Vinyl Moments – Jean-Michel Jarre

What’s great about listening to Oxygène on vinyl is that this is entirely how it’s meant to be heard. I’m lucky that this copy was owned by someone other than me, so is in fantastic condition, sounding crisp and clear, but you can still tangibly feel the warmth of the vinyl.

IMG_0956OK, maybe that is nonsense, but it does sound great, listening the soft introduction to Part I, it does feel as though you have a tangible connection to the young Jean-Michel, recording this on analogue equipment in his bedroom back in the mid-1970s. The deep synth that turns up, a few minutes in, reverberates and sounds every bit as dramatic as it was meant to.

I think Part I and Part II might be my favourites of this album – the mega-hit Part IV is great, but it’s the atmosphere of Side 1 that makes Oxygène so special for me. I wasn’t going to listen to Part II this time, but as the rippling arpeggios mix in, it would seem extremely rude to stop the needle from playing.

What’s fascinating about Oxygène for me is that it really hasn’t dated particularly. The drums sound a little bit naff when they finally turn up a minute or two into Part II, but other than that this sounds amazing.

Of course, this being vinyl, it perhaps isn’t surprising that I need to take the needle off and adjust the head weight, as it starts to skip. There is a downside to this obsolete format too – I’ve lost my place in the music now, and worse – it’s spoilt the mood. Perhaps this isn’t such a great copy after all. Time to change the record.

My copy of the Orient Express single includes an edit of Équinoxe (Part IV), from The Concerts in China, which I’ve always preferred to the original version. I picked this up at a tiny record store in Surfer’s Paradise, in Australia, about twenty years ago, and it still sounds fantastic.

Strangely, at a time when many electronic artists were flourishing, the late 1980s and early 1990s weren’t kind to Jarre, and it wasn’t until 1997 that he was able to forge much of a comeback. Now a quarter of a century into his career, revisiting his biggest hit was seemingly the only way of clawing his way back to popularity, and the first single was Oxygène (Part 8).

Unfortunately in the 1990s, the trend was for the most part not to release your own tracks on vinyl, just remixes, so I’m faced with a slight dilemma about which to pick – I go with the first track on Side B, which is mislabelled in every way – this is the twelve minute Sunday Club “edit”, remixed, apparently, by Takkyu Ishino (it’s actually the Sunday Club mix).

Having skipped twenty years in a couple of minutes, it’s interesting to hear how Jarre’s remixers are now shaping their sound around him. The most commercial of the tracks on Oxygène 7-13, it’s pretty much a four minute pop song on the album, but here it’s been reshaped into a huge, atmospheric piece. It really is very good indeed.

A lot of purists probably hate Sash!‘s take on Oxygène (Part 10), but I’m rather fond of it. It doesn’t sound much like the original, it’s true, but across the three or four different versions he put together, he takes the original track off in very varied directions. If you needed a quick introduction to Jean-Michel Jarre in the mid-1990s, this was a great way to get it.

But that brings this week’s Vinyl Moment to a close – some great slices of soft, gentle, atmospheric synth music, and the dance remixes they inspired, all enjoyed in the way they were meant to be. There is one more – the most recent 12″ single I have for Jarre is a promo for his often overlooked 1998 single Rendez-Vous 98, a collaborative reworking of Fourth Rendez-Vous with Apollo 440, but since I’ve got some singles of theirs as well, I’m going to save that one for next time instead.

Music for the Masses 16 – 5 April 2000

Bay Radio spent its first couple of years broadcasting on a closed loop around the Aberystywth University student union, and my show was no exception. The main advantage of this was being able to raid the “Ents” (Entertainments) record collection and play actual vinyl from the early 1990s, which must have seemed a very long time ago…

show16plShow 16: Wed 5 Apr 2000, from 10.55am-1.00pm

Tracks taken from the playlist (Total 14 tracks). A indicates A-list (8 tracks); B indicates B-list (3 tracks) and C indicates C-list (2 tracks). S indicates the Single of the Week. R indicates tracks taken from my own collection (Total 5 tracks). L indicates the ones from the “library” (Total 6 tracks). X indicates tracks from ents’ record collection (Total 2 tracks).

