Feeling the cold

We’ve finally seen some spring weather in the last week or so.  Outside, it’s been lovely – the winter was so long and awful that being able to walk around in bare legs and light jackets last week felt like being on holiday somewhere tropical.

Inside, however, when I’m sitting still (which I’ve been doing a lot, obviously, as I’ve got a lot of work to do at the moment), I’m still really feeling the cold, and have had to have the electric fire going next to me most of the time now that we’ve pretty much switched off the central heating for the summer.  It’s one of those disadvantages of weight loss – I just don’t have that excess blubber to keep me warm anymore.

I’m definitely looking forward to it warming up more for the summer – I feel silly having the fire on this late in the season!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #14

Two weeks into this review series, and Now! 14 takes us to 20th March 1989.

March 1989
This is how the world looked in March 1989. Nice garden stonework features, lots of plants, and head-to-toe red outfits.

Both me and the wee bro were clearly better dressed than this lot, but let’s listen to their songs anyway.

Now! That's What I Call Music #14
Track 1: Marc Almond and Gene Pitney – Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart

The Gene Pitney solo original from the ’60s is one of my all-time favourite songs.  This version with Marc Almond doesn’t quite match the original for me, but it’s still really good.

Track 2: Phil Collins – Two Hearts

Phil Collins back on form after that awful one from yesterday.  Great bouncy singalong chair-dancer.

Track 3: Erasure – Stop!

Love the spiky synth on this one.  More great pop from Erasure.

Track 4: Bananarama and LaNaNeeNeeNooNoo – Help!

An early example of a Comic Relief single, with Bananarama teaming up with their parody versions (actually French and Saunders) for a not-quite-pointless cover of the Beatles classic.  There’s not much added to the song other than the daft comedy spoken word sections, but the backing instrumentals are quite interesting.

Track 5: Hue & Cry – Looking For Linda

More upbeat than Ordinary Angel yesterday, but the chorus annoys me.  Sorry!

Track 6: Yazz – Fine Time

Yazz has ditched the Plastic Population, and judging by this song, I can’t decide whether it was the best move.  The tune is nice and soulful, but perhaps a little slow for me.  No annoying chorus, though, so that’s a huge improvement.

Track 7: Kim Wilde – Four Letter Word

Obligatory Kim Wilde gig mention.  Yes, she played this one too!

Bit of a slower, quieter one from Kim Wilde, but still a great pop track – really nice build to the atmosphere.

Track 8: Sam Brown – Stop

This is the second track on this compilation with this title.  Between this and the Transvision Vamp/Duran Duran mixed message from yesterday, I’m beginning to think bands in the late ’80s were running out of originality when it came to titles.

Absolutely love this track – beautiful tune, wonderful epic atmosphere.

Fun fact: Jamelia did the most pointless of pointless covers of this in 2003 for the Love Actually soundtrack – it sounds EXACTLY the same.

Track 9: Roy Orbison – You Got It

Was Roy Orbison really still going in 1989?  *googles*  Apparently so.

Really like this tune, especially that bridge.  Nice head-nodder.

Track 10: Fine Young Cannibals – She Drives Me Crazy

Hands down my favourite Fine Young Cannibals song.  Absolutely classic track with a beautiful simplicity to the vocals and lyrics, and some stunning guitar instrumentals.  Adore this one.

Track 11: INXS – Need You Tonight

That hook!  Another one that used to be used to announce the ad breaks on VH1 Classic.  An all-time favourite, with wonderful vocals and a great atmosphere.

Track 12: Status Quo – Burning Bridges (On And Off And On Again)

Annoying riff to start that reminds me of a sing-song nursery rhyme.  This is echoed in the chorus.  The verses are okay though.  Then there’s that random instrumental of the tune that I only know from Manchester United’s Come On You Reds song in the ’90s.  Just a bit of a mess, really.

Track 13: Then Jerico – Big Area

Nice tinkly intro, which smashes into a bit of epic guitar-led atmosphere.  Boring vocals, but the instrumentals are great.

Track 14: Morrissey – The Last Of The Famous International Playboys

Fairly upbeat for Morrissey.  Bit of a dull tune though.

Track 15: Poison – Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Boring slow guitar track.  My least favourite kind of music!  Not a fan at all.

Track 16: Simple Minds – Belfast Child

Beautiful track from Simple Minds, based on traditional melody As She Moved Through The Fair.  A favourite since childhood.

Track 17: Neneh Cherry – Buffalo Stance

I’ve got a soft spot for this classic, which I find to be a great singalong head-nodder.

Track 18: Inner City – Good Life

A little repetitive, but better than Big Fun yesterday.

Track 19: S-Express – Hey Music Lover

Super irritating spoken sample at the start!  I like the synth lines though.

Track 20: Living In A Box – Blow The House Down

Nice upbeat pop track, good head-nodder.  Really like that chorus.

Track 21: The Style Council – Promised Land

I’m a little surprised the Style Council were still going in ’89 – I was sure Paul Weller had gone solo by then.  Oh well, gotta keep improving that music knowledge.

Nice track though – good bouncy song, great synth going on in there.

Track 22: Adeva – Respect

Vocals a bit erratic for my liking, but a good dance track.

Track 23: Tone Lōc – Wild Thing

I quite like that clappy intro.  Rap bit is kind of dull though.

