The Hits Album 6 (CBS / WEA / BMG, 1987)

Hits 6

Hits 6 r

“We were on French TV after the descent into Morzine [the last mountain stage, and Delgado was still leader of the overall classification] and, off camera, he came up to me, hugged me, and said ‘Bravo, you deserve the yellow jersey’. The TV people couldn’t believe it! He’s a fabulous competitor, but he’s also a great, incredibly gallant guy and I think that’s another reason why that Tour was so special.” (Stephen Roche on Pedro Delgrado at the 1987 Tour De France).

I will always associate the sixth Hits album with cycling. 1987 was my last strawberry summer; a season of local fruit-picking only accessible by bike. Cycling 15 miles to Waterford. Purpose: to buy records and catch Platoon before it left the cinema. Hits 6 was among this selection and we played it between the closing stages of the Tour De France coverage. Now had taken its first ever summer break; CBS, WEA and BMG stepped into the breach with an excellent entry in the Hits series that contained six chart-toppers.

What a start! I Wanna Dance With Somebody was first single from Whitney Houston’s second LP Whitney. It’s a raucous and energetic pop smash with a memorable video from Brian Grant. That pink dress. This is followed by another #1; this time from George Michael and Aretha Franklin and their award-winning duet I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me). Time for some R&B with Terence Trent D’Arby’ stunning debut single If You Let Me Stay and Club Nouveau’s ultimate cover of Lean On Me. Five Star and Donna Allen keep us in the groove with The Slightest Touch [transformed by the hand of Shep] and the bad-ass Serious. There’s more George Michael next with the raunchy I Want Your Sex; the first fruits from the Faith era. Hypnotic. This soulful side ends with a third number one – Mel and Kim’s irresistible Respectable.
Tay, tay, tay, tay, t-t, t-t, t, tay, tay, take or leave us…

Starship’s Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now kicks off side 2. Slick mannequin rock. It’s complemented by Whitesnake’s poisonous and doubt-ridden Is This Love. The likeable Let’s Dance was Chris Rea’s biggest hit to date [#12 – from Dancing With Strangers] while Alison Moyet’s Weak In The Presence Of Beauty is a gorgeous tune; the last sting of a dying wasp. Tango In The Night has turned out to be Fleetwood Mac’s second most enduring LP [after Tusk]. Big Love was its opening tune; a bucking tour-de-force from Lindsay. The parent album is also a great example of perfect sound forever. The love interest continues with Carly Simon’s wistful Coming Around Again before climaxing kaleidoscope-style inside Errol Brown’s orgiastic Personal Touch. John Farnham’s You’re The Voice is a bombastic appendix. A torch song for the Maracanã stadium.

La Isla Bonita was the fifth single from True Blue and despite this handicap, reached San Pedro heaven on 25 April. The single remix has been bumped from history and the radio by the better known album version. Not here though. Moonlighting star Bruce Willis gives a competent rendition of Under The Boardwalk. Eponymous uptempo pop from Living In A Box is next; they’re no Iron Maiden. Curiosity Killed The Cat’s Ordinary Day has been overshadowed by Misfit and Down To Earth. Here its jazzy wings breathe and fly. Just like The Charlatans’ Me In Time.

What of Level 42? To Be With You Again is the third Running in the Family single, released at the peak of their career [Wembley concerts; unpretentious joyful slap bass]. Their positioning beside Echo and The Bunnymen and the Jesus and Mary Chain certainly caused the sniffy Young Men With The Weight On Their Shoulders to frown in disapproval. The Game needs more oomph and lacks the backbone of the Ocean Rain material. April Skies is a furious and melodic thrash; the spikiness and nihilism of Psychocandy somewhat tempered for the second LP Darklands. I saw the Reid brothers live that September with NME cover stars The Motorcycle Boy. To the end: Fish runs his final furlong with the aggressive/progressive Incommunicado.

Two killer 45s from two people born in 1945. Labi Siffre’s quiet yet resilient (Something Inside) So Strong vs Elkie Brooks and her not-taking-it-anymore classic No More The Fool. Johnny won. Hold Me Now was a better song than What’s Another Year? and it’s good to see it here; another Irish success from ’87. Next is Judy Boucher and the eternal regrets of Can’t Be With You Tonight. Impossible dreams.