  • 1. Planet Perfecto feat. Grace “Not Over Yet 99” L
  • [IRN 11.00 News]
  • 2. Ooberman “Shorley Wall” C
  • 3. Yello “To the Sea” R
  • 4. Dubstar “I (Friday Night)” A
  • 5. Oasis “Who Feels Love?” A
  • 6. Travis “Driftwood” L
  • 7. Jean Michel Jarre “Tout est Bleu” R
  • 8. Space Brothers “The Light” (Space Brothers Remix) L
  • [Top 10 Album Chart]
  • 9. David Arnold & Nina Persson “Randall & Hopkirk Theme” C
  • 10. Erasure “Dreamlike State” R
  • 11. Moby “Natural Blues” L
  • [Advert Break – part one]
  • 12. Rage Against the Machine “Sleep Now in the Fire” A
  • [Advert Break – part two]
  • 13. Richard Ashcroft “Song for the Lovers” S
  • 14. Enigma “Sadness Part One” X
  • [IRN 12.00 News]
  • 15. Death in Vegas “Dirge” A
  • 16. Clinic “The Return of Evil Bill” A
  • 17. Cypress Hill “Superstar” A
  • 18. Freddie Mercury “Living on My Own” X
  • 19. Donna Summer “I Feel Love” L
  • 20. Merz “Lotus” B
  • [Top 10 Single Chart]
  • 21. Animalhouse “Small” A
  • 22. Pala “Cat-Like Creatures” B
  • 23. The Simpsons “Do the Bartman” X
  • 24. Bellatrix “Sweet Surrender” B
  • [Advert Break]
  • 25. Pet Shop Boys “Radiophonic” R
  • 26. Sash! “Colour the World” L
  • 27. Ouch “Seen the Light” A

Producer: None.

Notes: Mmmm, well, deliberate bloopers of the week include splitting up the first advert break due to thinking there were 2 less than there were and inadvertantly playing the last Sash? single – which featured Dr. All Bran on vocals. Ooops. Odd show, really, as I had twice as much music as I needed and also rather a lot more other material. D’oh! Still, better too little than too much. No, other way round…

The BRIT Awards 1998

“If,” said Chumbawamba, “John Prescott has the nerve to turn up at events like the BRIT Awards in a vain attempt to make Labour seem cool and trendy, then he deserves all we can throw at him.”

Indeed. For it was in 1998 that they put this unusually specific philosophy into practice by emptying a bucket of iced water over the Labour fatty.

But despite a bit of anarchy here and there, things remained pretty corporate. It was February 9th 1998, the venue was London Arena, and our host for the evening was Ben Elton out of comedy. Watch the opening here, and the introduction here.

Best International Male Solo Artist

Presented by Matthew Modine and Chaudia Schiffer. Nominees:

  • Jon Bon Jovi
  • Coolio
  • DJ Shadow
  • LL Cool J
  • Sash!

“Why,” you may ask, “Did Jon Bon Jovi merit a solo award nomination?” No idea. Video here.

Winner: Jon Bon Jovi.

Best British Newcomer

Voted for by listeners of BBC Radio 1, and presented by Max Beesley and Jo Whiley. Nominees:

  • All Saints
  • Shola Ama
  • Embrace
  • Olive
  • Beth Orton
  • Finley Quaye
  • Conner Reeves
  • Roni Size/Reprazent
  • Stereophonics
  • Travis

Winner: Stereophonics.

Best International Female Solo Artist

Was to be presented by Dusty Springfield, but sadly she was too unwell to do so (and would pass away a year later), so it was presented by Alexander McQueen and Honor Fraser. Nominees:

  • Erykah Badu
  • Björk
  • Meredith Brooks
  • Celine Dion
  • Janet Jackson

I am grateful grapefruit.

Winner: Björk.

Best British Female Solo Artist

Presented by Richard Branson. Nominees:

  • Shola Ama
  • Michelle Gayle
  • Louise
  • Beth Orton
  • Lisa Stansfield

Winner: Shola Ama.

International Sales Award

A special award for the best selling international album.

Winner: Spice Girls.

