Smash Hits ’99 (Virgin, 1998)

Smash Hits 99

Smash Hits 99 r

The artwork for Smash Hits ’99 is broadly similar to Smash Hits Summer ’98 with multi-coloured square image and the customary exclamation mark. Designed by Department X but no sign of Peter Wyngarde. There’s 24 tiny artist thumbnails on the back inlay.

34 of its 41 tracks have already been written about. Look for these reviews:
Fresh Hits 1997: Backstreet Boys – Everybody.
Fresh Hits ’98: Five – Got The Feelin’, Catatonia – Road Rage, Lutricia McNeal – Stranded.
Now That’s What I Call Music 40: Spice Girls – Viva Forever, Eagle-Eye Cherry – Save Tonight, Karen Ramirez – Looking For Love, Lucid – I Can’t Help Myself, Boyzone – All That I Need, Fatboy Slim – The Rockafeller Skank.
Big Hits ’98: Another Level – Freak Me (C&J Radio Edit), All Saints – Bootie Call (Club Asylum Dub), Aqua – Turn Back Time, Cleopatra – I Want You Back, Love Station – Teardrops.
Now Dance ’98: 911 – More Than A Woman, Fatboy Slim – Gangster Trippin’, Jennifer Paige – Crush (Dance Mix), Sash featuring Tina Cousins – Mysterious Times, Touch & Go – Would You?, T-Spoon – Sex On The Beach, Vengaboys – Up And Down, Lynden David Hall – Sexy Cinderella (Cutfather and Joe Remix), Diva Surprise featuring Georgia Jones – On Top Of The World.
The Greatest Hits Of 1998: Sham Rock – Tell Me Ma, Alda – Real Good Time.
Now That’s What I Call Music 41: Steps – Heartbeat, Culture Club – I Just Wanna Be Loved, Kele Le Roc – Little Bit Of Lovin’, The Tamperer featuring Maya – If You Buy This Record, Your Life Will Be Better, Robbie Williams – No Regrets, Melanie B – I Want You Back, Deetah – Relax, Space – We Gotta Get Out Of This Place.

She Wants You was originally recorded in 1996 by Slovak singer Dara Rolins. Billie’s version became her third single and like the previous pair, also cracked the UK top 3. It’s a beaty tune with a 70s disco flavour that still sounds fresh today. The CD single included two other covers – Last Christmas and It Takes Two. Speaking of double acts – there’s a distinct feel of the extra push factor when you see that Kavana again getting two tracks on here. It was the same on Smash Hits ’98. Funky Love has a curiously lethargic feel that’s not altogether unpleasant. However Special Kind Of Something is a different beast; it’s a plaintive pop song with a real heart. Check out the official video (and other underrated gems) on Pop Unlimited’s excellent YouTube channel.

Ace Of Base’s Cruel Summer was the title track of their third album. Bananarama’s original 1983 single – when played 15 years on – sounded less “full” to many as Ace Of Base’s strength was in the, er, bass. I like both. All things Spice; the fourth and final single from the album was intended to be a double A-side release of Never Give Up on the Good Times and Viva Forever. However, due to Geri Halliwell’s departure from the group, the plan was scrapped and Viva Forever was released in its own right during July 1998. Never Give Up On The Good Times is a seriously funky number with Mel C stealing the show. It’s a real shame that it wasn’t give the chance to shine and get the exposure it deserved.

Pray, the moody trance number from Tina Cousins has grown on me over the years. It’s got a weird kind of spiritual energy that harks back to the more carefree days of the late 1990s. The video was filmed in Whitley Bay and features scenes shot in the town’s run-down Spanish City leisure complex plus scenes from St Mary’s Lighthouse. The absolute pick of the pops has to be Solid Harmonie and their supremely beautiful To Love Once Again, the fourth and final single from their one and only album. Sadly the end was near for the group and their second album would stay unreleased. PS – if you’re looking a UK compilation with I’ll Be There For You, check out Global Television’s Drop Dead Gorgeous.

Favourite tracks
Solid Harmonie – To Love Once Again

Fatboy Slim – Gangster Trippin’

Culture Club – I Just Wanna Be Loved

Kavana – Special Kind Of Something

Tina Cousins – Pray

Lest we forget
Spice Girls – Never Give Up On The Good Times

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4 Responses to Smash Hits ’99 (Virgin, 1998)

  1. andynoax says:

    I don’t remember that Solid Harmonie track at all, or the Spice Girls (though that’s less surprising since it wasn’t a single) but Kavana’s ‘Special Kind Of Something’ was the one he was promoting when he popped into my radio station to co-host an entire show with me. He was an absolute gent.

    Coincidentally, I also interviewed Tina Cousins over the phone and we seemed to have a good rapport. After my 15 minutes was over but with the ISDN line still open she said ‘God, that was really…’ then it cut off. What I would give to know what the end of that sentence was!

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Cheers Andy. To Love Once Again stalled at #55, their worst-performing single. They’re a great advert for enduring late 90s pop. I listen to the album every few months and never get tired. That’s a good one re Tina Cousins! God, those ISDN lines… flashbacks.

  2. Pingback: Hits ’99 (Global Television / Sony / Warner ESP, 1998) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  3. Pingback: Now That’s What I Call Music 1999: The Millennium Series (EMI / Virgin / Universal, 1999) | A Pop Fan's Dream

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