Another small acorn then. Wet Wet Wet and the upfront Wishing I Was Lucky. The oak would turn out to be less exciting. 1987 was the year when Johnny Hates Jazz strode into our lives. Shattered Dreams remains a magnificent piece of well-crafted adult pop that’s full of regret and missed opportunity. Flawless and beautifully-arranged, this still sounds impeccable. And against the odds Pepsi and Shirlie’s second single is just as good as Heartache. Show him the door – Goodbye Stranger. I am sensing a theme here; we’re not taking any more crap from our lovers. There’s just time for The Firm and Star Trekkin’. Two weeks at the top. “Ye canna change the laws of physics!

Favourite tracks
George Michael – I Want Your Sex

Five Star – The Slightest Touch

Madonna – La Isla Bonita

Mel and Kim – Respectable

Lest we forget
Pepsi and Shirlie – Goodbye Stranger

The Hits Album 6 CD
Hits 6 CD

Hits 6 CD r

The CD version of Hits 6 has been described in some Pop Justice circles as the greatest compilation ever. It’s pretty fantastic with the bulk of the selections [15] being taken from sides 1 and 2 with sides 3 and 4 just contributing one track apiece. For many years it was also the only place to get the 7″ edits of The Slightest Touch, La Isla Bonita and I Want Your Sex – all in a row!

The running order follows the vinyl for the first five tracks. Madonna is then shoehorned in to replace Donna Allen and followed by George Michael and Mel and Kim. The entire side 2 is replicated as tracks 9 – 16 with Labi Siffre closing the deal at the end. Ultimately it’s a fairly predictable slimmed-down version which emphasizes the sheer strength and quality of the first record. Five of the six number ones are included. No room for Start Wrekkin’.

So what about the 15 tracks that didn’t make the CD?
Well the good news is that they can be located on the following CD compilations*.
* NB – this is a guideline only and I cannot guarantee 100% accuracy.
** I haven’t come across the Echo and The Bunnymen or Jesus and Mary Chain tracks but I know that they can be found on their own compilations.

Donna Allen – Serious. High Life: Die Tierischen Brüller.
Bruce Willis – Under the Boardwalk. Now This Is Music 7: Volume 1.
Living in a Box – Living in a Box. Now This Is Music 7: Volume 1.
Curiosity Killed the Cat – Ordinary Day. Stereoplay Highlights CD 22.
Level 42 – To Be With You Again. High Life: Die Heißen Nummern.
Marillion – Incommunicado. Hitbreaker 4/87.
Elkie Brooks – No More the Fool. The Greatest Hits Of 1987.
Johnny Logan – Hold Me Now. Hits Album 6 (Dutch).
Judy Boucher – Can’t Be With You Tonight. The Greatest Hits Of 1987.
Wet Wet Wet – Wishing I Was Lucky. Now 10th Anniversary Series 1987.
Johnny Hates Jazz – Shattered Dreams. High Life: Die Heißen Nummern.
Pepsi and Shirlie – Goodbye Stranger. High Life: Die Heißen Nummern.
The Firm – Star Trekkin’. The Greatest Hits Of 1987.

Missing tracks and other thoughts
Hits 6 is a very strong entry in the series. It certainly has the edge over Now 9 proving that taking the summer off may have been the wrong decision for EMI, Virgin and Polygram. There’s very little I would change; perhaps a couple of tweaks could have been made. Here are the candidates.

U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. Second single from the massive Joshua Tree. With Or Without You would also have sufficed.
Spear Of Destiny – Never Take Me Alive. Doom-laden and defiant.
The Cure – Why Can’t I Be You? Pop in orange.
Zodiac Mindwarp and The Love Reaction – Prime Mover. Rifftastic.
Suzanne Vega – Luka. One of the decade’s most thought-provoking hits.
Prince – If I Was Your Girlfriend. Like U2 – a second single from one of 1987’s key LPs.

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32 Responses to The Hits Album 6 (CBS / WEA / BMG, 1987)

  1. Feel the Quality says:

    You always go to the 10th Anniversary Series and give no love to the Millennium Series (where Under The Boardwalk turns up) in your bit where you list where songs are compiled elsewhere! The Anniversary Series is superior though, those CDs might just be the best Series of compilation CDs ever (and the CD “fat box” just feels better, even if it does hog more space).

