Hits ’96 (Global Television, 1995)

Hits 96

Hits 96 r

Review
After the lacklustre Hitz Blitz, Global Television needed a shot in the arm if the series was to make any headway agaiznst the Now Machine. In mid-December 1995, some five weeks after Now 32, the bold Hits ’96 landed in the shops. “The biggest hits in the universe” were spread over two CDs, the compilers wisely sticking to 40 tracks. And in a nice touch, they were divided into four parts of 10 songs each – loosely lumped together by theme or genre. Competition time: the inlay had a questionnaire where you could win the latest controlled Midi Hifi System with £50 cassette or CD vouchers for the runners-up.

Part 1 starts with Robson and Jerome’s second of three singles; I Believe, most famous in its Frankie Laine rendition. The Soldier Soldier nostalgia-mongers give it a pleasant lift; a palate cleanser before Enya’s maze of moments Anywhere Is. EBTG: in August ’94, Amplified Heart begat Missing, a troubled tune of romance gone sour. #69 in the charts. Step forward Todd Terry [not to be confused with Todd Terje or Teddy Riley or Terry Callier] who gives it a much-needed sunrise to sunset shot of dance energy, an absolute classic that reached #3. Next comes the swirling carnival samba sound of Simply Red’s Fairground. Want some TLC? The sophisticated R&B of Waterfalls tells a story of how people chase impossible dreams. A sobering finale: “Three letters took him to his final resting place”. Cee-Lo Green sang backup; later to be a member of Gnarls Barkley.

Eurodancers Corona eschew fame on the surprisingly restrained I Don’t Wanna Be A Star. A burst of familiar club tunes: N-Trance – Stayin’ Alive, Berri – Sunshine After The Rain, The Original – I Love You Baby. Then the obscure holiday banger from Dorothy, What’s That Tune? And we’re onto Part 2: Take That’s sweeping Never Forget followed by Frank Bruno’s beaming boxing mash Eye Of The Tiger. De’Lacy drop the mesmerising Hideaway while Michelle Gayle goes +++ on Happy Just To Be With You. Delightful. Bang on with Mr Roy’s Something About U, Happy Clappers’ I Believe and Molella with The Outhere Brothers. More interesting is Motiv8 and Kym Mazelle’s Searching For The Golden Eye. Topical Bond melancholia. Novelty rock: Perez Prado’s lounge act / Guinness advert Guaglione and Roy Chubby Brown vs Smokie, an abysmal face-off.

Part 3: a fix for Britpop junkies. Oasis’ heartfelt Wonderwall; the two singles after the LP better than the pair before. Pulp’s epochal Common People sails into Supergrass’ shiny anthem Alright. To Iceland for a rare misstep from Bjork, It’s Oh So Quiet. Back in the groove, Garbage’s edgy Magazine-like Queer. Next: Echobelly’s thrill-a-minute jangler King Of The Kerb and Edwyn Collins’ masterful A Girl Like You. Meanwhile Erasure made the album of their career in ’95: the sensational Fingers And Thumbs gives me the memory chills 20 years on. Too Young To Die was the title of Saint Etienne’s singles album. He’s On The Phone is a poptastic rush like no other. Classic Motiv8 blasts to ward off romance blues. Bow down to Louise Wener’s Sleeper; the driving What Do I Do Now?

Part 4: Cher’s righteous update of Marc Cohn’s Walking In Memphis and Annie Lennox’s laidback cover of Waiting In Vain. Move over darling, it’s Seal’s gloomy but glorious Prayer For The Dying. Then Suggs’ take on I’m On Sleeping, a staple of ’95 comps. The M People juggernaut keeps running; this time it’s the awesome foot-tapper Love Rendezvous. The beats grind more slowly as the R&B button gets switched on. Jodeci’s agony in the garden Love U 4 Life. Two more covers – Mary J Blige’s sweet (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman and Louise Seville’s madcap Yah Mo B There. R Kelly also drops in and croons You Remind Me Of Something. Last men standing are Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince and the ’95 remix of Boom! Shake The Boom. Street justice, there’s no stoppin’ us.

Favourite tracks
Oasis – Wonderwall

Erasure – Fingers And Thumbs (Cold Summer’s Day)

Garbage – Queer

M People – Love Rendezvous

Everything But The Girl – Missing (Todd Terry Club Mix) (Blanco/Eternal Radio Edit)

Lest we forget
Saint Etienne – He’s On The Phone

Missing tracks and other thoughts
Hits ’96 sees the series get back on a solid footing with a neat selection of the wild and wonderful songs of 1995. Here are five more tracks that got overlooked in the rush.

