Apr 14

ALL SAINTS – “Never Ever”

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#780, 17th January 1998

NeverEver You’re in the car with the radio on and no expectations, and suddenly you hear it: a song that stops everything around it, breaking through the playlist and announcing itself as a hit. More than a hit, a classic, a song you’ll be hearing for the rest of your life. And the feeling when it happens is a kind of classic itself, one of the iconic freeze-frame moments of loving music. As a self-conscious pop fan it’s something I knew was meant to happen, and every time I was listening to the radio a part of me was willing it to.

So when it did happen – when, for instance, I was in my girlfriend’s car at the end of 1997 and I heard a song start with the chords from “Amazing Grace” and a hesitant woman tiptoeing across them, talking out of the radio, asking for help turning fragments back into a life that might make some kind of sense – how much could I believe my reaction? I’d spent the back half of the year getting my own head together, and the glue I’d used was 60s pop and soul. I’d listened – a lot – to Motown, Philly, Spector, girl groups. I was ready for “Never Ever”. I needed it. Right then, I loved it.

But could I trust it? I grew tired of “Never Ever” before long. And listening to it now, the Shangri-La’s style opening monologue – so stark and startling on the radio – is horribly uncomfortable: the singer sounds abject as she begs her ex, not even for reconciliation or explanation, but just grounds to blame herself. It’s not just the styles of the 60s in play here, but their emotionally abusive attitudes too: women choking back romance comic tears, accepting that deep down it’s all their fault. “Not only will your answer keep me sane, but I’ll know never to make the same mistake again”.

It’s particularly hard to deal with given the context All Saints emerged in. The Shaznay Lewis/Mel Blatt team had been scrapping around on pop’s fringes well before the Spice Girls hit, but the renewed interest in All Saints in 1996 was born from the record industry’s sudden need to find new groups to tap the girl band market. With hindsight one of the most remarkable things about the Spice Girls is how clear a run they had, free of real competition – so that by the time alternatives did emerge the problems and strains in the Spice model were really starting to show. All Saints’ positioning as a more sophisticated option – more style mag than tabloid friendly, at least at this point – was clever and natural. But the Spice Girls hadn’t always been overworked sloganistas – if Girl Power meant anything, on the evidence of those early singles, it was about attacking situations (particularly relationships) by assuming a position of autonomy and strength. For the cool alternative to be something as apparently supine as “Never Ever” is troubling.

But while the intro of “Never Ever” may have been the cut-through moment, a dog-whistle for pop classicists like 97-era me, there’s thankfully more in the song than that. If I treat the intro as something for the rest of the song to react against, not build on, I like the song a lot more. “Never Ever” opens at its lowest point and across its five minutes at least begins to build on that and recover some kind of poise, shifting blame to the ex not on the singer: “I’m not crazy, I’m sure I ain’t done nothing wrong”.

Those lines are also when the singers begin to get loose from the straitjacket of “Never Ever”’s metronomic vocal rhythm – which finally shatters on the closing seconds, as the song shifts style entirely: a breakbeat and R&B vamping jumping “Never Ever” forward in time. And finally redeeming the song: Shaznay Lewis takes some of the most desperate, feeble pleas from the intro – “You can write it in a letter, babe” – and repeats them as a sneer. The soul-searching ends, the singer moves on, and “Never Ever” starts as a grovel but ends as a kiss-off.

Is this reading of the song useful? I’d like to think so. It suggests that “Never Ever” is a very clever record, one that draws on the past but – by using genre-play as emotional development – engages critically with it too. That’s something too few Britpop-era records managed. But for me it also recovers a little of the pleasure I felt hearing this song for the first time, stepping coolly out of the context of the radio and hoodwinking me completely.



  1. 1
    Tommy Mack on 13 Apr 2014 #

    The intro really bothered me too. Even as a teenage boy who hated smart-arse, noisy Girl Power, I didn’t want this as an alternative, I knew this wasn’t how women were meant to be in the 90s. I think you’re right that the record rises out of the ashes of abjection. I still can’t forgive All Saints for ushering in an era of beige music and beige clothing. Without the intro and the context I’d maybe stretch to a seven, as it is, I’m hovering around 5/6.

    One of the things that struck me about listening to Barbie Girl is how recently Barbie Girl type sentiments were wholeheartedly knocking about in pop world. I feel quite uncomfortable listening to northern soul classics like Doris Troy’s I’ll Do Anything or Maxine Brown’s One In A Million and thinking what a bleak world to grow up in.

  2. 2
    MikeMCSG on 13 Apr 2014 #

    I think this lot did get a bit of traction simply from providing an alternative to the Spices; I recall someone – it would either be in Q or the free Metro paper – describing them as “the girl band it’s OK to like”.
    Did Nicole have such a prominent part again ? She always seemed to be in the background in the subsequent vids I caught.

  3. 3
    AMZ1981 on 13 Apr 2014 #

    My abiding memory of this is on a minibus going to and from a sixth form history conference in Manchester. This was one of two songs that seemed to keep coming up on the radio in an endless loop (Choose Life by the PF Project was the other) and I remember the spoken intro used to make my teeth grind.

    Never Ever took nine weeks to get to the top (the longest climb since Think Twice three years before and, leaving aside re-issues, I’m not sure if anything has topped it since) by which time it had grown on me.

    I’m not sure whether All Saints were ever intended as the anti Spice Girls, like East 17 before them they were rather swept up in the vanguard. I did read once that Shaznay Lewis was the songwriter, Mel Blatt the voice and the fact that the Appleton sisters grabbed the limelight derailed the whole thing.

    In the Spice Up Your Life thread I tried to kickstart a little sideshow but nobody took the bait. Which was worse – Spiceworld or Honest?

  4. 4
    MikeMCSG on 13 Apr 2014 #

    # 3 No group would ever set themselves up with such a negative mission; it was just a critical thing.

    I suspect not too many of us have actually seen Honest.

  5. 5
    Tom on 13 Apr 2014 #

    I don’t think the group’s intentions matter either way really – any act that becomes famous has to fit into the wider picture of what’s going on in music – critically, from a marketing perspective, from a playlister’s or store buyer’s angle. In a situation where there’s a very strong, successful pop group, surely the first thing you do if you’re a competing label is look for your own equivalent. The easiest way is to find people who already exist, fit the bill and are talented enough to make a contrasting and complimentary identity work. The second easiest thing to do is create a version from scratch – we’ll see what happens if you do that later in the year.

    (It’s not a case of being “anti”, All Saints are an alternative to the Spice Girls in the way Spiderman is an alternative to Batman: significant differences in appeal but very easy to imagine fans liking both.)

  6. 6
    weej on 13 Apr 2014 #

    Ham-fisted troubling-in-the-wrong way, shangri-las-rip-off intro followed by a few minutes of near-perfect R&B-soul-pop, followed by a minute or so of spinning wheels and a crap fade-out – A 2, a 9 and a 3, so let’s call it a 7, as the bulk of the song is a keeper. As usual with All Saints, the glossy (i.e. American-standard) production and presentation hides the mistakes made by not developing a good idea well enough.

