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Apr 13

BABY D – “Let Me Be Your Fantasy”

Popular70 comments • 6,103 views

#713, 26th November 1994

baby d After a run of mostly charmless number ones, it’s easy to rate this record: its vigour; its momentum; its status as a memento of good times people were having not as a marker in an album sales plan; its simple reminder that away from the charts the story of rave was still playing joyfully out. “Let Me Be Your Fantasy” was two years old – something people were sniffy about at the time – but history has a habit of squeezing such gaps. It now seems to have the stuff of life about it in a way little else in the 1994 list does.

Baby D were one of several groups on hardcore label Production House, which like many labels conjured new acts as whim and contingency required: its in-house producers would branch off, team up, hook up with vocalists, and lo, a band was born. Floyd Dyce – great name! – the writer and producer for Baby D, has a tremendous resume, with writing credits on close to a hundred tracks, including early-90s wonders like Acen’s “Trip II The Moon” and the House Crew’s “Euphoria (Nino’s Dream)”, songs that bumped around at the lower end of the charts selling a ton in all the wrong shops.

If you know those tracks, you’ll know the broad Production House outlook – uplifting, always ready to drop in a big hook, keeping the rushy spirit of UK house alive. “Let Me Be Your Fantasy” is in the same tradition, but more carefully streamlined and chart-ready. Old it may have been, but it’s also a fantastic bridge between the breakbeat-driven rave hits of 1992 and the hands-in-air, heart-on-sleeve pop house of mid-decade. Its breakbeat undercarriage gives “Let Me Be” a rough, robust chunkiness which plays well off Baby D’s powerful vocals. What she’s singing is the usual mash of ravey trigger phrases – feel the energy, I’ll take you up, fly away – sewn together with enough conviction that it feels like a song not a collage.

Like a lot of dance producers, Dyce seems a restless, tinkering sort, and he’s re-released this track repeatedly since 1994 – when it was already a hydra of versions and mixes. But then he had a strong core to build around. I wish there had been more hardcore and rave songs at number one, but if this record has to stand in for most of its genre it can do the job with pride.

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Comments

  1. 1
    MBI on 29 Apr 2013 #

    This is pretty nice, and I emphatically agree that the 1994 list overall is really quite bad.

    I also notice that with the exception of Mariah and The Artist Then Not Known As Prince, none of the ’94 list got any play whatsoever in America. Quite a British list, I’ve barely recognized a single artist that’s shown up so far.

  2. 2
    Auntie Beryl on 29 Apr 2013 #

    There’s a huge streak of melancholy running through Let Me Be Your Fantasy.

    The piano breaks, when separated from the accompanying frantic drum pattern, suggest a very downbeat mood – this is made explicit towards the end of the track when the percussion is briefly removed.

    It’s a similar trick to that pulled off in Liquid’s Sweet Harmony in that regard. Those with any musical training should be able to help with this, is it a contrast between major and minor chords?

    Then we have the vocals. On the page, a succession of rave-era exhortations they may be, but to my ears there is a pleading desperation to the delivery, a suggestion that deep down she knows he isn’t interested. He may not even know she exists. That final “I’ll take you higher” is almost resigned…

    One of the strongest number ones of the decade. A 9.

  3. 3
    hardtogethits on 29 Apr 2013 #

    Straight in at 3, but it had nothing to say.

  4. 4
    punctum on 29 Apr 2013 #

    “Underground is where we want to go moving/How’s the crowd?”

    It is one of the greatest couplets in all of pop, and sums up more or less every adventure which has been pushed or enticed its way since the Beatles – there is little doubt that the above was what they were thinking as they put Revolver or Pepper together – and its robotic intrusion into the peaceful yearning of “Let Me Be Your Fantasy” at 3:09 indicates another of those points where music changes. It didn’t do so alone, of course; the move from rave via happy hardcore to jungle also has to take into account things like Lennie De Ice’s “We Are E,” Foul Play’s “Open Your Mind,” 4hero’s “Mr Kirk’s Nightmare” and in particular the work of Shut Up And Dance – but for Marc Cohn’s lawyers they would have had one of the greatest of all number ones with 1992’s “Raving, I’m Raving” (it peaked at number two before compulsorily being withdrawn from circulation) – and Nicolette’s Now Is Early album, also from 1992, still stands as a largely unheralded harbinger of what would happen in the rest of its decade.

    “Let Me Be Your Fantasy” also dates from 1992, and had been an underground club classic (and at the lower end of the Top 200 singles chart) for over two years before given the promotional push. Belatedly topping the chart, it precluded the Stone Roses from doing so with “Love Spreads,” and that seemed unusually fitting, since the record stands at the crossroads of several different ambiguities of music. Essentially a comedown record from the final days of primary-coloured rave, its beat is Prodigy frantic but its flow is aqueous and unhurried. Over this backdrop singer Dorothy Fearon sings of the usual rave tropes – “I’ll take you up to the highest heights,” “Spread our wings and fly away,” “I’ll fill your world with ecstasy” – with a voice of rare nobility; note her graceful Queen’s English voiceover (“Let me touch your dreams”) after the first verse. It all seems indicative of an urge to slow down, take some deep breaths and inhale eternity.

