Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #38

Day 38 takes us to 17th November 1997 with our Now! compilation marathon.

November 1997
This was how the world looked in November 1997 (actually September – it was another autumn where we didn’t really take any photos). I still have that jumper – it’s had a few recent reprieves from wardrobe culls!

Let’s see what was tearing up the charts at the time.

Now! That's What I Call Music #38
Track 1: Chumbawamba – Tubthumping

The ultimate in singalong classics, and a feature of every school disco and a lot of post-school discos in subsequent years.  Brilliant track.  Also, this album version that I’ve found on Spotify has a Brassed Off sample at the start, which makes it even better.

Track 2: Spice Girls – Spice Up Your Life

One of my favourites from the Spice Girls – really like this upbeat, danceable song.

Track 3: Hanson – Where’s The Love

Considering that I played Hanson’s Middle Of Nowhere album non-stop for about a year, the fact that I couldn’t remember this song shows you how forgettable it is.  I sort of remember it now I’m listening to it again, but I doubt it’ll stick in my brain long.

Track 4: Boyzone – Picture Of You

I’ve never really liked this one – the tune has always annoyed me.

Track 5: Backstreet Boys – As Long As You Love Me

It should be too saccharine for me, but I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for it, largely because I always liked the video.

Track 6: Eternal – Angel Of Mine

Absolutely beautiful tune – love this one.

Fun fact: American singer Monica did a completely pointless cover of this that sounds pretty much identical, which was a huge hit in the US, so that’s the version that most people across the pond know.

Track 7: Lighthouse Family – Raincloud

Great, interesting instrumentals, but the tune on the vocals is a bit dull.

Track 8: Janet Jackson – Got ‘Til It’s Gone

Love that Big Yellow Taxi sample…but in all honesty, nowadays it just makes me want to listen to Big Yellow Taxi instead.  I remember my dad getting similarly frustrated whenever it came on the radio at the time, ’cause you can’t improve on the original Joni Mitchell track.

Track 9: The Brand New Heavies – You’ve Got A Friend

Dull cover of the Carole King song (which was pretty dull to begin with) with an irritating funk bit over the top.

Track 10: All Saints – I Know Where It’s At

I quite like most of All Saints’ stuff, but this one’s got an annoying tune.  Not keen.

Track 11: Louise – Arms Around The World

Interesting Eastern-tinged instrumentals in the intro, and a nice synth riff running through the verses.  Shame the vocals are so generic.

Track 12: Gala – Freed From Desire

It’s not the kind of thing I normally like, but I’ve always quite enjoyed this one – I like the atmosphere.

Track 13: Sash! and La Trec – Stay

Great electro lines, but the vocals are a bit overblown.

Track 14: Dario G – Sunchyme

Love this electro track – lovely feelgood tune.  Only just realised right now that the sample is Life In A Northern Town – but it’s done really well, so I won’t moan.

Track 15: Tina Moore – Never Gonna Let You Go

Horrendous nails-down-a-blackboard vocal opening!  Then the rest of the track is repetitive and irritating.  Not keen at all.

Track 16: Hot Chocolate – You Sexy Thing

We’ve had this one already, on Now! #9.  I’m keeping an eye on you, Now! compilers!  I’m guessing this was back in the charts due to The Full Monty.

As ever, see the link for my review.

Track 17: N-Trance and Rod Stewart – Da Ya Think I’m Sexy

Slightly messy semi-cover of the 1978 classic.  There are far too many vocal lines going on, but somehow it works.

Track 18: LL Cool J – Phenomenon

Good head-nodder, quite like this one.

Track 19: 911 – Party People…Friday Night

I’ve always quite liked this one, if only for the jaunty days-of-the-week bit in the chorus (I have a similar soft spot for 7 Days by Craig David, but I’m sure we’ll get to that later).

Track 20: Ricky Martin – María

I started studying Spanish the year after this, so I was a huge fan of Ricky Martin and had all his albums.  This one is a great, danceable, Latin-flavoured track, an early indicator of the Latin pop craze that would characterise the turn of the millennium.

Speaking of which…

Track 21: Bellini – Samba De Janeiro

…here’s another.  Absolutely classic trumpet line, great dance track.

Track 22: DJ Quicksilver – Free

Oh, it’s this one!  Really like the electro lines on this – great tune.

Track 23: Wet Wet Wet – Yesterday

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

Utterly pointless cover of the Beatles classic.  There is nothing different about this version at all except for an irritating country-tinged twangy guitar instrumental in the middle.

Track 24: George Michael – You Have Been Loved

Lovely tune, but it’s a bit slow for me.

Track 25: The Verve – The Drugs Don’t Work

Depressing in a bad way.  I’ve never been keen on this one.

Track 26: Oasis – Stand By Me

This track has a really irritating chord change sequence in the chorus that messes up the time signature in an infuriating way.  It’s been driving me nuts for over twenty years, and as such, I’m not a fan of this song.

Example of a song that messes up the time signature in a nice, pleasant way: Golden Brown by the Stranglers.  I think I’ll go listen to that once this compilation is done.

Track 27: Embrace – All You Good Good People

Nice tune, but I’m not keen on the vocals, as they sound kind of droning.

Track 28: Faithless – Don’t Leave

I really liked this one at the time ’cause I had it on the A Life Less Ordinary soundtrack.  It’s still a good tune.

Track 29: Radiohead – Karma Police

Great tune, but I’m not hugely keen on the theme.

Track 30: Moby – James Bond Theme

I have often said throughout this Now! marathon that I love a James Bond theme.  This is slightly different, as instead of being a new song released for a James Bond film, it’s an electro cover of the main theme.  It’s okay, but you shouldn’t really mess with a classic.

Track 31: PF Project and Ewan McGregor – Choose Life

Dance track with Ewan McGregor’s ‘choose life‘ monologue from Trainspotting over the top of it.  The track itself is pretty awful, so the monologue is the only bit that’s of interest.

Track 32: Robbie Williams – Lazy Days

Annoying dregs-of-Britpop tune.  Not keen on this one.

Track 33: Ash – A Life Less Ordinary

Another one that’s (obviously) off the A Life Less Ordinary soundtrack.  Great chorus, but the verses are pretty boring.

Track 34: Texas – Black Eyed Boy

Great beat, great tune.  One of my favourite Texas tracks.

Track 35: Meredith Brooks – Bitch

Loved it at the time, makes me cringe a bit now, mainly because my friends and I all loved to adapt the lyrics when literally bitching about other girls at school.  Growing up is a good thing.

Track 36: Jon Bon Jovi – Janie, Don’t Take Your Love To Town

Irritating tune, not a fan of this one.

Track 37: Ocean Colour Scene – Better Day

Lovely tune, great atmosphere – a longtime favourite.