    All Saints were a “Spice Girls it’s ok to like” and I found that annoying. The Spice Girls may not have been perfect but the problem wasn’t that they weren’t glossy and uniform enough (Shaznay’s voice is clear enough, but the other three are basically interchangable) – and the idea that you had to de-pop and de-naff girl groups to get broader appeal is an unfortunate indicator of where tastes were heading.

  7. 7
    lonepilgrim on 13 Apr 2014 #

    listening to this again recently I was surprised at how long it went on for. I’d be interested to hear a female perspective on the record – did/do women like it because they could recognise the sentiments in the lyrics? I seem to recall that when this was performed on TOTP there was always a triumphant whoop from the audience when Shaznay began her contributions

  8. 8
    Kat but logged out innit on 13 Apr 2014 #

    All Saints = 100% responsible for denim going out of fashion in the late 90s. I ditched my jeans and bought a pair of combats instead (better for crowdsurfing).

  9. 9
    thefatgit on 13 Apr 2014 #

    I was sorely tempted to make an obvious Beatles/Stones comparison in regard to Spice Girls/All Saints, but for reasons Tom states in his review, All Saints hit the top just as Spicemania was beginning to peter out. Before that “I Know Where It’s At” suggested All Saints was populated entirely by Sporty Mel C-alikes, with a very TLC-alike sound. That had to be a winning combination didn’t it?

    As I recall it, All Saints were touted as a more sophisticated and nuanced girl group, who understood their forebears from the pop’s past and built their sound on a steadfastly R&B foundation. Yes, “Never Ever” was unexpected, and somewhat welcome as a form of contrast to primary-coloured Aqua or Spice Girls.

    Listening to it now though, it doesn’t sound like a natural follow-up to IKWIA. It sounds resigned and world-weary. The “Amazing Grace” chords tie it to pre-pop. The spoken intro recalls Spector. The wah-wah guitar recalls 70s funk, all filtered through a lens that might have been formerly used by The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. It’s still very listenable, despite the weedy lyrics. If the Spice Girls were hankering after a “man”, All Saints were getting all cut up over what was definitely the “boy who thinks he can”. Given the choice, I’d prefer the sassier IKWIA over this.

  10. 10
    Tommy Mack on 13 Apr 2014 #

    8: Ugh, yes, I had a nasty green pair, nice and baggy for shuffling around to drum’n’bass.

  11. 11
    Another Pete on 13 Apr 2014 #

    To date they are the only number 1 act I’ve actually met, albeit obliviously at the Reading Festival in 1997. They were just this group of girls walking past me until one of them (Shaznay) stopped and asked where I got my T-shirt from. ‘A shop in Norwich’ I replied of which one of the Appleton’s then took the piss out of my home town (This might of been pre-Partridge, or at least him being synonymous with Norwich/Norfolk). Noting the unplaceable accent ‘So where you from then?’ I asked ‘London’ came the stock response from all four. I just assumed they were just four mates at a festival and thought nothing of it until about a month later they were promoting ‘I know where it’s at’ on TV and then it hit home when I recognised that accent again.

  12. 12
    James Masterton on 13 Apr 2014 #

    You know I had to laugh reading that as Never Ever is one of those records where I too remember exactly where I was when I first heard it, in this case riding on a bus to my parents’ house as it pulled out of Leeds bus station. Was listening on headphones and was at that moment utterly captivated.

    You may be interested to know that most commercial radio stations edited the monologue off the start of the copies they played, the feeling amongst most programmers being that it slowed things down too much and was an audience turn-off despite the appeal of the rest of the track.

    Oh yes, and the interminably slow climb to the top of the charts experienced by the single meant it did set one record. Never Ever sold more copies before reaching the top of the charts (900,000 to be exact) that any other record before or since.

  13. 13
    punctum on 13 Apr 2014 #

    An exemplary and most auspicious start to what was, in chart terms, the real year of Girl Power; statistically, 1998 boasts the largest proportion of number one singles by female artists throughout any calendar year. And while there is little doubt that much of this triumph was owed to the example that the Spice Girls set – there are least two chart-topping acts from this year I can think of who can fairly be said to have been directly inspired by them – the demographic and range was large.

    However, while there will be plenty of Spice input into 1998 it could also be said that the baton was in the process of being taken, or wrested, from them. In the case of All Saints, the tortoise/hare scenario seems particularly apt, since the heroines of Ladbroke Grove had been in existence for most of the decade in one form or another – Shaznay Lewis and Mel Blatt being the dual constants – and earlier in the nineties had even been on the books of ZTT, based one road up in Basing Street. There is the story that they even briefly toyed with the notion of calling themselves Spice. But nothing quite gelled until at the eleventh hour Canada came to the rescue in the form of the Appletons; and more prosaically, practical help and artistry was provided by the avant-New Pop reliable Cameron McVey, one of the key bridging figures between New Pop Mks I and II and much else worthwhile in contemporary British pop besides.

    Their official debut single, “I Know Where It’s At,” did very well indeed, peaking at number four in the early autumn of 1997, though at that stage it was still unclear whether they intended to be Spice competition or the next and better Eternal. But “Never Ever” stopped everyone in our tracks with its patient humility and uncomprehending but solidly restrained anger. While “Too Much” was finally not much more than a sterile run through of stock moves designed to neutralise the kinks out of the Spice Girls and make them palatable to the dreaded “international audience” – and yet the brashly, cheerily unrefined “Wannabe” was their biggest global seller – “Never Ever” feels like a living ballad, one that’s still being written even as it’s being sung. The opening deadpan, or blank, monologue over Sunday School piano, organ and harmonised hums, too numb to do more than mouth the speaker’s words of mystified betrayal, reminds me of a nervous convent schoolgirl sitting awkwardly in the confession booth, trying to stutter out guilt she isn’t at all convinced is hers to own; it is fully worthy of comparison with the Shangri-Las except it boldly persists for over a minute – “commercial suicide!” screamed the suits – before the musicians kick in and the song begins to unfold, or fold unto itself.

    It kicks in with a teasing tickle of question mark guitar gestures – performed by session guitarist Richard Hawley – half-hidden funk beats, Shuggie Otis organ splurges and the six-inch trampoline bounce of the underlying rhythm. Already the girls are sufficiently distracted to seek self-pleasure – feel that choral rivulet on the word “roam” which intrudes as they “take a shower/I will scour.” The astute round robin of lead vocal duties – all four Saints take multiple turns, but as seamlessly as the transition from acoustic to electric bass near the beginning of the title track of Bitches’ Brew – means that we view different perspectives of the same basic (if naturally muddled) thought process; the voices change from soft and vulnerable (though these get the more troubled feeling: “Don’t wanna communicate,” “Go insane”) to strident and mildly resentful in a tiger purring kind of way (“I’m not crAAA-zAYYY!”). Shaznay’s lyric, too, is meticulously assembled, its schemata so subtle that it can be made to rhyme with both “A to Z” and “A to Zee.”

