Telstar’s Story Of The Year for 1997 is chock-full of chart toppers. 11 in total. The front cover highlights: Spice Girls – Aqua – No Doubt – Oasis – George Michael – Boyzone – Backstreet Boys – R Kelly – Olive – Sash! – Blur – Gala – Coolio – Robbie Williams.
Four #1s to start with. It’s a dynamite beginning as the Spice Girls click into gear on Who Do You Think You Are. They opened their Brit Awards ’97 performance with this. Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack dress; one Cool Britannia’s most iconic symbols. The song also became the official single of the 1997 Comic Relief, a video with the Sugar Lumps — a satirical group — was released to help raise money for charitable causes and donated all the proceedings from the single. Aqua’s inane Barbie Girl is next; a tour de force of froth. No Doubt’s Don’t Speak and Oasis’ D’You Know What I Mean? make up the quartet.
As Long As You Love Me is a stunning ballad, the zenith of the Backstreet Boys’ recording history and a dead ringer for Boyzone who pop up on the soothing Isn’t It A Wonder. Stuck in the middle is George Michael’s funky Star People. Familiarity breeds contentment for the remainder of disc 1. There’s R Kelly – I Believe I Can Fly, a spacey jam. Dance this mess around to Olive – You’re Not Alone, Sash! – Encore Une Fois, Gala – Freed From Desire, Tori Amos – Professional Widow, Rosie Gaines – Closer Than Close, The Blueboy – Remember Me, Coolio – C U When U Get There. Take it down some on Mary J Blige – Everything, East 17 featuring Gabrielle – If You Ever, Gary Barlow – Love Won’t Wait, No Mercy – Where Do You Go. Sexed-up pair of brassers last; Clock vs N-Trance.
CD2 digs deeper. Sash! again, this time featuring La Trec on the emotional Stay. Old Mk 1: The Prodigy’s November ’96 fuzz of Breathe. Old Mk 2: Robbie Williams’ melancholy aging rock star jam Old Before I Die. Old Mk 3: Blur’s re-invention as Wowee Zowee pioneers on Beetlebum. White Town’s bedroom synth Your Woman is followed by Smoke City’s exotic Underwater Love. There’s more Britpop: Radiohead’s “difficult” (progtastic) Paranoid Android and Ash’s soaring teenage punk of A Life Less Ordinary. More: Ocean Colour Scene’s dust one down for the road trip, Travellers Tune while Tim Burgess and The Charlatans continue to swagger on the effortlessly cool North Country Boy. Closer: Supergrass’ menacing / dramatic Richard III and the Eel’s portentous Susan’s House.
Here comes a soulsaver: Finley Quaye comes in colours on Sunday Shining. Conner Reeves strums a maudlin tune on the haunting Earthbound (denoted as new, hot/press), Ant and Dec ruffle up Shout while Damage murder Wonderful Tonight. The sound of the streets: Warren G’s P-funk of Smokin’ Me Out. Next comes Blackstreet’s sparkling R&B pusher Don’t Leave Me. And then the queen of neo-soul, Erykah Badu and her misty-eyed late night jam On and On. And the beat goes on for Lutricia McNeal’s gritty Ain’t That Just The Way before we wrap up on N-Tyce’s moving and twisting We Come To Party.
Spice Girls – Who Do You Think You Are
The Charlatans – North Country Boy
Radiohead – Paranoid Android
Ash – A Life Less Ordinary
Blur – Beetlebum
Lest we forget
Eels – Susan’s House
Missing tracks and other thoughts
Top praise – The Greatest Hits Of 1997 is one of the best of the decade. Decent sequencing and a killer Britpop section topped off with some feelgood R&B jiving. Missing?
Elton John – Candle In The Wind 1997. Being here now.
Elton John – Something About The Way You Look Tonight. If I can’t have you etc.
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A phrase that sadly fits many a Telstar compilation – shame about the editing. This was a pretty strong album that borrows quite a bit from Pure Hits 97, 16 tracks I think I make it.
Following on from a reply to a different compilation, this was Telstar’s best selling Greatest Hits album of the 90s. My counting isn’t great, but I make it that 13 tracks on here were either Telstar or Universal owned. That had never happened before. There are a healthy percentage of EMI/Virgin/Polygram and BMG/Warner/Sony tracks on here as well. GH1996 was largely full of tracks from labels not involved with the Now or Hits series. In 1997 Telstar made a big effort in the singles market, particularly with Multiply records. It obviously became important for compilers to have their own successful tracks as it was a) free tracks on their own compilations and b) the ability to trade with the likes of Now and Hits. Telstar having Universal as a partner, until Universal bought out Polygram, was a strong partnership and it showed.
Didn’t know that Andrew – thanks for the info. Makes sense to utilise their own tracks (via the partnership) given costs.