Today, Texas release their 'Very Best Of (1989 - 2023)', including 24 classic tracks & new singles 'After All' & 'Keep On Talking'
The one with Wu–Tang Clan. The five that were Top 10 singles from one album. The one with Alan Rickman in the video. The one that was an inspired Al Green cover. The two written with diverse titans of American music, Dallas Austin and Gregg Alexander. The one that was remixed by Giorgio Moroder. The une that helped give them their first French Number One album. The segued pair that, according to the woman at the front, makes their live audiences go “absolutely fuckin’ apeshit”. The one with the video directed by Peter Kay. The other one with Wu-Tang Clan. The one that gave them, straight out of the gate, a Top 10 single with their first ever release. The club banger with a killer Donna Summer sample. The one that ended up the theme song to a top-rating American sitcom. And the one recorded last year in Alabama’s legendary Muscle Shoals Fame Studio that lifts the lid on an exciting fresh chapter…
Texas: The Very Best Of 1989-2023 has all of the above, and more, not least its two brand new tracks.
Up first as a single is the nailed-on singalong that is After All, a song so stomping that the video features the frontwoman – on drums. Then there’s Keep On Talking, a foot-shuffling cover of the 1965 Northern Soul deep-cut Keep On Talking, written by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham – and produced by Oldham in Muscle Shoals.
Watch the ‘After All’ music video:
“You really couldn't put your finger on what a Texas audience is.”
Here are 24 diamonds from a glittering career, in the year that they’ve been booked for a prestigious Pyramid Stage slot on the opening day of Glastonbury.
They are Texas and, 34 years since they recorded I Don’t Want A Lover then watched, gobsmacked, as it reached Number Eight, even they’re surprised at just how many roads the Scottish band have travelled. It was a point brought brilliantly home to Sharleen Spiteri over the last year, as Texas crisscrossed the world on an 11-month tour.
“You’re imagining the audience and you think, oh, it’s gonna be old people,” begins the singer and songwriter who’s been leading from the front for a quarter of a century. “And it wasn’t. The real shocker was, there were loads of twentysomethings. Then you forget that when some of our songs came out, they were the kids on the school run. So they would have heard us on the radio. Then there’s the new stuff that came out when they were a bit older. So we’re getting massively mixed audiences.”
The result: “You really couldn’t put your finger on what a Texas audience is.”
Watch the second single ‘Keep On Talking”s visualiser:
To be fair, the Glaswegians have been playing with those expectations for as long as they’ve been a band. Spiteri recalls the initial response to their radical-seeming collaboration with Wu-Tang Clan on a remix of Say What You Want. In its original form, it was the lead single from 1997’s six times platinum White On Blonde – the band’s fourth album and first UK Number One – and was followed by four more smashes: Halo, Black Eyed Boy, Put Your Arms Around Me and Insane, all included here.
That collab with the rap kings of Staten Island took Texas onto the cover of style mag THE FACE, and onto the stage of the 1998 BRIT Awards. “But when we did that, at first people were, like, yeah, whatever, this is some fancy hook-up. It wasn’t – and it isn’t. The fact is, we stayed friends, and we made a documentary with RZA in 2019.”
More than that: they remained in tune, too. During the recording of 2021’s Hi album – which, entering the charts at Number 3, became Texas’s highest-ranking album since 1999’s The Hush – RZA and Ghostface Killah suggested the acts collaborate again. As it happened, Spiteri and songwriting partner Johnny McElhone had written a song that would be perfect for the Wu-Tang, and for the album title. “The song Hi is quite Morricone with its guitar theme and this idea of these wild west guys coming into town, a little bit badass. And that was totally Wu-Tang.”
Ironically (or, even, unironically), given their name, the band have other American adventures represented on the new compilation. In Demand’s sublime soul was conjured by Texas in Atlanta and Miami with Dallas Austin (that enough US cities and states for one sentence?), the R&B production supremo behind multiple legendary acts including TLC and Boyz II Men.
Talk about range: also from 2000, the sinuous shimmer of Inner Smile was written with American melodic supremo Gregg Alexander, he of New Radicals’ You Get What You Give (the best American pop song of the ’90s? discuss). For Spiteri, though, those detours were anything but – although she admits that, for OG Texas, they were rock or die.
