Fresh Hits ’98 (Global Television / Sony / Warner ESP, 1998)

Fresh Hits 98

Fresh Hits 98 r.jpg

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.

Favourite tracks
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.

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20 Responses to Fresh Hits ’98 (Global Television / Sony / Warner ESP, 1998)

  1. andynoax says:

    I’d gladly never hear ‘Ghetto Superstar’ again personally, having had to play it on every single radio show I presented for about 6 months. But it is surprising that it’s not on there. As for what is, on the whole it’s a good selection, some conjure up memories of my early days at that radio station – the ones that still do it for me are Busta Rhymes and Freakpower’s tracks. I think Catatonia have dated horribly, though maybe that’s because I can’t stand Cerys’s voice these days!

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Hi Andy, yep Ghetto Superstar was all over the radio then. Remember it from the one in our office kitchen. Good to see the Hits brand staying relevant; I think they do a good job in mopping up the stuff that the Nows couldn’t or wouldn’t licence. Still like Catatonia, thought they could really cut it live.

  2. antster1983, Patron Saint of Buzzcocks says:

    This one takes me back, it’s the soundtrack to a holiday in Devon.

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  12. Andrew Chinnock says:

    Hi Paul, Yes, it was good to have a dance remix of Celine Dion on this. The series were fond of doing the same with Toni Braxton. I was 20 when this came out, near the end of my clubbing life, but dance versions of ballads were commonplace or so it seemed. Leann Rimes’ How Do I Live dance version would have complimented it somewhere else.

    Anyway, more complaints (lol) about Sony’s compiling skills here. A few early fades occur on cd 2 along with a pointless, short edit on Freakpower. There were over 8 minutes available on cd 1, so a 21/19 split would have been ideal.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Again, I don’t understand some of these editing decisions. Were they done at source or in house? With a bit of re-shuffling, could have been much better.

      • Andrew Chinnock says:

        Throwing this into the mix, Now Dance 92 on cd. They went down the road of a different cd to the vinyl/cassette release. House Of Love and Tetris both have a meaningless edit. No problems with running time or adjusting for a vinyl release. Still, gives me something to moan about almost 28 years later!!

        • nlgbbbblth says:

          Plus the partial-mixing! Now Dance ’92 would have been the first one expected to have significant CD sales anyway (1992 was when they overtook cassettes) so they decided to jazz up the less popular formats. Odd stuff.

          • Andrew Chinnock says:

            That makes me think more about your response about a vinyl presser giving some generous promotions, given the number of double LP/single CD releases within such a short space of time. 1992 was the year I moved from tape to CD as well. Paid £149 for a personal CD player and that was cheap at the time.

            Odd to analyse Abram that year. Did little borrowing from the Nows for Smash Hits 92 yet scrapes Ebeneezer Goode from the Now Dance 92 mat for Now 23. Goes big time in the hotly mixed format with Maximum Rave, not so bad with Wicked. Maximum Rave was a maximum fail yet his Smash Hits efforts were very good.

  13. Andrew Chinnock says:

    Hi Paul,hope you’re keeping well mate. I’ve got a question for you, regarding Celine Dion’s dance remix. This wasn’t available on the single at the time. Why was the dance mix included here? Nic Moran’s fondness for dance music (it was his compilation)? The only way Sony would have agreed to licence it on here so close to its chart success?

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