Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #17

Day 17 and we’ve arrived in the 1990s with our Now! compilation journey!  This one was released on 23rd April 1990.

April 1990
This was the way the world looked in April 1990 (actually March – we apparently didn’t take any photos in April – but I don’t imagine it changed much in the course of a couple of weeks). I was clearly much hardier as a child, because I spent a lot of time on British beaches in months when it’s traditionally too cold to do so (i.e. every month of the year), whereas nowadays I’ll stand and shiver for a couple of minutes before going back into the pub.

Let’s see what the 1990s have in store for us!

Now! That's What I Call Music #17
Track 1: Erasure – Blue Savannah

More solid synthpop from Erasure.  Great tune, great epic atmosphere.

Track 2: The Rebel MC – Better World

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

Repetitive beats make for a dull intro, but it’s better once a bit of melody kicks in.

Track 3: Paula Abdul – Opposites Attract

Good beat, but the tune’s a bit dull for my liking.

Track 4: Beats International – Dub Be Good To Me

Classic dance track, really like this tune.  Great vocal melody.

Track 5: UB40 – Kingston Town

Bit of a slow one from UB40, with an irritating tune.  Not really a fan.

Track 6: Candy Flip – Strawberry Fields Forever

Weird synth cover of the Beatles classic.  Pretty much a pointless cover other than the synth, as the vocals definitely don’t do anything new.

Track 7: Tina Turner – I Don’t Wanna Lose You

Fairly standard Tina Turner ballad, a bit dull for me.

Track 8: Phil Collins – I Wish It Would Rain Down

Phil Collins turns his hand to a rock ballad.  To be fair, that guitar is just the right level of over-the-top for me, so I quite like this one.

Track 9: Happy Mondays – Step On

Love this one!  Classic track – I will always dance to this at weddings, in clubs, and in my chair right now.

Track 10: Primal Scream – Loaded

Another classic dance track – love those trumpet hooks.

Track 11: Depeche Mode – Enjoy The Silence

How were Depeche Mode not on a Now! compilation throughout the entirety of the ’80s? *blink*

Anyway, this classic synthpop track is not a bad way to start.  Epic tune, great vocals, has had me on the dancefloor of a thousand goth clubs.

Track 12: Jesus Jones – Real Real Real

Great upbeat rock-tinged track.  Happily nodding along here.

Track 13: Inspiral Carpets – This Is How It Feels

Lovely electro instrumentals, beautiful classic song.  Really like this one.  Another example where Carter USM did a great and not-at-all-pointless cover.

Track 14: The House Of Love – Shine On

Really like this one!  Great tune – love those guitar instrumentals.

Track 15: Faith No More – From Out Of Nowhere

Another great guitar riff.  Not so keen on the vocals, but it’s a good tune.

Track 16: The Quireboys – Hey You

I quite like the rock turn this Now! compilation has taken!  This one’s a great head-nodder.

Track 17: Technotronic and MC Eric – This Beat Is Technotronic

Great dance track, really like the melody on this one.  Geth just arrived home and talked all over it, so I wasn’t quite able to hear it properly!

Track 18: Lonnie Gordon – Happenin’ All Over Again

Like the tune, but the vocal line is a bit repetitive for my liking.

Track 19: 49ers – Don’t You Love Me

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

Nice upbeat dance track, interesting vocal.  Bit dull otherwise.

Track 20: Jimmy Somerville – Read My Lips (Enough Is Enough)

Another solid pop track from Jimmy Somerville.  Great atmosphere on this one.

Track 21: Cliff Richard – Stronger Than That

More saccharine vocals from Cliff Richard.  His band are doing a good job at the pop-rock though.

Track 22: Jam Tronik – Another Day In Paradise

Interesting electro cover of the Phil Collins track.  Really like this one.

Track 23: JT & The Big Family – Moments In Soul

Interesting instrumentals, good atmosphere, but some of the samples are a little irritating.

Track 24: Mantronix and Wondress – Got To Have Your Love

Nice bass intro, nice instrumentals, good solid pop, though the vocals are a bit dull until the chorus kicks in.

Track 25: Bizz Nizz – Don’t Miss The Party Line

Great electro dance tune, though I could do without the live crowd on the track.

Track 26: E-Zee Possee and MC Kinky – Everything Starts With An ‘E’

Another live crowd spoiling the otherwise good guitar intro.  Then the weird vocal starts and it all goes south.  Also, I’m guessing that title is a drug reference (the ‘ec-ec-ec-ec-ecstasy‘ lyric is also a bit of a clue), which means the 1990s have properly arrived.

