The Ultimate Hits Album (Telstar / BMG, 1994)

Ultimate Hits Album

Ultimate Hits Album r

Review
The second wave of the Hits series came to a conclusion with the release of The Ultimate Hits Album, its 20th volume and the final joint Telstar and BMG collaboration.

No sleep for the wicked. By August 1994 Kylie Minogue had signed to the Deconstruction label with her fifth album due in a matter of weeks. The multi-layered Confide In Me was chosen as the lead single, all sumptuous strings with an epic vocal. PopMatters compared it to Bjork. Things settle down with Corona’s Rhythm Of The Night, a pounding Italian anthem which was hopelessly devoted to the UK and Ireland’s dancefloors during that autumn. Reggae covers abound as Big Mountain show us the way on Baby I Love Your Way while CJ Lewis mixes emotions on disco smash Best Of My Love.

The admission fee is wholly justified by track 5: the amazing club house groove of M People’s One Night In Heaven (Thee Def Club Mix). It’s credited as the Morales Club Mix but they are the same. 7:20 in duration. Down to earth with PJ & Duncan AKA’s so bad it’s good If I Give You My Number and Take That’s earnest ballad Love Ain’t Here Anymore. Ladies night: Heavy D and The Boyz’ kool cover under the title This Is Your Night. It also samples George Benson’s Give Me The Night. Meanwhile two divas collide as Kym Mazelle and Jocelyn Brown give ZZ Top’s Gimme All Your Lovin’ a mighty reworking. And 2 Unlimited show their restrained side on the hypnotic harmonies of No One.

Oasis finally make their mark on a pop compilation with the inclusion of the optimistic Live Forever. A riposte to I Hate Myself And Want To Die. Their first top 10 single. It’s worth noting that Supersonic had already been included on Beechwood’s Indie Top 20 Volume 20. Time to move into downbeat territory. One of Féile ’94 surprise packets were the Crash Test Dummies with their compelling Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm. And Seal makes a return with the resigned melancholia of Prayer For The Dying – already featured on Now That’s What I Call Music 28. Back with a banger are The Grid on Rollercoaster’s evocative analogue synths. Snap featuring Summer’s Welcome To Tomorrow is a mournful jam and deserves a place among their canon.

The Prodigy and Voodoo People. Another super single lifted off Music For The Jilted Generation. The spoken parts are taken from The Shalimar, written and performed by Last Poet Gylan Kain while the main riff in the song is based on a sample of the Nirvana’s Very Ape. The Dust Brothers Remix of this song marked the last time, The Chemical Brothers were known under their original name. It’s followed by Shy FX and UK Apachi’s storming jungle breakthrough Original Nuttah. A wicked slice of jump up ragga. The road continues to twist with Suede’s glamtastic Dog Man Star taster 45 We Are The Pigs before Erik’s handbag house We Got The Love [a #55 gem]. Finally we go back to 1980. Eat To The Beat: Blondie’s Atomic updated by Diddy for ’94. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.

Favourite tracks
The Prodigy – Voodoo People

Shy FX and UK Apachi – Original Nuttah

The Grid – Rollercoaster

Lest we forget
M People – One Night In Heaven (Morales Club Mix)

Missing tracks and other thoughts
The Ultimate Hits Album is a corker; the best since Snap! It Up – Monster Hits 2. The tunes are well-chosen with a number of uncommon picks that don’t really feature on other UK compilations. I genuinely found it difficult to narrow down the favourite tracks and could easily have selected four or five more. Chopping and changing looks like this:

Warren G and Nate Dogg – Regulate. Seasoned G-funk.
S*M*A*S*H – (I Want To) Kill Somebody. Here come the (angry) young man.
Manic Street Preachers – Revol or She Is Suffering. Are you going to The Manics?

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14 Responses to The Ultimate Hits Album (Telstar / BMG, 1994)

  1. Ben Cook says:

    Picked this one up in That’s Entertainment recently – I also like it because of the mix of songs not featured on other contemporary compilations

  2. Pingback: Now Dance – The Best Of ’94 (EMI / Virgin, 1994) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  3. Pingback: Now That’s What I Call Music 29 (EMI / Virgin / Polygram, 1994) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  4. Andrew Chinnock says:

    I was 16 in 1994 and I remember phoning Telstar during the summer to enquire when Hits 94 vol 2 would be released. I was asked if I was calling from the trade, which I wasn’t, and they told me there were no plans to release another Hits album. I guess that their Dance Hits 94 series did well enough and the brand had been tainted by a dreadful first volume in 1994.

    There’s also the issue of Nic Moran leaving Dino and setting up Global with BMG later that year. This album always seemed like an odd one, no sequence despite the catalogue number.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Interesting about Nic Moran – wasn’t sure of the timing. As you probably guessed, I am fan of this one – an outlier (almost not part of the second wave) but doesn’t fit in with the next batch either.

      • Andrew Chinnock says:

        Same here. Very good compilation. Far superior to Hits 94 vol 1 and the never followed-up and dismal 100% Hits.

  5. Andrew Chinnock says:

    Decided to have a play of this today. It’s been over a decade since the disc came out to play. With you totally on your top 3 picks. I’m amazed this was the first compilation the very underrated Rollercoaster appeared on, given that Swamp Thing was literally swamped on virtually every dance compilation that year. I love Diddy’s remix of Atomic, hard to go back to the original after this. His mix of Heart of Glass the following year was decent.

    I love the full length version of One Night In Heaven, but here it seems to take over a bit. How come you say it was worth the whole admission fee then put it in the ‘lest to forget’ category? That did make me smile. It was slightly odd to place Suede between some jungle and house, but that Erik track deserved much better. Best Loveland track since Let The Music Lift You Up. Can’t help but think that Strike were Loveland mark 2.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Hi Andrew – I suppose the rationale was this. The full length version wasn’t that common in terms of being compiled and it’s really good. I put it under Lest We Forget as it’s not as well-remembered as the main edit. It’s unusual to find a “long” track in these compilations (certainly one that has a shorter mix readily available elsewhere).

  6. Andrew Chinnock says:

    Given this another airing tonight. Think I’m coming to the same conclusion that it’s the best since Snap It Up. My 8 year old son has borrowed it as he loves ‘Original Nuttah’, though the amazing bassline loses its impact in his Minions’ cd player!!

    I can see why this flopped in terms of sales – it spent two weeks in the compilation chart at 11 and 19 respectively. 8 top ten hits is quite low. No number 1 hits (only Telstar Hits series album where this has happened). However, I think most of the interest in this lies with the lesser tracks. In the same way that Heavenly Hardcore is my favourite from that series due to the tracks I would never have heard, this works in the same way.

    One point about sequencing. This album feels like it’s a bunch of tracks randomly shoved together at times. Suede placed between jungle and house is totally out of place, yet the 4 track section from the Grid to Shy FX is perfect. We all have our views on this and sometimes a compilation that doesn’t follow a more logical sequencing path still works, like this.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      That’s a pretty dismal sales performance Andrew. Two weeks on the chart is a poor show. Suede might have been better as the closing track.

      • Andrew Chinnock says:

        That’s a good shout.

        A final aside here – why is it that, generally when you look at 90s hits compilations, tracks that missed out on the top 40 but feature on them are usually dance hits?

        • nlgbbbblth says:

          Possibly more likely to be plugged pre-release. I used to be on a mailing list for promos and 75% of the stuff I got was dance-related rather than indie or rock.

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