4 July 1998: two more World Cup quarter finals. Netherlands 2 Argentina 1; Kluivert and Bergkamp brewing up a storm for the Dutch. Croatia 3 Germany 0; the golden boots of Davor Šuker. Fresh Hits ’98 was released on that day and became the 32nd volume of the Hits series. Nine of its tracks had already been compiled as follows:
Now That’s What I Call Music 39: Ultra Nate – Found A Cure, Robbie Williams – Let Me Entertain You, Tin Tin Out – Here’s Where The Story Ends, Billie Myers – Kiss The Rain, Lighthouse Family – High, All Saints – Never Ever.
Smash Hits Summer ’98: The Tamperer featuring Maya – Feel It, Steps – Last Thing On My Mind, Aqua – Doctor Jones.
Let the fun begin: B*Witched arrived on stage with C’est La Vie, an ostensibly inane pop tune that only reveals hidden layers many years later. Check out that traditional break. They reached the top spot with each of their first four singles. Also making waves in Dublin at the time were the Chicks who released two coloured vinyl 7″ singles of half-decent yet aloof indie pop. The first was launched at a Virgin in-store. Their debut album was produced by Royal Trux but still remains in the vaults. Moving on with Five and the pleasant – almost rocking – Got The Feeling. And after its ubiquity as a deathless ballad, it’s positively weird to hear Tony Moran’s Mix of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On.
Four seasons in one song, Wyclef Jean’s Gone Till November has still got a good bounce to it. Elevating the dancefloor, Busta Rhymes Knight Rider sampling Turn It Up / Fire It Up. Old school banger straight from the shelves of Abbey Discs. Back to France ’98 with Dario G and the come together vibes of Carnaval De Paris. The music video features children painted in the colours of the representative countries participating in the tournament. Elsewhere Cleopatra’s Life Ain’t Easy spreads a positive message – like a Kids From Fame for the ’90s – while Lutricia McNeal’s Stranded is pure mint, a gorgeously sung jam. The grooves keep fly with Alexia’s energetic Gimme Love and Ultra’s earnest Say It Once.
One more time: Bus Stop’s Kung Fu Fighting, which sampled the original vocals by Carl Douglas and added rap verses from Daz Simpson is great retro disco fun. To Birmingham and the Eurovision which was won by Israel’s Dana International’s Diva. The song is an ode to the powerful women of history. Remembering the good times, Tina Moore’s jerky Nobody Better and Robyn’s heart on sleeve Do You Really Want Me. Jambo on with Will Mellor’s No Matter What I Do; sounds like a Boyzone demo. Lastly Three Lions ’98 which begins with the sound of crowds from Euro ’96 singing the chorus of the original. The new version reflects on the that tournament and its entry alongside previous disappointments, as well as the team’s performance in qualifying for the 1998 World Cup. “We still believe.”
Natalie Imbruglia’s third 45, Wishing I Was There, is unusual in the sense that the radio edit is 35 seconds longer than the album version. Its medium tempo and somewhat less immediate delivery meant a peak of #19. “We all live in the space age” carbon dates Road Rage as a late ’90s song. No matter, Cerys’ rolling Welsh vocal means all is forgiven. It’s followed by the pounding Sound Of Drums; the Kula Shaker tank keeps advancing. There’s more “normal” fare on offer with Simply Red’s plaintive cover of Say You Love Me while The Corrs do Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams and due to Tee’s Radio, enhance its danceability. Rod Stewart covers one of old band’s tunes – The Faces’ Ooh La La – as a tribute to Ronnie Lane who had just died. Far more satisfying are Super Furry Animals and the superb Badfinger-style ballad Ice Hockey Hair. Between Radiator and Guerrilla.
They’re back! Freak Power’s last throwing of their hands in the air comes with No Way. The tail end of the big beat sound. Keeping music evil are Tzant and Sound Of Wickedness. Want that vintage Timbaland vibe? Check out Missy Elliott’s Beep Me 911. NB – The Magoo on this are not the too cool for school Chemikal Underground group. The R&B sequence continues with Aretha Franklin’s earthy A Rose Is Still A Rose, Mase’s sensual What You Want and Jay-Z’s Glen Frey mashed cover The City Is Mine. The latter features Blacksheet, never the Backstreet Boys. In the ugly camp: NYCC’s desperate take on the Beastie Boys’ Fight For Your Right. Finally, a slight martial arts return – 187 Lockdown and Kung Fu; yet another speed garage classic with a killer bassline. Streatham ’98.
Busta Rhymes – Turn It Up (Remix) / Fire It Up
Dario G – Carnaval De Paris
187 Lockdown – Kung Fu
Freak Power – No Way
Super Furry Animals – Ice Hockey Hair
Lest we forget
Ultra – Say It Once
Missing tracks and other thoughts
Another pretty decent entry in the Hits series. A few for the final squad:
Mighty Mighty Bosstones – The Impression That I Get. Ska(te) on.
Tori Amos – Spark. Total heartbreaker.
Drugstore – El President. Featuring Thom Yorke. Allende tribute.
Pras Michel featuring ODB and Mya – Ghetto Supastar. Windows down, volume up.
Public Enemy – He Got Game. The new found maturity years.