Track 27: D-Mob and Nuff Juice – Put Your Hands Together

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

Is that a brief sample of the Halloween theme at the start?  If so, it makes the track 100% more awesome, even though the rest of it is a bit of a messy sample-fest.

Track 28: Adamski and Seal – Killer

Absolute classic – that chorus is great, and the instrumentals are wonderfully epic.

Track 29: Orbital – Chime

Upbeat dance track with some interesting instrumentals – good head-nodder, though it gets a bit repetitive after a while.

Track 30: Tongue ‘N’ Cheek – Tomorrow

Nice sweeping piano intro, then it goes a bit house, then a bit ’70s retro.  Once it gets going, it’s pretty much pop-by-numbers, with a random rap late in the track (yup, the ’90s are definitely here…sigh).

Track 31: Electribe 101 – Talking With Myself

Good instrumentals, dull vocal.  Bonus points for the James Bond theme randomly popping up in the middle of the song, though.

Track 32: Sydney Youngblood – I’d Rather Go Blind

Problematic title and theme, for starters.  Fairly tuneless intro, repetitive vocals, out-of-kilter instrumentals.  Not a fan of this one.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #16

Day 16 takes us to 20th November 1989.

November 1989
This is the way the world looked in November 1989, when I was small and Christmas trees were…silver. I am 100% positive that nobody usually put up their Christmas trees in November back in the ’80s – that is most definitely a 21st century thing due to ongoing Christmas creep – but I think my great-aunt and great-uncle got the decorations out early that year so that the wee bro and I could ‘help’. Of course, in my world, Christmas decorations still look like that – or even older – ’cause my mum and her mum before her have been keeping them all as heirlooms since the ’40s.

So, we’ve reached the end of the ’80s in our Now! compilation journey.  Let’s enjoy those last few glorious tracks!

Now! That's What I Call Music #16

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’?).

Fun fact 2: In a further example of my family’s sloth-like speed at adopting new phone technologies, we didn’t get an answerphone until the mid-’90s, so I wouldn’t have understood the premise of this song at the time.

Track 7: The Beautiful South – You Keep It All In

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.

Track 12: Wendy & Lisa – Waterfall ’89

Slow pop-by-numbers, dull repetitive tune, nothing special.

Track 13: Kate Bush – The Sensual World

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.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #15

Day 15’s Now! compilation was released on 14th August 1989.

August 1989
This is what the world looked like in August 1989. Beautiful sunshine, beautiful view, and I’m clearly complaining about something, ’cause I’m four. At least I’m complaining while wearing an awesome ’80s coat though.

On with the tracks!

Now! That's What I Call Music #15
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 Kill for 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.

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

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

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

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

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

Now! That's What I Call Music #10

Track 1: Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé – Barcelona

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

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

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

Track 2: Pet Shop Boys – Rent

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

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

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

Track 3: The Communards – Never Can Say Goodbye

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track 5: Hue & Cry – Labour Of Love

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

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

Track 6: Jellybean and Steven Dante – The Real Thing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track 8: The Style Council – Wanted

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

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

Track 9: T’Pau – China In Your Hand

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

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

Track 10: Heart – Alone

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

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

Track 11: Kiss – Crazy Crazy Nights

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

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

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

Track 12: Billy Idol – Mony Mony

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

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

Track 13: Whitesnake – Here I Go Again ’87

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

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

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

Track 14: The Alarm – Rain In The Summertime

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

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

Track 15: Marillion – Sugar Mice

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

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

Track 16: Wet Wet Wet – Sweet Little Mystery

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

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

Track 17: Curiosity Killed The Cat – Misfit

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

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

Track 18: Los Lobos – La Bamba

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

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

Track 19: Fat Boys and Beach Boys – Wipeout

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

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

Track 20: Bananarama – Love In The First Degree

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

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

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

Track 21: Cliff Richard – My Pretty One

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

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

Track 22: Karel Fialka – Hey Matthew

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

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

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

Track 23: Jan Hammer – Crockett’s Theme

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

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

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

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

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

Track 25: Erasure – The Circus

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

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

Track 26: The Housemartins – Build

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

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

Track 27: Level 42 – It’s Over

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

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

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

Track 28: ABC – When Smokey Sings

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

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

Track 29: Squeeze – Hourglass

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

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

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

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

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

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #6

Day 6, and we’ve arrived at 25th November 1985.

November 1985
In November 1985, the world looked like this. Knitted hats just aren’t what they used to be.

I doubt any of the artists on Now! #6 looked as cool as me and Dad in our knitted hats, but let’s have a listen anyway.

Now! That's What I Call Music #6
Track 1: Queen – One Vision

A favourite going back to childhood – we had the A Kind Of Magic album on CD in the ’90s and always played it in the car.

