Wednesday, July 13, 2016

First Class: Strictly Rollin' [JP Retail] (Cutting Edge, 1998)

More obscure R&B/swing from the late 90s and from a British quartet whose only album was released in Japan. They released one single via RCA Records in '97, the title track Strictly Rollin'  but I don't believe it charted and nothing was heard from them again. I don't know if RCA dropped them or not but a few years later the rights to a further single (Do You Have A Girlfriend) and their album were acquired by Japanese label Cutting Edge, a label famous for picking up rejects for distribution in Japan. Their album is a solid one - quality UK swing before the obsession with Destiny's Child and 2-step garage - but it is unfortunate that they emerged at a time when The Spice Girls were at their peak. All tracks were produced by Danish producer Lucas Secon with additional production by C-Swing and Cutfather & Joe.
Taken from Japanese booklet:
"First Class are heavily influenced by US girl groups like TLC, SWV, and En Vogue, and they were produced by the same people behind pop acts to come later like Billie (Honey To The Bee & Girlfriend). In fact, the track 'Do You Have A Girlfriend' was produced (had a limited promo vinyl release) in 1996 a whole two years before producers Dion & Jacques reworked the song into a UK hit for Billie in 1998. Their album was slated for release in 1996 but was pushed back then set to release the same year Billie released her debut album 1998, but this fell through as well. The album never saw the light of day in the UK, and had a super limited Japanese pressing in January of 1999. Upon release of their only single 'Strictly Rollin' in the UK, they were compared to Mel B from the Spice Girls. The girls are all from London, England and their names are: Vanya Raeburn, Simone Williams, Elenor Palmer, and Amanda Lindsey. Their ages are between 19-22 at time of recordings."
Many thanks again to my best pal Stuart for the contribution and for the Japanese translation ;-)

TLC 3:35
Heat Of The Night 5:30*
Strictly Rollin' (C&J Mix) 3:49
Friendship 4:05
Do You Have A Girlfriend 3:42**
If I Never Told You 4:47
Heart Of Stone 4:12
Free 5:15
Tell Me 4:08
Whatcha Gonna Do 4:23
Nice & Slow 5:11
Need Your Love 4:57
Strictly Rollin' (Ingnorants Mix) 4:00
Strictly Rollin' (Da Block Mix) 4:27

*Appears to be a remix of track 1
*A cover of Billie Piper's 1998 song of the same name but considering this album was recorded in 1996 she actually covered their song (see paragraph in italics above.)