Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #25

Day 25, and today’s Now! compilation was released on 2nd August 1993.

August 1993
This is the way the world looked in August 1993 (actually July – we did have a couple of pictures from August but they’re uniformly awful!) – a cornucopia of Laura Ashley dresses and flowers. Or at least it was if you were going to a wedding.

Can you believe we’re quarter of the way through this Now! journey already?  I certainly can.

Now! That's What I Call Music #25
Track 1: George Michael and Queen – Somebody To Love

It’s not really a cover when it’s your own song, right?  George Michael’s vocals are great, but nothing beats the Queen original for me.

Track 2: 4 Non Blondes – What’s Up?

Great chant-along track – I’ve always liked this one.

Track 3: Tina Turner – I Don’t Wanna Fight

Nice tune, nice beat.  Quite like this track.

Track 4: Ace Of Base – All That She Wants

Hands down the best track Ace Of Base ever did.  Absolutely love this one!

Track 5: Gabrielle – Dreams

Gorgeous introspective classic – absolutely lovely song.

Track 6: Lena Fiagbe – You Come From Earth

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

Pretty tune, but a bit slow for me.

Track 7: REM – Everybody Hurts

Everybody hurts, and everybody except me absolutely loves this song.  It’s alright, it’s just really overplayed.

Track 8: New Order – Regret

One of my favourite New Order tracks – absolutely beautiful tune. That guitar riff is just gorgeous.

Track 9: Freddie Mercury – Living On My Own

Love the synth line, if not the daft yodeling at the start.  Great atmosphere.

Track 10: Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive

’70s classic back in the charts.  I remember them always playing the video on Top of the Pops at the time, I guess because Gloria Gaynor wasn’t available to come back and perform it.

Track 11: Inner Circle – Sweat (A La La La La Long)

I’ve always liked this daft track, though I probably shouldn’t.  Great singalong chorus.

Track 12: Chaka Demus & Pliers – Tease Me

Not hugely keen on the tune – it’s a bit dull for me.

Track 13: Louchie Lou & Michie One – Shout

Laidback cover of the Isley Brothers classic.  Because I knew this one first, I actually always find the original (and the Lulu version, which gets played more often) a bit frenetic.

Track 14: Shabba Ranks and Maxi Priest – Housecall

Nice head-nodder once it gets going.

Track 15: Duran Duran – Come Undone

Yup, I still love Duran Duran, even though they’ve gone all grown-up on me with their ’90s stuff.  This track has a wonderful, brooding atmosphere all the way through, with lovely guitar lines and a gorgeous tune on the chorus.

Track 16: Paul Weller – Sunflower

Paul Weller’s gone solo and therefore dull.  I had to listen to a lot of his ’90s stuff on family car journeys and I’m not a fan.

Track 17: Kingmaker – Ten Years Asleep

Good danceable beat, but the tune’s a bit boring.

Track 18: 2 Unlimited – Tribal Dance

Another solid dance track from 2 Unlimited – good stuff.

Track 19: Robin S – Luv 4 Luv

A bit too similar to Show Me Love for me, but it’s okay.

Track 20: Sybil – When I’m Good And Ready

Bit generic – not a fan of this one.

Track 21: Dannii Minogue – This Is It

I’ve always loved this cover of the Melba Moore classic – pure solid feelgood pop, can’t fault it.

Track 22: The Time Frequency – The Ultimate High

Good upbeat dance track – like this one.

Track 23: Jon Secada – Do You Really Want Me

Good head-nodder, nice tune.

Track 24: Kim Wilde – If I Can’t Have You

Happily flashing back here to three weeks ago, when I saw Kim Wilde perform this live with the whole audience bellowing along.  Was it really three weeks ago?  My all-encompassing work project has made my sense of time a bit squiffy.

Great singalong track, love it.

Track 25: East 17 – West End Girls

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

Questionable cover of the Pet Shop Boys classic.  The original is one of my favourite songs of all time, so I was never going to be impressed by this.

Track 26: Joey Lawrence – Nothin’ My Love Can’t Fix

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

I had a poster of Joey Lawrence (who was mostly an actor) at the time.  I never watched any of his shows, I think I just liked the poster.

Anyway, the track.  It’s pretty generic, but it’s an okay pop song once it gets to the chorus.  He should probably have stuck to acting, though.

