Geri Halliwell – Schizophonic (1999)

Full disclosure: Posh was my favorite Spice Girl back in the day. Little pre-teen me identified best with her, mostly because she had dark hair like me and was all sophisticated and whatnot. Not that I was all that sophisticated myself, but she was more like me than the others. I wasn’t sporty like… Sporty, I wasn’t as girly as Baby, I wasn’t wild like Scary, and I wasn’t cheeky and vivacious like Ginger.

I didn’t actually own any Spice Girls albums or singles in their heyday so I’ve had to make up for lost time. And what actually inspired me to get back into the Spice Girls was Geri Halliwell.

Being a Trouser Enthusiast remix fan, I’ve had their remix of ‘Bag It Up’ for awhile now. The mix doesn’t use the vocals much at all, and in fact is more like a dub, and one day I got curious about how the original song sounded. About this time last year I checked out ‘Bag It Up’ and other Geri songs and discovered something: Geri Halliwell is terribly fabulous.

So Posh may have been my fave when the Girls were big and I was young, but looking back with all the knowledge I have now, it was Ginger who I should have thought was tops.

untitled47Geraldine Estelle Halliwell was born August 6, 1972 in Watford, England. She came to fame, of course, as one of the five Spice Girls. They hardly need an introduction, but if you’ve been living under a rock, the Spice Girls were one of the most successful, iconic groups of the 90s.

When Geri left the Spice Girls in 1998, it was the end of an era. The remaining girls went on to release Forever in 2000, but really, the Spice Girls aren’t the Spice Girls without Ginger and as such it didn’t do as well as their previous releases had. The post-Ginger Spice Girls went their separate ways in 2001 and embarked on solo careers.

schizoBack to Geri. Geri released her first solo album, Szhizophonic, in 1999, selling 2.5 million copies worldwide. The Absolute production team, who had worked with the Spice Girls, helmed the project. Four singles were released from this album, three of which hit number 1 in the UK charts (first single ‘Look At Me’ hit #2).

That’s all boring technical info, though. What makes Schizophonic such a fantastic album is its sense of fun – and, you know, the fact that it sounds sensational. The album starts things off strong with ‘Look At Me,’ a swinging pop number with trumpets and a middle interlude where Geri lets loose and belts it out. The sweet ‘Lift Me Up’ slows the tempo down a bit but doesn’t slow the momentum ‘Look At Me’ got rolling.

‘Walkaway’ begins with almost Enya-like ‘hmms’ and ‘ahhs’ then builds into a surprisingly pretty ballad. A lovely track, maybe a little long at just over 5 minutes, but quite melodic and with good lyrics. The tempo and percussion picks up with ‘Mi Chico Latino’, a vibrant Latin-influenced romp with a spoken Spanish serenade by Geri!

‘Goodnight Kiss’ is a jazzy groove with a languid beat and instrumentation, and kind of reminds me of ‘Too Much’ by the Spice Girls. ‘Bag It Up’ comes up next, an energetic pop/dance party song complete with horns blazing and bassline funking. An infectious track!

After the lively ‘Bag It Up’, ‘Sometime’ seems a little middle-of-the-road, but it’s really an OK mid-tempo mix of pop/rock and ballad styles with church organs and laid-back drums. ‘Let Me Love You’ takes us to India with its sitar and vocalizing, but kinda falls flat. It’s all right, just nothing very special.

‘Someone’s Watching Over Me’ is a lovely downtempo song with a melancholy chorus and is apparently about Geri’s late father. The album doesn’t end on that depressing note, though! ‘You’re In A Bubble’ has a great beat, catchy chorus, and excellent, fun lyrics. A perfect end to a poptastic debut album.

This is such a fun album and if you like the Spice Girls, you’ll like this, too. Schizophonic has no pretensions and is camp as Christmas. As Geri says in the beginning of the last track, ‘It’s important to learn to laugh at ourselves. Don’t take life too seriously!’

Cheery bye, Scarlett

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