Today’s POP RESCUE from an uncertain fate, is the 1993 album Oui Love You by three-piece group Oui 3, but is this album just a tired old Routine? Read on…
This 11 track album opens with lead single For What It’s Worth, which has a wonderfully mellow opener to it courtesy of being a cover of the 1967 Buffalo Springfield track. Rapper Trevor Miles has a great soulful rapping style, and whilst his rapping gets louder and harder towards the end with lyrics like ‘hold your fire put down your weapon, you’ll never get to heaven with an AK-47‘, when set alongside American Blair Booth‘s powerful vocals in the chorus, it all really compliments the original song, whilst keeping it fresh for the 1990s. This single gave them their first top 30 UK hit, reaching #28. It returned to the charts for a re-release in October 1993, reaching 2 places higher at #26.
Schemer Supreme follows, and this is another pretty slick, chilled out track. The beats are muted, the bass and keyboards, along with the dreamy chorus vocals, make this feel like the kind of song you’d expect to hear on Grand Theft Auto. The group were slotted into the ‘acid jazz’ genre.
Up next is Arms Of Solitude, which at times sounds like their big hit Break From The Old Routine. Unsurprisingly therefore, it was the second single from the album, and the one immediately before their hit. Production is slick here, and includes various South Asian instruments weaving layers throughout, mixed with Blair’s soft vocals. At about 2m 25s and again at 3m 30s, she breaks free and belts out a great high note before returning to her softer tones when Trevor’s rapping returns. This song does go on for 5m 20s, which is probably 90s too long.
Fifth single Fact Of Life follows this, and this one is quite catchy – helped by a wonderful little riff near the start. There’s also a great bit of trombone and lovely 90s beat. There’s also plenty of sitar (?) in this one. Blair’s vocals are kept to the chorus again, with Trevor taking the main role. Over all, it’s quite a nice song, but it stalled at #38 in the UK chart.
There’s a wonderful bassline on next song Great Expectations. Trevor once again puts in a slick rapping performance, and he’s joined by Blair for a scattering of her powerful vocals mostly in the chorus, although she does drift in and out of the song. This is a really nice chilled out song, and should have been a single instead.
A great little guitar riff opens next song Reason To Believe, which is soon joined by a beat and Trevor’s cool rapping. The guitar weaves throughout the song, along with Howard Hughes’ piano playing. This is quite a chilled out mid-tempo track, and is pretty catchy – sounding a bit like a Faithless song.
The congas and beats of hit Break From The Old Routine are up next, and this was the track that caught my ear back in 1993. I love this song, and so it’s nice to hear an album version of it here. This track is up-beat, and is really catchy. Blair gets a good airing, including her ‘doo-be-doo‘ section. Sometimes it’s the momentary gaps that rapper Trevor puts in to his lyrics, that really makes his raps sound just so damn smooth. Flawless.
Some great bleeps introduce Accessory After The Fact which soon switches to a thick bass and quick beats. This is a really catchy track in the chorus – particularly in the delivery of the lyrics ‘I’d like to know what your superiors think about that (accessory after the fact!)‘. Again, this track really should have made it as a single.
Ninth track Persona Non Grata fades in, and soon shows off it’s adapted cover section of Everybody’s Talkin’, a single for it’s writer Fred Neil in 1966. Harry Nilsson made it a hit in 1969, and The Beautiful South would also find a hit with it the year after this album was released, in 1994. Here though, Blair makes easy work of it in the chorus, against yet another wonderful beat.
Penultimate track is actually a 6min 9s remix – Arms Of Solitude (Orange Hill Indica Mix), which gives us lots of lovely synthscapes and Blair’s vocals drifting in and out. This gives over to beats and bass at about 1min 50s, before a cello joins in at 2mins. By 3mins another bass comes in, as Trevor’s vocals drift off into the distance. Essentially this could be a remix of anything, not even necessarily a Oui 3 track.
The album closes with title track Oui Love You, a track that features Jah Wobble on bass, which is heavy, thick, and absolutely at home here. Blair gets to show off some more of her vocals, even if it is only the song’s title repeated a few times. This track is a warm, rich, blend of musical instruments, and a gentle way to end this album.
Over all, this album is a slick, chilled-out 90’s gem. Their biggest hit Break From The Old Routine is a perfect example of what to expect here, as it rarely strays from this style. Trevor’s rapping is sounds warm and rich, and Blair’s vocals are powerful but definitely under-used.
Sadly, I feel that with the release of Arms Of Solitude and Fact Of Life, the group missed an opportunity by not releasing Accessory After The Fact and Great Expectations instead.
Where are Oui 3 now?
The trio’s moderate success allowed them to record a follow-up album, but sadly this was not released.
They released two further singles but both landed outside the UK top 40. Their final charting UK single was Crazy in 1995, which stumbled in the charts at #85.
Whilst Trevor Miles and producer Phillipp Erb have both seemingly vanished from the limelight, Blair set up Blair Booth Music. It states that she has been ‘taking up graphic design, animation and film creation combining picture to music’.
A 19 track career retrospective Break From The Old Routine – The Collection was released in 2005, featuring singles and other un-released work.
Oui 3 were once cited by Faithless as an influence, and I think you can hear echoes of them in hit Insomnia. I think Trevor really deserves a reprise.
POP RESCUE RATING:
- POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 3 / 5
- 1993 UK CHART PEAK: #39
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from a Cancer Research UK store.