To my great surprise I found myself sunbathing at the beach this weekend (in the north-east of England! in April!), hence this week’s music videos are all beach-themed as I dream of the summer ahead and the summers from thirty-odd years ago.
10. Belinda Carlisle – Circle In The Sand
A nice near-literal video for this pretty 1988 track – there’s a lot of sand but not a lot of circles.
9. Don Henley – The Boys Of Summer
It was perhaps inevitable that the ultimate ’80s summer anthem would have a beach scene in the video. The black and white film makes it a bit gloomy, but that’s consistent with the pessimistic feel of the song.
8. Boy Meets Girl – Waiting For A Star To Fall
The video for this late ’80s cheesefest starts off with a suitably cheesy beach running scene. Love that epic sax solo!
7. Fleetwood Mac – Big Love
This is a more familiar sight for a British beach! Fleetwood Mac huddle in coats and scarves on a night-time beach in one of the many sequences of this brilliant video.
6. Blondie – Call Me
Bit of a seasonally-confused video here, as the beach shots of Debbie Harry are interspersed with her in a coat looking cold in New York City. Maybe she goes on holiday somewhere for the beach scenes.
5. Erasure – Ship Of Fools
The beach in this video is all made up of rocks and shells and therefore not at all suitable for sunbathing, although Andy Bell gives it a good go.
4. Wham! – Club Tropicana
Most of this ultimate summer holiday video is poolside, but George Michael does take a brief trip to the beach halfway through. It looks a bit overcast, though, so I don’t blame him for heading back to the pool.
3. The Bangles – Eternal Flame
A nice sunset beach scene here among the floaty images of Susanna Hoffs and co singing along to the song.
2. Duran Duran – Rio
Duran Duran made pretty much all of their videos on beaches during the jetsetting Rio era, but this one for the album’s title track is the most colourful and fun. The yacht scenes are the most iconic, but the beach scenes are blue-skied and beautiful and make me want to book a holiday.
1. Elton John – I’m Still Standing
I love everything about this ridiculous Cannes romp, from the ostentatious outdoor piano to Elton’s comedy glasses to the pre-Strictly Bruno Tonioli dancing his way through Cannes in a succession of ’80s leotards. The best bit, though, is when Elton lines up the dancers on the beach and pushes them over in a chain of human dominoes.
It’s starting to grey over here in Newcastle, so I suspect I won’t be taking any more trips to the beach for a couple of months now. I’ll have to make do with ’80s videos in the meantime!
I was really looking forward to this gig. Not even the fact that Geth and I, at some point in the past, got it into our heads that it’d be a clever idea to sign up for a half marathon the day afterwards could spoil my excitement!
First of all, the support acts for this tour were cracking. Geth was more excited about the support bands than the main act!
Tom Bailey, formerly the lead singer of the Thompson Twins, was first on. He played a mixture of Thompson Twins classics and stuff off his new album. I really quite enjoyed the new stuff and will be checking out the album, but it was definitely the classics that went down a lot better with the audience. My highlight was Doctor, Doctor, which has long been a favourite of mine due to its gorgeous synth line and its frequent use in Doctor Who montages.
Tom Bailey setlist:
(We Are Detectives – the band came onstage to this tune) Love On Your Side Science Fiction You Take Me Up Lies Lay Your Hands On Me Doctor, Doctor Hold Me Now
Next up was Belinda Carlisle, who was brilliant and still rocks the stage like she did thirty years ago! Her voice is still gorgeous too. My highlight from this set was Heaven Is A Place On Earth, because it’s been a favourite ’80s song of mine for such a long time, and I couldn’t believe I was actually getting to hear it live – but there were so many great hits!
Belinda Carlisle setlist:
Live Your Life Be Free We Want The Same Thing In Too Deep I Get Weak Circle In The Sand Summer Rain Leave A Light On Heaven Is A Place On Earth
Culture Club are one of those bands where you’re never entirely sure how long a reunion is going to last, because there have historically been tensions among the members. Indeed, the full original band was not a hundred percent present, because drummer Jon Moss left the tour partway through the US leg and is not performing on the UK leg. I’m sure he has his reasons, but I was super disappointed not to see him, not least because it means I’ve now got to track him down separately for my new Band Aid baby bucket list project!
It was a fantastic gig though. So many hits that I’ve heard all my life and never dreamt I would actually see performed live by Culture Club. So many nods to classic artists beloved by me and clearly also by Boy George – the wee Wham! tribute during Church Of The Poison Mind, and the glam rock section during the encore with T.Rex and Bowie covers. Victims, my favourite Culture Club song, which I’d been praying they’d play since I bought the tickets. The wonderful finish of Karma Chameleon, with moments from my life flashing before my eyes: the hilarious Lothian Buses number 26 bus that never fails to crack me up; the crappy old Audiogalaxy download that I had of the song for years that had a slight jump during the first repetition of ‘you’re my lover, not my rival’; the time that my old schoolfriend Laura wrote the lyrics down wrong in my homework diary in high school and I had to correct them:
I got super emotional during Karma Chameleon, in short. I’ve had the Now ’80s channel on all day today, and every time it’s come on, I’ve just been staring at the TV all like ‘I actually saw that performed live by Culture Club at the weekend’.
Wonderful concert. Probably my favourite of the year so far.
Culture Club setlist:
God And Love It’s A Miracle Let Somebody Love You Time (Clock Of The Heart) Everything I Own The Truth Is A Runaway Train Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? Victims Different Man Miss Me Blind Church Of The Poison Mind/I’m Your Man Life Let’s Dance Get It On Karma Chameleon
Day 35 equals Now! #35, which takes us to 18th November 1996.
