25
Nov 11

2 UNLIMITED – “No Limit”

Popular110 comments • 8,674 views

#685, 13th February 1993

Delicious pop memory: Tony Parsons casting this song as an outrider of apocalypse on some late night culture or news show. He read out the lyrics slowly, in a tone of profound regret – how far had we fallen when this.. this thing could stand in for pop?

At University by now, I was watching with friends, sprawled in chairs round a communal TV. Whatever our opinion of the song, there was a general feeling that Parsons was being a chump: if you draw a line between then and now, you’d better be pretty sure you really know what the “now” side means. And he didn’t. Yes, as Spitting Image said, “There’s no lyrics!” – clever wording there, good one, but who exactly was coming to this looking for those?

Of course it wasn’t just the newly-old who detested this. Ray Slijngaard’s “techno techno techno techno” – cut and looped from a longer rap – set him up as the chart’s most effective troll, infuriating a lot of people who’d set value on their ability to parse dance music’s genrescape. Anything “No Limit” did or didn’t owe to techno had been pounded into irrelevance by the time it reached the public. What’s left – and this is what Parsons should have spotted more easily – is riff-driven, lizard-brain jump-around pop, closer in goonish spirit to “Sugar Sugar” or “Rock’n’Roll Part 2” or “My Sharona” than anything Derrick May ever touched.

Though like the best trolls, Ray’s got enough material here to argue the point with: those echoey hi-hat hits and the union of steam-hammer bass and rubber-ball synths carry the industrial, piston-powered aggression of Belgian rave. There’s even a cowbell somewhere at the back. But it’s the aggression of Gladiators on Saturday Night TV, of piledriver jumps off bouncy castle walls – a thin cover for boundless, romping joy.

7

Comments

  1. 1
    Kat but logged out innit on 25 Nov 2011 #

    TEN TEN TEN

  2. 2
    punctum on 25 Nov 2011 #

    His name is Ray Slijngaard, and he contributes ten words in the space of fourteen seconds, eight of which are the same word. In the knowledge that the right or wrong fourteen seconds can often solidify the difference between a great record and a mediocre one, his has to be counted as one of the great cameo appearances in pop – one of the most minimalist, yet one of the most intense.

    And also one of the most gloriously stupid. 2 Unlimited were a Dutch dance duo, and though Slijngaard and singer Anita Doth may have considered themselves lucky to appear on their own records, their total “misunderstanding” of pop – thongs, piercings and boots all in the wrong places, solemn glares which radiate hilarity – actually led to a deeper understanding of its magic. “No Limit” was the most extreme and most successful of their run of happier-than-hardcore post-rave hits, but its opening clarion call – synths as guitars blowing raspberries – is as rousing a reveille in pop as Link Wray’s rumbles on “Rumble” or Meek flushing his toilet backwards at the beginning of “Telstar.” Its few lyrics are standard striving hogwash (“No valley too deep, no mountain too high/No, no limits, won’t give up the fight/We do what we want and we do it with pride” etc.) which Doth sings in her enterprisingly straining voice. 2 Unlimited could well have been a Jekyll to Atari Teenage Riot’s Hyde, except that, for a record which by my count says “no” 72 times, it is of course saying a definitive “yes” to now and tomorrow.

    But it is those fourteen seconds which make “No Limit” transcend itself. A speeded-up, sampled “no,” tweaked to sound like “ow,” is punctuated twice by Slijngaard, firstly with the war cry “TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO!” and secondly by the augmented exhortation “COME ONNNNN TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO!” It was the deadliest of hooks, all the more effective by being used only twice and in the voice of a newly-arrived tourist haphazardly banging his head against the ceiling of Ministry Of Sound; and that triumph of instinct over knowingness signifies a crucial, if to some uncomfortable, truth about pop, namely that it is often more effective to have a performer with the ability to move rhythmically and dynamically through a record than one who presents with a thorough and comprehensive understanding of pop. In other words, when faced with the wall built up by writers and producers Phil Wilde and Jean-Paul de Coster, Slijngaard reacts intuitively by what he believes is the spirit of “TECHNO,” however misguided that belief may appear – and it is the wonderful wrongness of “TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO” which lends “No Limit” its greatness; the mistake which accidentally leads to something new and may even exceed the “correct” answer – and that is the kind of approach which a million kids can grasp instantly and which twists pop into the sort of shapes and apparitions which are worth loving. By laughing at and shrugging off received history, those fourteen seconds of “No Limit” themselves made history.

  3. 3
    lex on 25 Nov 2011 #

    TEN TEN TEN

  4. 4
    Lena on 25 Nov 2011 #

    I am still mulling over the previous song, but TEN is the only number possible here, if only because I can’t say ELEVEN

  5. 6
    lex on 25 Nov 2011 #

    2 Unlimited were my first ever favourite band, which I’d gradually realised over the course of their first album’s campaign (still think those four singles were their best – “Get Ready For This”, “Twilight Zone”, “Workaholic” [WORK YOUR BODY BABY WORK YOUR SOUL], “Magic Friend”) and, by now following the charts pretty obsessively, “No Limit” was the very first time I got to experience the joy of your favourite band going to No 1 for the first time. I remember dancing very happily to this at a primary school end-of-term disco!

