Day 31 takes us to 31st July 1995 with the Now! compilations.
Let’s have a listen to the summer hits of that year.
Track 1: Wet Wet Wet – Don’t Want To Forgive Me Now
Quite like this tune, until it gets to the annoying chorus.
Track 2: Edwyn Collins – A Girl Like You
Loved it at the time, love it now. Absolutely classic track with a great atmosphere.
Track 3: Pulp – Common People
The other kids in my primary school class considered this to be ‘my’ song ’cause I was always singing along to it. Great tune, brilliant lyrics, still love it after all these years.
Track 4: Supergrass – Alright
I’ve always found this one pretty annoying – annoying tune, annoying lyrics, annoying theme, annoying video. Not a fan.
Track 5: Shaggy – In The Summertime
Reggae-tinged cover of the Mungo Jerry classic with Shaggy rapping over the top. It’s an interesting cover, and I quite like it.
Track 6: Ini Kamoze – Here Comes The Hotstepper
Oh, it’s this one! Bit of a sample mishmash, but it’s a classic track – happily nodding along here.
Track 7: Dana Dawson – 3 Is Family
Fairly generic pop track – nothing special here.
Track 8: Jam & Spoon and Plavka – Right In The Night (Fall In Love With Music)
Fantastic Russian-tinged atmospheric dance track. Really like this one.
Track 9: East 17 – Hold My Body Tight
Irritating chorus – wasn’t keen then, not keen now. I remember I had a tween girl magazine at the time that showed you how to play this on recorder, which must have been wonderful for parents everywhere.
Track 10: Boyzone – Key To My Life
Loved it then, find it nauseatingly saccharine now. Strange how that happens!
Track 11: Seal – Kiss From A Rose
This one, on the other hand, I’ve not lost any love for – it’s an absolutely beautiful track. Gorgeous tune, lovely vocals, just stunning.
Track 12: Kirsty MacColl – Days
We’ve had this already, on Now! 15! I’m still irritated about this kind of track repetition.
See the link for my review.
Track 13: The Human League – One Man In My Heart
The synth is nice, but the vocals are a little irritating (I’ve never found Susan Sulley and Joanne Catherall to be particularly great singers, and so this female-vocal-led track is a little weak because of it).
Track 14: Portishead – Sour Times
Great atmosphere on this track – really like this one.
Track 15: Oasis – Some Might Say
Great lyrics, though I don’t love the tune as much as I did at the time.
Track 16: Weezer – Buddy Holly
Great track! This was a favourite in rock clubs a few years later in the early ’00s.
Track 17: Del Amitri – Roll To Me
I find the vocals a bit irritating and cheesy – not a fan of this one.
Track 18: EMF and Reeves & Mortimer – I’m A Believer
Fun, raucous cover of the Monkees song. Great track.
Track 19: Duran Duran, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five – White Lines (Don’t Do It)
Semi-cover of the ’80s original (see Now! #3 post for review of original), featuring the original artists. Slightly sacreligiously, I prefer it to the original, but then I do love Duran Duran. Great tune.
Track 20: Jimmy Somerville – Hurt So Good
Reggae-tinged cover of the ’70s song. Nice feelgood track, quite like this one.
Track 21: Outhere Brothers – Boom Boom Boom
Classic song, great danceable track. Good stuff.
Track 22: MN8 – I’ve Got A Little Something For You
Oh, it’s this one! I’ve not heard or thought about this track in a long time. I do like that vocal hook.
Track 23: Montell Jordan – This Is How We Do It
I’m getting a bit of déja vu here, ’cause the ‘this is how we do it‘ vocal hook is actually really similar to the ‘I’ve got a little something for you‘ hook from the previous song. I never noticed that at the time, but maybe I would have done if I’d owned Now! #31.
Track 24: D:Ream – Shoot Me With Your Love
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
This one’s a bit too repetitive for me.
