[1] Massive Attack, ‘Unfinished Sympathy (Paul Oakenfold Mix)’

Shara Nelson

“Forced” by public opinion and common decency to drop the ‘Attack’ half from their name for the duration of the first Gulf War, Massive still managed to score their debut hit, almost as if the publicity did them no harm. Cynicism aside, it would’ve been a travesty if this hadn’t troubled the chart scorers. As it is, it only flirted with the edges of the Top 10 when it surely deserved to climb far higher. This is the beefed-up Oakenfold single mix: it kicks off properly rather than ambling in like the album version. Pretty much everything else is the same. Shara Nelson still rules, her abortive solo career just a dull twinkle in the corner of her eye.

Junior has chickenpox and I lost my job last week, so we have plenty of time to sit here and pick over the song and its band. But we took potshots at the post-Blue Lines output in the 1995 rundown; maybe we’ll just enjoy this record. Junior gives it the paradoxically supportive shake of the head and waves around the cow-on-a-stick. This is no faint praise.

Right, we all know the drama and beauty of this track, so let’s concentrate on the trivial. My mate had Blue Lines with the ‘Attack’ intact, mine just said ‘Massive’. He thought his was the better artefact, but history would prove him wrong, no?

While we muse over these matters, and where to go next with this place, we’re playing Bowie’s Hunky Dory. Junior is applauding the Dame.

[All my vinyl rips seem to have corrupted; Top 11 mp3s to follow… later]

[2] The Source featuring Candi Staton, ‘You Got The Love’

Candi Staton

Are we supposed to think that she’s really been rescued? The poignancy of the lyric stretches beyond this redemption; it’s not uplifting. But the record, as a whole, is. I’ve got this nailed, haven’t I?

These so-called “bootlegs” are ten-a-penny these days, with varying degrees of success. This, of course, is the Candi Staton vocal on top of Frankie Knuckles’ acieeed fave ‘Your Love’ and it’s a match made in tearjerker house heaven. It has a profound effect on Junior too, a reaction to surpass all previous. She shakes the head, claps the hands, rocks back and forth, tries to jump out of the ring. You see, she’s heard too many ropey remixes of this song recently and is overwhelmed to hear the original. Sorry, “original”.

The Source geezer has a horse-flogger clause in his contract, compelling him to tweak this just a little every five years to wangle everyone some extra moolah. Seems to work a bally treat. None of the newer versions cut up Staton’s vocals and stick the juddering mesh underneath the main line, as this does in its second half. It makes the pain somehow sweeter.

[All my vinyl rips seem to have corrupted; Top 11 mp3s to follow… later]

[3] Saint Etienne, ‘Nothing Can Stop Us’

Saint Etienne

This was the first self-penned Saint Etienne single, and their manifesto in a nutshell. A breezy mix of Northern Soul, French pop sounds, harmonica, skipping groove, woodwind and lovestruck optimism, it’s impossible to resist. Again, I think it was my age, but this summed up the time for me. A summer when not even the ubiquitous spectre of Bryan Adams could shroud the boundless possibilities before us. No, the fug of alcohol and cigarettes took care of that.

London’s finest are a hardy perennial, in spite of some dicey moments in the mid to late 90s when pursuit of cred threatened to swamp the tunes. Their last three albums are pop gold, fulfilling all of Foxbase Alpha’s promise with a dash of maturity. Pity that hits continue to elude them.

Still, this song’s a big favourite with mum, dad and nipper alike. Junior launched herself right out of the ring, such was her giddy joy. I think I’ve mentioned that Saint Etienne were her first gig, her heavily pregnant mum braving Koko’s swish interiors. It wouldn’t be such a bad thing if they were her pop yardstick.

[All my vinyl rips seem to have corrupted; Top 11 mp3s to follow… later]

[4] Primal Scream, ‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It’

Don't Fight It, Feel It

We’d already had single-of-the-90s ‘Loaded’, the astonishing eight- and ten-minute versions of ‘Come Together’ and the dubby psychedelia of ‘Higher Than The Sun’. Now there was the acid techno of ‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It’. Should be quite an album, we thought.

A chorus of tuned-up cicadas kept this loopy floorfiller crashing along. Must be a first for popular music, that. Hooked up to the more conventional, soulful testifying from Denise Johnson and the bluesy piano, it made for a sweaty classic. I might just be thinking of the uniquely moist walls of Bristol’s Tube club, mind you.

Still a bangin’ choon (hey!), it had Junior wriggling over the edges of the inflatable, rocking to the pumping beat.

It wasn’t to everyone’s taste at the time, though, I admit. Steve Wright played it on his afternoon show while I was painting my parents’ window frames, and said that everyone was raving about it but he couldn’t understand why. A man sporting that moustache and those sub-Lennon specs was never going to be down with us hepcats.

[All my vinyl rips seem to have corrupted; Top 11 mp3s to follow… later]

[5] One Dove, ‘Fallen’

One Dove

I was 18/19 in 1991, and we were hip young gunslingers still going clubbing, DJing, buying all the platters that matter and walking the walk. It was the fag-end of indie dance, that blew out with the dazzling fireworks of Screamadelica, as its leading lights embraced clubland completely or discovered that they’d “always had a grunge element” to their music. ‘Fallen’ was a comedown anthem, beautiful, lush and warmly groovy.

