Welcome to the penultimate installment of The Story of Pop: 1999, our weekly series on the blog where we recount all the UK singles chart’s hot movers and shakers from two whole decades ago. This week: a UK garage anthem that defined a generation – and launched the career of one young bright thing from Southampton in a major way…
We made the argument back in May when we covered Shanks & Bigfoot that ‘Sweet Like Chocolate’ was the record that bought UK garage off the dancefloors and into the mainstream pop charts. But we would also argue that this week’s featured hit – and an absolute classic of the genre at that – did it in fine style too.
Hailing from the port town of Southampton on the south coast of England, Mark Hill and Pete Devereux – known as Artful Dodger, named after the wiley character from the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist because of their reputation for creating bootlegs of different records – they had been working with Craig David, a then 16 year old local lad with a passion for R&B and soul music who’d slowly been building a name for himself with self written and produced demos.
It was one of these, ‘Last Night’, that formed the basis for ‘Re-Rewind (The Crowd Say Bo Selecta)’. It was actually re-recorded via nothing more sophisticated than a blank TDK cassette it had been dubbed onto, after a computer error nearly erased all of their hard work, a tape that Craig has openly said became ‘gold dust’ to its production.
‘Re-Rewind’ was a record that was two parts UK garage and 2-step to three parts smooth R&B melodies and a part-ragga toasting on the song’s breakdown chorus. Quite simply, it was a huge record in waiting and the sound of a brave new genre of UK music. BBC Radio 1 – having just recently taken on the Dreem Teem and DJ Spoony for a weekly Sunday slot showcasing the best of new UK garage music – had also found the sound to replace the now deflated bubble of Britpop.
Alas, ‘Re-Rewind’ got no further than it’s #2 entry and peak (no thanks to a record we’ll discuss in a bit more detail on next week’s blog), but it’s reputation preceded it, as it stayed inside the top 10 until long into the start of the new millennium, even rebounding to its #2 peak once the Christmas and seasonal hits fell away to nothing. As we’ll see in another future series, it also set Craig David on the road to stardom and to a career that is now entering a third decade.
‘Re-Rewind’ is probably the song I look back at the most fondly of all the ones we’ve covered on this series. It ushered in a fresh, new sound for a new century and a new millennium that would set musical trends for the first few years of it at least, and felt and sounded like an exciting thing to witness. And it really was.
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