The battle of the compilation heavyweights.
Round #2: 25 November 1985.
Hits 3 – The Album vs. Now That’s What I Call Music 6.
The third volume in the Hits series has many strengths. Big names, big tunes, unexpected indie anthems and some great enduring pop. However it’s the little things that drag it down; two tracks that should never have been included and some poor sequencing.
It starts so well. Take On Me reached #2 in the UK charts and is the first of many A-ha entries in the Hits series. The Taste Of Your Tears and Lean On Me are unforgettable and quirky mini-epics from artists that only briefly shone brightly but ensured their place in history. Matt Bianco’s Yeh Yeh is lively but lacks the charm of his 1984 material while Sister Sledge’s Frankie sounds tired [already included on Now 5] as it ushers in My Toot Toot. Shaky finishs off the side with his slapdash Lipstick, Powder And Paint. More ain’t than is.
Side 2 explodes with three of the world’s biggest stars. Madonna’s Dress You Up is one of the few highlights from her inferior sophomore album while Prince’s Raspberry Beret remains a stroke of genius from the psychedelic Around The World In Day LP. Dancing In The Dark made its chart re-entry in January 1985 so seems a little out of time here. The next trio work well; Brit-funkers Brilliant’s unique James Brown cover doesn’t get any airplay nowadays while Steve Arrington’s Dancin’ In The Key Of Life is a buoyant slice of feelgood funk. Colonel Abrams’ Trapped still sounds essential but the appearance of Aretha assisting Eurythmics is unwelcome and a rather turgid conclusion to the second quarter.
The Power Of Love [Jennifer Rush] had just finished a five week #1 run by the time this album was released. Easily the most successful of the three tracks sharing this title [all released in a 14 month period]. Huey’s Power Of Love shows up on Side 4 [fresh from Out Now!! 2] as a dessert to Bratpack theme St. Elmo’s Fire. The Paul Young track is another Now 5 stowaway but the real problem lies with the third and fourth songs on side 3. The Cars’ Drive appeared on the first Hits album and the world fell in love with it again when the video was played at Live Aid on 13 July 1985. It reached #5 in 1984 and #4 the second time around. Why include it now? Equally perplexing is Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time. It escaped the compiler’s attention that both Hungry For Hits and Now 3 already gobbled up this one and it was now an 18 month old track. This lack of attention to detail is one of the reasons why the Hits series floundered and lost its way.
It’s not all bad though. Sade’s Sweetest Taboo is nicely smoky while the Dream Academy’s Nick Drake tribute – Life In A Northern Town – is genuinely touching. Bonnie Tyler makes two appearances; with Todd Rundgren [awful] and solo singing the theme song from fashion television series Cover Up. The latter is gloriously over the top but wonderful. The last three tracks are nicely morose. The Thompson Twins smelling-of-desperation King For A Day which peaked at #22.
I am sure that Tom, Alannah and Joe were delighted to see their 1983 – 1985 singles compiled on albums such as these.
Hold Me Now – Now II
Doctor Doctor – Now 4
You Take Me Up – Now 3
Sister Of Mercy – The Hits Album
Lay Your Hands On Me – Out Now!
Don’t Mess With Doctor Dream – Out Now!! 2
King For A Day – Hits 3
Finally The Cult and The Bunnymen fly the flag for the young men with the weight on their shoulders. Rain and dancing horses. Such was life in autumn 1985.
Echo and The Bunnymen – Bring On The Dancing Horses
King – The Taste Of Your Tears
Red Box – Lean On Me
Madonna – Dress You Up
Lest we forget
Bonnie Tyler – Holding Out For A Hero
Missing tracks and other thoughts
Hits 3 would have been much improved if it included some or all of the following.
Marc Almond – Stories Of Johnny. Fresh from previous Johnny action on the I Feel Love medley. I wondered if the two Johnnies were connected or was something rude going on?
Five Star – Let Me Be The One.
Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force – I Wonder If I Take You Home.
Total Contrast – Takes A Little Time. Give the funk a side of its own with this trio.
The Cure – In Between Days. Side 4 obviously.
Talking Heads – Road To Nowhere. A much better option than Bruce.
Dee C Lee – See The Day.
Whitney Houston – Saving All My Love For You. Both of these were released as the album was going to press. So why not include them as hot tips – à la Victims?
Here’s the Music Week advert from November 1985. Thanks to David Hannah for sharing.