Mar 14

OLIVE – “You’re Not Alone”

Popular88 comments • 9,350 views

#767, 17th May 1997

Olive “You’re Not Alone” walks a line between the mind-expanding and the tediously polite, a nexus point for a handful of mid-90s trends and ideas. There’s trip-hop in the mildly skippy beats, or at least what was left of trip-hop after all the scuzzy, stoned, party-friendly elements had been siphoned off elsewhere. There’s the well-groomed soul of the Lighthouse Family in the songwriting – particularly the drab verses: when I started my business career, the Lighthouse Family had already become the conference call and lobby music of choice, and they were more than fit for purpose. And there’s Everything But The Girl’s “Missing”, too, a dance track whose yearning, thoughtful tone had earned it plenty of post-club usage. As the rave generation settled into their mid-20s and beyond, the music of the chill out room found its way out of the club and into the home.

Olive – whose main songwriter Tim Kellett had even worked for the Lighthouse Family – feel part of this rather tepid moment, but there’s a little more happening here. Mood music shares DNA with new age, and as such it’s easy for a group to take a step or two towards the mystical. Olive’s shifting, echoed chords and promise to “stay till the end of time” are as spooky as they are soothing, and the multi-tracked keening at the end is an eerie moment, making the title a warning as much as a reassurance. But the song, in the end, is too slight to make much of its haunting elements: its sense of the uncanny proves a wisp, something easily forgotten in the cold light of, well, whatever you listen to next.



  1. 1
    Tom on 2 Mar 2014 #

    Another quick plug for this http://notquiteaspopular.tumblr.com/ – which is where videos of the tracks and relevant side material are being posted (without editorial comment, in general).

  2. 2
    tm on 2 Mar 2014 #

    This was popular still on the radio later that summer when I started my first ever job, washing pots in an Italian restaurant. £2.40 an hour and it gave me terrible, terrible headaches. The kitchen that is, not Olive which I quite liked.

  3. 3
    hardtogethits on 2 Mar 2014 #

    In May 1997 I took a phone call fom an old friend of mine. My immediate reaction upon hearing his voice was to offer my condolences to him, following his favourite football team’s relegation from the Premier League. Sunderland had lost 1-0 to Wimbledon , a few days before, on the final day of the season, and under absurd circumstances had fallen foul of another of Coventry City’s great escape acts.

    “Aw, I don’t care man, me sister’s number one!” he responded.

    I’m sure my response must’ve been “Eh?” – but I was so surprised I don’t remember exactly how I encouraged him to explain himself. But explain himself he did.

    “That Olive record, that went in at number one last week? That’s our Ruth-Ann”.

    This must have prompted a further reaction. I imagine I swore, heartily and repeatedly, with a mixture of joy and disbelief.

    I’d not seen this coming. Over the years, my friend had said his sister was a great singer – and he’d recounted a particular episode where, hearing the singing from her bedroom he thought he was listening to a Rickie Lee Jones tape. I never doubted that – my friend just isn’t the sort to exaggerate. But obviously I did wonder how good. And here was the answer.

    This number one comes from the time between two dominating chart forces.

    It came after the era when a new chart act would have to climb its way to the top of the chart (1952 – 1994); now, it was possible for an act to spend its first week in the Top 40 at number one – even if the act and the record were relatively unheralded by TV and radio.

    And it came before the era when chart acts would repeatedly be manufactured in public on national TV (2001+)

    And yet in this spell between the eras, its remarkable how very few UK bands – once the dominant form of chart act – made their top 40 debut at number one. DJs did it. Solo acts did it. Singing groups did it. But not many bands. But Olive did. No ITV1 or BBC1 to propel them there, either.

    No matter how transient they were, Olive’s story is a fairly unique one. A story of the extraordinary talent of ordinary people.

    To me, it’s a complete fairy tale. 10.

  4. 4
    Steve Mannion on 2 Mar 2014 #

    After its initial stall just outside the top 40 the previous year I think this is another case of a subsequent remix having a very strong hand in its second life – in this case the remix by Steve Osborne and Paul Oakenfold which starts off as a more stripped down Orbital-y version of the original before launching into the signature epic trance style Oakie became a figurehead for, establishing himself as the archetypal jet-setting superstar DJ in a superclub era getting paid many thousands of pounds per set.


    Unlike ‘Professional Widow’ it wasn’t a remix already available with the original release but I certainly remember it as inescapable throughout the rest of the year in the same way BBE’s ‘Seven Days And One Week’ had been in ’96 and probably the best thing Oakie did since the remix of Happy Mondays ‘Hallelujah’.

  5. 5
    lonepilgrim on 3 Mar 2014 #

    this reminds me of a slowed down version of “It’s a fine day” by Opus III – the come down after the high – also reminiscent of William Orbit’s work with Beth Orton from a few years earlier . I like it.

  6. 6
    Alan not logged in on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Love this, and loved it when Tinchy Stryder reused it a few months before Naughty Boy/Sandé/Wiley reused the White Town track in a similar manner.

