Telstar’s annual Greatest Hits series continued to steal a couple of weeks on the Hits and Now franchises by releasing the 1988 edition during the first week of November. However it now had another competitor – Smash Hits Party ’88 – who threw caution to the wind and had their album out by Halloween. After a policy deviation the previous year, this volume saw a return to “top 10 hits only” and while a solid listen, lacks the mystery that made The Greatest Hits Of 1987 so enjoyable.
Seven of the 30 tracks made number one. Six of them had already been compiled on Now and Hits albums from earlier on in 1988 while the remaining tune would end up on Now 13. The latter was Yazz, last seen with Coldcut on Doctorin’ The House [also included here]. Now she had the Plastic Population in tow. The Only Way Is Up spent five weeks at the top during August and early September. Joyful dance-pop with a memorable trumpet blast. Elsewhere there was Tiffany’s explosive cover of I Think We’re Alone Now, Kylie’s giant kangaroo leap from Ramsey Street to #1 [I Should Be So Lucky] and Aswad’s radio-loving Don’t Turn Around. And not forgetting Fairground Attraction’s simple-yet-effective Perfect, S’Express’ Rose Royce-sampling Theme From S-Express and The Timelords’ Doctor Who meets Gary Glitter mash-up Doctorin The Tardis.
Quiet superstar Rick Astley rolled to #2 in February with his fourth 45 Together Forever. A time traveller from 1955 trapped in the 1980s. Dance the night away. The girl with the shortest skirt in the charts or is that just the camera angles? There’s more SAW early on with Sinitta’s frothy Cross My Broken Heart and Mel and Kim’s last stand That’s The Way It Is. Other heavily caned tracks include Crash by The Primitives and Elton John’s live version of Candle In The Wind. Goodbye English rose. Fans of slick R&B are catered for with the Mac Band’s Roses Are Red. We must not forget The McCampbell Brothers either. Plus Whitney Houston’s Love Will Save The Day. Taylor Dayne’s Tell It To My Heart smashed up the dance floor; Erasure’s A Little Respect – “British talent at its height” – kept us there; a rallying call for those who felt that little bit insecure and unappreciated.
“Oi you! Shut your mouth and look at my wad!”.
Written by Harry Enfield, Paul Whitehouse, Charlie Higson and William Orbit. Catalogue number is DOSH 1. This is a journey into money. A house parody that has aged magnificently. Grab it while you can. Pump up the football. Keep well ahead of the neighbours. And on that note: let me introduce Jason Donovan. He was still appearing in Neighbours [Kylie had now left] but signed a recording contract with Mushroom Records in Australia and with PWL in the UK. Nothing Can Divide Us was rejected by Rick Astley and became Jason’s debut single, written and produced by Stock Aitken and Waterman. It reached #5 in the autumn and was a decent start to his pop career.
I had forgotten that Robert “Mutt” Lange had co-written Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car with Billy Ocean. A US #1. Why don’t Def Leppard feature on 1980s compilations? Keep motoring. I Want You Back ’88 is next; unfortunately it’s the early fade version that also appeared on Hits 8. Dance music was moving very fast back then L.A. Mix’s Check This Out was coming at the end of the sample-based tracks. It’s still a blast with old favourites like “Check this out!” and a rather dismayed reaction to the Pump Up The Volume snippet. There’s an abrupt turn to melancholic regret with the second Tiffany song. Could’ve Been outdoes I Think We’re Alone Now in quality; a top-notch ballad of teenage wisdom. Also youthful (14) was Vanessa Paradis and the jazz-inflected Joe Le Taxi. The international connection is continued with Sabrina’s Boys (Summertime Love). It burst into the charts and bounced all the way to #3.
If you can’t beat ’em etc. Now did, Smash Hits did so it was the turn of Telstar’s Greatest Hits to do it. A dance side with the emphasis on house. It’s not exactly ground-breaking given the repetition of tracks but it still works well. Eight numbers with a fairly even split. The Only Way Is Up is followed by the funk of Pebbles’ Girlfriend [slightly short] and Push It. The hip hop doesn’t stop, it just slows down – B.V.S.M.P.’s I Need You – and calls everybody out to jam. Time for the doctor play a house call and stay in the charts for weeks on end. DJ Tim Simenon walks into Rhythm King with an idea gleaned from playing at The Wag. Beat that. Another brick in the wall for The Beatmasters and Cookie Crew as their brand of house keeps on selling. And it’s goodnight from Mark Moore.
“Enjoy this trip”.
The Timelords – Doctorin’ The Tardis
Sinitta – Cross My Broken Heart
Tiffany – Could’ve Been
Harry Enfield – Loadsamoney (Doin’ Up The House)
Lest we forget
Jason Donovan – Nothing Can Divide Us
Missing tracks and other thoughts
Telstar serve up a satisfying selection but it would have been better if they included these songs:
Tracy Chapman – Fast Car. Mellow gold that escaped all the compilers.
Kylie Minogue – The Locomotion. A #2 hit but I Should Have Been So Lucky had already featured on Now 11 and Smash Hits Party ’88 so this would have been a better alternative.
Tanita Tikaram – Good Tradition. Simple and uplifting for this life.