Pure Hits ’97 (Telstar, 1997)

Pure Hits 97

Pure Hits ’97 arrived at the beginning of August, just a fortnight before Fresh Hits 1997. It was not considered part of the Hits series at the time but in recent years, revisionists have had a change of heart. One of them has added the compilation to the discography list on the Hits series Wikipedia entry. They’ve even included a footnote:
“Pure Hits 97 was not a part of the main Hits series at the time, but rather the final installment of the Hits 93/94 era devised by Telstar and BMG”.

Somebody else has the following interpretation:
“BMG and Telstar went on to release Pure Hits 97 in 1997 which was (spiritually) a sequel to the Hits ’93 and Hits ’94 series to due to its very similar cover artwork”.

While Cosmo, a regular commentator on this blog, makes two salient points:
“But that still has the Telstar Hits logo”.
“I’d say that “Hits” album is a bit like the “complimentary” original Now Anniversary albums (93, 94, 95)”.

These are persuasive arguments. However I don’t fully agree. There are two reasons:
1) Telstar were not in control of the franchise at that time. And even if they were, why would they sabotage the normal schedule with release containing overlapping tracks? It really looks like a cash in on the brand using their previous involvement as a lever.
2) Look to the future – September 2001 – and Hits 50. The numbering system was restored with the intention of stealing some of the thunder from Now That’s What I Call Music 50, which wasn’t due for another six weeks. Including Pure Hits ’97 in the canon would mean that Hits 50 would really be Hits 51.

Pure Hits ’97 contains eight songs that would also end up on the almost-simultaneous Fresh Hits 1997: Gala – Freed For Desire, Backstreet Boys – Everybody, DJ Quicksilver – Bellissima, Rosie Gaines – Closer Than Close, R Kelly – I Believe I Can Fly, George Michael with Tony Bourke – Waltz Away Dreaming, Sarah Brightman – Time To Say Goodbye, Cardigans – Lovefool (Tee’s Club Mix).

Elsewhere 16 more of the tracks had originally featured on the following UK compilations:
Now That’s What I Call Music 35: East 17 featuring Gabrielle – If You Ever.
Now That’s What I Call Music 36: No Doubt – Don’t Speak, White Town – Your Woman, Ant and Dec – Shout, Blur – Beetlebum, The Blueboy – Remember Me, B.B.E. – Flash, Kavana – I Can Make You Feel Good, Placebo – Nancy Boy.
New Hits 1997: Smoke City – Underwater Love.
Smash Hits – Summer ’97: Supergrass – Richard III, 911 – Bodyshakin’.
Now That’s What I Call Music 37: Sash! featuring Rodriguez – Ecuador, Ocean Colour Scene – 100 Mile High City, Seahorses – Love Is The Law, N-Tyce, Hey DJ.

So what do Telstar bring to the party? Peter Andre’s All About Us is a jazzy surprise with a swinging beat. Blackstreet and Damage drop some smooth R&B; Don’t Leave Me and Love Lady. Edwyn Collins goes for the groove jugular on The Magic Piper Of Love, a slinky gem. Another amazing diamond geezer is Conner Reeves; My Father’s Son is beautifully sung, a soul classic. We go right back to 1965 for The Mamas and Papas’ timeless flight California Dreamin’, reissued in August 1997 and hitting #9 on the UK chart. Fast forward to Clock’s aimless cover of U Sexy Thing, after which The Source drop the bass-heavy Clouds.

CD2 starts with an indie fest. Beautiful freaks – Eels – spin a spooky tale, Susan’s House. Cast do a mean Oasis impression on the furious Free Me while The Charlatans defy the end with their soaring sunkissed Britpop anthem How High. Bush’s grungey Swallowed sounds better now than then. Elsewhere you get Cable’s Freeze The Atlantic, the song from the Sprite advert. Yes son, it’s time to go diabolical with Orbital’s illsick Satan. Masters of sonic emotion. And back to Cream ’97 for Basement Jaxx’s energetic jam Flylife. Remember the ultra-cool falsetto on Ten City’s That’s The Way Love Is. That was Byron Stingily who spent a week in Billboard top spot with Get Up (Everybody) in which he sampled Sylvester’s Dance (Disco Heat). It really hits the g-spot.