    But then the “underground” unexpectedly asserts itself and we dive into a dizzy cannonball run of beats, unlovely fuzz bass grinds and hisses, mirrored halls of warps and loops – the sequence is one of those moments of recorded evolution, where rave gives way to what will become jungle, then drum ‘n’ bass. After this disturbance, which lasts for no more than thirty seconds, the original song returns, but the landscape has been less than subtly altered. And yet those “let me be” backing vocals at the end hark back to another era; Dorothy Fearon is the wife of Phil Fearon, the somersaulting man behind Galaxy, who recorded some very astute hits in the very late days of Britfunk, in the mid-eighties (“Dancing Tight,” “What Do I Do?,” “Everybody’s Laughing” amongst others), and the owner of the Little Dragon label on which “Let Me Be Your Fantasy” was released, and so this remarkable record ends up joining all of the dots, showing us where it has come from and where it, and black British music, was going. This time, the crowd was happy to go along as well.

  5. 5
    Tom on 29 Apr 2013 #

    For the first time (amazing that it is the first) I’ve saved a draft before going to bed and published it by mistake! At least it was almost, not half, finished. The score and gist are fine – might revise, though Aunty Beryl and Punctum have covered all the missing points.

  6. 6
    James BC on 29 Apr 2013 #

    #2. Popjustice calls that feeling a “Kylie moment”.

  7. 7
    fivelongdays on 29 Apr 2013 #

    OK, I’ve got to disrupt the love-in on this one. This, IMHO, is the sort of thing that gives dance music a bad name. A mesh of professional dance tropes (plinky keyboards! beaty beats! inane lyrics!) that wafts on for about two minutes longer than it really ought to. OK, there’s a rather nice – and unexpected – breakdown towards the end, but by that point, this listener has decided that, frankly, he’s going to turn down Ms D’s offer.

    Aural wallpaper, not-so-cunningly disguised as something that’s meant to be a banging dance anthem.

    Oh, and it kept the Stone Roses’ corking, LedZep-meets-a-bloke-who-really-can’t-sing-but-doesn’t-give-a-toss ‘Love Spreads’ off the top spot.

    As I’ve said before, this is around the time period where I come in. A lot of the number ones will get higher marks – Tom’s adolescent mark inflation is the truth – and I’m willing to give the songs I don’t like a second chance. This, however, is really rather dull.

    Four, and that’s pretty much for the weird, wobbly, not-totally-unwonderful breakdown.

  8. 8
    anto on 29 Apr 2013 #

    The best number one of 1994, no contest (and for that matter no competition). Sexy, supple and arrestingly modern – a chilled glass of lemonade after a trek through a desert where a mirage of Marti Pellow kept appearing to sing at you.

  9. 9
    hectorthebat on 29 Apr 2013 #

    Sample watch – contains samples of “all we wanna do is dance” by the house crew featuring mc juice and “amen, brother” by the winstons. First use of the amen break in popular?

  10. 10
    Tom on 29 Apr 2013 #

    #7 Keeping “Love Spreads” off No.1 is a feature not a bug!

    (OK, I’d have quite liked to write about it, I guess)

  11. 11
    flahr on 29 Apr 2013 #

    Oh dear. I find this totally devoid of charm – even the left turn into roboticism at the end seems like an attempt to make the song go on longer after having run out of ideas. I had relatively high hopes (it’s a cracking title) but this isn’t even as good as “Saturday Night”.

    Thank fuck we have Daft Punk these days.

  12. 12
    glue_factory on 29 Apr 2013 #

    I’ve always been disappointed that I couldn’t find more hardcore records like this; a marriage of malevolent sounding breakbeats and euphoric (yet melancholic) vocals. Once jungle arrived, happy-hardcore seemed to abandon breakbeats for 4/4 beats, and most hardcore before that point, for me, just didn’t seem happy enough.

    As I recall, it was records like this which prompted much soul-searching about what records should qualify for the indie charts. Clearly records like this were more “independent” of major-record label control than a lot of other indie stuff and yet, in almost every other respect, were a world away from the latest album by the Field Mice. I think some kind of exclusion was introduced for the ravier end of the spectrum, but I’ve no idea how you’d draft something like that.

  13. 13
    thefatgit on 29 Apr 2013 #

    I have a lot of time for the music that emerged from the Hardcore/Jungle division. Genaside II’s “Narra Mine” and the tracks Punctum mentions above were constantly being played in my car around this time.
    I had this on some generic rave compilation, but their follow-up was my penultimate single purchase. It got to #3 about 6 or 7 Popular months from now. I guess I was always a sucker for an euphoric speeded-up cover version of a ballad (check my comments on PSB’s AOMM). Their D&B version “Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime” seems contrived now with its rap interlude but at the time I fell for that smooth hook all over again, just as I did with The Korgis in 1980.

  14. 14
    will on 29 Apr 2013 #

    I loved it and enjoyed seeing it go to Number One. But the curious thing was at the time its success had a nostalgic tinge to it. It seems incredible now but by late ’94 rave’s peak years of 91-92 seemed a distant utopian era before UK dance’s various tribes – house, drum n’ bass, techno – stopped speaking to each other. To me anyway, there was a sadness to this that, as Auntie Beryl mentions, LMBYF captures beautifully.

    As I recall its success led to a whole swathe of 91/92 era hits – Sweet Harmony, Is There Anybody Out There etc – being rereleased, remixed and repackaged in ’95 as ‘classics’.