    It’s awesome obviously. The sounds they used = awesome (oft-overlooked, the weird quacking sound that comes in), the massive fucking riffs = awesome, Anita as frontwoman = awesome (her massive hair! And she was gorgeous).

    I remember being very surprised when I discovered years later that Ray’s raps had been almost completely removed from every 2 Unlimited song for UK release. This was definitely a good decision because they were very much not awesome (though “COR TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO” very much is).

  6. 7
    Tom on 25 Nov 2011 #

    #2 terrific point about the so-wrong-they’re-right fashions/glares. Now 90s nostalgia is kicking in bigstyle and Tumblr etc seem full of 90s clothes blogs (mostly with a hardy-har attitude) I’ve come to really enjoy how carefree, mix-n-match, and colourful the period was. At the time obv I was too busy moping around in a lumberjack shirt.

  7. 8
    swanstep on 25 Nov 2011 #

    Painfully generic compilation filler:
    3

  8. 9
    Matt DC on 25 Nov 2011 #

    This is an appropriate start to a pretty riotous year and I am very much looking forward to some of the upcoming entries.

    Probably a 9, if only because it isn’t Get Ready For This.

  9. 10
    Matt DC on 25 Nov 2011 #

    Also Global Hypercolour innit.

  10. 11
    Izzy on 25 Nov 2011 #

    I hated this at the time, I love it now.

    It’s the sound more than anything, it conveys all the energy missing from the limp indie I’d’ve been lionising at the time. What a way to spend one’s youth. It’s just a fabulous production; it has all the punch of dynamic compression without (mostly) that trick’s tiring relentlessness. The sense of space is a real surprise. And the percussion’s amazing, I can imagine a giant mechanised octopus bashing it out behind an actual kit, like some japanese anime fantasy – only the foregrounded hihat and (eventually) the main riff get a little too much. 9.

  11. 12
    lex on 25 Nov 2011 #

    God I’d forgotten the mental hoover noises on “Workaholic”. Proto-Vitalic y’all!

  12. 13
    Andrew F on 25 Nov 2011 #

    TEN TEN TEN

  13. 14
    23 Daves on 25 Nov 2011 #

    I bloody loved this at the time and I still do. The mention of The Archies “Sugar Sugar” seems particularly relevant to me, because the hippies at the time dismissed that record as bubblegum, either choosing to ignore – or be offended by – the fact that some of its gleeful sound had been skimmed from the less complicated bits of sunshine psychedelic pop (The B-side “Melody Hill” really pushes this point home – under any other group name, it would be compiled on many of those ‘psychedelic pop obscurity’ albums). Similarly, 2 Unlimited had taken techno’s primal pulse and commercialised it to their own ends, pissing off both the serious Techno lovers and the “Keep Music Live” brigade at the same time. I found this absolutely hilarious.

    It’s far too enjoyable a track to hate.

  14. 15
    Billy Smart on 25 Nov 2011 #

    I’m more of the ecstatic TENdancy when it comes to marking this.

    Parsons’ documentary was a ‘pop is dead’ jeremiad on Channel 4’s ‘Without Walls’ arts strand. He unconvincingly argued that computer games were the new rock ‘n’ roll.

    More persuasively, Stuart Maconie wrote in Select at the time that most records in other genres could be improved by adopting the 2U modus operandi; Garth Brookes breaking his song to chant “Country! Country! Country! Country!”, Kingmaker declaiming “Indie! Indie! Indie! Indie!”, etc.

  15. 16
    Billy Smart on 25 Nov 2011 #

    TOTPWatch: 2 Unlimited performed ‘No Limits’ on Top of the Pops on four occasions.

    Details of the Christmas edition shall be provided anon;

    28 January 1993. Also in the studio that week were; West End featuring Sybil, Dina Carroll and Lulu. Tony Dortie was the host.

    11 February 1993. Also in the studio that week were; Saint Etienne, East 17, Thunder, Rolf Harris and Charles & Eddie. Tony Dortie was the host.

    25 February 1993. Also in the studio that week were; Bizarre Inc featuring Angie Brown, Dina Carroll, Shaggy, Tamsin Archer and Bryan Ferry. Tony Dortie was the host.

  16. 17
    Tom on 25 Nov 2011 #

    #14 and #15 Someone on the X-Factor should shout “DUBSTEP DUBSTEP DUBSTEP DUBSTEP” in mid-performance for a comparable rile-em-up moment.

  17. 18
    jim5et on 25 Nov 2011 #

    TEN TEN TEN TEN!

    February 1993. Huggy Bear and 2Unlimited. Best week of my music-listening life.

  18. 19

    misha b kinda did just that first time out and has suffered the voters wrath ever since

  19. 20
    LondonLee on 25 Nov 2011 #

    While I never would have bought this in a million years or danced to it in a club (unless I was drunk out of my nut) I somehow can’t stop the feeling that 7 is too low for it.

  20. 21
    Tom on 25 Nov 2011 #

    You’re right, I should have gone with 8 – the marking’s always off after an unintentional break, I think.

