Good intentions

Every time I find myself mired in an all-encompassing work project for a few weeks, I always find myself thinking longingly of all the time I will have when I’m done with said work project.  I will use that time for writing!  All the writing!  I will finish the three incomplete novel drafts I’m working on!  I will get back to submitting all my completed ones to agents!  I will write those three poetry collections, and those two stage plays, and that screenplay, and those two non-fiction pitches, and all the short stories in the world!  I will write and write and write!

Except this never happens.  Oh, sure, I get some writing done when I can squeeze a spare hour here and there, but it always seems like there’s something that’s more of a priority, like sorting out the house, or sleeping in, or catching up with one of my daft projects like my ongoing systematic attempt to watch the video of every single UK chart hit of the 1980s in alphabetical order, or reading online forums, or playing video games, or watching TV so I can clear space on the digibox…you get the idea.

At the moment, I’m not doing any of that stuff.  I’m working twelve-hour days, seven days a week, on a client’s project, and so other than work I am sleeping, eating, running, blogging, keeping myself clean and presentable, and that’s it.  And I suppose it makes me wonder: why am I willing to drop everything in my life for weeks at a time to work for someone else, but not for myself?

(It’s not because the clients pay me better.  I mean, they do, but I’m still clinging onto the hope that one day someone will pay me for my own writing, not just my editing of other people’s work, and I will only achieve that if I work hard at it.)

Next week there will be no writing (other than blogging, which I sort of see as different).  There will be catching up of all the essential stuff I’ve been neglecting for the last few weeks, and there will be getting ahead with stuff in preparation for a busy weekend.  There may, however, be planning of writing, which is a beautiful way to feel like you’re making progress when you’re not.

The week after will be the real test – seeing if I can apply the same discipline to ‘normal’ time as I can to a busy work period.  We’ll see how it goes.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #27

Day 27, and today’s Now! compilation was released on 28th March 1994.

March 1994
This is the way the world looked in March 1994. TVs were still box-shaped, walls were still wallpapered, and I was clearly getting to my awkward-looking phase (although I’m going to give myself points for the cute dress, clearly an ’80s hand-me-down from someone).

Let’s see what that TV might have been showing when I switched on Top of the Pops on a Thursday night!

Now! That's What I Call Music #27
Track 1: Ace Of Base – The Sign

Great tune, interesting lines.  Happily chair-dancing along here.

Track 2: Chaka Demus & Pliers, Jack Radics and Taxi Gang – Twist And Shout

Fairly uninspired cover of the ’60s classic – I’d go as far as to call it pointless.  Nothing much added other than some reggae vocals over the top.

Track 3: D:Ream – Things Can Only Get Better

Is there anyone who doesn’t associate this one with its use for the campaign of New Labour in 1997?

In late April 1997, a few days before the election, I went to the Usher Hall in Edinburgh with my family for a Labour Party rally.  Once we’d gawked at the famous politicians hanging about outside (George Robertson!  I’ve seen him on the telly!), we went inside, found our seats and waited for the show to start.  I asked my dad excitedly if maybe D:Ream would come on stage and perform Things Can Only Get Better.

Dad, perhaps not wanting to get my hopes up, shook his head.  ‘Nah,’ he said.  ‘I think they’re a bit too famous to come and do that.’

And for the most part, the rally didn’t feature anyone as famous as D:Ream.  There were a lot of comedians I’d never heard of doing semi-funny sketches, and then the main event was an hour-long speech by Tony Blair that was revered in the press the next day as showing him to be a ‘man of the people’, as he had come out from behind the lectern and put his hands in his pockets, which apparently gave him the air of someone having a chat down the pub.  Ah, 1997 media.  Anyway, the speech captured my twelve-year-old attention for a whole hour, so it can’t have been bad.

What was much better, though, was that as soon as Blair left the stage to rapturous applause, D:Ream bounced on and launched into Things Can Only Get Better.  I grinned at my dad, and my dad grinned at me, and it was one of those awesome moments.  I’ve reminisced about seeing a lot of these Now! tracks played live by the bands, but this was the one I saw first.

Back in 1994, however, there was no political bent to this song – it was just an awesome pop track that I adored watching on Top of the Pops, with Peter Cunnah in his brightly coloured plaid suits.

And skipping forward to the 2010s, it will never stop being hilarious that the keyboardist from D:Ream eventually became Professor Brian Cox.  Not ever.

Right, back to my usual one-line reviews about epic atmospheres, head-nodders and annoying choruses.

Track 4: East 17 – It’s Alright

Speaking of epic atmospheres!  That melancholy piano intro is just stunning.  Then it bangs into a classic dance track with a great chant-along chorus.  Loved it at the time, still love it now.

Track 5: M People – Moving On Up

Nice feelgood tune, great singalong chorus – good stuff.

