Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #31

Day 31 takes us to 31st July 1995 with the Now! compilations.

July 1995
This is how the world looked in July 1995. It was a long hot summer in France for us that year, and so the world looked like a pretty Breton holiday home, and we looked like mid-’90s holidaymakers, surprisingly enough.  Check out the plastic dummy around my neck – this was the ultimate accessory in 1995.  You wore it to class and annoyed the teachers by sucking it all through the lesson.  And yes, I still have it.

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

Now! That's What I Call Music #31
Track 1: Wet Wet Wet – Don’t Want To Forgive Me Now

Quite like this tune, until it gets to the annoying chorus.

Track 2: Edwyn Collins – A Girl Like You

Loved it at the time, love it now.  Absolutely classic track with a great atmosphere.

Track 3: Pulp – Common People

The other kids in my primary school class considered this to be ‘my’ song ’cause I was always singing along to it.  Great tune, brilliant lyrics, still love it after all these years.

Track 4: Supergrass – Alright

I’ve always found this one pretty annoying – annoying tune, annoying lyrics, annoying theme, annoying video.  Not a fan.

Track 5: Shaggy – In The Summertime

Reggae-tinged cover of the Mungo Jerry classic with Shaggy rapping over the top.  It’s an interesting cover, and I quite like it.

Track 6: Ini Kamoze – Here Comes The Hotstepper

Oh, it’s this one!  Bit of a sample mishmash, but it’s a classic track – happily nodding along here.

Track 7: Dana Dawson – 3 Is Family

Fairly generic pop track – nothing special here.

Track 8: Jam & Spoon and Plavka – Right In The Night (Fall In Love With Music)

Fantastic Russian-tinged atmospheric dance track.  Really like this one.

Track 9: East 17 – Hold My Body Tight

Irritating chorus – wasn’t keen then, not keen now.  I remember I had a tween girl magazine at the time that showed you how to play this on recorder, which must have been wonderful for parents everywhere.

Track 10: Boyzone – Key To My Life

Loved it then, find it nauseatingly saccharine now.  Strange how that happens!

Track 11: Seal – Kiss From A Rose

This one, on the other hand, I’ve not lost any love for – it’s an absolutely beautiful track.  Gorgeous tune, lovely vocals, just stunning.

Track 12: Kirsty MacColl – Days

We’ve had this already, on Now! 15!  I’m still irritated about this kind of track repetition.

See the link for my review.

Track 13: The Human League – One Man In My Heart

The synth is nice, but the vocals are a little irritating (I’ve never found Susan Sulley and Joanne Catherall to be particularly great singers, and so this female-vocal-led track is a little weak because of it).

Track 14: Portishead – Sour Times

Great atmosphere on this track – really like this one.

Track 15: Oasis – Some Might Say

Great lyrics, though I don’t love the tune as much as I did at the time.

Track 16: Weezer – Buddy Holly

Great track!  This was a favourite in rock clubs a few years later in the early ’00s.

Track 17: Del Amitri – Roll To Me

I find the vocals a bit irritating and cheesy – not a fan of this one.

Track 18: EMF and Reeves & Mortimer – I’m A Believer

Fun, raucous cover of the Monkees song.  Great track.

Track 19: Duran Duran, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five – White Lines (Don’t Do It)

Semi-cover of the ’80s original (see Now! #3 post for review of original), featuring the original artists.  Slightly sacreligiously, I prefer it to the original, but then I do love Duran Duran.  Great tune.

Track 20: Jimmy Somerville – Hurt So Good

Reggae-tinged cover of the ’70s song.  Nice feelgood track, quite like this one.

Track 21: Outhere Brothers – Boom Boom Boom

Classic song, great danceable track.  Good stuff.

Track 22: MN8 – I’ve Got A Little Something For You

Oh, it’s this one!  I’ve not heard or thought about this track in a long time.  I do like that vocal hook.

Track 23: Montell Jordan – This Is How We Do It

I’m getting a bit of déja vu here, ’cause the ‘this is how we do it‘ vocal hook is actually really similar to the ‘I’ve got a little something for you‘ hook from the previous song.  I never noticed that at the time, but maybe I would have done if I’d owned Now! #31.

Track 24: D:Ream – Shoot Me With Your Love

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

This one’s a bit too repetitive for me.

Track 25: Baby D – (Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime) I Need Your Loving

Chillout dance cover of the Korgis classic.  I’m not hugely keen on this.

Track 26: Jinny – Keep Warm

Generic dance track – nothing exciting about this one.

Track 27: Livin’ Joy – Dreamer

Another one I’ve not thought about in a long time.  Good tune.

