“Are We a Rock Band or What…?” asks the rippling open track on Apollo 440‘s third album Gettin’ High on Your Own Supply (1999). Well, with recent hit and second track Stop the Rock under their belt, that seems a fair question.
Even on their debut Millennium Fever (1994), they had explored the bizarre hinterland between rock and dance music by covering (Don’t Fear) the Reaper, and this continued with Electro Glide in Blue (1997) too. But with their third album, it really came to the forefront.
They had also finally found real success – their theme for Lost in Space was an enormous hit, and Stop the Rock gave them their third top ten single. They really seemed unstoppable. But things were about to fall apart too – third single Heart Go Boom was only a minor hit, and their theme for Charlie’s Angels wasn’t as big as it should have been. They would soon disappear for several years to work on the ill-advised double-album Dude Descending a Staircase (2003, reviewed here).
So this album appeared in a very transitory period, but even so it’s very solid. Crazee Horse is an odd track, seemingly pulling inspiration from all over the place, but it’s also great, as is Cold Rock the Mic. The Lost in Space (Theme) comes next, truly deserving of being their biggest hit, and quite brilliant and unique – until they basically re-recorded it for the Charlie’s Angels theme the following year. But for now at least, it was unique.
Prior to this album, they had worked heavily with Jean Michel Jarre, and For Forty Days is the result of one of their remixes of Oxygène (Part 10) having been purged of all its Gallic elements. Now full of rippling piano parts, it’s still every bit as good as it was when it was a remix.
Heart Go Boom is unexpectedly brilliant – taking an old blues style vocal and mixing it in with guitar samples and drum and bass backing is not a predictable thing to try by any means, and here it’s done with aplomb.
What this album lacks is the enormous seven or eight minute exploratory odysseys that both previous releases excelled in – The Machine in the Ghost is clearly an attempt to fill that particular niche, but somehow it isn’t quite big enough, or weird enough.
There is then a trio of tracks that aren’t quite as successful as the rest of the album. Blackbeat is difficult to fathom, I suspect trying to keep just on the right side of the line between fun and cheesy. Stadium Parking Lot is acceptable as cod-metal, but perhaps not a lot more than that. And as for Yo! Future… well, it’s not that bad, actually.
High on Your Own Supply brings things back to the place they should be, with a fascinating, plodding, shouted vocal, and The Perfect Crime rounds the album off rather more gently, more like the way it started off.
So Gettin’ High on Your Own Supply isn’t quite as good as either of its predecessors, and it definitely lacks some of their more intriguing moments, but it’s still a strong offering, and much more convincing than any of the releases that followed.
It doesn’t seem to be as widely available as it once was, but you can still find Gettin’ High on Your Own Supply from various places, such as here.