Telstar’s annual round-up for 1989 is fairly short on surprises. The vast majority of the tracks were also compiled on rival series such as Now That’s What I Call Music, Smash Hits Party! and The Hits Albums. However it succeeds as a well-curated trawl through the year’s highlights mixing up pop, rock and dance into a frothy blend of musical goodness.
Like Now 14, we start with “the weirdest collaboration of the year” – Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart. In a rather churlish note, the sleevenotes claim that the song doesn’t get going until Gene Pitney starts to sing. Acrimony and strife get a mention when Holly Johnson comes around with the Mom and apple pie rock of Americanos. As for Wendy James, she sings with her legs while Dr Robert’s duet with Kym Mazelle is considered a curious blend of blue and brown-eyed soul. Gloria Estefan’s Can’t Stay Away From You is the ultimate sleeper; originally released on the Let It Loose LP in June 1987 and not hitting its stride until March 1989.
Drama was the lead single from Erasure’s third album Wild! It comes with a moody instrumental opening before musing on love’s complexities. Beaty and life-affirming. It’s followed by Boys Meets Girl and the headstrong romance of Waiting For A Star To Fall. Safe in the arms of love. Meanwhile Jive Bunny and The Mastermixers get 10/10 for originality and “the happiest record of the year”. It’s followed by a double punch from Stock, Aiken and Waterman. Donna Summer’s Another Time And Place was PWL’s strongest LP to date and This Time I Know It’s For Real brought her out of chart oblivion. Pat and Mick’s dodgy house revival of the old Gonzales number I Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet raised lots of charity dough and remains a karaoke favourite to this day.
Ten City owe the chart explosion of That’s The Way Love Is to Marshall Jefferson while Gladys Knight’s Licence To Kill is still the best Bond theme of the last 25 years. Back to the SAW team: Rick Astley toured the US and released the stunningly great Hold Me In Your Arms. He also split from the nest. The sleevenotes wish him good luck for 1990. The first half ends with two more charity smashes – Bananarama teamed up with French & Saunders and Kathy Burke for Red Nose Day single, Help while Ferry Cross The Mersey was a team effort from Liverpudlians such as Holly Johnson, Macca and Gerry Marsden. The reason for its #1 success:
“Because people who love people are the luckiest people in the world”.
Technotronic owned the dancefloor during the autumn of 1989. Pump Up The Jam features the mysterious Felly and became my daughter’s favourite song of all time when she turned five years old. She’s now seven and still loves it along with her cuddly toys. Props to Roachford and his sleeper jam. The Raw and The Cooked took the Fine Young Cannibals three years to create. It paid off with She Drives Me Crazy hitting #1 in the US charts for what seemed like ages. Every Little Step consolidated Bobby Brown’s position as the black / teen idol of the year while Edelweiss took The KLF’s advice and brought us some crazy Euro disco with the help of a SOS.
Kim Wilde gets described as “a sensually exciting singer for today and the future”. You’re telling me. Four Letter Word was yet another super 45 from the well-balanced Close album. So it’s time for Debbie and Linda Reynolds. The popstars I would love to go for pints with. I’d Rather Jack was tongue-in-cheek and sardonic; a post-modern masterpiece. It now features heavily in “worst single ever” polls. Long live The Reynolds Girls. Things take a more sensitive tone with Yazz’s naval-gazing [Fine Time] and the tear-jerking Living Years from Mike and The Mechanics before some muscle mayhem as the London Boys give us a Requiem.
The spirit of the 1970s is summoned up on the next three tracks. Will To Power mix Baby I Love Your Way and Freebird into a lethal dose of saccharine while Kon Kan’s I Beg Your Pardon (I Never Promised You A Rose Garden) comes over as a permanently ecstasy-fuelled band of Bernard Sumners. Dicken and Albrecht perhaps? And in true Smash Hits Party ’89 style the PWL team strike yet again with an effective update of The Time Warp while Big Fun do the monster disco mash with Blame It On The Boogie.
Stuck in the middle of the Pete Waterman sandwich are Bros and the show-stopping Cat Among The Pigeons.
Only the odd wing in the air”.
Familiarity breeds contentment. Whatever happened to the songs we know?
Boy Meets Girl – Waiting For A Star To Fall
The Reynolds Girls – I’d Rather Jack
Kon Kan – I Beg Your Pardon
Mike and The Mechanics – The Living Years
Lest we forget
Pat and Mick – I Haven’t Stop Dancing Yet
Missing tracks and other thoughts
It’s a decent selection but a little bit of variety wouldn’t have gone amiss:
Lynne Hamilton – On The Inside. The theme to Prisoner: Cell Block H.
Tom Petty – I Won’t Back Down. From the excellent Full Moon Fever.
Martika – Toy Soldiers. Spooky schoolyard vibes.
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Pity “Ferry Cross the Mersey” was edited down from its 7″ length here (6:08, a bit long for a compilation admittedly) and on “Formel Eins – Sun ‘N’ Fun (EMI, 1989)”. I think it’s on some out-of-print PWL compilations but the track seems to have been mainly kept out of circulation. It’s probably the kind of thing that’s only of interest to chart collectors, die-hard fans of the artists featured, and those feeling nostalgic for 1989 (so surely merits a download release somewhere?).
P.S. According to Discogs, it was edited down to 3:58.
Didn’t realise the 7″ was that long? The CD single seems to be 3:58 as well.