Track 38: Cast – I’m So Lonely

Dreary, depressing tune.  Not keen.

Track 39: Conner Reeves – Earthbound

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

The vocals are far too saccharine for me, but the tune’s quite nice.

Track 40: Peter Andre – Lonely

Another slow, cheesy tune.  Blurgh.

Also, while Cast (see above) are so lonely, Peter Andre is just lonely full stop.  I’m pretty sure this was deliberate on the part of the Now! compilers…

Track 41: Boyz II Men – Four Seasons Of Loneliness

…especially now that Boyz II Men have both of them beat by being lonely all year round.  It shouldn’t be a competition, guys!

The piano instrumental on this one’s quite nice, but in general it’s yet another ballad that’s too slow and too saccharine for my liking.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #37

Day 37, and Now! #37, released 14th July 1997.

July 1997
This is how the world looked in July 1997 – and given how long those Hebridean structures have been standing, it’s how the world has looked for quite some time. I loved those leggings at the time, though I’m not quite sure about them now.

Let’s have a listen to some artists who have almost certainly never played live in the Outer Hebrides.

Now! That's What I Call Music #37
Track 1: Hanson – MMMBop

Loved Hanson at the time, as did all my friends – my walls were covered in their posters!  Nowadays I find this one pretty cringeworthy though.

Track 2: Eternal and Bebe Winans – I Wanna Be The Only One

I’ve always quite liked this one – the chorus is great.

Track 3: The Cardigans – Lovefool

A huge favourite!  Loved it then, love it now.  Gorgeous tune.

Track 4: No Doubt – Just A Girl

Another great tune from No Doubt – great beat, great instrumentals.

Track 5: Sash! and Rodriguez – Ecuador

I adored this at the time and played it over and over.  It’s still my favourite Sash! track.

Track 6: No Mercy – Where Do You Go

I’d totally forgotten about this one.  It’s quite a good dance track, through I’m not hugely keen on the chorus reference to ’60s hit Where Do You Go To (My Lovely), which I find to be a super irritating song!

Track 7: Spice Girls – Who Do You Think You Are

This was a double A-side with Mama, and this is undoubtedly the better song in my opinion.  It was the Comic Relief single for 1997, and it had a dance to go with it, which was the absolute best thing a song could have at the time.  Great tune.

Track 8: Ultra Naté – Free

Annoyed by it at the time, still find the chorus a bit irritating now.

Track 9: Rosie Gaines – Closer Than Close

Oh, it’s this one!  The backing track is dull, but there’s something I find quite endearing about the vocals.

Track 10: George Michael – Star People

Quite like the instrumentals, but it’s a boring tune.

Track 11: En Vogue – Don’t Let Go (Love)

Absolutely beautiful song – love this one.

Track 12: Shola Ama – You Might Need Somebody

Originally an ’80s track, but this is the version everybody knows.  I’ve never been that keen on this tune – I don’t like the chorus.

Track 13: Coolio and 40 Thevz – C U When U Get There

I like the sample from Pachelbel’s Canon in D, even when it goes a bit electro and odd.  The rap’s a bit generic, though.

Track 14: Warren G and Ron Isley – Smokin’ Me Out

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

Nice atmosphere on the intro, but I find the rest of the track a bit messy.

Track 15: R Kelly – I Believe I Can Fly

Quite liked it at the time, find it massively overplayed and irritating now.

Track 16: Damage – Wonderful Tonight

Soul-tinged cover of the Eric Clapton classic, generally a bit uninspired.  Not different enough to be worthwhile in my opinion (even if they do change the blonde subject of the song into a brunette!).

Obligatory ‘I hate pointless ’90s covers’ rant: this was the first version of this song I ever heard.  I still can’t believe that.

Track 17: 911 – The Journey

Slow, dull ballad.  Not keen on this one.

Track 18: Boyzone – Isn’t It A Wonder

This one’s far too saccharine for me, I’m afraid.

Track 19: Backstreet Boys – Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)

I suggested this song the other day when Geth and I were in the pub trying to come up with songs that had ‘game‘ in the title for a boardgame-themed playlist.  I wouldn’t actually put it in a playlist, though, ’cause it’s cheesy and irritating.

Track 20: N-Tyce – Hey DJ! (Play That Song)

I quite like the backing track, but the vocals are super annoying.

Track 21: Foxy Brown and Jay-Z – I’ll Be

The rap is good, but there’s not enough of a tune for me.

Track 22: Wet Wet Wet – If I Never See You Again

Slow beat, slightly irritating tune, but at least it’s got a nice classic edge to it.

Track 23: U2 – Staring At The Sun

Nice atmosphere, but again, the tune is slow and dull.

Track 24: The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony

Overplayed at the time, irritating now, and of course it’s not helped by that infuriating video.

Track 25: The Seahorses – Love Is The Law

Really like the guitar intro and the melody – great tune.

Track 26: Ocean Colour Scene – Hundred Mile High City

Another rock classic from OCS, with a slightly ’60s tinge about it.  Awesome track.

Track 27: Robbie Williams – Old Before I Die

I like the theme, but I’m not hugely keen on the tune.

Track 28: Cast – Guiding Star

Oh, it’s this one.  I’ve always found the vocal hook super annoying – not a fan.

Track 29: Paul McCartney – Young Boy

Nice upbeat track, like the tune.  Good stuff.

Track 30: Sheryl Crow – A Change Would Do You Good

The ‘change’ here for me is that I actually quite like this one, which is a first for the Sheryl Crow tracks that have been on Now! compilations so far.  Nice beat and atmosphere on the verses.

Track 31: Radiohead – Paranoid Android

Nice tune on the instrumentals, but the vocal line is depressing (and not in a good way).

Track 32: Texas – Halo

Lovely tune, apart from the chorus, which annoys me.

Track 33: Supergrass – Sun Hits The Sky

And this one’s vice versa – irritating, repetitive tune on the verses, but the chorus is all right.

Track 34: James – Waltzing Along

Great track – love the melody on this one, and the atmosphere’s really nice too.

Track 35: Blur – On Your Own

Great beat, interesting instrumentals, but once the vocal is added to the mix it becomes a bit messy.

Track 36: Fun Lovin’ Criminals – Scooby Snacks

I’ve always really liked this one!  Great singalong track.

Track 37: Orbital – The Saint

Electronica cover of the theme tune to The Saint.  It’s as random as it sounds.

Track 38: Brainbug – Nightmare

Great spiky electro dance, really like this one.

Track 39: The Course – Ain’t Nobody

Messy dance cover of the Chaka Khan classic.  It’s pretty atrocious.

Track 40: Todd Terry, Martha Wash and Jocelyn Brown – Something Going On

Oh, it’s this one!  Generic beat to start off, but the vocals are quite nice.

