A bit of a diversion for today’s Music Video Monday, ’cause Bananarama have released a new single ahead of their upcoming album release next month, and it’s ace (by ‘it’s ace’, I of course mean ‘they still sound like they did in 1988’). Unlike today’s new artists, who tend to be very lazy about releasing videos on time, Bananarama dropped the video along with the song release on Friday.
It’s so aesthetically pleasing – lots of lying about on fancy-looking sofas – and I want pretty much everything that Sara and Keren are wearing. Hopefully a few more videos will show up once the album gets going!
If you’re lucky, there’s something special about the song that was number one when you were born. Maybe it symbolises something about your life, or your interests, or the person that you ended up growing up to be. Maybe it’s just a really awesome song.
If you’re unlucky, you end up like Geth and get Theme From M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless) (UK number one from 25th May 1980 to 14th June 1980, fact fans!) as your birthday number one. It’s not bad as TV theme tunes go, but it’s not special to Geth – he didn’t grow up to be a soldier, or an expert on the Korean War, or even much of a M*A*S*H fan, really.
I was lucky, and my birthday number one is special to me. I love it as a Christmas baby, as an ’80s throwback, as a chart geek, and as a lover of music in general. It’s an extremely well-known Christmas song – one of those tracks you hear constantly from the middle of November until early January. It held the record for the best-selling single in UK chart history for more than twelve years, only ever being overtaken by Elton John’s Candle In The Wind ’97 after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in September 1997.
My birthday number one is Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas?, one of the most famous recordings in music history.
I was born on 3rd January 1985, the twenty-sixth day of the thirty-five day period (9th December 1984 to 12th January 1985) that Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? spent at number one in the UK. From the 1984-1985 UK birthrates available online, I estimate that I share my birthday number one with approximately 71,000 other Band Aid babies, including Georgia Moffett, Lewis Hamilton, and Newton Faulkner. (I would love to be able to work out the exact number, but the internet is not forthcoming at the moment!)
Due to the ubiquity of the song, I grew up with it, and it became my favourite Christmas song long before I realised that it was my birthday number one. I pored over the upside-down answers to Smash Hits quizzes that challenged readers to name all the artists involved in the song, and memorised names that were unfamiliar to me in the context of the early ’90s pop music landscape. I dutifully learnt to sing the song with my primary school class in preparation for our Christmas performance at the local old folks’ community centre. I waited excitedly for it to come on as soon as my brother and I were allowed to play the family’s Christmas compilation CD (That’s Christmas) on the 1st of December every year. It’s one of those songs that you hear hundreds of times every year, and so it never really goes out of your mind. That’s not something you can say about Theme From M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless).
The finer points of Bob Geldof’s project to put together a charity supergroup and the song’s recording on 25th November 1984 are well known, detailed in a hundred different BBC4 documentaries and summarised fairly well on Wikipedia (though I highly recommend the Smash Hits coverage of the recording day included in the collection book The Best Of Smash Hits: The ’80s for a bit of period flavour – it has a great group photo of all the artists involved except for Boy George, who infamously didn’t show up till six o’clock in the evening due to oversleeping in New York and having to get on a Concorde back to London).
I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my life, including a lot of concerts by artists who were big in the ’80s due to it being my favourite music era and favourite era in general. But the other day, it occurred to me that I had never gone to see a single one of the thirty-seven artists who performed on my birthday number one. I had never even seen any of the additional seven artists who couldn’t make it to the recording and so sent recorded Christmas messages to be used on the B-side of the single.
This is the part of the post where I get to the point.
I will never get to see every single one of the artists involved in my birthday number one. Sadly, two of the musicians who contributed to the song (George Michael and Rick Parfitt) and two who recorded B-side messages (Stuart Adamson and David Bowie) have since passed away. But I have decided that I will make a concerted effort to see as many of the rest of them as possible. After all, I have more opportunity than some. My brother’s birthday number one is Ben E King’s Stand By Me (a re-entry at UK number one between 15th February 1987 and 7th March 1987), which means that since King’s death in 2015 he has no longer had the possibility of seeing his birthday number one artist. People who were born between 14th December 1980 and 20th December 1980, when (Just Like) Starting Over was number one following John Lennon’s assassination, have never had the chance to see their birthday number one artist.