  15. 15
    Chelovek na lune on 29 Apr 2013 #

    Great record. I’d loved it first time out (I seem to recall it making no 1 on the London Kiss FM chart then), and (having gone way to North-East Fife in the intervening 2 years) was surprised, if delighted, to hear its return, to such success. (I have to agree wholeheartedly with Punctum’s references to the groundbreaking nature of the various SUAD-affiliated artists, of the early 90s and “Mr Kirk’s Nightmare”, as well as Acen, of course. And a fair bit of the output of R&S Records, too).

    Although, for all of its “breaking out frmo the underground” nature….in retrospect, this track, perhaps more than any other, now looks like the big daddy to the mostly rather dubious efforts (debut excepted) of N-Trance….bastard offspring, indeed.

    Immeasurably better than the disappointing Stone Roses return single, too. Which at least was a preemptive warning about their album…

    As for the followup, the Baby D take on Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime. Hmm. Such a fine song is resilient enough to cope with even gratuitous tinkering (as some of the stereotypically “jungle” inserts essentially were): Nicola Roberts version from last year was of a similar calibre (ie better than mediocre, less than great), but the song remained intact and brilliant.

    The mixture of joy and melancholy on LMBYF is a fine thing. A solid 8, maybe a 9

  16. 16
    Brendan on 29 Apr 2013 #

    The best number 1 by far since 1990 for reasons which have already been adequately covered, and to the refusniks I ask do you really prefer the endless stream of Take That, Love is All Around and the, frankly, novelty records that filled in the gaps to this beauty?

  17. 17
    swanstep on 29 Apr 2013 #

    Those with any musical training should be able to help with this, is it a contrast between major and minor chords?
    Well, its single, monotonous four chord pattern (except for the ‘middle eight’ bit – not sure what that is) alternates minor and major (vi V iii IV) and never goes near the tonic (I) if that’s what you’re referring to.

    Anyhow, LMBYF is new to me and, with #7 and #11 above, it feels pretty dull, characterless, unmusical to me (compare with EWF’s similarly minor-ific Fantasy – there’s no comparison). It did nothing down under or in the US, seemingly for good reason:
    4 or 5 (mainly for the surprise middle 8 and for the rest of track’s vague representativeness of come-down room vibe I suppose – too bad we’re not discussing Protection from this time period).

  18. 18
    Steve Mannion on 29 Apr 2013 #

    #2 Funnily enough Beryl I was ruminating on ‘a history of modern (post-War at least) melancholic dance music’ (on a sonic basis, not lyrics and vocals) this morning and thought it might make for an interesting playlist.

    One of my favourite piano chord sequences in Hardcore rave can be heard on Skin Up’s ‘A Juicy Red Apple’ although it’s more about the interplay of melancholy and menace (in a generally euphoric and otherwise somewhat inane affair) akin to a break during a thunderous rainstorm where sunlight penetrates the clouds only to reflect on them more darkly.

    LMBYF’s balance of those three moods is differently weighted for wider appeal with the menace only occurring in the middle eight. Dyce & Nino’s approach tended to go this way although their darkest productions (e.g. the wonderfully eerie ‘Exodus (The Lion Awakes)’ as Brothers Grimm with its cheeky sped-up sample of ‘Tubular Bells’) and House Crew’s ‘We Are Hardcore’) are just as effective.

    Their cover of The Korgis took its cue from the original more manic Hardcore version of the song credited to N.R.G. (but titled ‘I Need Your Lovin’).

  19. 19
    Cumbrian on 29 Apr 2013 #

    #16: Personally, I am yet to see any real link between someone disliking this and liking the #1s that have come in the 3 years prior to it. It’s possible to both like this and like some of those #1s. It is also possible to dislike this and dislike all of those #1s. I’m sure those that don’t like LMBYF can talk to their own opinions but this is a fairly obvious strawman.

    I wouldn’t elevate it to the level that others have here, but then I wasn’t of the age to be going to clubs and dancing to this or anything like this. The breakbeat caught my ear though and I like Auntie Beryl’s drawing out of the pleading, melancholic tinge provided by piano and vocals. It’s got something going for it on that basis – and I personally would rate it high enough for a vote in the year end poll – but I definitely needed someone else to put into words what that was – so kudos to Auntie Beryl (I had a nagging feeling that something more was going on and couldn’t put my finger on it).

  20. 20
    Tom on 29 Apr 2013 #

    There’s definitely a melancholy here but for me not as pronounced as some dance hits, if anything melancholic tinges on uplifting housey tracks seemed to be a norm not an aberration. I don’t think it’s usually much to do with the text of the song, it feels more like an awareness suffusing these tracks that nights (and highs) always end. Bittersweet, maybe, rather than melancholy?

  21. 21
    Weej on 29 Apr 2013 #

    I’d been into Oceanic, Urban Cookie Collective and ‘Charlie’ as a pre-teen, at least in a taped-them-off-the-top-40 way, but 1994 seems to have marked a rockist (or rather indieist) phase. I was listening to lots of new music I loved, but the public seemed to be sending worse and worse up the charts. Rave, sad to say, was the main casualty of this blanket dismissal, and it wouldn’t be until The Chemical Brothers’ Life Is Sweet a couple of years later that I would change my mind.
    So I didn’t like LMBYF at the time, couldn’t understand why people were buying it, or why Radio 1 and TOTP presenters were introducing it like it was something special. I’m afraid this feeling still remains. There just doesn’t seem to be much there to grab me – sure, I like the house pianos, the amen break, not so much the vocals, but I just feel like it’s done better elsewhere.
    The break is pretty wonderful though. For that it gets a 6.