Track 27: Efua – Somewhere

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

Interesting spoken word verses, okay backing track.  Quite like this one.

Track 28: Sade – No Ordinary Love

Lovely vocals, but a bit slow for me.

Track 29: Richard Darbyshire – This I Swear

Dull tune, saccharine vocals.  Not keen on this one, though the sax solo does improve it a bit.

Track 30: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Dream Of Me

Typically lovely synth from OMD – good stuff.

Track 31: D:Ream – U R The Best Thing

Great upbeat dance-pop, really like this one.

Track 32: Juliet Roberts – Caught In The Middle

Another nice upbeat track – happily nodding along here.

Track 33: Oui 3 – Break From The Old Routine

Not enough melody for me, but the rap’s okay.

Track 34: Utah Saints – I Want You

Nice beat, but there’s a bit too much going on with the track for me.

Track 35: Jesus Jones – Zeroes And Ones

Geth: ‘We’ve definitely hit critical greebo.’

Good upbeat head-nodder for me, good end to the compilation.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #14

Two weeks into this review series, and Now! 14 takes us to 20th March 1989.

March 1989
This is how the world looked in March 1989. Nice garden stonework features, lots of plants, and head-to-toe red outfits.

Both me and the wee bro were clearly better dressed than this lot, but let’s listen to their songs anyway.

Now! That's What I Call Music #14
Track 1: Marc Almond and Gene Pitney – Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart

The Gene Pitney solo original from the ’60s is one of my all-time favourite songs.  This version with Marc Almond doesn’t quite match the original for me, but it’s still really good.

Track 2: Phil Collins – Two Hearts

Phil Collins back on form after that awful one from yesterday.  Great bouncy singalong chair-dancer.

Track 3: Erasure – Stop!

Love the spiky synth on this one.  More great pop from Erasure.

Track 4: Bananarama and LaNaNeeNeeNooNoo – Help!

An early example of a Comic Relief single, with Bananarama teaming up with their parody versions (actually French and Saunders) for a not-quite-pointless cover of the Beatles classic.  There’s not much added to the song other than the daft comedy spoken word sections, but the backing instrumentals are quite interesting.

Track 5: Hue & Cry – Looking For Linda

More upbeat than Ordinary Angel yesterday, but the chorus annoys me.  Sorry!

Track 6: Yazz – Fine Time

Yazz has ditched the Plastic Population, and judging by this song, I can’t decide whether it was the best move.  The tune is nice and soulful, but perhaps a little slow for me.  No annoying chorus, though, so that’s a huge improvement.

Track 7: Kim Wilde – Four Letter Word

Obligatory Kim Wilde gig mention.  Yes, she played this one too!

Bit of a slower, quieter one from Kim Wilde, but still a great pop track – really nice build to the atmosphere.

Track 8: Sam Brown – Stop

This is the second track on this compilation with this title.  Between this and the Transvision Vamp/Duran Duran mixed message from yesterday, I’m beginning to think bands in the late ’80s were running out of originality when it came to titles.

Absolutely love this track – beautiful tune, wonderful epic atmosphere.

Fun fact: Jamelia did the most pointless of pointless covers of this in 2003 for the Love Actually soundtrack – it sounds EXACTLY the same.

Track 9: Roy Orbison – You Got It

Was Roy Orbison really still going in 1989?  *googles*  Apparently so.

Really like this tune, especially that bridge.  Nice head-nodder.

Track 10: Fine Young Cannibals – She Drives Me Crazy

Hands down my favourite Fine Young Cannibals song.  Absolutely classic track with a beautiful simplicity to the vocals and lyrics, and some stunning guitar instrumentals.  Adore this one.

Track 11: INXS – Need You Tonight

That hook!  Another one that used to be used to announce the ad breaks on VH1 Classic.  An all-time favourite, with wonderful vocals and a great atmosphere.

Track 12: Status Quo – Burning Bridges (On And Off And On Again)

Annoying riff to start that reminds me of a sing-song nursery rhyme.  This is echoed in the chorus.  The verses are okay though.  Then there’s that random instrumental of the tune that I only know from Manchester United’s Come On You Reds song in the ’90s.  Just a bit of a mess, really.