Track 25: Baby D – (Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime) I Need Your Loving
Chillout dance cover of the Korgis classic. I’m not hugely keen on this.
Track 26: Jinny – Keep Warm
Generic dance track – nothing exciting about this one.
Track 27: Livin’ Joy – Dreamer
Another one I’ve not thought about in a long time. Good tune.
Track 28: Whigfield – Think Of You
The tune is a bit repetitive, but it’s got a good beat.
Track 29: Clock – Whoomph! (There It Is)
Liked it at the time, find the vocals pretty irritating now, though that synth line is great.
Track 30: Bobby Brown – Humpin’ Around
Nice intro, but the rest of the track is pretty generic.
Track 31: PJ & Duncan – Stuck On U
Around this time I had a mate who was utterly obsessed with PJ & Duncan (or Ant & Dec, as they became when the Byker Grove producers threatened to sue or whatever it was), so we constantly ended up watching their afternoon TV show (imaginatively titled The Ant & Dec Show) and listening to their album. Amazingly, I’ve still got a soft spot for their daft songs. This one actually has quite a good atmosphere.
Track 32: Love City Groove – Love City Groove
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
It always annoyed me at the time that the artist title was the same as the song. I mean, that’s just asking to end up as a one-hit wonder.
Appropriately for today, this was the UK’s Eurovision entry for 1995. The track itself is not my thing at all – the rap verses are super irritating, and the chorus annoys me just as much as it did at the time.
Track 33: Ladysmith Black Mambazo and China Black – Swing Low Sweet Chariot
Irritatingly, there is what sounds like a sports stadium crowd in the background throughout the track, so I’m guessing this was recorded as the England rugby team song for the Rugby World Cup ’95. Not keen at all.
Track 34: Soul II Soul – Love Enuff
Pleasant tune, but it’s a bit dull.
Track 35: Junior Vasquez – Get Your Hands Off My Man
Not enough melody for me, but it’s got a good beat.
Track 36: Shiva – Freedom
Overblown vocals, boring tune. Not keen.
Track 37: Billie Ray Martin – Your Loving Arms
Great electro instrumentals, annoying vocals. Might try and track down an instrumental version.
Track 38: Deuce – I Need You
Great dance beat, but the tune is a bit dull.
Track 39: JX – Son Of A Gun
Oh, it’s this one! I like the vocal hook, but it’s a bit repetitive.
Track 40: Hyperlogic – Only Me
That sample of U2’s New Year’s Day is great, and as a dance tune it’s fab, but I could do without those vocals, and the track does get a bit messy in the middle.
Day 15’s Now! compilation was released on 14th August 1989.
On with the tracks!
Track 1: Queen – I Want It All
Brilliant track, one of my favourites from Queen. Wonderful guitar solo from Brian May, of course, but the best bit is when it goes quiet for a drums ‘n’ chanting singalong. Great stuff.
Track 2: Simple Minds – Kick It In
After an uninspiring slow intro, this track does what it says on the tin, thankfully. Vocals a bit experimental for my liking, though.
Track 3: Fine Young Cannibals – Good Thing
Bit of a retro-sounding track from Fine Young Cannibals. Nice tune, but a bit repetitive for me.
Track 4: Holly Johnson – Americanos
I’m not hugely keen on Holly Johnson’s post-FGTH solo stuff. There’s something irritating about the tune and instrumentals on this one.
Track 5: Transvision Vamp – Baby I Don’t Care
Great pop-rock track from Transvision Vamp. Nice singalong chorus, great guitar.
Track 6: INXS – Mystify
Nice bouncy instrumentals, nice vocals, lovely epic quiet chorus. Really like this one.
Track 7: Roxette – The Look
Love this track! Great guitar, great vocals, awesome tune. Roxette are one of those bands where I like pretty much all of their stuff, but this is a real standout.
