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!
If you’re lucky, there’s something special about the song that was number one when you were born. Maybe it symbolises something about your life, or your interests, or the person that you ended up growing up to be. Maybe it’s just a really awesome song.
If you’re unlucky, you end up like Geth and get Theme From M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless) (UK number one from 25th May 1980 to 14th June 1980, fact fans!) as your birthday number one. It’s not bad as TV theme tunes go, but it’s not special to Geth – he didn’t grow up to be a soldier, or an expert on the Korean War, or even much of a M*A*S*H fan, really.
I was lucky, and my birthday number one is special to me. I love it as a Christmas baby, as an ’80s throwback, as a chart geek, and as a lover of music in general. It’s an extremely well-known Christmas song – one of those tracks you hear constantly from the middle of November until early January. It held the record for the best-selling single in UK chart history for more than twelve years, only ever being overtaken by Elton John’s Candle In The Wind ’97 after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in September 1997.
My birthday number one is Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas?, one of the most famous recordings in music history.
I was born on 3rd January 1985, the twenty-sixth day of the thirty-five day period (9th December 1984 to 12th January 1985) that Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? spent at number one in the UK. From the 1984-1985 UK birthrates available online, I estimate that I share my birthday number one with approximately 71,000 other Band Aid babies, including Georgia Moffett, Lewis Hamilton, and Newton Faulkner. (I would love to be able to work out the exact number, but the internet is not forthcoming at the moment!)
Due to the ubiquity of the song, I grew up with it, and it became my favourite Christmas song long before I realised that it was my birthday number one. I pored over the upside-down answers to Smash Hits quizzes that challenged readers to name all the artists involved in the song, and memorised names that were unfamiliar to me in the context of the early ’90s pop music landscape. I dutifully learnt to sing the song with my primary school class in preparation for our Christmas performance at the local old folks’ community centre. I waited excitedly for it to come on as soon as my brother and I were allowed to play the family’s Christmas compilation CD (That’s Christmas) on the 1st of December every year. It’s one of those songs that you hear hundreds of times every year, and so it never really goes out of your mind. That’s not something you can say about Theme From M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless).
The finer points of Bob Geldof’s project to put together a charity supergroup and the song’s recording on 25th November 1984 are well known, detailed in a hundred different BBC4 documentaries and summarised fairly well on Wikipedia (though I highly recommend the Smash Hits coverage of the recording day included in the collection book The Best Of Smash Hits: The ’80s for a bit of period flavour – it has a great group photo of all the artists involved except for Boy George, who infamously didn’t show up till six o’clock in the evening due to oversleeping in New York and having to get on a Concorde back to London).
I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my life, including a lot of concerts by artists who were big in the ’80s due to it being my favourite music era and favourite era in general. But the other day, it occurred to me that I had never gone to see a single one of the thirty-seven artists who performed on my birthday number one. I had never even seen any of the additional seven artists who couldn’t make it to the recording and so sent recorded Christmas messages to be used on the B-side of the single.
This is the part of the post where I get to the point.
I will never get to see every single one of the artists involved in my birthday number one. Sadly, two of the musicians who contributed to the song (George Michael and Rick Parfitt) and two who recorded B-side messages (Stuart Adamson and David Bowie) have since passed away. But I have decided that I will make a concerted effort to see as many of the rest of them as possible. After all, I have more opportunity than some. My brother’s birthday number one is Ben E King’s Stand By Me (a re-entry at UK number one between 15th February 1987 and 7th March 1987), which means that since King’s death in 2015 he has no longer had the possibility of seeing his birthday number one artist. People who were born between 14th December 1980 and 20th December 1980, when (Just Like) Starting Over was number one following John Lennon’s assassination, have never had the chance to see their birthday number one artist.
Enter the Band Aid bucket list!
For most of my bucket lists, I reckon that if I’m lucky enough, I’ve got another fifty or sixty years left to get them completed. Time is not so much on my side for this particular list, given that all the artists on it are now in their fifties and sixties and won’t be performing or alive forever. As such, rather similarly to the huge hoard of ’80s vintage clothing I’m collecting while it’s still cheap and plentiful, I aim to get the bulk of this project achieved while I’m still in my thirties, and so I’m targeting >50% list completion by my fortieth birthday on 3rd January 2025. That gives me six years, one month and fourteen days as of this post to see as many of the following artists as possible. I’d better get a wiggle on.