Enter the Band Aid bucket list!
For most of my bucket lists, I reckon that if I’m lucky enough, I’ve got another fifty or sixty years left to get them completed. Time is not so much on my side for this particular list, given that all the artists on it are now in their fifties and sixties and won’t be performing or alive forever. As such, rather similarly to the huge hoard of ’80s vintage clothing I’m collecting while it’s still cheap and plentiful, I aim to get the bulk of this project achieved while I’m still in my thirties, and so I’m targeting >50% list completion by my fortieth birthday on 3rd January 2025. That gives me six years, one month and fourteen days as of this post to see as many of the following artists as possible. I’d better get a wiggle on.
Day 15’s Now! compilation was released on 14th August 1989.
On with the tracks!
Track 1: Queen – I Want It All
Brilliant track, one of my favourites from Queen. Wonderful guitar solo from Brian May, of course, but the best bit is when it goes quiet for a drums ‘n’ chanting singalong. Great stuff.
Track 2: Simple Minds – Kick It In
After an uninspiring slow intro, this track does what it says on the tin, thankfully. Vocals a bit experimental for my liking, though.
Track 3: Fine Young Cannibals – Good Thing
Bit of a retro-sounding track from Fine Young Cannibals. Nice tune, but a bit repetitive for me.
Track 4: Holly Johnson – Americanos
I’m not hugely keen on Holly Johnson’s post-FGTH solo stuff. There’s something irritating about the tune and instrumentals on this one.
Track 5: Transvision Vamp – Baby I Don’t Care
Great pop-rock track from Transvision Vamp. Nice singalong chorus, great guitar.
Track 6: INXS – Mystify
Nice bouncy instrumentals, nice vocals, lovely epic quiet chorus. Really like this one.
Track 7: Roxette – The Look
Love this track! Great guitar, great vocals, awesome tune. Roxette are one of those bands where I like pretty much all of their stuff, but this is a real standout.
Track 8: Stevie Nicks – Rooms On Fire
Slight aside for a minute while I bemoan the fact that I am no longer going to try and get tickets to see Fleetwood Mac this year because they’ve had drama again, with Lindsey Buckingham quitting, and I WANTED TO SEE ALL FIVE OF THEM BECAUSE THAT’S THE CLASSIC LINEUP DAMMIT. This is the only gig disappointment of 2018 that I have not been able to mitigate somehow.
Anyway, this Stevie Nicks solo track is lovely and epic, absolutely holding its own against the Fleetwood Mac back catalogue. Cracking song.
Track 9: Paul McCartney – My Brave Face
Nice upbeat track, nice tune. Good head-nodder.
Track 10: Gerry Marsden, Paul McCartney, Holly Johnson and The Christians – Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Never been keen on any version of this track, ’cause the chorus annoys me. I do appreciate the instrumental treatment of this one, though.
Track 11: The Beautiful South – Song For Whoever
So, back on Saturday when I was listening to Now! #10, Geth went on this big ominous ramble during Build by the Housemartins that that was the point when the Housemartins were starting to sound like the Beautiful South, and that it would only be a matter of time before the former went bang and the latter rose from the ashes. That did of course happen in the late ’80s, but as much as I do prefer the Housemartins, I don’t think the Beautiful South are a bad thing. This song is lovely and has just the right level of whimsy for my liking.
Track 12: Kirsty MacColl – Days
Beautiful cover of the Kinks track. There’s enough interesting things done with the instrumentals here (not to mention MacColl’s gorgeous vocals) to make the cover non-pointless, and the result is lovely and sweeping.
Track 13: Danny Wilson – The Second Summer Of Love
Not sure about this folk-rock track – I quite like the bridge, but the chorus is a bit cheesy.
Track 14: Waterfront – Cry
Good instrumentals on the intro, but the track is a bit generic. Sax solo does save it a bit.