Track 8: Stevie Nicks – Rooms On Fire
Slight aside for a minute while I bemoan the fact that I am no longer going to try and get tickets to see Fleetwood Mac this year because they’ve had drama again, with Lindsey Buckingham quitting, and I WANTED TO SEE ALL FIVE OF THEM BECAUSE THAT’S THE CLASSIC LINEUP DAMMIT. This is the only gig disappointment of 2018 that I have not been able to mitigate somehow.
Anyway, this Stevie Nicks solo track is lovely and epic, absolutely holding its own against the Fleetwood Mac back catalogue. Cracking song.
Track 9: Paul McCartney – My Brave Face
Nice upbeat track, nice tune. Good head-nodder.
Track 10: Gerry Marsden, Paul McCartney, Holly Johnson and The Christians – Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Never been keen on any version of this track, ’cause the chorus annoys me. I do appreciate the instrumental treatment of this one, though.
Track 11: The Beautiful South – Song For Whoever
So, back on Saturday when I was listening to Now! #10, Geth went on this big ominous ramble during Build by the Housemartins that that was the point when the Housemartins were starting to sound like the Beautiful South, and that it would only be a matter of time before the former went bang and the latter rose from the ashes. That did of course happen in the late ’80s, but as much as I do prefer the Housemartins, I don’t think the Beautiful South are a bad thing. This song is lovely and has just the right level of whimsy for my liking.
Track 12: Kirsty MacColl – Days
Beautiful cover of the Kinks track. There’s enough interesting things done with the instrumentals here (not to mention MacColl’s gorgeous vocals) to make the cover non-pointless, and the result is lovely and sweeping.
Track 13: Danny Wilson – The Second Summer Of Love
Not sure about this folk-rock track – I quite like the bridge, but the chorus is a bit cheesy.
Track 14: Waterfront – Cry
Good instrumentals on the intro, but the track is a bit generic. Sax solo does save it a bit.
Track 15: Hue & Cry – Violently
Another slow one from Hue & Cry – again, a bit dull for me. They just never matched Labour Of Love as far as I’m concerned.
Track 16: Cliff Richard – The Best Of Me
1989: the year everyone decided Cliff Richard was a thing again for some reason. This one is mouldy cheddar, but what do you expect?
Track 17: Soul II Soul and Caron Wheeler – Back To Life (However Do You Want Me)
I’ve always liked that ‘back to life/back to reality‘ hook. Nice head-nodder as well.
Track 18: Neneh Cherry – Manchild
Nice tune and great instrumentals, but it’s a bit slow for me.
Track 19: Bobby Brown – Every Little Step
Dull tune, but the beat’s all right.
Track 20: Inner City – Do You Love What You Feel
Nice intro – then the dull vocal kicks in. Not a fan.
Track 21: D-Mob and LRS – It’s Time To Get Funky
Good dance track, quite like this one.
Track 22: Donna Allen – Joy And Pain
Love that sax! Nice tuneful ballad, even if the vocals are a bit repetitive.
Track 23: Gladys Knight – Licence To Kill
Love a James Bond soundtrack song! (We’ll gloss over the missed opportunity of A View To A Killfor now.) Epic almost-orchestral instrumentals, building atmosphere, great vocals – this is what you want.
Track 24: Natalie Cole – Miss You Like Crazy
Super saccharine ballad, annoying chorus. Not my thing.
Track 25: Pet Shop Boys – It’s Alright
More classic synthpop from Pet Shop Boys. Love those synth hooks.
Track 26: Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers – Swing The Mood
Novelty cartoon rabbit that I quite liked at the time, being four. The mix of classic swing and rock ‘n’ roll tracks leaves a little to be desired, though.
Track 27: Swing Out Sister – You On My Mind
Nice upbeat track, lovely tune, good vocals – I quite like this one.
Track 28: Bananarama – Cruel Summer ’89
I don’t know whose idea this 1989 remix was, but it’s a good excuse to hear some classic Bananarama again! Great track when it’s not the weird remix bit.
