Three tracks from The Hits Album 7 compilation today, which I picked up on double CD for the princely sum of 50p in a charity shop the other day. How I loved these albums back in my early record-buying days. So much so, in fact, that I'm now going to blather on about them at length. Don't say you weren't warned!
Conceived in late '84 as a rival to the hugely successful Now That's What I Call Music series, the Hits compilations were, for all their early success, eventually destined to fall by the wayside while their rivals continued to prosper, in much the same way that Betamax video tapes had been seen off by VHS years earlier.
A large reason for this may well have been because The Hits brigade never quite established their (shudder) brand as firmly as their Now counterparts had: whereas Now's early releases generally had pictures of that cartoon pig in sunglasses (an idea they filched from an advertising poster for Danish meat products, by the way!) and their distinctive logo adorning the sleeves, Hits never quite seemed to settle on a regular look for their releases; in fact, they couldn't even get something as straightforward as the numbering of the albums right. After successfully negotiating Volumes 1-10 they suddenly decided to change tack and christened the next release (ie what should have been Hits 11) Monster Hits.
But they weren't satisfied with that. They followed Monster Hits with: Snap It Up! Monster Hits 2 and The Hit Pack: The Best of Chart Music, before belatedly reverting back to the numbering system with The Hits Album 15 - despite the fact that this was actually the fourteenth release in the series! What a shambles!
Things became even more confusing as the series continued to be relaunched and rebranded intermittently throughout the nineties and beyond, always including the word "Hits" somewhere in the albums' titles, viz Hits 93 Vols 1-4, The Ultimate Hits Album, New Hits 96, Fresh Hits 96, Huge Hits 96, Big Hits etc etc, before suddenly and arbitrarily adopting the moniker Hits 50 for what was actually their 47th release, in 2001, in order to steal a March on Now, who were poised to release their own (actual) 50th volume shortly afterwards. So Hits 50 was basically a rather shameless attempt to "overtake" their rivals! The cheek!
This re-rebranding exercise obviously only had limited success, and by late 2004 (and Hits 60), the Hits had pretty much dried up - although, true to form, they did try one last repackaging exercise with Essential Hits, in 2005. It obviously can't have been that essential for the music buying public, though, as this proved to be the final release in the series.
Anyway, back to happier times, and Hits 7. There were quite a few songs from the 32 featured that I'd have been happy to include here (although perhaps not Spagna's Call Me, which, much like Dorian Gray's picture or a five-week-old pint of milk, has not aged at all well!), but these are the ones I've plumped for.
Alexander O'Neal - Criticize mp3
Desireless - Voyage Voyage mp3
Eric B. and Rakim - Paid In Full mp3
(mp3s available for 7 days)
Buy music by today's featured artists here
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