The Hits Album 9 (CBS / WEA / BMG, 1988)

Hits 9

Hits 9 r

Late 1988: the most frantic of times. All study and work. The latter had a self-imposed end date of New Year’s Eve. On the home stereo the chart sounds were now competing with the likes of Isn’t Anything and Daydream Nation. However in the shop, pubs and clubs it was Tell It To My Heart and never Destroy The Heart. On 5 December the new Hits Album was released. The catalogue number is CD HITS 9 but the sleeve just simply states “The Hits Album” and the logo / design has changed yet again. And in a shocking display of couldn’t-be-arsedness the CD inlay has no text whatsoever [unlike the double LP]. But behind the self-sabotage lies a wonderfully sequenced compilation album and one of the finest in the series.

What a 12 months it had been for Bros. Fame, fame, fatal fame. A rush and a push and the land is ours. Cat Among The Pigeons was their fifth single and third #2. It was coupled with Silent Night; the former featured on Top Of The Pops. A memorable synching of lips. Cloying but dreamy and almost ethereal. Permanent residents A-ha remixed You Are The One into a pleasant pop tune but Kim Wilde’s epic Never Trust A Stranger is the real deal; a storming meld of provocative pout and melodic synths. Debbie Gibson’s stunningly mature Foolish Beat is equally fantastic and overflowing with regrets
“I could never love again,
now that we’re apart”

There’s upbeat brass and rhythm from Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine [1-2-3] while The Pasadenas Enchanted Lady is a lush soul ballad with sparkling harmonies. Prince’s Lovesexy was one of the year’s best albums and I Wish U Heaven is a succinct and tight groove. The first of two #1s is the haunting Orinoco Flow from Enya. A watershed in layered voices from Watermark. The Irish connection continues with Chris De Burgh’s likeable Missing You. He’s got the roses, he’s got the wine. Find My Love with Fairground Attraction as the romance continues to waltz by. Slow down with Everything But The Girl’s arresting version of I Don’t Want To Talk About It.

Deacon Blue’s Real Gone Kid has been described as “the polar opposite to Radiohead’s Street Spirit (Fade Out)”. Another lively piece of rock action from Scotland. Never forget the lovely Lorraine McIntosh who warmed many a 16 year old’s heart. It’s a pity that Dignity didn’t reach higher than #31 as it certainly belongs on a 1988 compilation. Then there’s Tanita Tikaram’s atmospheric second 45 Twist In My Sobriety – “Look my eyes are just holograms”. – and that sumptuous oboe. Disc 1 winds down with the wonderfully strange sounds of Robbie Robertson’s Somewhere Down The Crazy River. Swampy. The devil he has a plan.

The first half of CD2 is chock-full of club tunes. Yazz goes it alone with the righteous Stand Up For Your Love Rights. Smash Clause 28. Matt Bianco flipped Don’t Blame It On That Girl over to Wam Bam Boogie and joined the house wagon. An effective ride. The smiley story as told by Todd Terry continues with Royal House and the seminal Can You Party. Time to check out The Funky Worm and the phat rhythms of The Spell; their second single and only compiled here. Kraze [Richard Jean Laurent] pound out the grooves on The Party. Somebody screams. Let’s play with Samantha Fox; her take on the whole scene [Love House] is simply irresistible.

Karyn White segues the way for more downtempo vibes with the taut R&B of The Way You Love Me. Rick Astley rolls his As and Ns – She Wants To Dance With Me – another unsung SAW gem. Soul to Seoul with One Moment In Time before the sun comes out for Bill Withers and a fresh update of Lovely Day. Alexander O’Neal’s quality shines on with the funky Fake ’88; another track that also received a house makeover. All mixed up. Once upon a time, women had a dream that they could make a band, a band made by women, run by women, performed by women. One day that dream came true as this gift keeps on giving with the gorgeous In Your Room from The Bangles.

Would you all please be upstanding.
We didn’t see the wedding until 8 November 1988 which was more than 12 months later than Australia. Kylie Minogue had left the soap at that point. Angry Anderson’s Suddenly is the perfect wedding song and seems to have been overlooked in many 1980s retrospectives. It’s followed by Londonbeat’s poignant 9am, a perfect song to sign off an all-nighter. I remember walking to school during those cold January mornings of 1989 with this on headphones. The comfort zone. And it slips into Sunshine On Leith, The Proclaimers finest moment and another elusive 7″ version preserved here. And since then both have faded away…now they’re just memories of a time long past. A seasonal finale: Chris Rea’s Driving Home For Christmas. I finally did it last year. It took some time but I eventually got there.