  21. 22
    admin on 25 Nov 2011 #

    Matt’s score is correct. Year 8 and 9 kids in my class loved it. So did I. I was like a mirror version of that cool teacher character they did on Mary Whitehouse Experience. urgh

  22. 23
    Steve Mannion on 25 Nov 2011 #

    Pre-occupied with the impending fragmentation of the UK rave scene at the time (and breakbeats in general), this did not impress me much. Initially it seemed remarkable only in both its relative power and resilience as a chart topper (I don’t think anyone expected it to stay there for six weeks even if it was still early in the year and IWALY fallout, and it’s one of the hardest fastest #1s yet and for a while…). I could even say No Limit’s success played a part in killing my enthusiasm for hard dance music. For three months.

    But years later all is forgiven and as proof the track opens a 93 Eurodance-heavy mix I made a while back and enjoy on a regular basis. Obviously more arena than warehouse but no shame in it when it sounds as solidly fun and free as this does (and I’ve noticed the relatively high production qualities as cited by Izzy too, to compliment Tom’s perfect description).

    However important and brilliant late 92/early 93’s wave of menacing and/or melancholic Euro techno/trance anthems were (‘Acperience’, ‘Age Of Love’, ‘Acid Eiffel’, ‘Positive Education’ to name but four TENS among maybe a dozen or so more) the earnest enthusiasm and warmth of 2U went the opposite direction but effectively the same distance. Agree with 7.

  23. 24
    anto on 25 Nov 2011 #

    Much preferred Jane Horrocks’ version in AbFab. It was shorter for one thing.

  24. 25
    Tom on 25 Nov 2011 #

    #15 YES – I remember the computer games angle now.

    This is something we’ve not really covered yet – this whole period was the golden age of the “x is the new rock n roll” meme – comedy obviously but there was a lot of concern and talk around videogames (IS SONIC THE NEW ELVIS), the Melody Maker did a whole round table ‘debate’ on it, which was excruciating.

    I guess one harbinger of the new rock and roll is that sense of “we have to cover this stuff but we REALLY don’t know how to” which was very evident in the lifestyle and pop mags’ attitudes to games for years and years. So maybe Parsons was right! Readers will have to wait until 1996 for Popular’s verdict on this debate tho.

  25. 26
    Kat but logged out innit on 25 Nov 2011 #

    My 2p on The Magic Friend and Twilight Zone – both awesome obv, though OUTRAGEOUSLY Magic Friend is not included on Hits Unlimited: The Very Best of 2 Unlimited whereas 2 awful post-94 ballads are! SHOCKING.

  26. 27

    <-- the future!!

  27. 28
    Rory on 25 Nov 2011 #

    I didn’t live through this at the time, so it does sound a bit generic to my ears too; but it’s a genre I no longer find painful, so 6.

  28. 29
    Cumbrian on 25 Nov 2011 #

    To be fair, the idea that “computer games are the new rock and roll” would only have been previous by about 15-20 years – at least in the sense of revenue generation for large multi-nationals.

    I’m yet to see people flooding the high street stores/crashing online stores for music releases in 2011 for instance. Meanwhile Modern Warfare 3 has people camping out to buy it and takes millions worldwide. Granted the development costs are higher than for a music act, so that’s going to eat into your profit margin.

  29. 30
    Billy Hicks on 25 Nov 2011 #

    TEN TEN TEN MILLION. Actually no limit to how much I love this :D

    Welcome to 1993 and you’ll be gradually hearing more from me from now on – this year contains the first few songs (including some bunnyable number 1s) that I can definitely, 100% remember from when they were brand new. For now I’m four years old, having just started nursery school the previous month, and remember this extremely well.

    I rediscovered it about a decade later in my early teens and fell in love with it all over again, amazed that I knew something so well from so long ago, and duly downloaded it on mp3. Still epic almost another decade later and I’m waiting for it to be used on a Cadbury advert or something so it gets the chart re-entry it deserves.

    When music channels play this today, I find more often than not it’s the non-UK rap version where Ray shouts out a load of stuff nowhere near as memorable as “Techno! Techno! Techno! Techno” – indeed it took me ages to find the proper UK version. By the end of ’93 they’d stopped bothering editing out the raps, although by then there were so many 2 Unlimited copycats they’d kinda sank into the crowd a little. Great beginning to a super year of #1s!

  30. 31
    lonepilgrim on 25 Nov 2011 #

    a glorious start to 1993 – lean, kinetic and fun

    I find it amusing that Tony Parsons was so down on this when he had been one of the hip young gunslingers promoting punk back in the day

  31. 32
    Cumbrian on 25 Nov 2011 #

    The thing that strikes me about this record is that it’s not a huge stretch to draw a comparison between “TECHNO, TECHNO, TECHNO, TECHNO” or “No, No, No, No, No, No” and “Hey, Ho, Let’s Go” or “Gabba Gabba Hey”. It doesn’t matter what it means, it’s a tribal dance, you can feel the beat and you know the words – so get involved. Communal in the best sense of the word.

    I wouldn’t stretch to 10 personally but it works well on a gut level, so I’d have it above the threshold for voting in Popular ’93 for instance.

  32. 33
    JLucas on 25 Nov 2011 #

    Add me to the ten brigade. It’s amazing how long 2 Unlimited’s chart careers lasted. Thirteen top twenty hits! Two #1 albums!

    They all do sound exactly, hilariously the same (and I say that as a huge europop apologist) but somehow that’s all part of the charm.