Track 6: Eternal – Save Our Love

I quite like those bells tolling at the start, but the vocals are too overblown for what is a fairly mediocre tune – which is very typical of mid-’90s pop, I find.

Track 7: Enigma – Return To Innocence

Yup, it’s the overplayed chillout track.  I’ll give it a pass for being used to good effect on Britain’s Got The Pop Factor.

Track 8: Bee Gees – For Whom The Bell Tolls

I normally like the Bee Gees in all their eras, but this one is too slow for me, although the tune is nice.

Track 9: Wendy Moten – Come In Out Of The Rain

It’s everything I dislike in a ballad – slow, saccharine, overblown vocals, zero edge, generic tune.  Don’t like this one at all!

Track 10: Dina Carroll – The Perfect Year

The music channels have defined this one as a Christmas song by featuring it in all their Christmas playlists, so I am most definitely feeling the seasonal dissonance right now.  It’s another slow ballad from Dina Carroll, and I’m still not a fan, even with that sax solo.

Track 11: Phil Collins – Everyday

Nice piano intro, gorgeous tune.  Really like this one.

Track 12: Richard Marx – Now And Forever

Lovely tune, but it’s just far too slow and acoustic-y for me.

Track 13: The Cranberries – Linger

Lovely tune, typically gorgeous vocals from Dolores O’Riordan (RIP 🙁 ).  Geth and I used to play this one a lot when we were DJing our Motherfolker night at Mr Modos circa 2010.  Good times.

Track 14: Tori Amos – Cornflake Girl

Great tune with really interesting piano lines and nice jaunty vocals.  Good stuff.

Track 15: The Beautiful South – Good As Gold (Stupid As Mud)

Nice bouncy tune, quite like this one.

Track 16: Meat Loaf – Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through

One of my favourites!  We had it on a Top Gear compilation, and as a result it’s one of my favourite Meat Loaf songs (and I unashamedly adore Meat Loaf, so there’s stiff competition).  For me, it evokes fast cars driving along cliffside roads in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night.  Wonderful track, especially that epic squealing sax solo.

Track 17: Primal Scream – Rocks

Absolutely classic track – great singalong chorus, great tune.

Track 18: Gin Blossoms – Hey Jealousy

Nice tune, but the chorus annoys me slightly.

Track 19: Smashing Pumpkins – Disarm

Love those bells at the start – well, I love all the instrumentals in this track!  Great epic atmosphere, great song.

Track 20: Doop – Doop

Wonderfully silly novelty song.  I loved watching this one on Top of the Pops because of the girls’ colourful outfits – I’m not sure how many years it was before I realised it wasn’t actually them singing on the track.

Track 21: Right Said Fred – Wonderman

Great synthy dance track, typically silly vocals.  Really like this one.

Track 22: Cappella – Move On Baby

Good solid dance track, nodding along to this right now.

Track 23: Culture Beat – Anything

Nice epic slow synth bit to start, and then it kicks into the interesting vocal melody, and then we have dance track liftoff.  Great track.

Track 24: 2 Unlimited – Let The Beat Control Your Body

2 Unlimited starting to get a bit samey now, although it’s still very danceable.

Track 25: Reel 2 Real and The Mad Stuntman – I Like To Move It

Another lifelong favourite!  I always sing this when I’m impatient for people to hurry up (in my head, obviously, because I’m a coward).  Great hooks, great danceable beat.

Track 26: K7 – Come Baby Come

This one’s a bit repetitive for me, although I do like some of the instrumentals, and the chanting bits.

Track 27: Credit To The Nation – Teenage Sensation

That whistling at the start is super annoying, and the rest of the song is not really anything to write home about.

Track 28: EYC – The Way You Work It

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

I remember pretty much every word of EYC’s Smash Hits interviews during this period, especially the one they did about different brands of cola, but I don’t really remember any of their songs.  This one’s okay, though – not a bad piece of pop, if a little generic.

Track 29: Bitty McLean – Here I Stand

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM)

Nice jaunty beat, but the tune’s a bit dull.

Track 30: Deep Forest – Sweet Lullaby

Nice atmosphere, good bit of chillout.  Vocals are awful though.

Track 31: Björk – Violently Happy

Great epic atmosphere as ever from Björk – really like this one.

Track 32: Shara Nelson – Uptight

The tune’s a bit dull, but the beat’s alright for nodding along to.

Track 33: Gabrielle – Because Of You

Good head-nodder, nice tune.

Track 34: Carleen Anderson – Nervous Breakdown

Interesting tune, quite like this track.

Track 35: Juliet Roberts – I Want You

Love that epic intro, great atmosphere, solid dance track.

Track 36: Urban Cookie Collective – Sail Away

Another great dance tune from Urban Cookie Collective – the chorus is a little repetitive, but the beat is great.

Track 37: Degrees Of Motion and Biti – Shine On

Nice beat, but the vocals are a bit much for me, and the tune’s a bit dull.

