Jul 7, 2024

Pet Shop Boys create their own magical dreamworld at Co-Op Live

I visited Manchester's new mega-arena Co-Op Live to see a double-act called... [looks at notes]... the Pet Shop Boys. Have you heard of them?    

Dreamworld is the Pet Shop chaps' first ever greatest hits tour, which seems remarkable considering how long they've been farting out hit singles. And Dreamworld itself seems never-ending - the tour debuted in 2019, three prime ministers ago.

They were fabulous. Of course they were. Hit single after hit single after hit single. There is no point in listing all the songs here, suffice to say that the longest track title of the set was Where the Streets Have No Name (I Can't Take My Eyes Off You), and the shortest track title was Rent. Is this helpful information? Probably not.

The concert began with Suburbia, a low-burning minor-key understatement of a track, and ended with Being Boring, a low-burning minor-key understatement of a track. Pet Shop Boys are forever on brand: even the track-listing is deadpanning us.

Some songs know they're good. They've got a glint in their eyes. Not that songs have eyes: that would be weird. Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money) had pompous energy. Jealousy was songwriting perfection. And how adorable was the carefree way that Neil threw away the final lines on What Have I Done To Deserve This?, as if he was at a karaoke night after a long day at the office. Big up Clare Uchima too, a perfect vocal foil throughout. 

It's A Sin has had a resurgence recently, helped by Olly Alexander's role in the TV series of the same name, and Alexander's band Years And Years warbling the tune at The Brits with Elton John. No surprise, then, that the song was the most triumphant moment of the gig. Also "Pet Shop Boys: It's A Sin" is an anagram of "Is it honest pop abyss?", which is a question we should all be asking ourselves.

A month previously, the Co-op Live was forced to delay its opening concerts after construction work got delayed. I did keep an eye out for men in orange jackets frantically welding bits of the building, but there was no sign of its earlier teething problems.

Is it a more intimate venue than, say, the Manchester Arena or the Etihad? Yeah, the layout is cleverly designed to mimic a smaller capacity. Is it Manchester's best new venue? No. Factory International's characterful Aviva Studios wins this one easily. Although it needs to bed in a little more, the Factory place has way more heart, as opposed to Co-op's cold boxiness.

A penultimate thought: The support act was some DJ bloke playing classic dance music tunes which we had all heard a million times before while his logo displayed on a big screen in endless uninspired permutations. Do better, concert planners.

And a final thought. If the Pet Shop Boys are pet shop boys, which one is on the till, and which one is looking after the animals? Answers on a postcard etc etc.

Further Fats: This is a review of an Aphex Twin gig (2011)

Further Fats: What was your first concert? (2019) 

Jun 30, 2024

Jez-Clackers and Groovy Andy are unlikely farm friends

You know that Jeremy Clarkson guy? The punchy old car bore man? Apparently he's got a television show about being on a farm, which is called Clarkson's Farm because he's called Clarkson and he's got a farm.

I wouldn't normally post about Jeremy Clarkson's farm. I have a negative-level of interest in learning about that Top Gear twerp muck-spreading or cow-bothering or whatever it is people do on farms.

But on series three of the programme, I notice that Clarkson has got a new friend. He's called Andy Cato, and he's an expert in sustainable farming. Something to do with regenerative planting, biodiversity, carbon storage, elephant taming, and similar green goals. Wait. Not the elephant taming: ignore that.

Andy Cato is better known as a member of Groove Armada, the electronic dance popsters famous for hits like Superstylin' and I See You Baby, at least one of which is about unnatural movements of human bottoms. They were dubby and fun and not quite as good as Basement Jaxx but we liked them anyway.

This is, of course, really annoying. Because this gives Jeremy Clarkson credibility in the electronic music community. We must now take J-Clark seriously, as if he was the third member of Erasure or the fifth member of Kraftwerk or the 493rd Aphex Twin (he gets secretly replaced twice a month, ssshhh don't tell anyone).

When Johnny Rotten started advertising butter, some people scoffed, but I took it very seriously. I ate only Country Life for six months. I bathed in the stuff. It was endorsed by a music legend, so it must've been good for you.

I suppose I'd better get into farming. Adopt a sheep; move into a one-bedroom combine harvester; brandish pitchforks at passers-by. I don't want to do it, but I want to be friends with Jez-Clackers and Groovy Andy, as they will be known from now on.

