The Hits Album (Sony / BMG, 1991)

The Hits Album 1991

The Hits Album 1991 r

We have come to the end of the Hits series’ first wave. This time around the sloppiness was taken to a new level with the catalogue number – HITS CD 15 – despite it being the 14th Hits release. It was compiled by Mark Arthurworrey for Cookie Jar TV Limited. Another disappointment was the partially-mixed tracks – if you’re eyeing up this compilation to fill some gaps in your single-edits-on-CD collection, then look elsewhere.

Fresh from the off: Salt ‘N’ Pepa’s crucial cut Do You Want Me from the Black Magic LP. A welcome entry in the golden age of hip hop that seamlessly blends into Kenny Thomas’s sweet soul of Thinking About Your Love. Like many others I shocked to see that he was a white guy. Then it’s a ray of scouse sunshine with Sonia’s banging Only Fools (Never Fall In Love). Barging into the presence of greatness are New Kids On The Block and the hard-edged Call It What You Want. The original Step By Step take was give a club remix by Robert Clivillés and David Cole. It also featured an intro by Freedom Williams. The jams stay hot with the single mix of Kylie Minogue’s Shocked with its Jazzy P rap.

We come down to earth with Chesney Hawkes’ follow-up to The Only And Only. I’m A Man Not A Boy breezes along with shades of Springsteen sax. The Simpsons continue to sing the blues with Deep, Deep Trouble. Will Smith on backing vocals, a good groove. And right afterwards is a top summer cut from Driza Bone – the smooth barbecue soul of Real Love. Whitney Houston’s indignant adultery riposte My Name Is Not Susan and Danni Minogue’s tight dance pop Success come next. Kylie’s younger sibling was extremely memorable as teen punk Emma Jackson in Home And Away during 1989-1990. Emma – who was Ailsa’s niece – exited by terminating her relationship with Paul Jensen, took a job on the Gold Coast and then left to become an air hostess.

Difficult second album stuff: Move That Body was a rather formulaic effort from Technotronic. Everybody dance now with C&C Music Factory’s feelgood club sound of Here We Go. Welcome to the jungle: the wicked drum ‘n’ bass sound of Tribal Base. The guilty parties? The Rebel MC, Tenor Fly and Barrington Levy. Jump up ’cause it’s party time. Cubic 22’s crazy frenzy that is Night In Motion. Quick response from Quadrophonia and their bangin’ hip house sound – Wave Of The Future. I wrote for luck, they sent me you. I sent for juice, you gave me cola. 7 Ways To Love – a constant late night presence on MTV’s Party Zone; catch it during rapid eye movement.

Disc 2 starts with the euphoric synth rush of Erasure’s Chorus. The parent album remains one of their strongest LPs. Seal was also tripping a heavenly sound in ’91; Future Love Paradise has a great bassline and awesome production. Remember was positivity was socially acceptable? PM Dawn jump off with the fly A Watchers Point Of View. Let the carnival begin: Human Nature by Gary Clail turns out to be as dancefloor-friendly as a hand grenade. R.E.M.’s Shiny Happy People arrives to paint a smile on everybody’s face while Pop Will Eat Itself have a rare slip in quality control with the lukewarm 92 Degrees. However the reissue of Sheriff Fatman arrives to save the day; trailing on the coat-tails of the successful 30 Something LP. A true indie classic. Nicholas Van Whatsisface indeed.

Exit stage left. Alice Cooper’s Hey Stoopid is a tame beast while Rod Stewart’s Motown Song was never a favourite. Nice sentiment but a somewhat lousy execution. The race to the bottom continues with Bette Midler’s beastly cover of From A Distance. There’s a slight glimpse of light as Gloria Estefan serves up the tasty Remember Me With Love before Alison Limerick’s corking anthem Where Love Lives. Frankie Knuckles in the house.
“Where Love Lives (Come On In) is the greatest dance record of all time because it’s got everything. It swings, it makes girls pout, boys preen and hearts sing. There’s a touch of sadness about it but it’s incredibly uplifting, reaching a bittersweet joy that only the most spiritual of house achieves. Ms Limerick – whose subsequent career never lived up to this – sings with a throaty, controlled abandon, hitting the high notes while arms hit the ceiling. Even the lyrics are cool: strong woman sends out her love but gives her lover a bit of a slagging while she’s about it”. (Mixmag)

I write this on the 20th anniversary of Eric Cantona’s kung fu kick. From Palace to Waters: Crystal chilled our minds with the creepy video for chugging disco of Gypsy Woman (La Da Dee). Its fading beats usher in the final slow set with Beverley Craven’s spellbinding late night tale Promise Me. Some big band swing next with Harry Connick Jnr’s surprisingly catchy We Are In Love. The final roll comes from Rick Astley and his driving optimism of Never Knew Love. Anne Dudley on strings. The art, the art. The noise, the noise. The sound, the sound. The sound, the sound.

“The sunlight rising over the horizon
Just a distant memory, a dawn chorus
Birds singing, bells ringing
In our hearts, in our minds”

Favourite tracks
Erasure – Chorus

Kylie Minogue – Shocked

Alison Limerick – Where Love Lives (Come On In)

Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine – Sheriff Fatman

Lest we forget
Gary Clail – Human Nature

Missing tracks and other thoughts
Definitely worth picking up – and there are enough copies out there. A solid listen that could have been improved if these made the grade:

Electronic – Get The Message. Not to be confused with Getting Away With It.
Wedding Present – Dalliance. Quiet / loud. All the songs sound the same.
Soft Cell – Tainted Love ’91. Ten years on; still magic.
Curve – Coast Is Clear. Lead track on the Frozen EP. Immense.
Kraftwerk – The Robots. Fresh update for 1991 and The Mix.
Guns N’ Roses – You Could Be Mine. Just an illusion.