Reverend Black Grape – In The Name Of The Father. Ruthless.
Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know. Infatuated.
Janet Jackson – Runaway. Diamond.
Menswear – Stardust. Disco.
Ash – Angel Interceptor. Glitter.

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18 Responses to Hits ’96 (Global Television, 1995)

  1. Ben Cook says:

    Was this the first time a comp was titled with next year? I remember thinking it was very odd when this came out, and I think we saw it happen more often in years to come (e.g. Smash Hits 97!)

  2. cosmo says:

    Hits “’96”? 😉 Although to be fair, it was release at the very end of the year. Probably was named that partially for that reason.

    One of the better volumes in the Hits series (in all its incarnations). Apart from those songs I mentioned that also appeared on Now 32 which also appear here, Enya (due to appear on Now 33), TLC, Dorothy, Michelle Gayle, Kym Mazelle, Supergrass, Björk, Edwyn Collins, and St. Étienne (also to pop up on Now 33) are to be added.

    TLC and Enya had two of ’95’s best hits (IMHO, obviously):

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  7. antster1983 says:

    Warner Music are the other label responsible for Hits 96 (hence the short-lived WTV logo), though BMG would be responsible for distribution under the Global Television label.

  8. Matt Hayes says:

    One of my favs from the Hits series. My brother had it on CD…makes me shudder to think it was nearly 25 years ago. I also have it on CD but that was a later acquisition. The song selection on here is great. Even Robson & Jerome’s rendition of “I Believe” is, for me, their finest moment. Confession: I prefer Frank Bruno’s “Eye of the Tiger” to the Survivor original. It just sounds great with a solid beat and pop vibe. Exactly why it’s credited to Frank himself is rather curious given that he only has a couple of spoken lines in the whole song but I suppose he was still a pretty big celebrity back then. Finally, “Searching for the Goldeneye” is simply glorious – and a song not found on many comps.

  9. Andrew Chinnock says:

    Hi Paul, I never quite saw the point in those questionnaires in the inlays. This was something Dino Entertainment started in early 1993 (Energy Rush Dance Hits 93 was their first dance album to have this questionnaire). Initially, Global used exactly the same questionnaire, word for word, but then changed it to a less bulky one through BMG interact. There’s also a huge degree of familiarity between the insides of Global’s inlays and Dino’s in terms of font, layout etc. Moran must have took that with him!

    As for the album, it was a clever move to release it the week before Christmas with a futuristic title. It shares 16 tracks with TOTP 2, a compilation I consider at least as good as Hits 96. Hits 96 hit no 1 in the compilation chart in its third week while TOTP 2 made a surprisingly low no 14 and plummetted the week Hits 96 came out.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Hi Andrew, don’t think I ever filled out any of the 90s ones. Kinda pointless. Yes – this was good marketing. Surprised TOTP2 didn’t do as well.

      • Andrew Chinnock says:

        Anorak time again, sorry. I’ve just noticed that, by similar coincidence, the earlier Chartbusters album was released the same 3 weeks after TOTP 1. There are 18 shared tracks between them.

        TOTP 1 was a strong compilation with several exclusives that had more shared tracks with Now 31 that followed 2 months later than it did with Now 30.

        Apart from the opening triple play of Take That, Robson & Jerome and Annie Lennox, there were few saving graces on Chartbusters beyond what had already been compiled before. It included older tracks from Real McCoy, Sleeper and Human League. Jam & Spoon was listed as “new” in terms of highest chart position yet had been in the top 40 for 3 weeks prior to Chartbusters being released.

        In terms of yearly sales, TOTP 1 didn’t fare much better than Chartbusters when arguably it should have easily out performed it. Might this come down to marketing? How much does loading the big tracks at the start of a disc have an impact when it comes to sales? All curious stuff.

        • nlgbbbblth says:

          Hi Andrew – just looked again at TOTP 1 tracklist – yes, pretty strong throughout. In terms of frontloading, don’t think it drives that much extra sales. Possibly only when being bought as a present.

  10. Andrew Chinnock says:

    Another point with this, Sunshine After The Rain by Berri isn’t the single version, but one borrowed from Dance Zone. A bit of a puzzler as 3 Beat was a Polygram company when Dance Zone used the track

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