    Then all join forces for the sensual sleigh bell chorus, all coming down and breathing with just the right amount of gap left in between the “never”s and “ever”s, as if showing their betrayer how mad he must be to walk out on a summoning of sirens which is beyond sexy. Note how McVey subtly increases the density of the arrangement in minute steps, such that we have a virtual synth orchestra decorating the final, climactic chorus, before at the end pulling out the rug of sorrow and self-examination to reveal a wonderfully dirty funk undertow with wolf-whistle scratching as Lewis demands that he get in touch, by letter (“baaaabe”) or ‘phone or “to my face” before heading off to search for him. You hardly notice that the record lasts just under six-and-a-half minutes – you would only narrowly fail to fit the first three Supremes hits into that timespan – but it needs its length, to ponder, to develop, to realise.

    Another miracle of “Never Ever” is that it achieves precisely what none of the Soul, Passion and Honesty brigade ever did, which is to make a soul-pop record which has all the essential ingredients of a classic soul record in terms of subject matter, arrangement, pacing and performance – the Marvelettes would have been proud to have recorded it – without bashing the listener over the head with its alleged authenticity; this is because not once do any of All Saints resort to histrionic outbursts; the emotions rise organically from the nature and propulsion of the song, as they should do. Nor did they pose as Real Soul Singers onstage; their TOTP performance found them shuffling in a Brechtian chalk circle, shrugging their shoulders with hands wedged deep in the pockets of their slung-on combat trousers, each Saint patiently queuing up and waiting her turn to step back into the spotlight. If Woody Allen had been a girl group he would have been All Saints by this evidence. And it was magic; they looked and acted naturally, did not appear “professional” (even though all of them were stage school veterans), were not even apparently attracted by the global glitter which by then was beginning to squeeze the life out of the Spices. So great is “Never Ever” as a record that it takes the attentive listener a long time to work out that its chord sequence is identical to that of “Amazing Grace” (it was deliberately so) – and you instinctively think of “was blind, but now I see,” and “Never Ever” describes what they were thinking in the seconds before they saw the light – “when you gonna take me out of this black hole?” Peerless, and still New, Pop. 10

  14. 14
    Alan not logged in on 13 Apr 2014 #

    Where do they get all the sewing machines from?

  15. 15
    Alan not logged in on 13 Apr 2014 #

    “Never ever did I ever feel so low”

  16. 16
    Housetoastonish on 13 Apr 2014 #

    If there was ever a mid-late ’90s pop/RnB hit which was crying out for an Arab Strap cover it’s this one. Imagine Aidan Moffat sadly sighing his way through that intro.

  17. 17
    mapman132 on 13 Apr 2014 #

    We’re now entering the decline-of-Spice British Withdrawal period on the US pop chart where it seemed each big British or Irish boy or girl band would manage one, and only one, US hit which would never be heard again after it dropped off the chart*. All Saints actually bucked this trend slightly since “I Know Where It’s At” had already hit #36 before “Never Ever” got to #4. But otherwise, the trend started here as I hadn’t heard NE in years and have never heard their output after it.

    That being said, I actually like this more than I remember. I don’t remember the intro at all (maybe US radio skipped over it) but it’s not bad. The one thing I don’t like about the song is its odd tailing off at the end. Overall, they seemed to be positioning themselves as a harder-edged R&B Spice Girls. It’ll be interesting to see if this sound continues over the unfamiliar bunnies to come. 6/10.

    *Interestingly, this forum will not be encountering the one UK boy band to buck the trend and manage multiple US hits over the period 1998-2002: BBMak

  18. 18
    Mark G on 13 Apr 2014 #

    Hi, I am on holiday so just popped in to say a definite 10, for all the reasons Tom and Marcello have described, but am too lazy/late to repeat or add to, cheers.

  19. 19
    Ed on 13 Apr 2014 #

    #9 The analogy I was going to draw was that All Saints were the Clash to the Spice Girls’ Pistols, but actually they are more like the Jam: not as radical either musically or ideologically, more conventional in appearance, more obviously rooted in a tradition, and generally just not nearly as interesting.

    I have been a bit surprised by some of the positive responses here – although Punctum gets great respect for the Bitches Brew comparison! – for me, Tom’s assessment and mark are spot on.

    I can see they had something, though, and one of their bunnies is probably my favourite number one of the past two decades. But that’s for another day.

  20. 20
    Tom on 13 Apr 2014 #

    Of the five singles released from their first album, I think the two that I won’t be writing about (“I Know Where It’s At” and “War Of Nerves”) are my definite favourites.

  21. 21
    Ed on 13 Apr 2014 #

    @20 I’d forgotten War of Nerves! That’s a great song. But the bunny I was thinking of is from the second album.

  22. 22
    flahr on 13 Apr 2014 #

    Only #1 artist to share their name with a station on the Tube map (although not actually on the Tube).

    (There is also, pleasingly, only one #1 single to share its name with a station on the Tube map, and also only one #1 album – although this last one I’m not so sure about.)

    (My walk home from work passes Hanson Street, which makes me think ‘I wonder if that’s the only street in W1 to share its name with a #1 artist?’, and then Newman Street, which makes me think ‘surnames only doesn’t count’, and then Whitfield Street, which makes me think ‘one letter! so close’.)

  23. 23
    Billy Hicks on 13 Apr 2014 #

    Two memories of this, both years after the initial release:

    * Spring 2001, Year 7 and first year of secondary school, where a major talking point amongst friends was a pretty *huge* million-selling bunny and this, noting that if you sang them together they fit perfectly. Without going into too much detail, “Wherever you go…” “Never ever have I ever felt so low…” “Whatever you do…” “…when you gonna take me out of this black hole” etc.

    * January 2013, when this played in a trendy Shoreditch bar and *every single one* of my friends knew every single line, including the youngest who was born in 1994 so wouldn’t even have been three years old when this hit the top.

    I adore this, not something I play regularly but something I enjoy whenever I hear it. 8 or 9 depending on mood.

  24. 24
    Billy Hicks on 13 Apr 2014 #


  25. 25
    Chelovek na lune on 14 Apr 2014 #

    To my ears, and mind, a pretty fabulous composition, and pretty darn good performance. Possibly the final 90 secs or so could be tightened up a bit, but this is very welcome here.

    ‘War of Nerves’ is quite fantastic – mildly interesting to note, too, alongside some pretty great bunnies, that every one of their nine singles made the top ten.

  26. 26
    Erithian on 14 Apr 2014 #

    Time to declare an interest in that I’ve met one of the band, indeed I’ve known her dad for some 25 years. David Blatt, football nut, language teacher, traveller, all-round good egg and author of two books, “Manchester United Ruined My Wife” and “The Red Eye”, about living life with Manchester United as your religion. We used to hold Football Supporters Association committee meetings in his print studio near Old Street where his family lived “above the shop”, so I first met Melanie when she was about 12. David and I worked together in the FSA Football Embassy during Euro 96 – I remember him leaning out of the window after every England goal v Holland announcing the score to Piccadilly Circus – and it was around then that he told us his daughter was in a band. And then 18 months later they started having hits.