  22. 22
    Steve Mannion on 29 Apr 2013 #

    Baby D’s earlier efforts ‘Casanova’ and ‘Daydreaming’ are worth hearing if only for a nice game of ‘name the sampler’ (e.g. the former on The Prodigy’s ‘Break And Enter’) – Dyce & Nino often the culprits themselves, re-contextualising Dorothy’s lines and their own work to suit their next manoeuvre.

    The Baby D stuff generally represents to me a specific antecdent of Katy B (even the names are similar ha) and so the latter’s success in recent years has been a pleasure to see, although her hits have shown a little more versatility (dubstep, house, breakbeat-based pop) really.

  23. 23
    Tom on 29 Apr 2013 #

    Re. “I Need Your Loving” – I liked it a lot, but it had been done a couple years before by this guy http://www.discogs.com/NRG-Featuring-Korgis-I-Need-Your-Love-Everybodys-Got-To-Learn-Sometimes/master/12397 – whose version popped up on React’s The Dark Side compilation (and so I heard it). Obviously the song was a good fit for rave! (And the Korgis were good sports, or needed the cash).

  24. 24
    glue_factory on 29 Apr 2013 #

    Re: 23, I love the sleevenotes that are apparently on The Dark Side comp, according to Discogs:

    “Hardcore has once again astounded the House nation with it´s diversity, no longer is a Rave track a selection of obscure noises from an ancient analog keyboard, the modern era Rave tune is now more likely to contain a multiplicity of elements such as Soul, Techno and Rap from diverse musical cultures. All the tracks on this album have some of the elements; ruff cut up beats, severe bass lines, uplifting vocals, piano breaks, dark sounds (sometimes samples from horror films). The end result is music that has a power and intensity that elevates the mind.”

  25. 25
    MikeMCSG on 29 Apr 2013 #

    # 4 Was Dorothy the blonde babe in the video ? I’m suspecting not.

    I only really remember this as a 10 second excerpt on The Chart Show. As a non-clubber I’ve no way into this sort of music so it’s a pass from me.

  26. 26
    Another Pete on 29 Apr 2013 #

    #25
    I think it is, here she is a mere 9 years earlier. (Backing singer on the right)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xfpg1oghf3Q

  27. 27
    lonepilgrim on 29 Apr 2013 #

    I have no memory of this at all but I like it a lot.
    Late November seems a strange time for a record like this to hit the top – was that a coincidence or did it reflect the rise of big clubs like Ministry of Sound, etc?

  28. 28
    23 Daves on 29 Apr 2013 #

    It doesn’t surprise me that this track has split the opinions of readers, actually, since I can remember it doing much the same thing at the time. Either you thought it was a masterpiece, a club classic which could not be criticised in any way, or you thought it was run-of-the-mill and really couldn’t find a way in. I was (and still am) in the latter camp, unfortunately. When this was at number one I actually had a loud, drunken argument with the lead guitarist of the (awful) band I was in – he believed it was an achievement somewhere close to the Sistine Chapel Ceiling, whereas I thought it was a rather dull record.

    If I’d actually gone out to many clubs at the time I might have found a way into it – possibly, maybe. And having said all the above, I did just go on to YouTube to listen to the 1992 original (by mistake, actually) and that does sound a bit more enjoyable for reasons I can’t entirely discern. They’re not radically different, but it feels as if its got more of a kick to it. I still wouldn’t choose to play it myself at home, though.

  29. 29
    Auntie Beryl on 29 Apr 2013 #

    #22 That’s a very good call on Katy B. “Perfect Stranger” on the Magnetic Man album is a direct descendant of “Let Me Be Your Fantasy”.

  30. 30
    fivelongdays on 30 Apr 2013 #

    Phew! Thought I was the only person here who didn’t like the track.

    I suspect there is some kind of difference (if only in my head) between ravey dance tracks (banging beats, thumping bass, interesting noises etc etc), which I like, and clubby dance tracks (of which this is an example), which I don’t.

    Anyone else, who knows more about this stuff, care to comment?

  31. 31
    Billy Hicks on 30 Apr 2013 #

    Ten ten ten TEN for the first time since No Limit. Mr Vain came close with a 9. Mr Blobby (no relation) and Doop charted highly for personal nostalgic memories too. I have no memories of this as a six year old and didn’t hear it until about 2004…but oh boy is this one of the best #1s of the 1990s.

    Punctum’s words at #4 are absolutely spot on – although would you believe the 1994 radio edit cuts out said ‘underground’ break? It survives on the 12″ mix, the music video and even the original 1992 radio edit, but on this release they clearly thought it needed a cutdown to under 4 minutes so a slightly dodgy-sounding edit snips it out. Shame as it’s a breathtaking “Woah what?!” moment just when you think you’ve heard the whole track. Thankfully both versions include the bit just after, the piano chords overlaid onto a genuine rave soundtrack of cheers, horns and whistles.

    I’d always wondered why both this and N-Trance’s ‘Set You Free’, a very similar-sounding uplfting/melancholic rave track which got to #2 early in 1995 (which also happens to be one of my favourite songs of all time) – both years old at this point – suddenly became huge around this time, given that we hadn’t heard the sound in the charts since about late 1992. Will’s post #14 seems to be the likely explanation, I’d add a nostalgia perhaps spurred on by the then-recent Criminal Justice Bill controversy/protests.

