Jul 15


Popular38 comments • 4,976 views

#887, 13th January 2001

ruidasilva This Cassandra beats her mythical namesake: people demonstrably listened to her, it’s just hard to remember what she sang. You’d have been forgiven for thinking the allocation of dance number ones at this point was working on something like a quota system: a slot needed to be filled, every twenty or so weeks, and some arcane quango had landed the job of deciding exactly which tracks would qualify. So “Dooms Night”, “Sandstorm”, “Kernkraft 400” all narrowly missed the top, and Rui Da Silva gets the nod. But really there’s no mystery as to how “Touch Me” got here – it was a clubland hit, and doomed attempts to clear a Spandau Ballet sample meant it had plenty of time to build demand such that 70,000-ish people nabbed it when it did finally get a wider release. The rest is simply luck, and a gap in the schedules.

“Touch Me” is a humdrum, overcast track, which threatens to build to something but then backs off into a noncommital house throb. Cassandra’s vocals are full-blooded but her melody is monotonous – her one-note drilling on “we can only understand what we are shown” is the weakest excuse for a hook we’ve met in a while. There’s more to like about Da Silva’s ominous backing, with the “Chant No.1” sample a ghost in the mix, though its presence wouldn’t suddenly have turned “Touch Me” into a classic. The video finds a crew of fetching urbanites crowding into a flat for a smeary, faintly druggy house party: just as this aspirational fun starts getting sexy, some sod heads up to the roof for a bit of fire poi. Appropriately disappointing for this false start of a record.



  1. 1
    thefatgit on 27 Jul 2015 #

    Bem-vindo ao som futuro de Lisboa.

    Rui Da Silva has the honour of being the first Portuguese to feature on Popular. The 8.34 min Original Mix shows Da Silva’s understanding that Cassandra’s need is echoed by the Spandau Ballet lift. It’s that element that makes the song work in its own right. That’s the version I prefer to listen to. All the deep house stuff hangs of that Chant No.1 sample, and works immeasurably better with it than without it, and yes the Radio Edit is haunted by its absence. I’d still give it a 7, though. 9 with Chant No. 1 intact.

  2. 2
    lonepilgrim on 27 Jul 2015 #

    I quite like this. It’s not great or groundbreaking but it bubbles away pleasantly – although I’m not entirely sure whether I’m listening to the original or a remix – and some of the rhythms and bass tones remind me of Burial, who may have been referencing this kind of stuff for all I know.

  3. 3
    thefatgit on 27 Jul 2015 #

    The sleeve illustration prefigures Apple’s iPod campaign, no?

  4. 4
    Tom on 27 Jul 2015 #

    I quite like the sleeve, I dunno how corny that kind of library art was in 2001 but it stands out a bit from most dance music sleeves.

    In general though this is a stretch of club music I get very little out of (as the increasingly frustrated entries on this, Fragma, etc. probably make clear) – better to come later in the decade, I’d say.

  5. 5
    Chelovek na lune on 27 Jul 2015 #

    This record is too generic, featureless and dull to grasp my attention for any longer than its duration. Heard it all before, and heard it done better, too. Not horrid but also rather pointless. 3

  6. 6
    Billy Hicks on 27 Jul 2015 #

    This sounded *incredible* in the dark, messy, cramped surroundings of…

    …my teenage room, late Autumn/Winter 2004, when most of my early noughties dance was discovered. Another one I’d listen to and dream of a future life where I’d actually, gasp, be *in a real club* or house party like the one featured in the video and be able to dance to this sort of thing, only for that era to arrive and never actually hear this at any place I’ve ever been to. It’s also another one I’ve heard in two slightly different versions – it sounds like I’ve heard both the Spandau-sampling mix and the non Spandau-sampling mix at various points, different radio stations playing different versions at different times. They’re extremely similar but subtly different enough to spot some minor changes, not just the sample itself but certain elements of the track seem re-arranged.

    I don’t mind listening to this one, compared to certain other dance #1s of the noughties this seems one of the least remembered and played today, and that helps it still seem fresh in my mind (and evocative of my 2004 self) in a way that more overplayed ones aren’t.

  7. 7
    wichitalineman on 27 Jul 2015 #

    The first number one of a fabled year. People had imagined for decades how music might sound in 2001; back in 1969, when the film was released, I imagine the anxious stuttering pulse of Touch Me was entirely the kind of alien and futuristic noise people might have anticipated.

