Like Smash Hits ’92 and Smash Hits ’93, the 1994 edition contained 40 tracks. This time the tagline was “The 40 Biggest Hits Of The Year!”. However Telstar had taken over from Chrysalis so there appears to be no Ashley Abram involvement and no mention of Box Music Limited on the inlay. Inevitably this lack of supervision means that a number of tracks are edited although all of them are readily available on other compilations. On a positive note, we still get some entertaining sleeve notes courtesy of Sylvia Patterson.
Take That’s fifth chart topper Sure is first. The mighty princes were on a roll. Former Eastender Michelle Gayle’s soulful Sweetness rolls with R Kelly’s She’s Got That Vibe before Cyndi Lauper’s rebooted Hey Now. Then it’s The Grid’s bango stringfest Swamp Thing followed by the blinding Euro dance anthem Rhythm Of The Night, remixed for Corona by the Rapino Brothers. Fronted by Olga De Souza with Giovanna Bersola on singing duty; her family were mates of Pele. Then there’s Ant and Dec’s fun romp Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble and M People’s willowy Renaissance. Heather Small: acid jazz princess. Next comes Kylie Minogue’s Confide In Me; its sweeping strings making it utterly suited for James Bond action. Most regrettable however is lame Searching.
A key memory: pop legend Tony Di Bart on the cliffs with his anthem The Real Thing. Time for hugely upbeat and reassuring tunes from D:Ream and East 17; Things Can Only Get Better and It’s Alright. And Gloworm: big bloke, big voice, big dancefloor stuffer Carry Me Home. Epic with piano bits. The Prodigy’s thunderous No Good (Start The Dance), all cyberpunk rave. We’re in full-on mode with Maxx’s ragamuffin swirl Get-A-Way, the ubiquitous Let The Beat Control Your Body and Cappella’s hyperactive Move On Baby. There’s a slight return to ’93 with Salt ‘N’ Pepa’s hotter than July Shoop (Remix). Finally we learn that Club House’s Carl Fanini is an Aries, has a pet turtle and likes Chinese food.
Big Mountain’s cover of Baby I Love Your Way starts disc two. The reggae rollercoaster gets in full swing with Ace Of Base’s take on Don’t Turn Around. Global domination. Meanwhile Jamaica’s top DJ, Red Dragon, co-opts mates Brian and Tony Gold into the doo-wopped Compliments On Your Kiss. And Dawn Penn returns to rejig You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No) with some toasting. There’s more lovers rock with CJ Lewis on Sweets For My Sweet. This is invariably followed by Bitty McLean’s Dedicated To The One I Love. Fact – Bitty was UB40’s tape-op and tea boy. Next come the Status Quo of reggae, Aswad and Shine. The breakbeats finally kick in on M Beat and General Levy’s Incredible.
The compilers decided to take a punt on the next pair. Black Duck sampled Whigfield’s Saturday Night, a real duck and used Challenge TV’s lovely Carryl Varley as a front for their parody Wiggle In Line. It reached #33. The men behind the wire were Davide Riva and Larry Pignagnoli, both Italian producers. There’s more gameshow madness with Twangling’s Three Fingers In A Box, a deep house groover. It appears to have sunk without trace. And for some in the mid-90s, 2wo Third3 were the best thing ever. I Want The World is exuberant super-stylised pop. The version here is slightly edited – check out Now That’s What I Call Music 29 for the full radio mix. Biff, their cartoon character songwriter, ended up penning a few number ones for the Spice Girls.
Erasure’s Always became the duo’s 20th top 20 hit. Dream E forever with EYC’s smooth Black Book. The BC52s’ unremarkable Flintstones theme also makes an appearance. Much better is Sophie B Hawkins’ awesome Madonna-esque Right Beside You. Next come The Beautiful South and their swooning version of Everybody’s Talkin’. Neil vs Nilsson. And Stiltskin’s Celtic grunge of Inside that rose like King Arthur’s sword to the top of the charts. It’s an indie dust up as Oasis’ get it on with their fourth 45, Cigarettes And Alcohol [early fade] and Suede’s stunning We Are The Pigs with Bernard Butler’s 17 year old replacement Richard Oakes playing a blinding guitar [in the video]. The final slot goes to the Red Hot Chili Peppers: giving it socks on the reissued Give It Away.
The Prodigy – No Good (Start The Dance)
Corona – Rhythm Of The Night (Rapino Brothers Version)
M People – Renaissance (Radio Mix)
Suede – We Are The Pigs
Kylie Minogue – Confide In Me
Lest we forget
2wo Third3 – I Want The World