    But yes. Ten ten ten. Last week I was dancing to this at an impromptu club night in Bermondsey, and a few days ago I found their album ‘Deliverance’ for a quid in a charity shop. I like their follow-up hits (I Need Your Lovin’ in 1995, So Pure in early ’96) too, but they always seemed a bit lighter, more commercial jungle sound than the hard – and glorious – genuine rave beats heard here.

    Very much an end of an era song. A final goodbye to the early 1990s before we officially enter the synth-heavy Eurodance mid-90s. Did I mention it’s a ten?

  32. 32
    wichita lineman on 30 Apr 2013 #

    “Very much an end of an era song.” It didn’t feel this way to me at all. As Will at #14 says, it may only have been two years since the peak of rave, but it felt like ten.

    By late ’94 the Sunday Social was my reference point for dance music, which meant the Dust/Chemical Brothers own recordings mixed with the Beatles’ Tomorrow Never Knows, and a fair bit of seventies soul (Jeff Perry’s Love Don’t Come No Stronger, Love Unlimited’s Under The Influence Of Love). Oasis were on the rise. B**t P*p hadn’t settled into a pattern. It felt a lot like 1989 in that guitar music and dance music were blending and moving forward; from this scene Black Grape would (re)emerge with Top 10 hits in ’95, and the Charlatans would score their biggest hit (Just When You’re Thinking Things Over) since 1990.

    Love Spreads didn’t connect with any of this. It sounded lumpy and depressing.

    Let Me Be Your Fantasy on the other hand – though no one I knew rated it, or even mentioned it – had the same spirit of renewal as the Sunday Social. I’d imagine the clubs that were playing LMBYF in ’94 were also reconnecting with what they had loved about rave, and the sense of joy that had been lost, which would also explain the euphoric Set You Free’s no.2 revival at the start of ’95.

    I’d compare the DJ’s who created fresh interest in LMBYF to the Merseybeat groups who were covering three or four year old Chuck Berry/Little Richard songs in 1962, which must have seemed like ancient history by then. Maybe LMBYF is an equivalent to Twist And Shout, harking back to the recent past but ushering in a new golden era.

    “The usual mash of ravey trigger phrases” for me are just classic pop lyrics, perfectly placed and as totally effective as the chorus to Reach Out I’ll Be There, which also has lyrics that may look like no more than trigger phrases when they’re written down.

    I hear LMBYF as a love song about music, a song about how music can take you to the highest high, and – miraculously – it actually does just that! Melancholic, dreamlike, life-affirming, it’s a beautiful record. I honestly can’t find any fault with it.

  33. 33
    Tom on 30 Apr 2013 #

    “I hear LMBYF as a love song about music, a song about how music can take you to the highest high” – this applies to an awful lot of rave songs I think! With music/drugs inextricably entwined.

    My phrasing – “usual mash” – was WAY too dismissive, because the key part was “trigger phrases” – something I love about rave and dance music in general, its non-representational lyrics, the way the words are like direct commands to the listener’s OS (physical, chemical, spiritual, whatever)

  34. 34
    Tom on 30 Apr 2013 #

    I like “Set Me Free” more though, oddly because it’s so effortful – this great willed struggle to bring the good times back (like the breakdown of “One More Time”), whereas LMBYF floats back into them.

  35. 35
    James BC on 30 Apr 2013 #

    Interesting #18’s mention of menace in dance music. You wouldn’t think people would want to feel menaced while they dance, but boy is it effective.

    It just occurred to me that if the three emotions of rave are euphoria, melancholy and menace, it’s menace that’s the innovation. There are tons of examples of earlier dance music, disco for example, that have the first two in varying proportions, but menace seems to have been exclusively a rock thing until rave came along.

    Or do people have examples of menacing dance songs from earlier eras?

  36. 36
    Izzy on 30 Apr 2013 #

    Straight 10 from me, one of the best records ever imo. Not a great deal to say about it though – it’s gorgeous and I love it is really all. I dont know what to say to anyone having difficulty getting it. Just listen, I suppose – the joy, the melancholy, the resolution, they’re all plain on the face of it and there to be loved.

    I’d forgotten it was this that kept Love Spreads (which I also love, only a bit less) off the top. That explains why I wasn’t annoyed at having lost (as I saw it) the best chance we’d ever get of one of our bands making no.1. Instead it was just like: fair play, you can’t argue with that.

  37. 37
    Tom on 30 Apr 2013 #

    #35 it’s a house and before thst electro thing isn’t it – stuff filtering in during the 80s from hip-hop on the one hand, post-Bowie Europop on the other. “Planet Rock”, “Al-Naafiysh” – there’s a tension there if not the outright DARKNESS of hardcore. But by the time you get to acid house and tracks like “Where’s Your Child?” it’s a definite strain, and with hardcore it really fully blooms.

  38. 38
    Steve Mannion on 30 Apr 2013 #

    I liked ‘Love Spreads’ but ‘Begging You’ was a bit more contemporary-sounding thanks to the Chemical Brothers influence and fits well with their stuff at the time like ‘My Mercury Mouth’.

    LMBYF’s success felt ‘too late’ at the time and it took me quite a while to like ‘Set You Free’ due to it’s johnny-come-lately trying-too-hard approach. ‘Inner City Life’ (plus Nookie’s dreamy Corona-sampling ‘Only You’) appeared at around the same time and for me did make this stuff sound older than it was and harder to be excited about.