    Leftfield “Original” had been ubiquitous at 95 festivals. This was or seemed to me to be the late 96/97 equivalent — though again (like Pro-Widow) I’d forgotten why the prolonged life and revival (and I don’t even recall the Oakenfold remix Steve links there). However my brain might be confused by having seen them perform this at the Brighton Essential Festival in 97, which the internet tells me must have been either during or right after it was number 1. Coo.

    Another standout track in this vein, Lamb’s Gorecki (a 10), made an imperceptible dent in the charts 2 months earlier than this finally hitting the top.

    8 no 9 (changed my mind)

  7. 7
    Kinitawowi on 3 Mar 2014 #

    To finish off squaring the circle – you mentioned new age; Ruth-Ann Boyle’s next work with was with Enigma on their The Screen Behind The Mirror album, and it’s fair to say that she knocked Gravity Of Love completely out of the park.

    Enigma, EBTG, Lighthouse Family. All music that I’d rather listen to than this, I’m afraid. 3.

  8. 8
    Weej on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Hm, quite liked this at the time and it still sounds pretty good now – those backward synths, and Ruth-Ann’s excellent, understated performance. It’s a low-key track though, it’s true, and it doesn’t do much to stand out, but that doesn’t have to be a fault. There’s room in the world for this kind of thing, and while it’s not worth more than a 7 I’d absolutely rather listen to it than Enigma, EBTG or The Lighthouse Family.

    Good call on Gorecki, Alan at #6, BTW.

  9. 9
    mapman132 on 3 Mar 2014 #

    This got a smidgen of US airplay that fall and peaked at #56. It had been a while since I heard it and I couldn’t figure out which of the three music videos and multiple remixes was the definitive one so I listened to a bunch of them the other night. I don’t love it, but I do like it enough for 7/10.

  10. 10
    Auntie Beryl on 3 Mar 2014 #

    The Oliveblokes had previously been in Simply Red and Nightmares On Wax, and in the tiny intersection of that Venn diagram lies You’re Not Alone. Polite, bland Radio 2 90s easy listening with enough dread seeping in via the synth lines to distract. It’s not terrible or memorable. FIVE.

    Another vote for Lamb’s superb Gorecki, which led me to buying wire a wodge of classical music over the following couple of years. Would have been a ten from me as well.

  11. 11
    PurpleKylie on 3 Mar 2014 #

    I really like this song, this is one of the best no.1s of the 90s for me. I don’t remember this at the time, I was 9 years old and still fairly new to the UK at this point (my family relocated from NZ in October 1996) so I wasn’t really in tune with British pop culture in the first year of living here until I discovered the Spice Girls (cringe). Anyway, I have a soft spot for songs that have an atmosphere or have a sentiment that grabs me which this song achieves, and I have a nostalgic soft spot for 90s electro-pop. 9.

  12. 12
    wichita lineman on 3 Mar 2014 #

    The space-filling, thumb-twiddling verse really lets the song down, because the hook is terrific and the chorus vocal decidedly eerie.

    I wouldn’t have guessed they were from the north east – I’d have laid good money on Surrey. There’s something quite Guildford or Godalming about this.

  13. 13
    Cumbrian on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Not loads to say about this one. It’s alright but not much more – the chorus is quite hooky though and was something I was able to recall before I pressed play on it. Decent enough.

    That pulsing synth hook sounds like Moby – Play, which won’t trouble the top on Popular but, in 18 Popular months time, was absolutely everywhere and the sound definitely reminds me of that (don’t own any Moby though, so don’t know whether he used similar sounds on his earlier records – though I am aware one of those records is a vegan metal record or something (?) so unlikely to be a sound on that record I suppose).

  14. 14
    Izzy on 3 Mar 2014 #

    I do like this, for all the reasons cited above – bar comment no.3, which is a lovely story. It’s also got a bit of Faithless about it I’d say. The whole chill-out-goes-pop nexus is quite a pleasing pop current. I was going to lament its getting blander as time went by, but by definition it must have been bland to start with.

    Anyway the slightly spooky minor mood, heavy delay on the synths, plus a nice vocal, raise this pretty high for me. (8)

  15. 15
    punctum on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Manchester again, and the number one which the Durutti Column helped enable. Both keyboardist/trumpeter Tim Kellett (please note – NOT “Tim Keenan”) and singer Ruth-Ann Kelly worked with Vini Reilly before joining up with Robin Taylor-Firth, on a busman’s holiday from Sheffield’s Nightmares On Wax, to form Olive. Although their general musical tenor was that of a pasteurised Morcheeba – polite variants on trip hop with a long-term eye on Radio 2 – “You’re Not Alone” was strikingly different and proved to be their moment, even though it took a Northern Radio 1 broadcaster the best part of a year of dogged airplay, as well as the band applying some remixing, to make it a hit.