Track 41: Diddy – Give Me Love

No, it’s not the hip-hop act – he was known as ‘Puff Daddy’ at the time.  ’90s Diddy was a dance producer, and I reckon he should probably have sued when Puff Daddy decided to change his name.

The track is a pretty generic dance offering, very forgettable.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #36

Day 36 brings us to Now! #36, which was released on 24th March 1997.

March 1997
This is how the world looked in March 1997. I’ve not been back to Malta since, so I don’t know how much it’s changed, but I know I don’t wear cycling shorts as daywear anymore.

Let’s see what would have been in my headphones on the plane to Malta.

Now! That's What I Call Music #36
Track 1: Spice Girls – Mama

So I guess every Now! compilation is going to feature a Spice Girls track for a few albums?  Okay then.

Mama wasn’t my favourite at the time – it was just a bit slow for me – and I’m not keen now either.  I’ve always preferred their more upbeat stuff.

Track 2: Texas – Say What You Want

Liked it at the time, find the tune a bit annoying now.

Track 3: Bee Gees – Alone

Nice classic-sounding track from the Bee Gees – lovely tune.

Track 4: The Beautiful South – Don’t Marry Her

Nice guitar intro, but I’m not hugely keen on the rest of the track.

Track 5: No Doubt – Don’t Speak

Gorgeous song – beautiful tune, lovely theme.  A classic.

Track 6: White Town – Your Woman

Great track – I absolutely love those spiky instrumental hooks.

Track 7: Blue Boy – Remember Me

Oh, it’s this one!  Interesting lines, quite like the vocal.

Track 8: Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity

Loved it then, still quite like it now.  At the time I couldn’t stop watching the classic video, which isn’t quite as impressive nowadays as it was twenty-two years ago but is still pretty cool.

Track 9: Robert Miles and Maria Nayler – One And One

Nice tune, but the vocals are a bit annoying.

Track 10: George Michael – Spinning The Wheel

I’ve always liked this one – lovely tune, great beat.

Track 11: Mark Morrison – Horny

Messy, irritating song.  Not a fan of this at all.

Track 12: Peter Andre – Natural

Generic tune, annoying vocals.  Not keen.

Track 13: Damage – Love Guaranteed

More cheesy pop-by-numbers – there’s nothing original or interesting about this.

Track 14: Eternal – Don’t You Love Me

Nice intro, great atmosphere, good instrumentals.  Quite like this one.

Track 15: Gabrielle – Walk On By

Awesome atmosphere, really interesting track.  Good stuff.

Track 16: Kavana – I Can Make You Feel Good

Kavana was a bit of a Smash Hits darling at the time, but I was never much of a fan.  This is okay though – nice solid pop song.

Track 17: East 17 – Hey Child

Nice harmony on the vocals, and the tune is pleasant, but it’s a bit slow for me.

Track 18: Boyzone – A Different Beat

One of the better Boyzone tracks – really like the tune on the chorus.

Track 19: Backstreet Boys – Anywhere For You

Saccharine and dull.  Not a fan.

Track 20: 911 – The Day We Find Love

Slow dull ballad from 911.  They definitely did better songs, from what I remember.

Track 21: U2 – Discothèque

It’s a bit messy, but it’s also quite refreshingly different at this point, what with the slightly harder rock guitars.

Track 22: The Prodigy – Breathe

Great danceable track, great vocals.  Really like this one.

Track 23: The Chemical Brothers – Block Rockin’ Beats

Liked it at the time, find the tune annoying and repetitive now.

Track 24: Placebo – Nancy Boy

Love this one!  Great guitar intro, great tune, awesome lyrics.  Another classic.

Track 25: Monaco – What Do You Want From Me?

Oh, it’s this one!  Great tune, good atmosphere, really like this track.

Track 26: Sheryl Crow – Everyday Is A Winding Road

Another Sheryl Crow song where I can’t get past the annoying tune.  Also, the word(s) in the title should be ‘every day‘, not ‘everyday‘.

Track 27: Blur – Beetlebum

It’s not the kind of song I’d typically like, but I’m quite fond of this one – happily nodding away here.

Track 28: James – She’s A Star

Nice tune, nice atmosphere.  Quite like this one.

Track 29: Mansun – Wide Open Space

Interesting tune, good atmosphere, good stuff.

Track 30: Cast – Free Me

Dull, repetitive tune.  Not keen on this one.

Track 31: Space – Dark Clouds

I quite like the instrumentals and atmosphere, but the tune’s pretty boring.

Track 32: Cathy Dennis – Waterloo Sunset

Guitar-driven cover of the Kinks classic.  It’s quite a nice version, but it doesn’t change much from the original.

Track 33: The Divine Comedy – Everybody Knows (Except You)

Sweet upbeat tune, quite like this one.

Track 34: Alisha’s Attic – Indestructible

Interesting instrumentals (nice to hear a bit of synth!) but it’s a little slow for my liking.

Track 35: Ant & Dec – Shout

Bizarrely serious-sounding song for Ant & Dec, with dodgy ‘homage’ to Tears For Fears’ Shout during the chorus.  The only saving grace is Erasure’s Andy Bell on backing vocals (though I’ve no idea what he was doing there).

Track 36: The Source and Candi Staton – You Got The Love

We’ve had this one already, on Now! #19!  Do they think nobody was listening back then?

Grr.  See the link for my review.

Track 37: Sash! – Encore Une Fois

I adored this one at the time, but I don’t think it’s aged that well, and I find it a bit so-so nowadays.

Track 38: DJ Quicksilver – Bellissima

Loved it then, still quite like it now – great tune.

Track 39: BBE – Flash

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

Like the hooks, but it’s pretty repetitive.

Track 40: Amen! – Passion

Really like the instrumental hook, but I don’t like the vocals at all!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #35

Day 35 equals Now! #35, which takes us to 18th November 1996.

November 1996
This is the way the world looked in November 1996 (well, obviously it wasn’t actually November, as I wouldn’t have been wearing short sleeves in November in Scotland – this was September, as we didn’t take any photos in the latter part of the year for some reason). I don’t know why I chose those trainers, ’cause I thought they were super ugly even at the time.

Let’s listen to some tracks by people who were probably better dressed, even if it was the sartorially-challenged ’90s.

Now! That's What I Call Music #35
Track 1: Spice Girls – Say You’ll Be There

The eagerly-awaited (by me, anyway) follow-up to Wannabe.  With hindsight, this song’s actually pretty poor, with a dull tune and generic theme; however, it’s quite hard to separate it from the nostalgia for me, so I still have a soft spot for it.

Track 2: George Michael – Fastlove

Lovely atmosphere, great vocal hooks – really like this one.

Track 3: Peter Andre – Flava

The instrumentals are quite fun, but the vocals are pretty annoying, and that rap is super generic.