Track 24: Natalie Cole – I Live For Your Love

The dullest type of dull ballad, only marginally saved by the tinkly instrumentals.  Not keen.

Track 25: Robin Beck – First Time

Really like the tune on this one – great rock ballad.

Track 26: Paula Abdul – Straight Up

Great chair-dancing track.  Love the chorus too, good singalong potential.

Track 27: Samantha Fox – I Only Wanna Be With You

Upbeat cover of the Dusty Springfield classic.  Different enough not to be pointless (there’s no mistaking that ’80s synth), but there’s something cheesy and annoying about it.

Track 28: Brother Beyond – Be My Twin

Vocals are too saccharine, but I quite like the tune.  Nice sax solo too.

Track 29: Climie Fisher – Love Like A River

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

We’re getting towards the end of the compilation!  Do I dare hope?  Could today finally be the day when every track from the original compilation is present and correct on Spotify…oh.  Oh well.  So close.

Typically cheesy vocals for Climie Fisher, although there’s a nice almost-edge to the instrumentals underneath.

Track 30: Duran Duran – All She Wants Is

Yup, I still love Duran Duran, and this one is predictably wonderful (that bassline! that synth! those vocals! that chanting!) as ever.  Just a cut above.

Track 31: Level 42 – Tracie

All right, all right, I’m clicking on that ticket link now!  I’m buying those tickets!  I’ve received the email confirmation!  I’m going to see Level 42 in October!

It was for the best that I did that tonight, too, ’cause there were only two floor seats left that were next to each other!

This one’s a great jaunty track with some nice synth hooks.  Hope they play it when I go see them!

Track 32: Michael Ball – Love Changes Everything

I’ve got a soft spot for Michael Ball, mainly ’cause he’s so ubiquitous on British TV these days.  This track from the musical Aspects Of Love is as saccharine as you would expect, but it makes a nice change from the slow pop ballads that have been ending the last few Now! compilations.

Back to long runs

I’m probably going to turn into a bit of a running bore on here in the build-up to the Sunderland 10k, largely because it’s pretty much the only thing I’m doing at the moment other than working!

I went for a 7.5k run this morning, which was the furthest I’ve run since October.  I felt great – for the first time in a long time, I was in a nice, comfortable, steady state where I felt like I could run forever.  My leftover niggles from last year seem to have disappeared (touch wood) and I was almost tempted to add another few kilometres.  That’s next Tuesday, though – gotta build up properly!

I really feel like I’m in a great place for Sunderland now, and considering that a few weeks ago I was worried that I hadn’t got back to training in time to run it properly, I’m thrilled with the way things are going.  Looking forward to see how I do on the practice 10k distance next week!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #13

Day 13’s Now! compilation came out on 21st November 1988.

November 1988
This is the way the world looked in November 1988. I wasn’t actually put in a cage that often. If I had kids they’d be in a cage – uh, sorry, ‘playpen’ – 24 hours a day. This is one of the many reasons I know I’m not meant to be a parent.

Let’s see what pop hits the Now! compilers have for me today.

Now! That's What I Call Music #13
Track 1: Yazz & The Plastic Population – The Only Way Is Up

Classic party track, and that blaring horn at the start is great, but I find the tune to the vocal a bit annoying.

Track 2: Womack & Womack – Teardrops

Nice tune, though it’s a bit repetitive for me.

Track 3: Erasure – A Little Respect

I adore this one!  Brilliant singalong party track.  Also, I can’t not post that excellent Tube singalong video.

Track 4: The Christians – Harvest For The World

A little ashamed to say that I’m not familiar enough with the Isley Brothers original to be able to say whether this cover is pointless or not.  There’s lots of very ’80s twiddly instrumentals, but the vocal is a bit mid-century throwback, so it’s hard to guess.

Track 5: Hue & Cry – Ordinary Angel

Interesting instrumentals at the start, a bit Eastern-tinged.  Nice tune, though it’s a bit slow for me.

Track 6: UB40 and Chrissie Hynde – Breakfast In Bed

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

Fairly standard UB40 slow reggae – great vocals from both singers.  I actually like this even more than their cover of I Got You Babe.

Track 7: Robert Palmer – She Makes My Day

Really nice tune from Robert Palmer – interesting instrumental lines and great vocals.

Track 8: Breathe – Hands To Heaven

Nice instrumentals, but far too slow and saccharine for me.  Apart from the sax solo.  You can’t go wrong with a sax solo.

Track 9: Phil Collins – A Groovy Kind Of Love

Not a pointless cover as it’s very different from the Mindbenders original.  It’s much slower and a lot more boring.  Not a fan.

Track 10: Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry, Be Happy

I’ve always quite liked this jaunty tune.  Didn’t they use to sell singing novelty fish that sang this song, or am I imagining that?

Track 11: The Art Of Noise and Tom Jones – Kiss

Nothing can beat the original Prince version, but this cover is not bad at all.  It’s very different to the original, and I’m a big fan of Tom Jones and his distinctive voice.  That guitar solo is great too.

Track 12: Bryan Ferry – Let’s Stick Together

Nice upbeat track, originally released a decade earlier, so the stylings are obviously very ’70s.  Love the instrumentals though, and though it’s a late ’70s song, there’s something quite glam rock about it – Ferry still channelling his earlier Roxy Music days.