“I remember doing Wogan years ago and Ben Elton was standing in for him. Ben reminded me of this when I saw him just before Christmas, but he introduced us as ‘pop sensation Texas’. And I went up to him and said: ‘Excuse me, could you please not refer to us as a pop band?’ Now if somebody called us a pop band, I’d be like, fucking rock on mate!” she laughs.
Then there was the curious afterlife of So Called Friend. It cut through in America, having such traction that it became the theme tune to Ellen DeGeneres’ hit sitcom Ellen.
There’s more screen star power sprinkled across Texas’s back catalogue as represented in The Very Best Of 1989-2023. The video for the aforesaid In Demand features Spiteri’s dear friend, the late, lamented actor Alan Rickman. As for the video for Sleep, the final single from 2005’s Red Book (and another Top 10), it was made by Peter Kay after the comic and Spiteri bonded at the Live 8 all-star concert in Edinburgh.
“We did it in the club that Phoenix Nights was shot in. And Peter scripted, directed, starred, edited, everything – he did everything on that video on his own. He was phenomenal. A friend for life.” And when Spiteri’s duet partner on that beautiful song, legendary (and legendarily selective) Blue Nile singer Paul Buchanan had opted not to appear in the video, Kay’s a pretty good stand-in, right?
Meanwhile, across all their albums, Texas were reliably killing it in mainland Europe. Jump On Board (2017) was a chart-topping triumph in France, its ascent aided by the snake-hipped funk of Let’s Work It Out, “which literally you couldn’t get off the radio in France”. But, again, what an afterlife. Now, when they perform that song live, complete with Spiteri doing the video’s “stupid dance” (her words, not ours), they go straight into ace Hi cut Mr Haze. That dancefloor classic is rocket-powered by deft deployment of a sample of Donna Summer’s Love’s Unkind. Cue, as the woman said, a crowd going Absolutely Fucking Apeshit.
How did Texas secure that sample? They called the man himself. Giorgio Moroder had remixed Summer Son (long before his Daft Punk-minted rebirth. Just sayin’), so Spiteri had him on speed-dial. Dr Disco said nessun problema, and Texas had another stormer for their already mighty live set.
“And then there’s the GBX & Paul Keenan remix of Mr Haze. Pure Glasgow!” hoots Spiteri. “We religiously play it at the end of the show. I love singing that song, I have my full Tina Turner moment!”
Finally, while we’re on the dancefloor: in another full-circle moment, shout out to two elegant soul covers on The Very Best Of. Texas’s take on Al Green’s Tired of Being Alone was a standalone hit for the band in 1992, and early evidence of the full range of Spiteri’s vocal. Two decades on, they’ve gone back to the well, dipping in for their cover Keep On Talking, with Spooner Oldham on production keys. And there’s more where that came from – watch this Texas-sized space.
And all those, of course, are just some of the highlights studded across this 24-track compilation. But was there no room for that other, more recent moment of showbiz sparkle, on another great cover, from their incredible back catalogue? We’re talking, of course, about Sharleen Spiteri’s Hogmanay duet with Dame Judi Dench on a cover of ABBA’s Waterloo. Talk about viral.
“Ha ha!” Spiteri laughs gamely. “Oh my God, I was so drunk. She was so drunk! Everybody thinks she was playing the goddamn piano! The piano was playing its fucking self! That’s why she’s such a good actress! Man, she’s so good. She’s a lovely person, and so naughty. We’d just had dinner and we came through and that piano was playing, and she jumps on it. The two of us are laughing but we didn’t know that someone was filming it. And he put on his Instagram unbeknown to us.
“We were at lunch the next day, and my phone was vibrating off the hook. I thought somebody had died. My mate is texting: ‘I’m in Mexico and you’re on the BBC News!’ I showed it to Judi and she goes: ‘Good God, if only we’d known, we’d have practised!’ She’s just wonderful.”
Judi for Glastonbury!
“Well, we’re hoping to get another surprise for Glastonbury…”
Finally, then: as Sharleen Spiteri looks back over these tracks of her years, what’s the overall sensation? Satisfaction of a job well done? The best is yet to come?
“No’ bad for a hairdresser fae Glasgow!” she shoots back, an old joke but still a good one (and a true one). “But I gotta be honest: I still feel like I’m really close to the beginning. And the energy and the vibe between us all – as a band I don’t think we’ve ever been happier, and I don’t think we’ve ever been tighter. And I don’t think we’ve ever been more definite about who we are.”
Who are they? They are Texas, and they make hits.
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