On the Monday, which was my last full day in Toronto, Geth and I decided to go and visit the Royal Ontario Museum. Before that, however, we headed to Carlton Street for a quick look round the Maple Leaf Gardens, which is next door to the Holiday Inn where Mum and Dad were staying.
The Maple Leaf Gardens is currently used for sports by Ryerson University (the same uni that was hosting the conference Geth was attending while we were in Toronto). They took it over and massively refurbished the interior in the early ’10s. In the ’00s, it lay empty and deserted, but up until 1999, it was a thriving venue for political events and music concerts and was the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey team (hence the name of the venue).
(Incidentally, it’s always really annoyed me that the team are called the Maple Leafs rather than the grammatically-correct Maple Leaves. This is why I will never get into watching ice hockey. #proofreaderproblems)
As a concert venue, the Maple Leaf Gardens hosted Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and pretty much everyone else who was big in the 20th century. In 1984, Duran Duran filmed the video for The Reflex there, which was one of my main reasons for wanting to go and have a nosey around.
Inside the building, there are lots of boards on the walls telling you about the history of the venue. The number of famous sayings that were apparently coined there is difficult to believe!
‘He shoots, he scores’ – apparently said for the first time at the Maple Leaf Gardens! Wiktionary and Urban Dictionary do back this one up.
‘Hat-trick’ – apparently originated at the Maple Leaf Gardens! Geth didn’t believe this one for a second, and again Wikipedia claims differently – cricket players were using the term almost a century earlier.
Still, I guess one out of three turning out to be true is not bad going.
The shiny installations dangling from the ceiling were nice as well!
After I’d finished looking around the exhibition, I met back up with Geth and we took a quick trip to the dinosaur floor. They had some good skeletons, both real and replica, but it was a bit too full of kids having pictures taken with the T-Rex, so we eventually decamped to the Museum Tavern nearby, which is one of our favourite pubs in Toronto, for a couple of pints and a good chat with the barman.
In the evening, we met up with Mum, Dad, Malcolm and Steff for our last meal in Toronto, at Scaddabush. This involved more pizza (which was served on a board with SPECIAL PIZZA SCISSORS for cutting it up! They were amazing and I want a pair!), more cheesecake, and more crayons for scribbling on the table:
After the meal, we said goodbye to Steff – she was working and wouldn’t be able to see us off the next day – and Geth and I headed back to our suite at the Grand for one last sleep in the city (for me, anyway).
…that I have escaped the ignominy of having to pay my Slimming World fee again! I lost the four pounds required to take me back into target range. Will try to lose a bit more this next week so that I’m more towards the middle of it again.
I went to WH Smith afterwards to pick up my Doctor Who Magazine (I’m several months behind with reading DWM, but I’ve been diligently buying all the issues so I can catch up at some point). I’ve been sternly telling myself that I need to cut down on magazines, because I never have time to read the ones I buy and it’s a bit of an expensive habit, but when I walked into the shop, all of these were on display:
Yeah. I’ll be starting that ‘cutting down’ thing next week.
Another quiet afternoon plugging away at work – Pilates class is on summer break till September so I’ve got plenty of time on a Thursday afternoon to get on with things at the moment.
Geth has been playing a lot of Final Fantasy XIII-2 this week, which has meant a lot of early nights reading for me. I expect I will be doing the same tonight, although I’ll possibly be forsaking my Kindle for making a start on that giant pile of magazines that I just added to.
I’ve mentioned before how much I love BBC Four. Between the old episodes of Top of the Pops and the music documentaries, there’s always something worth watching, which is the main reason my digibox is always getting too full. They’re always doing new shows about old music, basically, so it’s one of my favourite channels.
As such, I was really excited when I heard they were going to be doing a special evening of shows about Duran Duran, who are my current biggest musical obsession. It’s the band’s fortieth anniversary this year, and so the BBC Four programmes are part of the celebration.
Geth was due to be at a work do on Friday evening (although in the event, he ended up coming home early and watching the Duran stuff with me, as he’d already had a heavy night on the Thursday!) so I made sure I had a few cans of cider in the fridge and settled in for the evening.