Track 4: East 17 and Gabrielle – If You Ever

Really like the intro, and it’s got a lovely tune and atmosphere.

Track 5: Deep Blue Something – Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Loved it then, love it now.  This one was a youth club classic during my first year of high school.  Great theme, great lyrics, lovely tune.

Track 6: Pet Shop Boys – Se A Vida É (That’s The Way Life Is)

I’ve always liked this one – a nice slower track with a feelgood atmosphere.

Track 7: Babybird – You’re Gorgeous

Found it annoying at the time, really quite like it now.  Love the theme and the instrumentals.

Track 8: The Beautiful South – Rotterdam

This one, on the other hand, I’ve never stopped finding annoying.  It’s that irritating chorus.

Track 9: Dodgy – If You’re Thinking Of Me

This is Dodgy’s slow, dull one.  I don’t think I even enjoyed it when I saw it live.

Track 10: Crowded House – Don’t Dream It’s Over

Crowded House’s late ’80s classic, back in the charts – I’m not sure why, but I’m not complaining.  Lovely tune.

Track 11: The Bluetones – Marblehead Johnson

Oh, it’s this one!  Great guitar hook, nice tune.

Track 12: Ocean Colour Scene – The Riverboat Song

An all-time favourite!  Absolute anthem, epic energy, great lyrics, wonderful guitar riff.  I adore this one.

Track 13: Sheryl Crow – If It Makes You Happy

I’ve always found this one annoying – not keen on the tune.

Track 14: Garbage and Tricky – Milk

Great atmosphere – really like this track.

Track 15: Neneh Cherry – Woman

Nice epic intro, awesome atmosphere all the way through.  Good stuff.

Track 16: Lighthouse Family – Goodbye Heartbreak

Nice to hear some saxophone at this late stage!  The rest of the track is a little dull, although the ‘I don’t need you now‘ bit has quite a good singalong aspect.

Track 17: Pulp – Something Changed

Nice tune, nice instrumentals, great epic chorus.  Lovely track.

Track 18: Cast – Flying

Oh, it’s this one.  Found it a bit dreary at the time, still do now.  Just not keen on the tune.

Track 19: Suede – Beautiful Ones

Good upbeat track, great tune, great lyrics.  Another solid song from Suede.

Track 20: Belinda Carlisle – Always Breaking My Heart

Nice guitar intro, nice classic-sounding track, great chorus.  Really like this one.

Track 21: Dina Carroll – Escaping

Interesting chillout bit at the start, nice beat during the verses.  Not a typical Dina Carroll ballad, which is a welcome relief.

Track 22: Boyzone – Words

Introspective cover of the Bee Gees classic.  Lovely tune, great atmosphere.

Track 23: Eternal – Someday

Fairly paint-by-numbers ballad that was released to tie in with Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame film.  As such, it’s very musical-theatre-sounding.

Track 24: Backstreet Boys – I’ll Never Break Your Heart

Far too saccharine for me, and also now a Christmas-associated song thanks to the music channels (the video‘s set in a ski lodge, which I guess is why it gets put on the Christmas playlists).

Track 25: Damage – Love II Love

Oh, it’s this one.  Never been keen on this – the chorus is repetitive and irritating.

Track 26: Clock – Oh What A Night

Fairly pointless cover of the Four Seasons classic.  The main addition is the rap over the top.  It’s not horrible, but it’s not great.

Obligatory ‘I hate pointless ’90s covers’ rant: this was the version that introduced me to this song.

Track 27: Louise – Undivided Love

Good beat, but it’s a pretty generic pop tune.

Track 28: Ant & Dec – When I Fall In Love

Ant & Dec, now having changed their name from PJ & Duncan (see Now! #31 review for discussion of why), try their hand at a ballad (well, it’s a ballad until the chant-along chorus kicks in, anyway).  Horrific!

Track 29: 911 – Don’t Make Me Wait

Great, interesting piano intro.  It leads into a fairly generic and cheesy pop track, though.

Track 30: Strike – My Love Is For Real

I quite like the verses on this dance track – there’s a bit of edge there – but the tune is pretty uninspired.

Track 31: Faithless – Insomnia

Classic dance track, great epic atmosphere, wonderful electro hook.

Track 32: BBE – Seven Days And One Week

Oh, it’s this one.  I think I liked this more at the time than I do now – it’s a bit repetitive.

Track 33: Stretch ‘N’ Vern – I’m Alive

Loved it at the time, forgot about it for over twenty years, can’t say I’m too keen on it now.  The backing track is great, but the rap’s fairly awful.  I quite like the Boogie Wonderland sample though.

Track 34: Healy & Amos – Stamp!

I think I’m back in the imaginary ’90s nightclub that plays nothing but dance, although to be fair 1996 isn’t quite as bad as 1995 was.  This one has some interesting lines, but it’s a bit messy for my liking.

Track 35: Livin’ Joy – Follow The Rules

Another very generic dance track – nothing special here.

Track 36: Wildchild – Jump To My Beat

Very messy track with irritating lines.  Don’t like this at all.

Track 37: Underworld – Pearl’s Girl

Dull lines, very little melody, messy track.  The beat’s quite good though.

Track 38: Space – Neighbourhood

Great atmosphere, great instrumentals, really nice track.

Track 39: Björk – Possibly Maybe

Not keen on the experimental-sounding instrumentals – they’re giving me a headache – but the vocal is nice when I can hear it over the top.

Track 40: Shed Seven – Chasing Rainbows

One of my friends had a poster of Shed Seven on the wall even though she didn’t really like them.  I think she’d got it free when they were supporting someone else.  That sort of sums up Shed Seven for me – they weren’t really a band that anybody actually liked.

The track itself is dull, slow and very forgettable.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #33

Day 33’s Now! compilation was released on 18th March 1996.

March 1996
This is how the world looked in March 1996 (actually April), or at least it did if you were skiing. I hated the feel of cagoules and have never worn them as an adult.

On with the music!

Now! That's What I Call Music #33
Track 1: Queen – Too Much Love Will Kill You

We’ve already had the Brian May solo version on Now! #23, but as I said in that review, I marginally prefer the version with the full band.  Beautiful track.

Track 2: Oasis – Don’t Look Back In Anger

Classic Britpop anthem.  At the time, my brother made up a full set of comedy actions to go with the lyrics that he would perform every time this song came on, and so I can’t unsee that whenever I hear it.  Like most Oasis tracks, it hasn’t aged that well, but it’s still a nice tune.

Track 3: Babylon Zoo – Spaceman

Loved this at the time, still quite like it now.  Really interesting rock song, played at every school disco circa 1995-1996.

Track 4: Supergrass – Going Out

Quite like the instrumental hook, but the vocals are pretty annoying.