  39. 39
    thefatgit on 30 Apr 2013 #

    #35 Not so much a dance movement, but a progenitor of one: Throbbing Gristle helped inform Front 242, Front Line Assembly and Nitzer Ebb to fashion the groundwork for IDM which puts more emphasis on menace and melancholy rather than joy. And Depeche Mode definitely helped to commercialise the sound post-Vince Clarke, which in turn, along with Gary Numan helps Trent Reznor fashion IDM-friendly rock with NIN (Pretty Hate Machine), later drawing in elements of D&B and Hardcore (Perfect Drug). I think the menace aspect has to a greater or lesser extent, been bubbling under all the time. Even the KLF’s original “What Time Is Love” is underpinned by that menacing groove. And I haven’t even mentioned Cabaret Voltaire or Kraftwerk! Or Colin Faver spinning most of this stuff(mainly from Germany & Belgium) on KISS FM in the early 90’s!

  40. 40

    Could also winkle Suicide into that progenitor list, I think.

  41. 41
    thefatgit on 30 Apr 2013 #

    Yes, where’s Jon Savage when you need ‘im?

  42. 42
    Steve Mannion on 30 Apr 2013 #

    I’m sure the Radiophonic Workshop would say there was always a dance element to their music. #diggerdydum

  43. 43

    I think there’s two elements to crossflow input here:

    1. “electronics” as symbol-vector of otherworldly or intoxicated unease within music — which goes back to the theremin in film soundtracks in the 40s, and emerges in youthful consciousness via Dr Who and all manner of other stuff. As synthesisers, rhythm machines, samplers and digital tech generally integrated with themselves in industry practice — round their effectiveness for producing club music tracks quickly and cheaply — the natural tendency of musicians to play around with that they had would have thrown up all kinds of effects redolent of this earlier matter, whether it was at first intended or not. (Plus the integration also pulled in as co-explorers the DIY “post”punk electronics pioneers, such as the Cabs, who’d been bricolaging unease since the mid-70s.)

    and of course
    2. DRUGS: music that represents a shared experience (such as for example the paranoid comedown) will be vividly appreciated. Euphoria and dysphoria are intimately linked, and naturally a music field that makes a lot of one will be shadowed by the other.

  44. 44

    also there’s a very deep and ancient tradition of wild folk dances as devil-fuelled and scary: the tarantella is named for the impulse to dance insanely when bitten by a toxic spider (which supposedly also sweated out the poison)

  45. 45
    James BC on 30 Apr 2013 #

    Thinking about it some more and looking through previous Popular entries, “Atomic” seems to be a disco song that has euphoria, melancholy and menace to it.

    “Let’s Dance” might be another example, only without the euphoria. And Gary Numan’s worth a mention.

    All very interesting though. You could write a book on the power of menace in dance music. “Disco Dysphoria: Menace from Blondie to Breakbeat”.

  46. 46

    And if we take one era-step pre-disco, into the related (dance music) worlds of George Clinton and Mr James Brown, we find a HUGE amount of paranoia, fear, terror and menace.

    (And “dread” is a term that reggae explicitly espoused.)

  47. 47
    fivelongdays on 30 Apr 2013 #

    If we’re talking menace in dance music, the obvious ones for me are…HIGHLY BUNNYABLE.

  48. 48
    swanstep on 30 Apr 2013 #

    Can’t say that I hear much menace in LMBYF (this is in the era of Dr Dre after all!). I’m also surprised to hear Wichita and others salute the lyrics. To my ears they fall over themselves left and right – ‘highest heights’ (blech!), ‘Let’s be as one in soul and mind’ flat out murders itself with the ‘one’ and the ‘and’, the ungainly two syllables in ‘tri-ip to wonderland’, ‘put a smile upon your face’ (blech again!), and so on. In general, lots of the verbal constructions feel cluttered and weak (even the relatively interesting middle 8 lines don’t feel to me as taut or as interesting as they could be). I also don’t like the title line – it feels odd (and verbally cluttered/weak) to ask permission to be a fantasy as opposed to asserting you’ll be one or offering to be one. But maybe the latter is all that’s heard.

  49. 49

    There’s a Mensah remix of this on GetDarker’s This is Dubstep Vol3: which I think makes “exhibits menace” (in a certain context) reasonably canonic :)

  50. 50
    enitharmon on 30 Apr 2013 #

    I had decided not to intervene with things like this because they largely passed me by and were in no way “my” music. Needless to say I have no recollection of it at the time but there were probably reasons, like at the time it was number one I was just starting to deal with the fallout from a stormy three-month relationship that in hindsight would have been best not entered into in the first place and the fallout from which would only culminate rather soapishly some six months later. But I digress (I may elaborate further in later entries but only if I feel like it, otherwise you’ll have to wait for my autobiography). Live music for me meant partaking of one particular end of Bristol’s energetic pub scene and no, not that end of it. A group of us some of whom worked in the Bristol University computer lab gathering to hear Chris Scott’s Blind Lemon Beefcake at the Prom in Gloucester Road and discussed relaying one of these events as the world’s first live internet gig. We were too laid back to do it of course, and others soon afterwards got that glory but there you go – there’s the global context for you.