    As James beat me to it in saying, “Never Ever” holds the record for highest sale of a single in the weeks before the week it reached number one, the chart run going 3-5-6-5-4-4-4-2-1 over a big-selling Christmas period. The day it got to the top there was a party chez Blatt, all the girls plus special guests. Jamie Theakston came along, as did Stuart Zender, Jamiroquai bassist and soon responsible for the baby bump Mel sported at gigs. And Robbie Williams showed up as well, and David spent a happy half-hour chatting to him about Port Vale FC.

    To be honest, it felt to me like a patchy single, if a single can be patchy – I wasn’t too sure about the length of the spoken intro and the Shangri-Las imitation, and although the main body of the song swung like a good ‘un the “A to Z” and “A to Zee” lines jarred. Overall, though, a wonderful record and a pleasure to see at the top – as even people who don’t know their dads have confirmed!

    As we’ll see, further Number 1s followed, at least one an absolute classic in my book. Fast forward to the present, and Mel (whom I last saw filling our wine glasses at her dad’s 60th) was a mentor in the New Zealand version of X Factor last year. She’s now on the comeback trail with All Saints – they’ve just supported the Backstreet Boys on tour, and later this year they’re headlining a 90s/00s revival tour with the likes of East 17, Atomic Kitten and Jenny from Ace of Base. Good luck to them.

  27. 27
    Steve Williams on 14 Apr 2014 #

    I like these stories of when you first heard this song, and I am reminded my flatmate burst in one day to ask if I’d heard it because he was totally smitten by it. And indeed the All Saints LP was totally ubiquitous around university, so I used to hear it any time I was in someone’s flat or, especially, someone’s car. For me this song, and this album, is the sound of the Aston Expressway, as we’d listen to it while shuffling between Subway City, Bakers, The Que Club, The Arcadian Centre and other student staples in Birmingham. We absolutely lapped it up.

    I always liked it and especially so compared to the other albums on heavy rotation in our flat which were Tracy Chapman, an early Shania Twain album when she was still very much a country, rather than pop, artist and a Janis Joplin compilation I grew to absolutely despise. Compared to those three, I would elect to listen to All Saints as frequently as possible.

    Regarding the point above, I always thought Mel Blatt was a brilliant pop star, I found her very amusing. I remember on the Record of the Year TV show – either this year or one of the later ones – when she positioned herself behind the band who won and every time they crossed over to the green room during the voting, she would be behind them pulling a series of ridiculous faces.

  28. 28
    Martin F. on 14 Apr 2014 #

    But but but she already KNOWS the questions

  29. 29
    alexcornetto on 14 Apr 2014 #

    #16 – You say that, but nothing will ever top an Aidan Moffat-sung cover of an Atomic Bunny a few years down the line. Possibly the only time any of their songs was coupled with a Fall song anywhere (a cover of ‘Bill Is Dead’ was on the flipside).

    …man, that Sick Anchors single is wonderful.

    As for Never Ever, a lot of fond memories of this one. Yeah, “A few questions that I need to know…” has become a modern day “Jailbreak somewhere in this town” (see #28), but this is postmodern, magpie-eyed late 90s pop at its purest and least smug. Tarantino-style, the references are there if you get them; if you don’t, it doesn’t impair how great the song is.

    Flash forward to their double-bunny covers single a few months later, and that greatness vanishes for me completely (at least for a couple of years).

    This one’s a 9.

  30. 30
    MikeMCSG on 14 Apr 2014 #

    #22 You don’t need to substitute a letter in Whitfield.

  31. 31
    nixon on 14 Apr 2014 #

    #28 It took me weeks to get over that teeth-on-edge moment. “A few questions that I need to know THE ANSWERS TO”. Cutting through the airwaves first time out alright, but to very different effect.

    I warmed to it over time, as surely many people did given its chart trajectory, but both I Know Where It’s At and War Of Nerves are worth two of this.

  32. 32
    James BC on 14 Apr 2014 #

    I don’t much like this. I don’t deny that it does a good, even classic, job of dramatising the emotions of a breakup – much better than any number of angrier, shoutier songs – but I don’t find that a particularly enjoyable thing to listen to. Plus the occasional lyrical clunk brings out my churlish side. It’s not them, it’s me, but I give it a 3.

  33. 33
    Andy M on 14 Apr 2014 #

    @22 “only one #1 album… to share its name with a station on the Tube map”

    Well, if you’re allowing All Saints there’s been a second album one since 2011 (the one named by some vindictive TfL employee trying to confuse tourists)

  34. 34
    Kat but logged out innit on 14 Apr 2014 #

    Did Waterloo the album not get to #1 here then?

    I think we can all be thankful that Duffy’s Warwick Avenue only got to #3.

  35. 35
    anto on 14 Apr 2014 #

    One of the last songs I remember having a long slow climb to number one.
    I think it can still stand firm – The constant changes in the lead vocals and the mood are what make it compelling. It was certainly a cut-through-the-airwaves song for me as well – In fact, unless my memory has zoned out something else, ‘Never Ever’ was the first Popular entry I owned a copy of – It’s one of a very few (I’ve never really been into buying singles).

  36. 36
    Andy M on 14 Apr 2014 #

    Oh, maybe me and Flahr were thinking of the same one then. I was assuming any record with ‘King Kong Song’ would get to #1 :(

  37. 37
    Tom on 14 Apr 2014 #

    The other “holy shit what’s THIS” radio moment for me around this time was Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” – not a huge fan of their self-consciously dour turn around Mezzanine but that’s still an astonishing single.

  38. 38
    JLucas on 14 Apr 2014 #

    I like All Saints a lot – they released some excellent singles and vocally they had a really strong, interesting blend. Natalie Appleton has a gorgeous voice with a slightly Karen Carpenter-ish quality, which contrasted well with Mel Blatt’s jazzier tones and Shaznay’s slightly nasal drawl and occasional raps. (Nicole was a bit of a spare part, but she was popular with the tabloids).

    However, I do find them a bit depressing and establishment. It’s not so much their fault as the way they were embraced compared to the Spice Girls – at least initially – in terms of being the ‘acceptable’ face of female pop music. Spice Girls had feuds with rock stars, All Saints dated them. Spice Girls were bright, brash and fun, All Saints were surly, reserved and conservative. Spice Girls represented the power of friendship (even when Geri flew the coop they generally stayed on-message), All Saints were forever feuding.

    I agree on War of Nerves though, that one was really stunning, as were their forthcoming William Orbit collaborations. Their albums were patchy, but they released some excellent singles. This one was overplayed, and the intro got a bit irritating, but it’s definitely a 90s classic for a reason. 8.

  39. 39
    iconoclast on 14 Apr 2014 #

    The intro may be a bit clunky and the fade is definitely wrong, but the bulk of what’s in between is better than any song I’ve heard by the Spice Girls. This is very well crafted, nicely sung, unhurried, and has plenty of sublety; it gets my highest mark yet: EIGHT.