    I think we may be hearing it differently Tom, but the hooks for me aren’t “We can only understand what we are shown” (verse filler) but “Touch me in the morning and last thing at night”, and the three note keyboard line twinkling behind Cassandra, which causes a subtle thrill when it quietly jumps an octave.

    The 7″/radio mix just never gets going, it’s a hamfisted re-jigged edit, but the builds and peaks are all there on the 12″. It’s a lovely thing, not reliant on a hammered single hook like Modjo or Fragma, but immersive. Like TFG I’d give it an 8 or even 9.

  8. 8
    wichitalineman on 27 Jul 2015 #

    In my mind, I group it with Dreamer. More spectral obviously, but there’s the intense vocal, the anxiety of the chords, the melody’s lack of an obvious resolution, and the pan-European lyric* that means everything/nothing: “You touch my mind in special places.”

    *Just looked up Cassandra, aka Cass Fox, and discovered she’s North London Irish, so not as pan-European as I thought.

  9. 9
    Tom on 28 Jul 2015 #

    Yeah, the 12″ (I persist in thinking of longer edits as such!) is much better, isn’t it? Not willing to rank it with Dreamer – whose asset is its focus – but I can certainly see why it’s good. Should have dug in a bit deeper, I guess. I think my review is a fair reflection of the cack-handed single edit, though, which is what I remember from the time. Also, even on the long version, I don’t think Cassandra’s rather overwrought contributions add a lot to it.

  10. 10
    JLucas on 28 Jul 2015 #

    It’d be easy to write this off as a lucky early-January #1, but three weeks in the top 2 suggest this was a bona-fide crossover. And indeed I remember it well. I actually like it more now than I did then; the music has a certain woozy, end-of-the-party vibe that Cassandra’s smoky vocal generally complements – although I’d perhaps agree that it could if anything benefit from being even more low key.

    It was a busy release week too. Steps leapt from 72-2 with ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’, which was accidentally released early in some stores. In the end the difference in sales wouldn’t have pushed them ahead of Rui Da Silva in any event, but it’s a bit of a shame as it’s a far superior track to the run-of-the-mill Stomp, and probably one of their best ballads. They wouldn’t last the year, but there were still three more top 5 hits to come before their dramatic Boxing Day split.

    At #3 Fragma, finally following up ‘Toca’s Miracle’ with a fully-credited Maria Rubia replacing Coco Starr on lead vocals. While it’s little remembered now, it had a stronger chart life than many follow-ups to accidental dance hits, with a month in the top 5 and sales in excess of 200,000 copies. I remember this because Maria Rubia got very emotional when presented with a Silver Disc for it on CD:UK. She did mildly better than Coco out of her association with Fragma, making a brief top 40 appearence in her own right later that year with ‘Say It’, which I remember sounding like the background music to the Rainbow Road level on MarioKart 64 and was partially sung in French for no obvious reason.

    Outside the top ten, Mauro Picotto entered at #13 with Komodo (Save a Soul) which sampled ‘Sweet Lullaby’ by Deep Forest – a #10 hit in 1994.

    Red Hot Chilli Peppers scored their fifth and final top 40 from their successful ‘Californication’ album with ‘Road Trippin’ – the only one of the five I don’t remember at all despite charting higher than the better-known Otherside (#33) and Around The World (#35). That album was a staple of my sixth form common room though so I’m sure I’d recognise it if I refreshed myself – update, indeed I do.

    Finally at #31 was Lene Marlin with ‘Where I’m Heading’, her third and final top 40 hit and just as lovely and wistful as her previous two. Like a Norwegian Tanita Tikaram, she sold a lot of albums off the back of quite modest singles sales, but made no impact with subsequent releases. Her big hit ‘Sittin’ Down Here’ is often shoved into the same bracket of bland radio-whimsy as The Corrs and Sixpence None The Richer, which I think does a huge disservice to how deceptively dark and sinister it is.

  11. 11
    swanstep on 28 Jul 2015 #

    Beats two chords into the ground and past caring. @Wichita, #7, ‘Whole Lotta Love’ is from 1969 (as is ‘Echoes’) and kind of shows what you can do to make (mostly) two chords interesting; minimalism leaves a lot of room for personality and sexuality and performance quality and virtuosity (e.g., in the rhythm section) to shine. There’s just not enough on any of those fronts here, however, to leave much of an impression. I’d hope that a sharp-eared 1969-listener would have expected a little more from 2001 than this!
    4 (mainly for the 12″ mix)

  12. 12
    wichitalineman on 28 Jul 2015 #

    Re 9: True, it’s not Dreamer, but not much is.

