The 30th volume of the Hits series, Big Hits, was released in December 1997. It was released instead of the usual Hits end-of-year album with the following year as a prefix – like Hits ’96 and Hits ’97. i.e. we were expecting Hits ’98 but got this instead. Future Big Hits albums would be released in September, starting from 1998 onwards.
Just over half the tracks (21) had also featured on the following compilations:
New Hits ’96: Republica – Ready To Go.
The Best Of Dance ’96: Tori Amos – Professional Widow.
Now That’s What I Call Music 36: The Source featuring Candi Staton – You Got The Love.
New Hits 1997: No Mercy – Where Do You Go.
Smash Hits Summer ’97: R Kelly – I Believe I Can Fly.
Now That’s What I Call Music 37: Eternal – I Wanna Be The Only One, Robbie Williams – Old Before I Die, Coolio – C U When U Get There, En Vogue – Don’t Let Go (Love).
Fresh Hits 1997: Olive – You’re Not Alone, Paula Cole – Where Have All The Cowboys Gone.
Now Dance ’97: N-Trance featuring Rod Stewart – Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?
Huge Hits 1997: Dario G – Sunchyme, Ricky Martin – Maria, Tina Moore – Never Gonna Let You Go.
The Greatest Hits Of 1997: Backstreet Boys – As Long As You Love Me.
Now That’s What I Call Music 38: Louise – Arms Around The World (Remix on Now Dance ’97), Oasis – Stand By Me, Faithless – Don’t Leave, Peter Andre – Lonely.
Smash Hits ’98: Aaron Carter – Crush On You.
Beth Brennan was a character in Neighbours. She made her debut screen appearance in the episode broadcast on 6 January 1992. She married Brad Willis in 1993, and the couple left Erinsborough for Perth shortly afterwards. She was played by Natalie Imbruglia who launched her singing career in late ’97 with a storming cover version of Ednaswap’s Torn. The video – shot in a apartment – was rated second best of all time by MTV Italy. The song is a pop classic, a folky vibe that now sounds like textbook 1990s nostalgia. Also new to the game were Five, the latest boyband sensation whose debut single, the catchy Slam Dunk Da Funk was a decent blend of rap and pop. Get on down.
M People’s Fantasy Island is probably their most obscure single. It was released in one of the busiest weeks of the year with 15 of the top 40 songs being new entries. They were competing with Boyzone, The Verve and Kylie Minogue, to name a few. #33 was its soulful reward and nothing to do with Tight Fit. Next comes Gary Barlow with the underrated Open Road; almost angelic in its delivery. And before having a successful football career with Newcastle United, Shola Ama was all about the R&B on the tender Who’s Loving My Baby. In vogue, Dannii Minogue with the supremely slick Everything I Wanted.
Are You Jimmy Ray? This amusing tune’s video juxtaposed Ray’s rockabilly image with a trailer park setting as stereotypical hip hop video women in sports jerseys and football shorts danced behind him. Link Wray, Sting Ray, Fay Wray. . . shake it down anyway you want. Let’s get serious, it’s Steven Houghton’s competent cover of Wind Beneath My Wings. As featured in London’s Burning. “And Manchester United are champions again.” CD1 finishes with Reds United’s Sing Up For The Champions. These were truly grim days to be a Manchester City fan. 1997/98 was the season when they slipped into the third tier despite winning their final game 5-2 against fellow droppers Stoke City.
“Are you watching Macclesfield?”
Kula Shaker’s 1997 started well with four Brit Award nominations and a victory in the British Breakthrough Act category. Shortly afterwards, they released what would turn out to be their biggest hit, a cover of Hush (originally written by Joe South for Billy Joe Royal, and most famously performed by Deep Purple), which peaked at number 2. It was also used on the soundtrack to seminal slasher flick I Know What You Did Last Summer. Things went pear-shaped with Crispian Mills naive swastika comments. In retrospect there was no malice intended and a full apology was given very quickly. Unfortunately that wasn’t sufficient for some people, many of whom hold it against the band ever since.
Lou Reed’s Perfect Day was featured in Trainspotting, a welcome push some 24 years after its initial inclusion on Transformer. A new version was then recorded as a Children In Need single but sadly, it’s the original that’s included here. Don’t get me wrong – great tune but already own it from a variety of sources. Presumably the intention was to ensure buoyant sales for the charity cover. Continuing on the tender trip are the Lightning Seeds with the gentle strum of What You Say. And big beat crashes in with the Propellerheads monstrous cover of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. David Arnold in the house.
Shocking news: As I write this I have learned that Robert Miles has left us. Freedom with Kathy Sledge is gorgeously chilled, a relaxing trip but bittersweet with its references to destiny. Elsewhere Huff and Herb’s Feeling Good builds an epic Balearic groove with a gorgeous Nina Simone sample while 187 Lockdown serve up some wicked speed garage on Gunman. What a bassline! And brighten up your day with the mellow sounds of Finlay Quaye’s It’s Great When We’re Together. Remember it from Cold Feet. Drift off to be pure moods vibe of Enya’s wonderful Only If. Finally it’s the other Ms Minogue with the spiky groove of Did It Again. Big up for Indie Kylie.
Gary Barlow – Open Road
Huff and Herb – Feeling Good
Propellerheads featuring David Arnold – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
187 Lockdown – Gunman
Enya – Only If
Lest we forget
Robert Miles featuring Kathy Sledge – Freedom
Missing tracks and other thoughts
A very diverse selection but the following tunes would also have enhanced Big Hits:
Will Smith – Men In Black. Massive film tie-in.
Missy Misdemeanour Elliott – The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly) or Sock It To Me.
Ginuwine – When Doves Cry. Ace cover.
Wu Tang Clan – Triumph. Highlight from the sprawling WTF.
Busta Rhymes – Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See. Abbey Discs jam.
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