Track 38: Joe Roberts – Lover

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Dull, slow tune, though the atmosphere’s quite nice.

Suddenly summer

I can’t be sure, because the days are sort of melting into each other at the moment (only three more twelve-hour shifts!  I can do this!), but it seems that we’ve had about two weeks in a row where the weather’s actually been quite nice – warm, sunny, blue skies.  There are also lots of flowers in our new garden, mostly weeds like dandelions, but still flowers.  The ice-cream van shows up every day around one o’clock in the afternoon with a creepy jingle straight out of a horror film.  And Geth’s actually been mowing the lawn.  It’s beginning to look a bit like it might not be winter anymore.  In fact, leaving aside the only-just-beginning-to-bud leaves on the trees, it’s beginning to look like summer.

I’m pretty happy about that.  The winter was so long and awful (still snowing in early April) that it was starting to feel like it would never end.  But because of that, it sort of feels like we’ve skipped spring and gone straight to summer, which I’m thrilled about (I don’t like typical British springs – wet, windy and not yet warm enough!).  This has meant that I’m actually starting to get excited about all the stuff I’m doing in the summer – I’m just a bit worried about having enough time to prepare for it!

Of course, sod’s law means that as soon as I’m done with work at the end of this week and can actually go outside, the nice weather will disappear.  At least that should mean that it won’t be too warm for running at the weekend!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #26

Day 26, and we’ve reached 15th November 1993, which marks a full decade of Now! compilations!

November 1993
This was how the world looked in November 1993 (actually December, obviously. We don’t have any photos of autumn 1993 at all, which is a bit alarming!). My outfit here is cute, although my bob is still unfortunate, and the wee bro is still wearing that rugby shirt that he’s apparently not taken off all year.

Now! 26 is a bit of a classic one – loads of the kids at school had it, so it always got played at parties.  Let’s have a listen.

Now! That's What I Call Music #26
Track 1: UB40 – (I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You

Cover of the Elvis classic in standard UB40 style.  I quite like this one – it’s got a nice epic atmosphere.

Track 2: Pet Shop Boys – Go West

Fabulous synthpop cover of the Village People song!  I’ve always loved this one, even if it does bring back embarrassing memories of doing a dodgy dance performance (choreographed by two friends who did tap, jazz and modern classes and thus thought they could choreograph) to it for the rest of my primary school class.

Track 3: Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Relax

We’ve had this one already, on Now! #2!  The prevalence of this nonsense at the moment just shows how many great ’80s tracks were returning to the chart in the early ’90s.

You know the drill, click the link for my review.

Track 4: M People – One Night In Heaven

I usually quite like M People, but this one is a bit dull.

Track 5: Eternal – Stay

Dull tune, annoying vocals.  I’m sure Eternal did better tracks.

Track 6: SWV – Right Here [Human Nature Radio Mix]

Oh, it’s this one…and I’m back in the backseat of our Volvo 340 with the radio on, endless Scottish country roadsides zooming past.  It’s not that great a track, but it certainly brings back some memories.

Track 7: DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Boom! Shake The Room

An absolute classic, played at every birthday party I went to in the early ’90s.  I’m aware I’ve said that about a few songs, which makes me think I should compile some sort of ‘kids’ birthday nostalgia’ playlist.  Anyway, you can’t not sing along to this one.

Track 8: The Shamen – Comin’ On

A bit repetitive, not enough melody for me.

Track 9: Stakka Bo – Here We Go

Another repetitive, dull track – not keen on this at all.

Track 10: Chaka Demus & Pliers – She Don’t Let Nobody

The tune annoys me, and I find the vocals a bit saccharine.

Track 11: Tina Turner – Disco Inferno

Nice rock-tinged cover of the Trammps classic.  Like this one.

Track 12: Belinda Carlisle – Big Scary Animal

Belinda Carlisle’s gone all ’90s and guitar-edged.  Not hugely keen.

Track 13: Spin Doctors – Two Princes

Adore this one!  Absolutely stunning tune, great singalong track.

Track 14: REM – The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite

Lovely tune from REM – and I always appreciate that little The Lion Sleeps Tonight reference in the opening vocals.  Great song.

Track 15: Levellers – This Garden

Lovely song from the Levellers – beautiful tune, never gets old (and because Geth and I used to go to Beautiful Days all the time I’ve seen this one played live many times).

Speaking of seeing stuff live at Beautiful Days…

Track 16: James – Laid

This was probably my highlight of James’ set at Beautiful Days 2009, and is probably my favourite track of theirs.  Great tune.

Track 17: Crowded House – Distant Sun

Nice tune, but it’s a bit slow for me.

Track 18: Radiohead – Creep

Classic track, although it’s a bit overplayed these days.

Track 19: Meat Loaf – I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)

I’ve always loved this one (and it’s gotta be the full twelve-minute version!) – it’s an absolutely beautiful track.

