Retro chart for stowaways – 11 October 2003

Fifteen years ago this week!

  1. Dave Gahan – I Need You
  2. Goldfrapp – Strict Machine
  3. Richard X feat. Kelis – Finest Dreams
  4. Kraftwerk – Tour de France 2003
  5. Madonna – Hollywood
  6. Kosheen – All in My Head
  7. Paul van Dyk – Nothing But You
  8. Delerium feat. Jaël – After All
  9. Ladytron – Blue Jeans
  10. Tomcraft – Loneliness

The Best Singles of 2003

I recently found this document in my archives, dated November 2003…

Conjure One “Sleep / Tears from the Moon” (Nettwerk; January; #41)

An amazing debut for Rhys Fulber’s solo project (he’s more commonly known as half of Delerium), which is taken to new heights by remixes from Tiësto and Ian van Dahl. This is how dance should sound in the twenty-first century.

Conjure One “Centre of the Sun” (Nettwerk; August; #83)

Although not quite as instantly catchy as its predecessor, this single boasts some fantastic electroclash and retro remixes from the likes of JXL and Pete Lorimer.

Dirty Vegas “Simple Things” (Parlophone; March; NCQ)

Another great track from the fantastic eponymous debut album, including live acoustic tracks and deep and dark remixes, showcasing all the different sides of the band.

Front Line Assembly “Maniacal” (SPV; October; no UK release)

I bought this because I’d heard a few tracks by the band (who are, rather confusingly, the same people behind Delerium) and knew their reputation, and was totally blown away by this release. Dark and powerful industrial electronica.

Dave Gahan “I Need You” (Mute; August; #27)

One of the best tracks from the Depeche Mode frontman’s debut solo album, including remixes from Ladytron and Gabriel & Dresden and exclusive tracks across the different formats.

Alex Gold feat. Phil Oakey “LA Today” (Xtravaganza; April; #68)

A slightly odd track that sounds something like a cross between the Human League and Dirty Vegas, but essential nonetheless.

Goldfrapp “Train” (Mute; April; #23)

Fantastic comeback from Goldfrapp including an exclusive track and remixes, and welcoming them into the electroclash arena.

Lemon Jelly “Nice Weather for Ducks” (XL; February; #16)

Huge airplay propelled this querky but endearing track towards the right end of the charts. Unfortunately the single is fairly sparse, but it’s worth getting for the main track if nothing else. And of course it’s got beautiful packaging.

Yoko Ono “Walking on Thin Ice” (Parlophone; April; #35)

Worth buying not for the track itself but for the fantastic Pet Shop Boys remixes on the second CD, which introduce beautiful rippling retro analogue synths and prove that the lads have still got it.

Erlend Øye “Sheltered Life” (Source; July; #93)

Fantastic remix for the second single from the debut solo album from half of Kings of Convenience that frankly ought to have been a huge hit.

Pet Shop Boys “Miracles” (Parlophone; November; #10)

A new Pet Shop Boys release is always a treat — this one is no exception, backed with new b-sides and remixes from the bonkers Lemon Jelly and someone called Eric Prydz.

Röyksopp “Sparks” (Wall of Sound; June; #41)

Another single from the essential album Melody A.M, this time with a daft remix by Roni Size but also an excellent new track and, on the second CD, the video to their best track yet, Remind Me.

Saint Etienne “Soft Like Me” (Mantra; January; #40)

A slight departure from their normal sound, but nonetheless one of the best tracks from their 2002 album Finisterre backed with remixes and dozens of exclusive b-sides.

Yello “Planet Dada / The Race 2003” (Motor; October; no UK release)

Sometimes bands slip in and out of fashion by moving ahead of the times. Yello, on the whole, have slipped out of the public eye by doing much the same thing (on the whole) for the last decade. Finally, the rest of the world has caught up with them, so their fantastic brand of electro is finally contemporary once again. There are even Tomcraft mixes of their biggest hit to boot.

Retro chart for stowaways – 26 July 2003

Way back in the dim and distant past, the top ten singles for stowaways looked a little bit like this:

  1. Madonna – Hollywood
  2. Kraftwerk – Tour de France 2003
  3. Paul van Dyk – Nothing But You
  4. Moloko – Forever More
  5. Bhangra Knights – Husan
  6. Tomcraft – Loneliness
  7. Delerium – After All
  8. Madonna – American Life
  9. Ladytron – Evil
  10. Bent – Stay the Same

Pet Shop Boys – Flamboyant

It seems strange in a way, putting together the posts for this Pet Shop Boys week. Somehow they seem to have released something pretty much every year in late March or early April. Ten years ago, in 2004, it was the turn of the single Flamboyant. It was the second of two new tracks recorded for their second singles collection PopArt, and is, bluntly, totally brilliant.

The turn of the new millennium was a turbulent period for Pet Shop Boys. They had pumped several years of hard work into the musical Closer to Heaven, which had been successful, but not particularly so. Then they reappeared with a new studio album Release in 2002, which although unique, full of catchy songs, and accompanied by one of the best tours they have done to date, failed to set the world alight. In fact, it wasn’t really until Fundamental (2005) that the fans seemed to start appreciating what they were doing again.

Which is a shame, as those five years yielded some of Pet Shop Boys‘ finest material. If you didn’t like Release then Disco 3 was exceptional. Then there was a definitive singles collection in the shape of PopArt, accompanied by two excellent new singles. Even after that, the soundtrack to Battleship Potemkin is one of the finest – and most overlooked – releases of their career.

PopArt, unless you bought it in the USA, doesn’t actually contain the single version, as it was edited and remixed slightly to make it phatter (I believe that’s the correct term). It’s a great single too, definitely well deserving of its place on the singles collection.

The one b-side I Didn’t Get Where I Am Today is yet another collaboration with Johnny Marr, and actually would have fitted nicely on Release, but is a typically great PSB b-side – definitely not single material, but far from forgettable.

The remix CD kicks off with an extended mix by Tomcraft, who helped out on the original and single versions too. It’s everything an extended version should be really – longer, and every bit as good.

The other remixes are a little less exciting – Scissor SistersSilhouettes and Shadows mix isn’t anywhere near as special as it probably ought to be, although the 21st century disco direction is a welcome one. Meanwhile DJ Hell‘s take on the single is good, but not really up to the standard of the original – actually the same can be said of his version of West End Girls which 12″ purchasers found on the b-side, but that does bring the iconic single into the 2000s in excellent form.

The remix disc closes with the demo version of the title track for anybody who had forgotten what it was meant to sound like originally. In a way it’s interesting to compare with the main track, as Tomcraft‘s production clearly tightened it up and made it more contemporary, but it really isn’t a million miles away in its original demo form. A great way to close an excellent single.

You can download CD1 of Flamboyant here. CD2 seems to have fallen offline for the time being unfortunately.

Retro chart for stowaways – 25 October 2003

The album chart for stowaways ten years ago looked like this:

  1. Dido – Life for Rent
  2. Goldfrapp – Black Cherry
  3. The Human League – The Very Best Of
  4. Dido – No Angel
  5. Dave Gahan – Paper Monsters
  6. Ladytron – Light and Magic
  7. Erlend Øye – Unrest
  8. Karl Bartos – Communication
  9. Kosheen – Kokopelli
  10. Röyksopp – Melody AM

Meanwhile Erasure scored a number one hit on the singles chart with the new August Mix of Oh l’Amour, and Tomcraft entered at number five with Brainwashed (Hurt You).