Hot Summer Nights (Stylus Music, 1989)

Hot Summer Nights

Hot Summer Nights r

Review
The market for television advertised compilations showed no signs of flagging in 1989. Hot Summer Nights was released by the versatile Stylus Music with the tagline “20 Sizzling Tracks” and contained a suitably tropical sleeve. Instead of one mastermind, credit is given to “the following local and regional DJs who helped to compile this album.” Roll up: Clive Dickens, Bev Barrett, Graham Torrington, Nigel Rennie, Franklin Hughes, Rob Jones, Dave Myatt & Ian Perry, John Paul, Bruce Kennedy, Tony Donald, Tom Bell, Jay Crawford, Kenny Campbell, Dave Cochrane, Kevin Howard, Mark Jones, Paul Fairburn, Steve King, Robin Ross, Tim Grundy, Digby Taylor, Colin Slade, Andy Gelder, David Jensen, Jeff Graham, Tony Myatt, Gavin McCoy, Chris Copsey, Peter Wardman, Matthew Rosser, Gordon Sommerville, Peter Greig, Tim Butcher, John Scragg, Roger Tovell.

One of the principal draws of Hot Summer Nights was the chance to obtain CD quality of eight tracks from 1986’s Now That’s What I Call Music – The Summer Album namely the following: Bill Withers – Lovely Day, KC & The Sunshine Band – Give It Up, Isley Brothers – Summer Breeze, The Lovin’ Spoonful – Summer In The City, Katrina & The Waves – Walking On Sunshine, Eddie Cochran – Summertime Blues, Cliff Richard – Summer Holiday, Bobby Goldsboro – Summer (The First Time). We start with the suitably exotic Billy Ocean and Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run), recorded under varying titles for different parts of the world, resulting in versions such as European Queen and African Queen. To Monserrat and Alphonsus Celestine Edmund Cassell better known as Arrow and the timeless sunshine soca of Hot Hot Hot. It peaked at a lowly #59 in the UK but was adopted as the theme song of the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.

Hot Chocolate’s You Sexy Thing is not the 1987 remix (good) and is followed by Blondie’s The Tide Is High, originally written by John Holt and performed by the Jamaican group The Paragons. Debbie Harry’s mob added horns plus strings and took it all the way to the top of the US charts in 1980. Sadly it’s the album version here rather than the shorter 7″ edit. The Isley Brothers’ amazing cover of Summer Breeze and The Lovin’ Spoonful’s atmospheric Summer In The City (complete with car horns and jackhammer noises during the instrumental bridge, to represent the sounds of a noisy city street) maintain this rather laidback groove before things get rocky. There’s Bryan Adams’ Summer Of ’69 followed by the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Summertime Blues, still sounding fresh 60 years on.

One of the best three hours of my life. Brian Wilson at The Point, Dublin on 1 February 2002. A set of two halves with 21 songs in each. Starting with The Little Girl I Once Knew and This Whole World before running through plenty late 60s/early 70s material and a few pre-Pet Sounds tunes. An amazing Forever dedicated to Dennis, Heroes & Villains and Surf’s Up. A tongue-in-cheek snippet of Barenaked Ladies’ Brian Wilson before Til I Die. And Sail On Sailor plus In My Room. Marcella rocked and then we all stood for Do It Again. Part 2 saw the entire rendition of Pet Sounds followed by Good Vibrations. Then a classic encore of Little Surfer Girl plus I Get Around, Barbara Ann, Help Me Rhonda, Surfin’ USA and Fun Fun Fun. Finally a piano version of Love And Mercy. Live At The Roxy is a good souvenir of the show. Amazing band backing Brian. Somebody screamed “genius” during the Pet Sounds stuff. Spot on. Good Vibrations is here, one of the greatest ever; a pocket symphony of psychedelic pop and an anthem for 1960s counterculture.

“Seeing old footage like this makes me really sad. Even though I wasn’t even alive its still fascinating to me to watch stuff like this because it reminds me of the passing of time and how we don’t really stay young for long. Like all the people you see are just enjoying life but at the same time completely unaware of how fast its gone. Then one day in the future when i go back and watch all the old footage of me and my friends, I’ll feel the same sappiness i feel right now.” (Little Mac on watching the promo video for Good Vibrations)

George Michael had this to say about the development of Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. “I just wanted to make a really energetic pop record that had all the best elements of Fifties and Sixties records, combined with our attitude and our approach, which is obviously more uptempo and a lot younger than some of those records. It’s one of those tracks that gets rid of a lot of your own personal influences; it reminds me of so many different records that I couldn’t actually nail them down.” The song entered the UK charts at #4 on 26 May 1984. However I missed the following Thursday’s Top Of The Pops because I was abroad for the first time, a school trip to London – previously mentioned in my review of Now That’s What I Call Music 1984 – The Millennium Series. An amazing few days – The National History Museum, The Science Museum, Madame Tussauds, Buckingham Palace, Tower Of London, shopping at Hamleys, Virgin and HMV, playing Space Invaders in Pimlico, eating the best burger ever – a half-pounder costing £1.78. I arrived back in Ireland on 3 June; Ronald Reagan was here and the following Wednesday (6th) saw me travel to Irish college in Ballingeary until the end of the month. No television allowed so I also missed Wham! making it big on their two seek sojourn at the top.

Like many such compilations, there’s an obscurity that you’ll find no trace of anywhere else. Diorr was actually actress, Yvette Rowland (Distant Shores, Byker Grove), and early in her career she recorded a cover of the Andrea True Connection classic More, More, More. In her own words: “It was one of the tracks on the double Platinum selling album Hot Summer Nights featuring Wham!, Bryan Adams, The Beach Boys, Cliff Richard and many more. Imagine my surprise to see me a Geordie lass on an album cover with all those musical greats.” The song was produced by Steve Rowland and thanks to Liam Galvin for uploading it to YouTube. Another hard to find gem is Nick Straker’s Walk In The Park (1987 Production) – now remixed by Pete Hammond – and sounding a lot different to the original that appears on Ronco’s precious Street Level. This divisive high energy workout fits in well here. After Kim Carnes’ moody Bette Davis Eyes, we go back to the ’60s and Mr Tambourine Man performed by The Byrds, the first ever folk rock smash. Memories of jingle-jangle mornings, afternoons and evenings abound. End: shut your eyes for a slow set finale; the sweaty Move Closer. 90-80-69-58-48-44-28-19-14-08-04-03-01.

Favourite tracks
Beach Boys – Good Vibrations

Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

Arrow – Hot Hot Hot

Lest we forget
Diorr – More, More, More

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