The first programme was Duran Duran: There’s Something You Should Know, which was a new documentary with a lot of interesting features – particular highlights for me included Nick Rhodes talking to designer Antony Price about the suits used for the Rio video, Simon Le Bon meeting up with his old choirmaster, and all of the band members cramming themselves into a tiny Citroen just like they used to do in their early days. There were also some really good interview segments with more recent collaborators like Mark Ronson. The documentary was organised into sections based around seven of Duran’s albums – but as they’ve released fourteen, this did mean that there were large parts of their history that just didn’t get mentioned. It’s a shame, but in an hour-long documentary you can’t do justice to everything.
The second programme, Duran Duran: A Night In, was the highlight of the night for me – it was basically just an hour of the band members reminiscing about TV programming from their childhoods in the ’60s and ’70s. About five minutes into the programme:
Geth: You’re never deleting this, are you? It’s clips of all your favourite TV shows and films, narrated by Duran Duran. It’s basically your ideal programme.
Given that at this point we’d had the 1960s Batman series and Hammer Horror’s Dracula…yeah, pretty much. Other TV shows and films covered included Barbarella (the film that gave Duran Duran their name) and ’70s Top of the Pops performances from Marc Bolan and Roxy Music. I love all of these things anyway, but Geth was right – the commentary from the Durans made it a highly enjoyable watch, and unlike most things that I insist on keeping on the digibox, I’m sure I will be rewatching this one many times.
The third programme, Duran Duran: Unstaged, was a recording of a concert played in Los Angeles a couple of years ago, with visuals by David Lynch over the top. Geth found the flashing imagery a bit much after a couple of days’ heavy drinking, and headed up to bed, leaving me alone to watch what was quite a good show – it was a good mix of old and new tracks, and the band had a lot of guests playing with them like Mark Ronson (again) and Beth Ditto. I sort of didn’t notice the Lynch visuals after a while because I was too absorbed in the music, so this is definitely one I need to watch again.
There was also a repeat of a Duran Duran TOTP2 special, but as it wasn’t on till three in the morning (the other shows were being repeated first), I went to bed and caught up with it the next morning. I’d already seen a lot of the performances, but it’s the amusing commentary from Mark Radcliffe and the fact-filled captions that make TOTP2 worth watching.
All in all, great programming as ever from BBC Four, and a real treat for Duran Duran fans. Hopefully a new album and tour won’t be too many years away!
Day 31 takes us to 31st July 1995 with the Now! compilations.
Let’s have a listen to the summer hits of that year.
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.
Everybody hurts, and everybody except me absolutely loves this song. It’s alright, it’s just really overplayed.
Track 8: New Order – Regret
One of my favourite New Order tracks – absolutely beautiful tune. That guitar riff is just gorgeous.
Track 9: Freddie Mercury – Living On My Own
Love the synth line, if not the daft yodeling at the start. Great atmosphere.
Track 10: Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive
’70s classic back in the charts. I remember them always playing the video on Top of the Pops at the time, I guess because Gloria Gaynor wasn’t available to come back and perform it.
Track 11: Inner Circle – Sweat (A La La La La Long)
I’ve always liked this daft track, though I probably shouldn’t. Great singalong chorus.
Track 12: Chaka Demus & Pliers – Tease Me
Not hugely keen on the tune – it’s a bit dull for me.
Track 13: Louchie Lou & Michie One – Shout
Laidback cover of the Isley Brothers classic. Because I knew this one first, I actually always find the original (and the Lulu version, which gets played more often) a bit frenetic.
Track 14: Shabba Ranks and Maxi Priest – Housecall
Nice head-nodder once it gets going.
Track 15: Duran Duran – Come Undone
Yup, I still love Duran Duran, even though they’ve gone all grown-up on me with their ’90s stuff. This track has a wonderful, brooding atmosphere all the way through, with lovely guitar lines and a gorgeous tune on the chorus.
Track 16: Paul Weller – Sunflower
Paul Weller’s gone solo and therefore dull. I had to listen to a lot of his ’90s stuff on family car journeys and I’m not a fan.
Track 17: Kingmaker – Ten Years Asleep
Good danceable beat, but the tune’s a bit boring.
