Thursday, 13 June 2013
Whilst some of the bands involved in the ongoing “Big Reunion” event should really have stayed dead and buried (Five, Blue), some of the groups involved did manage a few moments of pop genius in their past. Certainly, when they first started, Atomic Kitten were a breath of fresh air, all hyper-energy, cartoon-esque, bouncy pop songs, and although they went a bit AOR when they finally became properly successful, they still managed to pull out a few glorious singles as time went on, before stumbling to a low key end in 2004/05.
The group had been put together by an - at the time - ex member of OMD, Andy McCluskey, as a girl band trio, obviously to cash in on the whole Spice Girls phenomenon, and the original line up consisted of Kerry Katona, Liz McClarnon and future Sugababe Heidi Range. Range left before the band had seemingly even recorded anything, and was replaced by Natasha Hamilton, who for some, would later be seen as the “leader” of the group.
At the end of 1999, the band’s debut single, “Right Now”, was released. It set the stall out for the initial sound of the group, a glorious disco indebted romp that cackled with a fizz and energy that other pop acts such as Westlife were simply unable to ever consider getting near to. It went top 10, and overnight, Atomic Kitten had arrived.
Subsequent singles did just as well, with the highlight of the band’s career being single number 3, “I Want Your Love”, a barn-storming powerhouse of a record, driven along by an insistent sample from the theme to the movie “The Big Country”. Helped along by the fact that the single was multi-formatted to excess, with at the time unique material appearing on all three chart eligible formats, it followed it’s predecessors into the top 10 singles chart.
After a ballad, “Follow Me” dented the lower regions of the top 20, the band’s debut LP “Right Now” was issued in late 2000. It seemed as though trying to get singles buyers to purchase a full length album was a struggle, and the album was a bit of a failure, only getting into the bottom rung of the top 40. It, for the most part, retained the pure pop sound that was found on the singles, but it was not enough to convince people to shell out hard earned cash.
A fifth single was released from the LP early the following year, “Whole Again”. Whilst it could have been a risky move, a hi-energy pop band issuing another ballad as a single, it turned out to be a masterstroke. It captured the public’s imagination, and would eventually become their first chart topper. It is also notable for being the last single to feature Kerry Katona, who became pregnant during the promo campaign, and decided to leave the group, partly also because she herself didn’t think she was that much of a singer anyway. Ex-Precious vocalist Jenny Frost joined the band, and a similar looking but revamped video, with Kerry’s parts replaced by Jenny’s, was subsequently created.
The decision was taken to revamp and reissue the debut LP, using a new cover and an altered track listing. The original 12 track album was now 14 songs long, with some of the old material ditched or newly re-recorded with Jenny’s vocals replacing Kerry’s - the affected songs that were the recipient of a new Jenny vocal were “Right Now”, “Whole Again”, “Turn Me On”, “Bye Now” and “See Ya”. Some of the new songs were then issued as singles to help plug the new line up and the new album, which subsequently re-entered the charts at number 1, “Whole Again” now having totally resurrected the band’s career. A cover of “Eternal Flame”, one of the “new” songs, was issued as the band’s next single, and gave them another number 1 single. Atomic Kitten had, once again, arrived.
The Kittens, for the most part, had now developed a slightly classier, less “pop” image since Jenny’s arrival, and this was apparent on their second LP, 2002’s “Feels So Good”. Many of the songs issued as singles were either ballads, or slightly less energetic pop outings (their version of “The Tide Is High” was a bit clunky). The third single from the album, “The Last Goodbye”, was issued as a double A side with a “new” song, “Be With You”, the latter a gloriously energetic pop romp, recalling the early years of the band, propelled along by a sample of ELO’s “Last Train To London”.
The band retained their more mature sound for their third album, “Ladies Night”, although don’t go thinking they had gone all Celine Dion - the title track was a faithful cover of the Kool And The Gang hit, and even featured Kool And The Gang themselves, thus adding an authentic disco flavour. Again, there are ballads littered throughout, and the album follows the acoustic/R&B/midtempo pop of “Feels So Good”. Thankfully, “Be With You” was shoe horned onto the record, and stops the album from heading too far into MOR land.