I don’t think anyone disputes nowadays that the last line is definitely sung as ‘fried chicken‘, right?

Track 2: Nik Kershaw – When A Heart Beats

Nice rock-tinged track, probably the best Nik Kershaw track the Now! compilers have included so far.

Track 3: Feargal Sharkey – A Good Heart

I quite like this one in moderation.  Good chair-swayer, and great lyrics.

Track 4: Eurythmics – There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)

I’ve got a soft spot for this one because it was used for one of the idents on VH1 Classic back in the ’00s, when Geth and I lived in Edinburgh and could still get Virgin TV with its huge variety of music TV channels.  Love that chorus.

Track 5: Simple Minds – Alive And Kicking

Slightly rockier sound from Simple Minds today, great tune, especially the singalong bridge.

Track 6: Bryan Adams and Tina Turner – It’s Only Love

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 1: lazy tribute version substitute.

Nice epic guitar riff all the way through – quite like this one.

Track 7: Gary Moore – Empty Rooms

Love the atmosphere of this one, with that wailing guitar at the start.  Everything I like in an ’80s rock ballad.

Track 8: Marillion – Lavender

Not keen on this one – the repetitive chorus annoys me.

Track 9: Elton John – Nikita

A song from a different world, where the Iron Curtain meant that English boys weren’t allowed to date Russian girls, or something.  It’s quite a nice tune, but there’s something a little dull about it for me.

Track 10: Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill

Love this one.  I think I came to it late and it was actually the Placebo cover in 2003 that introduced me to it (the Placebo covers album did that for a lot of songs).  In this case, the original is much better though.

Track 11: Level 42 – Something About You

Nice upbeat pop, quite like this one!

Side note: Geth and I noticed when we were at the Sage Gateshead for the Kim Wilde gig last night that Level 42 will be playing there in October.  I may have another ’80s gig to look forward to!

Track 12: Tina Turner – We Don’t Need Another Hero

As usual with Tina Turner, there’s something I’m not keen on here.  I think I just don’t like the tune.

Track 13: UB40 – Don’t Break My Heart

Not quite as bouncy as you’d usually expect from UB40, but I really quite like the atmosphere of this one.

Track 14: Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin – Separate Lives

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 1: lazy tribute version substitute.

Bit too much of a dull, slow ballad for my tastes.  I quite like the instrumentals though.

Track 15: Cliff Richard – She’s So Beautiful

Never been a Cliff fan, as I find his typical level of cheese to be pretty cringeworthy.  This one is no exception.  Blurgh.

Track 16: Arcadia – Election Day

Following the Power Station yesterday, here’s the other Duran Duran spinoff band of 1985.  Plenty to love here, with a nice epic chorus and daft video.

Track 17: UB40 and Chrissie Hynde – I Got You Babe

I actually prefer this jaunty reggae version of the song to the Sonny and Cher original.  Great track.

Track 18: Fine Young Cannibals – Blue

Okay tune, but not enough of a hook for me.

Track 19: Midge Ure – If I Was

In our ’90s family CD collection, we had this one on a Top Gear compilation, I think.  I’ve always liked the tune, especially the way the verses build.

Track 20: Siouxsie & The Banshees – Cities In Dust

Nice mad song that I still hear a lot in clubs.  Highly danceable if you’re a goth.

Track 21: Madness – Uncle Sam

Typical jolly Madness track, though it’s a bit more sedate than some of their stuff.  Really like this tune.

Track 22: Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Lost Weekend

Great song!  I’m going to make this one today’s top wedding disco track.

Track 23: The Communards – You Are My World

My parents had (and still have) the Communards’ self-titled album on vinyl, so it’s one of those records I grew up with.  Great dance tune.

Track 24: Paul Hardcastle – Just For Money

Jaunty mishmash of sampling based around the theme of the Great Train Robbery.  Quite like this track.

Track 25: Jan Hammer – Miami Vice Theme

I find this one a bit dull.  It does, however, remind me that I’ve never seen an episode of Miami Vice, which I should probably rectify at some point.

Track 26: Maria Vidal – Body Rock

This one’s a bit pop-by-numbers, nothing special.

Track 27: Baltimora – Tarzan Boy

That’s more like it!  Great hooks, classic pop track.

Track 28: Mai Tai – Body And Soul

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

Much better than History from yesterday.  Vocals aren’t really to my taste, but the instrumentals are great.

Track 29: Cameo – Single Life

Not enough here to keep my interest.  Bland tune, repetitive vocals.

Track 30: Jaki Graham and David Grant – Mated

Fairly typical ballad, a bit dull and slow for me.