Track 18: 2 Unlimited – Tribal Dance
Another solid dance track from 2 Unlimited – good stuff.
Track 19: Robin S – Luv 4 Luv
A bit too similar to Show Me Love for me, but it’s okay.
Track 20: Sybil – When I’m Good And Ready
Bit generic – not a fan of this one.
Track 21: Dannii Minogue – This Is It
I’ve always loved this cover of the Melba Moore classic – pure solid feelgood pop, can’t fault it.
Track 22: The Time Frequency – The Ultimate High
Good upbeat dance track – like this one.
Track 23: Jon Secada – Do You Really Want Me
Good head-nodder, nice tune.
Track 24: Kim Wilde – If I Can’t Have You
Happily flashing back here to three weeks ago, when I saw Kim Wilde perform this live with the whole audience bellowing along. Was it really three weeks ago? My all-encompassing work project has made my sense of time a bit squiffy.
Great singalong track, love it.
Track 25: East 17 – West End Girls
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Questionable cover of the Pet Shop Boys classic. The original is one of my favourite songs of all time, so I was never going to be impressed by this.
Track 26: Joey Lawrence – Nothin’ My Love Can’t Fix
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
I had a poster of Joey Lawrence (who was mostly an actor) at the time. I never watched any of his shows, I think I just liked the poster.
Anyway, the track. It’s pretty generic, but it’s an okay pop song once it gets to the chorus. He should probably have stuck to acting, though.
Track 27: Efua – Somewhere
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Interesting spoken word verses, okay backing track. Quite like this one.
Track 28: Sade – No Ordinary Love
Lovely vocals, but a bit slow for me.
Track 29: Richard Darbyshire – This I Swear
Dull tune, saccharine vocals. Not keen on this one, though the sax solo does improve it a bit.
Track 30: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Dream Of Me
Typically lovely synth from OMD – good stuff.
Track 31: D:Ream – U R The Best Thing
Great upbeat dance-pop, really like this one.
Track 32: Juliet Roberts – Caught In The Middle
Another nice upbeat track – happily nodding along here.
Track 33: Oui 3 – Break From The Old Routine
Not enough melody for me, but the rap’s okay.
Track 34: Utah Saints – I Want You
Nice beat, but there’s a bit too much going on with the track for me.
Track 35: Jesus Jones – Zeroes And Ones
Geth: ‘We’ve definitely hit critical greebo.’
Good upbeat head-nodder for me, good end to the compilation.
While I didn’t have this particular Now! compilation, I did have rival compilation The Greatest Hits of 1993 (the first album I ever bought, on cassette, with my Christmas money), which had most of the same songs. As such, I’m very familiar with a lot of these. Let’s crack on!
Track 1: The Bluebells – Young at Heart
We’ve had this one already, on Now! #3! I know it was back in the charts in 1993, but I’m still cross about the Now! compilers repeating songs.
Urgh. I guess this is going to become an ongoing thing. See the link above for my review.
Track 2: Take That – Could It Be Magic
Great upbeat pop cover of the Barry Manilow song. Take That seem to have been doing a lot of covers at this point – I’m guessing it was before the mangement let Gary Barlow take over songwriting duties. I do like this one, though, especially for Robbie Williams on lead vocals.
Track 3: Sub Sub and Melanie Williams – Ain’t No Love (Ain’t No Use)
A bit repetitive, but a good uptempo dance track.
Track 4: Snap – Exterminate!
Another great, atmospheric track from Snap. I’ve always liked this one, even leaving aside the obvious Dalek connotations.
Track 5: Sister Sledge – We Are Family [Sure Is Pure Remix]
This was huge in my primary school playground at the time – you couldn’t escape it. Great remix of the ’70s classic.
Track 6: Snow – Informer
I’ve always loved this one, especially the gibberish chorus. Great, interesting song.
Track 7: Shabba Ranks and Chevelle Franklin – Mr Loverman
Annoying chorus alert! It’s a good tune, but I don’t like those vocals.
Track 8: Shaggy – Oh Carolina
Nice cover of the Folkes Brothers classic – great tune – but it’s another one where the chorus annoys me.
Track 9: East 17 – Deep [Breath Mix]
Great instrumentals, especially that bassline – wonderful atmosphere. I’ve always liked this one.
