1 Giant Leap – 1 Giant Leap

For me, the surprise hit of 2002 was 1 Giant Leap‘s debut album. Without warning, Jamie Catto, formerly of Faithless, and Duncan Bridgeman disappeared and travelled around the world, working variously with established western artists, stars of what I hesitatingly call “world music,” and less well known names, mixing together their vocals, instrumentation, atmosphere, and also (on the DVD, for this was also a “video album”) the visuals.

Being a mix of sounds from all over the world, it contains instruments and vocal styles that are almost totally alien to me, so I won’t try and describe the sound too much. But Dunya Salam, which opens the album, is gloriously atmospheric, with a deep synth sound, acoustic stylings, and what, if I had to guess, I would assume was a vocal from west Africa (having checked, Baaba Maal is indeed from Senegal).

The second track was also the first single, the brilliant My Culture, featuring vocals from Catto’s former band mate Maxi Jazz, and also Robbie Williams. The lyrics – particularly those delivered by Maxi Jazz – are typically expressive and evocative. With all the bits put together it somehow didn’t work too amazingly as a four minute pop song, but within the context of the album it works brilliantly.

“Only silence remains,” says the sample at the start of my favourite track The Way You Dream. The eastern stylings of the introduction gradually build over a few minutes into something very powerful. Without warning, it’s then Michael Stipe of R.E.M. who turns up to deliver the lead vocal.

I’m not sure I ever really appreciated quite how good a vocalist Stipe is, and he’s in extremely good company on this album. Also performing on this track, for example, is Asha Bhosle, as in Brimful of Asha, the 1997 hit from Cornershop. And the many other things which I should feel ashamed for not knowing her for.

If I had one criticism, it’s that all the geographical cross-mixing can make the album can feel a little disjointed in places. In the context of the “one world” theme of the album, the jump to Ma’ Africa is entirely logical, but the African gospel-style vocals of The Mahotella Queens could come as a bit of a surprise if you weren’t expecting it.

Next up is the second single, the slightly more complete but less catchy Braided Hair, with vocals from Speech and Neneh Cherry from off of the 1990s, which leads into the Maori sound of Ta Moko, with its incredibly moving spoken word introduction. Before you know it this has seamlessly passed the baton onto Bushes to kick off the second half of the album, and Baaba Maal is back with us again.

This is an album which definitely works best listened to in one go, without ever using the skip button, and while everyone will find quieter moments within it, the seventy minutes of music comes together to form something quite exceptional.

Bushes is possibly the darkest track on the album, with sudden unexpected industrial samples and moments of feedback, but in no way is it out of place. Passion, with its tropical conch-shell style percussion and a vocal from Michael Franti is excellent too, as it builds into a huge percussive crescendo. Daphne is tucked away a little unfair towards the end where you might forget it, but is great too.

Of the later tracks, All Alone (On Eilean Shona) is my personal favourite. Eilean Shona, the tiny tidal island on a Scottish loch, with its population of two somehow seems an entirely apt place to set this song. The vocals are fantastic, and the rather unexpected African vocal which turns up half way through does nothing to detract from the deep Celtic atmosphere. We are all of the same tribe, no matter what our background.

Racing Away features a welcome lead vocal appearance from the fantastic Horace Andy, and then already we’re onto the final track Ghosts. The vocal this time is performed by Eddi Reader, and finally, softly, gently, the album comes to a close in beautiful fashion, evoking the ghosts that haunt all of us. Sorry, I’m not sure why I suddenly went all philosophical there.

If, like me, you enjoy a bit of “world music” mixed with electronics, you’re going to get a lot out of this album. There’s really very little to criticise on here – every track brings something, even if it just adds to the general atmosphere.

Incidentally, the review above is for the album, because over a decade later I still haven’t got round to buying the video version yet – if I ever do, you will be able to read about it here.

You can find 1 Giant Leap at all major retailers as a CD or DVD. We previously reviewed the second album What About Me? here.

The BRIT Awards 1999

In 1999 Johnny Vaughan took over as the host at London Arena. The ceremony took place on 16th February 1999.

This post is part of a series about the history of the BRIT Awards. You can read about the 1998 ceremony here, and the 2000 ceremony in a couple of days’ time.

Best British Album

Presented by Mariella Frostrup and Prince Naseem. Nominees:

  • Catatonia – International Velvet
  • Gomez – Bring it On
  • Manic Street Preachers – This is My Truth, Tell Me Yours
  • Massive Attack – Mezzanine
  • Robbie Williams – I’ve Been Expecting You

Winner: Manic Street Preachers

Best British Dance Act

Presented by Sharleen Spiteri from Texas and Boy George. Nominees:

  • All Saints
  • Faithless
  • Fatboy Slim
  • Jamiroquai
  • Massive Attack

Winner: Fatboy Slim

Best British Female

Presented by Smita Smitten and Chunky Lafanga. Nominees:

  • Des’ree
  • PJ Harvey
  • Hinda Hicks
  • Billie Myers
  • Billie Piper

Winner: Des’ree

Best British Group

Presented by Kylie Minogue and Lee Evans. Nominees:

  • Beautiful South
  • Catatonia
  • Gomez
  • Manic Street Preachers
  • Massive Attack

Winner: Manic Street Preachers

Best British Male

Presented by Jools Holland and Ian Dury. Nominees:

