Smash Hits Summer ’98 (Virgin, 1998)

Smash Hits Summer 98

Smash Hits Summer 98 r

The minimal design of the Smash Hits compilation franchise continued with the Summer ’98 edition. This one had a rainbow, almost Balearic effect with six artist photographs on the back inlay. Concept and compilation by Ashley Abram for Box Music Limited.

24 of its tracks had already been snapped up as follows:
Now That’s What I Call Music 37: Hanson – MMMBop.
Now That’s What I Call Music 38: Lighthouse Family – Raincloud.
Smash Hits ’98: Robbie Williams – Angels.
Big Hits: Jimmy Ray – Are You Jimmy Ray?
The Best Of Dance ’97: Robyn – Show Me Love.
New Hits ’98: Run DMC and Jason Nevins – It’s Like That, Alexia – Uh La La La, Cornershop – Brimful Of Asha (Norman Cook Remix), Cleopatra – Cleopatra’s Theme, Lutricia McNeal – Ain’t That Just The Way, Destiny’s Child – No No No Part 2, Another Level – Be Alone No More, Backstreet Boys – All I Have To Give, Natalie Imbruglia – Big Mistake, Catatonia – Mulder And Scully.
Now That’s What I Call Music 39: Spice Girls – Stop, Robbie Williams – Let Me Entertain You, Vanilla – No Way No Way, Various – Perfect Day, Boyzone – Baby Can I Hold You, All Saints – Never Ever, Tin Tin Out – Here’s Where The Story Ends, Space with Cerys – The Ballad Of Tom Jones, Sash – La Primavera.

Smash Hits Summer ’98 is front-loaded with big tunes. The Tamperer featuring the sultry Maya dropped their Jacksons’ sampling Feel It that May and hit #1 in both the UK and Ireland. It also incorporated elements of Urban Discharge’s Drop A House and the “chimney on her” reference means a black eye. Next come Aqua with Doctor Jones, the follow-up to Barbie Girl. Cheesy Indiana Jones vibes; nostalgia you horrible beast. Please yourself with Steps covering Bananarama, the joyful ABBAesque stomp of Last Thing On My Mind. World Cup 1998 was on the horizon and Chumabawamba got in on the act with the hackneyed occupation roll call of Top Of The World (Ole, Ole, Ole). Po-faced rubbish. We in Ireland want our chant back. And look out for a better football tune later.

The Velvet Rope, like Control and Rhythm Nation 1814 before it, continues to yield up singles. While I Get Lonely (Jason Nevins Radio Mix) is a solid, pop-smart house remix, the more subdued album version remains my go-to option. Meanwhile Imaani remains the United Kingdom’s most successful Eurovision entry of the last 20 years – second plane to Dana International. Where Are You? comes with a decent vocal performance and a rather melancholy twist. The R&B groove moves on with Juice’s upfront Best Days before the underrated pop gem I Want You To Want Me by Solid Harmonie. Also dropping out of sight: Shernette Maye’s superb ballad All The Man That I Need. Seriously powerful.

CD2 gives up 911’s syrupy All I Want Is You before the Spice Girls show how a pop ballad should really be done. Too Much was the Christmas #1 of 1997, a lavish doo-wop delight with a really haunting vibe. Paling by comparison: Louise’s competent All That Matters. 1998 saw Massive Attack return with Mezzanine. Its second single was sung by the Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser, the ghostly heartbeat glory box Teardrop. And now for a decent footy tune – Eat My Goal was used as the soundtrack to Coca-Cola’s “Eat Football, Sleep Football, Drink Coca-Cola” advertising campaign that tied in with Euro ’96. It was so good that it was reissued for France ’98. Out with a bang: Perpetual Motion’s frantic Keep On Dancin’, Vanilla’s cut-price pop True To Us and LCD’s Greek style banger Zorba’s Dance.

Favourite tracks
Spice Girls – Too Much

Imaani – Where Are You?

Collapsed Lung – Eat My Goal

Massive Attack – Teardrop

Solid Harmonie – I Want You To Want Me

Lest we forget
Shernette Maye – All The Man That I Need

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13 Responses to Smash Hits Summer ’98 (Virgin, 1998)

  1. andynoax says:

    More Vanilla? Jeez…I think I’m right in saying that the one featured here reached the dizzy heights of No.40….
    In my previous life on commercial radio, I got to interview Shernette May – in fact, after Kavana she was the second artist to co-host with me. She was an absolute delight, great voice and it’s a shame that her career never took off.

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