  40. 40
    georgethe23rd on 14 Apr 2014 #

    I never ever consciously realised the intro was spoken word, nor the chords to Amazing Grace. As such I’ve just increased my scoring of the song.

  41. 41
    Andrew Farrell on 14 Apr 2014 #

    #33 I think they’re talking about that one, All Saints the album only got to No. 2.

    #30 You do if you need a band we’re likely to see here, in fairness.

  42. 42
    Cumbrian on 14 Apr 2014 #

    #41: Seen the act in question already.


  43. 43
    thefatgit on 14 Apr 2014 #

    #37 Oooh! Mezzanine was one of my favourite albums of the ’90s. It stands up quite well even now. I loved all the chopped up atmospherics and dubby rhythms. Even 3-D’s monotone raps just highlight how jewel-like Horace Andy’s and Liz Fraser’s contributions were. “Teardrop” was the stand out, but I’d give “Man Next Door”, “Angel” and “Black Milk” their due.

    Just to keep things relevant, I think the Bristol scene had an indirect hand in determining how All Saints wanted to sound.

  44. 44
    Tom on 14 Apr 2014 #

    #43 Definitely, though it’s more obvious later. I think I’d like Mezzanine more coming to it again now – I felt at the time they’d got a particular balance of moods exactly right on Protection and things had tipped too much into darkness. But “Angel” was certainly another one of the good ones.

  45. 45
    Chelovek na lune on 14 Apr 2014 #

    #43 Presumably Cameron McVey forms part of that connection – the path going through Neneh Cherry and the Wild Bunch….?

  46. 46
    Kat but logged out innit on 14 Apr 2014 #

    Kilburn In The Name Of


  47. 47
    Cumbrian on 14 Apr 2014 #

    This is good – I wouldn’t go as far as some but would probably go further than Tom, in terms of the mark scheme. When I was listening to it initially, I thought “this sounds a bit cheap, they’ve done a good job rising above the backing” but on closer inspection, it’s just the drum sound that I don’t like (and the odd bit of trumpet that sounds like it is on loan from Jimmy Nail – good job keeping that to the minimum) as listening for all the other elements of it, I quite like them. The synths that Marcello identifies are a highlight, I also quite like the squelchy bass, the organ the underscores some of Shaznay’s parts and the guitar that is restrained and percussive.

    Better minds than mine have identified the strength of the song itself and vocals, where it’s coming from and where it’s going to. The only other thing that I thought about when hearing this was, given the band immediately coming up next, how oddly apposite the spoken word intro was – and the resolution of the song towards “hang on, I’m certain it’s not me that’s in the wrong” too.

  48. 48
    thefatgit on 14 Apr 2014 #

    #45 I didn’t realise Booga Bear and Cameron McVey were one and the same! My “indirect” becomes direct with a definable lineage there.

    You learn something new… etc.

  49. 49
    mapman132 on 14 Apr 2014 #

    I have to admit I can’t hear the rapping-over-piano intro without thinking of Biz Markie’s “Just A Friend” (not sure if that was a hit in the UK)….

  50. 50
    swanstep on 14 Apr 2014 #

    @43. I love Mezzanine too, esp. ‘Dissolved Girl’.
    @37. Big “holy shit what’s THIS” radio moment for me at this time was Rage against the Machine’s ‘Ghost of Tom Joad’ (Springsteen cover). I’d kind of ignored/only half-listened to RATM up ’till then, but that track blew my mind, made me a fan.

  51. 51
    swanstep on 14 Apr 2014 #

    Other musical mind-blower for me of 1998: Clint Mansell’s soundtrack to Aronofsky’s first film Pi.

  52. 52
    23 Daves on 14 Apr 2014 #

    #8 That’s probably the only thing I truly resented All Saints for – by the end of 1998, combats were everywhere. In the end, I even had friends dropping heavy-handed hints that I should buy a pair.

    “Are you going to buy some combats soon, then?”
    “Don’t you own any combat trousers?”

    I hated them, I thought they were incredibly ugly and I never bought a pair. They did seem to be the dominant trouser choice for one hell of a long time, though – a couple of years into the next decade it seemed to me.

    Anyway, “Never Ever”. Not much to add that hasn’t already been said, but its interesting to see the intro mentioned by so many as being a perceived weakness. Perhaps I’m a sucker for that kind of old-school idea, though, to the extent that I tend to zone out on the rather more dated social attitudes it contains (my wife frequently criticises me for subjecting her to sixties pop music whose lyrics could easily be interpreted as misogynistic, or at the very least containing very entitled male attitudes).

    A great song in all, and crucially one I’ve never quite tired of despite its constant exposure.

  53. 53
    Tom on 14 Apr 2014 #

    Even I had some combat trousers. EVEN I. (IDK if I consciously knew it was All Saints’ fault though) (They failed to see actual combat.)

  54. 54
    Tommy Mack on 14 Apr 2014 #

    #50 My WTF radio moments are mostly bunnied: a couple coming up soon from a certain indie bassist turned DJ and another (also bunied i think) a long way off from a blonde haired sociopath named after a sweet…

    Oh and this, just the other day, which is quite brilliantly vulgar and possibly the complete opposite of Never Ever: http://vimeo.com/20163100

    Footnote: Hmmm…hadn’t seen the video before, let’s say it somewhat detracts from the song’s feminist credentials….

  55. 55
    Tommy Mack on 14 Apr 2014 #

    Foot note 2: tbh the radio edit is better, being pretty blatant without actually resorting to grubby words.

  56. 56
    flahr on 14 Apr 2014 #

    #42: I did say surnames didn’t count…

    (We have already met Whigfield)

  57. 57
    thefatgit on 14 Apr 2014 #

    #50 my WTF (as in pull the car over and listen in plain awe) radio moment comes around 9 Popular years from now.

    Clue: “*****! Gosh! What have you done to the Nation?”

  58. 58
    Kinitawowi on 14 Apr 2014 #

    “The alphabet runs right from A to Z”.

    A line so shit they included it twice. IKWIA was better and there’s at least two more bunnies that I’d far rather listen to than this. I’d far rather listen to Appleton’s post-breakup work than this (Fantasy is actually quite fun and Everything Eventually is hilarious).


    #33: the sign TFL put up at the aforementioned DLR station is quite amusing.

  59. 59
    Kinitawowi on 14 Apr 2014 #

    Also, let’s do Now! 39 Disc 1:

    All Saints – Never Ever
    Lighthouse Family – High
    Janet Jackson – Together Again
    …well, not actually a bunny, but a song that’s probably more of a story for not making the top spot than it would have been if it did, so it can wait
    Natalie Imbruglia – Torn
    Billie Myers – Kiss The Rain
    Robbie Williams – Angels
    Various – Perfect Day
    Boyzone – Baby Can I Hold You
    Tin Tin Out featuring Shelley Nelson – Here’s Where The Story Ends
    Space featuring Cerys Matthews – The Ballad Of Tom Jones
    Texas – Insane
    Hanson – Weird
    LeAnn Rimes – How Do I Live
    Shania Twain – You’re Still The One
    Sheryl Crow – Tomorrow Never Dies
    Radiohead – No Surprises
    The Verve – Lucky Man
    Pulp – This Is Hardcore

    And with the notable exceptions of Sheryl Crow (seriously, TND is terrible), the not-a-bunny-but-still, and of course itself, I’d still rather listen to all of these than Never Ever.

