This is The Story of Pop: 1999, our weekly series that transports you back two decades ago to the movers and shakers in the UK charts from the last year of the 20th century. If it was big in 1999, we’ll be featuring it here. This week: we revisit one of the year’s biggest floor fillers in clubland…
One thing that 1999 was full and plenty of was dance music, and particularly from the UK as we’ll see over the course of this series and this week’s track was undoubtedly one of the biggies of that year. Phats and Small comprised Brighton DJs and producers Jason ‘Phats’ Hayward and Russell Small, and vocalist/future Mr Vanessa Feltz, ‘Big’ Ben Ofoedu.
As was the case with many of the big dance hits of that time, ‘Turn Around’ had initially begun life as a white label in late 1998, an irresistible slice of handbag house built around samples of Toney Lee’s ‘Reach Up’ and Change’s ‘The Glow of Love’. Multiply, the Sony dance label that was home to Sash! amongst others, eventually won the bidding war to commercially release it.
When first released at the end of March, it made a respectable top 5 debut, but it was only on its peak a few weeks later in April that it climbed all the way to #2 – just held off by the still strong selling Martine McCutcheon single we discussed last week. It’s one of those records like fellow Brighton boy Fatboy Slim’s ‘Praise You’ we met at the start of this series that instantly transports you back to that time, which is probably why it’s still held up in such high regard.
Two more top 20 hits in ‘Feel Good’ and ‘Tonite’ along with their debut album ‘Now Phats What I Small Music’ came along by year’s end, before Ben left to pursue a solo career with Intenso Project. Jason and Russell carried on for one more album in 2001 before appearing to fall silent. But they’ll always have the glory of the song that soundtracked any dancefloor worth its salt in the spring of 1999.
Don’t forget to follow our playlist on Spotify – updated weekly so you never miss a song from the story of pop in 1999. And you can leave your memories of the songs below in the comments or Tweet us, using the hashtag #StoryofPop1999.