Track 5: Pulp – Disco 2000

Another classic from Pulp.  The lyrics are just brilliant, although I do wonder how dated the concept of ‘let’s all meet up in the year 2000‘ must seem nowadays to those unfortunate souls who are too young to remember the 20th century.

Track 6: Cher – One By One

Nice epic guitar on the intro, nice tune.  Quite like this one.  Still rocking the sax solo too!

Track 7: Meat Loaf – Not A Dry Eye In The House

Not my favourite Meat Loaf track, but still a solid rock ballad.

Track 8: Enya – Anywhere Is

Great tune from Enya – loved it then, love it now.

Track 9: The Connells – ’74-’75

I’ve always adored this one – it’s another track that we had on a Top Gear compilation.  Gorgeous, wistful tune.

Track 10: Boyzone – Father And Son

I’ve never been hugely keen on this cover of the Cat Stevens classic.  At the time, it was just too slow for me; nowadays, I find it inferior to the original.

Track 11: Blur – The Universal

Love the way the track builds to that epic anthemic chorus.  Great stuff.

Track 12: Paul Weller – Out Of The Sinking

Another one off Stanley Road that I hated at the time.  It still annoys me purely due to to bringing back memories of being stuck in a backseat with no escape, but I can appreciate the musicality now.  Sort of.

Track 13: Cast – Sandstorm

Oh, it’s this one!  Great tune, love the vocal line on the verses.

Track 14: Mike & The Mechanics – All I Need Is A Miracle

Great tune – there’s something a bit ’80s throwback about it, which is no bad thing.

Track 15: Status Quo and Beach Boys – Fun, Fun, Fun

Semi-cover of the ’60s classic.  Not sure that Status Quo’s signature guitar lines were really needed on this song, but it’s at least different.

Track 16: Terrorvision – Perseverance

Another one I’d sort of forgotten about.  I like the upbeat vocals on the verses, and that singalong chorus is great.

Track 17: Lush – Ladykillers

Great song – great vocals, nice guitar line, really danceable.

Track 18: Levellers – Just The One

Great singalong tune, great theme, reminds me of hearing this played live at every Beautiful Days festival I went to between 2009 and 2013.

Track 19: Radiohead – Street Spirit (Fade Out)

Gorgeous, melancholy track.  Beautiful.

Track 20: Oasis – Live Forever

We have a repeated artist on the same Now! compilation, which as I’ve explained before is a DJing/compiling no-no!  Not impressed.

I’ve always found the tune on this one a bit annoying.

Track 21: Lighthouse Family – Lifted

Found the tune irritating at the time, still find it irritating now.  There are much better Lighthouse Family songs.

Track 22: Eternal – Good Thing

Dull tune, dull beat.  Not keen on this one.

Track 23: Etta James – I Just Want To Make Love To You

Classic ’60s cover of the Muddy Waters track, back in the chart for 1996 due to the infamous Diet Coke advert.  Great tune.

Track 24: Simply Red – Never Never Love

Oh, it’s this one.  Found it annoying at the time, find it dull now.

Track 25: Gabrielle – Give Me A Little More Time

Never been hugely keen on this one as I find the tune a bit generic.

Track 26: East 17 – Thunder

Great piano intro, great atmosphere.  The verses are a bit saccharine, but in general I really like this one.

Track 27: Luniz – I Got 5 On It

Always quite liked this one – it’s got a good atmosphere.

Track 28: Kaliphz and Prince Naseem – Walk Like A Champion

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

Found this annoying at the time, find it more annoying now.  Not a fan of this at all.

Track 29: Shaggy and Grand Puba – Why You Treat Me So Bad

Really don’t like the tune, and the track is pretty messy.  Not keen.

Track 30: Baby D – So Pure

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

Fairly generic dance track, irritating vocals.

Track 31: Gat Decor – Passion (Do You Want It Right Now)

Another dull dance track – nothing special at all.

Track 32: Gusto – Disco’s Revenge

Quite like the instrumental hook, but the vocals are pretty irritating and messy.

Track 33: Ken Doh – I Need A Lover Tonight

Not enough melody for me – just uninteresting and repetitive.  Not keen.

Track 34: Ace Of Base – Beautiful Life

Lovely piano intro, great atmosphere.  Really nice track.

Track 35: Louise – In Walked Love

Revoltingly saccharine.  Don’t like this at all.

Track 36: Dubstar – Not So Manic Now

Really like this one – lovely tune, lovely vocals.

Track 37: Saint Etienne – He’s On The Phone

Another one that we had on a Top Gear compilation.  I absolutely love this one – it’s a great tune with a gorgeous atmosphere.

Track 38: Dreadzone – Little Britain

Dreadzone were a favourite at Beautiful Days around the time that Geth and I were going regularly, as they played there so often.  This one’s a great, upbeat danceable track with interesting orchestral-tinged hooks.

Track 39: Goldbug – Whole Lotta Love

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

Female-vocal-led cover of the Led Zeppelin classic – other than the incorporation of the Pearl & Dean theme, it’s fairly uninspired.

Track 40: Technohead – I Wanna Be A Hippy

Loved it at the time, fairly irritated by it now.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #32

Day 32, and Now! #32, which was released on 13th November 1995.

November 1995
This is how the world looked in November 1995 (actually October, yadda yadda), or at least the small bit of the world that was me looking sulky next to a piano. I made those earrings myself out of a kit, and only got round to chucking them out a couple of months ago.

Let’s listen to some songs by people who probably didn’t have to make their own earrings.

Now! That's What I Call Music #32
Track 1: Queen – Heaven For Everyone

Lovely track, gorgeous tune.

Track 2: Meat Loaf – I’d Lie For You (And That’s The Truth)

Another great rock ballad from Meat Loaf.  Really like this one!  I remember him promoting it on Blue Peter.

Track 3: Simply Red – Fairground

Didn’t like this one at the time, but I do now.  Great tune.

Track 4: U2 – Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me

Really like this offering from the Batman Forever soundtrack – it’s got a great atmosphere.

Track 5: Tina Turner – Goldeneye

I do love a James Bond theme song, and this one is really solid.  Awesome tune.

Track 6: Cher – Walking In Memphis

I mentioned in my review of the Marc Cohn original on Now! #20 that the Cher version was entirely pointless (unless you think the sole change of having vocals by Cher makes it worthwhile), and I stand by that, but it’s still a great track.

Track 7: The Beautiful South – Pretenders To The Throne

Lovely tune, like the piano.

Track 8: Louise – Light Of My Life

Louise Redknapp (or Nurding, as she was then) starting her post-Eternal solo career.  Unfortunately this is a super dull ballad, although the tune on the chorus is alright.

Track 9: Jimmy Nail – Big River

Found it boring at the time, find it boring now.