Best British Video

Voted for by viewers of The Box, and presented in character by Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan). Nominees:

  • All Saints – Never Ever
  • Blur – Song 2
  • David Bowie – Little Wonder
  • Chemical Brothers – Block Rockin’ Beats
  • Dario G – Sunchyme
  • Oasis – D’You Know What I Mean?
  • Republica – Drop Dead Gorgeous
  • Spice Girls – Spice up Your Life
  • Supergrass – Late in the Day
  • The Verve – Bittersweet Symphony

Winner: All Saints.

Best British Male Solo Artist

Presented by Errol Brown and Natalie Imbruglia. Nominees:

  • Gary Barlow
  • Elton John
  • Finley Quaye
  • Paul Weller
  • Robbie Williams

Winner: Finley Quaye.

Best International Group

Presented by Heather Small from M. People with unusually small hair and Jay Kay out of Jamiroquai. Nominees:

  • Daft Punk
  • Eels
  • Hanson
  • No Doubt
  • U2

Although Ben Elton introduces Jamiroquai as a former BRIT winner, this is in fact not true – he’s never won one in the entire history of the awards.

Winner: U2.

The Freddie Mercury Award

A special award for Doing A Song About Princess Diana. Presented by Tony Blair out of Starting Illegal Wars, on video from Washington DC. Cringeworthy video here.

Winner: Elton John.

Best Soundtrack/Cast Recording

Presented using the medium of song by Cleopatra (comin’ atcha). Nominees:

  • The Full Monty (various artists)
  • Men in Black (various artists)
  • Romeo + Juliet (various artists)
  • Space Jam (various artists)
  • Trainspotting 2 (various artists)

Winner: The Full Monty.

Best British Group

Presented by Frank Skinner and David Baddiel. Nominees:

  • Oasis
  • The Prodigy
  • Radiohead
  • Texas
  • The Verve

Winner: The Verve.

Best Dance Act

Nominees:

  • Brand New Heavies
  • The Chemical Brothers
  • Eternal
  • Jamiroquai
  • The Prodigy

Oh yes, the Dance Act award, which was sadly dropped in later years, and which inexplicably featured an annual nomination for not-very-dancey-and-frankly-pretty-lousy Jamiroquai.

Winner: The Prodigy.

Best British Single

Voted for by listeners of independent radio, and presented by Pam Grier and Samuel L. Jackson. Big up to the UK. Nominees:

  • All Saints – Never Ever
  • Blur – Song 2
  • Chumbawumba – Tubthumping
  • Eternal feat. Bebe Winans – I Wanna Be the Only One
  • Elton John – Candle in the Wind
  • Olive – You’re Not Alone
  • Radiohead – Paranoid Android
  • Texas – Say What You Want
  • The Verve – Bittersweet Symphony
  • Robbie Williams – Old Before I Die

Singles, according to Ben Elton, had experienced a big revival in 1997. Of course, as we now know, the draconian chart rules introduced later in 1998 would kill them in a way that they could never recover.

Winner: All Saints.

Best International Newcomer

Nominees:

  • Erykah Badu
  • Daft Punk
  • Eels
  • Hanson
  • No Doubt

Winner: Eels.

Best Producer

Nominees:

  • Nigel Godrich / Radiohead
  • Liam Howlett
  • Roni Size
  • Stephen Street
  • The Verve / Chris Potter / Youth

Winner: The Verve / Chris Potter / Youth.

Mastercard British Album

Presented by Zoë Ball. Nominees:

  • Oasis – Be Here Now
  • The Prodigy – The Fat of the Land
  • Radiohead – OK Computer
  • Texas – White on Blonde
  • The Verve – Urban Hymns

Winner: The Verve.

Outstanding Achievement

Presented by Sir George Martin.

Winner: Fleetwood Mac.

Performances

  • All Saints – Never Ever
  • Chumbawamba – Tubthumping
  • Finlay Quaye – Sun is Shining
  • Fleetwood Mac – The Chain and Don’t Stop
  • Robbie Williams and Tom Jones – Come Up and See Me
  • Shola Ama – You Might Need Somebody
  • Spice Girls – Stop
  • Texas featuring The Method Man – Say What You Want
  • The Verve – Lucky Man

Further Reading / Viewing

Edit: removed numerous videos that are no longer available (13 August 2017).