Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #34

Day 34 brings us to Now! #34, which came out on 12th August 1996.

August 1996
This is the way the world looked in August 1996 (actually July – we seem to be short of photos again for 1996). Sunlounger, Walkman and speakers, dodgy cycling shorts ‘n’ swimsuit combo – a perfect late 20th century summer’s day.

Let’s hear those summer hits!

Now! That's What I Call Music #34
Track 1: Spice Girls – Wannabe

At eleven, I was exactly the right age for the Spice Girls, and from the moment this first song of theirs came out, I adored them.  I bought every single and every album in HMV on the day they came out, I had every single Spice magazine (still do), I had the limited edition Spice Girls Impulse body spray.  I was a huge fan, to put it mildly, and I remember carefully writing down the lyrics of this song and editing it over the course of several months, trying to work out what they were saying (I’ve mentioned before that I’m no good with being able to hear lyrics, and a lot of it was so nonsensical that there were endless arguments in the playground about what the words were – it was only when the album came out in December, complete with lyric insert, that I was able to confirm them properly).

Nowadays, I find this first track pretty cringeworthy – they did much better songs later on.  I still remember how much I loved it at the time, though, the summer I moved from primary school to high school.  Interesting times.

Track 2: Robbie Williams – Freedom

Pointless cover of the George Michael track.  Although Robbie was my favourite member of Take That and I was gutted when he left, I find his solo stuff can be a bit hit and miss, and this cover doesn’t add anything to the original.

Track 3: Peter Andre and Bubbler Ranx – Mysterious Girl

Quite liked it at the time –  nowadays I see it as a ‘so-bad-it’s-hilarious’ classic.

Track 4: Dodgy – Good Enough

I was never hugely keen on this one, though I quite enjoyed it when we saw them live at Beautiful Days in 2013.

Track 5: Ocean Colour Scene – The Day We Caught The Train

I adore Ocean Colour Scene (they were my favourite band for quite a while in my teens) and this is an absolute classic – great tune, great instrumentals, great lyrics.

Track 6: Larry Mullen Jr and Adam Clayton – Theme From Mission: Impossible

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

The two less famous members of U2 taking on the Mission: Impossible theme for the film version.  It’s perhaps slightly rockier than the original, but not hugely different.  I’ll give it a pass, though, ’cause you wouldn’t want a classic theme like this to be changed too much.

Track 7: Underworld – Born Slippy

Really liked it at the time, find it dated and annoying now.

Track 8: JX – There’s Nothing I Won’t Do

Quite like the tune on this dance track, but the vocals annoy me.

Track 9: Gina G – Ooh Aah (Just A Little Bit)

The UK’s Eurovision entry for 1996.  Loved it at the time, find it irritating now.  I’m finding that’s a bit of a theme with 1996.  I must not have been hugely discerning at eleven.

Track 10: Pianoman – Blurred

Nice piano lines, as you might expect – the rest of the track is a bit messy, especially the misplaced sample from Blur’s Girls And Boys.

Track 11: Livin’ Joy – Don’t Stop Movin’

Oh, it’s this one.  The vocals are at least interesting, but I find the style irritating and a bit generic.

Track 12: Louise – Naked

Finally a decent one from Louise – great solid pop track.

Track 13: Mark Morrison – Return Of The Mack

Classic tune, quite like this one.  It’s been sample-covered horribly by at least two different ’10s artists, but I’m sure we’ll get to those later.

Track 14: 2Pac and Dr Dre – California Love

Really like this one!  Great song, love that chorus.

Track 15: Pato Banton – Groovin’

Dull tune, dull vocals, not keen.

Track 16: Reel 2 Real – Jazz It Up

Quite a funky danceable beat, but it’s a bit of a dull tune.

Track 17: Maxi Priest and Shaggy – That Girl

Nice jaunty vocals, but that sample of Booker T & The MGs’ Green Onions is super repetitive.

Track 18: Los Del Mar – Macarena

No, that’s not a typo.  Los Del Mar were basically a tribute band that only existed in order to cover Macarena by Los Del Rio (who were themselves little more than a one-hit wonder).  Maybe the Now! compilers couldn’t get the rights to the original.

The cover is pretty pointless – it’s pretty much note for note the River Fe-Mix version of the original.

Track 19: Umboza – Sunshine

Another misplaced sample, this time Bamboléo by the Gipsy Kings.  The rest of the track is fairly generic.

Track 20: Josh Wink – Higher State Of Consciousness

We’ve had this already, on Now! #32, which was only a couple of compilations ago!  That’s just lazy.

Urgh.  See the link for my review.