Track 28: Whigfield – Think Of You

The tune is a bit repetitive, but it’s got a good beat.

Track 29: Clock – Whoomph! (There It Is)

Liked it at the time, find the vocals pretty irritating now, though that synth line is great.

Track 30: Bobby Brown – Humpin’ Around

Nice intro, but the rest of the track is pretty generic.

Track 31: PJ & Duncan – Stuck On U

Around this time I had a mate who was utterly obsessed with PJ & Duncan (or Ant & Dec, as they became when the Byker Grove producers threatened to sue or whatever it was), so we constantly ended up watching their afternoon TV show (imaginatively titled The Ant & Dec Show) and listening to their album.  Amazingly, I’ve still got a soft spot for their daft songs.  This one actually has quite a good atmosphere.

Track 32: Love City Groove – Love City Groove

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

It always annoyed me at the time that the artist title was the same as the song.  I mean, that’s just asking to end up as a one-hit wonder.

Appropriately for today, this was the UK’s Eurovision entry for 1995.  The track itself is not my thing at all – the rap verses are super irritating, and the chorus annoys me just as much as it did at the time.

Track 33: Ladysmith Black Mambazo and China Black – Swing Low Sweet Chariot

Irritatingly, there is what sounds like a sports stadium crowd in the background throughout the track, so I’m guessing this was recorded as the England rugby team song for the Rugby World Cup ’95.  Not keen at all.

Track 34: Soul II Soul – Love Enuff

Pleasant tune, but it’s a bit dull.

Track 35: Junior Vasquez – Get Your Hands Off My Man

Not enough melody for me, but it’s got a good beat.

Track 36: Shiva – Freedom

Overblown vocals, boring tune.  Not keen.

Track 37: Billie Ray Martin – Your Loving Arms

Great electro instrumentals, annoying vocals.  Might try and track down an instrumental version.

Track 38: Deuce – I Need You

Great dance beat, but the tune is a bit dull.

Track 39: JX – Son Of A Gun

Oh, it’s this one!  I like the vocal hook, but it’s a bit repetitive.

Track 40: Hyperlogic – Only Me

That sample of U2’s New Year’s Day is great, and as a dance tune it’s fab, but I could do without those vocals, and the track does get a bit messy in the middle.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #29

Day 29, and today’s Now! compilation takes us to 14th November 1994.

November 1994
This is how the world looked in November 1994…that is a giant lie. This was September (we have no pictures that are closer in time), hence why the trees are still green. I imagine we were still wearing those dodgy jumpers into November, though.

Let’s listen to some more mid-’90s tracks.

Now! That's What I Call Music #29
Track 1: Pato Banton, Robin Campbell and Ali Campbell – Baby Come Back

I should find that chorus annoying, but I’ve always really liked this one.  Classic track.

Track 2: Cyndi Lauper – Hey Now (Girls Just Wanna Have Fun)

Slightly odd chant-along track from Cyndi Lauper that reworks her 1984 classic and hence repeats the title.  For about five years after it was released, this was the only Girls Just Wanna Have Fun I was aware of (urgh, ’90s childhood, you embarrass me yet again) and so I was fairly flummoxed any time somebody talked about how great it was.  The 1984 original, of course, is wonderful, and was featured on Now! #2.

Track 3: Big Mountain – Baby, I Love Your Way

Super irritating chorus, super irritating lyrics!  Not a fan of this one.

Track 4: Take That – Sure

I think this was the point that I started being not-quite-as-hugely-keen on Take That.  I’ve never been a huge fan of this song, largely because of that annoying chorus.

Track 5: Michelle Gayle – Sweetness

Does what it says on the tin – saccharine as anything.  Not keen.

Track 6: Whigfield – Saturday Night

An absolute singalong classic with built-in dance moves that are the best thing in the world when you’re nine.  This was the highlight of every school disco for about two years.

Track 7: MC Sar & The Real McCoy – Another Night

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

The fanfare at the start is odd, but at least adds a bit of interest.  The track itself is a solid dance track with great electro lines and so-so vocals, which is fairly standard for dance of this era.

Track 8: Corona – The Rhythm Of The Night

Wonderful, classic dance track – love this one.

Track 9: New Order – True Faith ’94

1994 update of the ’80s classic.  Probably my favourite track from one of my favourite bands, and I’m lucky enough to have seen it live (well, half of it – when New Order played T in the Park 2005, the amps cut out during this track and the crowd had to finish the song for them.  Bernard Sumner then made a crack about Scottish sound engineers being stingy with the voltage, which did not go down well).  Beautiful, classic piece of synthpop.

