As you grow older the memories of individual summers seem to fold into one another. However the abiding memory of this particular summer of 1995 is that of the heat. It was, to put it mildly, a scorcher with a 17 day unbroken stretch of sunshine enough to make it the most prolonged spell of good weather since the heatwave of 1976. Temperatures peaked at the start of August with a high of 35.2C, enough to make it the hottest day for five years. Small wonder a battle between two pop records was enough to send people crazy. But we’ve still some way to go to get to that. Here’s the Top 30 as revealed on August 20th 1995:
30: Moist – Push
Sorry, was forgetting myself for a moment. Despite the juvenile humour provoked by their name, Moist were actually achingly credible alternative rockers from Canada. Push is considered to be their signature track, the lead single from their 1994 debut album Silver and the one which helped to make both the name and reputation of the group. The song had two goes at becoming a British hit single, reaching Number 35 when first released in November 1994 before managing to reach Number 20 in the summer of 1995 when re-released to coincide with their first ever British live dates. In between two more singles: Freaky Be Beautiful and the album’s title track had also been released but both fell short of the Top 40. Push would remain Moist’s one and only British Top 40 single although they would release two more albums during the 1990s before taking a hiatus, reforming for new material in 2014.
Having taken huge strides towards the mainstream with their self-titled third album in 1993, Brighton’s favourite alternative folk band continued to make commercial progress with the release of the follow-up Zeitgeist in 1995. Their fourth album turned out to be far and away their most successful even if its attendant hit singles continued their frustrating run of never quite reaching the Top 10. Case in point was this lead track, Hope St. peaking for two weeks at Number 12, their fifth Top 20 hit in a run of seven but bizarrely their third to peak in twelfth place on the charts. Their most enduring chart hit would arrive at the end of the year, drinking anthem Just The One (with a guest performance from Joe Strummer) would spend four weeks over the Christmas period hovering around the upper end of the Top 20. It’s eventual peak? Number 12, naturally.
Three years on from their Boss Drum album and the attendant notoriety it brought thanks to a long string of hit singles (including seminal Number One classic Ebeneezer Goode) The Shamen attempted to pick up where they left off with their seventh album Axis Mutatis. Second time around the formula of electronic house and out with the fairies lyrics wasn’t quite as successful and even their most ardent admirers couldn’t help but admit the formula had become tired rather quickly. The album’s lead single was this track Destination Eschaton and although it made a respectable enough Number 15 in its first week on release it had slumped to this Number 28 position a week later. It was destined to be their final Top 20 hit, the remaining singles from the album failing to hit even these dizzy heights and the group’s run of hits fizzled out with a Number 35 remix of Move Any Mountain in the closing weeks of 1996.
27: *new entry* Happy Clappers – Hold On
Four piece (or five if you count singer Sandra Edwards) British dance act Happy Clappers are inevitably most fondly remembered for their signature hit I Believe, a track which has the extraordinary distinction of being released on four different occasions over three years. After missing out first time around in 1994 the track reached Number 21 in June 1995, Number 7 the following November and then Number 28 in a remixed form at the tail end of 1997. All of which inevitably overshadows the fact that they did produce a handful of other hit singles, of which this was the second. Hold On charted here less than two months after I Believe had finally become a hit for the first time but its destiny was to peak here at Number 27 and be largely forgotten by history. Wikipedia notes that the Happy Clappers did have plans for a whole album of this stuff only for the group to fall apart over financial issues before it could be released. One of the group was Mark Topham who would later find greater fortune partnering with Karl Twigg to be at the production helm of most of Steps’ singles and albums.
As the world waited for the recording which would eventually become 1997’s Pop album, U2 plugged the gap neatly with this one-off single as their contribution to the soundtrack of the movie “Batman Forever”. Originally recorded as part of the sessions for their 1993 album Zooropa, the off-cut actually stands tall as one of U2’s best singles of the 1990s. A lavish, majestic and dare I say it cinematic production neatly complements Bono’s growled vocals on a track which marks a fascinating step in the development of the group towards their wildly experimental late 1990s period. An instantaneous Number 2 the moment it was released, Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me would ultimately spend eight weeks in the Top 10, more than any other U2 single before or since and it remains to this day one of their biggest selling singles ever. A genuine high point of their 1990s output.