Track 20: Cappella – U Got 2 Let The Music

Great uptempo dance tune – happily chair-dancing away here.

Track 21: Haddaway – What Is Love

Absolute stunner, one of my favourite songs of this era.  Beautiful dance tune.

Track 22: 2 Unlimited – Maximum Overdrive

This one’s a bit of a dull tune, but the beat’s good and danceable.

Track 23: Culture Beat – Mr Vain

Another absolute dance classic with a great tune and wonderful singalong vocals – love this one.

Track 24: The Goodmen – Give It Up

Lots of upbeat drumming, nothing much else until it breaks into the slightly messy melody.  Not one for the playlist, I’m afraid.

Track 25: Leftfield and John Lydon – Open Up

Nice upbeat head-nodder – quite like this one.

Track 26: Apache Indian – Boom Shack-A-Lak

Good jaunty retro-tinged reggae – great stuff.

Track 27: Urban Cookie Collective – Feels Like Heaven

Nice dance-pop tune – big fan of this.

Track 28: Captain Hollywood Project – More And More

Great electro instrumentals, but the vocals let it down.

Track 29: Juliet Roberts – Free Love

Interesting instrumentals, good uptempo beat.

Track 30: Jamiroquai – Too Young To Die

Nice funky track, a little slow, but it is absolutely standard Jamiroquai even this early on, so I do like it.

Track 31: Dina Carroll – Don’t Be A Stranger

The most overblown of all the overblown Dina Carroll ballads.  Nice tune, but the style is just too much for me.

Track 32: Take That – Pray

I’ve mentioned that I was a big Take That fan during this era, and this is another solid pop song.  Great stuff.

Track 33: Gabrielle – Going Nowhere

Nice upbeat tune, but I find the vocals a bit dull.

Track 34: Lena Fiagbe – Gotta Get It Right

Annoying tune, annoying cheesy lyrics.  Vocals are interesting, but generally not a fan.

Track 35: Soul II Soul – Wish

Too slow and dull for me.

Track 36: Lisa Stansfield – So Natural

Urgh, saccharine ballad!  Not a fan of this at all.

Track 37: Björk and David Arnold – Play Dead

Great, interesting duet with a wonderfully epic atmosphere.  A classic.

Track 38: Lenny Kravitz – Heaven Help

Another dull ballad.  Not keen.

Track 39: Go West – The Tracks Of My Tears

Slow guitar cover of the Smokey Robinson classic.  I shouldn’t like it, but it’s such a great song however it’s done that I can’t help it.

Track 40: Janet Jackson – That’s The Way Love Goes

Dull, repetitive track – not enough melody for me.

…Do my eyes deceive me?  Have we really reached the end of a Now! compilation without a single ‘Not on Spotify’ moment?  We really must be approaching the modern age!

It’s also the first Now! compilation to stretch to 40 tracks.  No wonder it’s taking longer and longer to listen to these every day!

Still busy with work

I’m still taken up with my intense work project, so I’m never really sure what day of the week it is at the moment – but the good news is that this is the last week of it.  I’ve still got a lot to do, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel now.

I’m really looking forward to next weekend, as having time to myself on Saturday afternoon will be amazing (volunteering at parkrun on Saturday morning and then racing in Sunderland on Sunday), but I think it’s Monday 14th that will be the nicest, as I’ll be able to have a lie-in for the first time in about five weeks!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #25

Day 25, and today’s Now! compilation was released on 2nd August 1993.

August 1993
This is the way the world looked in August 1993 (actually July – we did have a couple of pictures from August but they’re uniformly awful!) – a cornucopia of Laura Ashley dresses and flowers. Or at least it was if you were going to a wedding.

Can you believe we’re quarter of the way through this Now! journey already?  I certainly can.

Now! That's What I Call Music #25
Track 1: George Michael and Queen – Somebody To Love

It’s not really a cover when it’s your own song, right?  George Michael’s vocals are great, but nothing beats the Queen original for me.

Track 2: 4 Non Blondes – What’s Up?

Great chant-along track – I’ve always liked this one.

Track 3: Tina Turner – I Don’t Wanna Fight

Nice tune, nice beat.  Quite like this track.

Track 4: Ace Of Base – All That She Wants

Hands down the best track Ace Of Base ever did.  Absolutely love this one!

Track 5: Gabrielle – Dreams

Gorgeous introspective classic – absolutely lovely song.

Track 6: Lena Fiagbe – You Come From Earth

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Pretty tune, but a bit slow for me.

Track 7: REM – Everybody Hurts

Everybody hurts, and everybody except me absolutely loves this song.  It’s alright, it’s just really overplayed.

Track 8: New Order – Regret

One of my favourite New Order tracks – absolutely beautiful tune. That guitar riff is just gorgeous.