Track 13: Kim Wilde – You Came

At the Kim Wilde gig last week (sorry, not going to shut up about that just yet!), Kim dedicated this one to the audience.  Great solid pop track with an awesome epic singalong chorus.

Track 14: Bomb The Bass – Don’t Make Me Wait

Bit of an irritating intro, but the track is good once you get past that – great synth line, great vocals, great tune.

Track 15: Brother Beyond – The Harder I Try

This one’s a bit cheesy for me, but the tune’s quite nice and it’s a good head-nodder.

Track 16: The Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

Not sure why this one was back in the charts, but it’s a classic for a reason.  Great track.

Track 17: Fat Boys and Chubby Checker – The Twist (Yo, Twist!)

It’s that Fat Boys cackle at the start again, but this retro-tinged rap track would not have been at all scary to my toddler self.  Definitely a party song.

Track 18: Wee Papa Girl Rappers – Wee Rule

Quite an interesting song – I like the tune on the chorus, and it’s nice to hear female-fronted rap in the ’80s style.

Track 19: Salt-N-Pepa – Twist And Shout

Speaking of which…  Was it a thing in 1988 to fuse rap with retro rock ‘n’ roll stylings?  I wouldn’t have expected to like that, but I do.  This one’s great, with rap verses straddling the classic chorus.  The opposite of a pointless cover.

Track 20: Yello – The Race

Ohhhh…it’s this one!  Classic party tune, but I didn’t know what it was called or who it was by.  Every day’s a learning experience.

Track 21: Inner City and Kevin Saunderson – Big Fun

Fairly standard for Inner City – nodding my head, but the tune’s not super exciting.

Track 22: D-Mob and Gary Haisman – We Call It Acieed

Infamous vocal, classic dance track.  Bit repetitive for me, but it’s a good party song.

Track 23: Beatmasters and PP Arnold – Burn It Up

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

I find this one a bit dull, nothing out of the ordinary, though I quite like that trumpet hook.

Track 24: Milli Vanilli – Girl You Know It’s True

By the time I started reading Smash Hits in the early ’90s, Milli Vanilli were a bit of a joke in the pop magazines as it was widely believed that they didn’t actually provide the vocals on their records.  I’m not sure if this was true, but it was the kind of thing that was a symptom of the irritating move towards manufactured pop groups.

As for the song itself, the possibly-fake vocals are a bit cheesy, but the instrumentals are great.

Track 25: Level 42 – Heaven In My Hands

I have the Sage Gateshead tab open ready on my browser to order those tickets!  I’ve just…not done it yet.  I will soon.

More fab instrumentals, great upbeat guitar, interesting track.  Like this one.

Track 26: Jane Wiedlin – Rush Hour

Chair-dancing here from the start – great singalong chorus, great tune.

Track 27: The Proclaimers – I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)

The unofficial Scottish national anthem, played whenever we score points at the rugby.  Get several hundred Scots in a room, play this song, and watch the chaos ensue.  The ultimate in singalong classics.

Track 28: T’Pau – Secret Garden

The chorus annoys me, but otherwise it’s quite a good tune.

Track 29: Transvision Vamp – I Want Your Love

Really interesting song with great vocals.  Big fan of this one…

Track 30: Duran Duran – I Don’t Want Your Love

…and the title juxtaposition here is hilariously schizophrenic.  I hope that was deliberate, Now! compilers!

Duran Duran may not want our love…but I think you know what I’m about to say.  I love Duran Duran, and this song is another cracker.  Lovely vocal harmonies on the verses, nice epic atmosphere, brilliant singalong chorus, great lyrics.

Track 31: The Human League – Love Is All That Matters

Interesting to hear the Human League’s later ’80s stuff here.  The synth isn’t nearly so prominent, and it’s a bit smoother and more polished-sounding than their earlier stuff, especially the backing vocals.  Nice tune, too, and that outro is beautiful.

Track 32: All About Eve – Martha’s Harbour

Classic goth ballad.  I’ve always liked this one, so I’ll forgive the Now! compilers for ending yet another compilation with a ballad.

Missing my wall decorations

Intensive transcription projects at work always do strange things to me.  The last transcription period, in autumn 2017, involved a couple of projects, the larger of which was for a study about an experimental coffee machine.  I had actually given up caffeine in 2013 and hadn’t touched it since, but the combination of a lack of sleep and hours and hours every day spent listening to people talk about coffee had fairly predictable consequences, and I fell off that particular wagon.  I’ve been drinking a couple of coffees every day since then.

This time round, the transcription project I’m working on is for a study about public artworks.  I’m not really ‘into art’ in the traditional sense – I don’t tend to visit galleries unless dragged by someone else, I couldn’t care less what the ‘meanings’ of artworks are, and I’ve never done much reading about the subject – but I like things that are nice to look at, and that’s what I have on my walls.  Or it’s what I would have on my walls under normal circumstances.

The thing is, pictures are always the very last thing I put up when I’m sorting out a new house, as I think of them as the ‘finishing touch’.  This is why, unfortunately, the walls have always been a bit bare in my last few rented properties – because by the time I’ve got to that stage of the house sorting, I’m thoroughly sick of the whole thing and I’ve really slowed down with it, and so I never get round to doing the pictures properly before we realise that we’ll be moving again soon and so there’s no point putting anything else up.