Track 10: Stereo MCs – Step It Up
Great head-nodder, fun theme. Good stuff.
Track 11: Arrested Development – Tennessee
Repetitive, not much melody. Not hugely keen on this one.
Track 12: Robin S – Show Me Love [Stonebridge Club Mix]
Classic track, great beat.
Fun fact: Jason Derulo sampled this on Don’t Wanna Go Home, and when I first heard it I literally went ‘who the ****’s sampled this?’ only to be immediately answered with that ‘JASON DERULO’ lyric he always used to do at the start of his songs. A handy, if annoying feature.
Track 13: Lulu – Independence [Brothers In Rhythm Mix]
Fairly generic tune, but it’s a nice solid bit of pop. Good sax solo too!
Track 14: West End and Sybil – The Love I Lost
Another annoying chorus, but I quite like the track otherwise.
Track 15: 2 Unlimited – No Limit
This was the classic singalong track on every school trip during 1993. Imagine, if you will, a bus full of sixty-six eight-year-olds, all squeaking ‘NO NO, NO NO NO NO, NO NO NO NO, NO NO THERE’S NO LIMIT’ over and over and over and over for a good couple of hours. Sometimes I’m amazed we never had a bus driver start screaming madly and drive us all off a high cliff.
Track 16: Cappella – U Got 2 Know
I absolutely love this classic dance track – brilliant tune.
Track 17: Sunscreem – Pressure Us
Another good upbeat dance number – like this one.
Track 18: Monie Love – Born 2 BREED
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Not at all keen on the theme of this song, but it’s quite a good upbeat tune.
Track 19: Hue & Cry – Labour Of Love
We already had this one on Now! #10, which I’m extra-especially cross about ’cause it’s my favourite Now! compilation!
Sigh. See the link for my thoughts.
Track 20: Duran Duran – Ordinary World
They’re back for the ’90s, and I still love Duran Duran! This is a gorgeous introspective one – beautiful track.
Track 21: Annie Lennox – Love Song For A Vampire
Lovely tune, great atmosphere.
Track 22: World Party – Is It Like Today?
Nice tune, like the instrumentals. Good stuff.
Track 23: KD Lang – Constant Craving
I’m not a fan of KD Lang’s vocals, but I do like the tune.
Track 24: Tasmin Archer – In Your Care
Good atmosphere on this one, though it’s a little slow for me.
Track 25: PM Dawn – Looking Through Patient Eyes
Not keen on the tune, the sung vocals or the rap. Not a fan.
Track 26: The Beloved – Sweet Harmony
Nice electro head-nodder – really like this one. Lovely sax solo too.
Track 27: Dina Carroll – This Time
Fairly typical Dina Carroll ballad – too slow and generic for my liking.
Track 28: Simply Red – Lady Godiva’s Room
An improvement on the last couple of Simply Red tracks we’ve had – great tune – but still a bit slow for me.
Track 29: Genesis – Invisible Touch [Live]
We already had the original studio version on Now! #7. Not sure why the live version was suddenly a thing.
See above for my review – the live version doesn’t add anything!
Track 30: Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way
Great classic rock track that I’m going to make today’s top ‘wedding disco’ track! Brilliant stuff.
Track 31: Depeche Mode – I Feel You
Love this atmospheric track from Depeche Mode – great vocals, awesome tune.
Track 32: Peter Gabriel – Steam
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Good upbeat tune, happily nodding along here.
Track 33: Ugly Kid Joe – Cats In The Cradle
I always liked this cover of the Harry Chapin song and its whimsical lyrics, but I absolutely hate the fact that Ugly Kid Joe got rid of the apostrophe (the original title is Cat’s In the Cradle), as it makes the punctuation incorrect in the context of the song.
Track 34: Faith No More – Easy
Pointless ’90s cover of the Commodores classic. Always a great song, but the cover doesn’t do anything new.
Track 35: Bryan Ferry – I Put A Spell On You
Nice chillout-ish cover of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins classic. Really like this one.
Track 36: Ultravox – Vienna
Not sure what this 1981 classic was doing back in the charts, but I’m not complaining! Wonderful, epic track.