    But when I first heard it on the abovementioned Northern broadcaster’s show in 1996 – in its original and best form, as it appears on their Extra Virgin album – I was immediately struck by its difference. For the first verse there is almost nothing save Kelly’s uncertain voice; only remote bleeps with occasional bursts of squalling interference, trying to contact the uncontactable. Then Kellett’s grandly emotional and oceanic OMD string synth chord sequence cuts through in jagged signals as she sings “You’re not alone, I’ll wait ’til the end of time.” There is a four-bar pause before the drum n’ bass lite beats skittle their way into the picture and the chorus becomes grander, near hymnal. The subject is nearly the oldest of number one song subjects, the reluctant, temporary parting with reinforced faith that their love will be strengthened and their eventual reunion will be joyous (“I will not falter, though/I’ll hold on ’til you’re home/Safely back where you belong/And see how our love has grown” – Kelly taking that “grown” and making it sound like fully-formed pink gladioli springing out of the formerly dry earth) – it was the subject of the second number one single, Jo Stafford’s “You Belong To Me,” and a subject which evidently still spoke deeply to many; in a nineties context, the performance sounded like an ecstatic reaffirmation of unshakeable faith, desire and patience.

  16. 16
    anto on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Moody and rather gorgeous. I really don’t hear anything trip-hoppy in it, and very little of the Lighthouse Family. I also prefer it to ‘Missing’.

  17. 17
    anto on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Moody and rather gorgeous. I really don’t hear anything trip-hoppy in it, and very little of the Lighthouse Family. I also prefer it to ‘Missing’.

  18. 18
    Rory on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Surprised to see people describing this as unmemorable, because I could instantly recall it when I saw the title, despite never owning it; it had a decent amount of radio play in Australia, even though it peaked at number 40 there. The 4:15 radio edit is the one I remember, not the Oakenfold/Osborne remix or the original album mix. The radio edit loses some of the sense of development of the album mix, so I wouldn’t score it too highly, but there’s certainly enough for a 6.

    As with Gary’s previous, there’s a Madonna connection for Olive too: they contributed to one of her movie soundtracks (which we’ll encounter here, though not for their track on it) and then signed them to Maverick for their second album.

  19. 19
    Tom on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Hm – wonder where I got “Keenan” from?

  20. 20
    anto on 3 Mar 2014 #

    #16/17 – I concur.

  21. 21
    James BC on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Huge gulf between chorus and verse quality here. Among recent number ones, only Simply Red’s Fairground springs to mind as comparable for that.

  22. 22
    ciaran on 3 Mar 2014 #

    This sounds very similar to Not Over Yet by Grace. Enjoyable then and still the same now. Up there with White Town in terms of pop that seemed so normal yet distant in Popular 97. And both one hit wonders! 7

    The most surprising chart topper of the year I would say.

  23. 23
    Tom on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Edited the name – thanks for the correction Punctum.

    I am out of step with a bunch of commenters here – I’ll go back to the song and see if it comes across as less ineffectual. Grace is a good comparison point, “Gorecki” I don’t hear quite as much – but, like “Missing”, those are both tracks which seem a lot more substantial and purposeful than Olive. Which I get might be the point – what I like about “You’re Not Alone” is its mood not its events, but the idea that this is a contender for the 90s best is really startling! Still, that’s the fun of Popular and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Their second LP was called Trickle, which is about the most underwhelming album name I can imagine.

  24. 24
    leveret on 3 Mar 2014 #

    The disconnection between the off-kilter synth pulse and the eerie chorus melody acts as a hook in its own right in this. I was never fond of polite Morcheeba-type trip-hoppish stuff and am not particularly fond of EBTG’s ‘Missing’ but this track manages to find an atmosphere of its own and transcend the usual limitations of this style. Worth at least a 7.

  25. 25
    Izzy on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Chillout-style breakbeats, as here, sound very generic to me. Where do they come from? Is there some Al Foster sample that’s been repeated ad infintium, or are they individually programmed with subtleties I’m missing?

  26. 26
    Alan on 3 Mar 2014 #

    I didn’t mean to make a ‘this sounds like’ comparison point with Gorecki. More like a ‘also going on in this genre’ fixed point for orientation. Compared to Gorecki most songs sound sleight! And I’d agree this is sleight, but memorable and with a move into new-age ‘feels’ as it moves up near the end.

  27. 27
    thefatgit on 3 Mar 2014 #

    I’m with Rory on this one. Easy to recall, but not something I invested in. By this stage, I was only buying albums anyway, but still had an interest in what was happening on the Singles Chart.

    This is what I would tentatively call drivetime dance music. Not a club banger, but takes its cues from what the clubs are playing. Radio-friendly, smoothed out and non-threatening. Compared to the previous #1, it’s a reassertion that love will wait and will be stronger as a result. I like it when #1 records talk to each other.

  28. 28
    unlogged mog on 3 Mar 2014 #

    I love this song, I spent hours pursuing it across the radio when it was big to fill an entire side of a C90 with it.

  29. 29
    Chelovek na lune on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Hmm, I suppose this is a bit watered down/mainstream radio fare alongside the dance side, but it is a good example of it, and has a haunting aspect that is rather appealing. I rather like it though.

    Re the Lighthouse Family (they are still around, really?): inappropriate tweet of the day https://twitter.com/lighthousefamly/status/439914901403074560

  30. 30
    Tom on 3 Mar 2014 #

    #27 You can nearly always get number ones to talk to each other :) (I sometimes try and avoid it, sometimes give in to the narrativising urge). Easy enough with this and the next one too.