Let’s listen to some tracks by people who were probably better dressed, even if it was the sartorially-challenged ’90s.
Track 1: Spice Girls – Say You’ll Be There
The eagerly-awaited (by me, anyway) follow-up to Wannabe. With hindsight, this song’s actually pretty poor, with a dull tune and generic theme; however, it’s quite hard to separate it from the nostalgia for me, so I still have a soft spot for it.
Track 2: George Michael – Fastlove
Lovely atmosphere, great vocal hooks – really like this one.
Track 3: Peter Andre – Flava
The instrumentals are quite fun, but the vocals are pretty annoying, and that rap is super generic.
Track 4: East 17 and Gabrielle – If You Ever
Really like the intro, and it’s got a lovely tune and atmosphere.
Track 5: Deep Blue Something – Breakfast At Tiffany’s
Loved it then, love it now. This one was a youth club classic during my first year of high school. Great theme, great lyrics, lovely tune.
Track 6: Pet Shop Boys – Se A Vida É (That’s The Way Life Is)
I’ve always liked this one – a nice slower track with a feelgood atmosphere.
Track 7: Babybird – You’re Gorgeous
Found it annoying at the time, really quite like it now. Love the theme and the instrumentals.
Track 8: The Beautiful South – Rotterdam
This one, on the other hand, I’ve never stopped finding annoying. It’s that irritating chorus.
Track 9: Dodgy – If You’re Thinking Of Me
This is Dodgy’s slow, dull one. I don’t think I even enjoyed it when I saw it live.
Track 10: Crowded House – Don’t Dream It’s Over
Crowded House’s late ’80s classic, back in the charts – I’m not sure why, but I’m not complaining. Lovely tune.
Track 11: The Bluetones – Marblehead Johnson
Oh, it’s this one! Great guitar hook, nice tune.
Track 12: Ocean Colour Scene – The Riverboat Song
An all-time favourite! Absolute anthem, epic energy, great lyrics, wonderful guitar riff. I adore this one.
Track 13: Sheryl Crow – If It Makes You Happy
I’ve always found this one annoying – not keen on the tune.
Track 14: Garbage and Tricky – Milk
Great atmosphere – really like this track.
Track 15: Neneh Cherry – Woman
Nice epic intro, awesome atmosphere all the way through. Good stuff.
Track 16: Lighthouse Family – Goodbye Heartbreak
Nice to hear some saxophone at this late stage! The rest of the track is a little dull, although the ‘I don’t need you now‘ bit has quite a good singalong aspect.
Track 17: Pulp – Something Changed
Nice tune, nice instrumentals, great epic chorus. Lovely track.
Track 18: Cast – Flying
Oh, it’s this one. Found it a bit dreary at the time, still do now. Just not keen on the tune.
Track 19: Suede – Beautiful Ones
Good upbeat track, great tune, great lyrics. Another solid song from Suede.
Track 20: Belinda Carlisle – Always Breaking My Heart
Nice guitar intro, nice classic-sounding track, great chorus. Really like this one.
Track 21: Dina Carroll – Escaping
Interesting chillout bit at the start, nice beat during the verses. Not a typical Dina Carroll ballad, which is a welcome relief.
Track 22: Boyzone – Words
Introspective cover of the Bee Gees classic. Lovely tune, great atmosphere.
Track 23: Eternal – Someday
Fairly paint-by-numbers ballad that was released to tie in with Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame film. As such, it’s very musical-theatre-sounding.
Track 24: Backstreet Boys – I’ll Never Break Your Heart
Far too saccharine for me, and also now a Christmas-associated song thanks to the music channels (the video‘s set in a ski lodge, which I guess is why it gets put on the Christmas playlists).
Track 25: Damage – Love II Love
Oh, it’s this one. Never been keen on this – the chorus is repetitive and irritating.
Track 26: Clock – Oh What A Night
Fairly pointless cover of the Four Seasons classic. The main addition is the rap over the top. It’s not horrible, but it’s not great.
Obligatory ‘I hate pointless ’90s covers’ rant: this was the version that introduced me to this song.
Track 27: Louise – Undivided Love
Good beat, but it’s a pretty generic pop tune.
Track 28: Ant & Dec – When I Fall In Love
Ant & Dec, now having changed their name from PJ & Duncan (see Now! #31 review for discussion of why), try their hand at a ballad (well, it’s a ballad until the chant-along chorus kicks in, anyway). Horrific!
Track 29: 911 – Don’t Make Me Wait
Great, interesting piano intro. It leads into a fairly generic and cheesy pop track, though.
Track 30: Strike – My Love Is For Real
I quite like the verses on this dance track – there’s a bit of edge there – but the tune is pretty uninspired.
Track 31: Faithless – Insomnia
Classic dance track, great epic atmosphere, wonderful electro hook.
Track 32: BBE – Seven Days And One Week
Oh, it’s this one. I think I liked this more at the time than I do now – it’s a bit repetitive.
Track 33: Stretch ‘N’ Vern – I’m Alive
Loved it at the time, forgot about it for over twenty years, can’t say I’m too keen on it now. The backing track is great, but the rap’s fairly awful. I quite like the Boogie Wonderland sample though.
Track 34: Healy & Amos – Stamp!
I think I’m back in the imaginary ’90s nightclub that plays nothing but dance, although to be fair 1996 isn’t quite as bad as 1995 was. This one has some interesting lines, but it’s a bit messy for my liking.
Track 35: Livin’ Joy – Follow The Rules
Another very generic dance track – nothing special here.
Track 36: Wildchild – Jump To My Beat
Very messy track with irritating lines. Don’t like this at all.
