They promised “Things Can Only Get Better”, but did it? For a short time in the 1990’s, D:Ream were “The Best Thing”.
As I write this in November 2019, the UK are in the throes of a general election, but it’s doubtful any of the party’s will be using the slogan “Things Can Only Get Better” as part of their attempt to woe the electorate! But back in 1997, the British labour party did just that. A twice-recycled song by British dance group D:Ream was their ‘anthem’ and it worked. The party were returned to power after eighteen years with a landslide majority and “Things Can Only Get Better”, which had been a minor hit in 1993 and a four-week chart topper in 1994, returned as well (annoyingly!). Nothing like milking a song for all it’s worth! And D:Ream like re-releasing their songs many times before they got what they wanted, as we shall see!
D:Ream formed in 1992 by singer Pete Cunnah (b.1966), Brian Cox (b.1968) and Al Mackenzie, in Northern Ireland. After an initial EP release, their debut single proper “U R The Best Thing” was released at the end of the year, but this flopped. “Things Can Only Get Better” came in early 1993 and reached No.24 in the UK with a second re-issue of “U R The Best Thing” coming that Summer. This time the song made it to No.19 in the UK but topped the US dance chart. Two further singles were issued in 1993, “Unforgiven” (UK No.29) and the double A side “Star”/”I Like It” (UK No.26).
Before the year was out, the group released their debut album “D:Ream On Volume 1”, but initially it did nothing. It wasn’t until a second issue of “Things Can Only Get Better” in January 1994, that the album and the group’s status increased considerably. “Things Can Only Get Better” would top the UK singles chart for four weeks, becoming tone of the biggest sellers of the year and only being knocked off the top by Mariah Carey’s “Without You”. Their album would reach a new high of No.5 in the UK, with both performing much better across Europe and in Australia as well. Spring of 1994 saw the THIRD release of “U R The Best Thing”, and this time the song went top five in the UK. A total of six singles were taken from the group’s debut album with “Take Me Away” released in July (UK No.18) and “Blame It On Me” in October (UK No.25).
D:Ream didn’t spend long away as they returned in 1995 with a brand new track “Shoot Me With Your Love” which returned them to the UK top ten and reached No.4 on the US dance chart. It was the lead single from their second album titled “World”, which equalled “Vol.1’s” UK chart high and featured the singles “Party Up the World” (UK No.20) and “The Power (Of All the Love In The World)” (UK No.40). Despite recording for a third studio album, the band parted ways in late 1997 following the THIRD issue of “Things Can Only Get Better” for the 1997 general election (which reached No.19 this time around) and a “Best Of” album. Their third studio album remains unreleased.
In the years since, Pete Cunnah largely worked as a solo artist as well as touring with the D:Ream back catalogue. In 2003 he was guest vocalist on Chicane’s hit “Love On The Run” and formed the band Shane in 2006. Brian Cox would become a professor of science, has written books and presented TV programmes of how the world works and other complicated subjects. Cunnah and Mackenzie reformed after a chance encounter in 2008 and recorded a new album “In Memory Of…” (2011) which featured the lead single “All Things To All Men”. The duo toured in 2012 and in 2014 re-re-re-released “Things Can Only Get Better”, AGAIN! Earlier this year (2019), D:Ream announced they were ‘in the studio’ and recording for a new album. Let’s see…