This time around will be different – I may have already mentioned once or twice that I am OMG NEVER MOVING AGAIN, because this house move has been so stressful, and so I will definitely have the time and motivation to get the picture collection actually finished.  Sadly, the house is still some way off being sorted – all of our pictures and other wall decorations are currently stuck in the study, which I will be spending May going through.  As such, the walls have to remain bare for a while longer.  I do have a couple of posters up on the upstairs landing, as I needed to keep them out of the way and uncrumpled while I was sorting things out, but everything else will have to wait.

Which is a shame, as it would be nice to have some pretty artwork on the walls to look at while I’m spending hours listening to people talking about art.  I guess the artwork on our boardgame boxes will have to suffice.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #12

Day 12 takes us to 11th July 1988.

July 1988
This is what the world looked like in July 1988, all pink and floral and foxglove-y. I gotta get some of those for the garden of my new house when I finally have time to plant some flowers out there.

Let’s have a listen to the summer hits of that year.

Now! That's What I Call Music #12
Track 1: Wet Wet Wet – With A Little Help From My Friends

Bit of a pointless ’80s cover for me, I’m afraid – other than some vocal stylings on the odd chorus, I’m not seeing what this adds to the Beatles original.

Track 2: Belinda Carlisle – Circle In The Sand

Really like this song – nice tuneful ballad with some epic vocals.

Track 3: Maxi Priest – Wild World

Love those reggae instrumentals, and the vocals are nice and soulful too.  Also, a great sax solo!  Really like this one.

Track 4: Aswad – Give A Little Love

Two reggae-tinged tracks in a row!  I officially feel summery.  This one’s a nice upbeat party song.

Track 5: Climie Fisher – Love Changes (Everything)

Much better than Rise To The Occasion from yesterday, but still a bit saccharine for my liking.

Track 6: Elton John – I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That

Really like the drums and piano in the intro, and the song is nice and upbeat.  Nodding along happily here.

Track 7: Scritti Politti – Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry For Loverboy)

Great slow synth intrumentals, but the vocal is too cheesy for me.  (I note I’m saying similar about a lot of songs today – I’m clearly in a more ‘edgy’ mood.)

Track 8: Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight

I’ve no idea why this was back in the charts seven years after its original release, but I don’t care, ’cause this is hands down the best solo song Phil Collins ever did.  That ominous build and build and build until the drums finally kick in is just wonderful.

Track 9: Hothouse Flowers – Don’t Go

This is what I consider a ‘pre-1990s’ song, otherwise known as an ominous reminder that the fun of the ’80s was nearly over and soon we would all be dressing in minimalist neutrals and plaid.  Not a fan of the instrumentals in general, though there’s a bit of sax solo that kind of saves it.

Track 10: Morrissey – Every Day Is Like Sunday

This is probably the only solo Morrissey track I like (other than First Of The Gang To Die, which I developed a soft spot for in 2005), largely because this one is so hilariously gloomy that it’s almost self-parodic.

Track 11: Danny Wilson – Mary’s Prayer

There’s a nice nostalgia factor with this one for me, ’cause our family had it on a Celtic Anthems compilation circa 2000, but I do find it a bit cheesy.

Track 12: Johnny Hates Jazz – Heart Of Gold

Nice interesting instrumentals, good tune.  Really like this one.

Track 13: Voice Of The Beehive – Don’t Call Me Baby

Another one that’s a bit ‘pre-1990s’.  Nice tune though.

Track 14: Iron Maiden – Can I Play With Madness

Am I the only one for whom that title triggers the mental image of Bruce Dickinson asking his mum if he can go round to Suggs’ for tea?  Please tell me I’m not.

Fairly standard rock metal, as you might expect from Iron Maiden – not one of their more exciting tracks.

Track 15: Heart – These Dreams

This softer ballad from Heart doesn’t really have enough edge for my liking, but it’s still a nice song.

Track 16: T’Pau – I Will Be With You

Nice tune, but there’s not much to elevate it above ‘dull slow ballad’ in my book.

Track 17: The Time Lords – Doctorin’ The TARDIS

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

I’m sure everyone knows this is actually the KLF under an alias.  Anyway, it’s a Doctor Who song, so obviously I love it.

Track 18: Sabrina – Boys (Summertime Love)

It’s a classic not-a-guilty-pleasure from my early ’00s ’80s playlist, ’cause I am absolutely shameless about loving this one (it’s the type of song I would traditionally blast on full volume at 3am when drinking alone.  It’s probably for the best I don’t drink alone anymore).

Track 19: Bananarama – I Want You Back

More solid pop from Bananarama.  I really ought to listen to that Wow! album more often.

Track 20: Tiffany – I Think We’re Alone Now

I’ve always found this one pretty annoying, I’m afraid.  Cheesy lyrics, irritating tune.

Track 21: Hazell Dean – Who’s Leaving Who

Great track – awesome epic atmosphere right from the start.

Track 22: The Communards – There’s More To Love (Than Boy Meets Girl)

Nice tune on this one, and some lovely instrumentals – another great track from the Communards.