  31. 31
    James BC on 3 Mar 2014 #

    #24 is a bit unfair on Morcheeba – they weren’t just a watered-down version of Massive Attack or whoever. The way they mixed slide guitar and other organic sounds with programmed stuff, on the first two albums at least, has dated remarkably well to my ear.

    Later on they started going for songs rather than sounds and the songwriting wasn’t really up to it (Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day), which is probably where the bad reputation comes from.

  32. 32
    Alan on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Can someone with music-technique savvy describe what ‘a happening in the ‘delayed beat’ effect of the main synth hook. Is it just that? Something unusual is happening there, right?

  33. 33
    Chelovek na lune on 3 Mar 2014 #

    #31 Morcheeba’s problem: building their reputation through two, subtle, intriguing, appealing albums (I was first introduced to them by a friend who’d heard them in the rather decadent clubs of Moscow c. 1998) – and then, having come to public attention [in the UK], blowing it on the third, by dabbling with mostly fairly mediocre pop. Still, their fourth album, “Charango” was a rather enormous return to form, if anyone noticed it…

  34. 34
    Izzy on 3 Mar 2014 #

    32: no musicologist, but I think what it is is that the synths are playing triplets, which the strong delayed beat is doubling into six-beats-where-four-should-be, emphasised further by it being the strongest element in the mix that’s operating to a different metre. It’s an effect I first noticed with the snare on PJ Harvey’s ‘Dress’, and is very disorientating.

    Plus the echo is so strong that the stress is in quite the wrong place. The effect in the chorus is almost like two separate tracks playing at once.

  35. 35
    hardtogethits on 3 Mar 2014 #

    #15. Ruth-Ann BOYLE.

  36. 36
    Rory on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Somewhere out there, Ruth-Ann Kelly and Tom Keenan are fronting an Olive tribute band.

  37. 37
    Tom on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Kenan And Kel!

  38. 38
    punctum on 3 Mar 2014 #

    #35: Your capitalised correction looks somehow angrier than mine (and mine wasn’t angry at all). Do you find that you get angry about quite a lot of things quite a lot of the time?

  39. 39
    leveret on 3 Mar 2014 #

    #32, 34 – I could be wrong, but I think each note played by the synth/sampler is also reversed so that each begins with the ‘fade’ and then comes to a sharp end. If so, it’s a bit like the technique used by Stephen Street to create some of the ‘abbatoir noises’ on the title track of Meat is Murder (of all things).

  40. 40
    iconoclast on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Hmm. There’s definitely something in this, in particular the way the gentle singing delivers the title hook in the chorus, and it would have been far better if it had been taken in a more atmospheric direction befitting its mood rather than drowning it in the genre-mandated electronic drums and staccato keyboards. As it is, the verses sound underwritten, and the overall effect is of two completely different songs played at once in the hope that they’ll work together, which they unfortunately don’t. Should have been more, but a mere FIVE.

  41. 41
    Izzy on 3 Mar 2014 #

    39: I don’t know if they were first, but the Beatles were fond of backwards sounds (vocal on Rain, guitar on Tomorrow Never Knows, percussion on Strawberry Fields Forever). Led Zeppelin’s When The Levee Breaks is supposed to do amazing things with backwards echo, but tbh I’ve never been able to identify it (if anyone can help, I’d love a pointer).

    Backwards cymbal is a common production trick, unnecessarily so imv as a closing hihat produces a similar but much more controlled and pleasing effect.

  42. 42
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Of the top of my head, I can think no reverse-tape effects in pop prior to Revolver. The BBC Radiophonic Workshop had certainly routinely used them — possibly even on the original Doctor Who theme-tune — and the idea was well known to musique concrete composers in the 50s, when the switch was made from vinyl disc to magnetic tape. It’s certainly curious that it didn’t appear sooner in a pop context: loops had after all been been used (in the sense of repeat gags, like “Wipeout!” in the Surfaris’ “Wipeout”, 1963). It may just be that studio-time was too expensive for experiments that basically required dismantling the machinery — whereas Stockhausen or the Radiophonic Workshop were there to experiment and had anyway built their own studios from scratch and weren’t renting them by the hour, most pop outfits before 1966 were working on much tighter margins, and hence in and out of a studio much too quickly, with no standing to require that the engineers be as playful as them. But the Beatles by then pretty much lived in Abbey Road, time no object, so the rental issue didn’t really arise — plus EMI more or less gave George Martin carte blanche, and experiment became possible.

  43. 43
    Alan not logged in on 3 Mar 2014 #

    (hells bells, the internet can be scary some times – i just duckduckgo’d “reverse synth olive’s you’re not alone” and got sukrat’s comment from just 40 mins ago)

  44. 44
    Cumbrian on 3 Mar 2014 #

    #43: Aside from it being the most comprehensive answer to this vital question in the history of the Internet, aren’t search algorithms now set up to identify the types of sites that you regularly go to and “promote” them up the order of what you might see when you search for stuff? So, beforehand, it might have been that that answer was in the search engine but on page 4 but, knowing your internet habits, cookies, etc, it’s been helpfully bunged on page 1.

