Once you hit June in Melbourne, it’s seriously cold. So queing up for a nightclub is a real test of patience. (And your choice of outfit.) Luckily for clubbers in ’97, there were some quality tracks in the clubs – once you got inside. And the Original Hitz Volume 5 CD featured a tonne of them.
Before I get into the tracks on this CD, let’s have a look at two of the other big compilations in stores in Winter 1997. While these CDs aren’t dance-focussed like The Original Hitz series, it’s interesting to see what else was happening at the time.
But.. the year’s only half done?
100% Hits 97 ‘The Music’ was a weird one, considering it only covered the first six months of the year. Hitz faves like Lovefool, Twisted, Professional Widow and Cmon and Ride It (The Worst Song I mean The Train) appeared. And there were Top 40 hits like If It Makes You Happy, Your Woman and To The Moon and Back.
It was a reasonable compilation that covered a few musical bases.
Oh no, this is terrible.
Of course, for every ‘Coke’ there’s a ‘Pepsi’ and that means 100% Hits battled it out with Hit Machine 17. This had some stronger Hitz ‘hits’ like Gimme Gimme, Remember Me, Insomnia and Sex Drive. But most of the remaining tracks were non-events. In fact, more than half I’ve never heard of.
Forget Pepsi, Hit Machine 17 was more like a 50 cent AC Cola.
And now, onto the main event..
The Original Hitz Volume 5. The first thing that stands out is the CD artwork. It’s remarkably understated. Previous editions like The Original Hitz (1) went in a kind of Van Gogh direction, while The Original Hitz Volume 3 had a subtle reflective water vibe. This time around it pretty much says “Love Hitz? But this.” and I’m all for it.
On the back of the case is another surprise. For the first time ever, there’s a photo of a Hitz volunteer! Nicole Santo is the lucky model, wearing a ‘The Real Hitz’ cap. Nicole joined Hitz in broadcast 4, teaming up with Sarah Foley doing mid-dawns. Eventually, she worked her way to weekend mornings, then weekday mornings.
But my memories of Nicole always involved mid-dawns, epic house tracks, and Nicole saying over the top… ‘Go sick, Melbourne…‘
Now, let’s look at the track listing. What a lineup! Highlights included Remember Me (Blue Boy), Make the World Go Round (Sandy B), Sex Drive (Dead or Alive), Jellyhead (Crush), and In the Evening (Sheryl Lee Ralph).
Even the previously-mentioned 100% Hits disc released at the same time struggled to have that many bangers on one CD.
If having one Hitz staffer on the outside of the CD case was interesting, wait till you opened up the booklet! Inside was the first (and I’m pretty sure ONLY) Hitz FM centrefold. (OK not that kind of centrefold.)
But it was a photo that opened up double in the middle. And it was a chance for keen Hitz fans to meet Paul Dowsley, James Ash, Liz Maher, Rod Cuddihy (mysteriously sporting a ‘Mc’), Corey Layton and of course Nicole Santo.
The Original Hitz Volume 5 showed a new self-confidence in the team. They stripped the CD cover to the absolute essentials, and even showed a few of their faces. More importantly, compared to other compilations at the time, the track listing was seriously strong. This was the last of the ‘phase 1’ single disc Hitz compilations, before the series had a major reboot.
And here’s the next one…
And of course, you can read about the next release here. I’ve interviewed a few of the team behind the first historic double-disc Hitz compilation. The amazing Hitz One CD. You can also read about how the inaugural Hitz megamix almost ended in disaster!