Track 23: Jermaine Stewart – Get Lucky

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

Nice upbeat bit of pop, though the vocals are a bit dull.

Track 24: Glenn Medeiros – Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You

BLURGH.  Cheese on top of cheese on top of cheese.  Far too much for me, not my cup of tea at all.

Track 25: S-Express – Theme From S-Express

This was a hit again in 1998 for some reason, ’cause I had it on a compilation I bought around that time.  I’ve always found it a bit dull.

Track 26: Salt-N-Pepa – Push It

Love this one!  Great singalong party track.

Track 27: Derek B – Bad Young Brother

I usually quite like ’80s rap, but this one’s not really my thing.

Track 28: James Brown – The Payback [Part One]

An early ’70s track from James Brown re-entering the charts.  Not a super exciting song.

Track 29: Rose Royce – Car Wash

Another throwback track, this time from the late ’70s disco era.  Not sure what it’s doing back in the charts in 1988, but it’s a classic party song, and I’m going to make it today’s top wedding DJ dance track.

Track 30: Natalie Cole – Pink Cadillac

Nice funk bass on this track.  Vocals a bit mid-century retro for my liking though.

Track 31: Jellybean and Adele Bertei – Just A Mirage

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

I’ve not really enjoyed the Jellybean songs featured so far in the Now! compilations, but this epic party track is great!  Definitely one for the playlist.

Track 32: Will Downing – A Love Supreme

Nice long sax instrumental recurring throughout, which is always a good thing.  Nice tune too.

Vintage fair haul: Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair

It was so nice to get back to vintage fair trawling today!

I took a break from the drudgery of my all-encompassing project this afternoon to go to the Boiler Shop in central Newcastle, where I’ve been for different vintage fairs before.  Today it was hosting Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair, which I’ve previously been to at different venues.  They all kind of chop and change about in that way.

Anyway, on with the haul:

Vintage fair haul
Left to right: grey leather jacket, silver silk blouse, purple/black/white chiffon blouse.

I’m really pleased with today’s purchases!  The jacket will do me perfectly for spring and autumn (and probably for the cooler bits of summer as well, let’s face it!).  The blouses, meanwhile, are to mitigate the fact that post-cull I’ve been lacking in pretty tops.  Probably my favourite vintage fair trip so far – I really feel like I’m learning to spot stuff that I really like, and not just buying things for the sake of it.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #11

Day 11’s Now! compilation takes us to 21st March 1988.

March 1988
This is the way the world looked in March 1988 – and it’s a welcome break from the baby photos today, as we had a new-to-us car, a ropey old Austin Ambassador. I loved that car and I cried my eyes out when it broke down and we had to get rid of it a year or two later.

Here’s some music by people who almost certainly drove better cars than my dad did that month.

Now! That's What I Call Music #11
Track 1: Pet Shop Boys – Always On My Mind

Great cover of the Elvis classic.  I love the synth line on this one, but then I love the synth line on pretty much every Pet Shop Boys track.  This was the 1987 Christmas number one – I would say ‘deservedly so’ if it weren’t for the fact that it should have been Fairytale Of New York that year.

Track 2: Belinda Carlisle – Heaven Is A Place On Earth

Love this one!  Another classic from my ’80s playlist I made in the early ’00s.  I used to blast it in my first student flat.  Thankfully my flatmates all loved it too.

Track 3: Billy Ocean – Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car

Is Billy Ocean’s car a dodgy red Austin Ambassador?  If so, I’d get into it any day.  I miss that car.

Great bit of pop, always liked this one.

Track 4: Jermaine Stewart – Say It Again

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

Nice piano intro, nice tune on the chorus, generally pleasant song.

Track 5: Eddy Grant – Gimme Hope Jo’anna

Argh, annoying chorus alert!  Good party song, but give me Electric Avenue any day.

Track 6: Eddie Cochran – C’mon Everybody

Not sure why this ’50s classic was back in the charts, but here it is.  Nice bit of timeless rock ‘n’ roll.

Track 7: Morrissey – Suedehead

Fairly typical of Morrissey’s just-post-the-Smiths era.  I’m not a big fan of this one, there’s nothing in the tune that I like.

Track 8: Elton John – Candle In The Wind

Again, I have no idea why this song was back in the charts more than a decade after its original release, but it was.  I actually prefer the Diana tribute reworking from 1997.  Honestly!

Track 9: Wet Wet Wet – Angel Eyes (Home And Away)

Another annoying chorus – there’s something kind of whiny about it.  I’m not sure what the ‘home and away’ in the title is about, either – it just reminds me of the soap opera, which I’m not sure had even started in 1988.

Track 10: Johnny Hates Jazz – Turn Back The Clock

Kind of a dull one in my book, though the instrumentals are quite nice.

Track 11: T’Pau – Valentine

Really like the way this one builds – great, interesting track.

Track 12: Billy Idol – Hot In The City

A bit repetitive in its tune, but still a good head-nodder.

Track 13: Sinéad O’Connor – Mandinka

Nice upbeat track, love the guitar and the vocals on the bridge and chorus.

Track 14: The Mission – Tower Of Strength

Goth club classic!  Get that two-step going.

Track 15: Whitesnake – Give Me All Your Love

Not as epic as the best Whitesnake songs, but still a nice singalong hair metal chorus.

