Steps were only signed for one single - with good reason, for '5,6,7,8' was shit of the very highest order. Since then the terms 'Steps' and 'shit of the very highest order' have become virtually s

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Steps : Gold-Greatest Hits

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Steps : Gold-Greatest Hits

There was once a time when pop bands simply appeared on the chart radar

without TV shows, without big-name managers pulling in favours, without

following a blueprint of what had come before, and without going down the

dumper almost immediately.

The last known sighting of such a band was in November 1997. Steps were only

signed for one single – with good reason, for ‘5,6,7,8’ was shit of the very

highest order. Since then the terms ‘Steps’ and ‘shit of the very highest

order’ have become virtually synonymous, which isn’t quite fair. Steps have

released bad singles (‘Chain Reaction’ is, controversially, almost

impossible to dance to; ‘Say You’ll Be Mine’ is just rubbish), but those are

the troughs and the peaks on this album are stunning additions to the canon

of pop songwriting. The ‘Gold’ title is shamelessly modelled on Abba’s own

hits compilation. Abba should be flattered.

Compare this to the forthcoming All Saints singles collection (a paltry ten

songs) and the true meaning of a greatest hits emerges. Here there are hits:

of the 20 tracks, 15 are Top Five singles, and three of the rest are

previously unreleased. Here they are great: ‘It’s The Way You Make Me Feel’

is one of this decade’s best pop songs. But more than that, here is a

snapshot of a band whose future is as bright as its past. Steps could split

tomorrow – as they sing themselves, after the love has gone, only fools carry

on – but, crucially, they don’t need to. Which makes ‘Gold’ rather special.

Fact: Steps are the most successful British pop act, unleashed without the

aid of a safety net, in recent memory. Fact: They’re also the best.

Possibility: They’re also the last. And no, that’s not a cause for

celebration. It’s a tragedy.

Peter Robinson