Favourite tracks
Debbie Gibson – Foolish Beat

Kim Wilde – Never Trust A Stranger

The Funky Worm – The Spell

Londonbeat – 9am

Lest we forget
Angry Anderson – Suddenly

Missing tracks and other thoughts
Hits 9 blows Now That’s What I Call Music 13 out of the water. Unfortunately the general public didn’t think so as it peaked at #5 in the album charts. It’s very well sequenced with a quality dance side and a sublime downbeat quartet to finish. Disc 1 ain’t no slouch either. I wouldn’t change very much but the following tracks could have been contenders:

Sigue Sigue Sputnik – Success. Money, money, money with Mike, Matt and Pete.
Guns ‘N’ Roses – Welcome To The Jungle. More ’87 metal with long staying power.
Richie Rich meets The Jungle Brothers – I’ll House You. Textbook hip house.
Traveling Wilburys – Handle With Care. The supergroup’s signature song.


This entry was posted in Hits series. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to The Hits Album 9 (CBS / WEA / BMG, 1988)

  1. Feel the Quality says:

    Ah, the album that essentially killed off the Hits series as a serious contender. They tried to claw it back by going back to the drawing board for 10 (which had the best cover of a Hits Album ever IMO and some great tracks) and IIRC it got to #1 on the Compilation charts. But the damage had been done.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      It was truly a bizarre act of self-sabotage. The multiple edits / early fades on Hits 7 and Hits 8 didn’t help either although I’m not sure if too many people cared at the time. It’s a great pity as I love Hits 9 and really think that it nails that late autumn / early winter period much better than Now 13. I have played to friends (all of a similar age) when we get together for a few drinks and the responses have always been positive.

      Hits 10 is another strong entry and you’re right, comes with a brilliantly designed sleeve. I finished writing the review earlier in the week. It’ll appear on 28 October.

      As always, thanks for the feedback!

      • Andrew Chinnock says:

        HI Paul, once again, following your recommendations, I’ve acquired this and a few other Hits albums of that era. I totally agree with your summation that this blows Now 13, even though I regard Now 13 as one of the better Nows of the late 80s, out of the water and has introduced me to tracks I’ve never heard of.

        Your other comment about whether people cared or not about the early fades on the earlier Hits series is one that fascinates me and is one I’ve pondered since I got the compilation bug in the early 90s. Certainly in the 80s and early 90s, Nows were generally known for producing compilations with non-edited pristine versions (still reeling over Ebeneezer Goode at this point though) and were reliable than any other compiler I guess. Did that make the ultimate difference or was it stronger tracks, as a rule? When I bought a compilation, it was generally to obtain a load of tracks that I couldn’t afford on single.

        I often wonder if soft mixing damaged companies that pursued that method of compiling, yet the Hardcore series never suffered because of it. Telstar arguably ruined their short-lived hits series with BMG because of two dreadfully edited releases, but did the public really care?

        A very interesting conundrum!

        • nlgbbbblth says:

          Hi Andrew – glad you’re liking Hits 9, definitely a jewel! Re: the early fades – a lot of people went with the plan of getting loads of singles in one go. Now was definitely seen as more reliable and consistent operator.

          Sort / partial mixing is almost half-expected in dance compilations so probably why Hardcore got away with it. Certainly wasn’t well received on Smash Hits 1991 or The Hits Album (1991)

          • Andrew Chinnock says:

            Yet Smash Hits 1991 outsold Greatest Hits of ’91. Probably as it had a stronger track list, just, certainly if you look at the top 40 of 1991. I regard Telstar’s version of events the more interesting of the two though, if less definitive. If Abram had compiled Smash Hits 1991 we’d have had a very good compilation, at a time when there weren’t many good compilations about.

            Hits 9 is a belter. It has a great flow to it. Your regular comments about sequencing, which I hope I’ve got to appreciate, really make sense here. Shame it has been let down by dismal inlays.

            • nlgbbbblth says:

              Yes, Hits 9 works perfectly in that record. There is more info on the vinyl inlay although the sound isn’t the best. Thanks – didn’t realise Smash Hits 1991 outsold the Telstar one; interesting.