Goodness knows what'll happen next. Boards Of Canada opening up a tea shop? Fila Brazillia flogging tractors? Mint Royale running a countryside B&B where the residents go mysteriously missing but no-one complains because he sells special "meat" out of the back door when the police aren't looking? Honestly, any of this could happen.

Now excuse me while I write 20,000 words on how Jeremy Clarkson is the next Delia Derbyshire. [jumps balls-first into a thresher]

Picture: Wildfarmed / BBC News

Further Fats: Meet the Yamaha GX-1, the tractor's natural nemesis (2019)

Further Fats: It's got a cow as a logo (2022)

Jun 25, 2024

Banjo beats 'n' techno treats: oh my goodness, it's The Grid

What's your favourite kind of grid. Electricity? Drainage? Ordnance Survey map reference? Cattle?

My favourite grid is the electronic music duo The Grid, comprising David Ball out of Soft Cell and all-round knob-twiddling genius Richard Norris. You might think that cattle grids might be better at keeping cows in the correct field, but I've heard rumours that Ball and Norris are excellent bovine wranglers.

The Grid first dropped into my life with A Beat Called Love in 1990. This was a slice of sunny electronic pop that sat neatly alongside equally cheery popsters The Beloved. Its parent album Electric Head came out six weeks before Big Life put out The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, so this was pioneering, like when Hannibal built Stonehenge out of elephants or something.

Their second album 456 had big-name guest spots, with featured acts including Robert Fripp, Zodiac Mindwarp and Yello's Dieter Meier. They even had Sun Ra talk about how he liked the sun for a track called Face The Sun. You can't get sunnier than that, unless US emo band Sunny Day Real Estate decide to drive a Nissan Sunny into the heart of the sun.

Their 1993 single Crystal Clear remains one of my bestest favourite choons. It's so trippy and glistening and dubby and whoooah, and I still play it about 900 times a day. Alex Gifford plays Hammond organ on the track. Alex went on to form the Propellerheads, who famously turned Shirley Bassey into a big beat star on History Repeating.

Most people will remember The Grid for Swamp Thing, a banjo-jangled novelty techno track that hit the top ten singles chart in 1994. It was denied further success because it had the misfortune to be releaed during the dark reign of terror that was the eternal chart-topping snoozeathon Love Is All Around by Wet Wet Wet.

The Grid appeared on Top Of The Pops something like eight times. Often dressed in white, often doing silly dances, and not taking anything too seriously at all. It's worth looking them up: 1994's Rollercoaster may only have slightly scraped the top 20, but the performance is brilliant fun.

Let's finish this with a recommendation. Richard Norris's book Strange Things Are Happening reveals all about his (mis)adventures in music, and outlines the extraordinary career of a guy who has dabbled with but stayed pleasingly beyond the boundary of the mainstream. If I'm feeling egotistical, this blog piece will be headed by a photo of me meeting Richard at the Manchester launch of his book.

Other Griddiness to get you giddy? Their 2018 album of Moog meanderings One Way Traffic. Their debut single Floatation, which you can read about in Electronic Sound^. Richard Norris's Music For Healing series^, alleviating anxieties month by month. Or just stare at a cattle grid for half an hour and wait for it to become a musical genius.

Further Fats: Charts in crisis: here's why there are so few number one singles (2017)

Further Fats: A Full On Guide to Full On: Megatonk's Belgium and Frendzy's Can't Stop (these are real tracks, honest) (2020)

Jun 19, 2024

Just Stop Oil and The KLF: from protest paint to pyramid schemes

Just Stop Oil have thrown orange paint at Stonehenge, making the ancient stones looks slightly prettier than they were before. A BBC reporter said the paint attack left onlooking tourists "slightly bemused", which is how tourist look anyway, so I don't know how they spotted the difference.

The stunt was designed to highlight the UK's continuing reliance on fossil fuels. Personally I'd knock down Stonehenge and chisel the monuments into stone wheels so we can all drive around like Fred Flintstone.

A bit of colourful powder paint is not the greatest threat Stonehenge has faced. Let's not forget K2 Plant Hire, an organisation set up by art popsters The KLF for the specific purpose of demolishing the historic landmark. Yes. Demolishing it. With bulldozers and everything.

The band decided that their stone-crushing plan was unworkable. Something to do with the landmark being too close to military airspace so it would be too difficult to use helicopters to put Stonehenge back together again. You think I'm joking, but I'm not.