Track 37: Underworld – Pearl’s Girl
Dull lines, very little melody, messy track. The beat’s quite good though.
Track 38: Space – Neighbourhood
Great atmosphere, great instrumentals, really nice track.
Track 39: Björk – Possibly Maybe
Not keen on the experimental-sounding instrumentals – they’re giving me a headache – but the vocal is nice when I can hear it over the top.
Track 40: Shed Seven – Chasing Rainbows
One of my friends had a poster of Shed Seven on the wall even though she didn’t really like them. I think she’d got it free when they were supporting someone else. That sort of sums up Shed Seven for me – they weren’t really a band that anybody actually liked.
The track itself is dull, slow and very forgettable.
Day 34 brings us to Now! #34, which came out on 12th August 1996.
Let’s hear those summer hits!
Track 1: Spice Girls – Wannabe
At eleven, I was exactly the right age for the Spice Girls, and from the moment this first song of theirs came out, I adored them. I bought every single and every album in HMV on the day they came out, I had every single Spice magazine (still do), I had the limited edition Spice Girls Impulse body spray. I was a huge fan, to put it mildly, and I remember carefully writing down the lyrics of this song and editing it over the course of several months, trying to work out what they were saying (I’ve mentioned before that I’m no good with being able to hear lyrics, and a lot of it was so nonsensical that there were endless arguments in the playground about what the words were – it was only when the album came out in December, complete with lyric insert, that I was able to confirm them properly).
Nowadays, I find this first track pretty cringeworthy – they did much better songs later on. I still remember how much I loved it at the time, though, the summer I moved from primary school to high school. Interesting times.
Track 2: Robbie Williams – Freedom
Pointless cover of the George Michael track. Although Robbie was my favourite member of Take That and I was gutted when he left, I find his solo stuff can be a bit hit and miss, and this cover doesn’t add anything to the original.
Track 3: Peter Andre and Bubbler Ranx – Mysterious Girl
Quite liked it at the time – nowadays I see it as a ‘so-bad-it’s-hilarious’ classic.
Track 4: Dodgy – Good Enough
I was never hugely keen on this one, though I quite enjoyed it when we saw them live at Beautiful Days in 2013.
Track 5: Ocean Colour Scene – The Day We Caught The Train
I adore Ocean Colour Scene (they were my favourite band for quite a while in my teens) and this is an absolute classic – great tune, great instrumentals, great lyrics.
Track 6: Larry Mullen Jr and Adam Clayton – Theme From Mission: Impossible
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
The two less famous members of U2 taking on the Mission: Impossible theme for the film version. It’s perhaps slightly rockier than the original, but not hugely different. I’ll give it a pass, though, ’cause you wouldn’t want a classic theme like this to be changed too much.
Track 7: Underworld – Born Slippy
Really liked it at the time, find it dated and annoying now.
Track 8: JX – There’s Nothing I Won’t Do
Quite like the tune on this dance track, but the vocals annoy me.
Track 9: Gina G – Ooh Aah (Just A Little Bit)
The UK’s Eurovision entry for 1996. Loved it at the time, find it irritating now. I’m finding that’s a bit of a theme with 1996. I must not have been hugely discerning at eleven.
Track 10: Pianoman – Blurred
Nice piano lines, as you might expect – the rest of the track is a bit messy, especially the misplaced sample from Blur’s Girls And Boys.
Track 11: Livin’ Joy – Don’t Stop Movin’
Oh, it’s this one. The vocals are at least interesting, but I find the style irritating and a bit generic.
Track 12: Louise – Naked
Finally a decent one from Louise – great solid pop track.
Track 13: Mark Morrison – Return Of The Mack
Classic tune, quite like this one. It’s been sample-covered horribly by at least two different ’10s artists, but I’m sure we’ll get to those later.
Track 14: 2Pac and Dr Dre – California Love
Really like this one! Great song, love that chorus.
Track 15: Pato Banton – Groovin’
Dull tune, dull vocals, not keen.
Track 16: Reel 2 Real – Jazz It Up
Quite a funky danceable beat, but it’s a bit of a dull tune.
Track 17: Maxi Priest and Shaggy – That Girl
Nice jaunty vocals, but that sample of Booker T & The MGs’ Green Onions is super repetitive.
Track 18: Los Del Mar – Macarena
No, that’s not a typo. Los Del Mar were basically a tribute band that only existed in order to cover Macarena by Los Del Rio (who were themselves little more than a one-hit wonder). Maybe the Now! compilers couldn’t get the rights to the original.
The cover is pretty pointless – it’s pretty much note for note the River Fe-Mix version of the original.
Track 19: Umboza – Sunshine
Another misplaced sample, this time Bamboléo by the Gipsy Kings. The rest of the track is fairly generic.
Track 20: Josh Wink – Higher State Of Consciousness
We’ve had this already, on Now! #32, which was only a couple of compilations ago! That’s just lazy.
Urgh. See the link for my review.
Track 21: Todd Terry, Martha Wash and Jocelyn Brown – Keep On Jumpin’
Messy semi-cover of the ’70s hit, with samples and random lines all over the place. It’s pretty awful.
Track 22: Robert Miles – Children
I’ve always loved this one! Gorgeous electro tune.
Track 23: George Michael – Jesus To A Child
Lovely, melancholy song from George Michael. Beautiful tune.
Track 24: Oasis – Wonderwall
A little late to the party for the Now! compilers, as this was more of a late 1995 hit, but it’s a classic, probably the best song Oasis did in my opinion, and so still very welcome.
Track 25: The Bluetones – Slight Return
Oh, it’s this one! Pleasant tune, happily nodding along right now.