Track 9: Freddie Mercury – Living On My Own

Love the synth line, if not the daft yodeling at the start.  Great atmosphere.

Track 10: Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive

’70s classic back in the charts.  I remember them always playing the video on Top of the Pops at the time, I guess because Gloria Gaynor wasn’t available to come back and perform it.

Track 11: Inner Circle – Sweat (A La La La La Long)

I’ve always liked this daft track, though I probably shouldn’t.  Great singalong chorus.

Track 12: Chaka Demus & Pliers – Tease Me

Not hugely keen on the tune – it’s a bit dull for me.

Track 13: Louchie Lou & Michie One – Shout

Laidback cover of the Isley Brothers classic.  Because I knew this one first, I actually always find the original (and the Lulu version, which gets played more often) a bit frenetic.

Track 14: Shabba Ranks and Maxi Priest – Housecall

Nice head-nodder once it gets going.

Track 15: Duran Duran – Come Undone

Yup, I still love Duran Duran, even though they’ve gone all grown-up on me with their ’90s stuff.  This track has a wonderful, brooding atmosphere all the way through, with lovely guitar lines and a gorgeous tune on the chorus.

Track 16: Paul Weller – Sunflower

Paul Weller’s gone solo and therefore dull.  I had to listen to a lot of his ’90s stuff on family car journeys and I’m not a fan.

Track 17: Kingmaker – Ten Years Asleep

Good danceable beat, but the tune’s a bit boring.

Track 18: 2 Unlimited – Tribal Dance

Another solid dance track from 2 Unlimited – good stuff.

Track 19: Robin S – Luv 4 Luv

A bit too similar to Show Me Love for me, but it’s okay.

Track 20: Sybil – When I’m Good And Ready

Bit generic – not a fan of this one.

Track 21: Dannii Minogue – This Is It

I’ve always loved this cover of the Melba Moore classic – pure solid feelgood pop, can’t fault it.

Track 22: The Time Frequency – The Ultimate High

Good upbeat dance track – like this one.

Track 23: Jon Secada – Do You Really Want Me

Good head-nodder, nice tune.

Track 24: Kim Wilde – If I Can’t Have You

Happily flashing back here to three weeks ago, when I saw Kim Wilde perform this live with the whole audience bellowing along.  Was it really three weeks ago?  My all-encompassing work project has made my sense of time a bit squiffy.

Great singalong track, love it.

Track 25: East 17 – West End Girls

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Questionable cover of the Pet Shop Boys classic.  The original is one of my favourite songs of all time, so I was never going to be impressed by this.

Track 26: Joey Lawrence – Nothin’ My Love Can’t Fix

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

I had a poster of Joey Lawrence (who was mostly an actor) at the time.  I never watched any of his shows, I think I just liked the poster.

Anyway, the track.  It’s pretty generic, but it’s an okay pop song once it gets to the chorus.  He should probably have stuck to acting, though.

Track 27: Efua – Somewhere

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Interesting spoken word verses, okay backing track.  Quite like this one.

Track 28: Sade – No Ordinary Love

Lovely vocals, but a bit slow for me.

Track 29: Richard Darbyshire – This I Swear

Dull tune, saccharine vocals.  Not keen on this one, though the sax solo does improve it a bit.

Track 30: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Dream Of Me

Typically lovely synth from OMD – good stuff.

Track 31: D:Ream – U R The Best Thing

Great upbeat dance-pop, really like this one.

Track 32: Juliet Roberts – Caught In The Middle

Another nice upbeat track – happily nodding along here.

Track 33: Oui 3 – Break From The Old Routine

Not enough melody for me, but the rap’s okay.

Track 34: Utah Saints – I Want You

Nice beat, but there’s a bit too much going on with the track for me.

Track 35: Jesus Jones – Zeroes And Ones

Geth: ‘We’ve definitely hit critical greebo.’

Good upbeat head-nodder for me, good end to the compilation.

This morning’s parkrun

Another good parkrun this morning (not as good as Geth’s, whose broken running watch was apparently the lucky charm that finally got him a sub-25, but still good).

I was 52 seconds slower than last week, but as it was very warm and there were vast amounts of people out on the Moor today, I can’t complain.  Still on track for a good result at Sunderland next week!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #24

Day 24, and we’ve arrived at 26th April 1993.

April 1993
This is the way the world looked in April 1993. Trees looked like trees, and I looked like a vision in pastels with an unfortunate bob. I did finally chuck out that headband when I had my clearout a couple of months ago.

While I didn’t have this particular Now! compilation, I did have rival compilation The Greatest Hits of 1993 (the first album I ever bought, on cassette, with my Christmas money), which had most of the same songs.  As such, I’m very familiar with a lot of these.  Let’s crack on!

Now! That's What I Call Music #24
Track 1: The Bluebells – Young at Heart

We’ve had this one already, on Now! #3!  I know it was back in the charts in 1993, but I’m still cross about the Now! compilers repeating songs.