Track 10: Sacred Spirit – Yeha-Noha (Wishes Of Happiness And Prosperity)

I’m not a huge chillout fan, but this one is quite nice.

Track 11: Radiohead – Lucky

Loathed it at the time, mixed on it now.  Pretty, melancholy tune on the verses, but the chorus ruins it a bit.

Track 12: Pulp – Sorted For Es And Wizz

Love this one!  Great tune, great lyrics.  This was a favourite among friends when we lived in Southampton, due to the ‘in a field in Hampshire’ bit.

Track 13: Blur – Country House

Loved it at the time, love it now.  Absolute classic, great singalong track.

Track 14: Cast – Alright

Found the tune annoying at the time, kind of so-so about it now.  It’s just sort of…okay.

Track 15: Oasis – Roll With It

I can’t actually remember whether I wanted this one or Blur’s Country House to be number one during that particular chart battle, ’cause I liked them both.  With hindsight, though, the best song definitely won – this offering from Oasis is a bit uninspired.

Track 16: McAlmont & Butler – Yes

I’ve always adored this one – we had it on a Top Gear compilation.  Beautiful tune.

Track 17: Paul Weller – Broken Stones

Mum and Dad had the Stanley Road album, so this was a regular feature of car journeys, and I absolutely loathed it at the time – it was far too serious and boring.  I’m still not a huge fan, but I can appreciate the tune a bit more nowadays.

Track 18: Suggs – I’m Only Sleeping

I always liked this cover of the Beatles song – lovely tune, great atmosphere.

Speaking of Beatles covers…

Track 19: The Smokin’ Mojo Filters – Come Together

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

This one’s actually a semi-cover, ’cause Paul McCartney was involved in this supergroup.  Fairly uninspired cover, turning the song into dull ’90s soft rock.

Track 20: Coolio and LV – Gangsta’s Paradise

Loved it then, love it now!  Absolutely brilliant atmosphere, great tune.

Track 21: Shaggy – Boombastic

Annoying chorus alert!  Never been that keen on this one.

Track 22: N-Trance and Ricardo Da Force – Stayin’ Alive

‘Cover’ of the Bee Gees classic that basically takes the original backing track and adds rapping over the top.  I shouldn’t like it, but I do.

Track 23: Donna Summer – I Feel Love [Rollo and Sister Bliss Monster Mix]

Remix of the classic 1978 hit, turning it into a ’90s-standard dance track.  It’s a bit messy, and I’m not hugely keen, especially since I like the original so much.

Track 24: Berri – Sunshine After The Rain

Really liked this one at the time, but I find it pretty irritating now.

Track 25: Corona – Try Me Out

I’d forgotten about this one.  Super irritating chorus!

Track 26: The Original – I Luv U Baby

Oh, it’s this one!  Really quite like this tune.

Track 27: Everything But The Girl – Missing

I’ve never been keen on this one – there’s something nauseatingly depressing about it.

Track 28: Eternal – Power Of A Woman

The vocals on the chorus give me a headache, and the tune is super generic.  Not a fan at all.

Track 29: Soul II Soul – I Care

Most of the tune is quite dull, but the chorus is nice.

Track 30: Outhere Brothers – La La La Hey Hey

Dull, forgettable, unmelodic track – nothing good here at all.

Track 31: Whigfield – Big Time

Daft yodeling hook throughout, but at least this one is interesting.

Track 32: Alex Party – Wrap Me Up

Dull, repetitive dance track, not keen.  I think 1995 is probably around the point at which I should leave the imaginary ’90s nightclub.

Track 33: Josh Wink – Higher State Of Consciousness

Messy track, not enough melody.  Getting my coat, going home for an early night.

Track 34: Wildchild – Renegade Master

Oh, wait, I’ll hang about for one more!  I really like this one – classic track.  A few years ago, Geth had a student who wrote a hilariously bad essay with an intro about a ‘renegade cyclist’, so ever since then I’ve switched the lyrics in my head, which makes it even better.

Track 35: Goldie – Inner City Life

And we’re back to dull chillout dance.  Not keen at all.

Track 36: The Human League – Don’t You Want Me [Red Jerry 7 Inch Remix]

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

Remix of the classic 1981 song.  I love the original and this is really taking a sledgehammer to everything that’s good about it.  Just awful.

Track 37: Candy Girls – Fee Fi Fo Fum

This starts off as an okay dance track, but the vocals are terrible.

Track 38: Happy Clappers – I Believe

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

Super annoying vocal ticks at the start.  I’ve downed my pint of Strongbow and am definitely leaving the club this time.

Track 39: Wild Colour – Dreams

Interesting clangy bit and a good electro line, but jarred together the track just becomes a mess.  I’m doing up the buttons on my vintage ’80s trenchcoat.

Track 40: E’Voke – Runaway

The irritating vocals start up on this track just as I sweep through the door of the imaginary ’90s nightclub.  I’m in the taxi.  I’m done.

Let’s hope 1996 is an improvement.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #30

Day 30 takes us to Now! #30, which was released on 10th April 1995.

April 1995
This is how the world looked in April 1995. There seems to be a bit of a theme of photos from halfway up hills and in woods and on beaches lately. Those things have obviously not changed in appearance, but my T-shirt collection has – not sure I could pull off bright yellow these days.

On with the tunes!

Now! That's What I Call Music #30
Track 1: Freak Power – Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out

It’s starting to get to the point with some of these where I’m a bit like ‘oh!  I haven’t even thought about this song for more than twenty years’, and all these incredibly vague memories sort of flash through my mind for a second.  This must be what getting old feels like.

The track is still great – love that tune on the chorus.

Track 2: Janet Jackson – Whoops Now

Slightly ’60s-tinged, jaunty track – another one I haven’t thought about for a long time.  The chorus is a little repetitive, but it’s a nice tune.

Track 3: Boyzone – Love Me For A Reason

Yup, I had this album.  Boyzone showed up just at the right point when Take That were coming to the end of their original run, giving tween girls everywhere a new favourite band.  Pretty much every girl in my primary school class loved this song.

To adult ears, it’s kind of cheesy, and while I’ve never heard the original ’70s version, I’m guessing the cover probably doesn’t add much.

Track 4: Cher, Chrissie Hynde, Neneh Cherry and Eric Clapton – Love Can Build A Bridge

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

Absolutely loved this one at the time, still like it now.  It was the Comic Relief song for 1995, back when Comic Relief songs were still good.  Love the tune, really like the way the vocals are shared throughout the song.

Track 5: East 17 – Stay Another Day

This track’s status as the Christmas number one for 1994, its festive bells toward the end, its snowy video and its ubiquity on the music channels during December all mean that this is very firmly considered a Christmas song nowadays, so it feels highly out of place in May.  I’ve always loved it, though, and remember being wowed by it when I first saw it performed on Top of the Pops in late 1994.