Track 26: Paul Weller – Peacock Suit
Dull tune, very dad-rock. Not keen.
Track 27: Bon Jovi – Hey God
I normally like Bon Jovi, but I find this one a bit uninspired.
Track 28: Bryan Adams – The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You
Found it annoying at the time, just find it a bit so-so now.
Track 29: Belinda Carlisle – In Too Deep
Nice instrumentals, but the vocal is pretty dull.
Track 30: Suggs – Cecelia
Loved this reggae-tinged cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic at the time, still love it now! Great track.
Track 31: Blur – Charmless Man
I’ve always found the tune to this one a bit annoying. Not my favourite Blur track.
Track 32: Suede – Trash
Good head-nodder from Suede – really like this one. Great singalong chorus too.
Track 33: Joan Osborne – One Of Us
That old-timey American traditional rhyme at the start is super annoying, but the song itself is an absolute classic – great tune.
Track 34: Crowded House – Instinct
Nice tune, really like this one.
Track 35: Lighthouse Family – Ocean Drive
Feelgood track with an awesome singalong chorus. Lovely.
Track 36: Tina Turner – On Silent Wings
Dull tune, dull ballad. Not a fan of this one.
Track 37: Everything But The Girl – Wrong
Good beat, but I’m not keen on the tune.
Track 38: OMC – How Bizarre
I’d forgotten about this one! Pleasant, jaunty track, really like it.
Track 39: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Walking On The Milky Way
Lovely tune, really interesting track.
Track 40: Space – Female Of The Species
Loved it at the time, love it now. I remember endless arguments in the back of the car about whether the lyric was ‘more deadlier‘, which was what it sounded like, or the grammatically correct ‘more deadly‘. I think I argued for the latter position, just because I couldn’t believe a professional band would write such a horrendously wrong sentence (ah, childhood innocence). A quick google just now tells me it was indeed the latter, but it really does sound like the former.
Track 41: Cast – Walkaway
Nice tune, but a bit slow for me.
Track 42: Boyzone – Coming Home Now
Liked it at the time, find the tune pretty irritating now.
Day 26, and we’ve reached 15th November 1993, which marks a full decade of Now! compilations!
Now! 26 is a bit of a classic one – loads of the kids at school had it, so it always got played at parties. Let’s have a listen.
Track 1: UB40 – (I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You
Cover of the Elvis classic in standard UB40 style. I quite like this one – it’s got a nice epic atmosphere.
Track 2: Pet Shop Boys – Go West
Fabulous synthpop cover of the Village People song! I’ve always loved this one, even if it does bring back embarrassing memories of doing a dodgy dance performance (choreographed by two friends who did tap, jazz and modern classes and thus thought they could choreograph) to it for the rest of my primary school class.
Track 3: Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Relax
We’ve had this one already, on Now! #2! The prevalence of this nonsense at the moment just shows how many great ’80s tracks were returning to the chart in the early ’90s.
You know the drill, click the link for my review.
Track 4: M People – One Night In Heaven
I usually quite like M People, but this one is a bit dull.
Track 5: Eternal – Stay
Dull tune, annoying vocals. I’m sure Eternal did better tracks.
Track 6: SWV – Right Here [Human Nature Radio Mix]
Oh, it’s this one…and I’m back in the backseat of our Volvo 340 with the radio on, endless Scottish country roadsides zooming past. It’s not that great a track, but it certainly brings back some memories.
Track 7: DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Boom! Shake The Room
An absolute classic, played at every birthday party I went to in the early ’90s. I’m aware I’ve said that about a few songs, which makes me think I should compile some sort of ‘kids’ birthday nostalgia’ playlist. Anyway, you can’t not sing along to this one.
Track 8: The Shamen – Comin’ On
A bit repetitive, not enough melody for me.
Track 9: Stakka Bo – Here We Go
Another repetitive, dull track – not keen on this at all.
Track 10: Chaka Demus & Pliers – She Don’t Let Nobody
The tune annoys me, and I find the vocals a bit saccharine.
Track 11: Tina Turner – Disco Inferno
Nice rock-tinged cover of the Trammps classic. Like this one.
Track 12: Belinda Carlisle – Big Scary Animal
Belinda Carlisle’s gone all ’90s and guitar-edged. Not hugely keen.
Track 13: Spin Doctors – Two Princes
Adore this one! Absolutely stunning tune, great singalong track.
Track 14: REM – The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite
Lovely tune from REM – and I always appreciate that little The Lion Sleeps Tonight reference in the opening vocals. Great song.
Track 15: Levellers – This Garden
Lovely song from the Levellers – beautiful tune, never gets old (and because Geth and I used to go to Beautiful Days all the time I’ve seen this one played live many times).
Speaking of seeing stuff live at Beautiful Days…
Track 16: James – Laid
This was probably my highlight of James’ set at Beautiful Days 2009, and is probably my favourite track of theirs. Great tune.
Track 17: Crowded House – Distant Sun
Nice tune, but it’s a bit slow for me.
Track 18: Radiohead – Creep
Classic track, although it’s a bit overplayed these days.
Track 19: Meat Loaf – I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)
I’ve always loved this one (and it’s gotta be the full twelve-minute version!) – it’s an absolutely beautiful track.
Track 20: Cappella – U Got 2 Let The Music
Great uptempo dance tune – happily chair-dancing away here.
Track 21: Haddaway – What Is Love
Absolute stunner, one of my favourite songs of this era. Beautiful dance tune.
Track 22: 2 Unlimited – Maximum Overdrive
This one’s a bit of a dull tune, but the beat’s good and danceable.