    Or do I, on search engines as with much else, know nothing and have grasped the wrong end of the stick?

  45. 45
    Tom on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Nah you’re right except IIRC duckduckgo’s USP is specifically to avoid that filter bubble effect – it’s search results are “clean”. Though recency probably plays a part.

    It’s a good point about the Beatles – that their innovation isn’t just a case of having great ideas but of having the R&D budget/commitment to realise them.

  46. 46
    Cumbrian on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Cool. First I have heard of duckduckgo. Should probably be using them more often – especially at work, so as I can get find stuff more easily from outside my usual circle of suppliers, etc.

  47. 47
    Alan not logged in on 3 Mar 2014 #

    the only thing I find DDGo lacks is a replacement for or quick link into google’s image search

  48. 48
    flahr on 3 Mar 2014 #

    #23 – I reckon Settle could give it a run for its money.

    #38 – “The Popular comments feed is now brought to you by ELIZA”

  49. 49
    Speedwell54 on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Flahr – very funny comment re 38.
    Those capitals look a bit angry. Why do think those capitals look angry?

    You’re Not Alone – 8

  50. 50
    Garry on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Another “Oh THAT track” moment for me. It all comes flooding back, the song and the sound of the era. The start of the post-rave era at the pop level, not that I ever raved. Over time the this sound would place a heavier emphasis on the acoustic: Moloko, onto Turing Brakes etc, but in 1997 we were in the last vestiges of large creative underground electronic scenes and it was from here the chills came.

    I’ve felt it was around 1997 tracks sounded like they were being produced for compilations rather than compilations being assemblages of disparate elements. I always find it interesting comparing the first couple of Cafe Del Mar albums to both the later ones and the slew of Ibiza titled comp which subsequently came out on Ministry of Sound etc. A producer could just slap down some strings, a Spanish guitar and a few wave noises and get picked for a comp.

    (Meanwhile the creative edge of underground electronica turned towards glitch, which only had one endpoint – samples got smaller and smaller until the whole scene, and the last vestiges of the the great 90s electronic exploration disappeared into nothingness. Or so it felt to me.)

    I’m not saying Olive is part of this continuum of deliberate commercialisation, but as the sounds of the underground leached upwards and cross-pollinated with Massive Attack/Portishead-isms leaching downwards, some bands were at the right place at the right time. This was trip-hop’s year.

    I have a far better memory of Lamb from this period, after being introduced to them via the remixes of Kruder and Dorfmeister and Fila Brazillia etc which appeared on Cafe del Mars and Rebirth of Cools etc

    I always felt Lamb had a bit of a cult following, at least here in Australia. I started my radio program in August 1997, and over the next 7 years one of the few requests I got was from Lamb. There was a girl who used to ring up and request them but only once every 18 months. Those few phone calls were the only times I heard from her. It was her interest which led me to track down a full album and give them a spin. I liked their schtick though it is the better known tracks – Gorecki, Trans-Fatty Acid etc stayed with me.

  51. 51
    23 Daves on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Oddly, I thought that this was an incredibly bland and uninteresting piece of coffee table music first time around, but having listened to it again just now I actually quite enjoyed it. Snobbishness may have played a part in my dismissal of it in ’97, since it was widely name checked by the kind of people who name dropped Morcheeba to appear faintly ‘out there’ (I’m older and less irksome these days).

    I’ll agree with the observations that the minimal verses of this song drag it down and stop it from being a great record (rather than merely a quite good one) but the chorus, and most especially the eerie, psychedelic mixing of the keyboards, is far better and more effective than I remember. I’m not sure if someone’s said this already or Tom has eluded to it, but there’s the faintest wisp of “Johnny Remember Me” to this – and certainly the use of echo and bizarre keyboard effects make me feel as if it’s a low-budget record where a lot of the cheap but well-used studio gimmickry is at least half of what hooks the listener in.

    I’m in a quandry about how to mark this now. I came in pretty sure I was going to give it a 4, but it may be a 6 or nearer a 7… I’m actually half-tempted to download it, but I’m not really sure there’s enough to it to keep me interested for long.

    Also just listened to the follow-up “Outlaw”. Now that really IS nothing special.

  52. 52
    Garry on 3 Mar 2014 #

    To touch on Everything But The Girl – the cover of Walking Wounded haunted me – it is perhaps the record cover which most places me into the middle 90s.

    The title track is majestic, but I would say that as I am a huge fan of Spring Heel Jack. By contrast the remix by Omni Trio – the brightest, happiest drum n bass act ever – didn’t feel right.

  53. 53
    Nixon on 4 Mar 2014 #


    I remember, when I arrived at uni that autumn, a few months after this hit #1, the union was absolutely covered in Olive posters, some sort of poster campaign competition tie-in with some product or other (possibly a soft drink or something… my mind wants to say Drench, maybe? This is going well, isn’t it?), and the text made it sound like they were superstars rather than one hit wonders.

    I can’t remember what one had to do in the competition, but there were prizes galore to be had (“loads of Olive stuff – and if you win the top prize, Olive will come and play at your uni!”) Even then, just a few months later, I found it difficult to believe anyone was going to be excited by this prospect.