  2. Pingback: The Hit Pack (CBS / WEA / BMG, 1990) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  3. Pingback: Formel Eins – Top Hits Brand Neu (EMI, 1988) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  4. Pingback: Now That’s What I Call Music 1988 (EMI / Virgin / Polygram, 1993) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  5. Pingback: Hits Album 8 (CBS / WEA, 1988) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  6. Pingback: Hits Album 9 – Volume 1 (CBS / WEA, 1988) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  7. Pingback: Hits Album 9 – Volume 2 (CBS / WEA, 1988) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  8. Pingback: Hits Album 10 (CBS / WEA / Phonogram / Polydor, 1989) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  9. paumurp says:

    Another Charity shop purchase today €3 this time. Sleeve in poor condition, but I just love sitting and listening to these old records

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      The charities here are finally lowering their prices. About time, some of the ones in Phibsborough had a 12″ single = LP so lets-price-them-the-same-policy. That’s an underrated Hits album; the vinyl actually has more track information than the CD inlay which has no text.

  10. antster1983 says:

    There’s no credit for the designers. If it was Studio Gerrard then I’m surprised they got another job, let alone got the gig for HITS 10!

  11. Pingback: Now That’s What I Call Music 1988: The Millennium Series (EMI / Virgin / Universal, 1999) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  12. Martin Davis says:

    I’ve always had a soft spot for this compilation album but from what I have read on other blogs it is made out as being quite inferior compared to Now 13. My view is they both have their strengths and weaknesses.

    For the record the first time I heard this album I was unfamiliar with “Driving Home For Christmas” and really enjoyed the track. After a few festive periods working in McDonalds with this track being played repeatedly on the store speakers I was fed up to the back teeth of it.

    One of the attractions of this album was that it contained “Suddenly” by Angry Anderson. As well as music I have an interest in the soap Neighbours (and a large collection of old episodes)! To my knowledge am not aware of any other compilation album which contains this track. Are you aware of any?

    Am pretty sure the version of ” Sunshine On Leith” here is slightly shorter than the one on the corresponding album (and possibly on the Greatest Hits Album). Do you know if this version was the original single version or just an edited version that is only on this compilation?

    Have never heard any other version of A-Ha “You are the one” to the version contained on this album. Do you happen to know where the original can be found? Am assuming this track is taken from “Stay On These Roads” but do you know if that album has the original version or this remixed version?

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Hi Martin – I worked in a supermarket during 1987 and 1988 and became very familiar with certain songs being played over the PA. It’s the 7″ version of Sunshine On Leith that’s here; I don’t think very many (if any) other compilations feature it. As for You Are The One – it was remixed for the single release. The album version is slightly longer but isn’t that different.

  13. antster1983 says:

    The oboe on Twist in My Sobriety was played by Malcolm Messier, son of radio producer Ian Messiter, who created the Radio 4 panel show Just a Minute.

  14. Matt Hayes says:

    Hmm, while I can’t agree that Hits 9 “blows Now 13 out of the water”, I do have a soft spot for it and it is indeed arguably better than Now 13. Although Now 13 contains “The Only Way is Up” and “The Harder I Try”, both of which are better than anything on Hits 9, I think Hits 9 is more consistent. I also remember far more songs on Hits 9 from the time than I do on Now 13. It seems to capture late 1988 much better.

    Hits 9, as is well documented (well, sort of) had something of an identity problem. It’s widely acknowledged that this is the moment when the Hits series jumped the shark by jettisoning the numbering system and radically changing the slick design that had seen success with Hits 6, 7 and 8. The cover design seems to suggest an album targeted at the younger crowd but confusion reigns when you look at the track listing. It contains two number ones courtesy of, erm, Enya and Whitney Houston. While the Whitney track in particular is great, it’s a slow ballad and a far cry from her “Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “So Emotional” days that resonated with the youth. I can understand why kids wouldn’t have bought Hits 9. It simply wasn’t cool. Enya, Whitney, Chris de Burgh, Tanita Tikaram, Deacon Blue, Chris Rea…it seems more aimed towards the over 40’s. A shame really because it contains some great stuff and, actually, I have a lot of time for “Real Gone Kid” in particular out of those artist I just mentioned.

    Here are some additional tracks that perhaps could have made the cut:

    Eighth Wonder – Cross My Heart
    George Michael – Kissing a Fool (or Monkey)
    Guns ‘N Roses – Welcome to the Jungle
    Bobby Brown – My Prerogative
    Jason Donovan – Nothing Can Divide Us
    Five Star – Rock My World
    Marillion – Freaks

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Hi Matt – thanks for your comment. Yes, the numbering strategy makes no sense at all. The CD has no sleeve notes, middle pages blank – at least the vinyl had something. Good analysis of the relative unpopularity – certainly a less *with-it* selection. Good call on those selections – would have been happy to see most on there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s