Track 37: Paul McCartney – Hope Of Deliverance
Bit of a retro-tinged track, but it’s got a nice beat and a lovely tune. Good one to end on.
Two weeks into this review series, and Now! 14 takes us to 20th March 1989.
Both me and the wee bro were clearly better dressed than this lot, but let’s listen to their songs anyway.
Track 1: Marc Almond and Gene Pitney – Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart
The Gene Pitney solo original from the ’60s is one of my all-time favourite songs. This version with Marc Almond doesn’t quite match the original for me, but it’s still really good.
Track 2: Phil Collins – Two Hearts
Phil Collins back on form after that awful one from yesterday. Great bouncy singalong chair-dancer.
Track 3: Erasure – Stop!
Love the spiky synth on this one. More great pop from Erasure.
Track 4: Bananarama and LaNaNeeNeeNooNoo – Help!
An early example of a Comic Relief single, with Bananarama teaming up with their parody versions (actually French and Saunders) for a not-quite-pointless cover of the Beatles classic. There’s not much added to the song other than the daft comedy spoken word sections, but the backing instrumentals are quite interesting.
Track 5: Hue & Cry – Looking For Linda
More upbeat than Ordinary Angel yesterday, but the chorus annoys me. Sorry!
Track 6: Yazz – Fine Time
Yazz has ditched the Plastic Population, and judging by this song, I can’t decide whether it was the best move. The tune is nice and soulful, but perhaps a little slow for me. No annoying chorus, though, so that’s a huge improvement.
Bit of a slower, quieter one from Kim Wilde, but still a great pop track – really nice build to the atmosphere.
Track 8: Sam Brown – Stop
This is the second track on this compilation with this title. Between this and the Transvision Vamp/Duran Duran mixed message from yesterday, I’m beginning to think bands in the late ’80s were running out of originality when it came to titles.
Absolutely love this track – beautiful tune, wonderful epic atmosphere.
Fun fact: Jamelia did the most pointless of pointless covers of this in 2003 for the Love Actually soundtrack – it sounds EXACTLY the same.
Track 9: Roy Orbison – You Got It
Was Roy Orbison really still going in 1989? *googles* Apparently so.
Really like this tune, especially that bridge. Nice head-nodder.
Track 10: Fine Young Cannibals – She Drives Me Crazy
Hands down my favourite Fine Young Cannibals song. Absolutely classic track with a beautiful simplicity to the vocals and lyrics, and some stunning guitar instrumentals. Adore this one.
Track 11: INXS – Need You Tonight
That hook! Another one that used to be used to announce the ad breaks on VH1 Classic. An all-time favourite, with wonderful vocals and a great atmosphere.
Track 12: Status Quo – Burning Bridges (On And Off And On Again)
Annoying riff to start that reminds me of a sing-song nursery rhyme. This is echoed in the chorus. The verses are okay though. Then there’s that random instrumental of the tune that I only know from Manchester United’s Come On You Reds song in the ’90s. Just a bit of a mess, really.
Track 13: Then Jerico – Big Area
Nice tinkly intro, which smashes into a bit of epic guitar-led atmosphere. Boring vocals, but the instrumentals are great.
Track 14: Morrissey – The Last Of The Famous International Playboys
Fairly upbeat for Morrissey. Bit of a dull tune though.
Track 15: Poison – Every Rose Has Its Thorn
Boring slow guitar track. My least favourite kind of music! Not a fan at all.
Track 16: Simple Minds – Belfast Child
Beautiful track from Simple Minds, based on traditional melody As She Moved Through The Fair. A favourite since childhood.
Track 17: Neneh Cherry – Buffalo Stance
I’ve got a soft spot for this classic, which I find to be a great singalong head-nodder.
Track 18: Inner City – Good Life
A little repetitive, but better than Big Fun yesterday.
Track 19: S-Express – Hey Music Lover
Super irritating spoken sample at the start! I like the synth lines though.
Track 20: Living In A Box – Blow The House Down
Nice upbeat pop track, good head-nodder. Really like that chorus.
Track 21: The Style Council – Promised Land
I’m a little surprised the Style Council were still going in ’89 – I was sure Paul Weller had gone solo by then. Oh well, gotta keep improving that music knowledge.
Nice track though – good bouncy song, great synth going on in there.