Urgh.  I guess this is going to become an ongoing thing.  See the link above for my review.

Track 2: Take That – Could It Be Magic

Great upbeat pop cover of the Barry Manilow song.  Take That seem to have been doing a lot of covers at this point – I’m guessing it was before the mangement let Gary Barlow take over songwriting duties.  I do like this one, though, especially for Robbie Williams on lead vocals.

Track 3: Sub Sub and Melanie Williams – Ain’t No Love (Ain’t No Use)

A bit repetitive, but a good uptempo dance track.

Track 4: Snap – Exterminate!

Another great, atmospheric track from Snap.  I’ve always liked this one, even leaving aside the obvious Dalek connotations.

Track 5: Sister Sledge – We Are Family [Sure Is Pure Remix]

This was huge in my primary school playground at the time – you couldn’t escape it.  Great remix of the ’70s classic.

Track 6: Snow – Informer

I’ve always loved this one, especially the gibberish chorus.  Great, interesting song.

Track 7: Shabba Ranks and Chevelle Franklin – Mr Loverman

Annoying chorus alert!  It’s a good tune, but I don’t like those vocals.

Track 8: Shaggy – Oh Carolina

Nice cover of the Folkes Brothers classic – great tune – but it’s another one where the chorus annoys me.

Track 9: East 17 – Deep [Breath Mix]

Great instrumentals, especially that bassline – wonderful atmosphere.  I’ve always liked this one.

Track 10: Stereo MCs – Step It Up

Great head-nodder, fun theme.  Good stuff.

Track 11: Arrested Development – Tennessee

Repetitive, not much melody.  Not hugely keen on this one.

Track 12: Robin S – Show Me Love [Stonebridge Club Mix]

Classic track, great beat.

Fun fact: Jason Derulo sampled this on Don’t Wanna Go Home, and when I first heard it I literally went ‘who the ****’s sampled this?’ only to be immediately answered with that ‘JASON DERULO’ lyric he always used to do at the start of his songs.  A handy, if annoying feature.

Track 13: Lulu – Independence [Brothers In Rhythm Mix]

Fairly generic tune, but it’s a nice solid bit of pop.  Good sax solo too!

Track 14: West End and Sybil – The Love I Lost

Another annoying chorus, but I quite like the track otherwise.

Track 15: 2 Unlimited – No Limit

This was the classic singalong track on every school trip during 1993.  Imagine, if you will, a bus full of sixty-six eight-year-olds, all squeaking ‘NO NO, NO NO NO NO, NO NO NO NO, NO NO THERE’S NO LIMIT’ over and over and over and over for a good couple of hours.  Sometimes I’m amazed we never had a bus driver start screaming madly and drive us all off a high cliff.

Track 16: Cappella – U Got 2 Know

I absolutely love this classic dance track – brilliant tune.

Track 17: Sunscreem – Pressure Us

Another good upbeat dance number – like this one.

Track 18: Monie Love – Born 2 BREED

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Not at all keen on the theme of this song, but it’s quite a good upbeat tune.

Track 19: Hue & Cry – Labour Of Love

We already had this one on Now! #10, which I’m extra-especially cross about ’cause it’s my favourite Now! compilation!

Sigh.  See the link for my thoughts.

Track 20: Duran Duran – Ordinary World

They’re back for the ’90s, and I still love Duran Duran!  This is a gorgeous introspective one – beautiful track.

Track 21: Annie Lennox – Love Song For A Vampire

Lovely tune, great atmosphere.

Track 22: World Party – Is It Like Today?

Nice tune, like the instrumentals.  Good stuff.

Track 23: KD Lang – Constant Craving

I’m not a fan of KD Lang’s vocals, but I do like the tune.

Track 24: Tasmin Archer – In Your Care

Good atmosphere on this one, though it’s a little slow for me.

Track 25: PM Dawn – Looking Through Patient Eyes

Not keen on the tune, the sung vocals or the rap.  Not a fan.

Track 26: The Beloved – Sweet Harmony

Nice electro head-nodder – really like this one.  Lovely sax solo too.

Track 27: Dina Carroll – This Time

Fairly typical Dina Carroll ballad – too slow and generic for my liking.

Track 28: Simply Red – Lady Godiva’s Room

An improvement on the last couple of Simply Red tracks we’ve had – great tune – but still a bit slow for me.

Track 29: Genesis – Invisible Touch [Live]

We already had the original studio version on Now! #7.  Not sure why the live version was suddenly a thing.

See above for my review – the live version doesn’t add anything!

Track 30: Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way

Great classic rock track that I’m going to make today’s top ‘wedding disco’ track!  Brilliant stuff.

Track 31: Depeche Mode – I Feel You

Love this atmospheric track from Depeche Mode – great vocals, awesome tune.

Track 32: Peter Gabriel – Steam

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Good upbeat tune, happily nodding along here.

