Propellerheads – Decksandrumsandrockandroll

Propellerheads burst onto the lower reaches of the UK chart at the end of 1996 with Take California, scoring their most significant hit the following year with David Arnold‘s help on their version of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. They were a short-lived duo – Decksandrumsandrockandroll was their only full-length album release – but they were ambitious collaborators, and did manage something of an impact during their brief stay on the charts.

The album opens with the first hit Take California, a long and repetitive piece built around a fairly uninspiring sample. Then next is Velvet Pants – I hadn’t realised until listening this time around that I actually own the US version, which has a slightly different track listing to the UK one, so a track is missing here. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. As with the first track, it drags somewhat, but there’s a pleasant feel all the way through.

Better? might be a short track, but it’s far from a filler – it’s a sweet little jazzy track that fits nicely in between the bigger pieces. The UK version of the album then gets Oh Yeah? while the US version introduces De La Soul in a collaboration that seems to have been manned by Prince of all people – 360° (Oh Yeah?) is next, as an undemanding De La Soul vocal appears over the original track.

Oh, then Shirley Bassey turns up, delivering the vocal on the 1997 hit History Repeating. You can tell that Propellerheads are clearly big James Bond fans, and possibly for the first time on this album, it’s really rather brilliant

This is not so true for Winning Style or Bang On!, the latter sounding like early-90s era Moby when he was having one of his less creative days. But this is, broadly, a hip hop album, and so the short beatboxing of A Number of Microphones is appropriate, although not entirely welcome.

Finally, we get the hit single, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in glorious nine-and-a-half minute form. It’s huge, and absolutely every bit as good as the original. This is pretty much what Propellerheads their fifteen minutes of fame, and deservedly so. Anything else is going to feel like filler, and so pleasant though the gentle acid of Bigger? may be, it feels a little bit pointless too. Cominagetcha is nice enough too, but seems a little drifty and directionless.

Spybreak! was another single, which snuck in at the bottom end of the top 40 in 1997. Again, it’s far from bad, but it’s nothing particularly special, and it also owes a lot to the preceding single Take California. I’m starting to wonder now why I liked this album – it seems very bland now.

Sure enough, Jungle Brothers turn up for the closing track You Want it Back, and it’s nothing special either. Two decades on, this is, sadly, a rather disappointing effort all round.

The version of Decksandrumsandrockandroll that was reviewed is still available from the US version of Amazon here.

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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