Track 16: Kylie Minogue – I Should Be So Lucky

This was my favourite song in 1988, but then it was also the favourite song of every other girl in my nursery class (you’re not very original when you’re three).  I still love it – great pop track.

Track 17: Mel & Kim – That’s The Way It Is

More great pop from Mel & Kim.  I think this may be one of my favourites of theirs.

Track 18: Joyce Sims – Come Into My Life [Radio Mix]

Nice tinkly intro, great catchy hooks, great tune.

Track 19: Jellybean and Elisa Fiorillo – Who Found Who

Chair-dancing from the start with this one – bit of a cheesy vocal, but a nice bouncy track.

Track 20: Bananarama – I Can’t Help It

Love this one!  Another solid pop song from Bananarama.

Track 21: Dollar – Oh L’amour

Fun fact: the original Erasure version of this was never a hit, which is probably why this Dollar cover (which was a hit) appears on so many ’80s compilations.  Absolute epitome of a pointless cover, as it changes nothing from the original (in fact, I was playing it the other day and I don’t think Geth even noticed it wasn’t the original, and he’s a huge Erasure fan), but that at least means that it’s just as danceable.

Track 22: Vanessa Paradis – Joe Le Taxi

Slightly slower one, but still a nice track.  One for the chillout playlist.

Track 23: Morris Minor & The Majors – Stutter Rap (No Sleep Till Bedtime)

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

Daft Beastie Boys parody, very of its time.  Mildly amusing, but not playlist-worthy.

Track 24: Bomb The Bass – Beat Dis

How could I fail to love a track with a Thunderbirds sample?  This one is great.

Being the queen of misheard lyrics, I was all ‘OMG, is that the f-word in my lovely innocent ’80s pop?’  No, of course it’s not!  They’re actually singing ‘funky’.  Contrast that to today’s charts, where every second word in pretty much every song has to be muted on the radio.  I hate this century. </getoffmylawn>

Track 25: Coldcut and Yazz & The Plastic Population – Doctorin’ The House

Another annoying chorus.  What is it with those today?  I quite like the rest of the track, though.

Track 26: Krush – House Arrest

Great dance song.  I don’t imagine most wedding DJs would play this one, but I might request it off Geth next time he’s DJing a wedding.

Track 27: Jack ‘N’ Chill – The Jack That House Built

I really like this one as well – lots of chair-dancing today.  Great synth line, love the samples too.

Track 28: Beatmasters and The Cookie Crew – Rok Da House

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

This one’s not so much my cup of tea, though I do like the piano bit.

Track 29: Two Men, A Drum Machine & A Trumpet – Tired Of Getting Pushed Around

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

Wikipedia informs me these were actually a Fine Young Cannibals spinoff band.  I quite like the track.

Track 30: Climie Fisher – Rise To The Occasion

Bit of a dull ballad, which is becoming standard for the last track.  Let’s have something more upbeat, Now! compilers!

A parkrun update!

I’ve been back at parkrun for a few weeks now, and excitingly, everything seems to be going in the right direction.  Today, my time was 32:59, which is only 30 seconds off my PB of 32:29, which I set last summer.  I didn’t feel I was hugely pushing myself today, either, so I bet I can get close to that PB again soon, and hopefully get it down further this year!

This is not bad at all, considering I had such a poor winter of training.  It’s amazing what weight loss can do for your speed – I’ve felt, in the last year, like I’ve been getting much better without even trying.  Hopefully those last few pounds that I still need to drop will speed me up even more!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #10

Day 10’s Now! compilation was released on 23rd November 1987.

November 1987
There’s something of a theme developing with these ‘this is what the world looked like…’ pictures. I’m sure the world didn’t just look like our house (and since this particular picture was taken, its background hasn’t changed in the slightest – carpet, intercom and original Victorian doorway are still all exactly the same!), but I guess you don’t get out much with small children, so in our family photo album the world looks very much like our house during that era. Here’s what it looked like in November 1987.

Now! #10 is special to me, because it’s the one we had (and still have) on vinyl – the one Dad always put on the record player for me when I wanted to listen to music, the one I learnt to sing and dance to, the one I grew up with, the one that absolutely shaped my music taste.  While there were a lot of Now! compilations I was familiar with in the ’90s, this one is my one.  I must have listened to it a thousand times.

Let’s have a listen to some tracks I know very, very well.

Now! That's What I Call Music #10

Track 1: Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé – Barcelona

The opening bars of this track still send chills down my spine – I’m instantly transported back to my parents’ living room as it looked in the last century, the sound of the record on the player that you just can’t replicate digitally, the bass on the speakers of Dad’s homemade sound system, the anticipation of an evening spent listening to music I loved.

The BBC used this song for its coverage of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, so the song also takes me back to summer days in front of the TV at our holiday caravan (we usually had a black and white TV at the caravan but for the Olympics we brought a colour one with us specially), watching Sally Gunnell and Linford Christie winning gold.

How this one shaped my music taste: You know how every third song review I’ve done on this feature seems to contain the phrase ‘epic atmosphere’?  This is the ultimate in epic atmospheres – booming, dramatic, lots of switching between major and minor key, piano, operatic vocals, slow verses building to a huge chorus, the works.  That is what I love in music – something that makes me feel that strange mixture of happy and sad.