Track 23: Culture Beat – Mr Vain
Another absolute dance classic with a great tune and wonderful singalong vocals – love this one.
Track 24: The Goodmen – Give It Up
Lots of upbeat drumming, nothing much else until it breaks into the slightly messy melody. Not one for the playlist, I’m afraid.
Track 25: Leftfield and John Lydon – Open Up
Nice upbeat head-nodder – quite like this one.
Track 26: Apache Indian – Boom Shack-A-Lak
Good jaunty retro-tinged reggae – great stuff.
Track 27: Urban Cookie Collective – Feels Like Heaven
Nice dance-pop tune – big fan of this.
Track 28: Captain Hollywood Project – More And More
Great electro instrumentals, but the vocals let it down.
Track 29: Juliet Roberts – Free Love
Interesting instrumentals, good uptempo beat.
Track 30: Jamiroquai – Too Young To Die
Nice funky track, a little slow, but it is absolutely standard Jamiroquai even this early on, so I do like it.
Track 31: Dina Carroll – Don’t Be A Stranger
The most overblown of all the overblown Dina Carroll ballads. Nice tune, but the style is just too much for me.
Track 32: Take That – Pray
I’ve mentioned that I was a big Take That fan during this era, and this is another solid pop song. Great stuff.
Track 33: Gabrielle – Going Nowhere
Nice upbeat tune, but I find the vocals a bit dull.
Track 34: Lena Fiagbe – Gotta Get It Right
Annoying tune, annoying cheesy lyrics. Vocals are interesting, but generally not a fan.
Track 35: Soul II Soul – Wish
Too slow and dull for me.
Track 36: Lisa Stansfield – So Natural
Urgh, saccharine ballad! Not a fan of this at all.
Track 37: Björk and David Arnold – Play Dead
Great, interesting duet with a wonderfully epic atmosphere. A classic.
Track 38: Lenny Kravitz – Heaven Help
Another dull ballad. Not keen.
Track 39: Go West – The Tracks Of My Tears
Slow guitar cover of the Smokey Robinson classic. I shouldn’t like it, but it’s such a great song however it’s done that I can’t help it.
Track 40: Janet Jackson – That’s The Way Love Goes
Dull, repetitive track – not enough melody for me.
…Do my eyes deceive me? Have we really reached the end of a Now! compilation without a single ‘Not on Spotify’ moment? We really must be approaching the modern age!
It’s also the first Now! compilation to stretch to 40 tracks. No wonder it’s taking longer and longer to listen to these every day!
Day 20’s Now! compilation was released on 18th November 1991.
I doubt any of the following tracks will be as pleasing as my pompom dress, but let’s have a listen anyway.
Track 1: Vic Reeves and The Wonder Stuff – Dizzy
Big Wonder Stuff fan – have seen them fairly often – so I really like this cover of the Tommy Roe classic that they did with Vic Reeves. There’s enough folky instrumentals here to make it quite different from the original – good stuff.
Track 2: Belinda Carlisle – Live Your Life Be Free
Vocals are a bit overblown here for my liking, but I do like the track, especially the rockier edge.
Track 3: U2 – The Fly
Urgh, the ’90s, when U2 got boring. Dull tune, repetitive vocals, no fun anymore.
Track 4: Pet Shop Boys – Where The Streets Have No Name (I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You)
And speaking of U2…being a synthpop nut, I do actually prefer this cover to the original. Sorry, Bono & Co.
Track 5: Erasure – Love To Hate You
Another solid synth track from Erasure – gotta love that I Will Survive sampling. This is a good example of a sample from a classic tune being used in a track that actually suits it.
Track 6: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Sailing On The Seven Seas
I’m a huge fan of OMD’s stuff, and this is a good solid track, even though it’s not quite as synthy as their earlier work. Great chant-along vocals.
Track 7: Simply Red – Something Got Me Started
I know I said before that the ’80s are my favourite Simply Red era, but this is definitely my favourite individual song of theirs. Great instrumentals, wonderful atmosphere on the vocals, nice upbeat tempo, and that sax-into-piano solo is mega. Love it.
Track 8: Lisa Stansfield – Change
Dreary vocals, boring backing track. Not a fan of this one.
Track 9: Zoë – Sunshine On A Rainy Day
Something about the vocal annoys me here. I’m not keen on the tune either.
Track 10: Salt-N-Pepa – Let’s Talk About Sex
This was a favourite for kids in my class to sing loudly in my primary school playground in 1991, probably because it was risque and hence kind of rebellious in the thinking of a six-year-old.
I think it was also popularised by the ‘Let’s Talk About Juice’ version in the Fruit-Tella advert (was it Fruit-Tella? Let me google that a minute. Um, googling was inconclusive, but it did tell me that it was definitely Fruit-Tella that did the ‘I’m Too Juicy’ takeoff of Right Said Fred’s I’m Too Sexy, so I’m fairly sure they must have done this one too).
I will probably end up doing a whole post soon about how advertising doesn’t work in this respect. I remember pretty much every TV advert shown during my ’90s childhood, but I can hardly ever remember what the exact product was that they were advertising.
Track 11: Color Me Badd – I Wanna Sex You Up
Bit of a repetitive one, but I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for it due to it being another one that was used in Britain’s Got The Pop Factor.
Track 12: Kenny Thomas – Best Of You
It’s a nice upbeat tempo, but I find the song a bit dull.
Track 13: Prince and The New Power Generation – Gett Off
Prince is another artist who really went downhill in the ’90s as far as I’m concerned. Not enough melody or joy for me here.
Track 14: Rozalla – Faith (In The Power Of Love)
Nice upbeat dance track, and that sax solo is lovely. Some really interesting instrumentals here.