Track 22: Adeva – Respect
Vocals a bit erratic for my liking, but a good dance track.
Track 23: Tone Lōc – Wild Thing
I quite like that clappy intro. Rap bit is kind of dull though.
Track 24: Natalie Cole – I Live For Your Love
The dullest type of dull ballad, only marginally saved by the tinkly instrumentals. Not keen.
Track 25: Robin Beck – First Time
Really like the tune on this one – great rock ballad.
Track 26: Paula Abdul – Straight Up
Great chair-dancing track. Love the chorus too, good singalong potential.
Track 27: Samantha Fox – I Only Wanna Be With You
Upbeat cover of the Dusty Springfield classic. Different enough not to be pointless (there’s no mistaking that ’80s synth), but there’s something cheesy and annoying about it.
Track 28: Brother Beyond – Be My Twin
Vocals are too saccharine, but I quite like the tune. Nice sax solo too.
Track 29: Climie Fisher – Love Like A River
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
We’re getting towards the end of the compilation! Do I dare hope? Could today finally be the day when every track from the original compilation is present and correct on Spotify…oh. Oh well. So close.
Typically cheesy vocals for Climie Fisher, although there’s a nice almost-edge to the instrumentals underneath.
Track 30: Duran Duran – All She Wants Is
Yup, I still love Duran Duran, and this one is predictably wonderful (that bassline! that synth! those vocals! that chanting!) as ever. Just a cut above.
Track 31: Level 42 – Tracie
All right, all right, I’m clicking on that ticket link now! I’m buying those tickets! I’ve received the email confirmation! I’m going to see Level 42 in October!
It was for the best that I did that tonight, too, ’cause there were only two floor seats left that were next to each other!
This one’s a great jaunty track with some nice synth hooks. Hope they play it when I go see them!
Track 32: Michael Ball – Love Changes Everything
I’ve got a soft spot for Michael Ball, mainly ’cause he’s so ubiquitous on British TV these days. This track from the musical Aspects Of Love is as saccharine as you would expect, but it makes a nice change from the slow pop ballads that have been ending the last few Now! compilations.
Day 13’s Now! compilation came out on 21st November 1988.
Let’s see what pop hits the Now! compilers have for me today.
Track 1: Yazz & The Plastic Population – The Only Way Is Up
Classic party track, and that blaring horn at the start is great, but I find the tune to the vocal a bit annoying.
Track 2: Womack & Womack – Teardrops
Nice tune, though it’s a bit repetitive for me.
Track 3: Erasure – A Little Respect
I adore this one! Brilliant singalong party track. Also, I can’t not post that excellent Tube singalong video.
Track 4: The Christians – Harvest For The World
A little ashamed to say that I’m not familiar enough with the Isley Brothers original to be able to say whether this cover is pointless or not. There’s lots of very ’80s twiddly instrumentals, but the vocal is a bit mid-century throwback, so it’s hard to guess.
Track 5: Hue & Cry – Ordinary Angel
Interesting instrumentals at the start, a bit Eastern-tinged. Nice tune, though it’s a bit slow for me.
Track 6: UB40 and Chrissie Hynde – Breakfast In Bed
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Fairly standard UB40 slow reggae – great vocals from both singers. I actually like this even more than their cover of I Got You Babe.
Track 7: Robert Palmer – She Makes My Day
Really nice tune from Robert Palmer – interesting instrumental lines and great vocals.
Track 8: Breathe – Hands To Heaven
Nice instrumentals, but far too slow and saccharine for me. Apart from the sax solo. You can’t go wrong with a sax solo.
Track 9: Phil Collins – A Groovy Kind Of Love
Not a pointless cover as it’s very different from the Mindbenders original. It’s much slower and a lot more boring. Not a fan.
Track 10: Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry, Be Happy
I’ve always quite liked this jaunty tune. Didn’t they use to sell singing novelty fish that sang this song, or am I imagining that?
Track 11: The Art Of Noise and Tom Jones – Kiss
Nothing can beat the original Prince version, but this cover is not bad at all. It’s very different to the original, and I’m a big fan of Tom Jones and his distinctive voice. That guitar solo is great too.
