By 1989 the international compilation market was getting busy. In West Germany Ariola were one of the main players and in the early summer got another notch on their belt with a new series called Hot And Fresh. The purpose was to collect recent international hits which means that each one contains a good mix of the familiar [as compiled on UK series] and the less well-known [songs that featured in the European charts].
Domestic star David Hasselhoff had a number one hit with the turgid Looking For Freedom just before he started off with Baywatch. It doesn’t get better as time goes on. It’s followed by two slowies – Eternal Flame and Nino De Angelo’s Samuraj [written by the one and only Dieter Bohlen]. A bunch of UK hits [a lot of them compiled on Now 14] dominate this first disc. The bittersweet You Got It from The Big O, Kim Wilde’s beautiful Four Letter Word, Paula Abdul’s breakthrough Straight Up. Then there’s Tone Loc’s impossibly choppy Wild Thing, Robin Beck’s coke-fuelled The First Time, Soul II Soul’s gradual epic Keep On Movin’ and Wait (Short) from Dr Robert and Kym Mazelle – a proper funky tune.
Vaya Con Dios’ intruiging Don’t Cry For Louie is a mysterious slice of wrong-side-of-town sleaze that I hadn’t heard before. Could see it working well in an episode of The Equalizer. Samantha Fox’s I Only Wanna Be With You is simple SAW – catchy as hell – while Will To Power’s Fading Away is a classic freestyle number. Hubert Kah’s Welcome, Machine Gun is one of their grooviest moments and punctuated by sharp synth stabs but the first disc’s highpoint undoubtedly belongs to Bad Boy Blue with their breathless Italo disco magic that is Hungry For Love.
Soulsister’s The Way To Your Heart brings the heart of Motown to winter 1988. The Belgian duo’s poppy soul didn’t quite hit the mark in the UK where the single flopped in February 1989. Womack and Womack’s Celebrate The World and The Real Thing’s The Crime Of Love and Petula Clark’s updated Downtown ’88 all work well as danceable grooves. More serious fare is on the horizon – Thomas Forstner’s Song Of Love, The Rainbirds’ hypnotic Sea Of Time [caned by Dave Fanning during July 1989] and The Jeremy Days’ moody Brand New Toy.
In the world of German compilations from the late 1980s you’re never more than a few songs away from Dieter Bohlen. Blue System’s Love Suite gets an update for ’89 and is all the more poptastic for it. This is topped by C.C. Catch’s soaring Nothing But A Heartache. Amazing. Some say that Dieter was the German Pete Waterman. And speaking of PWL – Rick Astley’s touching Hold Me In Your Arms makes an appearance here. On the other side O Lucky Man Alan Price’s Changes sounds well out of time; yet his other-world rock style was lapped up on the continent while stumbling to #54 on the UK chart.
“We’ve got the power to build the highest tower. Standing with our feet on the ground.”
1989 was also Living In A Box’s second coming. Blow The House Down hit #10 in the UK after three relative flops from their follow-up singles to the eponymous debut [#30, #34 and #45]. It’s a most likeable slice of fluff. The year was also a memorable one for Andrew Roachford. Family Man is a most satisfying successor to Cuddly Toy. Soul with a rock vibe. And speaking of rockers, Gary Moore jumps out of the woodwork all full of pink axe solos with the overblown Ready For Love. Finally we end with an odd one; Space Patrol (The Bullfrog Hip) by the mysterious and Firm-like XY.
Will To Power – Fading Away
C.C. Catch – Nothing But A Heartache
Bad Boys Blue – Hungry For Love (Radio Edit)
Roachford – Family Man
Lest we forget
Rainbirds – Sea Of Time