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1999 – Smooth

March 14th, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Music · No Comments · Music

I really liked listening to Santana when I was at school. I only had the Caravanserai album myself, but other people there had other albums and it was all good stuff. I really lost touch with his music after Moonflower. Nothing seemed to get any publicity and so I never noticed it. I was happy just listening to the old stuff anyway. All of that changed in 1999 when Supernatural came out. He was taking the approach John Lee Hooker had on his later albums and it was stuffed with guest appearances. More importantly it had some memorable catchy songs and was like a festival of Latin American-flavoured music.

Driven by the singles Maria, Maria and Smooth it went to number one just about everywhereand got gold, platinum and double platinum discs just about everywhere – although only silver in the UK, which is surprising because you just could not escape it. By now I was with the love of my life and engaged to her. We took a holiday in Corfu with her kids and they were also well into the Santana singles. I can remember at the kids’ club in the hotel the oldest boy did a lip synch thing to Maria, Maria. Supernatural was one of the the few records that the whole family actively enjoyed. Of the two big singles, Smooth just edges it for me because I love the Rob Thomas vocals on it, but either track just takes me back to that first family holiday we had.

I actually prefer the Chris Staropoli club mix because it is punchier, but that only appeared on the Ceremony album four years later, so it is the basic, but still excellent, version from the Supernatural album that has gone onto my playlist for 1999.

Other notable albums from the year were Eminem’s Slim Shady LP, Play by Moby and S&M by Metallica. There was also the first Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros album which was interesting because it really reminded me of Manu Chao, which is only fitting as Manu Chao’s old band was always compared to the Clash.

There was also a new album from Yes, but this one (The Ladder) actually had some songs that had the spark that was missing on the other post-Union albums. In fact Lightning Strikes is one of my favourite Yes tracks. It made me very happy that I had persisted with them through all the changes and confusion.

The other album from this year that I keep going back to is Camelspotting. It is a compilation of Arabic tracks, including Amr Diab’s smash hit Nour El Ain. It had come out a couple of years before, but this was where I was introduced to it.  This is one of my favourite compilations, aong with Reggae ’93, SuperfunkArabesque,  the Greensleeves double-CD Dancehall 1979-82 compilation, Don Letts’ Dread Meets Punk Rockers Uptown, and the impressive and beautifully-packaged Deutsch Elektronische Musik sets. Some of these will get mentioned in good time, but I think compilations are often overlooked. Some of my favourite albums are compilations. I may have to write about that separately.

At this time I was still buying singles and there were some good ones that I bought in 1999 – dance singles like Kernkraft 400 and King of my Castle were good as CD singles. Instead of a B-side all the dance singles seemed to have 4 or 5 alternative mixes, some of them quite epic. I never did get the Slim Shady LP, but I had the Guilty Conscience and My Name Is singles, and really enjoyed the production of them, and the sense of humour behind them. I think the Guilty Conscience CD also had the video on it which you could play on a PC.

This was also the year for American bands in what passed for punk over there at the time – like Blink -182, the Bloodhound Gang and the Offspring. They had some good singles between them, all promoted by very watchable videos, and all much more enjoable to me than the Boyzone/Britney/Steps/Westlife/S Club 7/B*Witched stuff that the charts were otherwise full of.

All in all 1999 was not a bad year for music, especially after some of the slightly dull years in the decade.

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