WEA followed up their first digital release Hot And New with a second volume during the spring of 1985. This one sees a higher quotient of international hits with six of them [Chaka Khan, The Cars, ZZ Top, Sister Sledge, Billy Ocean, Prince and The Revolution] having already appeared on The Hits Album, the UK’s new rival to the Now series. It’s a fine compilation with a number of rare single mixes that make it very much in demand.
Hit that perfect beat with Chaka Khan’s incredible I Feel For You, a Prince cover that originally featured on his second LP. Khan’s version features gold cast with rapping from Melle Mel, keyboard and guitar by The System’s David Frank and chromatic harmonica playing from Stevie Wonder. It also uses vocal samples from Wonder’s Fingertips. Meanwhile The Cars’ Drive enjoyed chart success in both 1984 and 1985; its inclusion here is based on the first wave. A gorgeous electronic ballad with a memorable mannequin video. But it’s during Live Aid that it struck an even greater chord with the UK public as it was used as the background music to a montage of clips depicting the Ethiopian famine.
Kim Wilde’s driving The Second Time is the sole tune from EMI and Virgin’s Christmas ’84 sparring partner Now That’s What I Call Music 4. Next is Alphaville’s melancholy rites-of-passage ballad Forever Young, a track that has particular resonance with me and a group of friends from its early 1990s airings. Nik Kershaw’s curious Irish twist The Riddle continues to enthrall while Laura Branigan’s Satisfaction showcases her wonderful vocal range to great effect. And there’s the rare single edits of ZZ Top’s chrome smoker Gimme All Your Lovin’ and Sister Sledge’s timeless disco glory Lost In Music. No way back.
When The Rain Begins To Fall is a gorgeous duet from Jermaine Jackson and Pia Zadora. Epic chord progression. Elsewhere Billy Ocean was struggling with geography as European Queen failed to make the UK top 75; a quick transformation to Caribbean Queen ensured a #6 placing. A song from under the radar – Johan Daansen’s Deadly Game; ideal Miami Vice material. And some glorious jazz beats from Matt Bianco on the underrated Half A Minute; Basia and quality basslines. Rekindle the love affair with Scorpions on the tortured metal of Still Living You while Scott Marlowe’s gives us some moody Italo on the urban nightmare Living In Chinatown. Lastly it’s Prince in his own right; the magnificent Purple Rain in 7″ form. “I think you better close it”.
Alphaville – Forever Young
Matt Bianco – Half A Minute
Lest we forget
Jermaine Jackson and Pia Zadora – When The Rain Begins To Fall