Forgotten singles of the ’90s
We revisit forgotten classics from an era when music journalists used “alterna” as a prefix to every genre, when songs needlessly opened with samples, when one-hit wonders never stuck around past their used-by date and when penning a novelty single was a sure fire way to get played on triple j. There’s nothing ironic about this list – you won’t see Eiffel 65, East 17 or Aqua here.
Bran Van 3000 – Drinkin In LA (1997)
This Montreal collective put out two great albums – Discosis and Glee – but are best known for this late-’90s single that trades Beck-lite verses with soulful vocals, chilled-out beats and a reference to Snoop Dogg’s ‘Gin and Juice’.
Len – Steal My Sunshine (1999)
A Canadian brother-and-sister duo – neither of whom could really sing – alternate nonsensical verses over a snippet of Andrea True Connection’s 1976 disco hit ‘More, More, More’. Only in the ‘90s. An equally memorable video shot in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The Caulfields – Devil’s Diary (1995)
Better known by its declaratory chorus: “I’m bigger than Jesus now.” Fun fact: They toured Australia in the mid-1990s in support of Died Pretty. Did they play any other songs?
Not From There – Sich Offnen (1998)
How did one of the most interesting noise-pop outfits of the late-’90s garner high rotation on triple j? With a novelty single featuring lyrics in German, of course. Frontman Heinz Riegler is still making great ambient music in Brisbane.
Ammonia – Drugs (1995)
Observation #1: Val Kilmer could easily star as Dave Johnstone if anyone was stupid enough to make an Ammonia biopic. Observation #2: This song has a really underrated bassline.
Primitive Radio Gods – Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand (1996)
This ambient bit of mid-’90s melancholy is all about the BB King sample (“I’ve been downhearted baby, ever since the day we met”) which only appears twice. It’s a clever device that forces you to listen to this song the whole way through. All four minutes, 42 seconds of it.
Violetine – You Know (1998)
Q: Whatever happened to Violetine? A: They’re still paying off the debt from this needlessly expensive video that bands in the ‘90s were conned into thinking they needed to make.
Tokyo Ghetto Pussy – I Kiss Your Lips (1995)
Tokyo Ghetto Pussy was actually a German duo who performed under a bunch of aliases, most notably Jam & Spoon. This driving trance lullaby scored them a top 10 hit in Australia and the Netherlands – and pretty much nowhere else.
Fastball – The Way (1998)
A morbid true story about an old couple that gets lost in the desert set to a spaghetti-western backdrop. See also: ‘You’re An Ocean’ (2000).
Spacehog – In the Meantime (1996)
Was the sample of The Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s ‘Telephone and Rubber Band’ really that crucial to the alterna-glam pay-off? Likewise, did the drummer really need that double kick?