  54. 54
    Nixon on 4 Mar 2014 #

    #19 The much-missed Trish Keenan was the lead singer of Broadcast, if that’s what was going through your mind, Tom?

  55. 55
    Baztech. on 4 Mar 2014 #

    My god. Listened to this and similar songs because of this forum and when chorus hit on Grace “Not Over Yet” I was reminded of delirious times dancing in Liquid Rooms in wonderful Edinburgh during my student days.

    This was due to Klaxons making a “rock/indie” version of it in 2007. Was not aware it was a pilfered sound (OK not quite “step on” levels, but I am still shocked I didn’t know). Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4yxoHwNzEE

    Apologies for the rather esoteric post.

  56. 56
    Ed on 4 Mar 2014 #

    Gorecki is lovely, but I always get Lamb mixed up with this lot, who I like even more: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lpTkSs009A

  57. 57
    Ed on 4 Mar 2014 #

    And I can’t believe no-one’s mentioned this lot yet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WZgpvFL5f0

    Surely the album that defined the rave -> coffee table continuum?

  58. 58
    wichitalineman on 4 Mar 2014 #

    Only if you think Higher Than The Sun is coffee table.

  59. 59
    23 Daves on 4 Mar 2014 #

    I may have mentioned this on “Popular” before, but a year or so ago I was in a branch of HMV and they were playing the latest old-school mid-nineties “Greatest 90s Club Hits In The World Ever!” CD over their sound system. I didn’t hear this one, but I did find myself strangely enjoying all kinds of unlikely candidates, stuff I’d have cocked a snook at during the period. It could be that my taste has changed in the intervening years, but a more likely explanation is that a lot of these records were heavily played in the kind of small provincial clubs I went to – cheap places where people often went to carry on drinking past midnight rather than specifically to dance. Therefore, they soundtracked a lot of pleasant moments for me.

    So with stuff like Olive, which was really heavily played at the time, it’s hard to say whether I’m enjoying the single itself now or enjoying the sense of time and place it evokes. This may continue to be a problem until we get to about mid ’98 or so, after which my life took a much more broke, less socially active turn.

  60. 60
    swanstep on 4 Mar 2014 #

    New to me as of a few days ago, “You’re Not Alone” is proving to be quite a grower. Still, it’s not obviously better than a whole bunch of things from around the same time that never got anywhere near the top of the charts. I’m thinking of things EBTG’s ‘Before Today’ , Lush’s ‘Last Night’, but even things like St Et’s album opener ‘Wood Cabin’ are in the ballpark (and all in fact rule my heart in a way that ‘You’re not Alone’ never will). For another example, I really dug Bows’ album in 1999, e.g., King Deluxe, but as far as I know they never had any chart action whatsoever. So it seems to me strange and wholly capricious that Olive got all this attention. That said, I think I now prefer YNA to Sneaker Pimps’ ‘6 Underground’ which was the lone trip-hop-light track that I remember getting any push in the US on MTV in 1997/8. For that surprise sharp chord in the chorus pattern:
    6 or 7 (mood-dependent)

  61. 61
    Steve Mannion on 4 Mar 2014 #

    There really were a LOT of ‘two blokes and a lady singer’ type bands like this at the time. In addition to the aformentioned – Ruby, Hooverphonic, Archive, Alpha and Snooze would all be on any self-compiled primer (‘sometimes just one bloke not two’ disclaimer applies).

  62. 62
    Tom on 4 Mar 2014 #

    #61 Steve you can’t be telling me there was a coffee table trip-hop band actually called SNOOZE

  63. 63
    Chelovek na lune on 4 Mar 2014 #

    Up until now I always presumed that “Olive” was a solo singer (and Black)…. it is really is news to me that *they* were a group, never mind the Simply Red connection. Had only heard the song (oft from car speakers in Romford), never seen any visual indication of the performers at all….

  64. 64
    Steve Mannion on 4 Mar 2014 #

    #61 Yes – I only heard their first album properly last year but I like it – a bit of everything you’d expect (dub samples, DnB dabbles, Cinematic Orchestral “maybe I can get a soundtrack gig out of this” vibes…no wait come back/wake up etc.). French bloke hence the possible lack of awareness in the nom de plume.

  65. 65
    stellaVista on 4 Mar 2014 #

    Exactly 5 years ago (almost to the day) “Friendly Fires” released their single “Skeleton Boy” which “borrows” (steals) the refrain from “You´re not alone” quite prominently.
    I like both songs and wonder if there is a mash-up somewhere.
    see/hear: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyA8zfouG4Y

  66. 66
    23 Daves on 4 Mar 2014 #

    #60 I actually thought about mentioning “6 Underground” as an example of a track that is this-sort-of-thing-but-much-better! Crucially though, YNA sounds less dark and threatening, which probably made the world of a difference to its chart fortunes.