Whilst UB40 took a brief break, the group’s de-facto lead singer stepped out of the shadows to record what was at the time intended to be a one-off solo album Big Love. Although lead single That Look In Your Eye was a comfortable Number 5 hit, subsequent releases from the album struggled a little. The problem was largely that of pointlessness. With the name and legacy of UB40 behind him, Ali Campbell was the distinctive voice of one of the most celebrated British reggae groups of all time. As a solo artist however he was largely irrelevant, producing tracks that might as well have been UB40 tracks and which in all truth would have benefited from the presence of his bandmates. It appeared he had no urge to explore musical avenues his work with the group would have otherwise prevented or to release material that would not have fitted on one of their albums. Neither then did we have any reason to care. Originally written by Jimmy Cliff, Let Your Yeah Be Yeah had originally been a Number 5 hit for the Pioneers in 1971. Ali Campbell’s version entered the chart here at Number 25 and tumbled a week later. Before reuniting with UB40 the singer would have one more solo chart single, a rather extraordinary version of the Frank and Nancy Sinatra song Something Stupid with his then seven year old daughter Kibibi playing the female role. This new twist on a father-daughter duet peaked at Number 30 just before Christmas.
One of the most famous and enduring club tracks of its era, Felix’s Don’t You Want Me is another of those 1990s dance hits which was re-released and re-promoted on a number of occasions. Created by DJ Francis Wright and based largely around a vocal sample of Jomanda’s Don’t You Want My Love, the track was first released in 1991 but it was not until the summer of 1992 that it charted for the first time, a remix by a pre-Faithless Rollo Armstrong propelling it neatly to Number 6. As one of a veritable blizzard of early 90s dance classics repackaged and re-promoted in the summer of 1995, this re-release came with the obligatory scattering of new remixes and ensured that the single made the Top 10 for a second time, hitting Number 10 upon release in early August. Just over a year later the track was back again, reaching Number 17 after a re-release following its use as the soundtrack to a rather famous Tango commercial. With such a relentless series of chart entries it is hardly surprising that Don’t You Want Me has such the reputation it does, one of the defining moments of 1990s dance and one of a tiny handful of DJ-created club tracks which can genuinely be labelled an all-time classic.
The second single to be taken from Post, the third solo album from the former Sugarcubes singer and Iceland’s most successful musical export. Isobel temporarily brought Bjork’s run of successful Top 20 hit singles to an end when it failed to climb beyond this Number 23 entry point, although in truth it was a rather curious choice for single release. A meandering trip-hop track co-written and produced by Nellie Hooper it may well have been one of the album’s standout tracks but a commercial pop record it most certainly was not. Although admittedly the same could be said about the vast majority of her hit singles during the 1990s. She wasn’t about the commercial, just the creative and unusual which was naturally a large part of her appeal. Truth be told though most observers were waiting for the single release of the album’s most notorious moment, her extraordinary take on jazz standard It’s Oh So Quiet which would eventually emerge as the album’s third single in late November and which would peak at Number 4 during an eight week run in the Top 10.
Another single that really needs no introduction here, You Oughta Know was the single which introduced Alanis Morrissette to a wider world and marked the transformation of the Canadian singer into a global star, leaving behind the bubblegum pop with which she had made her name in her home country. 20 years on the vengeful and angry single still has the power to make you sit up and pay attention, the tale of the spurned woman venting her bitterness in a sometimes shockingly explicit manner easily one of the most extraordinary female rock singles of its era. Yet for all that You Oughta Know was only ever a minor chart hit in Britain, stalling here at Number 22 for a fortnight. Her Jagged Little Pill album from which the single was taken also took time to catch fire and it was not until the summer of 1996 when singles Head Over Feet and most famously of all Ironic became sizable chart hits that its sales finally took off. Speculation rages to this day as to just who the subject of the song is, comedian Dave Coulier one of a number of her ex-boyfriends to have admitted in the past that some of the lyrics hit uncomfortably close to home.
Presenting one of the great one hit wonders of our time as North Carolina rock band The Connell’s landed their one and only British hit single with this gently strummed tale of class reunions and resurrected love. Originally taken from their fifth album Ring released in 1993, the track did not catch fire internationally until two years later when it became a Number 14 hit and an enduring airplay staple. My notes from the time suggest that the arrival of 74-75 on the the British charts came after a seemingly relentless promotional push with its video getting an airing on just about every TV show possible, leading to its now permanent status as a staple of every Greatest Relaxed Easy Listening Acoustic Radio Driving Anthems In The World Ever compilation released.