Track 13: Then Jerico – Big Area

Nice tinkly intro, which smashes into a bit of epic guitar-led atmosphere.  Boring vocals, but the instrumentals are great.

Track 14: Morrissey – The Last Of The Famous International Playboys

Fairly upbeat for Morrissey.  Bit of a dull tune though.

Track 15: Poison – Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Boring slow guitar track.  My least favourite kind of music!  Not a fan at all.

Track 16: Simple Minds – Belfast Child

Beautiful track from Simple Minds, based on traditional melody As She Moved Through The Fair.  A favourite since childhood.

Track 17: Neneh Cherry – Buffalo Stance

I’ve got a soft spot for this classic, which I find to be a great singalong head-nodder.

Track 18: Inner City – Good Life

A little repetitive, but better than Big Fun yesterday.

Track 19: S-Express – Hey Music Lover

Super irritating spoken sample at the start!  I like the synth lines though.

Track 20: Living In A Box – Blow The House Down

Nice upbeat pop track, good head-nodder.  Really like that chorus.

Track 21: The Style Council – Promised Land

I’m a little surprised the Style Council were still going in ’89 – I was sure Paul Weller had gone solo by then.  Oh well, gotta keep improving that music knowledge.

Nice track though – good bouncy song, great synth going on in there.

Track 22: Adeva – Respect

Vocals a bit erratic for my liking, but a good dance track.

Track 23: Tone Lōc – Wild Thing

I quite like that clappy intro.  Rap bit is kind of dull though.

Track 24: Natalie Cole – I Live For Your Love

The dullest type of dull ballad, only marginally saved by the tinkly instrumentals.  Not keen.

Track 25: Robin Beck – First Time

Really like the tune on this one – great rock ballad.

Track 26: Paula Abdul – Straight Up

Great chair-dancing track.  Love the chorus too, good singalong potential.

Track 27: Samantha Fox – I Only Wanna Be With You

Upbeat cover of the Dusty Springfield classic.  Different enough not to be pointless (there’s no mistaking that ’80s synth), but there’s something cheesy and annoying about it.

Track 28: Brother Beyond – Be My Twin

Vocals are too saccharine, but I quite like the tune.  Nice sax solo too.

Track 29: Climie Fisher – Love Like A River

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

We’re getting towards the end of the compilation!  Do I dare hope?  Could today finally be the day when every track from the original compilation is present and correct on Spotify…oh.  Oh well.  So close.

Typically cheesy vocals for Climie Fisher, although there’s a nice almost-edge to the instrumentals underneath.

Track 30: Duran Duran – All She Wants Is

Yup, I still love Duran Duran, and this one is predictably wonderful (that bassline! that synth! those vocals! that chanting!) as ever.  Just a cut above.

Track 31: Level 42 – Tracie

All right, all right, I’m clicking on that ticket link now!  I’m buying those tickets!  I’ve received the email confirmation!  I’m going to see Level 42 in October!

It was for the best that I did that tonight, too, ’cause there were only two floor seats left that were next to each other!

This one’s a great jaunty track with some nice synth hooks.  Hope they play it when I go see them!

Track 32: Michael Ball – Love Changes Everything

I’ve got a soft spot for Michael Ball, mainly ’cause he’s so ubiquitous on British TV these days.  This track from the musical Aspects Of Love is as saccharine as you would expect, but it makes a nice change from the slow pop ballads that have been ending the last few Now! compilations.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #13

Day 13’s Now! compilation came out on 21st November 1988.

November 1988
This is the way the world looked in November 1988. I wasn’t actually put in a cage that often. If I had kids they’d be in a cage – uh, sorry, ‘playpen’ – 24 hours a day. This is one of the many reasons I know I’m not meant to be a parent.

Let’s see what pop hits the Now! compilers have for me today.

Now! That's What I Call Music #13
Track 1: Yazz & The Plastic Population – The Only Way Is Up

Classic party track, and that blaring horn at the start is great, but I find the tune to the vocal a bit annoying.

Track 2: Womack & Womack – Teardrops

Nice tune, though it’s a bit repetitive for me.

Track 3: Erasure – A Little Respect

I adore this one!  Brilliant singalong party track.  Also, I can’t not post that excellent Tube singalong video.