Track 10: Sophie B Hawkins – Right Beside You

Interesting synth jingle at the beginning, then straight into a solid, atmospheric pop track.  Really nice song.

Track 11: Youssou N’Dour and Neneh Cherry – 7 Seconds

Beautiful track – the vocals on this one are just something else, and that atmosphere is amazing.

Track 12: Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories – Stay (I Missed You)

Gorgeous tune, but it’s a little too acoustic-y for my liking.

Track 13: Crash Test Dummies – Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm

As a kid, I always got this one confused with REM’s What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? for some reason.  I think it was because Smash Hits put the lyrics to the two songs opposite each other in the lyrics section.

Anyway, this is a great track with inspired, whimsical lyrics.  I’ve always liked this one.

Track 14: Louis Armstrong – We Have All The Time In The World

’60s classic (and James Bond associated song) back in the charts due to a My Bloody Valentine cover.  Lovely tune.

Track 15: Robert Palmer – Know By Now

A welcome return to the charts for Robert Palmer – this song is a nice upbeat track with awesome spiky synth hooks and a great atmosphere.

Track 16: REM – What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?

As a kid, I always got this one confused with Crash Test Dummies’ Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm…uh, never mind, you’ve heard about that a few songs ago.

Great singalong chorus, good solid track.

Track 17: Oasis – Cigarettes And Alcohol

I liked Oasis a lot more in the ’90s than I do nowadays – their music has not aged well at all – but this is still a good singalong track.

Track 18: The Rolling Stones – Love Is Strong

Good brooding atmosphere, great guitar lines.  Like this one.

Track 19: The Cranberries – Zombie

Beautiful, classic anthem.  Stunning vocals, stunning lyrics, stunning tune, just wonderful.

Fun fact: in 1998, I named my self-published magazine, which I edited and printed out for my friends for about six years, after a misheard lyric from this song.  (If you’re familiar with my teenage media ventures and are wondering just how deaf someone would have to be to mishear ‘in your head’ as ‘in my head’, well, I am that deaf.)

Track 20: East 17 – Around The World

Really nice tune, lovely instrumentals…annoying chorus.  Seriously, I’d forgotten how much that chorus annoyed me.  Oh well.

Track 21: Red Dragon and Brian & Tony Gold – Compliments On Your Kiss

Jaunty instrumentals, mid-century retro feel.  Fun track.

Track 22: Chaka Demus & Pliers – Gal Wine

Nice bouncy reggae track, like the tune.

Track 23: R Kelly – She’s Got That Vibe

Good beat, but the tune is pretty dull and repetitive.

Track 24: The Brand New Heavies – Midnight At The Oasis

Nice lounge-y atmosphere and general retro tinge.  Quite like this one, especially the sax solo.

Track 25: China Black – Stars

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

Lovely piano intro, great atmosphere, but boring vocals.

Track 26: Music Relief – What’s Going On

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

Charity multi-artist cover of the Marvin Gaye classic.  It’s a bit pointless, but, you know, charity.

Track 27: Céline Dion – The Power Of Love

Pointless ’90s cover of the Jennifer Rush classic.  Nothing added here at all other than an irritating dance-influenced spiky bit on the backing track.

Track 28: Kylie Minogue – Confide In Me

Lovely atmospheric track from Kylie, a bit more grown-up than her previous bubblegum pop stuff.

Track 29: Massive Attack – Sly

Great atmosphere, but the tune is pretty dull, and it’s a bit too slow for me.

Track 30: Eternal – So Good

Irritating drum hooks, irritating vocals, dull tune.  Not keen.

Track 31: Ultimate Kaos – Some Girls

Argh, I’d forgotten about this terrible group!  I’ve mentioned before that I find kiddie vocals pretty creepy, especially with a song as overtly sexual as this one.  Eww!

Track 32: Reel 2 Real and The Mad Stuntman – Can You Feel It?

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

Boring, repetitive tune, but it’s got a good, danceable beat.

Track 33: M-Beat and General Levy – Incredible

Not enough melody for me.  Is that ‘Wicket, Wicket’ bit at the start a Return of the Jedi reference?  I’d love it if it were, but somehow I doubt it.

Track 34: Shampoo – Trouble

Classic daft track with silly lyrics and fairly terrible vocals.  Still love it though, mainly due to nostalgia.

Track 35: Blur and Phil Daniels – Parklife

Another wonderful chant-along classic from Blur.  There are not many songs where I know all the words, but this track is one of the privileged few.

Track 36: Erasure – I Love Saturday

I love that Erasure were still bringing the synthpop in the mid-’90s.  This is another great tune.

