Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate unknown, is the Vengaboys‘ 1999 album The Party Album!
This 12 track album opens with the honking horns of the Vengabus itself. All aboard! Second single We Like To Party! (The Vengabus) is up with it’s unmistakeable Vengaboys sound. This song was a huge stomping #3 UK hit for Kim, Denice, Robin and Roy – the four-piece who were the Vengaboys at this point. It is a fast-paced energetic track.
Following on in a similar vain, is Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom – which gave the group their first #1 in the UK. This song is so catchy – with it’s thumping beats, simple melody, and easy to remember chorus. It includes plenty of big ‘woaahhohohohoh‘ dance vocals and robotic vocal samples.
Lead single Up And Down is up next, and this gave them huge club success, and took them to #4 in the UK charts. It’s simple – ‘up and down, up and down, up…. and down‘ – not much to remember when you’re dancing to it in a club at 3am. Again the thumping beat and bouncy little synth riffs are there, and aside from that simple almost-aerobic exercise set of lyrics, there’s not much more to it. This probably played to it’s benefit, helping to keep it un-cluttered and catchy.
‘Okay, party people, are you ready?‘ Kim or Denice asks, as Ho Ho Vengaboys! gets started. This reminds me a little bit of The Gap Band‘s 1979 hit Oops Upside Your Head in the chanting male chorus. The song is pretty simple – although there’s some really nice sounding synths used here, over a dance beat. The lyrics are mostly for audience participation, and therefore aren’t very verbose.
This is followed by lead single To Brazil, which failed to chart in the UK, but was also a single from their previous album. To some degree, this track is hilarious – as the lyrics basically consist of ‘Brazil! la la la la laa aaaa‘ which of course makes it catchy, but doesn’t say much for Brazil itself. Surely there’s something about it that’s worth singing about? Even vocalist Kim must have had something good to say about her native country? Oh well. Lalalalalalalalalalalaaa.
Up next is We’re Going To Ibiza – a track that clearly cashed in on the then popularity of travelling to dance capital Ibiza. ‘Captain Kim’ welcomes us aboard the Venga Airways flight. This song, which isn’t half as clubby as their previous singles, gave them their second and (so far) final #1 UK hit single. Over all, Kim’s vocals are pretty good here apart from where she has to reach a high note, which is a bit wobbly on the way up to. Robin and Roy hold back for some ‘woah!‘ vocals only.
This is followed by Vengababes From Outer Space which sounds unlike the rest of the songs on the album so far – it has a wide range of lyrics, isn’t as clubby as the other songs, and almost sounds like something that you’d expect on an S Club 7 album. There’s some great ‘oh eh oh‘ male vocals, tinkling house piano, and some robovocals too. Really nice little track.
Superfly Slick follows, with a thumping dance beat and brooding synth giving way to some space-like sounds. This has some great synth sounds and robotic vocals, and this electronic sound feels like a fair distance away from the We Like To Party or To Brazil tracks. Again, there’s even some great vocals from Kim/Denice, which sound their lushest at about 2min 20s. Towards the end, I can imagine hearing it seamlessly mashed into Kylie Minogue’s Light Years track.
Ninth track Movin’ Around comes storming in. It’s a fast track, and has some wonderfully affected vocals and synthscapes. This almost doesn’t feel like the Vengaboys, and perhaps more like something from their chart contemporaries Alice Deejay, Sash! or Planet Perfecto‘s hit Bullet In The Gun.
Similarly, next track The Vengabeat is a much harder track, and lacks the catchy lyrics from their hit singles. This, like Movin’ Around could be by any dance act, by simply replacing the ‘venga’ mention with something else. Not a bad track, but it doesn’t really consist of much, and so feels a bit like album padding.
Penultimate track You And Me is up next and whilst it is musically rich, laden with synths, again this is another track that could actually be by someone else other than the Vengaboys. It sounds nice, but aside from the repeated androgynous chanting of the song’s title, there’s not much else to it.
The album closes with Paradise… which opens with a beat and bassline that instantly reminds me of the Sugababes hit single Overload. Here we have spacey synths and breathy vocals welcoming us to paradise, as some piano gently tinkles away in the distance. An unidentified instrument reminds me a bit of Guru Josh‘s saxophone in his hit Infinity. A very chilled out ending to this dance album.
Over all, the album is pretty much a full-on dance/europop feast, and there is no way you can be miserable listening to this. If up-beat dance songs isn’t your thing, then you’ll feel absolutely nauseous throughout this album. The singles were rightly hits at a time when the Vengaboys’ contemporaries were churning out the same kind of music. They were there, and they made it their success.
The album is one almost of two halves – with the last four tracks feeling like the producers are just adding some extra tracks without the input of the four vocalists. Those tracks could easily be cut – still resulting in a great dance album, but also giving someone else almost half an album of music.
Where are the Vengaboys now?
After the success of this album, the Vengaboys carried on recording and releasing singles and albums. The line-up changed several times. Within a year of the release of this album, the group released their third album The Platinum Album, which gave them a #9 UK hit album, and spawned several more hit singles.
There have been about 6 official members of the group, and another 10 other people who have made fleeting appearances.
Their final UK chart appearance was in 2001, with ballad Forever As One, which was a moderate hit at #28.
In 2014, they released The Xmas Party Album, which featured a number of their hits, and also a new Christmas single Where Did My Xmas Tree Go? Neither of these charted in the UK, and to be honest, I can understand why.
POP RESCUE RATING
- POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 4 / 5
- 1999 UK CHART PEAK: #6, certified 2x Platinum.
- POP RESCUE COST: 50p from an RSPCA store.