Track 2: Pet Shop Boys – Rent

Pet Shop Boys can do no wrong in my opinion, but this is a stunner.  Beautiful lyrical theme, wonderful emotion-inducing synth line, and another of those epic atmospheres I was talking about above.  An all-time favourite.

Fun fact: Carter USM did a not-at-all-pointless ’90s cover of this, which is very different but also absolutely beautiful.  Nothing will ever beat the original for me, but that Carter cover is great.

How this one shaped my music taste: Two words: electronic music.  I’ve always been drawn to electro, and it’s largely because of early exposure to beautiful synthpop like this.

Track 3: The Communards – Never Can Say Goodbye

Another great pop track from the Communards.  More amusement provided by 2017 Strictly contestant Richard Coles in the video, in which he leads the crowd on the disco dancefloor with some dodgy moves that were nonetheless way better than anything he did on Strictly.  Still wish he’d stayed in the competition longer!

How this one shaped my music taste: It’s fast, upbeat ’80s pop.  Say no more!

Track 4: M/A/R/R/S – Pump Up The Volume

This one always scared me a bit as a kid.  I’m not sure why.  I remember that feeling of fear, wanting to go and hide while the song was playing, but I never did.  I just always stayed kind of rooted to the spot until it was over.

As an adult who no longer experiences irrational fear (um, mostly), I find it a great chantalong track, and due to its ‘SAN FRANCISCO/pump up the volume‘ hook, I played it nonstop for a week leading up to a trip to San Francisco in 2011.  True story.  I am super lame.

How this one shaped my music taste: I always give things a chance, even when it doesn’t immediately sound like my cup of tea.  Anything might grow on you eventually.  Even if it’s a song that gives you strange, irrational fear.

Track 5: Hue & Cry – Labour Of Love

Most definitely an example of that unexplainable mid-’80s Scottish band sound, but in a great way.  I absolutely love this track – the rapid tempo, the stop-start hooks, the catchy vocals.  Awesome song.

How this one shaped my music taste: I love interesting hooks.  And piano.

Track 6: Jellybean and Steven Dante – The Real Thing

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

On the surface this one is a bit dull, but it’s got a nice singalong chorus, and I always find myself nodding along.

How this one shaped my music taste: It’s not always the expected tracks that have you chair-dancing.

Track 7: Johnny Hates Jazz – I Don’t Want To Be A Hero

Great upbeat pop song with a catchy, singalong chorus.  There’s something nice and emotional about the bridge, too.

How this one shaped my music taste: You can find a lovely epic bridge in the most unexpected songs.

Track 8: The Style Council – Wanted

Nice feelgood track from the Style Council – as ever, the backing vocals are great.  Love those tinkly instrumental hooks.

How this one shaped my music taste: I really appreciate good backing vocals.

Track 9: T’Pau – China In Your Hand

Beautiful, beautiful song – another one with an epic atmosphere.  The vocals are stunning, the way the song builds is perfect, and that sax solo is brilliantly over-the-top.

How this one shaped my music taste: There’s nothing I like more than an epic ’80s sax solo!

Track 10: Heart – Alone

This one is really special to me.  It’s a gorgeous rock ballad that has really spoken to me throughout various periods of my life, and always makes me quite emotional.  Beautiful lyrics, beautiful guitar solos – epic, epic song.

How this one shaped my music taste: I adore huge overdramatic rock ballads.  Really!

Track 11: Kiss – Crazy Crazy Nights

Great singalong party song from Kiss.  I love those rocked-out verses and the chorus is mega, especially once you hit the key change.

Due to being hard of hearing, and thus having a lot of issues with background noise, I’ve always found it difficult to make out what singers are singing about – I am the queen of misheard lyrics – but this nice, simple chorus is easy to sing along to.  Great job!

How this one shaped my music taste: I have a soft spot for key changes.  I even quite liked it when Westlife used to do their terrible cheesy ones with the accompanying standing-up-from-stools-on-stage.

Track 12: Billy Idol – Mony Mony

Another great singalong rock chorus that even hard-of-hearing types can make out!  In later life, I grew to love other Billy Idol songs even more than this one, but that nice simple ‘mony mony‘ lyric has a special place in my heart.

How this one shaped my music taste: ’80s pop rock, ’nuff said.  It also strongly shaped my fashion taste, due to the accompanying picture of Billy Idol in the record sleeve with all his spiky hair and black leather and general rock attitude.  By the time he showed up in The Wedding Singer a decade later, my love of the ’80s rock look was set in stone.

Track 13: Whitesnake – Here I Go Again ’87

More classic ’80s rock!  Brilliant singalong track that is only enhanced by the over-the-top video and all its ridiculous double Jaguar bonnet cartwheeling.  Not bad for a band from Middlesbrough.

I have to say I prefer this version to the version they originally did in 1982, probably because this is the one I heard so often in childhood, due to this compilation.

How this one shaped my music taste: Hair metal.  I love it and I won’t apologise.

Track 14: The Alarm – Rain In The Summertime

Great feelgood track with lovely jingly instrumentals.  I’ve seen this performed live, when the band played at Beautiful Days 2010.  I dragged Geth to see them, purely because of their presence on this compilation, and he was not impressed!  What I found out that day: playing a song entitled Rain In The Summertime, when outdoors in the British summer, is just asking for it, and the inevitable downpour that struck that evening meant that we had to shelter in the Big Top indoor stage.  We did end up getting engaged that night, so you can’t complain.

