From the moment they first made their way into the charts in late 1997 hollering 'It's time to begin, now count it in - 5, 6, 7, 8!', Steps were never looked upon as cool or credible by certainly the more serious side of the music press. And they're still not really, when you think about it - how many so called critics and tabloid hacks came out the woodwork to ironically announce that it was a 'Tragedy' they were reuniting for their hit Sky Living show 'Steps Reunion', this re-activated greatest hits and a new tour? And yet, in the face of all this, when you're reminded of their statistics - 15 consecutive top 10 hits, 20 million record sales worldwide, countless sold out tours, 2 UK number 1 singles and albums each and a BRIT award, you'd look a bit silly to argue with those statistics.
But I know what you're thinking - would you be silly? Whilst it's true that 'The Ultimate Collection' is essentially the same album as 2001's 'Gold: The Greatest Hits' that they released just before their acrimonious split (albeit with the addition of a passable cover of ABBA's "Dancing Queen" - personally I'd have liked the 1999 BRITs ABBA Medley they did with B*Witched, Cleopatra, Billie Piper and Tina Cousins far more), when you're reminded of those wistful, glorious pop moments, you begin to realise that more often than not, Steps always got it right - they knew their pop music the best out of any other acts that were around the same time as them in their heyday and it showed from the amount of success they had. And even as someone who was always more loyal to S Club 7 (there, I've said it!), it would take someone with a very cold heart indeed to deny the pure beauty of classics like 'One For Sorrow', 'Deeper Shade Of Blue' and 'It's The Way You Make Me Feel' - arguably 3 of the best pop records released in the last 20 years. Hopefully, as with Take That and their huge success before them, this is the start of a fresh new chapter to even bigger and better things for Steps.