Track 4: The Christians – Harvest For The World

A little ashamed to say that I’m not familiar enough with the Isley Brothers original to be able to say whether this cover is pointless or not.  There’s lots of very ’80s twiddly instrumentals, but the vocal is a bit mid-century throwback, so it’s hard to guess.

Track 5: Hue & Cry – Ordinary Angel

Interesting instrumentals at the start, a bit Eastern-tinged.  Nice tune, though it’s a bit slow for me.

Track 6: UB40 and Chrissie Hynde – Breakfast In Bed

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

Fairly standard UB40 slow reggae – great vocals from both singers.  I actually like this even more than their cover of I Got You Babe.

Track 7: Robert Palmer – She Makes My Day

Really nice tune from Robert Palmer – interesting instrumental lines and great vocals.

Track 8: Breathe – Hands To Heaven

Nice instrumentals, but far too slow and saccharine for me.  Apart from the sax solo.  You can’t go wrong with a sax solo.

Track 9: Phil Collins – A Groovy Kind Of Love

Not a pointless cover as it’s very different from the Mindbenders original.  It’s much slower and a lot more boring.  Not a fan.

Track 10: Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry, Be Happy

I’ve always quite liked this jaunty tune.  Didn’t they use to sell singing novelty fish that sang this song, or am I imagining that?

Track 11: The Art Of Noise and Tom Jones – Kiss

Nothing can beat the original Prince version, but this cover is not bad at all.  It’s very different to the original, and I’m a big fan of Tom Jones and his distinctive voice.  That guitar solo is great too.

Track 12: Bryan Ferry – Let’s Stick Together

Nice upbeat track, originally released a decade earlier, so the stylings are obviously very ’70s.  Love the instrumentals though, and though it’s a late ’70s song, there’s something quite glam rock about it – Ferry still channelling his earlier Roxy Music days.

Track 13: Kim Wilde – You Came

At the Kim Wilde gig last week (sorry, not going to shut up about that just yet!), Kim dedicated this one to the audience.  Great solid pop track with an awesome epic singalong chorus.

Track 14: Bomb The Bass – Don’t Make Me Wait

Bit of an irritating intro, but the track is good once you get past that – great synth line, great vocals, great tune.

Track 15: Brother Beyond – The Harder I Try

This one’s a bit cheesy for me, but the tune’s quite nice and it’s a good head-nodder.

Track 16: The Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

Not sure why this one was back in the charts, but it’s a classic for a reason.  Great track.

Track 17: Fat Boys and Chubby Checker – The Twist (Yo, Twist!)

It’s that Fat Boys cackle at the start again, but this retro-tinged rap track would not have been at all scary to my toddler self.  Definitely a party song.

Track 18: Wee Papa Girl Rappers – Wee Rule

Quite an interesting song – I like the tune on the chorus, and it’s nice to hear female-fronted rap in the ’80s style.

Track 19: Salt-N-Pepa – Twist And Shout

Speaking of which…  Was it a thing in 1988 to fuse rap with retro rock ‘n’ roll stylings?  I wouldn’t have expected to like that, but I do.  This one’s great, with rap verses straddling the classic chorus.  The opposite of a pointless cover.

Track 20: Yello – The Race

Ohhhh…it’s this one!  Classic party tune, but I didn’t know what it was called or who it was by.  Every day’s a learning experience.

Track 21: Inner City and Kevin Saunderson – Big Fun

Fairly standard for Inner City – nodding my head, but the tune’s not super exciting.

Track 22: D-Mob and Gary Haisman – We Call It Acieed

Infamous vocal, classic dance track.  Bit repetitive for me, but it’s a good party song.

Track 23: Beatmasters and PP Arnold – Burn It Up

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

I find this one a bit dull, nothing out of the ordinary, though I quite like that trumpet hook.

Track 24: Milli Vanilli – Girl You Know It’s True

By the time I started reading Smash Hits in the early ’90s, Milli Vanilli were a bit of a joke in the pop magazines as it was widely believed that they didn’t actually provide the vocals on their records.  I’m not sure if this was true, but it was the kind of thing that was a symptom of the irritating move towards manufactured pop groups.

As for the song itself, the possibly-fake vocals are a bit cheesy, but the instrumentals are great.

