New season, new beginnings. For their spring ’97 release, the Hits team dropped the four part layout and restored the century. New Hits 1997 was released in April, one month after Now That’s What I Call Music 36. Six common tracks [911 – The Day We Found Love, Sash – Encore Une Fois, The Blueboy – Remember Me, Peter Andre – Natural, The Source featuring Candi Staton – You Got The Love, Damage – Love Guaranteed].
It’s an exotic start as Smoke City serve up the atmospheric Bond-esque Underwater Love. After the rain comes sun, after the sun comes rain again. Then some soul-searching from Toni Braxton on Unbreak My Heart before the spirit of Peter Sarstedt is revived with No Mercy’s cover of La Bouche’s Where Do You Go. The R&B continues: En Vogue’s Don’t Let Go (Love), Whitney Houston’s Step By Step and 3T’s smooth Gotta Be You. Gina G gets the pulses racing on Fresh while Michelle Gayle works out an effective maudlin strummer Do You Know. Undisputed pop gem: Mark Owen’s upbeat and catchy Clementine. Back to the groove on Fugee La and Mark Morrison’s filthy steamer Moan and Groan.
The laidback vibe pushes on with Lisa Stansfield’s loved-up The Real Thing and that East 17 / Gabrielle duet. Celine Dion’s introspective version of All By Myself is followed by The Beautiful South’s Rotterdam, a throwback from Now That’s What I Call Music 35. Mostly bitter. The Thin White Duke goes for the jungle sound on the clattering breakbeats of Little Wonder. Mini (Brit) pops: Reef make a decent song in Consideration. Elsewhere it’s the taut radio edit of the Manics’ Australia coupled by the Lightning Seeds super sweet Sugar Coated Iceberg. Last: the ambient mysticism of Govinda by Kula Shaker. Special K.
Disc 2: Shake your booty to Funky Green Dogs scattershot murk-techno Fired Up. The Blueboy’s soul throwback Remember Me, Sash’s trance meltdown Encore Une Fois plus another remix of You Got The Love. Meanwhile Tori Amos’ Professional Widow really started to soar in the house parties and clubs during spring ’97. The reason: a fantastic Armand Van Helden mix. The Course crank up The Fugees’ Ready Or Not into an oblique floor-filler while Apollo 400 jazz up the drum ‘n’ bass on the shimmering Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Dub complete with Van Halen samples. The riff is chosen well as Republica crash in with the mobile phone anthem Ready To Go. Soundtrack for a generation.
DJ Kool, Biz Markie and Doug E Fresh jam hot on Let Me Clear My Throat. The break is courtesy of The 45 King. I caned this almost every day during the first few months of 1997. Next the feverish cheese of N-Trance’s D.I.S.C.O. Meanwhile the Backstreet Boys hang tough on the message-heavy Quit Playing Games (With My Heart). More: the slick ballad sound of OTT’s Let Me In and Babyface’s Everytime I Close My Eyes. Less: le grind to Ginuwine’s tricky hip hop Pony plus MC Lyte’s block beatin’ Cold Rock and Party. Bad: Clock’s anodyne It’s Over. Late night final goes to Shola Ama’s popped-in, souled-out cover of Turley Richards’ You Might Need Somebody. One for Jazz club. Nice.
DJ Kool – Let Me Clear My Throat
Manic Street Preachers – Australia
Lightning Seeds – Sugar Coated Iceberg
Kula Shaker – Govinda
David Bowie – Little Wonder
Lest we forget
Reef – Consideration
Missing tracks and other thoughts
New Hits 1997 is a decent spring selection. More chocolates for the box:
Madonna – Don’t Cry For Me Argentina or failing that the Mike Flowers Pops.
Tricky – Tricky Kid. Moody boys uptown etc.
Gene – We Could Be Kings. Somebody’s second favourite band.
Warren G – I Shot The Sheriff. Phenomenal.
Armand Van Helden – The Funk Phenomena. Go with this after Professional Window.
Fugees – Rumble In The Jungle. Way better than Fugee La.