Today’s POP RESCUE from an uncertain fate, is the 1997 debut album Fresh! by Australian singer and songwriter, and former UK Eurovision entrant, Gina G. Will this album make you Ooh and Aah, or is it Just A Little Bit poor? Read on…
As soon as the first note of this 12 track album bursts in, you know instantly that it’s the debut single Ooh Aah… Just A Little Bit, which catapulted Gina G to wide attention in the UK charts (reaching #1), and within the Eurovision Song Contest in 1996 (where it brought the UK to 8th place). The song is incredibly catchy, aided without a doubt by the chorus, which is very easy to remember. The track’s songwriters Simon Tauber and Steve Rodway stuck with Gina, and have many writing and performance credits throughout the album, and this no doubt worked to both artist and writer’s advantage. This song is still iconic, unmistakeable, and was so utterly fresh compared to the rest of the charts.
The titular track and third single Fresh is up next, co-written by Gina herself (she has 3 other co-writer credits here). It is pure summer time pop, with Gina putting in a seemingly effortless vocal performance as she blatantly delivers some sexy lyrics – ‘I wanna get fresh with you baby, I wanna do all the things that turn you on‘ (accompanied by bikini on a beach in the video). It doesn’t have quite the power and energy as Ooh Aah, but it is definitely a worthy companion.
The tempo turns down, as the temperature rises for latin-pop song Ti Amo. This was the album’s 4th single, and gave Gina a #11 UK hit. It feels almost like it tries to nod back to Madonna’s La Isla Bonita, but not quite succeeding. Again, it’s a nice summery song.
Ballad Every Time I Fall is next, and this is an interesting switch to a slower style for her. The track opens like it belongs to a Disney film soundtrack before switching to a Steps album-only track. This was released as the album’s final single but failed to capture the same interest as earlier ones, perhaps because it sounds so far removed from Gina G, and would have blended in with so many other artists at that time. It stalled in the UK charts at #52 at the end of 1997.
This is followed by er.. Follow The Light which starts off as a return to form, before suddenly taking a turn as a stomping synth-stabbing euro dance track. The track is pretty simple and could literally be by anyone. It does at least have some nice vocal harmonies in the chorus.
Next it’s Gimme Some Love which despite having Metro at the help, it marks a bit of a downturn in energy that made Gina stand out amongst the rest of the chart. What it lacks in interest, it makes up for it in the tons of house piano and synth sequences, and a bass and drum sequence that sounds like it’s popped round after finishing working for contemporaries 2 Unlimited or Culture Beat. When released as the album’s 5th single, it reached #25 in the UK, her first outside the Top 20.
This is followed by Rhythm Of My Life which is ushered in with some wonderful sounding light synths before a charging bass line comes in. This track has a great pace to it, and it’s also pretty catchy too. The chorus is also quite simple and catchy too, taking it closer to the style of Ooh Ahh. A really nice pop song.
Missin’ You Like Crazy follows this, and it’s back to a slow number – almost Gina’s equivalent to Cathy Dennis‘ Too Many Walls, or a lost Eternal ballad. This allows Gina to show off her vocal range, as the track plods along behind her. She’s joined by some perfect backing vocals too, resulting in quite a nice little track.
Ninth track I Belong To You follows this, and was the album’s second single. This followed Ooh Ahh.. perfectly as it is fairly similar in sound, and would have fit perfectly in the euro-dance UK singles chart at the time, partly thanks to Metro holding the production reins. The UK mostly agreed, and it gave her a #6 hit. The track really gallops along, with a chugging fat synth line as Gina’s vocals sit flawlessly on top. This is a lovely dance pop song.
Higher Than Love is next and musically doesn’t stray far from the previous track, and the familiar racing synth line and beats are there again, but Gina’s vocals allow for some nice little nuances. There’s a nice dreamy vocal section in the mid section before the track resumes for the race home. It’s a nice little song, but not ever so different to what’s already been heard.
Following is penultimate track, the aptly titled It Doesn’t Mean Goodbye. We’re treated to that sample, found in PM Dawn’s Set Adrift On Memory Bliss, itself a sample of The Soul Searchers’ Ashley’s Roachlip from 1974, and widely used in dance music. This works as a great underscoring of this really nice ballad, itself ending with a wonderful saxophone solo as the synths fade out. This could have been the end of the album, and that would have been fine but….
…the album actually closes with Ooh Ahh… Just A Little Bit (Motiv8 Vintage Honey Mix). The synths are more delicate and swirling here. Gone is the familiar opening synth line, giving way to a more spacey sound. Its inclusion here is a little strange given that it was also available on the single’s CD release. Still, it’s a nice calmer mix.
Over all this album is a prime exhibit of the 90’s euro-pop-dance music phenomenon that occurred during the mid-late 1990s. The antidote to the guitar-led growling indie bands.
Gina oozes energy throughout the record, and even though there are a few duff turns (Gimme Some Love, and Follow The Light being the weakest two), and some tracks are victim to the same formula, but the over all result is a cheerful, bright, and decent euro pop album.
I think that had the last two singles not been released, then this might have helped the album by keeping fans hungry for more.
- POP RESCUE 2020 RATING: 3 / 5
- 1997 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #12
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from a Marie Curie store.