Track 25: Level 42 – Heaven In My Hands

I have the Sage Gateshead tab open ready on my browser to order those tickets!  I’ve just…not done it yet.  I will soon.

More fab instrumentals, great upbeat guitar, interesting track.  Like this one.

Track 26: Jane Wiedlin – Rush Hour

Chair-dancing here from the start – great singalong chorus, great tune.

Track 27: The Proclaimers – I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)

The unofficial Scottish national anthem, played whenever we score points at the rugby.  Get several hundred Scots in a room, play this song, and watch the chaos ensue.  The ultimate in singalong classics.

Track 28: T’Pau – Secret Garden

The chorus annoys me, but otherwise it’s quite a good tune.

Track 29: Transvision Vamp – I Want Your Love

Really interesting song with great vocals.  Big fan of this one…

Track 30: Duran Duran – I Don’t Want Your Love

…and the title juxtaposition here is hilariously schizophrenic.  I hope that was deliberate, Now! compilers!

Duran Duran may not want our love…but I think you know what I’m about to say.  I love Duran Duran, and this song is another cracker.  Lovely vocal harmonies on the verses, nice epic atmosphere, brilliant singalong chorus, great lyrics.

Track 31: The Human League – Love Is All That Matters

Interesting to hear the Human League’s later ’80s stuff here.  The synth isn’t nearly so prominent, and it’s a bit smoother and more polished-sounding than their earlier stuff, especially the backing vocals.  Nice tune, too, and that outro is beautiful.

Track 32: All About Eve – Martha’s Harbour

Classic goth ballad.  I’ve always liked this one, so I’ll forgive the Now! compilers for ending yet another compilation with a ballad.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #8

Day 8’s Now! compilation was released on 24th November 1986.

November 1986
Um, I’m not sure I can really say that this is what the world looked like in November 1986, given that my face pretty much takes up this whole photo. It’s what I looked like in November 1986, though, and I bet you can’t get dungarees that cute nowadays.

Let’s move onto the music.

Now! That's What I Call Music #8
Track 1: Duran Duran – Notorious

Yup, I still love Duran Duran.  I also wish the Now! compilers would start putting their tracks later in the mix.  I appreciate the need to start with a great tune, but sometimes it’s nice to save the best for last!

The song is one of my favourites (and not just for that Sparkle Motion bit in Donnie Darko that everyone always brings up).  I love the ‘no-no-notorious’ hook, the way the verses build, the funk guitar – great track.

Track 2: Pet Shop Boys – Suburbia

Another great track from Pet Shop Boys – absolutely beautiful chorus and synth line.

Track 3: Aerosmith and Run DMC – Walk This Way

Bit overplayed these days, but still a classic, although I have to say I prefer the original version that Aerosmith did themselves.

Track 4: The Communards and Sarah Jane Morris – Don’t Leave Me This Way

A childhood favourite and one of the first pop songs I learnt to sing along to!  I guess when you’re a toddler it’s easier to hit those high notes.

I discovered while Richard Coles was competing on Strictly last year that he’s responsible for the longest piano solo of the ’80s, which occurs in the middle of this song.  Plus points!

Track 5: Swing Out Sister – Breakout

Nice and upbeat, but there’s something about the vocal that annoys me.

Track 6: Steve Winwood – Higher Love

Charming song, always liked this one.  Great instrumentals, and I love that singalong chorus.

Track 7: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – (Forever) Live And Die

A bit slower than usual for OMD, but still a lovely tune.

Track 8: Genesis – In Too Deep

Nice epic instrumentals building throughout the song – really like this one.

Track 9: Cameo – Word Up

Another classic.  There have been a lot of pointless ’90s, ’00s and ’10s covers in an attempt to replicate the greatness of this song, but nothing has come close to the original.

Track 10: Grace Jones – I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Perfect For You)

I do like Grace Jones, and I really like the atmosphere of this track, especially during the verses.

Track 11: Mel & Kim – Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend)

I’ve got a huge soft spot for Mel & Kim, and I really like this one, even though every time it pops up on Vintage TV Geth complains that they never show Respectable, which he apparently remembers as being a much bigger hit.

Track 12: Jermaine Stewart – We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off

I love this one!  I never actually heard it until 2011, when it re-entered the charts after being featured in a Dairy Milk TV advert.  Great pop track.