There is photographic evidence of the KLF up to no good at Stonehenge. Have a look at the 25th June 1988 edition of the NME. On the cover, you will see the KLF – known then as The Timelords – hanging out at the 'henge. In the foreground of the photo? Gary Glitter dressed as an evil magician. Yoinks! Lock up your grandmother and your children!

The demolition plan inspired a story Bill Drummond wrote for the 1998 short story collection Disco 2000. The story, called Let's Grind, or How K2 Plant Hire Ltd Went to Work, tells of an attempt to purchase the Rollright Stones, a less impressive structure somewhere north of Oxford. Tom Baker once shot a Doctor Who story there called The Stones of Blood, all about alien druids and stuff. 

Incidentally, as a protest against the costly and then-pointless Millennium Dome, K2 Plant Hire also promised to build a "People's Pyramid", which would be free to access and open to all kinds of abuse.

"Climb it, paint it, polish it, eat your sandwiches on it or chip it away. It will stand for as long there is any of it left," promised K2 in a statement on their website, while appealing to the public to donate bricks.

The KLF's arty agitations seem to chime with Just Stop Oil's various attempts at paint-throwing and supergluing and tomato soup tomfoolery. Remember the KLF's National Theatre paint daubing? Maybe the JSO gang need a hit single or two. Pop on some horns and prance around on Top Of The Pops. Hang out with Gary Gl-- actually, no, scrap that. Bad idea. BAD IDEA.

Further Fats: 

Jun 1, 2024

400 words about Global Communication's 1994 album 76:14

Global Communication's second album 76:14 turns 30 years old today, and here’s why we should be tying up the bunting in celebration of this ambient classic.

Actually, I don’t need to convince you how important 76:14 is. I’m telling you. You’re going to have to take this as fact. Open your gob and swallow my fist of truth.

Ambient music was cooking on gas by 1994. The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld had come out several years previously, and acts like Aphex Twin, The Future Sound of London and Scanner were flinging open all sorts of doors of perception in the wibbly house of ambient.

But Global Communication’s album, as mouthy Americans would say, “hit different”. The looping synthesis, the chattery vocal samples, the woozy pace. The whole thing was a digital fever dream – and it was as catchy as heck.

Its biggest moments? The tick-tocking grandfather clock adding weight to 14:31. The satisfying clunk-click of 9:25’s trip hop – incidentally, a track that was originally intended as a Sun Electric remix. The driving electro of Tangerine Dream homage 5:23, all powered by chords so soupy you could stand your bread soldiers in them. The grand finale 12:18 and its imaginary choristers.

The album feels like Detroit techno in slow motion, although its influences are broader than that. GC’s Tom Middleton had a classical music background and knew his way round a cello. While Mark Pritchard had twanged guitars and played drums in rock bands. The album arose from a Chapterhouse remix project, although the initial spark for their collaboration came after listening to Peter Gabriel’s soundtrack to Martin Scorsese’s film The Last Temptation of Christ.

The best thing about 76:14, and why it needs to be ranked alongside Brian Eno, Steve Roach and Tangerine Dream, is that this is an ambient album that demands your attention. It’s not background music for ironing, washing up, grouting or whatever it is that you get up to on a Sunday afternoon. You sit and listen to this album. Listen, and listen some more. Distractions be gone.

I would encourage you to listen to the whole thing in honour of its 30th ambient-versary. 

We didn’t even get to talk about the timecode track titles. Hey everyone, the track titles are how long the tracks are. Clever, innit. Will that do?

I give this album 10:00 out of 10:00. Happy damn birthday, Global Communication’s 76:14.

Further Fats: Oh to be torn up by wolves and fed, bit by bit, through an old lawnmower (2008)

Further Fats: It is my duty to inform you of this Selected Ambient Works anagram (2019)

May 31, 2024

Ultimate 90s number one: Everyone's got a gun – but Keith's got matches

Here's another instalment of my blog series Ultimate 1990s Number One, wherein I sift through every UK number one singles of the 1990s. Most will get rejected, while a select few golden nuggets will shine. The criteria? Bleepy bangers. The best electronic chart toppers.

Let's go!

The contenders

Ace of Base: All That She Wants  |  Armand van Helden featuring Duane Harden: You Don't Know Me  |  Blur: Beetlebum  |  The Offspring: Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)  |  The Prodigy: Firestarter  |  Rednex: Cotton Eye Joe  |  S Club 7: Bring It All Back  |  Spice Girls: Mama / Who Do You Think You Are  |  Take That: Everything Changes  |  Take That featuring Lulu: Relight My Fire

The Visa Cash App RBs of pop music

Let's throw some of these tunes straight into the waste disposal. The Spice Girls and Take That are coming in strong with several smokin' bangers, and Lulu's guest spot on Relight My Fire is one of the '90s top pop moments. But they're not right for this list.