Track 37: Sparks – When Do I Get To Sing ‘My Way’

I’m a big Sparks fan, and this is a great, atmospheric track with an awesome dance beat.  Lovely stuff.

Track 38: 2wo Third3 – I Want The World

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

Great dance track!  Wonderful tune, would be up on that dancefloor in the imaginary ’90s disco right now.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #28

Day 28, and we’ve reached 1st August 1994 with the Now! compilations.

August 1994
This is how the world looked in August 1994. Beaches have not changed, and neither has my wardrobe, apparently – the leggings/t-shirt/hightops combo is still my daily go-to. These days it’s because I work from home and rarely leave the house, but back then it was because I was an active girl who did things like building sandcastles.

Let’s get on with those summer hits.

Now! That's What I Call Music #28
Track 1: Wet Wet Wet – Love Is All Around

I remember the long, long summer when this was number one for fifteen weeks (which feels like a long time when you’re nine).  I got so sick of it at the time, but I actually think nowadays that it’s quite a nice cover of the Troggs classic.

Google Image Search is failing me on this one, but the highlight of the whole thing was when Smash Hits did a parody cover from the year 2050 with ‘Wet Wet Wet still number one’ as the headline, four skeletons as the image, and a cover price of £21.50 or something.  Well, I thought it was hilarious at the time.  I’ll have to go through my old Smash Hits collection and see if I can find it.

Track 2: All-4-One – I Swear

In summer 1994, I visited the US for the first time with my family.  I’d never been out of Europe before, and so going to North America was super, super exciting – we’re actually flying over a noticeable bump in the Earth’s surface!  We’re going to see all those places from TV shows!  Then I remembered that America was the place with the guns, and so I had a week-long freakout about OMG WHAT IF I GET SHOT.

Anyway, we went to New England for four weeks, none of us got shot, my dad had a good joke with airport security about how he wouldn’t like to have to stab anyone on the plane with his penknife (they laughed and let him take it in the cabin.  Oh, 20th century, you were a different world!), my mum discovered iced cappuccino, we stayed in actual motels and swam in all the swimming pools, we ate silver dollar pancakes for breakfast at the Tremont House Hotel in Boston, and everywhere we went and everything we did, this song played on the radio, the biggest hit of the summer.

For the rest of the year, whenever we heard it anywhere, the wee bro and I would be all like OMG THIS REMINDS ME OF AMERICAAAA and get slightly emotional.

Uh, anyway, the track.  Lovely tune, great sax solo, precious memories.  Can’t beat it.

Track 3: Ace Of Base – Don’t Turn Around

Interesting tune, great jaunty beat.  Like this one.

Track 4: Aswad – Shine

Great Latin-tinged track, gorgeous tune.  Loved it then, love it now, a longtime favourite.

Track 5: The B-52s – (Meet) The Flintstones

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

Novelty cover of the classic TV theme tune, released to tie in with the live-action film.  I thought the film was terrible even when I was nine, but I quite like this version of the song.

Track 6: Let Loose – Crazy For You

Smash Hits had a huge bee in their bonnet around this time about how ‘old’ and ‘decrepit’ Let Loose were.  Hang on a second while I depress myself by googling how old the band members actually were in 1994.

Answer: 24, 26 and 27.  Yeah.

The track is edgier and rockier than I remember, with a slight ’80s throwback vibe about it.  I really like it, actually.

Track 7: D:Ream – U R The Best Thing

We already had this one, on Now! #25, which was only three compilations ago!  Did the Now! compilers think nobody would notice this stuff?

Urgh.  See the link for my review.

Track 8: The Beautiful South – Everybody’s Talkin’

Pretty cover of the ’60s classic – good stuff.

Track 9: Marcella Detroit – I Believe

Nice tune, nice instrumentals, but a bit slow.

Track 10: Pretenders – I’ll Stand By You

I’ve always found the tune on this one annoying, and it’s not hard enough to be a rock ballad favourite.  Not a huge fan.

Track 11: Stiltskin – Inside

The only version on Spotify is a live version, which would normally warrant a YouTube Pause (TM) (I hate live versions of stuff – if I want to hear it live, I’ll go see the band), but I’m a bit pushed for time tonight so I’m being lazy with this one.

That guitar riff is absolutely classic, so I hope they put a real version on Spotify soon so I can add it to my playlist.

Track 12: Blur – Girls And Boys

Classic chant-along Britpop anthem.  Brilliant song from a brilliant album.

Track 13: M People – Renaissance

Great beat, but the tune is pretty repetitive.