Track 33: Ugly Kid Joe – Cats In The Cradle

I always liked this cover of the Harry Chapin song and its whimsical lyrics, but I absolutely hate the fact that Ugly Kid Joe got rid of the apostrophe (the original title is Cat’s In the Cradle), as it makes the punctuation incorrect in the context of the song.

Track 34: Faith No More – Easy

Pointless ’90s cover of the Commodores classic.  Always a great song, but the cover doesn’t do anything new.

Track 35: Bryan Ferry – I Put A Spell On You

Nice chillout-ish cover of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins classic.  Really like this one.

Track 36: Ultravox – Vienna

Not sure what this 1981 classic was doing back in the charts, but I’m not complaining!  Wonderful, epic track.

Track 37: Paul McCartney – Hope Of Deliverance

Bit of a retro-tinged track, but it’s got a nice beat and a lovely tune.  Good one to end on.

Weight loss update

I’m so nearly there.

After a few up and down weeks, I had a great loss at Slimming World yesterday – 3lbs off and Slimmer of the Week.  I’m now only 2.5lbs away from my target weight.

I don’t expect to achieve it next week, because apart from during the early days when I was losing very fast, I’ve never really had big losses two weeks in a row.  I think the following week is a good one to aim for, though, so I’m going to try my very hardest.  I desperately want to be at target before all the summer ‘holiday weekends’ start happening, as stuff like that always gets in the way of weight loss, so I’d much rather be in maintenance mode by then.  There’s also the fact that once I’m at target, I won’t have to pay my weekly Slimming World fee anymore!

Fingers crossed – we’ll see how it goes.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #23

Day 23’s Now! compilation takes us to 16th November 1992.

November 1992
This was how the world looked in November 1992. I was bang on trend in my pink and purple pastels, and the wee bro was apparently into the Red Arrows (or, more likely, we knew someone who was and they had gifted him the sweatshirt). Our house was not bang on trend, still rocking its ’70s brown furnishings. Also, my fringe still does that when I can’t be bothered styling it, which is 99% of the time.

These tracks were also bang on trend, I guess.

Now! That's What I Call Music #23
Track 1: Tasmin Archer – Sleeping Satellite

Oh, it’s this one!  Very pretty tune, like it.

Track 2: Jon Secada – Just Another Day

Another lovely tune, really nice atmosphere.

Track 3: Charles & Eddie – Would I Lie To You?

It’s an okay song (with yet another nice tune) but I’m not loving this one.

Track 4: Was (Not Was) – Shake Your Head

Good beat, but the song’s not got enough melody for me.  Interesting chorus though.

Track 5: Bob Marley & The Wailers – Iron Lion Zion

A ’70s track back in the charts – great reggae classic.

Track 6: Go West – Faithful

Go West did this one when I saw them in November, and it seemed to go down well with the audience.  I prefer their ’80s stuff (as you might expect), but this is still a great solid pop song.

Track 7: George Michael – Too Funky

Good head-nodder, nice instrumentals.  Quite like this one.

Track 8: Arrested Development – People Everyday

Really like the beat on this one, though it’s a bit repetitive otherwise.

Track 9: Simply Red – For Your Babies

Slow, dull ballad, and you know how I feel about those.

Track 10: Erma Franklin – (Take A Little) Piece Of My Heart

Another oldie back in the charts, from the ’60s this time!  This one’s a classic – great track.

Track 11: Brian May – Too Much Love Will Kill You

Beautiful track.  I probably marginally prefer the Queen version (Wikipedia has some interesting stuff about the differences) but it’s a stunner in both cases.  Lovely.

Track 12: Simple Minds – Alive And Kicking

Simple Minds’ 1985 classic back in the charts – this Now! compilation is certainly showing some love to the older tracks.

Wait a minute.

We already had this track on Now! #6!  I can’t tell you how annoyed I am that we’re only 23 albums in and the Now! compilers have started repeating tracks already.  Sort it out!

As such, I’ve already reviewed this one.

Track 13: John Lee Hooker – Boom Boom

Classic ’60s blues track, back in the charts for some reason.  Summer 1992 was clearly a highly nostalgic time.

Track 14: Billy Ray Cyrus – Achy Breaky Heart

Awful line dance ‘classic’.  Country music is not my thing at all, I’m afraid!

Track 15: Little Angels – Too Much Too Young

Nice rock instrumentals, but the vocals are a bit cheesy for me.

Track 16: Richard Marx – Take This Heart

Richard Marx can be a bit hit-and-miss for me, and this one’s a miss.  Too saccharine by far.

Track 17: Genesis – Jesus He Knows Me

It’s not quite clear from the title whether it’s meant to indicate startled realisation (‘Jesus!  He knows me.’) or religious sentiment (‘Jesus: he knows me.’).  Punctuation matters, people.