Favourite tracks
Orbital – Satan

Basement Jaxx – Flylife

Edwyn Collins – The Magic Piper Of Love

The Charlatans – How High

Conner Reeves – My Father’s Son

Lest we forget
Cable – Freeze The Atlantic

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13 Responses to Pure Hits ’97 (Telstar, 1997)

  1. Pingback: Smash Hits ’98 (Virgin, 1997) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  2. Pingback: The Best Of Dance ’97 (Telstar, 1997) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  3. Pingback: The 1998 Brit Awards (Columbia, 1998) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  4. nlgbbbblth says:

    Interesting take courtesy of Andrew Chinnock

  5. Andrew Chinnock says:

    Hi. Couple of interesting points in relation to comments in the review. It wasn’t a Telstar/BMG partnership. Not sure where that came from. Telstar had a partnership with Universal, who had taken over MCA. Once Universal bought out Polygram, they understandably ditched Telstar and got on board with the Nows.

    Overlapping tracks? Not this one, unless there are discs that haven’t been tracked properly. Telstar were known for butchering some of their hits albums in the 90s but not this one. This is up there with Hits 93 vol 2 for recording. Thinking of the tracks on some compilations, I’ve known albums where a few milliseconds of the next track appear at the end of the previous one. If you play a track on repeat, there’s a click of the next track. Not sure if that makes sense, apologies if not!! I had one Energy Rush compilation that did that. Years later, I bought it in a charity shop, it might have been burned by a different company, but there was none of that problem.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Thanks Andrew. Those comments were made on an earlier Wikipedia entry for the Hits series.

      Re: overlapping tracks – sorry, poor choice of words. In this instance, I mean tracks that were common to both compilations. I know the sort you refer to – very annoying when hitting shuffle play.

  6. Andrew Chinnock says:

    Hi Paul, I’ve been pondering over this again this morning – The Hits Album 1997 and Pure Hits 97 as part of the Hits canon, having a look at info in my rather battered copy of The Complete Book of the British Charts.

    In 1995 Telstar’s last Smash Hits volume failed to make the top 20 compilation chart. The same happened with Hits Mania 96 volume 1 (which never produced further volumes). Their hits albums were obviously limited to their own stuff through their growing, but still small dance labels, and anything not owned by EMI, Virgin, Polygram, BMG, Sony and Warner. Slim pickings indeed!

    The use of The Hits Album name must have been an attempt to jump on the back of former glories of the series. The compilation made no.4, even though it only hung around for 3 weeks, making it Telstar’s best hits compilation for almost 2 years. While it wasn’t the best of albums, it was certainly an improvement on previous efforts with a few decent hits. Only those at Telstar would know if there were any plans to bring out subsequent volumes (that would have set the cat among the pigeons for musicologists in years to come!).

    I have a hunch that it would have happened. Telstar had previous for starting a series with volume one and not going any further, but at a time when independent labels struggled to get compilations into the higher places in the chart, there must have been some temptation to produce another volume. Obviously we’ll never know and I’m clearly just guessing here!!

    Howeve, by June 1997 Telstar had become Telstar TV and now had an alliance with Universal, which gave them more clout. A small correction – Pure Hits 97 was released the same week as Fresh Hits 1997. I don’t think there was much between the two albums, but Fresh Hits 1997 made no.1; Pure Hits 97 only reached no.13 and disappeared after a fortnight. Apart from the timing, perhaps there were too many old tracks on it? The following year Telstar released 3 highly successful Box Hits albums. Things had changed at Telstar and they were in a much stronger position. They also started to produce their own music, which was essential.

    It’s obvious that the addition of the Hits/New Hits/Fresh Hits etc series to the original Hits Album series has happened posthumously. Had The Hits Album series still been active, could Telstar have used the name? Interestingly, the book I mentioned places The Hits Album 1997 as part of the Hits series. I can only guess that’s through the name only.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Thanks again Andrew, much appreciate the forensic take. So they both came out the same week? That would leave me concluding that it’s not part of the series. Interesting about The Hits Album 1997 though.

      If the original series was still going – formally – then I envisage a legal challenge like Out Now vs Now.

      • Andrew Chinnock says:

        Here’s another angle on the Hits series debate. Discogs have The Hits Album series from 1984-91, another series Hits(6) for Telstar’s involvement in 1993-94, Hits(5) (good sequencing….) for Global/Warner/Sony’s 1995-2000 series and finally Hits(7) from 2001 and Hits 50.

  7. One of the very few also to contain “Clock – U Sexy Thing” could only find that on one other, “The Best of Dance ’97”, and also the overlooked Kavana cover of Shalamar’s “I Can Make You Feel Good”.

  8. It was possibly the only complilation to feature Supergrass – Richard III, then that showed up as one of the very few unique tracks (not already on the main NOWs in other words) on Now 1997 Millennium Series in 1999.

  9. nlgbbbblth says:

    Thanks Michael – yes, lots of over-familiarity on those late 90s Millennium editions.

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