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16 Responses to The Hits Album (Sony / BMG, 1991)

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  5. Martin Davis says:

    In all honesty I don’t rate this as one of the best compilation albums although it did introduce me to the Erasure and Carter USM tracks.

    Remember being really excited when I found a copy of “Deep Deep Trouble” in our local charity shop during mid 1998 as at the time The Simpsons was my favourite program. I remember really hoping I’d find the accompanying album one day but it was another 10 years or so before I did.

    Out of interest can you remember when RTE started screening The Simpson’s? I know that over here it didn’t air on terrestrial TV until 1996 although Sky have showed it since 1990. Am guessing this compilation is probably one of the only ones to contain a Simpsons track. Other than a cover version on a low budget Music For Pleasure compilation I don’t think “Do The Bartman” is compiled anywhere.

    I am a bit confused as I thought the Carter USM album that contained “Sherrif Fatman” was called ‘101 Damnations’. Or have I got that wrong?

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Hi Martin,
      RTE started showing The Simpsons late 1997 / early 1998. However they had broadcast The Tracey Ullman Show in 1989 so we also got to see it then. Do The Bartman is on Smash Hits 1991 – another partially-mixed compilation.

      Sheriff Fatman was indeed on 101 Damnations. The single came out in December 1989 but only became a hit when reissued in late spring 1991 – not long after 30 Something. It’s on Indie Top 20 Volume 9 (to be reviewed later this year) and Happy Daze

      • Martin Davis says:

        Hello again Nigel

        Thanks for that really helpful response. Interesting to hear RTE started showing The Simpsons AFTER the BBC did. I assumed it was the other way round.

        I have got Smash Hits 1991 but in all honesty never listened to it. Am not familiar with those two other compilations you mention so I look forward to your review of them.

        Also thanks for that info about that Carter USM track. I have 101 Damnations but never actually heard it.

        I know it’s a bit off topic but have are you familiar with the “Music For Pleasure” compilation “Kids TV Themes” which is the only other compilation I’m aware of that contains “Do The Bartman”?

        • nlgbbbblth says:

          Hi Martin – once again it’s Paul not Nigel!

          • nlgbbbblth says:

            I have already reviewed Happy Daze –

            Do The Bartman is on quite a few Dutch and West German comps. When is the MFP release from? I have lots of television theme compilations, most from the 1970s.

            • Martin Davis says:

              Hello again Paul
              Sorry if I’ve got your name wrong. Will make sure I get it right in future.

              The MFP release that “Do The Bartman” is on is called “Kids TV Themes”. Its a low budget compilation and the tracks are all cover versions sung by a group called “The Power Pack Orchestra and Singers”. Has the theme tunes to classic, shows such as Blue Peter, Grange Hill, Black Beauty and Pink Panther, 80s series such as Count Duckula, Dogtanian and Fantastic Max and for some reason, the theme tunes to Neighbours and Home and Away, There’s an earlier compilation called “The Children’s World of TV Themes” which has the original versions of a number of these.

  6. Andrew Chinnock says:

    Hi Paul, I’m surprised I haven’t mentioned anything about this gem! My local Boots store had loads of these still on one shelf about 2 years after it was released, so I bought one for the princely sum of 99p! You may be surprised to know that it’s one of my favourite compilations to this day!

    Yes, it was horrifically compiled, but as you say, fills quite a few gaps. The sequencing of the end of disc 1 is surprisingly good. The “mix” of NKOTB into Kylie is as bad as there ever could be.

    One thing I’m not totally clear on is whether it is actually a Cookie Jar compilation or Sony/BMG? The reason I mention this is that discogs suggests Cookie Jar was some extension of Polygram. Certainly the business addresses on Cookie Jar compilations from late 91 suggest the same as they’re shared with the Sussex Place address found on the Dance Zones. There are a few tracks on here licensed from Polygram when this was often not the case. There wasn’t a rival Now at the time, yet Polygram were involved in Awesome.

    The series couldn’t survive this album. Both this and the Hit Pack were the poorest sellers in terms of the series to that point.

  7. nlgbbbblth says:

    Hi Andrew – playing again now – yes, agree CD1 ends well. Pretty sure Cookie Jar was affiliated in some way with Polygram – would explain the tracks. Trying to think of release date for Awesome!

    • Andrew Chinnock says:

      Awesome 1 – 18 Feb
      Now 19 – 1 Apr
      Hits 15 – 5 Aug
      Awesome 2 – 28 Oct
      Now 20 – 25 Nov

      Actually, I didn’t realise Awesome 2 was only released 4 weeks before Now 20. Would explain why there’s quite a few newer releases on it.

      I notice there’s a Hits 14 missing. I’m onto it…..

      • nlgbbbblth says:

        Thanks Andrew. Hits 14 omission just a catalogue screw up?

        • Andrew Chinnock says:

          Mark Arthurworrey. Enough said. It has to be a balls up. Even the cataloguing is the wrong way around (Hits CD as opposed the previous method of CD Hits). I think this was his attempt to revive the series after Sony/Warner/BMG decided to ditch it after Hit Pack. He said he would compile it, sort out the licensing and Sony and BMG gave him one chance in return for x %. I’m clearly only guessing here. Most of his previous efforts came under the Dover label, apart from Hardcore Uproar, which may be the first occasion Cookie Jar was used, but this wasn’t an option on this occasion.

          Who knows? It’s a bit of a curate’s egg that, the more I think about it, the less it makes sense!

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