    I also absolutely love the Pet Shop Boys ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ single which joyously sent up this and many of the other big dance hits of the time.

    http://youtu.be/3YjDMmjgKec

    “Techno Techno BLOODY TECHNO DARLING!”

  33. 34
    lonepilgrim on 25 Nov 2011 #

    @32 I almost made the same comparison. Equally, I can imagine Iggy performing this – or 2 Unlimited covering The Stooges

  34. 35
    Tom on 25 Nov 2011 #

    Important “new rock n roll” poll needs yr vote http://freakytrigger.co.uk/ft/2011/11/what-is-the-new-rocknroll/

  35. 36
    Billy Hicks on 25 Nov 2011 #

    I think 2 Unlimited deserve to replace Madonna at the top of the page. They could comfortably hold it until, ooh, late 1994-ish? After that things go supersonic, some might say…

  36. 37
    JLucas on 25 Nov 2011 #

    They’re still going too – though for legal reasons now billing themselves ‘Ray & Anita’.

    This was a top 5 hit in The Netherlands as recently as last year.

    http://youtu.be/gWWSk6Lc44g

  37. 38
    Steve Mannion on 25 Nov 2011 #

    As the fervent clamour for a Madonna-replacement intensifies (never mind that Pop Zakumi is still craftily posing up there unchallenged as if oblivious to the incoming Pop Mandelock or whatever we plump for next Summer HAH tcha priorities people…) I should point out this is being held off pending a bit of a general FT re-design proposed for the new year.

  38. 39
    Mark G on 25 Nov 2011 #

    This is not “Anarchy in the UK” with less lyrics, Tony Parsons!

    This is “Poing” by Rotterdam Termination Source, with *More* lyrics.

    (In truth, it is both of these things)

  39. 40
    Scott M on 25 Nov 2011 #

    Wasn’t Ray actually a bit aggrieved over the removal of his raps, to the extent that he almost refused to techno techno techno techno for an answer and quit when he lobbied for their reinstatement?

  40. 41

    <-- to the top of the page!!

  41. 42
    flahr on 25 Nov 2011 #

    pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew [8]

    (obv.s i completely obliv to the AHA THIS ISN’T REALLY TECHNO deal – :( <- sad)

  42. 43
    weej on 25 Nov 2011 #

    TEN! (but actually seven)

    *I can’t seem to find the ‘uk version’ video. I keep finding one with the full rap and no “TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO” – and it’s significantly more rubbish.

    *If anyone hasn’t heard the Wayne Carr interview with 2 Unlimited, well, you’ve been missing out – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tleoF1ovwOo

  43. 44
    flahr on 25 Nov 2011 #

    if we were marking on graphic design this would be a [9]

  44. 45
    Billy Smart on 25 Nov 2011 #

    #25. The NME illustrated its essential coverage of the heated computer games vs rock ‘n’ roll debate with a photo of Miki Berenyi holding a Gameboy.

    #31. A classic Tony Parsons moment when he was part of the original ‘Late Review’ Lawson/Parsons/Paulin/Pearson line-up, reviewing ‘The Black Album’, 1996.

    Tony Parsons: Hanif Kureshi’s big problem is that he’s the oldest swinger in town.

    Alison Pearson: No – Surely that’s YOU, Tony!

    The hip Essex gunslinger was suitably irked.

  45. 46

    tompaulin is the new rock n roll

  46. 47
    Kat but logged out innit on 25 Nov 2011 #

    I remember with CRYSTAL CLARITY this Zig and Zag interview with the ‘Limited on the Big Breakfast: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDjGZSyeTz8

  47. 48
    punctum on 25 Nov 2011 #

    tom paulin was my english tutor innit

  48. 49
    Billy Hicks on 25 Nov 2011 #

    #43 – the Youtube channel ‘The2Unlimitedcom’ has all their videos in both Rap and No Rap forms, here’s the No Rap of No Limit:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEL6nCRB8tg

  49. 50
    Rory on 25 Nov 2011 #

    I now realize that the one I watched earlier today was the non-UK one. Here’s the UK version:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVLLAe70Tok

    You’re right, weej @43, the other is significantly more rubbish; which means I have to bump up my score. SEVEN!

  50. 51
    flahr on 25 Nov 2011 #

    final word from me today: it’s taken me an hour to remember what was on the tip of my brain but now I have remembered it I get to call SPOILER ALERT on #15

  51. 52
    Cumbrian on 25 Nov 2011 #

    @34: No Fun/No Limits mash up? Surprised it doesn’t exist (at least according to my limited Google Fu).

  52. 53
    LondonLee on 25 Nov 2011 #

    #44; The cover does perfectly reflect the record doesn’t it? Cartoon primitive.

  53. 54
    Andrew F on 25 Nov 2011 #

    #47 is as good an excuse as any to link to this track, sadly neither accurate* or spoilery.

    * in the UK, where it was in fairness probably never released.

  54. 55
    vinylscot on 25 Nov 2011 #

    Must be an age thing. 4

  55. 56
    thefatgit on 25 Nov 2011 #

    This has grown on me over the years. There are little burps and farts in the background that have come to the fore, which engage me more than the flurries of NO’s and TECHNO’s which have become so familiar, they’re almost invisible. The video game, primary colour, hyperfast IN YOUR FACENESS may have faded a little too much to award a 10, but a 9 is fair. At the time of release, I thought it was pre-school, Fisher-Price Rave. I’m happy to admit I was wrong.