From the lyrics, it seems to be the latter.

It’s a great track otherwise – upbeat, epic atmosphere, awesome tune.  Really like this one.

Track 18: INXS – Baby Don’t Cry

Not hugely keen on the melody, and it’s a bit repetitive.

Track 19: Crowded House – It’s Only Natural

Nice tune, good head-nodder.

Track 20: Erasure – Who Needs Love Like That [Hamburg Mix]

Remix of the 1985 classic.  I couldn’t find the remix on Spotify, so it’s a good excuse to listen to the original!

Solid synthpop as ever from Erasure – great tune.

Track 21: The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode

Classic early ’90s anthem complete with sledgehammer-subtle drug reference.  Great, danceable song.

Track 22: Rage – Run To You

Slightly odd dance cover of the Bryan Adams song.  I shouldn’t like it, but I kind of do.

Track 23: Bizarre Inc and Angie Brown – I’m Gonna Get You

Repetitive, irritating dance track.  Not a fan.

Track 24: Heaven 17 – Temptation [Brothers In Rhythm Remix]

We already had the original 1983 version of the song back on Now! 1, so I really don’t think this remix should have been included!

For what it’s worth though, it’s a super interesting remix with a great atmosphere.

Track 25: East 17 – House Of Love

Great danceable pop classic.  Really like this one!

Also, I never noticed until the Now! compilers’ inspired tracklisting here that both the ’80s and the ’90s had really famous pop bands with names that ended in ’17’.

Track 26: The Farm – Don’t You Want Me

Immediate side-eye at the notion of somebody covering the Human League classic, which in my view can’t be bettered.

Um…it’s fairly awful.  Messy track, bad cover.  Not a fan of this at all.

Track 27: Undercover – Never Let Her Slip Away

Nice tune, nice spiky synth line, nice sax solo.  Cheesy vocals, but you can’t have everything!

Track 28: Doctor Spin – Tetris

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Novelty Eurodance reworking of the classic Tetris music (I guess it would have been ‘new’ rather than ‘classic’ at this point) with bonus sampling of 2 Unlimited’s Get Ready For This.  Amusing, but a bit messy – though you can’t help but have an epic atmosphere with this tune.

Track 29: Ambassadors Of Funk and MC Mario – Supermarioland

More comedy stylings from the Now! compilers, with two Game Boy themed tracks one after the other.  Now I feel nostalgic for my Game Boy.  Of course, being a hoarder, I obviously still have it, though I’m more likely to play those classic games on my 3DS nowadays.

Anyway, the song.  It’s a rap about playing Super Mario Land, with the Super Mario Land music interspersed throughout.  Kind of all over the place, but I love that the Game Boy apparently inspired so much chart music at the time.

Track 30: Roxette – How Do You Do!

More solid pop-rock from Roxette – this one’s a bit retro-inspired.  Interesting vocals too.

Track 31: Abba – Dancing Queen

Classic ’70s anthem, back in the charts for 1992.  Can’t complain!

Track 32: Björn Again – A Little Respect

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

I’m not sure who’s trolling us harder here – Björn Again, who are covering Erasure as a response to Erasure covering Abba (my head hurts), or the Now! compilers, who have placed a track by an Abba tribute band directly after a track by actual Abba.  Also, I can’t remember what phrase people used instead of ‘trolling’ before the internet became ubiquitous.  ‘Taking the piss’, maybe.

As for the track, well, you can’t beat the Erasure original, but the quality of the music is not the point of this one, I don’t think.

Track 33: Vanessa Paradis – Be My Baby

Nice tune, very ’60s-retro-tinged.

Track 34: Betty Boo – Let Me Take You There

Lovely synth instrumentals, though as ever I’m not keen on Betty Boo’s rap style.

Track 35: Sophie B Hawkins – Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover

I’ve always liked this one, largely ’cause we had it on a Top Gear compilation when I was a kid.  Nice tune, great lyrics.

Track 36: Peter Gabriel – Digging In The Dirt

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

I tell a lie.  This one is on Spotify, but it’s a live version, and I hate live versions, so I’m going to be un-lazy and pause the playlist.

Verse is a bit dull, but it livens up for the bridge.  The tune is horribly repetitive though.

Track 37: Enya – Book Of Days

Wonderful heartlifting tune from Enya – absolutely beautiful atmosphere.

Track 38: Roy Orbison and KD Lang – Crying

I find the original Roy Orbison solo version pretty slow and saccharine as it is, and I’m not a fan of KD Lang anyway (I don’t like singer-songwriter slow acoustic-y type stuff), so I’m not keen on this.

Track 39: Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé – Barcelona

I’m extremely cross with the Now! compilers.  We already had this track on Now! #10, where it opened my favourite childhood album perfectly.  The fact that it was back in the charts to coincide with the Olympics is not an excuse to repeat tracks!

You already know what I think of this one – just follow the link above.