No-no-no, Tes-Tes-Tes-Tes. . . The sleeve design for The Greatest Hits Of ’96 is shockingly lazy. What should be the front cover has spine labels on either side so it suffices as the back inlay. Meanwhile the “booklet” has photographs and small typed credits on the front with tracklist on the final page. I have re-jigged it for the purposes of this review.
Don’t Look Back In Anger starts. I always thought that the “fade away” line should have been tied into referencing the Cigarettes and Alcohol B-side. Two more #1s follow; Deep Blue Something’s Breakfast At Tiffany’s and The Prodigy’s Firestarter. Just hitting the racks at the time of release was Pearl’s Girl from Underworld’s Second Toughest In The Infants LP. A perfectly realised giant of a tune, a nine minute plus album track succinctly distilled into a cracking radio edit. Peter Andre’s loose Flava and Simply Red’s gentle Never Never Love give way to full grotesque horror of Babybird’s You’re Gorgeous. He ain’t no James Blunt. Bad shave, bad trip. Equally unpalatable are Ant and Dec with their insipid When I Fall In Love and Robson and Jerome’s leaky lounge Up On The Roof.
Britpop comes in spurts. Ocean Colour Scene display cosmic stickwork on The Riverboat Song while The Charlatans sound revitalised on One To Another. Garbage’s vigorous Stupid Girl is followed by Space’s half-baked Neighbourhood. Later on you can lie back and think of Downpatrick on Ash’s hazy Oh Yeah, filmed in a rainy Great Yarmouth. Coming from the same place: Neil Hannon’s Divine Comedy and the sardonic Something For The Weekend. Then there’s Suede’s re-charge into 70s Ronson rockers on the immensely satisfying guitar squall of Trash. After the Diet Coke song, there’s a crusty comedown with The Levellers before Bjork’s show-stopping Hyperballad. Post version.
What do Peter Andre, Livin’ Joy and Underworld have in common? They both appear twice. The Culture Club, Kajagoogoo and UB40 of their day. Meanwhile there’s mighty fine downhome rhythm and blues courtesy of Mark Morrison [Crazy] and Backstreet Boys [We’ve Got It Goin’ Now] while points are lost for the inclusion of Los Del Mar’s lousy Macarena. Fresh Hits ’96 is your source for Los Del Rio. Piano pounders Livin’ Joy drop Follow The Rules, a neat house groove while Busta Rhymes and Coolio keep the hip hop flag aloft. Elsewhere Duke’s falsetto sounds 18 years out of time on So In Love With You.
Curiously funky: E-Motion’s The Naughty North And The Sexy South. Flamboyant dancers in the video. Alison Limerick knocks it out with the slammin’ remix of Where Love Is while DJ Dado’s X-Files cover continues to send shivers wherever it’s played. Gat Decor’s uplifting Passion is club perfection; a Rí-Rá favourite from the days when I could dance until 2.30am seven days a week. The last of the unknowns: Hotbox’s tacky pizza techno Too Spicy. They pale in comparison to The Fast Food Rockers. Yep, that weird.
Underworld – Pearl’s Girl
Gat Decor – Passion
Suede – Trash
Ash – Oh Yeah
Ocean Colour Scene – The Riverboat Song
Lest we forget
Bjork – Hyperballad
Missing tracks and other thoughts
On a par with The Greatest Hits Of ’95, the crappy sleeve design and lack of variety make this a less than inspiring adventure. Spice up your life with this triple play:
Toni Braxton – Un-break My Heart. Torn.
Donna Lewis – I Will Love You Always Forever. Epic.
Spice Girls – 2 Become 1. Would have been quite a coup as a (New).