Sometimes I think that Take That and Westlife are worst band names in pop music. But lo and behold, here comes S Club 7. An absolutely terrible name. There's currently a Formula 1 team called Visa Cash App RB. This band's name isn't far off that level of awfulness. The song's pretty uninspiring too. 

Fans of The Offspring's insipid skater-bro playground punk might be surprised to learn the band had been releasing music since the 1980s. Pretty Fly For A White Guy transformed them from a genuinely interesting punk act into sniggering Beavis & Butthead college pop plonkers. Terrible. Instead, go and listen to their scrappy debut single I'll Be Waiting from 1986 instead. 

Gun nonsense

"Beetlebum," sings Mr Blur on Blur's Beetlebum. "What you've done, she's a gun, now what you've done, Beetlebum." A moving tale, I'm sure you would agree.

"His eyes was his tools and his smile was his gun," sing Rednex on Cotton Eye Joe. "But all he had come for was having some fun."

Why is everyone turning into guns? Neither of these songs make much sense. At least Blur had a tonne of credibility. Have you listened to that Rednex album. the one with the band members being urinated on? Possibly one of the worst albums in history. If you want some proper novelty banjo techno, get The Grid's Swamp Thing on your record player.

Anyway. Ignore the Rednex. And apologies to Blur, but you're not bleepy enough for this 90s chart-topper contest. 

Popping off

As with previous selections, I've sifted out the runts of this litter and now we're left with the prize puppies.

Produced by powerhouse music clever-man Denniz Pop, Ace of Base's All That She Wants is clearly a banger. The band brought dinner table reggae pop to the masses, and shifted 600,000 units in the UK. The single released boasts bhangra and piano house versions of the track. Neither sounded very bhangra or piano house-y.

Next up it's the only solo number one single for US producer Armand van Helden. (He later hit the top spot when he made Bonkers with Dizzee Rascal.) The track is a sample factory, using an old 1970s soul hit by Carrie Lucas, Jaydee's classic Plastic Dreams, and even a clip from Dexter's Laboratory on its extended version.

And then we have The Prodigy's Firestarter. When this hell-raise of a track topped the charts in March 1996, commercial dance music was about to pop off. Underworld's Born Slippy was ready to break through having scored a minor chart place the previous year, and the Chemical Brothers were firing up their rocket pants and aiming for chart domination. Dance music was about to be EVERYWHERE. But Keith Prodigy and his silly hair was there first.

Of course The Prodigy go through to the final. There was never anyone else. The guy starts fires, for goodness' sake. He'll incinerate your brain. Well done, the Prodge.

More of the Ultimate 90s number one

May 17, 2024

Eurovision 2024: A giant egg, demon wolves and too many ooohs

I'm not a huge Eurovision buff. Cheesy makes me queasy, and ballads are a ball-ache. But I did watch Eurovision 2024, so here are some unedited thought splats about the whole thing. In alphabetical order by country, so like a proper dictionary and everything.

The following content is adapted from my Twitter account, or as we have to call it now, my X account. Not every country is included here, for humanitarian reasons. And I was significantly more enthusiastic about the UK entry on the night, but I've watched it back with a sober brain, and I've dampened down my excitement.

Here we go...

Bit of old Armenian folk vibes. I'm off for a cup of tea. What am I saying? I don't even drink tea. I'm off to slurp up something I spilled down the back of the sofa. Back in a bit. 1/10

We Will Rave? Right, Austria, I'm paying attention. Lasers! Banging beats! Techno synths! Massive build-ups! Acid squeaks! Shouting out Eurovision! DRUM N BASS! I want all 26 entries to be like this, please. A grand closer. 10/10

Croatia. I recognise this. Baby Lasagne's got layers. The Prodigy meets Billy Idol meets Rammstein meets Bring Me Edelweiss. Utterly stupid, very singalong, and everything that Eurovision should be about. We're cooking. 9/10

Shout out to all the Cypriot comedians I have the pleasure of regularly working with. The #Eurovision2024 entry is a bit of banger. She's really clapping back at that ex. Love this deep production, nice and chunky. Not bad at all. 7/10

