The Hit List (Dover, 1990)

The Hit List

The Hit List r

Review
“The Hit List is for the discerning music lover. It is a unique collection of sharp songs from bands who are right at the cutting edge of today’s music.” (Mark Goodier)

The Hit List is an odd one. A short 12 track album which was released on the Dover label during the spring of 1990, it was quickly discounted in my local record shop and cost me £5.99 – cheap for a CD in those days as cassette was still king. Assisting Goodier was Mick Wilkojc with the album concept developed by The James Grant Group of Companies. The BBC Radio 1 logo appears on the back of the inlay and the following labels are thanked: A&M, London, Go! Discs, IRS, Ghetto, Phonogram, Island, Ensign, Polydor and Chrysalis.

And there’s sleeve notes!
Wet Wet Wet – Sweet Surrender: “The Wets are a good example of how much a group can achieve if they possess real talent. In five years they have gone from being unsigned to one of Britain’s best live bands. Sweet Surrender was the curtain raiser for their recent Holding Back The River album.”
The Beautiful South – Song For Whoever: “The secret of The Beautiful South’s success is their uncanny ability to write great pop melodies with a twist in the lyrics. If they continue to be as creative, they’ll keep on having hits as big as Song For Whoever.”
Then Jerico – Sugar Box: “Then Jerico, led by the charismatic Mark Shaw, have an army of fans and a repertoire of superbly crafted songs. It was their last album, The Big Area, which showed their developing skill – particularly on this song Sugar Box.”
Lightning Seeds – Pure: “Sometimes stars move on to be record producers – but Ian Broudie’s career went the other way. Having worked with Echo & The Bunnymen, amongst others, he used the experience he gained to record his solo album Cloudcuckooland – and this perfect pop song Pure.”
The Bible – Honey Be Good: “Loved by true music fans, The Bible still wait for the hit they deserve. Their self-titled album contains many outstanding songs – including Honey Be Good.”
One 2 Many – Downtown: “Downtown was a huge turntable hit – in its time, one of the most played records on the radio. It was also an American number 1 and started a promising career for One 2 Many.”

House Of Love – I Don’t Know Why I Love You: “The House Of Love are a great guitar band who really know how to craft songs without any compromise. Their album called House Of Love is their first for a major label – and well worth hearing.”
The Alarm – Sold Me Down The River: “If ever a band deserve huge success, it’s The Alarm. Mike Peters leads the group who never fail to deliver a stunning live set and a very strong album – this song is a fine example from their latest album Change.”
Texas – I Don’t Want A Lover: “Texas feature the astonishing vocals of Charlene Spiteri and the fine guitar playing of Ally McElhone. Their popularity extends into Europe and America and it’s well worth checking out their debut album.”
Love And Money – Strange Kind Of Love: “Another example of fine Scottish talent, Love And Money have been working at their own distinctive brand of guitar soul for several years and they get better all the time.”
And Why Not? – Restless Days: “Not many groups start their career in the top 40 with their debut single, but it is nothing less than And Why Not? deserve. They may be young but they’re a musical force to be reckoned with as you’ll hear on their album, Move Your Skin.”
Waterfront – Cry: “Phil Cilia and Chris Duffy have a talent for great pop songs – often appreciated more in the States than at home in the UK. Cry is the beautiful, smooth-sounding song which was an American number 1 and a British top 40 hit.”

The opening brace of songs have similarities. Both open their respective albums and originally ran for just over six minutes before being edited down for single release. Wet Wet Wet had a tough debut to follow – the sparkling Popped In, Souled Out – so it was almost inevitable that Holding Back The River would fall somewhat short. The music video for the charming Sweet Surrender features the band performing in a dark blue background with various women dressed in red Arabian clothing swimming in midair. Meanwhile the original sleeve of Welcome To The Beautiful South featured artwork by Jan Saudek. This was subsequently withdrawn to “prevent the hordes of impressionable young fans from blowing their heads off in a gun-gobbling frenzy, or taking up smoking.” I still have the original poster which I got from KG Discs when I bought the LP during October 1989 – funded by the ESF grant. Next are Then Jerico and the windswept Sugar Box that – now – really pulls on the heart strings. Sorry for describing it as “Marillion gone wrong” before.