  56. 57
    Jonathan Bogart on 25 Nov 2011 #

    I only know this from the non-UK edit, but I have a lot of affection for it — it was everywhere in Guatemala in 1993. Checking the Youtube videos reminds me that I was really really attracted to Anita (whose name I had no way of learning then) from the Guatemalan music video channel we could sometimes get.

  57. 58
    The Lurker on 25 Nov 2011 #

    This track did more to calcify my already nascent rockism (at the age of 17) than any other. The combination of the relentless thud-thud-thud beat and the mindless repetition drove me into a frothing rage. When Virgin Radio launched not long after, I embraced it wholeheartedly, not least because I was guaranteed not to hear 2 Unlimited on it. (Or T*ke Th*t.)

    I am a little more catholic in my tastes in my old age, so I’ve just given it another listen and… it’s not quite as bad as I remember it, so I’ll give it a 3 rather than the 1 I was anticipating. I did note that there is absolutely nothing added to the track beyond the 2 minute mark.

    I am enjoying listening to the Wayne Carr interview, though – I read a transcript of this at the time and particularly enjoyed the Douglas Bader bit.

  58. 59
    Billy Smart on 25 Nov 2011 #

    Re#2 When was the last time that we had one of those serendipitous accidental moments of wonderful wrongness on Popular, do you think? The one that comes immediately to mind is the “T-T-T-TAY! TAAY!” in ‘Respectable’. There have been lots of splendid moments since then, but perhaps not many splendid wonky pop moments.

  59. 60
    Nixon on 25 Nov 2011 #

    I remember Smash Hits also gave this a really bad review (if memory serves it was a tiny, postage stamp sized one-paragraph thing right near the back – possibly the only review in the magazine), calling it out for being moronic and unworthy of dancefloors – I can’t remember ANYONE being on its side in public, just a roll-call of haters (Steve Wright: “Techno techno techno notice”), and yet everyone in our year at school (me included) loved it.

    Tom made a quip in the St Winifred’s School Choir review about that record’s inherent crapness uniting every playground faction; this was a similar thing, except for “crapness” read “unfairly maligned excellence” or somesuch. As a nerdy tween mainly interested in Kraftwerk and Jean Michel Jarre, I warmed to this much more than any of the recent run of #1s or the stuff the shaky Rock/Metal Alliance crowd (who always stole the chairs nearest the “social area” (i.e. common room) stereo) usually played – my only real exposure to music other than TOTP and the tapes my parents played on long journeys after we got a car – but weirdly the rock kids all liked it too, probably just because our least trendy teachers both hated and feared it. It was just so strong, pushing the objections out of its way. TEN TEN TEN TEN.

    I was too young, and I hadn’t listened to enough records and didn’t have enough reference points. If I’d been 16 rather than 13 when this came out, I’d probably have had a similar reaction to The Lurker at #58, and hated it for its simplicity and its clumsy, amiable oafishness. Now? I think we’re back to TEN TEN TEN TEN.

  60. 61
    Another Pete on 25 Nov 2011 #

    In short it’s everything the previous number 1 wasn’t.

  61. 62
    AndyPandy on 25 Nov 2011 #

    I’m mystified by all the props this is getting. It’s scoring higher than Paul Hardcastle for goodness sake!
    I’ve never heard anyone ever say anything good about it before! I thought it was for the under 14 year olds.

    But the weird thing is that I should imagine that aging ex-punks like Tony Parsons and people of his generation thought that stuff like this is what was played in “raves” as I HAVE heard from those of that age countless times that anything vaguely dancey and electronic from about 1986 onwards “all sounds the same”.

    Still don’t hate it though – anything that gets up the noses of the keepers of the rock flame must be good.

  62. 63
    Rory on 25 Nov 2011 #

    @62 Pretty sure I’m hearing this for the first time today at the venerable age of 43, and I certainly score it higher than Paul Hardcastle. Nine-nine-nuh-nine-nine, nein-nein-nein-nuh-no-no-no.

  63. 64
    Tommy Mack on 25 Nov 2011 #

    My generation’s Wild Thing. A brilliant slab of gonzo primitivism. Even Paul Weller does a little dance to this when he’s sure no-one’s watching.

  64. 65
    heather on 26 Nov 2011 #

    Tony Parsons is such a tool. Even at the height of my indie hipster snobbery, I thought this sort of bouncy cheese was ok.

  65. 66
    weej on 26 Nov 2011 #

    Re:heather @68 – Whatever our differences on here, I hope we can all agree that Tony Parsons is a complete and utter tool.

  66. 67
    Mark G on 26 Nov 2011 #

    @68? But we’re only at message 67 now! Unless Heather is going to say something in the very next message…..

  67. 68
    weej on 26 Nov 2011 #

    We’ll just have to wait and see.

    Oh.

  68. 69
    swanstep on 26 Nov 2011 #

    I was kind of thinking that since there’s so little to it, No Limit would be almost uncoverable (at least with any real profit or except as a joke), but checking youtube I see that that’s not so at all. Rather, perhaps because of NL’s minimality/ease-of-play, hordes of (no name) covers from country to metal are available.

