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

Hits 9

Hits 9 r

Review
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.

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13 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!

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  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!

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