PM Dawn – Set Adrift On Memory Bliss

First Hit #1: November 30, 1991

While I’m not American, I’m doing the American chart because it’s honestly pretty similar to the Canadian one. We have our CanCon, and there are some variations on what hits when, but in general our pop history is pretty similar. Also, America’s pop charts are very well documented – Billboard is kind of obsessive about it – while Canada’s are not. I bring this up because I have no memory of Set Adrift on Memory Bliss. At all.

It did chart in Canada, reaching #9 on the general chart and #1 on the dance charts. Yet, I’m sure I’ve never heard it before. This is, in a word, strange. The ’90s had a much more infrequent rate of chart changes than previous decades – songs were sitting firmly planted at the top for months – and all of the kids in my family were desperately trying to find anything that wasn’t country music, tuning into top 40 stations if we could and generally trying our hardest to be more cultured musically. Yet, somehow, this never really hit the airwaves.

I don’t think I really missed anything by being ignorant of Set Adrift’s existence for over 20 years. PM Dawn isn’t a particularly great rapper, with lazy delivery and oddly incoherent stream of consciousness rambling for lyrics. The biggest problem is that the song is built heavily on Spandau Ballet’s True. One of the most difficult tricks for a song to pull off is to be based heavily on a sample and not inspire people to just listen to the original. Set Adrift just makes me want to listen to True, the changes make it more modern (well, for 1991 audiences) but not particularly special.

Thus, everyone in my little corner of Canada immediately forgot about it.

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One Response to PM Dawn – Set Adrift On Memory Bliss

  1. RBerman says:

    P.M. Dawn was a duo under the monikers “Prince Be the Nocturnal” and “DJ Minutemix,” who were the “P” and “M” respectively. They’re pulling out the oldest trick in the rap book: loop the most memorable part of another song, and ramble some words over the top, hoping some of the goodwill of the previous track rubs off on you. This was the tactic of “Rapper’s Delight” by Sugarhill Gang using Chic’s “Good Times” back in 1979. It shows up in The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” (1997, sampling an orchestral version of The Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time” so heavily that the courts awarded song authorship exclusively to Jagger and Richards, excluding The Verve’s lyricist), in Puff Dadd’s “Come With Me” (1998, sampling Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”), in Jessica Simpson’s “I Think I’m In Love With You” (1999, featuring John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane”), and dozens of other times at or near the top of the charts.

    I really didn’t care for Spandau Ballet’s “True” in the first place; something in the emotive vocal delivery seemed annoying overwrought. At least this version doesn’t have that problem.

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