Track 15: Hue & Cry – Violently
Another slow one from Hue & Cry – again, a bit dull for me. They just never matched Labour Of Love as far as I’m concerned.
Track 16: Cliff Richard – The Best Of Me
1989: the year everyone decided Cliff Richard was a thing again for some reason. This one is mouldy cheddar, but what do you expect?
Track 17: Soul II Soul and Caron Wheeler – Back To Life (However Do You Want Me)
I’ve always liked that ‘back to life/back to reality‘ hook. Nice head-nodder as well.
Track 18: Neneh Cherry – Manchild
Nice tune and great instrumentals, but it’s a bit slow for me.
Track 19: Bobby Brown – Every Little Step
Dull tune, but the beat’s all right.
Track 20: Inner City – Do You Love What You Feel
Nice intro – then the dull vocal kicks in. Not a fan.
Track 21: D-Mob and LRS – It’s Time To Get Funky
Good dance track, quite like this one.
Track 22: Donna Allen – Joy And Pain
Love that sax! Nice tuneful ballad, even if the vocals are a bit repetitive.
Track 23: Gladys Knight – Licence To Kill
Love a James Bond soundtrack song! (We’ll gloss over the missed opportunity of A View To A Killfor now.) Epic almost-orchestral instrumentals, building atmosphere, great vocals – this is what you want.
Track 24: Natalie Cole – Miss You Like Crazy
Super saccharine ballad, annoying chorus. Not my thing.
Track 25: Pet Shop Boys – It’s Alright
More classic synthpop from Pet Shop Boys. Love those synth hooks.
Track 26: Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers – Swing The Mood
Novelty cartoon rabbit that I quite liked at the time, being four. The mix of classic swing and rock ‘n’ roll tracks leaves a little to be desired, though.
Track 27: Swing Out Sister – You On My Mind
Nice upbeat track, lovely tune, good vocals – I quite like this one.
Track 28: Bananarama – Cruel Summer ’89
I don’t know whose idea this 1989 remix was, but it’s a good excuse to hear some classic Bananarama again! Great track when it’s not the weird remix bit.
Track 29: De La Soul – Say No Go
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 1: lazy tribute version substitute.
Finally, some rap that’s actually interesting! Great instrumentals too.
Track 30: Norman Cook and MC Wildski – Blame It On The Bassline
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Here’s another phoenix from the ashes of the Housemartins’ split, back in the days before he was going by Fatboy Slim. This was actually the Beats International project, although I guess they hadn’t come up with the name yet.
Really quite like this mishmash of samples, especially the Blame It On The Boogie hooks.
Track 31: Double Trouble and The Rebel MC – Just Keep Rockin’
Nice upbeat dance track – happily nodding along here.
Track 32: The Cure – Lullaby
My favourite song from my favourite band! Now THIS is a good way to end a compilation. Indescribably beautiful mournful track – I will adore it forever.
Two weeks into this review series, and Now! 14 takes us to 20th March 1989.
Both me and the wee bro were clearly better dressed than this lot, but let’s listen to their songs anyway.
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.
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.
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.
Day 11’s Now! compilation takes us to 21st March 1988.
Here’s some music by people who almost certainly drove better cars than my dad did that month.
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!
Day 10’s Now! compilation was released on 23rd 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.
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.
Day 9 equals Now! #9, which was released on 23rd March 1987.
Here are some tracks that may have floated into my tiny brother’s tiny ears.
Track 1: Jackie Wilson – Reet Petite
I hear this one regularly every Christmas period due to its status as the 1986 UK Christmas number one. As a result, it’s slightly Christmas-associated in my book, and also slightly annoying.
Track 2: Mental As Anything – Live It Up
I wasn’t familiar with this one. Nice chorus, good upbeat track.
Track 3: Simply Red – The Right Thing
This one’s a bit repetitive for me, though I like the instrumentals.
Track 4: Erasure – Sometimes
This is Geth’s go-to Erasure DJing track, so I kind of associate it with 2.55pm in a goth club. Great tune, though.
Track 5: Robbie Nevil – C’est La Vie
It’s a bit dull, but there’s something I quite like about it, maybe just ’cause it’s been featured on so many ’80s compilations I’ve heard.