  60. 60
    swanstep on 14 Apr 2014 #

    @58, Kinatowi. Haw haw, I don’t like that line either. The central ‘Never ever have I ever…’ refrain is pretty irritating too I find. Since never ever have I ever heard NE (or anything else from All Saints) before a couple of days ago, however never ever, I’m finding it hard to get my thoughts about the track to gel. Their William Orbit tracks were more my scene on first few listens, but NE is slightly growing on me. Can’t decide whether or not I should scrape it off.

  61. 61
    Mark M on 14 Apr 2014 #

    I have to say that the dodgy syntax always bothered me more than the sentiments – in any case, the spoken word bit always felt knowing, acted, not to be taken too straight.

    Listening to Never Ever again more carefully, especially having read what Marcello said, it’s clear that it leans closer to what was then rather tiresomely described as ‘neo soul’ – D’Angelo etc – than much more obviously hip hop-flavoured I Know Where It’s At. I’m not sure I noticed that at the time. In any case, it’s an observation, rather than a judgement, because I really like both singles.

  62. 62
    Alan not logged in on 15 Apr 2014 #

    How bowdlerised, if at all, is the This Is Hardcore on Now 39??

  63. 63
    nixon on 15 Apr 2014 #

    #63 I have a Malaysian copy of This Is Hardcore where the model on the front cover is wearing a photoshopped jumper.

  64. 64
    Kinitawowi on 15 Apr 2014 #

    #62: It’s shortened by 1:12 from the album version, but only by chopping out the lengthy piano section from the intro. Everything else is the same.

    Much better than the hatchet job Now! 26 did on I’d Do Anything For Love, chopping a twelve minute song down to under six; This Is Hardcore’s 5:13 is still one of the longest songs to ever appear on a Now! (tied with – ha – Never Ever).

  65. 65
    Garry on 15 Apr 2014 #

    I haven’t heard this in years, and can barely remember it. All I can think of hearing it now is Macy Gray would eat them for breakfast.

  66. 66
    wichitalineman on 15 Apr 2014 #

    The fashion for combat trousers – or any kind of combat clothes – led to several pub arguments, at least a few years hence. My take was that wearing army fatigues while we in the midst of “shock and awe” wars was insensitive at best, provocative, and asking for trouble.

    As for Never Ever, the opening line similarly drove me to distraction, and the ‘Spice Girls it’s ok to like’ angle was very West London-driven, just as all the action was shifting eastwards. Much better to come from All Saints.

    Their first album has become the Tears/Every Loser Wins/No Parlez of today’s charity shops.

  67. 67
    glue_factory on 15 Apr 2014 #

    @Kinitawowi Have you heard the k d lang “Tomorrow Never Dies” ? A great lost Bond theme if there ever was one.

  68. 68
    wichitalineman on 15 Apr 2014 #

    Everyone pitched for the Tomorrow Never Dies theme – Pulp, Dot Allison, Saint Etienne, probably others. There were a rash of b-sides with remarkably similarly titles (eg Tomorrow Never Comes) within a couple of months of the film coming out.

  69. 69
    Steve Mannion on 15 Apr 2014 #

    They are all easily imaginable and so naturally I have moved on to a Bond theme by Aqua in my mind featuring Rene as Blofeld of course. Hmmph…what is Danish for Weltschmerz anyway?

  70. 70
    Tom on 15 Apr 2014 #

    Surely the whole point of Rene – as we’ll see again in a couple of entries – is that he looks NOTHING LIKE the character he’s supposed to “be” in a given vid?

  71. 71
    glue_factory on 15 Apr 2014 #

    #68, I hadn’t realised there were so many, I was only aware of the k d lang version from Matt Berry playing it on Jonny Trunk’s radio show. Looking forward to checking out those others tonight.

  72. 72
    thefatgit on 15 Apr 2014 #

    “You can write it in a letter, Babe”. If NE was brought up to date what would be the (in)appropriate response on social media? Snapchat?

  73. 73
    Cumbrian on 15 Apr 2014 #

    “You can tell me on your tumblr, Babe”?

    “You can tell me through my twitter feed”?

  74. 74
    ciaran on 15 Apr 2014 #

    I played this on Sunday for the first time in years and thought to myself it wasn’t anywhere near as good as I remembered.

    Playing it yesterday there was a slight improvement and today in a case of ‘third time lucky’ it’s grown on me all over again.

    Kind of similar to how it was in late 97/early 98 as like Mark Morrison and R Kelly in popular the momentum and airplay behind it was enough to send it to the top after many weeks around the top 10.

    Like many I’m not terribly keen on the introduction (but it’s necessary to build the whole song around) and the fade is underwhelming considering what came before it.It took a few listens to come around to enjoying it again but it’s a decent beginning to Popular 98. Bit similar in mood to You Might Need Somebody by Shola Ama under a year earlier.7

    At the time All Saints were a welcome alternative to the overexposed Spice Girls and with NE and ‘I know where its at’ it was a good start. A bit up and down after this but there is like Erithian hinted at earlier there is one exceptional AS chart topper to look forward to.

  75. 75
    Chelovek na lune on 15 Apr 2014 #

    #74 (and others): I am mildly intrigued at all this talk of “one exceptional AS chart topper to look forward too”, on the grounds that there is one that I think is an absolute delight *but* it seemed to me to have been, at the time, rather overlooked/underrated – and not heard that much since, and it was by no means close to being their biggest seller. We shall see….

  76. 76
    Tom Ewing on 15 Apr 2014 #

    Yes, I’m intrigued too! Didn’t realise one of their later hits was The One.

  77. 77
    ciaran on 15 Apr 2014 #

    #75 – All my opinion of course.And sliightly linked to another chart topper we have yet to get to here.

    #76 – You may have already written about it in prehistoric era FT! It will sound like ‘I Feel Love’ or ‘Telstar’ compared to what follows Never Ever…..

  78. 78
    Auntie Beryl on 15 Apr 2014 #

    I still wear combat trousers to this day, at festivals. Before All Saints I was wearing jeans, which was foolish.

    Anyway, this is not quite a 10 but most definitely a 9, in context and in absolute. There is a 10 to come.

