Produced by ex-Housemartins member Norman Cook (DJ Fatboy Slim), Dub Be Good To Me topped the UK charts on 25th February 1990, and stayed there for four weeks. The song was also partly penned by Norman Cook, with Jimmy Tam and Terry Lewis also having a hand in the songwriting.
The group's debut single is based on a hit by the SOS band entitled Just Be Good To Me, which reached #13 in 1983. The bassline is a sample from Guns Of Brixton by The Clash.
Beats International were active between 1989 and 1992, and founding member, Lindy Layton, went on to have a briefly successful solo career. Her debut single was entitled Silly Games (lifted from the album Pressure) and became a hit, although her second single, Echo My Heart, failed to reach the Top 40. More recently the singer has been working with Dub Pistols.
During the early nineties, Beats International were actually invited to relaunch a nightclub in a town near to me, and I went with a friend to see them. Unfortunately, after queueing for what seemed like an eternity in the rain, just as we were getting very close to the entrance the bouncers decided that the club was now full and turned us away!
The group had one more hit with their follow-up single Won't Talk About It which peaked at #9, but the following five singles all failed to break into the British Top 40. Their debut album, Let Them Eat Bingo, was fairly successful, reaching #17 in the UK album charts. Both Dub Be Good To Me and Won't Talk About It reached #76 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
Written by Vince Clarke and Andy Bell, and released as the second single from the duo's fifth studio album in September 1991, this minimalistic, 90s electronic pop/dance track was a hit across Europe, reaching #4 in the UK. Chorus was released five weeks later in October and was the third consecutive album by the duo to reach #1 in the UK. It was also the fourth consecutive release to achieve Platinum, although this would be the boys last album to do so.
I've always liked the simplicity of this song, and some of the best electronic music comes from artists (Kraftwerk spring to mind) who don't over-produce their music or add too many layers. A good example of this is New Order's Blue Monday. When they released a remix of the original track in 1988, all of the extra sounds just ruined it. Very often with electronica the rule is to keep it simple!
If you're from the U.S. then you're probably wondering what an 80s song from an 80s album is doing on our 90s page? Well, in the UK, Hangin' Tough became the first number one of the nineties, and stayed on top for two weeks. This was the fourth single from the boys second album of the same name, and the album also topped both the British and American album charts, achieving 2 x Platinum in the UK and 8 x Platinum in the U.S. Every single release from Hangin' Tough reached the top five in both America and Britain.
So here we have yet another manufactured boy band whose fan base is made up mainly of screaming preteen girls. However, both the songs and their image influenced many of the boy bands of the 90s and beyond - Backstreet Boys are a good example . Despite the tough guy, streetwise image they tried to portray, the lyrics were far more innocent than what is being released to the same audience today.
As for Hangin' Tough, well the video is rather toe-curling, and there's no getting away from that New Kids On The Block look like a bunch of white kids trying to "get down" in the ghetto with their black friends. The songwriting is juvenile, the instrumentation is sparse and the rap is dodgy, but that's exactly what is required to get to number one!
This Wolverhampton band had a brief spell of success during 1996 with three hit singles and a No.6 album entitled The Boy With The X-Ray Eyes, before fading into oblivion.
It all started so promisingly. Their debut single, Spaceman, sold an incredible 418,000 copies in the first week of release and topped the UK singles chart for five weeks. Written and produced by frontman Jas Mann, the fact that the song was used in a Levi's Jeans ad, plus the gimmicky effected vocals at the beginning and end of the song, no doubt, played a major role in augmenting the success of the single.
The two follow-up singles from the album didn't enjoy the same success. Animal Army peaked at #17 and the title track only reached #32. Babylon Zoo's second album, King Kong Groover, failed to chart, and the band split-up in 2000, with Jas Mann moving to India. Interestingly, he has a Punjabi Indian Father and a Native American Indian mother.
Produced by William Orbit and Madonna, Ray Of Light actually borrowed some of the lyrics and melody from a song by the English folk music duo Curtiss Maldeon, entitled Sepheryn. In typical Madonna fashion, she followed the music trend of the late 90s and the track has a bit of an underground feel to it, mixing electric guitar with trance and other styles of dance music. It received crtitical acclaim at the time.
The album was released before the single in March and the lead single, Frozen, had topped the UK singles chart and reached #2 in America. Ray Of Light had a very different sound to her previous album, Bedtime Stories, and was certainly more adventurous. Madonna's vocal range was stretched further and the voice lessons she received for her work in the 1996 musical, Evita, had definitely paid off. She sounds more at ease with herself and the lyrics are quite spiritual and personal, yet uncomplicated, which was a sign that madge had matured into the artist she always wanted to be - nineties pop doesn't get much better than this.
With its Full Metal Jacket style chorus, this was Jimmy Nail's first hit single since his cover of Love Don't Live Here Anymore reached No.3 in 1985. Ain't No Doubt spent three weeks at the top of the UK charts from July 12th 1992, only to be knocked off the top spot by Snap! with Rhythm Is A Dancer. The song was also a hit across Europe, but this was the English singer's only hit from his second solo album Growing Up In Public, although the album was a commercial success, reaching #2 and achieving Gold.
The follow-up single, Laura, could only manage #58 and a third single entitled Only Love (Can Bring Us Home) failed to chart. However, Nail did have further hits during the 90s, more notably with Crocodile Shoes and Cowboy Dreams. The actor and musician is, of course, also well-known for his roles in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and Spender.
By the way, she's lying!