Track 12: Bryan Ferry – Let’s Stick Together
Nice upbeat track, originally released a decade earlier, so the stylings are obviously very ’70s. Love the instrumentals though, and though it’s a late ’70s song, there’s something quite glam rock about it – Ferry still channelling his earlier Roxy Music days.
Track 13: Kim Wilde – You Came
At the Kim Wilde gig last week (sorry, not going to shut up about that just yet!), Kim dedicated this one to the audience. Great solid pop track with an awesome epic singalong chorus.
Track 14: Bomb The Bass – Don’t Make Me Wait
Bit of an irritating intro, but the track is good once you get past that – great synth line, great vocals, great tune.
Track 15: Brother Beyond – The Harder I Try
This one’s a bit cheesy for me, but the tune’s quite nice and it’s a good head-nodder.
Track 16: The Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
Not sure why this one was back in the charts, but it’s a classic for a reason. Great track.
Track 17: Fat Boys and Chubby Checker – The Twist (Yo, Twist!)
It’s that Fat Boys cackle at the start again, but this retro-tinged rap track would not have been at all scary to my toddler self. Definitely a party song.
Track 18: Wee Papa Girl Rappers – Wee Rule
Quite an interesting song – I like the tune on the chorus, and it’s nice to hear female-fronted rap in the ’80s style.
Track 19: Salt-N-Pepa – Twist And Shout
Speaking of which… Was it a thing in 1988 to fuse rap with retro rock ‘n’ roll stylings? I wouldn’t have expected to like that, but I do. This one’s great, with rap verses straddling the classic chorus. The opposite of a pointless cover.
Track 20: Yello – The Race
Ohhhh…it’s this one! Classic party tune, but I didn’t know what it was called or who it was by. Every day’s a learning experience.
Track 21: Inner City and Kevin Saunderson – Big Fun
Fairly standard for Inner City – nodding my head, but the tune’s not super exciting.
Track 22: D-Mob and Gary Haisman – We Call It Acieed
Infamous vocal, classic dance track. Bit repetitive for me, but it’s a good party song.
Track 23: Beatmasters and PP Arnold – Burn It Up
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
I find this one a bit dull, nothing out of the ordinary, though I quite like that trumpet hook.
Track 24: Milli Vanilli – Girl You Know It’s True
By the time I started reading Smash Hits in the early ’90s, Milli Vanilli were a bit of a joke in the pop magazines as it was widely believed that they didn’t actually provide the vocals on their records. I’m not sure if this was true, but it was the kind of thing that was a symptom of the irritating move towards manufactured pop groups.
As for the song itself, the possibly-fake vocals are a bit cheesy, but the instrumentals are great.
Track 25: Level 42 – Heaven In My Hands
I have the Sage Gateshead tab open ready on my browser to order those tickets! I’ve just…not done it yet. I will soon.
More fab instrumentals, great upbeat guitar, interesting track. Like this one.
Track 26: Jane Wiedlin – Rush Hour
Chair-dancing here from the start – great singalong chorus, great tune.
Track 27: The Proclaimers – I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)
The unofficial Scottish national anthem, played whenever we score points at the rugby. Get several hundred Scots in a room, play this song, and watch the chaos ensue. The ultimate in singalong classics.
Track 28: T’Pau – Secret Garden
The chorus annoys me, but otherwise it’s quite a good tune.
Track 29: Transvision Vamp – I Want Your Love
Really interesting song with great vocals. Big fan of this one…
Track 30: Duran Duran – I Don’t Want Your Love
…and the title juxtaposition here is hilariously schizophrenic. I hope that was deliberate, Now! compilers!
Duran Duran may not want our love…but I think you know what I’m about to say. I love Duran Duran, and this song is another cracker. Lovely vocal harmonies on the verses, nice epic atmosphere, brilliant singalong chorus, great lyrics.
Track 31: The Human League – Love Is All That Matters
Interesting to hear the Human League’s later ’80s stuff here. The synth isn’t nearly so prominent, and it’s a bit smoother and more polished-sounding than their earlier stuff, especially the backing vocals. Nice tune, too, and that outro is beautiful.
Track 32: All About Eve – Martha’s Harbour
Classic goth ballad. I’ve always liked this one, so I’ll forgive the Now! compilers for ending yet another compilation with a ballad.