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

Big Hits 98

Big Hits 98 r

Review
In a first for the series, Big Hits ’98 was released in September. That meant it avoided a clash with the Now team who generally released albums in March (sometimes April), July (occasionally August) and November. It remained at number one on the UK compilation charts for five weeks. Just four of its 40 tracks had already been compiled – on these:
Now That’s What I Call Music 39: LeeAnn Rimes – How Do I Live.
Now That’s What I Call Music 40: Peter Andre – Kiss The Girl, The Mavericks – Dance The Night Away, Fatboy Slim – The Rockafeller Skank.

The Five machine steamrolls on with Everybody Get Up. The sample is I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll; Joan Jett and The Black Hearts version my most treasured 7″ single of 1982. Even in 1998, this sounded like a throwback with its high school video. Next up: All Saints and their third #1 Bootie Call, a raunchy R&B groove while it’s a case of second time lucky for Savage Garden’s To The Moon And Back. The latter is a somewhat dark trip that deals with alienation from society and the ongoing search for romantic love. Meanwhile Another Level pull off a surprisingly erotically perky cover of Silk’s Freak Me. Staying on a g-string tip: Sweetbox’s slushy Bach-based Everything’s Gonna Be Alright. Isn’t he lovely? Will Smith’s fresh take on Just The Two Of Us focuses on a father and son relationship.

The covers continue with Cleopatra taking on I Want You Back. You don’t need a second listen. Much better are Kleshay and the smooth and emotional R&B of Reasons, a #33 placing and not well remembered. Mind you, it was Trevor Nelson’s lick pick of the week. Heavy hitters Destiny’s Child drop With Me but I think the London girls have the edge. More unsung heroes: Ultra (named after the Depeche Mode LP) and their bouncing boy band banger The Right Time. Want deep lyrics? Look no further than Des’ree and Life:
“I don’t want to see a ghost
It’s the sight that I fear most
I’d rather have a piece of toast
Watch the evening news”

Say who? Matthew Marsden played the mechanic Chris Collins in Coronation Street. His underrated single The Heart’s Lone Desire pops up on Big Hits ’98. Great voice plus melancholy vibe = winner. Perfect for inclusion on This Life. Then Catatonia’s gorgeously dreamy Strange Glue followed by Garbage’s bendy, shapely I Think I’m Paranoid, as taken from Version 2.0. Things get ugly fairly fast: Rod Stewart’s turgid cover of Primal Scream’s Rocks, Suggs’ super loose ‘n’ ugly I Am and the bloody Mavericks. Saved! There’s a last minute equaliser from Depeche Mode and the haunting ballad Only When I Lose Myself which was the new song on their second singles compilation.

“Spanish bombs rock the province
I’m hearing music from another time”

The Guinness Book Of Records lists If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next as the number one single with the longest title without brackets. After a two year absence, the Manic Street Preachers had returned with a most stirring anthem. The song is about the Spanish Civil War and the idealism of Welsh volunteers who joined the International Brigades. The song takes its name from a Republican poster of the time, displaying a photograph of a young child killed by the Nationalists under a sky of bombers with the stark warning “If you tolerate this, your children will be next” written at the bottom.

More: Jamiroquai’s swirling Deeper Undergound, a delightful funk odyssey. And those Manic remixers, the Sonic Stealth Orchestra are here in their Apollo 440 alter-ago with the breakbeat meets rock Lost In Space. Memory Of A Free Festival provides the foundations for Dario G’s Sunmachine. Bowie permitted his vocals to be sampled and Tony Visconti plays the flute. Cutting no corners; The Corrs made ensure that What Can I Do was a success by getting Tin Tin Out to remix the original and add orchestral strings by the Duke Quartet. Less: I really don’t dig Simply Red’s bloodless cover of The Air That I Breathe while Celine Dion plus The Bee Gees equates to blandness on the dull Immortality.

Steps fought a hard battle against the Manic Street Preachers and led at the mid-week stage. However One For Sorrow had to settle for a #2 spot; another ABBA inspired slice of comforting pop. From the film Sliding Doors came Aqua’s slow paced Turn Back Time. Contrast – the trance rush of Alexia’s The Music I Like. Garage days revisited: Jocelyn Brown’s decent shout at Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Martha Wash’s Catch The Light and Love Station’s Teardrops. Shooting out the lights are Solid Harmonie and the super catchy I Wanna Love You. Elsewhere N-Trance tackle Guns ‘N Roses – Paradise City while Hi-Rise and Echobeatz respectively destroy I Believe In Miracles and Mas Que Nada. Like Now 40 we end with No Tengo Dinero; the Hits team using the cut price Los Sombreros.

Café del Mar: the melody is based on Struggle for Pleasure by Belgian composer Wim Mertens. The track was first released in 1993 by the trance project Energy 52. It is named after the famous bar located in Ibiza. It’s instantly recognisable due its very distinct melody and has been remixed numerous times over the last 20 years. You’ll also know it from 1999 film Human Traffic while it topped Mixmag’s 100 Best Tunes list in 2001 and also made #1 on the the BBC’s Top 20 Dance Tracks Of The Last 20 Years (2011). I’ve heard it on every sun holiday I’ve been on – notably Star Beach, Hersonissos. Good times.

Favourite tracks
Solid Harmonie – I Wanna Love You

Garbage – I Think I’m Paranoid

Catatonia – Strange Glue

Depeche Mode – Only When I Lose Myself

Ultra – The Right Time

Lest we forget
Matthew Marsden – The Heart’s Lone Desire

Missing tracks and other thoughts
The 33rd Hits album is an enjoyable listen but too heavily reliant on cover versions. They could have ditched four of them and used these instead:

Puff Daddy featuring Jimmy Page – Come With Me. Kashmir treat off Godzilla.
The Audience – I Know Enough (I Don’t Get Enough). Fresh-faced SEB indie sound.
Placebo – Pure Morning. Raw power.
Madonna – Drowned World (Substitute For Love). From her Ray Of Light masterpiece.

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6 Responses to Big Hits ’98 (Global Television / Sony / Warner ESP, 1998)

  1. andynoax says:

    Agree with you about the Matthew Marsden track, I met him at around this time (he was opening some awful Costcutter type store in Carlisle!) and was absolutely great to talk to as well. He managed to get to Hollywood too, good on him I say.

    The Simply Red song was played in a different form on the radio station I worked for – there was a remix that used samples from John Cougar Mellencamp’s ‘Jack and Diane’ that was much better. We also used a more upbeat mix of ‘To The Moon And Back’ which was also superior to the normal 7″ version.

    I too was surprised that more ‘Ray Of Light’ era tracks didn’t make it to the Hits series. The Puff Daddy song I remember thinking would be nailed on for an appearance too. A bit like NOW 40, there’s too much in the way of small or non-hits on this one!

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Hi Andy,
      The Heart’s Lone Desire is a real under the radar one – later on this year I am going to put together a 1990s pop compilation and that will definitely be there.

      Must check Music Magpie for cheap CD singles of the Savage Garden and Simply Red tracks – both sound better than what’s on here.

      At least Frozen would steal the show on Huge Hits 1998…

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