    It was only six months later, as part of that soapish culmination in fact, that somebody took me in hand and introduced me to the local delights of K-Passa and Massive Attack. Chalk and cheese of course, and the raw cajun fiddle’n’squeezebox rocking of the former was much more to my taste, but the nearest thing in my music collection to the matter in hand is Blue Lines, not something I choose to listen to all that often. It’s better than Baby D anyway (IMHO), but they all sound much of a muchness to my ear.

    Which brings me up short, because I’m reminded that at some time in the early 1960s when my popular tastes were forming, somebody who I’m pretty sure was Alma Cogan (qv) refused to give a verdict on Juke Box Jury because she thought everything sounded the same anyway. There was predictable outrage, but I now see she had a point. Those who inhabited the club scene in 1994 (my then 14-year-old daughter wasn’t one and neither were any of her friends) will no doubt hear this and be reminded of great spaced-out all-night events on cavernous, packed and sweaty dancefloors; at least that’s how I imagine them when I wake in the night sweating with terror at the thought, it seems like my idea of purgatory and anyway I was turned 40 by this time and running out of steam for all-nighters. Certainly the music is intimately tied to the event and doesn’t really work in isolation. It’s about as affective as music gets.

    I never went to UFO in the 60s either but it’s closer to my era and my mindset, so I can recognise LMBYF as kin to the early Soft Machine/Pink Floyd/Incredible String Band and just as carefully tuned to the psychoactive confection of the day. It’s just that the denizens of UFO would have been mortified by the idea of the music they danced to featuring in any kind of chart, let alone topping it.

  51. 51
    punctum on 30 Apr 2013 #

    Wonder how they would have felt about The Division Bell topping the album chart in 1994?

  52. 52
    Cumbrian on 30 Apr 2013 #

    The Division Bell got to #1? I try not to spoil TPL for myself and avoid looking ahead, so this came as a surprise to me. I’d have thought that 1994/5/6 would have been one long procession of one week wonder Britpop acts, interspersed with Simply Red. Obviously, as with much else, I know not very much about this particular subject.

  53. 53
    punctum on 30 Apr 2013 #

    Reading Rosie’s post got me thinking about the album, and its relation to the rest of what was going on in its year. Given that I’m probably about 19 years away from writing about it, it’s hopefully not too much of a spoiler.

  54. 54
    enitharmon on 30 Apr 2013 #

    I think they’d have thought that Floyd had gone to hell in a handcart years previously. See also the last Popular entry of the 1970s.

  55. 55
    Cumbrian on 30 Apr 2013 #

    #53: Truth be told, I’ll probably forget this fact sometime in the not too distant future and will be surprised all over again when you get there.

  56. 56
    thefatgit on 30 Apr 2013 #

    Something else that was emerging around this time, which highlighted the joy/menace tension quite effectively was Hardbag, a subgenre which didn’t last long but helped to popularise what was going on at Trade @Turnmills and gave Tony De Vit his first club hit. We also have Felix (aka Rollo) to thank for it happening at all with “Don’t You Want Me” back in 1992.

  57. 57
    Brendan F on 30 Apr 2013 #

    … and speaking of Rollo, those doomy chords in the intro to ‘Insomnia’ which culminates with the euphoric riff after the rap (presumably the dance world has a different term for it which I’m not au fait with)

  58. 58
    Mark G on 30 Apr 2013 #

    #51-55 or thereabouts: Yeah, I remember seeing that album chart and going “Really?”, in the same way I did when David Gilmour’s “On an Island” did. But then again, I do tend to work with a higher percentage than most people that would have bought both…

  59. 59
    glue_factory on 1 May 2013 #

    …speaking of Trade (re:56) Turnmills was where the Heavenly Social would eventually end up, several years after Wichita had been dancing at the Albany (re:32). It was always a rather odd experience staggering out of the Social at 3:30am, at the end of your evening, to see a fresh-faced queue of clubbers waiting to go into Trade, at the beginning of theirs.

  60. 60
    flahr on 1 May 2013 #

    Re #48 I also don’t like the title line – it feels odd (and verbally cluttered/weak) to ask permission to be a fantasy as opposed to asserting you’ll be one or offering to be one. But maybe the latter is all that’s heard.

    As I’ve mentioned I don’t actually like the song, but the title is great! I think your problem with it is that you view it as a request when I don’t think it is – it’s an imperative, the “let me” is functioning as “surrender yourself, relax, let me do all the work”. I think it’s a very opulent title and one that fits the wash and wave and submerging euphoric helplessness that rave is (I think) going for.

  61. 61
    Auntie Beryl on 1 May 2013 #

    If you’ll indulge me a little, Monday 28th November 1994 was the day after it was announced that this record had gone to number one.

    It was also the day I started work at the one-off record shop (RIP) in my home town, where I would stay until the end of 2001. On & off (mostly on) I’ve malingered somewhere near music retail ever since.

    I won’t have a huge amount to say about every number one over the next few Popular years, but hope I can share a perspective from behind the counter every now and then.

  62. 62
    Ben Cook on 2 May 2013 #

    The first single I ever bought. OK, joint first single. I bought Boyzone’s Love Me For A Reason at the same time, with a £5 Our Price voucher. That kind of ruins it doesn’t it?

  63. 63
    Ed on 3 May 2013 #

    @46: “And if we take one era-step pre-disco, into the related (dance music) worlds of George Clinton and Mr James Brown, we find a HUGE amount of paranoia, fear, terror and menace.”