Track 21: Todd Terry, Martha Wash and Jocelyn Brown – Keep On Jumpin’

Messy semi-cover of the ’70s hit, with samples and random lines all over the place.  It’s pretty awful.

Track 22: Robert Miles – Children

I’ve always loved this one!  Gorgeous electro tune.

Track 23: George Michael – Jesus To A Child

Lovely, melancholy song from George Michael.  Beautiful tune.

Track 24: Oasis – Wonderwall

A little late to the party for the Now! compilers, as this was more of a late 1995 hit, but it’s a classic, probably the best song Oasis did in my opinion, and so still very welcome.

Track 25: The Bluetones – Slight Return

Oh, it’s this one!  Pleasant tune, happily nodding along right now.

Track 26: Paul Weller – Peacock Suit

Dull tune, very dad-rock.  Not keen.

Track 27: Bon Jovi – Hey God

I normally like Bon Jovi, but I find this one a bit uninspired.

Track 28: Bryan Adams – The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You

Found it annoying at the time, just find it a bit so-so now.

Track 29: Belinda Carlisle – In Too Deep

Nice instrumentals, but the vocal is pretty dull.

Track 30: Suggs – Cecelia

Loved this reggae-tinged cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic at the time, still love it now!  Great track.

Track 31: Blur – Charmless Man

I’ve always found the tune to this one a bit annoying.  Not my favourite Blur track.

Track 32: Suede – Trash

Good head-nodder from Suede – really like this one.  Great singalong chorus too.

Track 33: Joan Osborne – One Of Us

That old-timey American traditional rhyme at the start is super annoying, but the song itself is an absolute classic – great tune.

Track 34: Crowded House – Instinct

Nice tune, really like this one.

Track 35: Lighthouse Family – Ocean Drive

Feelgood track with an awesome singalong chorus.  Lovely.

Track 36: Tina Turner – On Silent Wings

Dull tune, dull ballad.  Not a fan of this one.

Track 37: Everything But The Girl – Wrong

Good beat, but I’m not keen on the tune.

Track 38: OMC – How Bizarre

I’d forgotten about this one!  Pleasant, jaunty track, really like it.

Track 39: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Walking On The Milky Way

Lovely tune, really interesting track.

Track 40: Space – Female Of The Species

Loved it at the time, love it now.  I remember endless arguments in the back of the car about whether the lyric was ‘more deadlier‘, which was what it sounded like, or the grammatically correct ‘more deadly‘.  I think I argued for the latter position, just because I couldn’t believe a professional band would write such a horrendously wrong sentence (ah, childhood innocence).  A quick google just now tells me it was indeed the latter, but it really does sound like the former.

Track 41: Cast – Walkaway

Nice tune, but a bit slow for me.

Track 42: Boyzone – Coming Home Now

Liked it at the time, find the tune pretty irritating now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track 2: Edwyn Collins – A Girl Like You

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

Track 3: Pulp – Common People

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

Track 4: Supergrass – Alright

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

Track 5: Shaggy – In The Summertime

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

Track 6: Ini Kamoze – Here Comes The Hotstepper

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

Track 7: Dana Dawson – 3 Is Family

Fairly generic pop track – nothing special here.

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

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

Track 9: East 17 – Hold My Body Tight

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

Track 10: Boyzone – Key To My Life

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

Track 11: Seal – Kiss From A Rose

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

Track 12: Kirsty MacColl – Days

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

See the link for my review.

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

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

Track 14: Portishead – Sour Times

Great atmosphere on this track – really like this one.

Track 15: Oasis – Some Might Say

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

Track 16: Weezer – Buddy Holly

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

Track 17: Del Amitri – Roll To Me

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

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

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

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

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

Track 20: Jimmy Somerville – Hurt So Good

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

Track 21: Outhere Brothers – Boom Boom Boom

Classic song, great danceable track.  Good stuff.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This one’s a bit too repetitive for me.

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

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

Track 26: Jinny – Keep Warm

Generic dance track – nothing exciting about this one.

Track 27: Livin’ Joy – Dreamer

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

Track 28: Whigfield – Think Of You

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

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

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

Track 30: Bobby Brown – Humpin’ Around

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

Track 31: PJ & Duncan – Stuck On U

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

Track 32: Love City Groove – Love City Groove

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

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

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

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

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

Track 34: Soul II Soul – Love Enuff

Pleasant tune, but it’s a bit dull.

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

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

Track 36: Shiva – Freedom

Overblown vocals, boring tune.  Not keen.

Track 37: Billie Ray Martin – Your Loving Arms

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

Track 38: Deuce – I Need You

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

Track 39: JX – Son Of A Gun

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

Track 40: Hyperlogic – Only Me

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

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