Atomic Kitten didn’t so much split up, as grind to a halt. They announced they would be taking an “extended break” and thus issued the final single from “Ladies Night”, a rather charming piano ditty called “Someone Like Me”, as a AA with a revamped version of their debut hit, “Right Now” - dubbed “Right Now 2004”. It was followed almost immediately by a best of set, “The Greatest Hits”, and that was it. Natasha kept telling people she was going to release a solo album, but never did, whilst Liz did issue a couple of nondescript solo singles in 2006 and 2007. Jenny also dabbled in the world of pop, but ended up making her name as a TV presenter, whilst Kerry remained the most high profile - also dabbling as a TV presenter, she became a gossip mag favourite, had her own reality TV show, and remained in the public eye whilst seemingly not really doing that much at all. The reformed version of the band features Kerry, partly because Jenny is now pregnant, and partly, I guess, because it’s the original line up.
The band did break off from their sabbatical in 2005, when an old track from the first album, “Cradle”, was issued in re-recorded form as a charity single. It was not the first AK release that year, as an odds and sods best of called “The Collection”, a few singles padded out with album tracks, had been issued by budget label EMI Gold earlier that year.
One or two tracks trickled out in Europe and as digital releases over the next few years, but until the current reunion, that was it. The group had also left behind a number of VHS and DVD releases - “So Far So Good”, a documentary issued just after the success of “Right Now” had put the group back in the limelight, was issued in 2001, and was followed by a live DVD in 2002, “Right Here Right Now”. Another documentary style job, “Be With Us”, appeared at the tail end of 2003, whilst the band marked their departure from the pop world with 2004’s “Greatest Hits Live”, which also doubled up as a video-style best of, as all of the band’s promo videos were included on there as well.
Virtually everything the Kittens released was an essential purchase at the time. Virtually every single was multi formatted, with either videos or remixes being tagged on as “exclusive” tracks somewhere or other. Most singles were also issued on cassette, although the format had died a death by the time they got around to the “Ladies Night” LP. Even where a single included - or now includes - something already available elsewhere, most singles were usually issued in two different sleeves, so I have simply listed everything the band released in physical form in the UK.
I have also listed the original albums, including reissues and compilations, but have not detailed any overseas only releases, such as the “Atomic Kitten” and “Essential” comps, as these only really include material already available in the UK. I have also listed the band’s four video releases.
It is worth pointing out that a couple of “two in one” boxsets exist - the “Jenny” version of “Right Now” was paired up with “Feels So Good” on a 2003 set (2xCD, Virgin 591 987 2) whilst you can also get the “Be With Us” and “Greatest Hits Live” DVD’s in a nice 2-DVD package as well.
Right Now (CD, original release, Innocent CDSIN 6)
Right Now (CD, “Jenny” reissue in new sleeve, Innocent CDSINY 6)
Feels So Good (CD, Innocent CDSIN 10)
Ladies Night (CD, Innocent CDSIN 14)
The Greatest Hits (CD, initial copies shrinkwrapped, Innocent CDSIN 16)
The Collection (CD, EMI Gold 474 0942)
The Essential Collection (2xCD, Music Club Deluxe MCDLX 147)
Right Now (Radio Edit)/(Solomon Pop Mix)/(K-Klass Phazerphunk Radio Edit)/(Video) (CD1, Innocent SINCD 15, with insert)
Right Now (Radio Edit)/Something Spooky/Right Now (Original Demo) (CD2, diff p/s with poster, Innocent SINDX 15)