  79. 79
    daveworkman on 16 Apr 2014 #

    Sorry, nothing particularly pertinent to add other than I discovered Popular last week, and it bizarrely coincides here with the point at which I became a music ‘fan’ – at the beginning of ’98 at the age of twelve I started writing down the Top 40 (and recording the new entries on cassette – I can admit that now, can’t I?), a habit which continued for a good eighteen months before my musical tastes moved away from the charts. My first single was MMMBop, and up until September 1998 I only bought the occasional cassette single and compilation, not buying an album until I got my first CD player, so I’m now hugely looking forward to wallowing in my memories of this major year for me.
    Sorry, I realise this is fairly irrelevant – so to keep things on track, listening to this again, and reading some of the thoughts in the post and the comments, I’m intrigued as to whether anyone thinks this would work as a cover version sung by a male singer/singers?

  80. 80
    Erithian on 16 Apr 2014 #

    #74 #75 #78 – of course we could all be talking about different songs! We’ll know when the time comes…

  81. 81
    wichitalineman on 16 Apr 2014 #

    Re The One: A future AS number one was much-acclaimed at the time, and I quite liked it; another kinda sneaked out, and quickly disappeared, which I thought was an absolute gem. But… both ages away! Looking forward to 1998, a very jolly year for me.

  82. 82
    Chelovek na lune on 16 Apr 2014 #

    #81 sounds like we have the same gem in mind….I’ll drink to that. Some good stuff on the way first tho…

  83. 83
    Patrick Mexico on 17 Apr 2014 #

    Nah. Never liked it then, never liked it now. A stage-school appropriation of soul classics, not a million miles from what made Punctum very angry indeed on the Eurythmics – … Playing With My Heart thread.

    If the Spice Girls, for better or worse, were the sound of pop eating itself, this is the sound of pop thinking it’s better than the riff-raff next door because it owns more than three types of pasta. FOUR.

    They’d redeem themselves later, though. And earlier than most people here think!

  84. 84
    James Masterton on 17 Apr 2014 #

    #73 Interesting to note that at this point in time we are but a few months away from Hot N’ Juicy singing “I sent a message on the internet but it rejected…” which was the first ever pop music reference to bounced email.

  85. 85
    Steve Mannion on 17 Apr 2014 #

    #79 Dave your interesting reference to ‘writing down the Top 40 and recording it on cassette’ got me thinking as 1998 seems quite late on for doing either of those things. I’m not sure at what point the Beeb started publishing the chart on their website but perhaps around this time (from the mid 90s I’d stopped listening to the chart as broadcast and would just check it on Teletext a few minutes after 7pm each Sunday but I’m sure I was looking at it online by the very end of the decade). I wonder also how many people were recording the chart to MiniDisc (mono of course) or even directly to a hard drive around that time (not that many I’m sure).

  86. 86
    daveworkman on 17 Apr 2014 #

    #85 Steve, yeah it does seem a bit quaint now, but my family were never at the cusp of technological change – I was the first to get a CD player and first went on the internet at school! However, I think things did change relatively quickly, indeed in my lifetime have changed at enormous speed, and I think I would have been riding that wave. I do remember copying down the charts from Teletext initially, but towards the end of my endeavours scribbling down the charts, I do think I was just getting them off the net. And in terms of cassettes, did anyone read this yesterday? (http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/27036235)

  87. 87
    Tom on 17 Apr 2014 #

    #85-86 re cassettes – through most the 90s I made “cassette diaries” of any songs I liked – mostly taped off CDs borrowed from work, often from CD singles I bought. I added a song at a time with no thought of theme or flow, simply starting a new tape when I’d finished one. It gradually tailed off, I finally switched from Walkman to Discman towards the end of ’98 and that finished it. But by that time I had 60 or so tapes of randomly accreted favourites.

    (& hello Daveworkman, good to have you commenting!)

  88. 88
    Cumbrian on 17 Apr 2014 #

    I’ve worked out what the sleeve of this reminds me of. It’s the scene in Almost Famous where the band T-Shirts arrive, the band aren’t happy with them and the guitarist remarks, “I can see by your face that you want to get into it” to which the lead singer replies “How can you tell? I’m just one of the out of focus guys”.

    In fairness, the rest of All Saints probably didn’t mind at this point – though I believe that they split up originally over a jacket one of them was wearing, so maybe they did.

  89. 89
    Rory on 17 Apr 2014 #

    Steve @98: MiniDiscs were always a relatively expensive option, so I’m not surprised that a twelve-year-old wouldn’t have been using them (I was thirty in 1998, but still couldn’t justify the expense, and never used them). Tapes were still in use: CD players weren’t universal in new cars at this point, and many were still being sold with cassette players into the 2000s. And that’s new cars; many families would have been driving older cars with tape decks, which would have encouraged their use in the home as well, if only to record stuff to play in them.

    As for hard disk recording, no way was that a viable option for a 12-year-old in 1998. My oldest MP3s would date from around then – a handful of rarities – at a time when an album’s worth would have filled up a 100MB Zip disk in no time. 1998 was just before the radical change in hard disk technology that saw capacities increase by one or two orders of magnitude in the space of a year, which in turn facilitated the explosion in MP3 use: before that shift, a typical hard disk was about 2GB, and expensive. As for CD-Rs, burners had only just become affordable for consumers in 1998, but the blanks themselves cost pounds each, not pennies – again, not something within reach of a 12-year-old. Without cheap forms of digital recording, the best way for the average person to record audio in 1998 was still to use cassettes.

  90. 90
    Billy Hicks on 17 Apr 2014 #

    Our house was completely cassette until I got a CD walkman for Christmas 1998, and I didn’t start downloading mp3s until the start of 2003.

    But then in between that I used to just tape the videos from music channels, which I thought was a novel idea at the time as you got the song+video without having to go out and buy the CD.

  91. 91
    Ed on 18 Apr 2014 #

    @26, etc I am pleased there is widespread agreement that there is one bunny coming up that is the All Saints’ masterpiece. I am just worried that you might not all be thinking of the right one. After all, some people apparently don’t agree that the best thing the Spice Girls ever did was ‘2 Become 1’.

  92. 92
    iconoclast on 18 Apr 2014 #

    Something which has confused me for a long time: were they just plain “All Saints”, or “*The* All Saints”?

  93. 93
    Ed on 18 Apr 2014 #

    They’re really just plain All Saints, I think, but like Buzzcocks and Eurythmics they tend to acquire an extra “the” when people talk about them.

  94. 94
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 18 Apr 2014 #

    They’re named for All Saints Road in Notting Hill. It’s not really wrong to refer to say e.g “the ZTT studio where All Saints first met is on the All Saints Road in Notting Hill”, bcz it feels tidier rhythm-wise. But it doesn’t actually have a “the” in the name and nor do they.

  95. 95
    Kinitawowi on 18 Apr 2014 #

    #93: yeah, those missing “the”s totally screw up the rhythm when talking. I have a verbal tripup everytime I talk about Doves. (And more recently Foxes, who is just confusing on every level.)

  96. 96
    swanstep on 19 Apr 2014 #

    Note that throwing in bonus ‘the’s remains a good joke, e.g., ‘We like The Radiohead and The Muse. We also have time for The Gaga and The Lorde… Now, go make 100 cappuccinos, and bring me the best one.’