Track 14: Eternal – Just A Step From Heaven

Like the atmosphere – this is a nice track when it’s not the slightly irritating chorus.

Track 15: Toni Braxton – Another Sad Love Song

Fairly generic pop ballad.  Not keen on this one.

Track 16: China Black – Searching

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

Track 17: Dawn Penn – You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)

Great, classic track – loved it then, love it now.  You can’t not sing along to that chorus.

Track 18: Chaka Demus & Pliers – I Wanna Be Your Man

Annoying vocals, annoying tune.  Not a fan.

Track 19: Erasure – Always

Quality synthpop as ever from Erasure, but due to this song playing on the radio during a bout of carsickness en route to the caravan (I probably wasn’t actually sick, just really nauseous due to reading in the backseat, but those associations are strong), I…still feel sick when I hear it.

Track 20: Seal – Prayer For The Dying

Lovely track from Seal – beautiful atmosphere, beautiful tune.

Track 21: The Grid – Swamp Thing

Like that banjo line – fairly solid dance track.

Track 22: Two Cowboys – Everybody Gonfi Gon

Two slightly country-inspired dance tracks in a row, but it turns out I don’t mind country-inspired so much when the Eurodance is this good.  Great track, wonderful electro instrumentals.

Track 23: MAXX – Get-A-Way

Another great dance track.  I may have to start making a list of requests for the next time I find myself at a ’90s night!

Track 24: Reel 2 Real and The Mad Stuntman – Go On Move

Classic bassline!  The rest of the track’s not really anything special, though.

Track 25: The Prodigy – No Good (Start The Dance)

Not the first track to sample the ’80s classic You’re No Good For Me, but definitely the best.  Classic stuff.

Track 26: Cappella – U And Me

Great atmosphere, great beat, great dance track.  I’d forgotten how good 1994 was for dance!

Track 27: Haddaway – Rock My Heart

Pretty similar to What Is Love, but as that one’s a stone-cold classic I’m not complaining.  Brilliantly danceable stuff.

Track 28: 2 Unlimited – The Real Thing

Another great dance track – how many of these were there at the time?  Love those slightly eerie instrumentals.

Track 29: Sonic Surfers – Don’t Give It Up

I’m starting to feel like I’m in a nightclub.  Was everything a dance track in summer 1994?  Maybe I was so busy hearing Wet Wet Wet and All-4-One everywhere that I just didn’t notice.

This one is…another great dance track, believe it or not!

Track 30: DJ Miko – What’s Up

Irritating dance remix of 4 Non Blondes’ What’s Up (see Now! #25 for my review of the original version).  This is a song that very definitely did not need to be turned into a generic dance track.  Not keen on this treatment.

Track 31: Clubhouse and Carl – Light My Fire

Danceable beat, jauntily camp vocals, atmospheric synth lines – this one’s a lot of fun.

Track 32: Tony Di Bart – The Real Thing

Two tracks with the same name on the same Now! compilation!  I feel like we’re back in the title-inspiration-starved late ’80s again.

This one’s not as good as the identically-named 2 Unlimited song, but it’s still a good dance track, and I’m still on that dancefloor in the imaginary nightclub.  I’m not sure whether that Bee Gees lyric (‘if I can’t have you/I don’t want nobody, baby‘) is homage or theft, though!  (Wikipedia calls it ‘sampling’, but the tune is totally different.)

Track 33: CJ Lewis – Sweets For My Sweet

Annoying chorus alert!  Good dance beat though.

Track 34: Bitty McLean – Dedicated To The One I Love

Feelgood reggae-tinged cover of the ’50s classic.  Nice track.

Track 35: Salt-N-Pepa and En Vogue – Whatta Man

Absolutely classic collaboration, great track with a fabulous singalong chorus.

Track 36: R Kelly – Your Body’s Callin’

Found R Kelly and his penchant for underage girls creepy then, still find him creepy now.  Some things don’t change!

The song’s boring, anyway.

Track 37: The Brand New Heavies – Dream On Dreamer

Oh, it’s this one!  Nice upbeat track, great tune.  Like this song.

Track 38: Juliet Roberts – Caught In The Middle

This one was ALSO already on Now! #25!  I hope they were offering partial refunds to people who’d bought both compilations!

See link for review, yadda yadda.

Track 39: Glo-Worm – Carry Me Home

Irritating lyrics, but the tune and atmosphere are quite nice.

Track 40: Pet Shop Boys – Absolutely Fabulous

More great synthpop from Pet Shop Boys, released to tie in with the TV show.  We always watched the show in our house, so I’ve appreciated this one ever since.