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1995 – Time Bomb

March 8th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Music · No Comments · Music

There were four big things going on for me musically in 1995:

  1. British dance music
  2. So-called Britpop
  3. African music
  4. Blasts from the past

Otherwise it was all Macarena and Take That. The lasting legacy of the year, for British holidaymakers anyway, was that this was the year somebody decided to take the song Living Next Door to Alice and add “who the fuck is Alice?” into one of the blank spaces. For some reason that joke never gets old for Brits abroad and the DJs in Greece and Spain know it so they still bung it on to this day.This was another good year for British dance music. Another album from the Shamen (Axis Mutatis. Not a big hit, but I liked it) debut albums from Leftfield and the Chemical Brothers while the Prodigy released Poison as a single which is when I started noticing them. Rave culture was really taking off.

Another scene that reached a tipping point was Britpop. Blur and Oasis had new albums (The Great Escape and What’s the Story? (Morning Glory)) and there was that much hyped battle between them. Pulp had their own tipping point with eh album Different Class, which really was a different class, and Radiohead showed some hints of where they were heading with The Bends. As if that wasn’t enough, there was competition from newer bands with debut albums from Elastica, Supergrass and Black Grape. It was an exciting time. Just about all the good singles of the year came from those albums.

As for African music, I don’t think I bought much new stuff, the only notable thing released in  the year that I can remember is Baaba Maal’s Gorel/Sidiki megamix which blended two tracks from the Firin’ in Fouta album into one massive dance track. It was produced by Simon Emmerson who became a name to look out for. He did for African music what Chris Blackwell did for Jamaican music – adding just enough British elements to it to make it cross over more easily. The reason that African Music was a big thing was the African Proms at the Royal Albert HAll.

I went to the African Proms and saw Youssou N’Dour, Salif Keita, Lucky Dube, Khaled and Baaba Baal. Youssou N’Dour and Salif Keita were the big names that sold the tickets but it was Baaba Maal who stole the show, as much for his dancing as for the music. Khaled also made quite an impact, entirely for the music. Youssou N’Dour’s set was a bit truncated because Baaba Maal over-ran but it was also fantastic, with all those drum patterns weaving in and out of each other and the talking drum on top of that. My wife brought a taking drum back for me from one of her trips home to Ghana, at which point I learnt that it is a lot harder than it looks!

The blasts from the past were artists still persisting after many years and coming up with the goods. Of course there was Pink Floyd with the live album Pulse – the one with the blinking red light on the CD case – but that was just a live album. The two stand-out releases were Stevie Wonders Conversation Peace and Van Morrison’s Days Like This. I thought the Stevie Wonder album was the best thing he had done since the 70s. He even rapped a bit on it!

Other things were obviously going on, but I wasn’t paying too much attention. There was this new band called Foo Fighters. I can remember reading that it was the drummer from Nirvana now playing guitar and singing. I thought this was a novelty that woud fizzle out. How wrong I was.

A few other specific things did catch my attention: I Wish by Skee-Lo was a really catchy song and a contrast to the gangter style of hip hop, and Suggs’ solo album The Lone Ranger was a real gem. And then there was Rancid with their album …And Out Come The Wolves.

This caught me off guard. To look at them you would expect punk. The name itself suggests punk and the bloke with a mohican on the album cover is as punk as you get. While there was a lot of that on the album, it was mixed in with a lot of ska, especially on the three singles. I only got this on a whim, because my sister-in-law worked for Sony and could get CDs at a dirt-cheap price. I would order a dozen at a time for the price of a couple of normal CDs. I took advantage of this to fill in a lot of gaps in back catalogue, replace some old records where I had played the vinyl to death and to take a punt on bands new to me. This was one of the best punts I ever had and so I chose Time Bomb as my 1995 track on my playlist, though I could have just as easily picked Roots Radicals instead, or even Maxwell Murder or Ruby Soho.

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