Track 6: Hot Chocolate – You Sexy Thing
This was a hit again ’cause it had a new remix for its tenth anniversary, though I can’t work out whether it was the original or the remix that was featured on this compilation. Classic tune either way.
Track 7: The Blow Monkeys – It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way
I’ve always liked this one – great chorus, great saxophone riffs.
Incidentally, the Blow Monkeys are going to be supporting Level 42 at that gig at the Sage Gateshead in October! I should really stop going on about said gig on here and go buy tickets instead.
Track 8: The Housemartins – Caravan Of Love
One of my favourite Housemartins tracks – lovely a cappella cover of an Isley Brothers song from the previous year.
Track 9: Boy George – Everything I Own
Hmm, not for me, this one. Boy George has basically brought the ‘annoying’ aspect of Culture Club songs into his solo career.
Track 10: UB40 – Rat In Mi Kitchen
Nice jaunty, daft tune. Love the whimsy of this one.
I should, however, point out that as a professional editor, I absolutely hate that misspelling of ‘my’ in the title. Just why?
Track 11: The Gap Band – Big Fun
Like the atmosphere of this one, though the samples and vocals are a bit dull.
Track 12: Five Star – Stay Out Of My Life
I’m not a huge Five Star fan, and I find this one pretty dull, though some of the instrumental hooks are quite interesting.
Track 13: Pepsi & Shirlie – Heartache
It’s a bit pop-by-numbers, but I really like that the girls from Wham! got to go and have some hits by themselves (great vocals too now that they’re not playing second fiddle to George Michael!) before fading into obscurity again.
Track 14: Bananarama – Trick Of The Night
Love that sax intro, love the atmosphere of this one. Great track.
Track 15: Berlin – Take My Breath Away
Another one from my original ’80s playlist circa 2001. A bit overplayed due to the Top Gun connection, but a stunning pop ballad.
Track 16: Freddie Mercury – The Great Pretender
Wonderfully cheesy over-the-top dramatic number. I’d expect no less from Freddie Mercury.
Track 17: Ben E King – Stand By Me
Nice ’60s classic – back in the charts, I believe, due to the film of the same name. Lovely singalong track.
Track 18: Curiosity Killed The Cat – Down To Earth
Nice slightly laid-back track. It’s a bit ‘background’ for me, but I do like it.
Track 19: The Communards – So Cold The Night
A slightly more dramatic one from the Communards, with a great epic atmosphere.
Track 20: Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley – Jack Your Body
Like the tune, but the vocal sample is really irritating!
Track 21: Taffy – I Love My Radio (Midnight Radio)
Great synth line, great catchy vocals! Will be adding this to the playlist.
Track 22: Nick Kamen – Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever
Lyrics a bit cheesy for my liking, though the tune is quite nice, and that sax solo is great.
Track 23: A-ha – Manhattan Skyline
Interestingly slow verses before it kicks in with a great upbeat chorus. Nice epic atmosphere, great track from A-ha.
Track 24: Westworld – Sonic Boom Boy
Quite a fun wee track, good chant-along head-nodder.
Track 25: Bon Jovi – Livin’ On A Prayer
Hair metal headbanging time! Most definitely a guilty pleasure. This was a Cav classic circa 2001-2002 (i.e. played regularly at the Cavendish, a godawful cheap nightclub in Edinburgh that sold VK Apple alcopops for £1 each, resulting in a thousand hangovers during that era. Ah, teen years. The club still exists but, several name changes later, is now called Atik).
Track 26: Genesis – Land Of Confusion
Probably my favourite Genesis song – I love this one! Bonus points also for the Spitting Image video.
Track 27: Europe – The Final Countdown
More headbanging, another guilty pleasure, and also, incidentally, another Cav classic (see above). I can almost taste the VK Apple, which is not a good thing.
Track 28: Gary Moore – Over The Hills And Far Away
Love this folk-tinged bit of classic rock! I’ve spent my adulthood in goth clubs hearing the Nightwish cover, but I prefer this original version.