Track 6: Mike & The Mechanics – Over My Shoulder

This one was the ‘played all the time on the ferry’ track of summer 1995, so it just takes me straight back to being on a cross-channel voyage.  Great song, love the tune.

Track 7: Jimmy Nail – Crocodile Shoes

Super annoying chorus – never been keen on this one.

Track 8: Scarlet – Independent Love Song

Nice tune, nice atmosphere, but a bit slow, and the chorus is kind of overblown.

Track 9: Simple Minds – She’s A River

Great, epic-sounding rock song.  Really like this one.

Track 10: The Boo Radleys – Wake Up Boo!

I think the tune and theme to this one are pretty annoying, but I still find myself nodding along to it.

Track 11: The Human League – Tell Me When

Good to see the Human League back in the charts, with a great bit of synthpop.  Lovely tune.

Track 12: M People – Sight For Sore Eyes

Great danceable track  – really like this tune.

Track 13: Sting – This Cowboy Song

The instrumentals are nice, but there’s nothing special about the song.

Track 14: Shut Up And Dance – Save It Till The Mourning After

‘Sampling’ of Duran Duran’s Save A Prayer where they’ve just taken the backing track and chorus and added a horrible misplaced rap over the top.  I’m also not sure why, in the title, they’ve changed ‘morning’ to ‘mourning’.

However, no matter how messy the sampling, I love Duran Duran, and Save A Prayer is one of my favourites, so I’m just going to enjoy the sample and ignore everything else.

Track 15: R Kelly – Bump ‘N’ Grind

The vocal gymnastics at the start are pretty anthemic, but once the track gets going it’s messy, dull and irritating, not my cup of tea at all.

Track 16: Eternal – Oh Baby I…

Fairly generic-sounding ballad.  Not keen.

Track 17: Massive Attack and Tracey Thorn – Protection

Too slow for me, and I find the tune pretty dull.

Track 18: Portishead – Glory Box

Great hook, great tune, classic track.

Track 19: Oasis – Whatever

Nice violin instrumentals, awesome tune.  It’s another one I hadn’t thought about for a while.

Track 20: Outhere Brothers – Don’t Stop (Wiggle Wiggle)

This was everywhere in 1995.  It’s actually a really annoying song, but it certainly has a lot of memories attached to it.

Track 21: Alex Party – Don’t Give Me Your Life

Oh, it’s this one!  Another one I’d forgotten about.  Loved it at the time, find that chorus a little annoying nowadays.

Track 22: Strike – U Sure Do

And…oh, it’s this one!  I’ve got a feeling this is going to start happening a lot.  Found the tune annoying at the time, find it quite nice and nostalgic now.

Track 23: Kenny Dope and The Bucketheads – The Bomb! (These Sounds Fall Into My Mind)

Absolute classic – great party tune with an awesome singalong chorus.

Track 24: Nightcrawlers – Push The Feeling On

I find this one pretty repetitive, but I do like the instrumental hooks.

Track 25: Tin Tin Out – Always (Something There To Remind Me)

Electro dance cover of the ’60s classic.  The instrumentals are too messy for my liking, unfortunately.

Track 26: Corona – Baby Baby

Great dance track, great atmosphere – really like this one.

Track 27: Clock – Axel F

Before Crazy Frog ruined the Harold Faltermeyer classic in the ’00s (which I mentioned in my review of the original), Clock had a go at a ’90s cover, which is basically a dance remix of the ’80s track.  I don’t hate it, but nothing beats the purity of the original tune.

Track 28: N-Trance – Set You Free

Absolutely classic dance track – that chorus is epic.

Track 29: JX – You Belong To Me

Ten dance tracks in a row, and we’re most definitely back in the imaginary ’90s nightclub.  This one’s got a nice atmosphere around the vocals, but it’s a bit generic otherwise.

Track 30: Perfecto Allstars – Reach Up (Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag)

Cover/sampling/remix (the line is becoming a bit blurred with these dance producers) of the Pigbag song with some messy drums over the top at the start and some irritating dance vocals cutting in thereafter.  Really not keen on all the messing with classic tracks that started happening during this period.

Track 31: Rednex – Cotton Eye Joe

Daft novelty country/linedance/electro dance track.  I loved it at the time, but it’s become super overplayed in the intervening years.

Track 32: Deuce – Call It Love

Great piano intro, great atmosphere.  Really like this one.

Track 33: 2 Unlimited – Here I Go

The tune to the vocals is nice, but it’s pretty generic otherwise.

Track 34: MC Sar & The Real McCoy – Run Away

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

Great bassline, great atmosphere.  Good stuff.

Track 35: Nicki French – Total Eclipse Of The Heart

Dance cover of the Bonnie Tyler classic.  The vocals are very far from the original standard, and the dance beat is a bit wishy-washy.  It’s different enough not to be pointless, but it’s pretty poor.

Track 36: Sean Maguire – Suddenly

Irritating tune, irritating vocals.  I remember Smash Hits being obsessed with this guy, but his stuff’s hugely forgettable.

Track 37: Bobby Brown – Two Can Play That Game

I really liked this one at the time, and I still quite like it now – great tune.  Shame it’s by Bobby Brown.

Track 38: Ultimate Kaos – Hoochie Booty

More creepy kiddie vocals about sex from Ultimate Kaos.  Please go away.

Track 39: Pato Banton and Ranking Roger – Bubbling Hot

Like that saxophone in the background, as well as the reggae instrumentals.  Nice jaunty song.

Track 40: Mica Paris – One

Slow, soulful cover of the U2 song.  The vocals are a bit overblown, but I quite like it.

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.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #27

Day 27, and today’s Now! compilation was released on 28th March 1994.

March 1994
This is the way the world looked in March 1994. TVs were still box-shaped, walls were still wallpapered, and I was clearly getting to my awkward-looking phase (although I’m going to give myself points for the cute dress, clearly an ’80s hand-me-down from someone).

Let’s see what that TV might have been showing when I switched on Top of the Pops on a Thursday night!

Now! That's What I Call Music #27
Track 1: Ace Of Base – The Sign

Great tune, interesting lines.  Happily chair-dancing along here.

Track 2: Chaka Demus & Pliers, Jack Radics and Taxi Gang – Twist And Shout

Fairly uninspired cover of the ’60s classic – I’d go as far as to call it pointless.  Nothing much added other than some reggae vocals over the top.

Track 3: D:Ream – Things Can Only Get Better

Is there anyone who doesn’t associate this one with its use for the campaign of New Labour in 1997?

In late April 1997, a few days before the election, I went to the Usher Hall in Edinburgh with my family for a Labour Party rally.  Once we’d gawked at the famous politicians hanging about outside (George Robertson!  I’ve seen him on the telly!), we went inside, found our seats and waited for the show to start.  I asked my dad excitedly if maybe D:Ream would come on stage and perform Things Can Only Get Better.