  69. 70
    MikeMCSG on 26 Nov 2011 #

    Not my cup of tea at all but would give it some credit for winding up the purists in the same way Modern Romance spiked the so-called salsa scene in 1981.

  70. 71
    will on 26 Nov 2011 #

    Love it! Love it! Love it! Love it!

    Although perhaps not as much as Tribal Dance (‘Take Your Cheance CORMM ONN!’) Or Faces (‘Faces faces everywhere!/ EVERYWHERE!! EVERYWHERE!!’) Or Maximum Overdrive (‘Boom Skiddity Boom Skiddity Boom Skiddity Boom!/ Take you down into the Maximum!’) Or, in fact, nearly all of the accompanying No Limits album, which is absolutely fantastic and well worth seeking out. (I’m not taking this piss here either.)

  71. 72
    pink champale on 26 Nov 2011 #

    worth noting* that the riff is pretty much identical to mercury rev’s ‘syringe mouth’, which is great in pretty much the same ways.

    good to see the world class doltishness of parsons getting an airing. at about this time he published a book titled [steel yourselves] ‘dispatches from the front line of popular culture’

    *as in probably not at all worth noting

  72. 73
    lonepilgrim on 26 Nov 2011 #

    @ 52 & 72 I can confirm from my limited experiment that ‘No Limit’ fits the opening riff from ‘Down on the street’ pretty well

  73. 74
    Tommy Mack on 27 Nov 2011 #

    Re 73: It is just the same notes with a different feel isn’t it?

  74. 75
    Asher on 27 Nov 2011 #

    I never heard this version of ‘No Limit’ before. After punctum’s comment, I was expecting something a lot more epic from the “techno techno” moment. Something, at least, rapped loudly enough to merit typing it out in all caps. But it really isn’t that exciting.

  75. 76
    Alan Connor on 29 Nov 2011 #

    I have, I think, three main associations:

    1) ‘Wayne Kerr’ on Radio 1 cowing the band into singing “Douglas” after “reach for the sky” to make the song a tribute to Douglas Bader (this must have been in 1994 by my reckoning – time moved more slowly then perhaps);

    2) my band playing it on guitar even though our ‘sound’ was 99% Erasure-inspired keyboards ‘n’ synth drums

    3) Bobby Bluebell singing “techno techno (&c)” as one of the LIVE acts on TOTP, presumably with derision in mind – but possibly fun?!

  76. 77
    Ben Cook on 30 Nov 2011 #

    I think what set 2 Unlimited apart from other boy/girl eurodance duos of the time was that they had charisma and stage presence. They actually performed on the records too. They even wrote the lyrics (even if a lot of them were cut out for the UK..)

    The Real Thing was bloody brilliant.

    Like it or lump it No Limit is an era defining record and a true 90s classic.

  77. 78
    AndyPandy on 30 Nov 2011 #

    Re Rory @63:
    Yes ’19′ may have dated slightly in nearly 27 years many records in the vanguard of any movement do. But as the first hiphop (as opposed to rap)number 1 and the first record to get there using ways that post 1988 were to become common – ie white labels to clubs and pirate radio to build a buzz for weeks before release, little if any reliance on Radio 1 (as an aside I was wondering if it was the first number 1 to get there purely on dance club or pirate play – possibly ‘Double Barrel’ beats it here though)surely its boundary breaking merits and its success almost completely emanating from “the street” are underpresented in its score.

    on a different point did ‘No Limit’ really wind-up purists. Surely only the most humourless techno trainspotters (ie ones who went to clubs to watch the dj rather than dance if they went at all) let this annoy them. It was so not a part of the average dance scene persons world (not played in the clubs/on specialist radio – I don’t even remember if Kiss FM played it)that it wasn’t taken seriously enough to wind people up.

    An example of a record I can remember winding more people up were a record I can’t talk about (by a sell-out rave act “about arson”) that although again not played in clubs on pirate radio was written about in dance magazines (by writers who obviously would have beenn happier writing about rock music) and which was seen as a total sell out by the producer who’d been responsible for so many rave classics.

  78. 79
    wichita lineman on 30 Nov 2011 #

    “We do what we want and we do it with pride” I always found quite a sweet statement of intent, possibly anticipating the Parsons/purist/”it’s all kids’ music” knocks No Limit would get.

    Ray & Anita were pop stars in a way that Capella et al weren’t. Ray’s blanket seriousness was endearingly daft, especially given lines like “Faces faces everywhere!”. Anita looked fierce. I was a fan.

    Hook upon hook, this is a 9 for me.

  79. 80
    Conrad on 1 Dec 2011 #

    Mmm, there’s something slightly too enthusiastic about some of these responses, that it almost borders on the patronising.

    It’s a great riff, a great production, the TECHNO TECHNO bit is pure pop bliss like Mel and Kim’s tay tay tay, but the conventional verse lyric/chord sequence is a cop-out and waters down the impact, and the riff quickly becomes wearing.

    It’s still a lot more enjoyable to listen to than the KLF, but it’s no I Feel Love

    6.

  80. 81
    punctum on 1 Dec 2011 #

    Oh God forbid that we should be “too enthusiastic” about something!