How this one shaped my music taste: I have a whimsical appreciation for songs about rain.

Track 15: Marillion – Sugar Mice

Bit of a slow one, but it builds in a great epic fashion, culminating in an awesome epic guitar solo.

How this one shaped my music taste: I really love songs that build well.

Track 16: Wet Wet Wet – Sweet Little Mystery

Great upbeat pop – always been a fan of this one.  I really like Wet Wet Wet’s ’80s stuff, before they got all grown-up and introspective in the ’90s.

How this one shaped my music taste: I appreciate nice, simple pop songs.

Track 17: Curiosity Killed The Cat – Misfit

Really like this one – my favourite Curiosity Killed The Cat track.  As a kid, not being familiar with the idiom, I used to get upset by the band’s name (I love cats).

How this one shaped my music taste: I never judge a band by their name.

Track 18: Los Lobos – La Bamba

A cover of the Ritchie Valens classic.  The cover is very close to the original, but deliberately so as it was recorded for the film La Bamba, which was about Valens, so I’m not going to call it a pointless cover – instead I’ll just enjoy the tune, which is a great party track and was played at every birthday party I went to in the late ’80s.

How this one shaped my music taste: Sometimes the oldies are the goodies.  (And now that it’s the ’80s hits that are the oldies, this has never been more true.)

Track 19: Fat Boys and Beach Boys – Wipeout

Great surf-themed song.  The Fat Boys’ cackle at the start of the song is another thing that scared me as a kid (they also looked pretty scary in their album sleeve picture, which I seem to remember involving snakes), but once the song gets going it’s great, especially when the Beach Boys’ harmonies kick in.

How this one shaped my music taste: I never judge a band by the way they look.  This has served me well in the goth scene!

Track 20: Bananarama – Love In The First Degree

Another pop classic from Bananarama – I absolutely adored this one as a kid and still love it now.

This is another one where the album sleeve picture made a big impression on my young brain.  The band members were all fully clothed themselves, but they each had a topless dude as an accessory.  This is something you’d be less likely to see in pop music today, where female artists are usually hugely objectified and barely clothed.  In some ways, we’ve gone backwards since the ’80s. </soapbox>

How this one shaped my music taste: Bananarama’s music, for me is the epitome of the fun and intelligence that pop music and lyrics used to have.  If pop music doesn’t have that – which, nowadays, it usually doesn’t – it’s not pop music in my book.  It’s that simple.

Track 21: Cliff Richard – My Pretty One

The vocals are far too saccharine for me, ’cause it’s Cliff Richard, but the instrumentals are actually really nice!

How this one shaped my music taste: I know not to listen to Cliff.  Is that cheating?

Track 22: Karel Fialka – Hey Matthew

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

I’ve always loved this one – a really, really interesting song with vocals that, despite having a nice melody when you listen closely, sound almost spoken in some ways, actual spoken word from a child that manages to be interesting rather than annoying, and great screechy electro hooks.

How this one shaped my music taste: I have a soft spot for spoken word.

Track 23: Jan Hammer – Crockett’s Theme

So much better than his main theme for Miami Vice!  I’ve always adored this tune.

How this one shaped my music taste: I love a good instrumental soundtrack.

Track 24: Nina Simone – My Baby Just Cares For Me

Love the plinky piano on this classic track.  Can’t remember why it was in the charts again, but I’m not complaining!

How this one shaped my music taste: I really like interesting piano stuff.

Track 25: Erasure – The Circus

One of my favourite Erasure tracks – but then, I love everything they did in the ’80s.  This is a gorgeous song.

How this one shaped my music taste: More great synthpop that cemented my electro addiction.

Track 26: The Housemartins – Build

Lovely track from the Housemartins – beautiful introspective lyrics and nice slow tune.

How this one shaped my music taste: Sometimes, there’s something beautiful about a slower song.

Track 27: Level 42 – It’s Over

A slower one from Level 42, with really interesting instrumental lines.

And no, I’ve still not booked tickets to that October gig I keep going on about.  I will get round to it soon, I promise!

How this one shaped my music taste: Speaking of slower songs, they can be really musically interesting as well!

Track 28: ABC – When Smokey Sings

Adore ABC, adore this track.  I love that epic intro, Martin Fry’s vocals, the instrumentals – everything.

How this one shaped my music taste: I love songs that bang in right from the start.  Start as you mean to go on!

Track 29: Squeeze – Hourglass

Great jaunty song.  That chorus is just awesome, typical bit of fun from Squeeze!

How this one shaped my music taste: I really appreciate songs that have something whimsical about them.

Track 30: The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale Of New York

An all-time classic.  One of my favourite Christmas songs, and one I learnt to adore early in life, thanks to this compilation.  Just beautiful.

How this one shaped my music taste: Though you might not be able to guess at the moment, due to me being super curmudgeonly about them when it’s springtime, I adore Christmas songs.  I get my playlist on the go in early November and I watch the music channels religiously in the lead-up to the festive season.  Very few of them are as good as this one, but the genre is special to me.