Big up to Estonia and everyone in it right now. Crikes, this is like the Baha Men on a comeback with the Happy Mondays. A shouty, loose mess, but not necessarily in a bad way. Is that the guy from V Sauce? 3/10

Oh Lordi, it's Finland. Emerging from a giant egg is a win for me. Very Europop and pretty forgettable. Decent chord change. There he is, flapping his floppy disc about all over the place. 4/10

France. Not keen on a ballad. But this is dramatic. Will his voice cope? Here goes... [watches the performance] Respect to the guy. Went for the notes, nailed it. Unless he was meant to be two octaves higher: not heard the song before. Anyway, well done bloke in white, you gave it everything. I'm sure it's a very good ballad. 7/10

Sorry Germany, there are too many lumberjacks posing as emotive songsters. The charts is full of them: it doesn't twiddle my tassels. Catchy chorus, though. Are things meant to be on fire or is he an arsonist? 2/10

Here's Georgia and their fire goddess. Another super catchy pop anthem. Why would you NOT perform with a super catchy pop anthem? That said, I think I will forget this in five minutes. Yargles, that is a LOT of fire. I hope everyone's hair gel is okay. 6/10

Greece bringing the TikTok vibes. And the dancehall vibes. And the banghra overtones. And some digital mayhem thrown in for good measure. This is the opposite of monotone: it's like a paint factory's electrocuted. Yikes. 7/10

Bambie Thug has turned up. Phew. Oh yes, I've heard Ireland's before. A Jekyll and Hyde of a track, with the darkness and the sweetness. Feels like a novelty 1990s number one single. The screams. The techno breakdown. Great. 9/10

Italy just make me want to listen to another specific similar-sounding track, the name of which escapes me because my brain is full of this super average entry from Italy. [And then, a few minutes later...] Stromae! That's it. It just made me want to listen to Alors on danse. 5/10

Now it's Dons performing for Latvia, also known as Judge Rinder's S&M brother. Look at him, all carbon fibred up. I can see this one doing quite well. Ballads don't excite me too much, especially with chord swoops like this one. 4/10 

Good old Silvester Belt and their nose. They used to work in a beauty salon. They seems like the kind of person who worked in a beauty salon. They're giving Troy Sivan and the beats are giving Paul Van Dyk. Excellent work, Lithuania. Big and bouncy but a lamination of lovely melancholy. 8/10

Luxembourg are back in the contest. Only country that rhymes with Bella Emberg. Are those real cheetahs? Should we be running? This is pretty... okay Shakira fayre. To be honest, I'm just concerned about being mauled. 5/10

Norway are bringing epic with an extra epic hat on with the word EPIC written on it. I feel like they're summoning a horde of demon wolves from the pits of the underworld. Great guitar game. That was... A LOT. 7/10

Another snoozefest, this time from Portugal. Sorry for being negative, but we're at the slog bit of the running order, and we really could do with some hardcore rave or liquid drum 'n' bass right now. 1/10

Where are we? Oh right, Serbia. This is a snoozathon. It had better kick off. Waiting. Still waiting. I feel like it's going to kick off. No? It didn't kick off. Not for me. 0/10

Time for Slovenia, who are giving male nudity (although not that much - I went to Kylie's Aphrodite tour, and that was a flesh Christmas). Too waily. Make it stop. Ouch. Nope. Not for me. 0/10

Woah Spain, what is going on? Sassy dancers. Drum fills. A keytar. Bottoms?! It's as MOR as heck under the glitz, but it's got shouting and dramatic chord changes. 6/10

Sweden sounded like Olly Alexander but looked like Ant & Dec. Standard pop EDM fayre with chunky production. Went right off them when they said "Make some noise". 6/10

Nemo (pictured) is definitely giving fishy for Switzerland. It's very musical theatre, but I'm down for this. Thoroughly pop, decidedly queer, gloriously refreshing. I swear he was going to fall of that bucking bronco disc. What a star. I hope this wins. 10/10

I wasn't into Ukraine's poppy goth plod vibe. Too many "oooh"s. Never trust anyone who ooohs a lot, in song or in conversation. The rapper look like they could rap their way out of a fight, so they were good. 3/10

Time for the United Kingdom. How is Olly upside-down?! This staging is next level. I want to be in that weird spinny room with those men. That voiceover bit is deliciously Pet Shop Boys. Big up Olly's cats Fanta and Sprite who, sadly, might have done a better job with singing in this performance. 5/10 

Further Fats: Bert And Ernie Bumper Car face mask Euro fury (2012)

Further Fats: I'm too techno to be Brexit (2017)

May 1, 2024

Ultimate 90s number one: Fugees in the place, got a bittersweet face

Why? Why? What have we done to deserve this? Whyyyyy?

