You’ve seen our 100 Best Tracks Of The Nineties, but here’s a selection of great songs that missed the list and somehow slipped out of the music hive mind over the last dozen years or so. Some of the artists went on to better things, others did absolutely bugger all. You might even still play the lot of them every single day – in which case, well done you.
Spectacular ball-droppers One Dove were the toast of the hippest circles in the early 90s, their debut single ‘Fallen’ prompting wild speculation that they were set to make the next ‘Screamadelica’. Well, they had Andrew Weatherall on board after all. In the end ‘Morning Dove White’ was pretty good when it came out two wasted years later, and it served up some modest hits – the dubby, dreamy ‘White Love’ the best of them.
Remember this one? A little splash of ornate classic pop that caused almost imperceptible ripples in 1995, ‘Found A Little Baby’ picked up the towering honour of being named NME’s 24th best single of the year. Liam Hayes was – and undoubtedly remains – a multi-instrumentalist of real character, and also turned up playing piano with one of Will Oldham’s Palace iterations.
NME’s sixth best single of 1996 was a cheeky side-project from Lou Barlow, once of Dinosaur Jr., then of Sebadoh. Barlow clearly thought the time had come to get on the radio, so put together a little baggy groove – a good five years too late, but what the hell – and plonked some meandery guitar on top. If it was dated in 1996 it certainly is now, but it’s still good to swing your bob to as you gaze at your hi-tops.
Richard Norris and ex-Soft Cell keyboard-prodder Dave Ball made faintly ambient house records that raked in the club kudos without making them the superstars they so clearly weren’t cut out to be. So they decided to have a monster hit. Adorning a rather brutal techno track with hoedown banjo was a genius move that took them Top 3, but it also paved the way for Rednex’ ‘Cotton Eye Joe’ which made everyone forget about ‘Swamp Thing’. Success: such a fickle mistress.
Mark Ramos-Nishita – the unofficial fourth Beastie Boy – took ‘Hand In Your Head’ to his keyboard repair shop a couple of times, cutting a sketchy Fender Rhodes groove on his first solo album (that’s 1995’s ‘Mark’s Keyboard Repair’) before smoothing the edges on 1998 follow-up ‘Push The Button’. Whatever its shape it’s a cool retro gem that scraped into the Top 40 when Britain got taste for a week.
“That’s cool – Aerosmith rule!” Unimpeachable lyrical skills like that made Gay Dad a nationwide phenomenon for – ooh – at least a fortnight in 1999. They were one of those surefire successes, a band fronted by a music journalist. There should be more of those. Anyway, the journalist was Cliff Jones, a man blessed with rugged good looks and – let’s grudgingly admit – a way with a pop tune. But let’s forget this one all over again.
Before it all ended in the darker temptations of rock’n’roll excess, Manchester’s Marion showed huge promise both artistically and commercially (man). The buzzing ‘Sleep’ was a top 20 hit in 1996 and they came on like a tougher Suede – Nubuck maybe – with singer Jaime Harding’s androgynous looks and versatile pipes completing the package. After years in drug hell they’re back now, but no one gave them a second thought in between. We should all take a long, hard look at ourselves.
No one’s forgotten Ultrasound, of course. But everyone’s forgotten everything that isn’t ‘Stay Young’. Debut single ‘Same Band’ is a different beast entirely, an exhilarating rush of guitars and general kitchen sinks of noise, with frontman Tiny (he wasn’t really tiny!) Wood letting rip about the joys of being in this together. Obviously they all fell out and split up.
For a while it seemed as if Clinic were never going to release an album. There they were, poking their tongues out behind those surgical masks, putting out spiky single after spiky single, barely a thought for a cohesive long-player. They finally fronted up with ‘Internal Wrangler’ in 2000 but all the best stuff had been done. ‘Cement Mixer’ from 1998 is a terrific stab of garage psych that has come nowhere near anyone’s cerebral cortex in 14 years.
This one’s sneaking back into the public consciousness now that… hang on, no one but a handful of music journalists and Felt obsessives (not exactly mutually exclusive categories) has seen Lawrence Of Belgravia, have they? Still, after quintessential 80s indie outfit Felt, Lawrence went on to revive the 70s in forensic detail with Denim in 1992 and this was one of the finest fruits of ‘Back In Denim’ – a very fine album.
Any forgotten gems we’ve missed? Be sure to let us know. Meanwhile here's a slightly extended selection of fogotten '90s tracks via Spotify:
Nostalgia fans! Check out NME's best albums and tracks of every year, going back to 1975
100 best songs of the 90s