with Throwing Muses, The Breeders, and Belly’ so Wiki tells me, so a good bit of musical heritage for you there. Nothing radical here but a nice enjoyable racket with that great sort of lower-fi-but-not-lo-fi production you used to get with nineties indie.

RATING: 6/10

Chart position: 64

Bizzi - Bizzi’s Party


RATING: 10/10

Chart position: 62

Sinead O’Connor - ‘This is a Rebel Song’

This is a song where you’re quietly reminded that Sinead O’Connor is a bit of a genius you know. Really quite beautiful and really quite haunting.

RATING: 9/10

Chart position: 60

Saw Doctors - ‘Simple Things’

Not on Spotify, not on YouTube, this is literally a ghost song. Is it the worst or the best song ever written? WE WILL NEVER KNOW

RATING: -a million/10 or million/10

Chart position: 56 (so probably not million/10)

Sarah Brightman - ‘Just Show Me How To Love You’

What is going on here? Same as above, nowhere to be found on ‘the internet’. I remember Sarah Brightman though, she was the ‘Alfie Boe and Michael Ball’ of her day, only with less of a beard.

RATING: -a million/10 or million/10

Chart position: 54 (so probably not million/10)

Partizan featuring Natalie Robb - ‘Keep Your Love’

Yeah boi this is a bit of squelchy electro house with a nice housey vocal from Ms Robb. Not a full-on banger but enjoyable nonetheless, like a more restrained N-Trance.

RATING: 5/10

Chart position: 53

DJ Supreme vs Rhythm Masters - ‘Enter The Scene’

Lovely bit of cut ‘n’ paste turntable action with a load of samples that you know well, over a big backing beat. That was all you needed in 1997 people, simpler times. We’d only just got Channel 5 which blew our minds so this was all we needed. This would go off in a club even today. Unless it was like a really cool club in Peckham or something, then they’d think you’d lost your mind. Particularly when you clear a space on the dancefloor to show off your breakdancing moves.

RATING: 5/10

Chart position: 49

Del Amitri - ‘Some Other Sucker’s Parade’

Not as good as ‘Roll To Me’. What does it sound like? It sounds like Del Amitri. If you like Del Amitri you’ll like this. And if that isn’t phenomenally perceptive music reviewing then I simply don’t know what is.

RATING: 5/10

Chart position: 46

Keith Sweat - ‘I Want Her’

A rerelease from 1987 - must have done this one for the tenth birthday of the song - this was a track which was an early pioneer of the New Jack Swing sound. Absolute legit banger. Well done.

RATING: 9/10

Chart position: 44 (heathens)

Sleeper - ‘Romeo Me’

Good God we’re finally into the songs which will go on to chart in the top 40, I thought we’d never get there. And - wonderful - it’s a bit of Sleeper. Oh Sleeper let me count the ways I love thee. OK: 1) Louise, lovely Louise, 2) jangly guitars, 3) lovely bit of tambourine in the chorus, 4) excellent melancholic indie tunes 5) lovely Louise. This was their last song before splitting up which makes me sad but, hey, people of 1997, don’t worry because they’ll reunite for some gigs in 20 years’ time and you’ve got Louise’s books to enjoy in the meantime so chin up. Also while I’ve got you on the line, Shed Seven are back and are bigger and better than virtually every other new band in 2017. OK, I’ll let you go now, best of luck living through the nu-metal years, honestly it doesn’t last forever.

RATING: 8/10

Chart position: 39

Boyz II Men - ‘A Song For Mama’

Bloody hell if you thought that Machine Head track was heavy just wait til you check this shit out. This is WILD. It’s like Slipknot have taken an acid-soaked cheese grater to their vocal chords and limbs, recorded the resultant screams and then combined them with the smells of a rotting corpse which have been digitally converted to an aural format. Just kidding, it’s a lovely song about loving your mum. It’s very very sappy and very very dullsville though, sorry ‘Boyz’.

RATING: 3/10

Chart position: 34

M People - ‘Fantasy Island’

This is very Ce Ce Peniston and thus, very good. It sounds exactly as you’d expect M People to sound, that is like a more enthusiastic Lighthouse Family with Heather Small’s big ol’ vocals on top. The lyrics are a big special though: “Gather round people I just dreamt of this song / About all the World gettin’ along / Human rights, no shallow graves / Politician’s speak the truth, no one’s got Aids / I look at a Muslim, embracing a Jew / Everyone’s eating everyone’s food / Free from diseases, ain’t no Third World / Love is the message, love is the word”. Sounds great, this is probably what the UK will be like after Brexit. 

RATING: 7/10

Chart position: 33

Sex-O-Sonique - ‘I Thought It Was You’

Do not remember this one at all but don’t worry, it’s not an X-rated version of Heart FM’s ‘Feels So Good’s Sonique, although that would probably be a bit more interesting than this perfunctory slice of poppy-funky-house-with-a-Sweeney-ask-your-granddad-kids-sample-on-top.