    The other odd thing about the radio edit – apart from cramming in every bit of vocal, incidental or otherwise – is that the backing track is busier. The 8 min 30 version, which I’ve always taken to be the official extended version (no Spandau) is certainly more low key, which suits it.

    Re 11: I guess it still sounds like “the future” compared to Where Do You Go To My Lovely.

  13. 13
    weej on 28 Jul 2015 #

    This one completely passed me by at the time so I had to check it out on youtube. There are many different mixes, all confusingly labelled and I can’t for the life of me work out which is the one reviewed above. The ones without the sample of ‘Chant No. 1’ (confusingly labeled ‘original mix’) are pleasant enough but pretty generic and forgettable. The versions with the sample present instantly sound more sonically interesting, mainly because it’s so unusual to hear that kind of funky bass riff in early 2000s trance. It really ties everything together in a way you wouldn’t expect. I’d still prefer ‘Dooms Night’, ‘Sandstorm’or ‘Kernkraft 400’ to be here instead, but ‘Touch Me’ is really growing on me.
    Edit: Also, does the vocal here remind anyone else of a certain DJ Fresh #1 from a decade later?

  14. 14
    AMZ1981 on 28 Jul 2015 #

    I’m struggling to find anything of interest to say about this record; in fact it may be a contender for the least interesting number one single ever. I suppose I could note that it proved to be the first one hit wonder since Mr Oizo two years earlier (technically Baz Luhrmann split the two but he wasn’t an artist in the conventional success) but not the last in 2001. Since #10 mentions Steps’ runner up am I right in thinking that it set the record for the biggest climb within the top 75 and that record endures to this day?

  15. 15
    crag on 28 Jul 2015 #

    Sorry to be a pedant but ‘Echoes’ is from 1971.

  16. 16
    flahr on 28 Jul 2015 #

    Ability with poi and a lovely lilting accent was enough to make me fall in love with someone for two uneventful weeks at university, so it’s hopefully not ENTIRELY a mark of my own patheticness that the fire poi looks like the most fun bit of the video!

    The 3:25 version on M. da Silva’s official VEVO has the sample intact, I think. Pleasant enough while it lasted but even to someone coming back to everything contextless and in over a decade’s hindsight it seems like there was so much better around at the time. Three weeks though. [4]

  17. 17
    JoeWiz on 28 Jul 2015 #

    Welcome to 2001, folks. And what an insipid way to start us off. This is such a forgettable, tired record with so little personality. No ones day ever got any better after hearing this song, the lightness and energy of Modjo in entirely absent here.
    For some reason, i videoed every number one from TOTP. There’s an awful lot of Jamie Theakston in big shirts.

  18. 18
    swanstep on 29 Jul 2015 #

    @Crag, 15. Whoops, you are correct. I knew I was pushing it but thought that first versions of ‘Echoes’ were done back in 1969 for soundtracks (for Antonioni and others), but that now appears to have been wishful thinking on my part.

  19. 19
    Shiny Dave on 29 Jul 2015 #

    Any of the three 2000 dance tracks you mention would’ve made for a great review. “Kernkraft 400” would have had the rather good fortune of being unbunnied just as it gained a second life as a Welsh football anthem, “Dooms Night” looks ahead to dubstep years ahead of the fact (I believe we don’t meet dubstep on Popular until 2011), and “Sandstorm” is just ace.

    Turn-of-the-millennium dance music doesn’t get its best representatives on Popular. Not that this is at all bad. It feels quite like a meeting point of 1999 trance and 2000 disco revival, right down to the structure – which is undeniably “vocal pop song” in the radio edit at least, but with a fair bit more sparsity in the lyric than that implies, or that 2010s EDM would usually allow.

    I’m guessing that’s why it got traction, as it’s the sort of thing that could cross over. Obviously the pent-up demand from the sample clearance ending with a belated January release is what tipped it into bunnydom, though. Now, why couldn’t there have been a similarly protracted battle over “Kernkraft 400” lifting its hook from a Commodore 64 soundtrack?

    5. Miles from hating it, but it’s only quietly likable.

  20. 20
    Andrew on 29 Jul 2015 #

    I love this. It’s so seductive. A strong 8, possibly a 9.

