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.

Apr 18, 2024

Underworld bring light in at Aviva Studios / Factory International

Thirty years after the release of their classic album Dubnobasswithmyheadman, Underworld very much bassed with our head man with two spectacular shows at the weekend. 

The venue was Aviva Studios at Factory International, a triangle-decked super venue on the banks of the River Irwell in Manchester. With the seating pulled out, its main gig space has all of the warehouse vibes you'd hope for an old rave band.

Not that the audience was old. I was expecting to be surrounded by a creaking crowd of ancient clubbers, throwing our zimmer frames up in the air like we just didn't care. But it was surprisingly youthful: a testament to a band that has retained its relevance through Danny Boyle soundtracks, opening Olympic ceremonies and a bunch of fancy National Theatre gubbins.

Their lengthy discography was laid out in big fat bass spasms, from the early Dubnobass stompers to the Aphexian oversharing of 2019's massive Drift series. For the old stuff, Dirty Epic lived up to its name, and King of Snake was as poisonous as ever. Their new stuff was well represented: denver luna sounded beautiful live, and the Detroit-dappled Fen Violet seemed laser-targeted for a Manchester rave.

Karl Hyde chose to remain static in the first half, before going full Tasmanian Devil in the second section of the show. Every smiling mouth-beam of that guy is the personification of the refrain from Two Months Off: "you bring light in, you bring light in...". Oh and Rick Smith was there too. Poor Rick. Bogged down with controlling all of that electronic gear while his wayward disco brother goes ham left right and centre. I hope Rick comes off stage at the end and has a little boogie to himself, as a treat.

Shout out to my gig buddy Ros, who came to the gig as a fan of their soundtrack work and went away a bona-fide Underworld club veteran. We have now nicknamed ourselves the Strawberry Jam Girls, after an Underworld lyric. Big up to the lone guy in the "Dark Train" top who seemed lost in a special kind of bliss. And doff of the hat to White T-Shirt Guy next to me who was well up for hugs and yippees.

Here are those two sets in full. Yes, two sets. There was an interval, like we were at a Gilbert and Sullivan opera or something. Below that is a video of Two Months Off, which sees Underworld doused in sunshine, and captures perfectly the insane dynamics after the four-minute mark.

Low Burn  |  Nylon Strung  |  Trim  |  Dirty Epic  |  Soniamode (Aditya Game Version)  |  Kittens  |  Mmm... Skyscraper, I Love You  |  Juanita 2022  |  Tin There

Jumbo  |  denver luna  |  S T A R  |  Pearl's Girl  |  Dark & Long (Dark Train)  |  Two Months Off  |  Rez / Cowgirl  |  and the colour red  |  Border Country  |  Fen Violet  |  King of Snake  |  Born Slippy NUXX

Further Fats: Mmm Underworld, the world loves you (2012)

Apr 16, 2024

Ultimate 90s number one: Babylon Zoo comes along and ruins everything

The competition to discover the ultimate 1990s number one single continues. There have been numerous episodes of this series so far, and there are plenty more to come. 206 number one singles to judge in all: one for every bone in the human body.

Let's take a look at the latest collection of bones-- er, I mean, number one singles.

The contenders

Babylon Zoo: Spaceman  |  Celine Dion: My Heart Will Go On  |  Cliff Richard: Saviour's Day  |  Jason Donovan: Any Dream Will Do  |  Mariah Carey: Without You  |  Melanie B featuring Missy Elliott: I Want You Back  |  Olive: You're Not Alone  |  The Prodigy: Breathe  |  Shaggy: Oh Carolina  |  Usher: You Make Me Wanna..

Giving me a haddock

Splice the mainbrace, whatever that is. Let's get rid of my least favourite songs from this batch.

Celine Dion's Titanic warble made me wish I was clinging onto a door in the icy waters of the Atlantic ocean. Pop me in a dingy and plug my ears with haddock: anything to avoid Dion's watery cheese. I have similar feelings about Mariah Carey's Without You, although I have fewer nautical metaphors for that one.

I'm not sure what's more wholesome: Cliff Richard's seasonal tribute to Jesus H Christ, or Jason Donovan's eulogy to a dreamy bible bloke in a gaudy anorak. Either way, the result is the same. Both of these saintly songs make me want to commit acts so heinous, I'd be destined straight for hell. Jumping the queue at Gregg's, popping paper in the bottle bin, still referring to X posts as tweets, that sort of thing.

Beep beep

"How can you beep beep with no keys?" mused Missy Elliott on Melanie B's I Want You Back. Deep philosophy for a track so light on melody. At least Usher's offering had a memorable melody, despite its dubious subject matter of fancying your girlfriend's best mate. Come on, Ush, mate, keep it in your trousers, at least until the end of this blog post.

