Fresh Hits 1997 arrived in the shops in mid-August, just five weeks after its long-running rival Now That’s What I Call Music 37. The Hits compilation included seven crossover tracks [Coolio featuring 40 Thevz – C U When U Get There, R Kelly – I Believe I Can Fly, Rosie Gaines – Closer Than Close, The Course – Ain’t Nobody, Shola Ama – You Might Need Somebody, No Mercy – Don’t Let Go, The Cardigans – Lovefool]. Perversely the Shola Ama and No Mercy tunes had also featured on New Hits 1997. Inexplicable stuff.
Go: Coolio leads into Gala’s na-na-na Freed From Desire. A Madonna cast-off, the pleasant strum of Love Won’t Wait by Gary Barlow. It’s followed by Olive’s hypnotising You’re Not Alone, which knocked him man off the #1 spot. Meanwhile the Rembrandts returned in May with the quintessential 90s theme tune I’ll Be There For You. After the Backstreet Boys’ slamming Everybody, things go slow on Changing Faces’ Ghetto Out, Az Yet’s mournful Hard To Say I’m Sorry, Boyzone’s Isn’t It A Wonder and En Vogue’s blunted Whatever. Disco juice: Bobby D’Ambrosio and Michelle Weeks; the glitter ball Moment Of My Life. +8 to Jamiroquai on the gradual groover Alright. After the indifferent North and South, there’s a blast of speed garage with Double 99’s crucial RIP Groove. Blackmarket.
Stop: The meandering D’You Know What I Mean? sent out a warning bell; the new Oasis album, Be Here Now, was gonna be more complex and less immmediate than the first two LPs. They weren’t wrong. We get the Tee’s Club Radio version of The Cardigans’ Lovefool followed by Republica’s brash Drop Dead Gorgeous. It’s a trip hop serenade as those international men of mystery, The Lightning Seeds cover The Turtles’ You Showed Me while the Sneaker Pimps’ slinkly 6 Underground re-enters the charts on the strength of its appearance in The Saint. Paula Cole’s amazingly sexist Where Have All The Cowboys Gone comes next, a true sleeper. Eurovision winners 1997 – Katrina and The Waves – walk on water with the likeable Love Shine A Light. So near: Gina G’s holiday romance Ti Amo.
“I’m calling you from the foyer
Of the Sands Hotel
Where the men and the women
Are acquainted quite well”
At amber: Dannii Minogue’s breathlessly sexy All I Wanna Do. Foreseeing the digital age, absolutely fabulous. Ordinary girls: Toni Braxton’s I Don’t Want To and Celine Dion’s Call The Man. Wyclef Jean and his Refugee Allstars get no marks for We Trying To Stay Alive. Getting better, Finley Quaye’s rainbow soulsaver Sunday Shining. More mellow gold – Brownstone’s 5 Miles Till Empty. Dead or alive: Notorious Big’s Herb Alpert-sampling Hypnotise. George Michael and Toby Bourke are an unlikely pair; Waltz Away Dreaming is haunting and fatalistic. Seal does Steve Miller on Fly Like An Eagle while Lisa Stansfield covers Barry White’s Never, Never Gonna Give You Up. An odd finale: Elvis Presley’s Always On My Mind and Sarah Brightman’s operatic pop of Time To Say Goodbye.
Dannii Minogue – All I Wanna Do
Oasis – D’You Know What I Mean?
Paula Cole – Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?
Olive – You’re Not Alone
Double 99 – RIP Groove
Lest we forget
George Michael featuring Toby Bourke – Waltz Away Dreaming
Missing tracks and other thoughts
A somewhat ordinary entry in the series. Spice up your life with this quintet:
David Bowie – Dead Man Walking. Speed demon.
Echo and The Bunnymen – Nothing Lasts Forever. The Evergreen years.
Jean Michel Jarre – Oxygene 10. Serene.
Ghostface Killah – All That I Got Is You. The Wu Tang Clan like a hydra.
Mighty Dub Katz – Magic Carpet Ride. Stormin’ Norman.