Dad, perhaps not wanting to get my hopes up, shook his head.  ‘Nah,’ he said.  ‘I think they’re a bit too famous to come and do that.’

And for the most part, the rally didn’t feature anyone as famous as D:Ream.  There were a lot of comedians I’d never heard of doing semi-funny sketches, and then the main event was an hour-long speech by Tony Blair that was revered in the press the next day as showing him to be a ‘man of the people’, as he had come out from behind the lectern and put his hands in his pockets, which apparently gave him the air of someone having a chat down the pub.  Ah, 1997 media.  Anyway, the speech captured my twelve-year-old attention for a whole hour, so it can’t have been bad.

What was much better, though, was that as soon as Blair left the stage to rapturous applause, D:Ream bounced on and launched into Things Can Only Get Better.  I grinned at my dad, and my dad grinned at me, and it was one of those awesome moments.  I’ve reminisced about seeing a lot of these Now! tracks played live by the bands, but this was the one I saw first.

Back in 1994, however, there was no political bent to this song – it was just an awesome pop track that I adored watching on Top of the Pops, with Peter Cunnah in his brightly coloured plaid suits.

And skipping forward to the 2010s, it will never stop being hilarious that the keyboardist from D:Ream eventually became Professor Brian Cox.  Not ever.

Right, back to my usual one-line reviews about epic atmospheres, head-nodders and annoying choruses.

Track 4: East 17 – It’s Alright

Speaking of epic atmospheres!  That melancholy piano intro is just stunning.  Then it bangs into a classic dance track with a great chant-along chorus.  Loved it at the time, still love it now.

Track 5: M People – Moving On Up

Nice feelgood tune, great singalong chorus – good stuff.

Track 6: Eternal – Save Our Love

I quite like those bells tolling at the start, but the vocals are too overblown for what is a fairly mediocre tune – which is very typical of mid-’90s pop, I find.

Track 7: Enigma – Return To Innocence

Yup, it’s the overplayed chillout track.  I’ll give it a pass for being used to good effect on Britain’s Got The Pop Factor.

Track 8: Bee Gees – For Whom The Bell Tolls

I normally like the Bee Gees in all their eras, but this one is too slow for me, although the tune is nice.

Track 9: Wendy Moten – Come In Out Of The Rain

It’s everything I dislike in a ballad – slow, saccharine, overblown vocals, zero edge, generic tune.  Don’t like this one at all!

Track 10: Dina Carroll – The Perfect Year

The music channels have defined this one as a Christmas song by featuring it in all their Christmas playlists, so I am most definitely feeling the seasonal dissonance right now.  It’s another slow ballad from Dina Carroll, and I’m still not a fan, even with that sax solo.

Track 11: Phil Collins – Everyday

Nice piano intro, gorgeous tune.  Really like this one.

Track 12: Richard Marx – Now And Forever

Lovely tune, but it’s just far too slow and acoustic-y for me.

Track 13: The Cranberries – Linger

Lovely tune, typically gorgeous vocals from Dolores O’Riordan (RIP 🙁 ).  Geth and I used to play this one a lot when we were DJing our Motherfolker night at Mr Modos circa 2010.  Good times.

Track 14: Tori Amos – Cornflake Girl

Great tune with really interesting piano lines and nice jaunty vocals.  Good stuff.

Track 15: The Beautiful South – Good As Gold (Stupid As Mud)

Nice bouncy tune, quite like this one.

Track 16: Meat Loaf – Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through

One of my favourites!  We had it on a Top Gear compilation, and as a result it’s one of my favourite Meat Loaf songs (and I unashamedly adore Meat Loaf, so there’s stiff competition).  For me, it evokes fast cars driving along cliffside roads in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night.  Wonderful track, especially that epic squealing sax solo.

Track 17: Primal Scream – Rocks

Absolutely classic track – great singalong chorus, great tune.

Track 18: Gin Blossoms – Hey Jealousy

Nice tune, but the chorus annoys me slightly.

Track 19: Smashing Pumpkins – Disarm

Love those bells at the start – well, I love all the instrumentals in this track!  Great epic atmosphere, great song.

Track 20: Doop – Doop

Wonderfully silly novelty song.  I loved watching this one on Top of the Pops because of the girls’ colourful outfits – I’m not sure how many years it was before I realised it wasn’t actually them singing on the track.

Track 21: Right Said Fred – Wonderman

Great synthy dance track, typically silly vocals.  Really like this one.

Track 22: Cappella – Move On Baby

Good solid dance track, nodding along to this right now.

Track 23: Culture Beat – Anything

Nice epic slow synth bit to start, and then it kicks into the interesting vocal melody, and then we have dance track liftoff.  Great track.

Track 24: 2 Unlimited – Let The Beat Control Your Body

2 Unlimited starting to get a bit samey now, although it’s still very danceable.

Track 25: Reel 2 Real and The Mad Stuntman – I Like To Move It

Another lifelong favourite!  I always sing this when I’m impatient for people to hurry up (in my head, obviously, because I’m a coward).  Great hooks, great danceable beat.

Track 26: K7 – Come Baby Come

This one’s a bit repetitive for me, although I do like some of the instrumentals, and the chanting bits.

Track 27: Credit To The Nation – Teenage Sensation

That whistling at the start is super annoying, and the rest of the song is not really anything to write home about.

Track 28: EYC – The Way You Work It

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

I remember pretty much every word of EYC’s Smash Hits interviews during this period, especially the one they did about different brands of cola, but I don’t really remember any of their songs.  This one’s okay, though – not a bad piece of pop, if a little generic.

Track 29: Bitty McLean – Here I Stand

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

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

Track 30: Deep Forest – Sweet Lullaby

Nice atmosphere, good bit of chillout.  Vocals are awful though.

Track 31: Björk – Violently Happy

Great epic atmosphere as ever from Björk – really like this one.

Track 32: Shara Nelson – Uptight

The tune’s a bit dull, but the beat’s alright for nodding along to.

Track 33: Gabrielle – Because Of You

Good head-nodder, nice tune.

Track 34: Carleen Anderson – Nervous Breakdown

Interesting tune, quite like this track.

Track 35: Juliet Roberts – I Want You

Love that epic intro, great atmosphere, solid dance track.

Track 36: Urban Cookie Collective – Sail Away

Another great dance tune from Urban Cookie Collective – the chorus is a little repetitive, but the beat is great.

Track 37: Degrees Of Motion and Biti – Shine On

Nice beat, but the vocals are a bit much for me, and the tune’s a bit dull.

Track 38: Joe Roberts – Lover

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

Dull, slow tune, though the atmosphere’s quite nice.