    #14 I wouldn’t be surprised if this record has been broken in the download era, especially since streaming’s inclusion.

  21. 21
    Brendan F on 30 Jul 2015 #

    This is one of my favourite dance #1s. While I’m not steeped in dance culture to be able to figure out why that is, it does seem to have more of a rock structure which presumably makes it more palatable to me.

  22. 22
    The Muppet on 30 Jul 2015 #

    I really liked this at the time. It seemed more moody than other dance hits and early January suited it much better than a summer release. I think 2001 turned out to be one of the best years ever for chart dance although it didn’t show up much at No.1.

  23. 23
    wichitalineman on 30 Jul 2015 #

    Re 17: I suppose you would say that if you don’t like it but, sorry boss, you’re wrong. As The Muppet* says, a January record, definitely overcast. If there really were plenty of similar but better records, does anyone fancy recommending them? Much as I like Sandstorm, it’s a lot chirpier, and Zombie Nation is positively goofy.

    *I’m guessing Kermit.

  24. 24
    Steve Mannion on 30 Jul 2015 #

    Alas only a 5 for me and I do love my overcast yearn-dance…like a lot of trance-tinged 00/01 hits this just felt a bit too flat and pallid, despite Cassandra’s lustful lunges.

    Similar stuff from the time I preferred: From December 2000, Love Connection’s ‘The Bomb’ (cornier than RdS but more euphoric with it) and Way Out West’s ‘The Fall’ (sampling Coldcut’s ‘Autumn Leaves’ to fine effect) but that’s probably getting too Trancey – as would be the remixes of Rollo’s latest project Dusted at #31 in Jan 2001 with ‘Always Remember To Respect And Honour Your Mother’ – worth seeing its Where The Wild Things Are homage video too though. I see remixes of Salt Tank’s Eugina’ and OT Quartet’s ‘Hold That Sucker Down’ had charted outside the top 40 a few weeks beforehand too but I doubt the originals were bettered here.

    In Feb Photek nearly got his second top 40 hit with the exceedingly tasteful ‘Mine To Give’ ft. Robert Owens, monochrome video an’ all – all very Disclosurey as we could now say but probably shouldn’t…going deeper and longer than that, Luomo’s very deep and long ‘Vocalcity’ LP is wonderful.

    Other faves from late 2000: Braxe & Falke’s ‘Most Wanted’ EP, Silicone Soul’s ‘Right On’, Jazzy M’s ‘Jazzin’ The Way You Know’, Tom Middleton’s remix of Goldfrapp’s ‘Utopia’, the Mooloodjee remix of Etienne De Crecy’s ‘Am I Wrong?’, Evil Bob Sinclar’s ‘I Feel For You’, Sasha & Emerson’s ‘Scorchio’, Bangalter & Falcon’s ‘Together’ and, er, whatever mix of ‘Swollen’ by Bent bangs best. I’d say all have a connection with ‘Touch Me’ from a variety of directions but admittedly none with enough to render it entirely obsolete.

  25. 25
    wichitalineman on 30 Jul 2015 #

    Thanks Steve, that’s much appreciated.

  26. 26

    Apart from the rather Hallmark intro, surprised how much I like this one considering how slushy, unimaginative and drawn-out I thought this genre had become by now. And this is very adult, tasteful mock-Renaissance architecture compared to the winning brutalism of Sandstorm and Zombie Nation. But there’s enough Balearic/Iberian/whatever menace and passion in this one, however contrived, for a generous 7. You can divide that by 7 if it was summer 2001 #3 hit Ian Van Dahl – Castles in the Sky. Hell fire, dancey trancey stancey things of that ilk are so take-me-to-church cynical they make me physically sick.

    Footnote: Rui da Silva is the first artist on Popular since Jim Diamond whose physical form I had absolutely no idea of. Until I Googled what he looked like today. Christ on a bike! He looks like a Portuguese Stuart Maconie! Open letter to the world: if such a thing doesn’t exist, please don’t ever invent it.

  27. 27

    “Lembre-se de Vesta ferver-in-a-bag frango piri piri e Raleigh Chopper Bikes na forma de hattrick de Eusebio contra a Coreia do Norte? Eu amo 1966.” :D

  28. 28
    Chinny Reckon on 6 Aug 2015 #

    “There’s more to like about Da Silva’s ominous backing, with the “Chant No.1” sample a ghost in the mix, though its presence wouldn’t suddenly have turned “Touch Me” into a classic.”