There’s a whole sophisti-pop thread running through The Hit List. If you’re so inclined, check out Shattered Dreams, my virtual box set of the genre. We move onto the pristine perfect pop of Pure, first fruits from the Lightning Seeds. Now that’s a song that takes me back to late summer of 1989 when everything seemed possible. Equally evocative is Honey Be Good, a wistful lost gem from The Bible. A memory from Joe Teegee: “First heard this in 1989 – first car, first proper girlfriend, life was so sweet. This album was superb, this song was the best on it. Just amazing.” Elsewhere The Alarm and Texas both rock out while One Two Many – I can’t believe it’s not Bruce Hornsby. The neat piano sound on Downtown is a delight. Back to smooth: the blue-eyed edgy soul-fuelled Strange Kind Of Love from Love and Money remains one of the late 1980s most underappreciated tunes. You need Heartlands for the 7″ edit. And like a reggae Bros, And Why Not? with Restless Days. Waterfront opened for Donny Osmond during his ’88-’89 comeback tour. They had no connection with Simple Minds but Cry is a superb sophisti-pop sleeper.

The House Of Love’s I Don’t Why Know Why I Love You was their second successive single to stall at #41. A re-recorded Shine On would break the curse the following spring. I Don’t Know Why I Love You is a stormer with guitar playing that stops you in your tracks; it reached #10 in John Peel’s Festive 50 of 1989. Sadly it’s not the elusive 7″ version here. Cherry Red did a good job with their debut album which has had its fair share of reissue, repackage etc. So I’d be delighted if they could tackle the second one – known as Fontana or The Butterfly Album. You’d need three CDs and this is what I think should be included:

Disc 1: The House Of Love (1990)
01 Hannah
02 Shine On
03 Beatles And The Stones
04 Shake And Crawl
05 Hedonist
06 I Don’t Know Why I Love You
07 Never
08 Someone’s Got To Love You
09 In A Room
10 Blind
11 32nd Floor
12 Se Dest

Disc 2: A Spy In The House Of Love (1990)
01 Safe
02 Marble
03 D Song 89
04 Scratched Inside
05 Phone
06 Cut The Fool Down
07 Ray
08 Love II
09 Baby Teen
10 Love III
11 Soft As Fire
12 Love IV
13 No Fire
14 Love V

Disc 3: Single Mixes and B-Sides
01 Never (12″ Version)
02 Safe (Original Mix)
03 I Don’t Know Why I Love You (7″ Version)
04 Secrets
05 I Can’t Stand It
06 Clothes
07 The Spy
08 Shine On (Full Re-recorded Version)
09 No Fire (Original Mix)
10 Allergy
11 Rosalyn
12 Rouge
13 Scratched Inside (Alternate Mix)
14 Beatles And The Stones (Remix)
15 Phone (Acoustic)
16 Marble (Original Mix)
17 Glorify Me
18 Baby Teen (Radio Edit)

“Your face is a foreign food.”
Guy Chadwick, last of the great romantics.

Favourite tracks
Lightning Seeds – Pure

Waterfront – Cry

Lest we forget
The Bible – Honey Be Good

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6 Responses to The Hit List (Dover, 1990)

  1. andynoax says:

    A good album with a few tracks that are hard to find on CD, especially the brilliant ‘Downtown’ – just a shame that they didn’t add some more tracks as it almost feels like they had to perhaps take some off due to rights issues!

  2. cosmo says:

    I love sophisti-pop.
    Of here, I really do love Song for Whoever, Strange Kind of Love and Cry to bits.
    I think the “Hit List” font was the same as the BBC R1 font?
    P.S. Not a review request obviously, but do you have Telstar’s New Traditions? Another excellent compilation looking at “the other side of the late 80s”.

  3. Feel the Quality says:

    Cry was a US number one? Don’t think so Mr. Sleevenote writer.

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