RATING: 5/10

Chart position: 32

Huff and Herb - ‘Feeling Good’

One of the many thousands of nineties dance tracks which take an old classic (’Feeling Good’ obvs), whack a house beat underneath, bang it out on a white label and then hope for the best. This one actually works really nicely to be fair, can imagine this one absolutely smashing it at 2am when you’re boxed off your noggin and hugging a stranger.

RATING: 8/10

Chart position: 31

Paul Weller - ‘Mermaids’

Ah you knew where you were with the Modfather in the nineties. Steve Craddock’s on guitar, Steve White on drums, it sounds like it was recorded in a dusty old box and there’s a load of ‘sha-la-la-ing’ in the vocals. This sounds exactly as you’d expect a Paul Weller nineties song to sound. It’s no ‘Peacock Suit’ but it’s alright.

RATING: 6/10

Chart position: 30

Meredith Brooks - ‘I Need’

This absolutely has to be the basically-the-same-song-but-not-quite-as-good-as-the-original-follow-up-to-the-hit second single doesn’t it? *Checks Wiki*. Yep, the nineties never, ever fails does it? The same as ‘Bitch’ but not as good.

RATING: 6/10

Chart position: 28

Super Furry Animals - ‘Demons’

This, my old-music-loving friends, is one of the best songs ever from one of the best albums ever (Radiator) from one of the most consistently brilliant and innovative bands ever. And it only goes in at number 27 next week. You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

RATING: 10/10

Chart position: 27

Dru Hill - ‘Five Steps’

Christ this is nearly as dull as Boyz II Men although Sisqo gets a pass as he’s just two years away from producing the second-best key change of all-time.

RATING: 2/10

Chart position: 22

U.S.U.R.A. - ‘Open Your Mind ‘97

Bit of generic nineties dance, sample that says ‘open your mind’, yeah you already know what this sounds like, no need to listen to it.

RATING: 4/10

Chart position: 21

Todd Terry Presents Shannon - ‘It’s Over Love’

Absolutely bloody brilliant. If this came out today it would utterly dominate the airwaves. Basically perfect.

RATING: 10/10

Chart position: 16

Kylie Minogue - ‘Did It Again

Blimey, I forgot about the Kylie rock years. This was taken from the album originally called Impossible Princess which had to then be hastily-retitled because, well, if you’ve ever paid attention to the front pages of the Daily Express you’ll be able to guess. It’s actually alright this, weirdly has a similar guitar sound to Black Grape’s ‘In The Name Of The Father’ which I’m fairly certain is the first time anyone’s ever compared the works of those two acts. Not as good as ‘Spinning Around’ though let’s not beat around the bush here.

RATING: 6/10

Chart position: 14

Reds United - ‘Sing Up For The Champions!’

Even non-United fans could accept that their team-up with the Quo, ‘Come On You Reds’ was an absolute gigantic banger of a singalong tune. This however is appalling. Save your ears and never click on the link above.

RATING: 0/10

Chart position: 12

Gala - ‘Let a Boy Cry

This absolutely has to be the basically-the-same-song-but-not-quite-as-good-as-the-original-follow-up-to-the-hit second single doesn’t it? *Checks Wiki*. Yep, the nineties never, ever fails does it? The same as ‘Freed From Desire’ but not as good.

RATING: 4/10

Chart position: 11

Verve - ‘Lucky Man’

You know what? Let’s put the snark aside and accept that this is basically just a phenomenal song. I’ve listened to it a million times and I still love it. Incredibly vocal from Ashcroft, genius guitar work from McCabe through, beautiful production, lovely dynamics. Do yourself a favour and listen to this as if you’re listening to it for the first time and you’ll have a pretty glorious four minutes and 52 seconds.

RATING: 10/10

Chart position: 7

Boyzone - ‘Baby Can I Hold You’/’Shooting Star

I tell you what, I’m saying it now: Boyzone’s ‘Baby Can I Hold You’ is the definitive version of this song and it is better than the original and I will fight anyone who disagrees. Also, the opening includes one of the best uses of French horn is musical history. ‘Shooting Star’ is absolutely crap though.

RATING: 10/10 and 0/10

Chart position: 2


Boyzone - ‘Baby Can I Hold You’

Verve - ‘Lucky Man’

Super Furry Animals - ‘Demons’

Todd Terry Presents Shannon - ‘It’s Over Love’

Alpha - ‘Sometime Later’

Bizzi - ‘Bizzi’s Party’

Sinead O’Connor - ‘This is a Rebel Song’

Keith Sweat - ‘I Want Her’

Sleeper - ‘Romeo Me’

Here’s last week’s tunes if you want even more musical fun