See Ya (Radio Mix)/(The Progress Boy Wunda Edit)/(Sleaze Sisters Anthem Mix)/(Video) (CD1, Innocent SINCD 17)
See Ya (Radio Mix)/(Kitty Karaoke Version)/Interview (CD2 in diff p/s with 3 “Kat Cards”, Innocent SINDX 17)
See Ya (Radio Mix)/(Sizzling Danish Mix)/(Solomon Paradise Mix) (Cassette, Innocent SINC 17)
I Want Your Love (2XS Radio Mix)/(Q’s Detonator Alternative Radio Mix)/(Video) (CD1, Innocent SINCD 18)
I Want Your Love (2XS Radio Mix)/(Sleaze Sisters Anthem Mix)/(Ricochet’s Monolith Mix) (CD2 in unique p/s with 3 postcards, Innocent SINDX 18)
I Want Your Love (2XS Radio Mix)/(Maximum Q Atom Bomb Mix)/(Q’s Detonator Alternative Radio Mix)/(Frankie Constantinou Disco Mix) (Cassette, Innocent SINC 18)
Follow Me (Radio Mix)/Don’t Tell Me Now/Follow Me (Solaris Classic Disco Mix) (CD1, Innocent SINCD 22)
Follow Me (Radio Mix)/Real Life/Follow Me (Stella Browne Club Mix) (CD2, in stickered “sofa” p/s with 3 cards, Innocent SINDX 22)
Follow Me (Radio Mix)/(Solaris Radio Edit)/(Stella Browne Radio Edit)/(G-A-Y Mix) (Cassette, Innocent SINC 22)
Whole Again (Remix)/Holiday/Whole Again (Whirlwind Mix) (CD1, Innocent SINCD 24)
Whole Again (Remix)/(Original Version)/Locomotion (CD2, unique p/s with poster calendar, Innocent SINDX 24)
Eternal Flame/Album Medley/Eternal Flame (Blacksmith RnB Rub)/(Video) (CD, Innocent SINCD 27)
Eternal Flame/Album Medley/Dancing In The Street (Cassette, Innocent SINC 27)
Do What You Want (3” CD, Innocent 50110 26009 347, Pepsi related freebie)
It’s OK!/Megamix/Whole Again (Jenny Version)/(US Video) (CD1, Innocent SINCD 36)
It’s OK! (Album Version)/(M*A*S*H Radio Mix)/You Are/It’s OK! (Video) (CD2, Innocent SINDX 36)
It’s OK!/Megamix/True Friends (Cassette, Innocent SINC 36)
The Tide Is High (Radio Mix)/Second Album Medley/Dancing In The Street/The Tide Is High (Video) (CD1, Innocent SINCD 38)
The Tide Is High (Radio Mix)/(Groove Brother 12” Remix)/(Lasgo Remix) (CD2, red p/s, Innocent SINDX 38)
The Tide Is High (Radio Mix)/Second Album Medley/The Tide Is High (Groove Brother Edit) (Cassette, Innocent SINC 38)
Be With You (Radio Version)/The Last Goodbye/For Once In My Life/Be With You (Video) (CD1, unique p/s, Innocent SINCD 42)
The Last Goodbye/Be With You (Radio Version)/(Milky 7” Edit)/The Last Goodbye (Video) (CD2, with poster, Innocent SINDX 42)
The Last Goodbye/Be With You (Radio Version)/(Extended Version) (Cassette, Innocent SINC 42)
Love Doesn’t Have To Hurt (LP Version)/(Uptown Full Vocal Master Mix)/Use Your Imagination/Love Doesn’t Have To Hurt (Video) (CD1, Innocent SINCD 45)
Love Doesn’t Have To Hurt/The Last Goodbye (Soda Club Mix)/Kissing In The Wind (CD2, unique p/s + poster, Innocent SINDX 45)
Love Doesn’t Have To Hurt/Kissing In The Wind (Edit)/Be With You (Graham Stack/Groove Brother 7” Edit) (Cassette, Innocent SINC 45)
If You Come To Me/Third Album Medley (CD1, Innocent SINCD 50)
If You Come To Me/So Right/Feels So Good (LP Version)/(Video) (CD2, diff p/s, Innocent SINDX 50)
Ladies Night (Radio Mix)/The Tide Is High (Radio Mix) (CD1, Innocent SINCD 53)
Ladies Night (Radio Mix)/(Kurtis Mantronik 7”)/Somebody/Ladies Night (Video) (CD2, unique p/s, Innocent SINDX 53)
Ladies Night (Kurtis Mantronik 12”)/(Radio Mix Edit)/Be With You (Todd Terry 12”)/(Todd Edit) (12” Picture Disc in sticker sealed clear sleeve, Innocent SINT 53)
Someone Like Me/Right Now 2004 (CD1, Innocent SINCD 60)
Right Now 2004/Someone Like Me/Wild/Right Now 2004 (Video) (CD2, diff p/s, Innocent SINDX 60)
Cradle 2005/Eternal Flame (Remix)/Someone Like Me (Minus Blue Mix)/Cradle 2005 (Video) (CD, Innocent SINDX 72)
So Far So Good (DVD, Innocent 9022009, plus insert)
Right Here Right Now Live (DVD, Eagle EREDV 270)
Be With Us (DVD, Innocent DVDSIN 6)
Greatest Hits Live At Wembley Arena (DVD, Innocent DVDSIN 8)