And there is my introduction to the latest episode of the Ultimate 1990s Number One, in which I trawl through every chart-topping single of the 1990s to decide the bestest of the best.

This competition has notional judging criteria of (a) is it a banger and (b) is it bleepy, but to be honest, I've been drunk on absinthe for most of these blog posts, and I'm currently convinced that my legs are made of spaghetti.

Let's go!

The contenders

Billie: Girlfriend  |  Celine Dion: Think Twice  |  Cher, Chrissie Hynde and Neneh Cherry with Eric Clapton: Love Can Build a Bridge  |  Five: Keep on Movin'  |  Fugees: Killing Me Softly  |  Oasis: Don't Look Back in Anger  |  Oasis: Some Might Say  |  Robbie Williams: Millennium  |  The Shamen: Ebeneezer Goode  |  Shanks & Bigfoot: Sweet Like Chocolate  |  The Simpsons: Do the Bartman

Scratchy eyeballs

I would rather massage my eyeballs with hedgehogs than listen to a single second of Celine Dion, so she’s out of contention straight away. Do the Bartman by The Simpsons makes me want to do similar things to my peepers, such is the blot this single put on the reputation of Groening’s genius cartoon series.

I would definitely go on a camping weekend in the countryside with Cher, Chrissie Hynde and Neneh Cherry. They’d be a right laugh, and we would drink hot chocolate under a starry sky and throw peanut M&Ms at the sheep. However, for Love Can Build a Bridge, we’ve got to spend our rural retreat with Eric Clapton and his toxic opinions. No thank you.

I am not a blokey bloke. I don't wear Ben Sherman, I'm not impressed by exhaust sizes, and I have zero opinions on Premier League football and/or hot sauces. With this in mind, I am immediately ejecting from this competition both Oasis singles and Robbie Williams's John Barry-aping ode to the millennium.

Let's move on.

Aaargh bees

When I was eleven, I was chased by bees. I got too close to their nest in the local park, and I ran up a hill until the bees had stopped pursuing me. Only problem is, I kept on running upwards after the hill had stopped, so I ran up into space and accidentally knocked Jupiter off its orbit. There are alien lizards on the rings of Saturn that now worship me as a god, but it's a hollow victory.

What's the purpose of this definitely actually true story? It's to distract you from how boring I find Billie and Five. Yes, pop princess Billie is impressive, dropping pop bangers before she had finished her GCSEs. And Five, or to give them their proper name, F5i5v5e, are cheeky scamps it's hard not to love. But I want to, erm, keep on movin' past these two.

Doughnuts, chocolate and pills

Now we get to the good stuff. The real deal. The genuine juice.

Lauryn Hill strummed our pain with her fingers when she fronted the Fugees. Killing Me Softly was the bestselling single of 1996, and with good reason. If I were to kill someone softly, I'd use doughnuts. Thousands of them. Pile them on. Death by sprinkles.

I am conflicted about the Shanks & Bigfoot track. It was so fantastic having a garage track at number one in the charts. The track was cheeky, like a little scamp stealing your false teeth. But it was also awful, with lyrics like "you are warm like the rays of the sun" and "holding you is a gift from above". This isn't chocolate: it's cheese. But oh so tasty cheese.

Finally, and this is my top pick for this week's selections, there's a guy in the place with a bittersweet face who goes by the name of Ebeneezer Goode. Mr C was a controversial choice for frontman of The Shamen, who had genuine rave credentials and didn't necessarily need to become a comedy band doing an impression of a Victorian Kenneth Williams.

But if I had an orphan child for every fantastic moment in this top-drawer pop single, I'd be able to run a fully-fledged chimney sweep business. The Syd James laughter. The snappy lyrics. The responsible drugs advice (yes, really). The bit where the guy goes "Ello!"

Ebeneezer Goode was produced by The Beatmasters, who also gave us Betty Boo. The comic perkiness of it all kind of makes sense. This was a form of The Shamen that seemed a long way from singles like Hyperreal. But there was enough rave wonkiness in there for this to become my anthem for many years to come. So great.

The Shamen it is. Plenty more to come in this series. Turns out there are LOADS of number ones in the 1990s.