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Hi, I suppose I do. 🙂 I did give “missing tracks” shout-outs to the Millennium Series 1983 for Let’s Dance and Uptown Girl while the 1984 edition got mentioned for Scritti Politti’s Wood Beez. Either way I will be reviewing both 10th Anniversary and Millennium series when the time comes. I agree that the former are much better – I adore fat boxes and I think the sound quality is far superior. There’s quite a bit of compression on the Millennium series discs so when I mention where songs are otherwise available I will always namecheck a 1980s/early 1990s flat transfer CD if possible.

      • Feel the Quality says:

        Is it wrong that if any of my fat boxes are now missing the foam insert I’d be quite disappointed (even though I didn’t get any foam with the 10th Anniversary ones)?

  2. nlgbbbblth says:

    No! I get annoyed when they go missing although some of mine have disintegrated and had to be taken out. At least they can be replaced. My biggest fear when buying old fat box releases now is a missing front inlay and having them shoved into a modern thin double CD case. I always send the same email to the seller i.e. “please confirm that this item comes in a fat box case with front inlay, back inlay and insert booklet”.

  3. Feel the Quality says:

    Was there actually any benefit to having the foam in there? I suppose you could argue it absorbs moisture/dust etc. but if the box is closed, there wouldn’t be much chance of it getting in there.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      They stopped the CDs bouncing around during shipping. Some people discarded them once they opened the box. While they’re part of the package, it’s not good to see them oxidise and stick to the label part of the nearby CDs.

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  13. Casual Bystander says:

    I’ve been told this CD is mixed so the tracks segue into one another. Is this right?

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      By whom? It’s not true. There is silence between the tracks.

      • nlgbbbblth says:

        The Hits Album 7 and The Hits Album 8 are problematic with multiple early fades on both and hot mixing on the latter. Check out my reviews.

        NB – The Dutch Hits albums don’t have the word “The” in front of them.

        • Casual Bystander says:

          Well, he’s now sent me the Madonna track again, from this album, and it seems to be properly faded out. I do still wonder if the Dutch edition of the compilation (listed at 4:04, rather than 3:58) may be more ‘complete’ for this track (and others?). They could have faded some of them early on here, as you note for Hits 7 & 8.

          By the way, great work on the blog. I bought all these UK Hits and Now CDs from about 1997 to 2003 (after which my interest waned I’m afraid!).

      • Casual Bystander says:

        A friend sent me the Madonna track and said the CD was mixed. It does sound as if that one has been faded a few seconds early, as you describe for The Hits Album 7.

  14. antster1983 says:

    I like the artwork of this compilation. Should have been the way forward for the series, but no, they just stick a big 3D Helvetica “7” on the front.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      A very unsubtle shift although they retained some consistency with the font for the words HITS ALBUM.
      9, 10 and the two Monster Hits are very strong.

  15. antster1983 says:

    First Hits album distributed by BMG (formerly the RCA-Ariola alliance)

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  17. Martin Davis says:

    Had my first introduction to this album in May 2001 but only the second tape and inside the box for the first one. As such I listened to it unsure what to expect and from memory “Under The Boardwalk” was the only track I’d previously heard. Was also the first time I ever heard ‘Star Trekin’ and was rather surprised when it appeared here,(I always assumed it was much older than 1987)

    “Star Trekin’ is also included on a compilation called “Novelty No1s” and “No More The Fool” turns up on a compilation called “Rock Me Gently”

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      The second half isn’t as strong as the first. The CD was weighted heavily towards LP1. As I keep saying, a seriously strong one-disc compilation.

      The single mix of Star Trekkin’ has never been on CD. The version here and on The Greatest Hits Of 1987 matches the music video but the 7″ is slightly different – namely when the USS Enterprise blows up. On the video version, high pitched voices are heard whereas on the 7″ the chorus as sung by the monsters is present.

  18. antster1983 says:

    Which edit of “Incommunicado” was on this compilation – the 4:00 7″ edit or the 5:17 album version?

  19. Matt Hayes says:

    Easily the best entry in the Hits series, Hits 6 is stellar from start to finish. Well, okay, the finish is Star Trekkin’ but it was a no. 1 so can’t complain too much. I agree that it’s better than Now 9. In fact, I think it’s better than Now 10 too and that’s one of my favorite Nows. So, if you had to only pick one compilation from 1987, it’s got to be Hits 6. The sequencing is spot on this time, a problem that would plague the Hits series often (7 and 8, I’m looking at you) but here it’s perfect.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      The single CD of Hits 6 is amazing – really well sequenced. Best comp of 1987? Probably The Greatest Hits Of 1987 or else the Australian Right On Track ’87

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