Track 15: 2 Unlimited – Get Ready For This
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Absolute classic dance track from childhood – played at every birthday party in the early ’90s, often during pass-the-parcel in order to ramp the adrenaline up.
Track 16: Moby – Go
Nice epic atmosphere, though the track is a bit repetitive.
Track 17: The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu – It’s Grim Up North [Part 1]
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
This is another alias of the KLF, incidentally. Good brooding dance track, really like this one. That Jerusalem sampling is inspired.
Track 18: PM Dawn – Set Adrift On Memory Bliss
Okay a cappella intro, but then we’re straight into the misplaced sampling of Spandau Ballet’s True with awful spoken word and cacophonic clashing vocals over the top. Just terrible.
Track 19: Paul Young – Don’t Dream (It’s Over)
Utterly pointless cover of the Crowded House classic from a whole five years earlier. Why did people even buy covers like this? Surely the original was still available to buy on an album in the record shops!
Track 20: Enya – Caribbean Blue
Beautiful chillout track from Enya – lovely stuff.
Track 21: Julian Lennon – Saltwater
Really nice instrumentals, though the vocals are pretty dull.
Track 22: Paula Abdul – Rush Rush
Nice tune, but it’s a bit slow for me. Interesting violin solo, though!
Track 23: Jason Donovan – Any Dream Will Do
This was too cheesy for me even as a six-year-old, though lots of my classmates loved it, which meant we had to sing it in music class a lot. Blurgh.
Track 24: Cathy Dennis – Too Many Walls
Again, solid pop, but I’d prefer it if it were a bit more upbeat.
Track 25: Alison Moyet – This House
Obligatory ‘going to see this artist soon!’ squee. Well, if you can count next February as ‘soon’…
Beautiful slow ballad with an epic, dramatic atmosphere and gorgeous lyrics. Hope she plays this one when I go see her!
Track 26: Marc Cohn – Walking In Memphis
Classic, beautiful song – absolutely love this one.
(I even have a real soft spot for the later Cher cover, though that one really is pointless – it’s just this version with Cher’s vocals on top. Anyway, I won’t get ahead of myself in case it features later.)
Track 27: Glass Tiger – My Town
Cheesy pop-rock, pretty generic. Not a fan.
Track 28: Scorpions – Wind Of Change
Lovely epic atmosphere, great rock ballad.
Track 29: INXS – Shining Star
Nice interesting track from INXS – great vocals, good build to the song, nice sax towards the end.
Track 30: Roxette – Joyride
Another great upbeat bit of pop-rock from Roxette – great stuff.
Track 31: James – Sit Down
A classic bit of ’90s indie. When I saw them at Beautiful Days in 2009 they actually finished with this one, which is apparently not at all usual, because being their biggest hit it’s the one they’re sick of. I do like it, though.
Track 32: Voice Of The Beehive – I Think I Love You
Really like those guitar instrumentals, and the atmosphere is great. This is probably the best version of the Partridge Family track as far as I’m concerned – it’s so different and so interesting.
Track 33: Slade – Radio Wall Of Sound
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 1: lazy tribute version substitute.
Slade’s earlier stuff is amazing to me, but this track is a bit rock-by-numbers, though I do like that singalong chorus.
Track 34: Monty Python – Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life
Not sure why this classic Life of Brian soundtrack song was back in the charts, but here it is. Pleasant diversion, but it’s a bit ‘novelty’ for me.
Track 35: Don McLean – American Pie
Often back in the charts since its original 1971 release, this is a great classic to end on! Beautiful lyrics, lovely tune, absolutely worth its eight-minute-plus running time.
No idea why this early ’80s classic was back in the charts, but I love it – one of my favourite Clash songs – and as chart music quality was rapidly declining at this point, I’ll take what I can get!
Track 2: Scritti Politti and Shabba Ranks – She’s A Woman
Nice tune, but there’s a bit too much going on throughout the track, so it sounds a bit messy.
Track 3: The Source and Candi Staton – You Got The Love
…and my heart just sank as I realised that the Florence & The Machine song from 2009, which I always quite liked, is a pointless ’00s cover of this track. The lesson: never become complacent about your level of music knowledge.
(This is why I hate pointless covers so much, incidentally – I’ve always felt really aggrieved to learn that chart songs I adored when I was growing up in the ’90s were actually bland, unimaginative, nothing-new, cash-in covers of ’70s and ’80s songs. While I typically transfer my affection to the original in such cases, I still feel pretty cheated.)
Track 4: The KLF and The Children Of The Revolution – 3AM Eternal
Nice stormy-atmosphere intro, nice vocals, nice chillout track. Good stuff.
The version I found on Spotify has some random sampling of The Blue Danube in, for some bonus relaxation points.
Track 5: C&C Music Factory and Freedom Williams – Gonna Make You Sweat
One of those ‘ohh, it’s this one!’ moments. I always just assumed this track was called Everybody Dance Now. Classic dance tune, anyway, and I’ll be up on the wedding dancefloor for this.
Track 6: Nomad and MC Mikee Freedom – (I Wanna Give You) Devotion
Dull and repetitive dance song with boring sung vocals and uninspired rapping. Not for me.
Track 7: EMF – I Believe
I really like EMF, and this is a great guitar-driven dance track. Happily nodding along here.
Track 8: 808 State – In Yer Face
Nice electro track, love the instrumentals on this.
Track 9: Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy
Massive Attack were really killing it during this period – really like this one. The way it builds is beautiful.
