“Those wan sick clouds, only a few hundred feet above the earth, might be damp souls of little value”. (V. S. Pritchett – Dublin: A Portrait, 1967).
Autumn 1987: Trolleys, exam heartache and discos.
The seventh volume in the Hits series contains two number ones. The compilers decided to throw caution to the wind and put both of them at the start of the first disc. The Bee Gees get top billing; the grandstanding You Win Again. King Of September could have been on my English poetry syllabus; in 1987 it referred to Rick Astley’s dominance all through the month with the quintessential SAW tune Never Gonna Give You Up. Some mellow R&B is served up in the form of Wishing Well [Terence Trent D’Arby] and Strong As Steel [yet another memorable course from Five Star].
Spagna’s was a happy hangover from my 1986 Italian holiday – a barnstorming Euro / Italo beast of a tune. Dedicated to the moon as we danced at the open air disco at Genazzano. The eclectic disco march continues with the Beastie Boys’ She’s On It which was taken from the Krush Groove soundtrack. A single, Full Metal Jacket (I Wanna Be Your Drill Instructor) credited to Abigail Mead [aka Ms Vivian Kubrick] and Nigel Goulding, was released to promote Full Metal Jacket. It incorporates Ermey’s drill cadences from the film and reached #2. Also knocking around the top end of the charts was Shakin’ Stevens with the knockabout rock’n’roll of What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For becoming his final top 10 hit.
Fleetwood Mac’s Little Lies was the strongest single from the massive Tango In The Night and still sounds majestic today. It ushered in a seven track dance sequence of varying quality. First up is funkateer Alexander O’Neal with the steely Criticize [a neat 3:33 edit]. Next up is the third single from one of the year’s greatest LPs – Prince’s pummeling U Got The Look. Quick on the groove draw: Donna Summer’s superb robotic rhythms of Dinner With Gershwin and Levert’s meaty bass-driven Casanova. After Pseudo Echo’s limited but likeable cover of Funky Town there’s a big throwdown from Eric B and Rakim. Paid In Full (Mini Madness) remixed by Coldcut. First seen on the Club 19 video screen. With a West Coast Cooler. Bringing the groove to a climax are Chic with a house update of one of their classics: Jack Le Freak. So fresh.
Disc 2 opens with A-ha and their Bond theme, The Living Daylights. The first of two Timothy Dalton films and the weaker of the pair. Licence To Kill was the last film I saw in my local cinema, The Ritz. Andrew Gold and Graham Gouldman team us as Wax for the annoyingly infectious Bridge To Your Heart. Time to be blown away by 1987’s best one hit wonder. From Birmingham. Scarlet Fantastic’s hypnotic and addictive No Memory. Marvellous video too. This is why compilation albums like Hits 7 matter so much – they capture the smashes and the short-term flavours of the day that no retrospective round-up would touch.
From minipops to minigoths: the doomy title track of the second Jesus and Mary Chain album was never destined for commercial success. It’s still wonderful though. They played Dublin’s SFX at the time of its release; ably supported by The Motorcycle Boy. Its partner in grime is This Corrosion from The Sisters Of Mercy. Taken from Floodland; another bedroom record of mine. It’s followed by House Nation from the Housemaster Boyz and The Rude Boy Of House. Seminal. The 3:51 cut. To Paris and an ex-fashion designer named Desireless. Voyage Voyage reached #53. To be continued. There’s perfume too as Nina Simone’s My Baby Just Cares For Me hit the upper reaches of the chart at Halloween. It’s also included on Now 10.
The last quarter [or side 4 for those listening to the double LP] is strictly for romantics. Dirty Dancing’s love theme (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life needs no introduction. I am surprised it didn’t go higher than #6. Atlantic Starr’s Always was a popular wedding song in 1987 while Luther Vandross’ So Amazing is a heartfelt smoocher. Quality slush pair. And what about Whitney? Didn’t We Almost Have It All remains timeless and unmatched. Ray Parker Jnr. returns with the edgy grit of I Don’t Think That Man Should Sleep Alone. LL Cool J – I Need Love: the first rap ballad. Essential. As is Kenny G’s soothing instrumental Songbird. Goodnight from Simply Red and Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye. Don’t talk, put your head on my shoulder and banish those exam blues.
Eric B. & Rakim – Paid In Full
Beastie Boys – She’s On It
Scarlet Fantastic – No Memory
Bee Gees – You Win Again
Lest we forget
Spagna – Call Me
Missing tracks and other thoughts
Hits 7 makes for an ideal complement to Now That’s What I Call Music 10. However it loses points because of the number of early fades. There are 14 in total and were presumably created due to limitations of the vinyl’s running time. It’s unfortunate that these masters were used for the CD version.
However the full 7″ mixes can be found on the following compilation CDs:
Abigail Mead and Nigel Goulding – Full Metal Jacket (I Wanna Be Your Drill Instructor). WEA Star Galerie.
Fleetwood Mac – Little Lies. WEA Star Galerie.
Alexander O’Neal – Criticize. Up Beat 2.
Prince – U Got The Look. WEA Star Galerie.
Donna Summer – Dinner With Gershwin. WEA Star Galerie.
Chic – Jack Le Freak. Hits Album 7 (Dutch).
Sisters Of Mercy – This Corrosion. WEA Star Galerie.
Desireless – Voyage Voyage. Pop Highlights.
Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes – (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life. Now That’s What I Call Music 19.
Atlantic Starr – Always. Love Ballads 1.
Ray Parker Jnr. – I Don’t Think That Man Should Sleep Alone. Hits Album 7 (Dutch).
LL Cool J – I Need Love. Now 10th Anniversary 1987.
Kenny G – Songbird. Now This Is Music 7: Volume 2.
Simply Red – Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye. Blitz 2.
The video selection features no exclusive tracks.
Here are six songs that I’d like to have seen included:
Madonna – Who’s That Girl? A quiet year in comparison to 1985 and 1986. Underrated movie song.
Steve Walsh – I Found Lovin’. Big-hearted soul.
Blue Mercedes – Let Me Be Your Property. Catchy disco sound.
Stock Aitken Waterman – Roadblock. White label grooves.
George Michael – Faith. Just massive.
George Harrison – Got My Mind Set On You. Drunken cider dancing memories. All because the DJ wouldn’t play New Order.