Track 29: Ward Brothers – Cross That Bridge
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Nice bit of upbeat pop, currently chair-dancing here. Great synth in the instrumentals.
Track 30: Pretenders – Hymn To Her
Great lyrics, though the track is a bit slow for me. Nice tune too.
We’ve been doing this for a whole week. Doesn’t time fly?
Day 7 takes us to 11th August 1986.
Let’s see what might have been blaring on the radio while I was toddling around that balcony.
Track 1: Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer
Great start! Awesome upbeat song, a real classic (doing the chair dance right now). The video won lots of awards but I’ve never been a fan of it, though I’m sure it was groundbreaking at the time.
Track 2: UB40 – Sing Our Own Song
I do like the almost MIDI-videogame-music-esque instrumentals that run through this song. Nice tune too.
Track 3: Sly Fox – Let’s Go All The Way
Nice beat, but the tune’s a bit dull for me.
Track 4: Level 42 – Lessons In Love
And with the awesome guitar intro to this song, Level 42 are reminding me that I really should buy tickets to that show I was talking about yesterday. I love this track.
Track 5: Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)
I’m so glad Pet Shop Boys have caught the eye of the Now! compilers! I love pretty much everything they’ve ever done, and this brilliant track is no exception. Love that slow synth intro that bangs into the chorus – awesome.
Track 6: Pete Wylie – Sinful!
Repetitive beats, lack of melody, boring samples, not really my thing. It does get slightly more interesting as it builds.
Geth arrived home while this was playing and thought it was by James. I’ve not asked how many drinks he had at his work’s wine reception, but it looks like a few.*
Track 7: Stan Ridgway – Camouflage
I do like this jaunty tune, though the vocals annoy me. If I can find an instrumental version, I think I’ll be adding it to my regular playlist.
Track 8: The Art Of Noise and Max Headroom – Paranoimia
Like the synth at the start of this, like the sampling, love Max Headroom. Fun track.
Track 9: Chris De Burgh – Lady In Red
Blurgh, far too much cheese here. I don’t dislike everything he’s done, but this one is a real eye-roller.
Track 10: David Bowie – Absolute Beginners
Lovely song, up to the usual Bowie standard. Nice video too, featuring a red phone box (though it’s filmed in black and white).
Track 11: Genesis – Invisible Touch
I really like the Genesis singles of this era. Great catchy chorus, great instrumentals.
Track 12: Simple Minds – All The Things She Said
It’s bad that when I see that title my mind automatically goes to the 2002 Tatu hit, right? I think that’s pretty bad.
This song, meanwhile, is a great upbeat track from Simple Minds, no male-gaze lesbianism in sight.
Track 13: The Housemartins – Happy Hour
Happy hour, happy song, happy Dee, quite literally. This one always cheers me up.
Track 14: Big Country – Look Away
One of the Big Country songs that irritates me for some reason. I think it’s the tune.
Track 15: Furniture – Brilliant Mind
I’ve always really liked the atmosphere of this one. It builds beautifully.
Track 16: Midge Ure – Call Of The Wild
Nice pop tune, but it’s a bit forgettable.
Track 17: Wham! – The Edge Of Heaven
Were Wham! still going at this point? I lose track. Great catchy song though.
Track 18: Owen Paul – My Favourite Waste Of Time
I’m going to call this a guilty pleasure. Should I feel guilty about it? I’m not sure.
Track 19: Amazulu – Too Good To Be Forgotten
Unfortunately this song does not do what it says on the tin. It may be unforgettable, but that’s due to the irritating tune that threatens to become an unwanted earworm if you hear it too often.
Track 20: Doctor & The Medics – Spirit In The Sky
Never been sure about this cover. It’s very nearly a pointless ’80s cover in my book, as there’s little to differentiate it from the Norman Greenbaum original other than the harder guitar and interesting synth hooks, but I can’t help but love the video.
Track 21: Bananarama – Venus
My favourite Bananarama song! Perfect piece of pop.
Track 22: Bucks Fizz – New Beginning (Mamba Seyra)
I do quite like a lot of Bucks Fizz’s stuff, but I’m not hugely keen on this one. It’s a bit dull.