Track 10: MC Hammer – Pray
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
This one’s not bad – I quite like the melody on the sung vocals and it’s nice and upbeat. Could do without the sampling of When Doves Cry, though (I do NOT like it when brilliant classic pop tunes are sampled as backing music in newer songs).
Track 11: Kim Appleby – GLAD
Nice piece of solid pop, a welcome breather from all the dance and hip-hop. Lovely.
Track 12: Kylie Minogue – What Do I Have To Do?
Another great upbeat pop track from the ever-reliable Kylie (who’s still having chart hits in 2018, incidentally, but we won’t talk about that just yet).
Incidentally, I’m sure most people realise that Kylie Minogue guest starred in an episode of Doctor Who (Voyage of The Damned, 2007), but the only reason I’m pointing that out…
Track 13: Hale & Pace and The Stonkers – The Stonk
…is that Hale & Pace did too (Survival, 1989). Nice bit of prophetic track-listing there, Now! compilers!
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Daft novelty track from the comedy duo, which, judging by the lyrics and video, I’m guessing was for Comic Relief. I actually quite like those guitar instrumentals.
Track 14: 2 In A Room – Wiggle It
Quite like the backing track and the chorus, but the verse is a bit repetitive.
Track 15: Vanilla Ice – Play That Funky Music
I wasn’t aware that Vanilla Ice did an awful cover of the Wild Cherry classic, but I’m not exactly surprised. It’s very different to the original, so not a pointless cover, but there’s nothing good about all the stuff that’s different, especially not the typically bad rapping.
Track 16: Jesus Loves You – Bow Down Mister
Not a fan of the all-over-the-place vocals in the intro, or the folky guitar bit that follows. Apparently this was Boy George’s project post-Culture Club. It’s very different to his previous stuff, and not my cup of tea, unfortunately.
Track 17: Enigma – Sadness [Part 1]
Always love that monastic chanting. Great classic chillout track.
Track 18: Praise – Only You
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM)
Another nice chillout track – lovely vocals.
Track 19: Oleta Adams – Get Here
For some reason, they always played this one on the radio on ferries in the early ’90s when I was travelling with my family, so I strongly associate it with cabin bunk beds and pristine white sheets. Classic ballad, lovely tune.
Track 20: Rick Astley – Cry For Help
Who knew Rick Astley was still having hits into the ’90s? Wow.
The track’s got a nice tune and a good atmospheric chorus – quite like this one.
Track 21: Robert Palmer – Mercy Mercy Me/I Want You
Good, interesting track from Robert Palmer – great vocals, nice tune.
Track 22: Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes – (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life
The Dirty Dancing soundtrack classic, back in the charts for some reason (I’d like to think that reason was that none of the new stuff being released was anywhere near as good, but I know that music taste is subjective, blah blah boring blah, and so others will disagree. They’re wrong though – this feelgood singalong number complete with epic sax solo is worth a million repetitive house tracks).
Track 23: The Righteous Brothers – You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
Another old track back in the charts, this time from the ’60s. A bit saccharine for me, but it’s such a classic I’ll forgive it.
Track 24: Seal – Crazy
Great epic atmosphere, brilliant tune. A classic in my book.
Track 25: Banderas – This Is Your Life
Bit of a repetitive dance number, though the vocal melody is quite interesting.
Track 26: Stevie B – Because I Love You (The Postman Song)
Slow track, but it’s got a great atmosphere – I really quite like this.
Track 27: Chris Rea – Auberge
Could do without the ‘music video’ whistling and car noises on the intro. Just start the track, please.
Once it gets going, it’s quite interesting, if a bit slow.
Track 28: Chris Isaak – Blue Hotel
Typical dramatic atmosphere from Chris Isaak, with some great Spanish-tinged guitar. Great tune.
Track 29: Free – All Right Now
Slightly annoying chorus, but it is a good chant-along track, especially after a few pints.
Incidentally, an old uni mate whose surname is Allwright once told me that her dad had declared this their official family song. I did do some googling to see if I could find a good equivalent for mine, but in all honesty I don’t think I’m into the family song thing.
Track 30: INXS – Disappear
Great solid pop song, nice tune, good rockier chorus. I like this one.
Track 31: Belinda Carlisle – Summer Rain
Really interesting tune with a great atmosphere on the verses – big fan of this.
Track 32: The Railway Children – Every Beat Of The Heart
A little saccharine for me, but the tune is quite nice.
Track 33: Thunder – Love Walked In
Bit more acoustic-y than I usually go for, but I really like the tune and the atmosphere, especially when it goes full-on rock ballad a couple of minutes in.
Track 34: Queen – Innuendo
You can always rely on Queen for a nice dramatic tune. Good track to end today’s compilation.
So, we’ve reached the end of the ’80s in our Now! compilation journey. Let’s enjoy those last few glorious tracks!
Track 1: Tears For Fears – Sowing The Seeds Of Love
So I was super gutted when Tears For Fears announced their tour last autumn, ’cause the tickets were pricy, we would have had to travel to Leeds, and I just couldn’t justify the expense at the time. It was one of my big gig regrets for 2018.
In the last week, they’ve announced they’ve had to postpone the tour to 2019 for medical reasons. The tickets all became available again, I found out Alison Moyet was supporting (which I hadn’t known before), and I was feeling a bit more flush than I had in the autumn. I bought tickets for the Leeds gig. Of course I did.
So I’m going to see Tears For Fears (and Alison Moyet) in February 2019, and now I don’t have to feel sad and disappointed every time one of their tracks comes on Vintage TV (which is approximately every five minutes). Winning!
Anyway, this track. It’s a bit ‘pre-1990s’ for my liking, especially ’cause I adore their early-to-mid-1980s stuff so much, but it’s a nice tune and I always find myself singing along when it comes on Vintage TV. Which, as I say, is often.