  • Ian Brown
  • Bernard Butler
  • Fatboy Slim
  • Lynden David Hall
  • Robbie Williams

Winner: Robbie Williams

Best British Newcomer

Voted for by listeners of BBC Radio 1. Presented by Huey Morgan from Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Zoë Ball. Nominees:

  • Another Level
  • Belle and Sebastian
  • Cleopatra
  • Cornershop
  • Five
  • Gomez
  • Hinda Hicks
  • Billie Piper
  • Propellerheads
  • Steps

Winner: Belle and Sebastian

Best British Single

Voted for by listeners of independent radio. Presented by Sheryl Crow and Meat Loaf. Nominees:

  • Beautiful South – Perfect 10
  • Catatonia – Road Rage
  • Cornershop – Brimful of Asha
  • Des’ree – Life
  • Fatboy Slim – The Rockafeller Skank
  • Manic Street Preachers – If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
  • Massive Attack – Teardrop
  • George Michael – Outside
  • Robbie Williams – Angels
  • Robbie Williams – Millennium

Winner: Robbie Williams – Angels

Best British Video

Voted for by viewers of VH-1. Presented by Helen Baxendale and John Thompson. Nominees:

  • All Saints – Under the Bridge
  • Melanie B feat. Missy Elliott – I Want You Back
  • Cornershop – Brimful of Asha
  • Jamiroquai – Deeper Underground
  • Massive Attack – Teardrop
  • George Michael – Outside
  • Placebo – Pure Morning
  • Radiohead – No Surprises
  • Robbie Williams – Let Me Entertain You
  • Robbie Williams – Millennium

Winner: Robbie Williams – Millennium

Best International Female

Presented by Lionr Abargil and Ian Wright. Nominees:

  • Sheryl Crow
  • Lauryn Hill
  • Natalie Imbruglia
  • Madonna
  • Alanis Morissette

Winner: Natalie Imbruglia

Best International Group

Presented by Björn Ulvaeus from Abba. Nominees:

  • Air
  • Beastie Boys
  • The Corrs
  • Fun Lovin’ Criminals
  • R.E.M.

Winner: The Corrs

Best International Male

Presented by Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Nominees:

  • Beck
  • Eagle Eye Cherry
  • Neil Finn
  • Pras Michel
  • Will Smith

Winner: Beck

Best International Newcomer

Presented by All Saints. Nominees:

  • Air
  • B*Witched
  • Eagle Eye Cherry
  • Natalie Imbruglia
  • Savage Garden

Winner: Natalie Imbruglia

Best Soundtrack / Cast Recording

Presented by Mark Morrison. Nominees:

  • James Horner – Titanic
  • Various Artists – Boogie Nights
  • Various Artists – Jackie Brown
  • Various Artists – Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
  • Various Artists – The Wedding Singer

Winner: Titanic. Collected by Celine Dion.

The Freddie Mercury Award

Presented by Johnny Vaughan.

Winner: Jubilee 2000. Collected by Bono from U2.

Outstanding Contribution

Presented by Stevie Wonder.

Winner: Eurythmics

Performances

Further Reading / Viewing

Mercury Music Prize 1998-2000

From 1998 there were now two more nominees every year (bringing the total to twelve) and the prize got a new sponsor – so also got a new name, the Technics Mercury Music Prize, sponsored by Technics.

Technics Mercury Music Prize 1998

Took place on 16th September 1998.

Nominees:

  • Asian Dub Foundation – Rafi’s Revenge
  • Eliza Carthy – Red Rice
  • Catatonia – International Velvet
  • Cornershop – When I Was Born for the Seventh Time
  • 4hero – Two Pages
  • Gomez – Bring it On
  • Massive Attack – Mezzanine
  • Propellerheads – Decksandrumsandrockandroll
  • Pulp – This is Hardcore
  • John Surman – Proverbs and Songs
  • The Verve – Urban Hymns
  • Robbie Williams – Life Thru a Lens

Winner: Gomez

Technics Mercury Music Prize 1999

Took place on 7th September 1999.

Nominees:

  • Thomas Adès – Asyla
  • Denys Baptiste – Be Where You Are
  • Black Star Liner – Bengali Bantam Youth Experience!
  • Blur – 13
  • The Chemical Brothers – Surrender
  • Faithless – Sunday 8pm
  • Manic Street Preachers – This is My Truth Tell Me Yours
  • Beth Orton – Central Reservation
  • Kate Rusby – Sleepless
  • Talvin Singh – OK
  • Underworld – Beaucoup Fish

Winner: Talvin Singh

Technics Mercury Music Prize 2000

Took place on 12th September 2000.

Nominees:

  • Richard Ashcroft – Alone with Everybody
  • Badly Drawn Boy – The Hour of Bewilderbeast
  • Coldplay – Parachutes
  • M.J. Cole – Sincere
  • Death in Vegas – The Contino Sessions
  • The Delgados – The Great Eastern
  • Doves – Lost Souls
  • Helicopter Girl – How to Steal the World
  • Leftfield – Rhythm and Stealth
  • Nicholas Maw – Violin Concerto
  • Nitin Sawhney – Beyond Skin
  • Kathryn Williams – Little Black Numbers

Winner: Badly Drawn Boy

Further information