The first Smash Hits release of 1996 arrived in early December. 1995 saw three volumes of the series, all on Telstar. The futuristic Smash Hits Mix ’97 [looking forward] came out on Virgin and in a most unwelcome development, is a non-stop mixed effort. Programming these tracks on your CD player really shows how jarring it sounds. The franchise had gone down this road before – see Smash Hits 1991 – but this was much worse. And edits galore.
The party mix kicks off with the Spice Girls and Wannabe. Natural selection. It’s a familiar flavour with Peter Andre, Backstreet Boys and Louise piling on the pop. Key milestone is George Michael’s extremely danceable Spinning The Wheel, again given the Forthright treatment. Livin’ Joy’s ubiquitous Don’t Stop Movin’ melts into 911 x 2. Confusion reigns with Reel 2 Real’s shockadelic Jazz It Up while Coolio and Luniz provide some dope hip hop downtime. Eternal’s harder R&B direction on Good Thing works well afterwards but Robbie Williams’ Freedom is a pale GM imitation. Props to Upside Down and a phat cover of Chicago’s If You Leave Me Now. The remainder of CD1 slides into dullsville [Damage, Clock, Maxi Priest] before DJ Dado’s brooding X-Files Theme. Illuminati soakage.
CD2: Don’t Look Back In Anger, The Day We Caught The Train, Breakfast At Tiffany’s and You’re Gorgeous. Hark back to the spring Spaceman before The Prodigy’s raved-up electropunk of Breathe. Britpop blast off: Suede’s searing Trash, Blur’s nasty Charmless Man, Space’s cute Female Of The Species, Ash’s lovely Oh Yeah. Best of all is Dubstar’s melancholic dreampop of Stars. And more: Garbage’s goth-grunge Stupid Girl, Supergrass’ low-key Going Out and Divine Comedy’s Weekend. Equally classic is EBTG’s horror realisation Wrong. There’s a return to heavier beats for the finale. Fluke’s big beat Atom Bomb mixed into Healy and Amos’ bangin’ Stamp! Next come B.B.E. and the Ibiza smash Seven Days And One Week. Climax / encore with Born Slippy / I Wanna Be A Hippy.
The Prodigy – Breathe
B.B.E. – Seven Days And One Week
George Michael – Spinning The Wheel (Forthright Edit)
Everything But The Girl – Wrong
Ocean Colour Scene – The Day We Caught The Train
Lest we forget
Dubstar – Stars