Track 13: Jaki Graham – Step Right Up

Probably the best out of the Jaki Graham tracks that the Now! compilers have chosen recently.  Nice upbeat track with a catchy chorus.

Track 14: Janet Jackson – What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Quite a fun tune, but the lyrics annoy me.

Track 15: The Human League – Human

I really like this lovely, introspective track – a bit of a departure from the Human League’s earlier stuff, but really nice.

Track 16: Boris Gardiner – I Want To Wake Up With You

Bit cheesy for my liking, though I like the reggae beat.

Track 17: Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush – Don’t Give Up

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

Lovely duet, lovely tune.  Really like this one.

Track 18: The Housemartins – Think For A Minute

I don’t think the Housemartins did a bad tune, and this is gorgeous as usual.

Track 19: Madness – (Waiting For) The Ghost Train

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

Madness turn their hand to ‘spooky’.  Another one for the Hallowe’en playlist!

Track 20: Status Quo – In The Army Now

I really like the atmosphere of this one, and I’m not the biggest Status Quo fan.  Great track.

Track 21: Huey Lewis & The News – Stuck With You

A bit daft and cheesy, but it’s a nice head-nodder.

Track 22: Big Country – One Great Thing

This is a better Big Country track than has been included on Now! compilations so far.  Nice chant-along chorus.

Track 23: Billy Bragg – Greetings To The New Brunette

I like Billy Bragg’s stuff, though I wouldn’t necessarily add it to a typical ’80s party playlist.  It’s more for post-party listening circa 4am.  This one’s got a nice tune and awesome lyrics.

Track 24: Cutting Crew – (I Just) Died In Your Arms

A favourite from back during my first flush of ’80s nostalgia in the early ’00s – I played it over and over.  I was lucky enough to see Cutting Crew play back in November, and the crowd naturally went absolutely nuts for this one.  I think that was the point that Geth and I decided we were no longer going to be stuck in the upper gallery at the Sage, where the party is decidedly not happening.  Apart from anything else, you can’t take drinks into the upper levels!  This decision turned out to be a good one on Monday night, when we went to the Kim Wilde gig and enjoyed a much more high-energy atmosphere down on the floor.

Speaking of Kim Wilde…

Track 25: Kim Wilde – You Keep Me Hangin’ On

Is it another excuse to post the slightly blurry video I took of Kim Wilde performing this song on Monday night?  I think it is!

I like most stuff that Kim Wilde has done, but this is my absolute favourite track of hers.  Stunning cover of the ’60s classic that brings it storming into 1986 – amazing epic atmosphere.

Track 26: It Bites – Calling All The Heroes

Good pop track, though the messed up beat at the start annoys me a bit.  Great singalong chorus.

Track 27: Doctor & The Medics and Roy Wood – Waterloo

Utterly daft cover.  Sadly, I’m going to have to class it as a ‘pointless ’80s cover’, as it’s just not different enough from the Abba version.

Track 28: Debbie Harry – French Kissin’ In The USA

Okay song, but this has never come close to her Blondie classics for me.

Track 29: Robert Palmer – I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On

I really like Robert Palmer’s stuff, and this one is great – awesome instrumentals throughout.

Incidentally, it’s interesting in today’s climate to hear a song of this theme from a male singer.

Track 30: Paul Hardcastle – The Wizard

More interesting sampling from Paul Hardcastle.  Some great bits of tune on this track.

Track 31: Gwen Guthrie – (They Long To Be) Close To You

Nice gentle cover of the Carpenters track.  Not at all a pointless cover – it’s very different.

Track 32: Nick Berry – Every Loser Wins

Really dislike this one, sorry.  Cheesy ballad that I believe was released as an Eastenders tie-in.  Not a fan.

Gig Review: Kim Wilde at Sage Gateshead, 16th April 2018

I was super excited about going to see Kim Wilde at the Sage last night.  Geth had spotted the flyer for the gig when we were at the Sage for the Go West and Cutting Crew gig back in November, and so I booked tickets ASAP.  I’ve had a few disappointments with not getting tickets for various gigs I wanted to go to in 2018, so I was really looking forward to this one.