One Dove were ploughing a Scots furrow of Balearic house, reflective yet sunny. The pop sensibilities of Altered Images came together with studio boffinry and Dot Allison’s breathy vocals to create a record perfect for Ibizan terrace dawns. Premiered, however, in Rimini, it was immediately brought to Andrew Weatherall’s attention and he pledged to help them make the natural successor to Primal Scream’s touchstone.

Shame, then, that it took them TWO YEARS to put Morning Dove White together. One Dove missed that bus.

Two years, even 15 years down the line the song doesn’t date. Dot cries out, and we still want to forgive and to save her. Junior peers over the side of the high chair to see how far the singer has fallen, ready to lend a chubby, helping hand. For the rest of the record, she’s happy to eat her breakfast and wallow in the plush sounds. Now she wants to know what all this Screamadelica stuff is all about.

[All my vinyl rips seem to have corrupted; Top 11 mp3s to follow… later]

[6] A Tribe Called Quest, ‘Can I Kick It? (Boilerhouse Mix)’

A Tribe Called Quest

Since the twin evils of Coolio* and Puff Daddy showed the hip hop world that you could have a hit by mumbling a couple of words over someone else’s entire song, this kind of record has become a thing of the past. Yeah, this is built around ‘Walk On The Wild Side’, but only a loop, and tons of other stuff has been chucked in. The Boilerhouse boys sound like they were having a cracking time, wall to wall ideas.

Made the mistake of lifting Junior over to the stereo for a dance, only for her to stare mesmerised at the spinning turntable. She was even further bowled over by my cack-handed scratching.

‘Can I Kick It?’’s a throwaway, sure. A Tribe Called Quest made other records that appeal more to the purist – even in 1991 – and they’re all great, but this was their pop moment. Or was that ‘Bonita Applebum’? Maybe we’ll do 1990 next.

*I’m baffled by the praise heaped on ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’. A boring rapper, barely ruffling a hair on ‘Pastime Paradise’’s head.

[All my vinyl rips seem to have corrupted; Top 11 mp3s to follow… later]

[7] Young Disciples, ‘Apparently Nothin”

Young Disciples

More real-time Junior reviews, live and direct, as they happen. The Young Disciples apparently inspire nothing less than throwing oneself back in the inflatable and kicking the legs over the side. She’s now sitting up again, yelping, trying to attract attention and find Carleen Anderson.

Released by the Talkin’ Loud label, I suppose this is meant to be an acid jazz record. I don’t think it’s sculpted beard-stroking enough to really fit in – more a razor-sharp funk tune than a Galliano ‘jam’ (man). And, more to the point, it hasn’t dated.

Can’t remember the full story, but I know the band fell out before building on the first album’s success. Maybe it was just Carleen’s pursuit of solo glory. She, of course, was struck down by the Weller Curse. A decent, soulful debut, then an Ocean Colour Scene-assisted second LP. Oops.

[All my vinyl rips seem to have corrupted; Top 11 mp3s to follow… later]

[8] Jesus Loves You, ‘Bow Down Mister’

Jesus Loves You

Part of Boy George’s 12-step programme, no doubt: “Create devotional dance group, throw in Hari Krishna references willy-nilly, rope Asha Bhosle in for authenticity – hey presto, you’re clean! At least for a bit.”

A ludicrous record, obviously, but so full of mad ideas and uplifting chords that you have to cherish it. I’d say the Jesus Loves You stuff was the big man’s most consistent work, and the More Protein label produced lots more good things besides. ‘Bow Down Mister’ is a ‘My Sweet Lord’ for the 90s, and God knows we all needed that, heathens that we were.

Forget raised temperatures, Junior’s hands are raised to the Lord. The rest of the time she peers around the laptop screen to smile at her dad, who’s grateful for the chance to bunk work. Sorry, work from home.

[All my vinyl rips seem to have corrupted; Top 11 mp3s to follow… later]

[9] Naughty By Nature, ‘O.P.P.’

Naughty By Nature

I would’ve covered Junior’s ears against this immoral record, if she hadn’t been so hell-bent to the exclusion of everything else on putting away an entire Weetabix. Hard as nails, she is.

‘O.P.P.’, ‘Other People’s P—-‘. ‘Property’, shall we say, or male/female variants thereof. Anyway, it’s a paean to the joys of infidelity, but it’s a warning too. Understand what you’re getting into, O.P.P. fans.

What it is is a tighter, catchier take on your Fresh Prince will-this-do?-a-thons, chivvied along by a bit of ‘ABC’ while we’re on the three-letter tip, and a good-humoured shoutalong to boot. Quite high up this chart in retrospect, particularly in light of the solid gold stuff to come, yet great larks.

[All my vinyl rips seem to have corrupted; Top 11 mp3s to follow… later]

[10] Bassheads, ‘Is There Anybody Out There?’


Sued to within an inch of their livelihoods by an intriguing combination of Afrika Bambaataa, Talking Heads and the Osmonds, Bassheads didn’t do anything remotely diverting after this track. In fact, the last three minutes are a steep drop from the wild euphoria of the previous six; the music grinds to a plinky-plonky crawl, sounding oddly like Sting dreaming of blue turtles.

The first six minutes are just right. Bassline building to guitars to sci-fi lasers to Italo house piano to that Bambaataa rap to distorted guitars to piano laser meltdown. We had our hands in the air at The Tube. Junior’s hands were just in front of her, doing the clapping that looks like she’s making her hands spit-spot, Mary Poppins style.

She tired of the coda even more quickly than I do, demanding breakfast at the first sniff of ambient noodling.

[All my vinyl rips seem to have corrupted; Top 11 mp3s to follow… later]