Track 23: A-ha – Hunting High And Low [Remix]
I quite like this one, even though it’s one of A-ha’s slower tracks. There’s something quite epic about it.
Track 24: Simply Red – Holding Back The Years
Nice ballad, though I’d have to be in a pretty sleepy mood to put it on.
Track 25: Billy Ocean – When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going
Love this classic soundtrack song! Though I’ve never seen The Jewel In The Nile (or Romancing The Stone, come to think of it), which I should sort out at some point.
Fun fact: Boyzone did a pointless ’90s cover of this in 1999 (well, I shouldn’t really call it pointless, seeing as it raised a lot of money for Comic Relief, but you know what I mean).
Track 26: Jaki Graham – Set Me Free
Nice upbeat pop song, though I’m not hugely keen on the vocals.
Track 27: Nu Shooz – I Can’t Wait
With a band name like this, what can go wrong?
I do like that jingly bit at the start. I also just realised that Mann sampled this for Buzzin’ in 2010 and now I’m annoyed on Nu Shooz’ behalf.
Track 28: The Real Roxanne and Hitman Howie Tee – Bang Zoom (Let’s Go-Go)
The rap bit’s all right, but the sampled tune irritates me. Not a fan.
Track 29: Lovebug Starski – Amityville (The House On The Hill)
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 1: lazy tribute version substitute.
Nice cheesy horror-themed track, very ’80s. One for the Hallowe’en party playlist.
Track 30: Midnight Star – Headlines
Argh, that irritating vocal! Not a fan of this one.
Track 31: Aurra – You And Me Tonight
Lot of spoken samples in the intro, repetitive backing track, dull vocals. Not my thing.
Track 32: Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald – On My Own
Pretty dull ballad, though the tune on the chorus is nice.
Now! #3 was released on 23rd July 1984, so hopefully its summer release means that there won’t be any Christmas music on this one.
Track 1: Duran Duran – The Reflex
What was it I said yesterday? Yeah. Insert daily ‘I love Duran Duran’ statement here. This one, as ever, is brilliant from start to finish – the backing vocals, the slightly mad lyrics, the chant-along bits on the chorus. Love it.
Track 2: Nik Kershaw – I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me
I find this one a bit repetitive. Not Nik Kershaw’s most exciting song.
Track 3: Sister Sledge – Thinking Of You
Not hugely keen on the disco stuff that was still kicking about in the ’80s anyway, and this one’s not even danceable in my opinion.
Track 4: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Locomotion
Love me some OMD. This one’s a bit bouncier and dafter than their usual stuff, but that’s no bad thing.
Track 5: Ultravox – Dancing With Tears In My Eyes
Good song – that short guitar intro is great, as is the tune in general – but the nuclear-war-themed video is really depressing!
Track 6: Howard Jones – Pearl In The Shell
Nice upbeat intro, nice synth line, nice vocals, and I do love a sax solo! Fairly standard Howard Jones.
Track 7: Blancmange – Don’t Tell Me
Great synthpop track – and I would expect no less from Blancmange.
Track 8: Phil Collins – Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)
Track 10: Grandmaster Flash and Grandmaster Melle Mel – White Lines (Don’t Do It)
A good head-nodder, with a great vocal, but not really my kind of thing. I do quite like the fact that ostensibly anti-drug songs were a big thing in the ’80s (especially in comparison to the endless, boring and crass drug references in modern-day chart music), though I’m not sure how tongue-in-cheek this song’s message was.
Track 11: The Specials – Nelson Mandela
Another one that was used to good effect in Britain’s Got The Pop Factor. This one always makes me think of the time in 1989 when my parents took me to the ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ march on Glasgow Green (I still have the badge).
Track 12: Womack & Womack – Love Wars
I wasn’t familiar with this one, but I like the atmosphere of the verse, before the chorus gets a bit haphazard.
Track 13: The Style Council – You’re The Best Thing
I find this one pretty dull, and the chorus annoys me for some reason.
