Year-end Hits collections started in 1996, were always preceded with the word Huge and released each November. These effectively channelled the spirit of Now’s zombie 10th Anniversary series [1993, 1994 and 1995 editions] with the bulk of the tracks having already been included on previous volumes. However the smattering of heretofore uncompiled songs was slightly more generous on the Hits albums. In this case – 32 vs 9.
To recap, 32 tracks had already been released on the three previous Hits albums:
Hits ’96: Everything But The Girl – Missing, Oasis – Wonderwall, Simply Red – Fairground.
New Hits ’96: Take That – How Deep is Your Love, Mark Morrison – Return Of The Mack, Chantay Savage – I Will Survive, Robert Miles – Children, The Prodigy – Firestarter, Gina G – Ooh Aah. . . Just A Little Bit, Suggs – Cecilia, Celine Dion – Falling Into You, TLC – Creep, Cher – One By One, M People – Search For The Hero, Etta James – I Just Want To Make Love To You, Oasis – Don’t Look Back In Anger, Garbage – Stupid Girl, Technohead – I Wanna Be A Hippy.
Fresh Hits ’96: Los Del Rio – Macarena, Peter Andre – Mysterious Girl, Baddiel and Skinner and Lightning Seeds – Three Lions, Backstreet Boys – We’ve Got It Goin’ On, Livin’ Joy – Don’t Stop Movin’, DJ Dado – X-Files, Underworld – Born Slippy, Manic Street Preachers – A Design For Life, Kula Shaker – Tattva, Ash – Oh Yeah, Suede – Trash, Ocean Colour Scene – The Day We Caught The Train, Sleeper – Sale Of The Century, 3T – 24/7.
Part 1: We get three very recent hits to start us off. Jamiroquai’s delightful cosmic funk of Virtual Insanity is followed by Deep Blue Something’s anthem Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Then there’s Stephen Jones’ Babybird project: the creepy You’re Gorgeous. Further along are Clock, now reduced to workmanlike covers; Oh What A Night is merely treading water.
Part 2: A pretty great dance zone. TLC’s R&B bomb Creep lauches into Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise [caned everywhere in 1995/1996 but no Hits appearance up to now]. Highlight of the new are Way Out West and the truly blissed out grooves of The Gift. Deeply sublime progressive house for all the ages and presumably a favourite of Kenneth Mortimer. Elsewhere the placing of Children and The X-Files Theme side-by-side never gets old.
Parts 3 and 4: The Britpop section is great but a predictable re-tread of material already included elsewhere. Meanwhile The Charlatans northern stormer One To Another is excellent, a real soul saver. The final home stretch sees appearances from the Tony Rich Project and Space. The former’s Like A Woman is disappointingly edited [like Nobody Knows] while the hokey-pokey Neighbourhood remains one of Space’s lesser efforts.
Way Out West – The Gift
TLC – Creep ’96
Robert Miles – Children
Manic Street Preachers – A Design For Life
The Charlatans – One To Another
Lest we forget
Kula Shaker – Tattva
Missing tracks and other thoughts
I can’t say I’m a huge fan of these mop-up end of year releases. For the newbies I’d add:
Fugees – Ready Or Not. One time, one time.
Rocket From The Crypt – On A Rope. Scream Duckula Scream!
Blackstreet featuring Dr Dre – No Diggity. Not to be confused with The Backstreet Boys.