    This notion is one of the reasons why Britain will be in receipt of United Nations emergency food relief parcels before the decade’s out.

  81. 82
    wichita lineman on 2 Dec 2011 #

    Re 80: Baffling. Conventional? Really? And I don’t think it’s I Feel Love, either. But neither is I Feel Fine. Or even I Feel Like Buddy Holly.

  82. 83

    I feel like chicken tonight

  83. 84
    Matthew Marcus on 7 Dec 2011 #

    I hated, hated, hated this when I was 18, but now that I’m a creaky 37 year old it seems more than tolerable. I think it’s easy to like things with the benefit of hindsight: this is the way the world went, the way lyrics and people’s idea of fun went, and history was written by the victors.

  84. 85
    enitharmon on 13 Dec 2011 #

    Haven’t got a Popular review to hook this to so I’ll squat here.

    Today, Kinephile takes a walk on Edinburgh’s wild side.
    http://kinephile.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/trainspotting-danny-boyle-1996-bfi-10

  85. 86
    Erithian on 1 Jan 2012 #

    Just realised I’d not yet commented on this. I like Tommy Mack’s assessment at #64 – “my generation’s Wild Thing” – which is key to understanding its appeal. Big cartoon video, huge riff, lots of urgency and lots of fun, never gets boring despite the gripes over the “lyrics”. Not my kind of thing but I found it impossible to dislike, even if the song didn’t give me as much pleasure as watching Anita sing it!

    Time for the annual review of how far we’ve come in this project. Here’s where we’ve been at the end of each calendar year:

    2003 Great Balls Of Fire (#66, Jan 58 – 5 years 2 months, 66 entries in the year)
    2004 A World Without Love (#167, Apr 64 – 6 years 3 months, 101)
    2005 Eleanor Rigby/Yellow Submarine (#222, Aug 66 – 2 years 4 months, 55)
    2006 Get It On (#302, Jul 71 – 4 years 11 months, 80)
    2007 Lonely This Christmas (#362, Dec 74 – 3 years 5 months, 60)
    2008 This Ole House (#477, Mar 81 – 6 years 3 months, 115 (plus the Pistols!))
    2009 I Want To Wake Up With You (#575, Aug 86 – 5 years 5 months, 98)
    2010 World In Motion (#646, Jun 90 – 3 years 10 months, 71)
    2011 No Limit (#685, Feb 93 – 2 years 8 months, 39)

    It’s the first year that Tom hasn’t averaged better than an entry per week, which shows how much Real Life has slowed things down – and with 32 number one singles in 2011, we’re barely catching up! Good luck with picking the pace up this year, as this is still my and others’ go-to site and the greatest pleasure on the web. Happy New Year everyone.

  86. 87
    Linda on 5 Jan 2012 #

    Seriously, you need to keep up with this blog. I love it too much to allow you to not recognise how great it is. Please continue!

  87. 88
    Tom on 5 Jan 2012 #

    Hi Linda (and Erithian) – I am really sorry for the slackness re. Popular updates: real life has very much intervened. I will have far fewer professional music writing gigs in the coming year, which isn’t necessarily something to celebrate BUT the upside is that I will have more time for Popular.

  88. 89
    Erithian on 5 Jan 2012 #

    Certainly not celebrating that bit, mate – sounds a bit of a downer if you miss out professionally, which is Real Life after all. And I (and no doubt Linda) don’t want to browbeat you over “slackness”, even if we do slip in the occasional unsubtle hint about how much we miss your shaggy dog stories…

    Good to see you and others on the pub crawl too, although do you regret that Kim Jong Deal gag?

  89. 90
    Snif on 5 Jan 2012 #

    Erithian, I’m getting more feeble-minded in my old age….can you please remind me of what each figure in the parentheses represents?

  90. 91
    Tommy Mack on 5 Jan 2012 #

    Re: 86: thanks, Erithian! What I was getting at was that it combines cartoonish garishness with a certain kind of dumb raw power (things I think I like a lot more than Tom from the scores and critique he’s handed out over the years!). There’s another record coming up in a few Pop years (maybe as few as one or two?) that does a similar thing in an even more OMG! splurge of brilliant wrongness, a sort of Surfin’ Bird to No Limits’ Wild Thing, but I’ll avoid the bunny and save my comments for then!

  91. 92
    Tommy Mack on 5 Jan 2012 #

    that is to say, it’s not just lightweight cartoon fun, there’s a feral and primal grind to it under all the light anc coliour

  92. 93
    Erithian on 6 Jan 2012 #

    Tommy M – I see you’ve commented on the “With A Girl Like You” thread, so you’ll have seen Tom’s description of the Troggs as “Hulk form beat group” – brilliant! But please don’t bring “Surfin’ Bird” into this – Mrs Erithian is obsessed with Family Guy, and I’ve been subjected to that particular episode more times than is healthy. (Come to think of it, once is more times than is healthy…)

    Snif – sorry if it wasn’t clear. OK, looking at two lines from the summary:
    2006 Get It On (#302, Jul 71 – 4 years 11 months, 80)
    2007 Lonely This Christmas (#362, Dec 74 – 3 years 5 months, 60)
    – means that the last entry Tom wrote in 2007 was “Lonely This Christmas” (posted on Christmas Eve, cosmically). It was the 362nd UK number one single and of course reached number one in December 1974. Since the last entry of 2006 was “Get It On”, the 302nd number one from July 1971, that meant that Tom had posted 60 entries during 2007, covering 3 years 5 months’ worth of number ones.