Track 14: Bob Marley & The Wailers – One Love/People Get Ready
Classic sway-in-your-chair track. Love this one!
Track 15: Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy
Wonderful synthpop – that stunning intro! A favourite, and also a regular feature of Geth’s DJ setlists.
Track 16: Queen – I Want To Break Free
I’m not going to call this one a ‘guilty pleasure’, ’cause I don’t feel guilty about loving it at all. Everything about it is awesome, from the epic intro to the Coronation Street homage in the video.
Track 17: Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time
Now this is a good ballad – nothing dreary about this one. Beautiful tune, lovely instrumentals.
Track 18: Alison Moyet – Love Resurrection
This one reminds me of long car journeys as a kid with my dad’s Alison Moyet CD on the car stereo (I found out last Christmas that my brother vehemently hated that CD, but I really quite liked it). I love Yazoo – as I mentioned yesterday, Only You is my all-time favourite song. I’m not quite as keen on Moyet’s solo material, but it’s still good stuff.
Also, nowadays whenever I hear the lyric ‘show me one direction, I will not question again‘, I always think of One Direction. Thanks, 21st century, for ruining things yet again.
Track 19: The Bluebells – Young At Heart
Another song (following Relax yesterday) that was re-released in 1993 and hence ended up on my Greatest Hits Of 1993 compilation! Maybe it was 1993 that was the first true era of ’80s nostalgia. I don’t blame people for wanting to get going with that as early as possible.
Track 20: Bananarama – Robert De Niro’s Waiting
I quite like this one, but then I’ve never come across a Bananarama track I didn’t like. I remember knowing the title of this song for ages before I actually heard it, ’cause it’s mentioned in the blurb for Love In The First Degree on Now! #10 (we’ll get to that a week from today).
Track 21: Propaganda – Dr Mabuse
I wasn’t familiar with this one, but I like its dark, epic atmosphere and lyrics.
Track 22: Tina Turner – What’s Love Got To Do With It
Not my favourite Tina Turner song, but I do like the epic vocals on the chorus and the snatches of synth during the bridge.
Track 23: The Flying Pickets – When You’re Young And In Love
It’s no Only You, but still a nice a cappella cover.
Track 24: Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
A classic! A perfect party tune, and then there’s the colourful video, which was one of those videos that really defined the ’80s, with the neon clothing and the Katharine Hamnett t-shirts (appropriately, I’m wearing her more recent Choose Love design today!)
Track 25: Thompson Twins – You Take Me Up
The harmonica instrumental annoys me, and I usually like harmonica. I’m not a huge Thompson Twins fan anyway, but I’m really not keen on this one.
Track 26: The Weather Girls – It’s Raining Men
We’re at a wedding reception, and I’m on the dancefloor again! You can’t go wrong with this fabulous party track.
There have been various pointless ’90s and ’00s covers of this one. I’ll forgive them, as it’s always a banger no matter who covers it, but the original is far and away the best.
Track 27: Gary Glitter – Dance Me Up
Um, I’m quite surprised that I’m actually able to stream Gary Glitter on Spotify given what we know about him now, but I’m guessing he doesn’t actually get any of the streaming royalties. Um, right? I should probably look into that.
The song itself isn’t much to write home about, certainly not compared to his early ’70s glam rock stuff.
Track 28: The Art Company – Susanna
The Art Company, in contrast, haven’t put their stuff on Spotify, so I’ve done the uber-lazy ‘tribute version on the playlist’ for this review.
It’s a good song, actually. Maybe I’d better give the actual Art Company version another listen sometime!
Track 29: Madness – One Better Day
Bit of a slow one for Madness! Nice tune though.
Track 30: David Sylvian – Red Guitar
I was only previously familiar with David Sylvian’s stuff with Japan, not any of his solo tracks. This one’s a bit dull, but the instrumentals are nice.
*In my terminology (and, I imagine, that of quite a few other people), a ‘pointless cover’ is one that doesn’t change enough things from the original track to make it worth recording a new version, and is hence just a shameless cash-in. The ’90s were absolutely terrible for this, but it’s happened frequently in other decades as well.