The Story of Pop: 1999 (Chapter 26)

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It’s Thursday, it’s midday, so we reckon it’s about time we went back to the sounds and sights of the top end of the UK charts from twenty years ago – yes, it’s The Story of Pop: 1999. We’ve now hit the halfway mark on this series can you believe? And as the sun shines and temperatures start to warm up across the UK, we couldn’t have a more fitting classic hit for you this week…

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As the new millennium dawned, one thing that was becoming more prevalent was affordable air travel. We say this namely because there’s a direct link between that and what was subsequently arriving at the top end of the UK charts, not just for this week’s featured hit but many others we’ll be covering in this series.

As cheaper air fares meant more possibilities for travel to Europe, so too did it mean that usually around this time of year, British clubbers would flock in their thousands to live it large in the Mecca of dance music that is Ibiza, which has been the spiritual home of many a club classic in the last two decades, this one included – although it had a fairly protracted route to getting there.

Born in Freiburg, Germany, DJ and producer Andre Tanneberger – better known by his stage name ATB – was about to launch his solo project with his debut set ‘Movin’ Melodies’, after the breakup of his former dance collective Sequential One in 1998.

Sampling part of an old interview given by supermodel Yolanda Rivera, the largely instrumental ‘9PM (Till I Come)’ was centred around a haunting blues guitar riff that was at one parts spaced out and one part resonant hookline in the absence of any vocals or chorus. It was initially given a fairly low key UK release in March 1999 on the legendary Ministry of Sound record label – that time out making #68.

Despite its limited availability, it quickly became a club smash, both here and on the Balearic isles, and demand slowly grew over the next couple of months thanks to something else that cheap airborne travel had also made possible in the charts of twenty years ago: the import market. In a time before global release dates, it was possible for singles to be available in the larger record shops via copies that had been imported from mainland Europe, albeit sold at double the price a normal single would go for.

It did mean though, that with the single released on different labels for different territories, there was no distinction between these imported copies, and there was an instance sometime around May when ATB’s track was placed at both #55 and #63, even though it was the same single in question. Thankfully, Ministry of Sound had a full scale UK re-release waiting in the wings to finally put paid to this turn of events.

And upon its second release on 21st June 1999, ‘9PM (Till I Come)’ became the nineteenth single in a row to enter the UK charts at number one, taking just under a month to shift half a million copies. It eventually stayed at the top for two weeks, and was the fifth biggest selling single of that year in the UK.

A series of lesser starred follow up singles appeared for ATB over the course of the next year, including ‘Don’t Stop’ (#3 in October 1999) and a cover of Adamski’s 1990 chart topper ‘Killer’ (#4 in March 2000), but for an instant floor filler that could instantly transport you to the Cafe del Mar or Pacha no matter what the time of year, ‘9PM (Till I Come)’ has to be the one.

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.

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