    And back before them too. You Keep Me Hanging On, Paint it Black, Ball of Confusion: all stir up that oxymoronic melancholy euphoria.

    (Which is an excuse for me to wheel out, with apologies, my favourite bit of literary pedantry, which I learned only recently: a true oxymoron is not just a contradiction in terms, but a reconciliation of opposites to express a new idea. So “bittersweet” is one, as is “the living dead”, and that great French expression “jolie laide”. But there are not that many. The old jokes about “military intelligence and “business ethics” don’t really count.)

  64. 64
    Paulito on 4 May 2013 #

    Hmmm, I’m in two minds about this one. The housey keyboards already sounded dated by the time the track finally became a smash, and that robotic bit towards the end really jars. Overall, it’s pleasant enough – with a decent melody and a nice yearning quality to the vocal – but not particularly unforgettable and certainly not genre-defining.

    By contrast, and as alluded to already, the contemporaneous “Set You Free” is a true touchstone of radio-friendly rave and really does have the attributes discussed upthread – simultaneously uplifting and melancholic (a tone set by the spine-tingling piano intro), hugely energetic and insanely catchy. Above all, 20-odd years later it not only still sounds great on its own terms but has also taken on an elegiac quality – at once an anthem and a swansong for the era. A real shame it didn’t quite make it to the top, as I’d love to have seen a Popular entry and thread on it (I’ll just have to wait for Lena to catch up…)

  65. 65
    ciaran on 14 May 2013 #

    LMBYF has never impressed me much at all I’m afraid. Then I was too young for the club scene back then unlike some of the other commentators here that seem to cherish it.Mid 90s club classics has never been my favourite genre so its maybe one further reason this leaves me cold.

    It always seemed more like a lower top 10 hit than anything but moat of the other number 1s of 1994 came out of nowhere too.

    The first single I ever bought was I need your lovin on a school tour.neither proud nor ashamed of it today but cant really remember too much about it without the aid of spotify or youtube.The Korgis original was played in Ireland for some time as part of road safety adverts in the early to mid 00s so have become very familiar with that.much better version too.

  66. 66
    Erithian on 4 Jun 2013 #

    Not my scene, man, and not aimed at the likes of me at all, but I do have a sneaky liking for this. Tom nails it with the line about the ravey phrases sounding like a song and not a collage due to Dorothy Fearon’s conviction (yes, fine voice and great delivery) and I can really hear why early-90s clubbers would find this among the most life-affirming things to hit the dancefloor to. No doubt too “pop” for some but a good ambassador for its genre.

  67. 67
    Patrick Mexico on 4 Aug 2013 #

    Re 56: Right on! Why don’t more people discuss Hardbag? Some of the best dance music of the decade came out of this “niche” genre – i.e. Felix “Don’t You Want Me”, which some people still talk about, and (from Toronto) Blast – Crazy Man, which people seem to have forgotten, which is a shame, because it’s an absolute belter.

    http://www.discogs.com/Various-Now-Dance-Summer-94/release/666712
    The Tony Di Bart – Magic Affair sequence on this (incorporating Blast), had it been a “proper” Now! CD, would be a strong contender for the best run of tracks on the entire series. The cover says it all. Baroque brilliance. And then they go and spoil it all by picking something stupid like Level 42..

  68. 68
    Izzy on 4 Aug 2013 #

    The Fire Island track before Level 42 on that compilation – I had a beautiful Junior Boys’ Own comp which closed with that and could never understand how it hadn’t been a massive smash, or indeed how I’d never even heard it on the radio or seen it in a shop or anything.

    And then I only recently discovered it was a cover of a classic disco banger by Machine, which even though it had been a massive smash I’ve never heard on the radio or seen discussed or anything either. A bewildering blind spot for what are two almighty records.

  69. 69
    Ed on 4 Aug 2013 #

    Yes! Not heard the cover, but the Machine original of TBFTGOGGI is fantastic. Co-written by August Darnell, before he was Kid Creole or had any Coconuts, and better than anything he did in his later incarnation, IMO. You can find it on the reissue of the first Kid Creole album, among other places.

    Described here as “the greatest disco song ever”, which is probably overdoing it, but a forgivable mistake:
    http://www.zerecords.com/new/album_liner_notes.php?id=411&categoria=album

    Blog post here suggests the Fire Island version was greatly inferior:
    http://discodissertation.blogspot.co.uk/2009/01/here-but-for-grace-of-god-go-i.html

    More great stuff from Chuck Eddy on Darnell, Ze Records and Mutant Disco here: http://www.spin.com/articles/essentials-of-ze-records/

  70. 70
    Izzy on 4 Aug 2013 #

    It’s got as good a claim as any to greatest-ever status I reckon – I’m no head, but I’d certainly have in my top five if I were compiling a list.

    The Fire Island version isn’t as good, no – it’s smoother and iirc updates to a four-to-the-floor beat, but it waters down the message and the singer’s campy style is distracting. I do rate it, but if you’ve heard the original first you need dig no further.

    Ironically, in criticising the cover for pulling lyrical punches, that blog itself misses the point a little – the parents aren’t motivated by simple bigotry, they’re upwardly-mobile hispanic immigrants. The ‘no blacks, no jews and no gays’ line is them leaving street life behind. Whether that’s qualitatively different is another question, but it’s certainly a more complicated picture.

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