Remember the date: November 1987. Telstar were the first to break the mold. The first UK compilation series to treat vinyl, cassette and CD buyers equally. The story of the year as told via 28 top twenty hits. Eight of the tracks failed to reach the top 10. It doesn’t matter as The Greatest Hits Of 1987 is, for me, the strongest of the series with some inspired dancefloor selections.
There are four number ones and they are all on the first disc. We start with “a one hit wonder of rare influence” – M/A/R/R/S and Pump Up The Volume. 4AD dust-up AR Kane vs. Colourbox. And a Grammy nomination. Spot the sample. Get your groove on with The Fatback Band and the phat beats of I Found Lovin’. The 12″ version is one to go for but the single edit is no slouch either. From South Africa comes a man with a great voice: Jonathan Butler and his slick R&B tune Lies. Then it’s the turn of The Jets and Crush On You. Can’t resist the moves. Get sucked in further by Mirage and the awesome Jack Mix II: Jack Your Body / Respectable / Showing Out / Male Stripper / Axel F / Jackin’ / Underwater. Now for some pure reggae with Freddie McGregor’s Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely. Tune! Six of the best followed by The Firm. Surreal.
Mel and Kim get the jam back in swing while Housemaster Boyz hammer it home with the pumping bassline of House Nation. As far as I know this is the only place to find the UK 7″ remix on CD. Produced by Farley “Jackmaster” Funk and followed Love Can’t Turn Around into the top 10. Man 2 Man Meets Man Parrish’s supremely fresh Male Stripper is also a tough pull. Kim Wilde’s imperial phase continues with Another Step (Closer To You) which sees her collaborate with Junior. Not the Brazilian defender from the 1982 World Cup. Neither is it Junior Reid. Taffy’s wondrous Italo hit I Love My Radio (Midnight Radio) brings the freshness to a close. We break with Chris Rea’s Let’s Dance before another odd #1 that’s all but forgotten nowadays. The MS Herald of Free Enterprise [a roll-on roll-off ferry] capsized moments after leaving the Belgian port of Zeebrugge on the night of 6 March 1987, killing 193 passengers and crew. The resulting charity record was a version of Let It Be recorded by Ferry Aid.
Boogie Box High was primarily Andros Georgiou, a producer and singer and cousin of George Michael. He received a lot of help from the Wham! singer who contributed uncredited vocals for their debut single – a cover of the Bee Gees’ Jive Talkin’. Let’s Wait A While was the fifth single from Janet Jackson’s Control. It’s only gorgeous. The slow tunes continue with Judy Boucher’s eternally bittersweet Can’t Be With You Tonight before Elkie Brooks and her not-taking-it-anymore classic No More The Fool. Great spoken word snippet as well. Erasure get two bites at the cherry – tracks 5 and 8 – both from their strong second LP The Circus. The title track and Victim Of Love; two classic synth singles.
1987 saw Stock Aitken and Waterman get busy. Samantha Fox is here with Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now. Meanwhile Sinitta’s grinding with her Toy Boy. You can’t go wrong with either. And then there’s the mysterious white label rare groove of Roadblock that’s actually ace and riled the hipsters. Now for the ultimate 80s female liberation / break-up song – Looking For A New Love is Jody Watley’s best jam. There’s a quick shift to more alternative pastures with Iggy Pop’s shambolic Real Wild Child, an updated remix of Cars (E Reg Model) from Gary Numan and Depeche Mode’s underrated Strange Love.
To the end then: a diva called Vesta Williams and the powerful Once Bitten, Twice Shy.
Housemaster Boyz – House Nation
Kim Wilde and Junior – Another Step (Closer To You)
Janet Jackson – Let’s Wait A While
Jody Watley – Looking For A New Love
Lest we forget
Stock Aitken and Waterman – Roadblock
Missing tracks and other thoughts
There’s very little to complain about. The sequencing is mostly spot-on [especially the first six tracks] and the choices inspired. It was a good idea to widen the net outside #1 – #10 in the charts.
The Greatest Hits Of 1987 is a one stop shop for the following four 7″ edits:
Jive Talkin’, Can’t Be With You Tonight, House Nation and Once Bitten, Twice Shy.
At a push I’d clamour for these:
Pet Shop Boys – It’s A Sin or What Have I Done To Deserve This? A big year for the lads.
Michael Jackson – I Just Can’t Stop Loving You. The impossible dream.