  67. 67
    Alan not logged in on 4 Mar 2014 #

    Re Friendly Fires, they’ve said it wasn’t deliberate http://www.clashmusic.com/feature/friendly-fires-interview But what’s odd is the ‘coincidence’ that Tinchy Strider toured with them around this time, and his very definite appropriation of YNA (I mentioned earlier) was also recorded/released at this time

  68. 68
    Steve Mannion on 4 Mar 2014 #

    Never really noticed that ‘Skeleton Boy’ similarity but the more blatant adoption of the hook in 2009 was on Major Lazer’s ‘Keep It Goin’ Louder’.

  69. 69
    Auntie Beryl once more on 4 Mar 2014 #

    The most sycophantic exploitation of the Cafe Del Mar AOR strand was Karen Ramirez, Looking For Love. EBTG cover, polite acoustic backing, no other hits. It worked.

  70. 70
    Ed on 5 Mar 2014 #

    @58 A fair point: “coffee table” is snarkier than I meant, really.

    I love ‘Higher Than The Sun’, and I loved One Dove, too. Played the album to death the year it came out, and it still gives me an overwhelming memory-rush of 1993.

    They score extra points for the fantastic use of ‘Fallen’ in that work of cinematic genius Showgirls, too.

  71. 71
    Garry on 5 Mar 2014 #

    @69 – I have Karen Ramirez’s Looking for Love single. Remixes were by Trouser Enthusiast, Don Carlos and Dave.

    It was in the un-givenaway Giveaway pile which us announcers were allowed to pillage at random intervals. I grabbed it probably because I liked her track on Cafe del Mar 4 (Troubled Girl).

    I missed that it was a cover version, but of course it makes perfect sense now I hear it again. It must be a decade since I last gave it a spin.

  72. 72
    weej on 5 Mar 2014 #

    I really liked that Karen Ramirez single (even bought the LP) and didn’t really think of it as chillout/trip-hop fodder, more like the jazz-soul-dance-pop mixing from a decade before. Giving it a listen again it seems I was only half-right, it still stands up well enough though.

  73. 73
    swanstep on 5 Mar 2014 #

    @66, 23daves. What for me gives YNA the edge over 6 Underground is Ruth-Anne Whatshername’s voice – I just prefer her more rounded vowel sounds (I like the same thing in London Grammar’s Hannah Whatshername’s voice) over the Sneaker Pimps’ more cramped ‘little girl-ish’ voice. Also Olive’s track has ultimately ended up feeling more authentically its own electronic thing to me whereas ‘6 Underground’ has always struck me as so derivative that I just want to chuck on some Portishead when I hear it. But no one has to like the voices I do or share my judgments of relatively originality and self-standingness.

  74. 74
    Kinitawowi on 5 Mar 2014 #

    So, all the comparisons with 6 Underground and Not Over Yet have forced me to have a look at this again.

    See, I love 6 Underground. (And most of Becoming X.) And I *really* love Not Over Yet; I mentioned in Popular ’96 that I’d have given that a 10, and 6 Underground is an easy 8, possibly even 9. You’re Not Alone? I can maybe stretch my original mark up to a 4.

    The difference? Robin Taylor-Firth is no Liam Howe, who in turn is no Paul Oakenfold. Not Over Yet, a song ultimately about a dying relationship (it may not be over yet, but it’s pretty clear it soon will be), is pulled in every possible direction; a drum track that never lets up, loops mingling everywhere, the monster synth klaxons (FUCK THE KLAXONS) through the bridge into the emotional wreckage of the chorus, desperation to cling on throughout; this is the song that convinced me that it was possible for dance music to be something more than the row the Chemical Brothers had got to the top spot; it didn’t just have to be something for the clubs that I had no connection to. It could actually have a heart.

    (Disclaimer: I’ve still yet to work out exactly which edit of Not Over Yet it actually is that I’m in love with. It’s 5:57 long, if that helps anybody work it out.)

    Then there’s 6 Underground. An intro ripped straight out of Goldfinger (Fatboy Slim would later also recognise the value of a good John Barry sample) – specifically from the scene where Jill Masterson is found dead from gold paint-induced skin suffocation – leads into a song that, rather than booming into a chorus, gets more panicky and claustrophobic as it twists in on itself, never truly breaking free from Kelli Dayton’s tale of social anxiety and compression.

    You’re Not Alone seems to lyrically tread the same water as Not Over Yet, a song from the just-about-to-be-dumped, but while Oakenfold’s production keeps Not Over Yet alive with the passionate pleas of somebody trying to hold on, You’re Not Alone is mostly cold and restrained. Again, it fits thematically – the song certainly sounds like it’s somebody trying to hold on to a long-distance relationship that’s going south – but until the final layering of Boyle’s vocals, it feels like the song’s trying to keep me at a distance as well.

    Not Over Yet is the final, punch-in-the-gut ending to a relationship. You’re Not Alone is about one that’s simply petering out. I know which one feels more visceral.

  75. 75
    Tom on 5 Mar 2014 #

    Next entry will be up tomorrow – losing the fight against sleepiness – expect a double bill update with the Pop World Cup…

  76. 76
    Steve Mannion on 6 Mar 2014 #

    Post it at 3am!