The support act wasn’t advertised, but it was Lawrence Hill.  He’s a talented guitarist and was doing some very cool stuff with loop pedals, but some of the between-song-banter didn’t go down too well with the North East audience.  At one point, he introduced his song Driving To Win by asking who’d recently taken a road trip to the South of France…um, it’s a bit further to go from here than it is from London!  Then, when the song actually started:

Lyrics: Are we driving to win or are we driving to lose…

Me, in my head: OH GOD THAT PUN, THAT PUN, THAT IS UNBEARABLE

Me out loud to Geth: Driving ‘Toulouse’, geddit?

Geth: 🙁 🙁 🙁 I wasn’t enjoying this song BEFORE you pointed that out.

After the support, there was about fifteen minutes of intermission (Geth took the opportunity to get us another round) before Kim Wilde and her band came on.  The energy was fantastic from the start.

Kim Wilde, Sage Gateshead, 16th April 2018
Kim Wilde on stage. Note the keytar player! At some point I am going to work out how to get my new phone camera to focus properly.

The tour was in support of her new album, Here Come The Aliens, which is a great album.  I had listened to it yesterday before the gig and really enjoyed it, but the songs are even better live.  Album lead track 1969 is the best song for me, and the band played a great performance of it during the encore.

Kim also played a lot of her old ’80s stuff, which of course went down a storm.  My highlights were Cambodia, Kids In America (with which the band closed) and my favourite, You Keep Me Hangin’ On, which I couldn’t resist filming:

The show was really enjoyable, with great energy start to finish.  It was the first gig I went to this year, but it’s going to take some beating!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #4

Day 4, and today’s Now! compilation was released on 26th November 1984 (just one day after the recording of the original Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band Aid, fact fans).

November 1984
In November 1984, there were still far more houseplants around than there are today, and soft furnishings featured a lot more brown (probably a hangover from the ’70s).

I wonder what the Now! compilers have in store for me today?

Now! That's What I Call Music #4
Track 1: Paul McCartney – No More Lonely Nights [Special Dance Mix]

I couldn’t find the dance mix, so I’m reviewing the original.  Nice tune, but a bit slow for my liking.

Track 2: Giorgio Moroder and Philip Oakey – Together In Electric Dreams

Another one of Geth’s DJing favourites.  Great synthpop, love this one.  That chorus!

Track 3: Bronski Beat – Why?

Great dance track, really like this one, especially the trumpet instrumentals.

Track 4: Limahl – Neverending Story

Hey, it’s Limahl’s one good solo song that I was talking about the other day!  (Well, I say solo – it’s actually a duet with Beth Anderson, but she never gets credited.)  Love the ethereal vocals, great tune.

Track 5: Nick Heyward – Warning Sign

I like the guitar instrumentals.  Most of the song is a bit pedestrian, but it does step up towards the end.  Also, is that a rap at about two-thirds of the way in?  You almost never hear that in pop of this era.  Interesting.

Track 6: John Waite – Missing You

A favourite.  Nice intensity on the chorus, great guitar line.

Track 7: Michael Jackson – Farewell My Summer Love

Bit saccharine for my liking.  I prefer Michael Jackson’s stuff when it has a bit of edge.

Track 8: Lionel Richie – Hello

I think most people know this one for the so-bad-it’s-hilarious video, which features Geth’s least favourite trope, that of the icky student-professor relationship.  The song is extremely cheesy, but is also in the realm of so-bad-it’s-good for me, and I actually quite like it in a serious way when I’m in the right mood.

True fact: one time in Southampton, a couple of random guys serenaded me on the street with this song.  I could not stop laughing, which I’m not sure was the desired effect.

Track 9: Culture Club – The War Song

Argh, it’s another example from the ‘annoying’ end of Culture Club’s back catalogue!  I do like some of their stuff…I just can’t think of any examples at the moment.

I forgot to mention during the Karma Chameleon review the other day that that song gets bonus points for inspiring the Lothian Buses ‘Karma Chameleon’ no. 26 bus, which was one of my favourite stories of 2017.  It goes to Edinburgh Zoo, is painted in red, gold and green, and says ‘we come and go’ on the back!  I am in love.  I never go to zoos ’cause I always think the animals look sad, but I gotta get myself on that bus sometime when I’m in Edinburgh.

