Smash Hits ’98 (Virgin, 1997)

Smash Hits 98

Smash Hits 98 r

By 1997, the Smash Hits franchise was struggling. Its heyday had been the 1988 – 1993 era, each annual instalment a vital snapshot of the year’s pop highlights. Now the sleeve design was a moody purple and orange space theme with hardly any artist photographs (just six on the back inlay), song notes or biographies. Ashley Abram was still dealing the cards in association with Virgin Commercial Marketing.

Consequently the vast majority of the tracks had already been snapped up as follows:
Now That’s What I Call Music 36: Kavana – I Can Make You Feel Good, Blur – Beetlebum, No Doubt – Don’t Speak.
Smash Hits – Summer ’97: Damage – Wonderful Tonight.
Now That’s What I Call Music 37: Ultra Nate – Free, Fun Lovin’ Criminals – Scooby Snacks, Coolio – C U When U Get There, Boyzone – Isn’t It A Wonder, Texas – Halo, Seahorses – Love Is The Law, 911 – The Journey.
Pure Hits ’97: The Cardigans – Lovefool (Tee’s Radio – original on Now 37), Blackstreet – Don’t Leave Me, Peter Andre – All About Us.
Fresh Hits 1997: Rosie Gaines – Closer Than Close.
Now Dance ’97: Spice Girls – Spice Up Your Life, PF Project featuring Ewan McGregor – Choose Life, Chumbawamba – Tubthumping, Hot Chocolate – You Sexy Thing, George Michael – The Strangest Thing ’97, Gala – Freed From Desire, N-Trance featuring Rod Stewart – Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?, Bellini – Samba De Janeiro, Moby – James Bond Theme.
The Greatest Hits Of 1997: Backstreet Boys – As Long As You Love Me, N-Tyce – We Come To Party, Conner Reeves – Earthbound.
Now That’s What I Call Music 38: Sash featuring La Trec – Stay, 911 – Party People, Friday Night, Janet Jackson – Got Til It’s Gone, Eternal – Angel Of Mine, Meredith Brooks – Bitch, Oasis – Stand By Me, All Saints – I Know Where It’s At.

“What do I get, oh-oh, what do I get?”

Let’s Go Round Again was a late disco smash for the Average White Band in 1980 – even though it sounded like something from 1974. Sadly Louise’s cover lacks the sparkle of the original; the most memorable thing about it is choreography in the video which looks like it was shot in a nuclear power station. Equally uninspired is Shaggy’s watery take on Piece Of My Heart. Of more interest, Bamboo’s Bamboogie; funky house with a video of 1930’s cartoons such as Techno Cracked (1933), Insultin’ the Sultan (1934), Pup’s Picnic (1936), The Hound and the Rabbit (1937), Pup On A Picnic (1955), Paw’s Night Out (1955).

Here comes a soulsaver: Robbie Williams’ Angels – a hot new track in December 1997 – stopped his career from floundering and became the biggest selling single of his career. The monochrome video was largely filmed from the air; Robbie walks around a beach, stares at the sky, kicks a football and rides a motorbike with a woman whilst a helicopter flies around them. At the 2005 Brit Awards, Angels was voted by the public as the best song in the past 25 years of British music. In a survey by UK digital television station Music Choice, Britons chose it as the song they’d most like to be played at their funeral. Not bad for a tune about condoms.

Romo time: so who can recall Catch? Fronted by 18 year old Toby Slater, whose father was in The Mojos. Bigged-up on Radio 1’s Evening Session and a memorable appearance on Top Of The Pops where their neon logo stood out – 1997 and they already had a # Hashtag in their name. They were from a future we couldn’t even imagine. Bingo is a deadly pop tune, delivered in laid back style. Elsewhere Kavana makes a second appearance with the cryptic M.F.E.O. while Aaron Carter’s weirdly-sung cover of The Jets’ Crush On You is repellent with its chipmunk style vocals. The cringe is definitely real.

Favourite tracks
Robbie Williams – Angels

Bamboo – Bamboogie

Sash featuring La Trec – Stay

All Saints – I Know Where It’s At

Moby – James Bond Theme

Lest we forget
Catch – Bingo

This entry was posted in Smash Hits. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Smash Hits ’98 (Virgin, 1997)

  1. andynoax says:

    Ah, ‘Angels’. I don’t share the love I’m afraid – I think it’s a highly over-rated average ballad. I do remember Catch being the ‘next new big thing’ but that didn’t last long, eh?

    • Feel the Quality says:

      I think Angels is a detestable piece of shit. I remember reading it had been voted best song of the last 25 years and laughing uncontrollably. Utter dirge.
      Two Kavana tracks? Jesus.

      • nlgbbbblth says:

        I know, desperate times call for two Kavana numbers….. was great to hear the Catch tune. I like Angels but he’s done better stuff. Was a game-changer in terms of his career.

        • Andrew Chinnock says:

          Angels was a life saver for me once. Playing keyboard with an “enthusiastic” ska band, we did a gig in a rugby club in the bowels of one particular valley. I went for a leak in the gents at one point and witnessed one guy’s head being rammed against a toilet pan – a normal occurrance according to the locals. This was a rough dive of a place.

          Anyway, the natives quite enjoyed the music and wanted us to keep going, much to our fright. I struck up Angels on the piano. We packed up our equipment while the crowd kept singing Angels for about half an hour. The last things to go were a speaker, a bass amp (which I had been plugged into so the PA could go) and the keyboard. We ran out. Never went back.

  2. andynoax says:

    During my radio career, I got to have a couple of guests come in and co-present the show with me. One of them was Kavana – I’m pleased to say that he was a lovely bloke. When he visited it was around the time of his ‘serious phase’ 2nd album, which didn’t do very well.

  3. Pingback: Big Hits (Global Television / Sony / Warner ESP, 1997) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  4. Pingback: Now That’s What I Call Music 39 (EMI / Virgin / Polygram, 1998) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  5. Pingback: Smash Hits Summer ’98 (Virgin, 1998) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  6. Pingback: Now Dance ’98 (Virgin, 1998) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  7. Pingback: Smash Hits ’99 (Virgin, 1998) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  8. Pingback: The Best Of Dance ’98 (Telstar, 1998) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  9. Pingback: Now That’s What I Call Music 1998: The Millennium Series (EMI / Virgin / Universal, 1999) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  10. Martin Davis says:

    Which version of “You Sexy Thing” was used on this compilation? Let me guess, was it that remix version that appeared on Now 38?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s