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1997 – Brimful of Asha

March 10th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Music · No Comments · Music

There were quite a few good songs in 1997, and a few that bring back specific memories. Brimful of Asha by Cornershop  falls into both camps. At this time I was going to a few clubs with my wife and her sisters. We all lived and/or worked in London so had plenty of choice. Sometimes it was a club in Lewisham, but more often we went ‘up west’.

One especially memorable night we went to Moonlight (I think it was called). I may have been the only white person in the club, it certainly felt like it. Not that it was a problem. If anything it was payback for those times in the past when I had gone out with friends and there was one black friend in the group who would be the only black person in the pub or club we had gone to. That night my sister-in-law was trying to teach me how to dance to Jungle music and at one point Norman Beaton came in and was treated like royalty, even though Desmonds had finished years before, just to highlight how black the club was.

But I am getting off the point again. One night we went to a club somewhere behind Regent Street. I think David ‘Kid’ Jensen turned up to do a guest DJ spot and played Brimful of Asha. What was this song all about bosoms for a pillow? It was immediately catchy and I went straight out and bought it that week. Every time I hear the song it takes me back to a time when I could go out clubbing without a care in the world, so I am putting it on my playlist to represent 1997.

There is another song that absolutely takes me back to 1997, but not in a good way. It is Torn by Natalie Imbruglia. I like the song but during the year I had a bad dose of flu and for several days I was in bed with just Capital radio for company. I didn’t even have the energy to change the station so it was on all day, and the same songs would crop up just about every hour but it was Natalie Imbruglia I noticed the most – it is a very distinctive song. I soon got completely tired of hearing it and for a long time afterwards I felt a little ill hearing it because of the associations with my sickbed.

Otherwise, it was a good year. Of course it was, it was 1997 when Tony Blair won the General Election and we all felt happy. By now I was living in Crawley, having moved out of London the year before. I had joined the Labour party because I could – it was a lot easier than when I tried to join in the 80’s in Putney – and had been to some meetings and been out delivering leaflets and knocking on doors for the campaign. After the election we had a Labour MP in Crawley and a big party in the Civic Hall, so I was meeting people and making new friends in my new home. When we moved we knew nobody in the town, all our friends were still up in London.

Musically it was a good year too, all wrapped up in that whole ‘Cool Britannia’ label. We had OK Computer from Radiohead, Blur’s self-titled album containing the massive Song 2, Urban Hymns from the Verve, Fat of the Land from the Prodigy, Dig Your Own Hole from the Chemical Brothers, Maverick A Strike from Finlay Quaye, and New Forms from Roni Size. Nearly all the good singles of the year were from those albums.

The singles chart was bunged up with the Spice Girls, Barbie Girl, Steps and similar but, apart from the singles off all those albums, there was also the anthemic Tubthumping by Chumbawamba, History Repeating from Propellorheads and Simarik by Tarkan. We heard this while on holiday in Tunisia and so I got the album because I couldn’t get the single, even in a metropolitan place like London. Some years later it got remade by Holly Valance as Kiss, Kiss but I much prefer the original Turkish version.

Yes, I was still dabbling in world music, discovering new sounds like Natacha Atlas who released Halim in this year. I also picked up a compilation of Osibisa and found out what all of the fuss was about. I had been married to a Ghanaian for a couple of years and yet had not really touched Afrobeat or Highlife music! I had been aware of Osibisa since I was at school, but only because of the album covers with the Roger Dean graphics. I had not heard the music.

To satisfy my 70s nostalgia there was Fleetwood Mac’s live album, The Dance and a couple of Yes albums. The first was a second Keys to Ascension double CD with one disc of live tracks and a second one of new songs. The second Yes album of the year was Open Your Eyes. Both were a bit underwhelming, any maybe I was just buying everything they released out of habit. Not that the new tracks were bad, just not very memorable. You don’t see tracks from Open Your Eyes, Talk or Keys to Ascension featuring on concert setlists, apart from the tours promoting those albums.

Of course there was another album from the Fall. There is most years. I still wasn’t buying them or listening to them. The time when I finally ‘got’ the Fall was still some years off. Fortunately by then we had Spotify so I could catch up without having to buy several dozen albums.

And finally… to complete the mood of national optimism and faith in British music, in 1997 the UK won the Eurovision Song Contest for the 5th and probably final time.

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