Oh Carolina was a cover of an old ska hit that Shaggy used to sing rude words to^ when he was a kid. I remember its repetition being a bit annoying when it came out, although it introduced us to a genuine pop superstar. Still... not as annoying as THAT moment when we all realised that, instead of being a falsetto space jam, Babylon Zoo's chart-topper was a miserable dirge that felt like it had been scraped from the netherwheres of someone's grungey underpants. The record label sent me the Babylon Zoo album. It was all awful.

This leaves us with two top tier tracks. Firstly, it's Olive with a track co-written by a bloke from Nightmares On Wax and some fella from Simply Red. Singer Ruth-Ann Boyle went on to feature on several albums by techno-monks Enigma. Best of all, this remains a rare example of a drum 'n' bass track topping the UK charts, and it deserves to go through to this competition's final on that basis alone.

Aaaaargh. Sorry. Just having a Babylon Zoo flashback.

Meanwhile, the Prodigy's Breathe cemented their reputation as one of the biggest break-through dance acts of the decade. A second number one single for them, smashing into the top spot after just one week of record sales. It's probably the coolest track to sample a Thin Lizzy drum beat. Of course this goes through to the final. 

Aaaaaaaaargh! Seriously, I think I have BabZoo reflux. Someone call a vet.

More of the Ultimate 90s numbaaaaaaaargh one

Mar 31, 2024

Ultimate 90s number one: Keyboard wizards and their Block Rockin' Beats (International)

Hold on to your wig. It's time for the latest episode of Fat Roland Waffles On Aimlessly About 1990s Music Under The Vague Guise Of A Music Competition.

Here are another ten contenders hoping to be crowned as the ultimate 1990s number one single. They are randomly picked from a much longer list of all 206 1990s chart-toppers. Only the most banging and most bleepy tracks will win this competition.

The contenders

Adamski: Killer  |  Beats International: Dub Be Good to Me  |  The Chemical Brothers: Block Rockin' Beats  |  Coolio featuring L.V.: Gangsta's Paradise  |  Jimmy Nail: Ain't No Doubt  |  Oasis: All Around the World  |  Robbie Williams: She's the One / It's Only Us  |  Simply Red: Fairground  |  Take That: Back for Good  |  The Righteous Brothers: Unchained Melody †

Almost all bangers

This is a remarkable rack of big hits. I don't think there is a bad song on this list. Actually, that Oasis song's pretty boring, so let's discard that one straight away. But the others can all claim to be bangers in some way or other.

Having said that, Simply Red is not my cup of tea. It's not even my cup of lukewarm herbal tea with the tea bag still festering in it. And we can eliminate The Righteous Brothers' Unchained Melody at this stage too. It's a massive tune, achieving number one status with two different acts in the 1990s, but it's not the bleepy goodness I'm looking for.

Not the ones

I once popped to the North East to do a gig, and in the first pub I went to, some bloke was singing a Jimmy Nail song, as if he was planted there by the North East Tourist Board. Ain't No Doubt is a classic pop song, as is Take That's Back for Good. Iconic tunes, both of them. Not enough for this competition, though. I also suspect if Manchester went to war with Newcastle, Jimmy Nail would beat seven levels of brown ale out of the Take That lads.

The tracks by Coolio and Robbie Williams are each stealing someone else's thunder. Although it's a classic single, Gangsta's Paradise is an inferior take on Stevie Wonder's 1976 original. The Wonder song was revolutionary for using a synthesiser usage: sadly, we're it's the Coolio track we're judging here. And Williams did a pretty straight cover of World Party's far superior She's The One. The fact Williams took the song without Wallinger's blessing is pretty naff. Rest in peace, Karl.

Which leaves us with Adamski, Beats International and the Chemical Brothers.

Not an actual seal

I cannot give enough praise to Killer by Adamski. The keyboard wizard had synthesisers stacked up to the eyeballs, and its clinical waveforms seemed to signal an exciting electronic future. True Adamski heads preferred NRG, but Killer made us kids feel like we could all become bedroom producers. And Seal was really impressive too, even though he wasn't an actual seal.

We have several things to thank Beats International for. A banging tune, obviously. They gave us a post-Housemartins Normal Cook, later to become Fatboy Slim. It gave us the brilliant Dub Pistols-collaborator Lindy Layton. And it gave us graffiti-spraying trip-hopper Req, a key voice in trip hop and lo-fi beats.

And finally, we have Tom and Ed, better known as the Chemical Brothers. Block Rockin' Beats earned the pair a Grammy award, which seems odd considering how dirty that track sounds, and how middle-of-the-road the Grammies tend to be. There's something special about their loops of fury.

I can't decide between Adamski, Beats International and the block-rockin' Chemicals. So it's a joint win for all three. Gold medals all round. Yellow jerseys all round. Chufty badges all round. Delete as appropriate.