Track 2: Belinda Carlisle – Leave A Light On
Really like this singalong track. Lovely vocals, lovely tune.
Track 3: Erasure – Drama!
Lovely tinkly slow synth intro before the beat bangs in. Epic atmosphere, great track.
Track 4: Debbie Harry – I Want That Man
Really like the tune on this one. Nice upbeat pop.
I think you can probably guess, however, how I feel about the line ‘here comes the twenty-first century/it’s gonna be much better for a girl like me‘. Yeah. I’m glad someone’s optimistic.
Track 5: Sydney Youngblood – If Only I Could
Gotta love those bouncy instrumentals. Great head-nodder.
Track 6: Curiosity Killed The Cat – Name And Number
I’ve always really liked this one! That chorus is great.
Fun fact: Little Mix avoided a pointless cover of this by doing that strange 2010s thing where you cover the chorus only and then do a completely different verse, meaning you can call the track a different name (in this case How Ya Doin’?).
Nice jaunty instrumentals, and in comes Jacqui Abbott on the vocals – we are definitely post-Housemartins now. Not my favourite Beautiful South track, but it’s a nice tune with typically whimsical lyrics.
Track 8: Wet Wet Wet – Sweet Surrender
A bit slower from Wet Wet Wet, but I really like those instrumentals. Chorus could be more epic, though.
Track 9: Queen – Breakthru
Nice vocal harmony intro to a slightly erratic track. The tune is a bit dull, but it’s still pretty solid from Queen.
Track 10: Tina Turner – The Best
Classic singalong track – one of those ones where I’m up on the dancefloor at the wedding disco. Epic song.
Track 11: Transvision Vamp – Born To Be Sold
Slower and a bit acoustic from Transvision Vamp today. I still really like it, though.
Church bell intro! You don’t hear that on every pop song, but then it is Kate Bush. Love the tune too, nice epic atmosphere.
Track 14: Fine Young Cannibals – I’m Not The Man I Used To Be
For some reason, on Now! #16 there were a few tracks that featured on the CD release only. I don’t know if it’s because CDs had more space, and the Now! compilers were excited about the novelty of that, or what. Anyway, this is the first of them.
Nice instrumentals, but this track is a bit slow and dull for my liking.
Track 15: Then Jerico – Sugar Box
A bit saccharine, but I quite like the tune, especially when it gets a bit rockier as the track goes on.
Track 16: Living In A Box – Room In Your Heart
Wow. We’ve reached 1989 and even Living In A Box were doing dull ballads. Nothing to elevate this one.
Track 17: Richard Marx – Right Here Waiting
I’ve always had a soft spot for this ballad. It’s the kind of thing I should hate, but I don’t.
Track 18: Milli Vanilli – Girl I’m Gonna Miss You
It’s Milli Vanilli and their possibly-fake vocals again! I actually really like this one, it’s a lovely tune and theme.
Track 19: The Rebel MC and Double Trouble – Street Tuff
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Nice upbeat dance track, like the sampling. Good stuff.
Track 20: Bobby Brown – On Our Own
Good instrumentals and sung vocals on this one – the rap’s a bit dull though.
Track 21: Technotronic and Felly – Pump Up The Jam
Classic dance track – another ‘oh, it’s this one!’ moment. Happily chair-dancing right now.
Track 22: Lil’ Louis – French Kiss
Another track that was on the CD release only.
Repetitive intro that goes on too long – get on with it! The shortest version I was able to find is eight minutes long, so it takes forever to get going. Not my kind of thing, especially when it slows down and brings in the orgasm noises. I’m guessing this is not the version that was on the Now! compilation.
Track 23: Adeva – I Thank You
Highly pre-1990s dance track. Vocals a bit over-the-top for me.
Track 24: D-Mob and Cathy Dennis – C’mon And Get My Love
Really like the drum machine on that intro. Solid dance tune.
Track 25: De La Soul – Eye Know
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Too repetitive for me, and I don’t like the backing tune.
Track 26: Inner City – Whatcha Gonna Do With My Lovin’
Not an Inner City fan anyway, and this one is kind of slow and repetitive. Not for me.
Track 27: Big Fun – Can’t Shake The Feeling
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Something about the tune annoys me. It’s fairly pop-by-numbers otherwise.
Track 28: Cliff Richard – I Just Don’t Have The Heart
Actually quite an upbeat one from Cliff Richard! His vocals are still super cheesy and irritating though.
Track 29: Jimmy Somerville and June Miles Kingston – Comment Te Dire Adieu
Great track! Daft French atmosphere, awesome tune. I’m chair-dancing again here!
Track 30: Brother Beyond – Drive On
Another ‘CD release only’ track..
A bit cheesy, but I really quite like this – it’s just nice, pure, upbeat pop.
Track 31: Shakespear’s Sister – You’re History
Really squawky and squeaky in the vocals, with Siobhan Fahey going a bit overboard, obviously still feeling that post-Bananarama freedom. Quite an interesting tune, though.
Track 32: Oh Well – Oh Well
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Nice funky melody, quite a nice track when they’re not rapping.
Track 33: Neneh Cherry – Kisses On The Wind
Bit of a messy sample mishmash at the start, but it’s okay once it gets going.
Track 34: Redhead Kingpin & The FBI – Do The Right Thing
Headache-inducing intro, repetitive track. Not my cup of tea.
Track 35: Fresh 4 and Lizz E – Wishing On A Star
Not a fan of this drum ‘n’ bass cover, but at least it does something different to the Rose Royce original.
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.