  97. 97
    Kinitawowi on 19 Apr 2014 #

    Pretty sure there was a Sum 41 video that took the piss out of that. “Numbers are out. ‘The’ bands are in.” They were called “The Sums” for the rest of the video.

  98. 98
    Martin F. on 19 Apr 2014 #

    (The) Germans will insist on calling their first of ten (that’s ten!) Popstars winners “Die No Angels”.

  99. 99
    hardtogethits on 22 Apr 2014 #

    #79. Enjoyed the comments, Dave.* Could this be covered by boys/men? I reckon not. The fundamental issue I have with that prospect is there seems to be a male readiness to pick at the lyric. I once-had-a-friend whose reaction to a conciliatory letter from a girlfriend who had finished with him a few months earlier was to criticise the grammar in the letter. That struck me as being as unattractive as it was spiteful.

    A famous lyricist (whom I admire greatly) at the time queried the use of “questions I need to know” and all these years later it troubles me that someone would do that. The singer is already at a pretty low ebb (at the song’s outset) and I think it’s incredibly unkind to question the words she chooses when, after all she’s been through, she picks herself up and manages to articulate herself.

    I know it’s a bit preachy, but I think it’s important as well (at some level) to (re)consider the possibility that pop songs (such as the one after the one after this) are acted out, and that grammatical flaws can add to the effect of the song. Maybe she said “questions” when she meant “answers” because she’s upset, angry, confused, low.

    *Waiting in for one of your lot at the mo. Never ever have I ever felt so let down by a plumber.

  100. 100
    Speedwell54 on 22 Apr 2014 #

    Seemed the decent thing to do and bring up the ton.

    The spoken intro says to me ‘listen to the lyric’. At the start the writer does play the victim which was something the Spice Girls did not do, but to me it does change through the song, and I think despite the pain she will get through. Good song. 8 from me.

    Re quite a few above
    The original line was “A few questions that I need to know the answers to.” but some male pedant pointed out the criminal preposition at the end of that sentence, so they crossed out the last three words… Well maybe not.

    I’m ok with the grammar stuff, even the THREE options of communication; face, ‘phone or letter followed by “either” though they do correct themselves shortly after giving the “either” option for the two choices of ‘not treating right’ or ‘fight starting’.

    This is poetic license, and if your thinking about it too much, you’re missing the point of the song.

    (having said that I’m okay with it, I wouldn’t go on about the “flexing vocabulary” running right through me)

  101. 101
    Cumbrian on 23 Apr 2014 #

    #2 watch – Never Ever kept off Bamboogie by Bamboo, not quite riding its KC and The Sunshine Band hook to #1.

  102. 102
    Your Brother, The Astronaut on 24 Apr 2014 #

    @89 Just to add to all the below, as Popular comes closer and closer to the 00s it easy to overstate the growing influence of the internet over music consumption. While I’m sure it varied from place to place (and the Welsh valleys were hardly at the cutting edge of technology for a variety of reasons) when I was a teenager in the early 00s everyone used tapes to copy off CDs/radio and I don’t really remember the internet being a ‘thing’ with regards to downloading/listening to music until rather suddenly in 2004/2005.

  103. 103
    Garry on 24 Apr 2014 #

    @89, @102 etc I worked over the Uni summer holidays of 97/98 and bought a double cassette/CD player like the one my mother bought at the start of the 90s.

    Before then I would tape my small CD collection to listen to under the covers at night on my Walkman. Similarly I made tape copies of anything I wanted to take to college in my first two years. I only threw out these cassettes recently when I realised everything I had on CD was not digitised.

    In school I would tape a lot of music off the radio – mostly not pop but sometimes it was. Every 6 months or so I would compile the best of these tracks, with the odd track from other sources such as the library, borrowed music or even taped off television.

    I still have these 15 cassettes in their own special case. I gave them names: there’s Leitmotiv, Deja Vu, Everything, Green, Blue (the first side slow, mournful songs, side two release). There were even a couple of themed cassettes, the self-explanatory Places (Prefab Sprout’s Hey Manhattan etc), and Places (side one was Portraits – ie songs about people, side two Landscapes which I can’t tell you what it was about because I didn’t fill in the track listing). Looking at them now there are songs I can’t remember I even taped and the names are all silly but that’s being a music fan in isolation for you.

    I stopped making compilations sometime after I reached the radio station, probably because my radio show was a pretty much a weekly mixtape so the need to create an unchangeable mixtape no longer had any interest.

    The problem with burning CDs was they didn’t always work in other computers, and were especially flakey and often scratched in car CD players. But this was all later again, in the 00s.

    My earliest digital media are MOD files which date from 1990, though I doubt this was when I got them. Jump forward to 1999 and I have a bunch of .ra files which were downloaded from some form of King Crimson fan site (mostly side projects from Bruford) plus an mp3 of The Sheltering Sky.

    So as others have said here tapes were still big in the late 90s due to the costs of CD, burners etc.

  104. 104
    weej on 24 Apr 2014 #

    When my housemate got Napster in 2001 I would actually wire up my mini-stereo system to the headphone socket and record the downloaded mp3s onto cassette. The idea of listening to them through the computer seemed silly, and nobody I knew had an mp3 player.

  105. 105
    Garry on 25 Apr 2014 #

    @104 It took me years to listen to music on the computer rather than burn them to CD. The noise of my earliest computers were too loud for me to bother hooking up speakers or headphones to listen to music. Then at some time or other computers seemed to get quieter.

  106. 106
    Steve Mannion on 25 Apr 2014 #

    And the music got ‘louder’ via compression!

  107. 107
    Garry on 25 Apr 2014 #

    Compession never worried me too much. I grew up with too many cassettes taped of the radio – often scratchy AM radio – and then copied again onto cassette compilations. I could never call myself an audiophile.

  108. 108
    Mark M on 25 Apr 2014 #

    Re: various – likewise, in my quasi-but-not-fully Luddite way, I still only buy songs off iTunes if I’m making a mix CD for a friend or for a very rare DJing outing. Otherwise, I’m happy with legal free streaming or, if I actually want to own a whole album, I’ll either go for vinyl or a cheap CD (a fiver from Fopp works out better value than paid-for-downloads and you’ve a got a thing).

  109. 109
    Ed on 6 Feb 2015 #

    Just heard this by Le Tigre for the first time. It’s from the following year:


    Surely a homage / parody at the beginning there.

  110. 110
    glue_factory on 7 Feb 2015 #

    Re: 109. That’s brilliant, I’ve never noticed that before.

  111. 111
    Steven on 29 Mar 2018 #

    This song takes me back to my college days. I was on a chat site at the time, befriending an Australian girl. Time zones were so far apart that we only could spend an hour maximum togetger. I typed the lyrics to her, and little did she know they were about the times when I had to say goodbye and see you tomorrow ❤

  112. 112
    Gareth Parker on 31 May 2021 #

    The minute long intro is laughable, but all in all not a bad track. 5/10 or thereabouts for me.

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