    The ‘Chant no.1’ sample is in the original mix on my (full release, UK) vinyl. It’s in this radio edit as well.

    According to this , http://www.residentadvisor.net/news.aspx?id=2854 Rui Da Silva was fined for unauthorised use of the sample, but where was it removed? Am I missing something?

  29. 29
    STEVEN S on 6 Aug 2015 #

    I have never heard it before in my life (and I’m not particularly into dance music), but this is great, so moody and atmospheric. Pure pleasure for the ears. I’d maybe give it a 9.

  30. 30
    Ricardo on 9 Aug 2015 #

    As a Portuguese (and living in Portugal at the time; still am), I can tell you this: even with a previous bonafide club smash in his hands (along with DJ Vibe in 1994, with “So Get Up”, using the Underground Sound of Lisbon moniker), no one apart from the club cognoscenti knew Rui from Adam around these shores in 2001. With all the news filtering from the UK and as “Touch Me” reached the summit, he was suddenly turned almost into a national hero, with mainstream media in a rush to interview him and the song reaching saturation airplay at radio.
    With Rui drifting back underground with time, he duly lost that mainstream attention in Portugal too. But for a good three years, believe me: Rui was being treated like royalty whenever he got the chance to go back and visit his own motherland.

  31. 31
    Edward Still on 10 Aug 2015 #

    I must say I quite like this in it’s released form, which is the only form I have heard it in. Atmospheric and yearning and the comments about listening on headphones anx it being perfectly suited to a wibter release from up thread are spot on.


  32. 32
    Sausagebrain on 11 Aug 2015 #

    This is the first number one of my lifetime that I have no memory of. None whatsoever.

    And it will take a lot more listens before I remember one thing about this flavourless, plain Ryvita of a number one.

  33. 33
    Erithian on 15 Aug 2015 #

    Have to admit I was struck by this comment on YouTube: “This video captures everything at that time and place. The loft parties, the vibes, the intimacy of a small party like that where you knew everyone there but not too well to rule out a hookup after a lil MDMA, watching the sunrise in the cool cover of morning dew. My 20s… ”

    Like so many YT comments it just shows you can be nostalgic for anything if you were the right age for it. But although “you had to be there”, and although this track features clichés I’ve always disliked – that ubiquitous five-stab house-piano phrase, the psst-psst in your right ear – I found myself quite enjoying it by the end. Liking the insistence of the “one-note drilling” vocal Tom refers to and the deployment of the Spandau sample. Maybe I’m just in a receptive mood this morning. Don’t recall it from the time at all though.

  34. 34
    Handynummer Orten on 31 Aug 2015 #

    Cass with Rui da Silva is being re-released on October 30th. Cassandra Fox left Island Records, and decided not to move forward with the re-release of Touch Me. She went on the Faithless Tour instead.

  35. 35
    Rich on 30 Dec 2015 #

    #14 “Boys And Girls” by Pixie Lott climbed 73-1 about five years ago, and I’m quite sure it hasn’t been beaten since.

  36. 36
    GB on 26 Nov 2018 #

    An absolutely iconic vocal house record that really doesn’t “need to go anywhere” by virtue of where it does and doesn’t go. There is a phrase, less is more..

  37. 37
    Lee Saunders on 29 Nov 2018 #

    This has grown on me so much in the last, uh, 14 years or so. I used to think it was boring when I’d frequently encounter it on dance compilations, mostly those from 2001 I ended up getting second hand. And me thinking it was pretty pedestrian continued up until only the last few years, and now I adore it. “Less is more” as #36 infers is correct. The same rhythm and motif, circling indecisively from start to end in its confused-in-love fog, making for a very inviting record indeed, and one perfect for a January chart-topper.

    And “absolutely iconic” is pretty on cue as this definitely has become a house classic. #2 mentions Burial (“who may have been referencing this kind of stuff for all I know”) and that’s certainly to suggest Touch Me has had an influence on future garage and the like. And for instance, Jamie xx sampled it on “Ur Soul and Mine” on his Gil Scott-Heron remix album We’re New Here, seemingly in acknowledgement to its reverence among producers his age.


  38. 38
    Gareth Parker on 22 May 2021 #

    I love the moodiness here. Great record in my view. 8/10.

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