  77. 77
    wichitalineman on 6 Mar 2014 #

    Lack of sleepiness has led me to dig out Looking For Love by Karen Ramirez, which I loved at the time and had no idea it was an EBTG cover. It still stands up very nicely, with its repetition and springtime airiness in its favour. Sneaker Pimps’ 6 Underground sounds darker, but more try-hard than claustrophobic to me, more obviously post-Portishead whereas Looking For Love, Missing and YNO* were onto something newer and skippier.

    Speaking of Missing, a friend of mine (not me, for once) misheard the chorus as “…and I guess it’s Mr Ray”, like it was a 2 Unlimited tribute.

    *there’s a great playlist in here if anyone fancies suggesting more stuff in the same vein?

  78. 78
    weej on 6 Mar 2014 #

    Czech playlist contribution: Ecstasy of St. Theresa

  79. 79
    Kinitawowi on 6 Mar 2014 #

    Karen Ramirez’s Looking For Love (pretty good, I think) was on Now! 40, fact fans.

    We’ve still got a way to go bfore we get there, mind. (The Popular clock is currently tracking around number 37; You’re Not Alone somehow missed the cut, seemingly landing in that weird no man’s land gap between two releases. The Now!s actually start struggling around this point, as the rapidly accelerating pace of the charts combined with the promotion and release cycles of singles start to leave it behind, but that’s surely a story for another time…)

  80. 80
    swanstep on 6 Mar 2014 #

    @77, wichita. Although it’s a little later (1999), the Bows track I linked to above is a decent addition, as is Britannica from the same album.

  81. 81
    Garry on 6 Mar 2014 #

    I’ve always liked the Fila Brazilia remix of 6 Underground, which emphasises the dragging, brass band-like chords. That said I love the original.

    I always got Sneaker Pimps and Stereo MCs mixed up in my head because I heard their respective Bloodsport and Deep, Down and Dirty albums around the same time.

  82. 82
    Chelovek na lune on 6 Mar 2014 #

    I might have found the Karen Ramirez record semi-tolerable (it’s a decent song, for one thing), if the EGBT original wasn’t…vastly superior in almost every regard. Ramirez’s version really was a pale carbon copy that added little, and imitated, not overly successful, the style of the original….

  83. 83
    Paulito on 12 Mar 2014 #

    This one stands out from the pack for its unusually soulful and haunting quality, with those phased synth chords providing an unforgettable hook. It’s an 8 bordering on a 9 for me.

  84. 84
    benson_79 on 1 Feb 2021 #

    Olive calling their album Extra Virgin always raises a smile for me.

  85. 85
    Gareth Parker on 1 Jun 2021 #

    #82 I disagree, I like Ramirez’s version. 7/10 for Olive imho.

  86. 86
    Mr Tinkertrain on 30 Mar 2022 #

    This is decent enough – not a track I gave a lot of thought to at the time, but it holds up pretty well, although it never quite takes off for me. It was also the subject of one of those dreaded piano-based covers for a TV advert (Lloyds, rather than John Lewis for a change) a few years ago, so it’s endured. 6/10 seems about right.

    Other chart highlights: the most recent UK Eurovision winner (to date), namely Love Shine A Light by Katrina & The Waves, made #3 during this period. I’d struggle to name more than about three UK entries since then.

  87. 87
    Lee Saunders on 19 Jun 2022 #

    Just read this thread for maybe the third or fourth time, but I’ve had the same thought each time so now I feel compelled to mention it: I’m surprised that among the post-rave/coffee table chat and frequent mentions of Górecki there are no mentions of Life in Mono! And suddenly on this reading, Underwater Love.*

    As far as this pop/trip hop vein goes I have a somewhat high tolerance, but find that some insatiable aspects of some tracks can make me cooler on them. Morcheeba, say, I rather like their first two albums until eventually I find my patience slip – until something quite interesting happens and I’m attentive again. I remember listening to a Tricky interview where he seemingly dismissed the combination of icy/hip hop/dubwise beats and female singer that runs through this vein to be a neutralising of Maxinquaye. I’d say Dummy** is a closer model, but on a track like You’re Not Alone I can never quite hear much trip hop – I mentally place it more as pop-d’n’b, a forerunner to Kosheen perhaps. I’m very fond of it and that is largely down to its aforesaid particular eeriness (the vocal and more pressingly the backwards synth hook especially).

    *UL was ad-boosted though, which I guess is some distinction as chill-out would thrive through that to some extent (or at least there are innumerable mentions of ‘from the TV ad…’ in late 90s/early 00s chill-out comps). The Aloof’s gorgeous One Night Stand was used in an ad three years after the fact and its spliced percussion is what I find You’re Not Alone’s eerie effects most similar to.
    **The noisier s/t – particularly tracks like Cowboys – comes over like an attempt to jump from the deluge though I doubt awareness of Lamb, Mono et al came into it at all.

  88. 88
    Kinitawowi on 20 Jun 2022 #

    Life In Mono – fine tune – was also advertising fodder though (it was in a Rover ad). As noted there was a lot of this sort of stuff riding the whole chillout / advertising wave – commercialbreaksandbeats was one of my favourite websites of the era for tracking stuff.

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