  93. 94
    Tommy Mack on 6 Jan 2012 #

    Yeah, I liked ‘Hulk form beat group’, though I don’t think Tom particularly meant it as a compliment! On that note, Wild Thing is far more lumbering and hulkish than No Limit, so in that sense it’s not such a great comparison: maybe this is Surfin’ Bird – sorry!

  94. 95
    Tommy Mack on 6 Jan 2012 #

    There’s a word that sums up everything I’ve been trying to say and it’s thrill-power – which I remember Tom writing about years ago!

  95. 96
    Cumbrian on 17 Jan 2012 #

    Rosie @ 85:

    Wasn’t the Popular hook “Two Little Boys”?

    Good write up by the way.

  96. 97
    Mark G on 19 Jan 2012 #

    Want more popular!

  97. 98
    Auntie Beryl is logged out on 7 Jan 2013 #

    I would seem to be in the minority here, but I far prefer Mr Vain to this.

    Both share a jackhammer velocity (although CB’s Anything is faster still) but there’s a song, a story, at the heart of the Culture Beat single which gave it the edge for me. I was nineteen in 93, and very much attuned to rave / techno at the time, so this wasn’t a generational thing, I don’t think.

  98. 99
    Patrick Mexico on 7 Jun 2013 #

    We somehow get to talk about 2 Unlimited twice on TPL. That’s going to be amazing.

  99. 100
    Patrick Mexico on 21 Dec 2013 #

    Where does the central riff here originate from? Just listened to the Fall’s superb and uncharacteristically hyper-focused “Squid Lord”, which has an almost identical bassline; Mark E Smith once said No Limit was one of his favourite songs but SL dates back to a Peel Session on Halloween 1988. Though I’m sure if it had originated there, this would have already been brought up by now.

  100. 101
    thefatgit on 22 Dec 2013 #

    #100 Patrick, it always reminded me of the theme tune to kids factual television series “How?”, hosted by Fred Dinenage. But that’s just me.

  101. 102
    DanH on 1 Jun 2014 #

    Jock Jam Alert!!

    Yes, this along with the other two biggies by 2 Unlimited (“Get Ready For This” and “Twilight Zone”) are mainstays at local sporting events. However, I only hear “Twilight Zone” as played by our college band at these events. The leader has papers with song titles that they hold up to the band before they play….this one was labeled “Mortal Kombat theme” for some reason…???

    And now “Zombie Nation” seems to be fazing out them all

  102. 103
    flahr on 3 Feb 2015 #

    three-and-a-bit years later I am entirely baffled by my comment at #51 – I am pretty sure what I am implying is that there is a number one single which contains a (possibly fourfold) invocation of its own genre in its lyric, but I can’t think what it is. any ideas anyone?

  103. 104
    Billy Hicks on 4 Feb 2015 #

    103 – I was thinking of one from summer 2001, but that’s more the place it comes from rather than a specific genre.

    And I’ve just Googled it to found out after all that I’d misheard the bloody thing for fourteen years and they’re not referencing anything of the sort.

  104. 105
    flahr on 4 Feb 2015 #

    got it now – we’re talking mid-2010 here – however i am now equally baffled by comment #104! we will reach summer 2001 soon enough though so it can remain a mystery for now

  105. 106
    andsayyoutried on 20 Jan 2017 #

    real Real REAL longshot, but does anybody know why the Radio 1 chart rundown for the fourth week this was at Number One was so wrong?
    It’s strange really: all Top 40 records were actually correct – and the Top Ten was absolutely bang on – but loads of tracks were well out on their eventual official position. Including dear old Jesus Lizard and some chancers called Nirvana being shafted by one place with ‘Puss’/’Oh, The Guilt’.
    Were Radio1 given the Network Chart by mistake or something?

  106. 107
    Steve Williams on 22 Jan 2017 #

    #106 I remember reading about that in diary section of the 1993 Virgin Rock Yearbook – funny how a Virgin Radio publication would suggest a Radio 1 cock-up was one of the most significant pop moments of the year, eh? It was blamed on computer problems, I think.

    There were other occasions of the chart being incorrect – that 1976 chart which announced Manuel and the Music of the Mountains was number one was one of them, plus there was one in 1979 which put Dr Hook at number one a week early. There was also one I remember from early 1995 – like this 1993 example, it didn’t affect the very top, I think 9 and 10 being transposed was the biggest problem. I remember Mark Goodier devoted half an hour of his show on the Monday to announcing the revised chart, with all the jingles and countdowns and everything.

  107. 108
    andsayyoutried on 25 Jan 2017 #

    #107 Cheers! Ah Virgin……

  108. 109
    Men on 29 Nov 2017 #

    #100

    Excellent choon by The Fall, think we can safely say a certain other Mancunian band may have pilfered certain melodies from this song for their big comeback single last year…

  109. 110
    benson_79 on 13 Dec 2020 #

    Can’t believe what I’ve just been reading. This was horrendous when I was at school with everyone mocking its inanity, and time has not been any kinder.

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