Um, back to The War Song.  ‘War is stupid, and people are stupid‘, and in all honesty I find these lyrics irritatingly stupid too.  Sorry.

Track 10: Elton John – Passengers

I quite like this bouncy song when I’m in the right mood, especially the chanting on the chorus.

Track 11: Julian Lennon – Too Late For Goodbyes

Nice upbeat track, though it’s more of a ‘background’ one for me.

Track 12: The Style Council – Shout To The Top!

I’m not usually that keen on the Style Council, but this one’s actually all right – I like the strings on the intro and the slightly urgent atmosphere.

Track 13: Thompson Twins – Doctor! Doctor!

I just remembered I really like this one (great synth line!), so maybe I was a bit hasty in writing off the Thompson Twins during yesterday’s review.  Another one that was used well in The Doctor Who Years, which was kind of an obvious choice if you think about it.

Track 14: Heaven 17 – Sunset Now

Typically nice pop from Heaven 17, though I prefer their more synth-y stuff.

Track 15: Kane Gang – Respect Yourself

I’m a big fan of this one, largely because the video was filmed in central Newcastle, and as I only moved to Newcastle in 2015 (and had never been here in my life until Geth and I came to househunt a month before we were due to move), I find it fascinating to see what the Quayside looked like in the mid-’80s before it was de-industrialised and gentrified.  Quite like the song too.

Track 16: Tina Turner – Private Dancer

I can’t put my finger on why, but I’ve never really liked this one, even though it does have a couple of nice sax solos.

Track 17: Queen – It’s A Hard Life

Not my favourite Queen song, but I can’t say they ever did a bad song – it’s still a good chair-swayer.

Track 18: Status Quo – The Wanderer

I quite like the jauntiness of this one.  It might even make my list of ‘songs I’d dance to at a wedding reception’ – if I’d had a lot of cider.

Track 19: Big Country – East Of Eden

Probably one of the best Big Country songs in my opinion.  Great tune and atmosphere.

Track 20: U2 – Pride (In The Name Of Love)

Most of the song is a bit dull, but I do quite like the chorus.

Track 21: Feargal Sharkey – Listen To Your Father

Not only is this song not on Spotify, but there’s no tribute version either, so I couldn’t be lazy this time – I had to pause the playlist and hit up YouTube.  So inconvenient.

As for the song, I quite like this one – nice uptempo track and instrumentals, even if the lyrics are a little irritating.

Track 22: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Tesla Girls

Awesome uptempo synthpop.  OMD delivering the goods as usual.

Track 23: Kim Wilde – The Second Time

Great piece of pop!  It’s everything I love about the ’80s – great bassline and instrumentals, epic atmosphere, strong lyrics.  It’s begging to be played on vinyl on my dad’s old sound system, rather than digitally through my tinny laptop earphones.

Incidentally, I’m going to see Kim Wilde at the Sage Gateshead tomorrow!  I’M SO EXCITED.  Watch out for my review of the gig on Tuesday.

Track 24: Nik Kershaw – Human Racing

A bit slow and dull for me, and there’s something I’m not keen on in the tune.  Nice lyrics though.

Track 25: Ray Parker Jr – Ghostbusters

How can you not love this one?  The ultimate party song.

I also have many happy memories of playing it on Lego Rock Band.  Now that I live in a detached house, I have got to break out those Rock Band drums again.  It’s just a case of finding the time!

Track 26: UB40 – If It Happens Again

Another good chair-swayer, but again this one’s a bit more ‘background’ for me.

Track 27: Pointer Sisters – Jump (For My Love)

It’s an okay party song, but I’ve always been a bit ‘meh’ about this one.

Track 28: Level 42 – Hot Water

Good danceable song, great instrumentals.

Track 29: Eurythmics – Sex Crime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)

I really like Eurythmics, and this one’s a great dance song with chantable lyrics.  It vastly improves what has been a relatively poor second disc so far.

Track 30: Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me

I LOVE this song.  Great sing-along track, great for Hallowe’en playlists, great for parties.  Awesome video too.

Track 31: Malcolm McLaren – Madam Butterfly

Quite a nice chillout track until the spoken word kicks in.  Is there an instrumental version of this?

Track 32: Eugene Wilde – Gotta Get You Home Tonight

Fairly typical ’80s soul.  Nice tune, if a bit slow.