Track 29: De La Soul – Say No Go
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 1: lazy tribute version substitute.
Finally, some rap that’s actually interesting! Great instrumentals too.
Track 30: Norman Cook and MC Wildski – Blame It On The Bassline
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Here’s another phoenix from the ashes of the Housemartins’ split, back in the days before he was going by Fatboy Slim. This was actually the Beats International project, although I guess they hadn’t come up with the name yet.
Really quite like this mishmash of samples, especially the Blame It On The Boogie hooks.
Track 31: Double Trouble and The Rebel MC – Just Keep Rockin’
Nice upbeat dance track – happily nodding along here.
Track 32: The Cure – Lullaby
My favourite song from my favourite band! Now THIS is a good way to end a compilation. Indescribably beautiful mournful track – I will adore it forever.
Day 10’s Now! compilation was released on 23rd November 1987.
Now! #10 is special to me, because it’s the one we had (and still have) on vinyl – the one Dad always put on the record player for me when I wanted to listen to music, the one I learnt to sing and dance to, the one I grew up with, the one that absolutely shaped my music taste. While there were a lot of Now! compilations I was familiar with in the ’90s, this one is my one. I must have listened to it a thousand times.
Let’s have a listen to some tracks I know very, very well.
Track 1: Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé – Barcelona
The opening bars of this track still send chills down my spine – I’m instantly transported back to my parents’ living room as it looked in the last century, the sound of the record on the player that you just can’t replicate digitally, the bass on the speakers of Dad’s homemade sound system, the anticipation of an evening spent listening to music I loved.
The BBC used this song for its coverage of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, so the song also takes me back to summer days in front of the TV at our holiday caravan (we usually had a black and white TV at the caravan but for the Olympics we brought a colour one with us specially), watching Sally Gunnell and Linford Christie winning gold.
How this one shaped my music taste: You know how every third song review I’ve done on this feature seems to contain the phrase ‘epic atmosphere’? This is the ultimate in epic atmospheres – booming, dramatic, lots of switching between major and minor key, piano, operatic vocals, slow verses building to a huge chorus, the works. That is what I love in music – something that makes me feel that strange mixture of happy and sad.
Track 2: Pet Shop Boys – Rent
Pet Shop Boys can do no wrong in my opinion, but this is a stunner. Beautiful lyrical theme, wonderful emotion-inducing synth line, and another of those epic atmospheres I was talking about above. An all-time favourite.
Fun fact: Carter USM did a not-at-all-pointless ’90s cover of this, which is very different but also absolutely beautiful. Nothing will ever beat the original for me, but that Carter cover is great.
How this one shaped my music taste: Two words: electronic music. I’ve always been drawn to electro, and it’s largely because of early exposure to beautiful synthpop like this.
Track 3: The Communards – Never Can Say Goodbye
Another great pop track from the Communards. More amusement provided by 2017 Strictly contestant Richard Coles in the video, in which he leads the crowd on the disco dancefloor with some dodgy moves that were nonetheless way better than anything he did on Strictly. Still wish he’d stayed in the competition longer!
How this one shaped my music taste: It’s fast, upbeat ’80s pop. Say no more!
Track 4: M/A/R/R/S – Pump Up The Volume
This one always scared me a bit as a kid. I’m not sure why. I remember that feeling of fear, wanting to go and hide while the song was playing, but I never did. I just always stayed kind of rooted to the spot until it was over.
As an adult who no longer experiences irrational fear (um, mostly), I find it a great chantalong track, and due to its ‘SAN FRANCISCO/pump up the volume‘ hook, I played it nonstop for a week leading up to a trip to San Francisco in 2011. True story. I am super lame.
How this one shaped my music taste: I always give things a chance, even when it doesn’t immediately sound like my cup of tea. Anything might grow on you eventually. Even if it’s a song that gives you strange, irrational fear.
Track 5: Hue & Cry – Labour Of Love
Most definitely an example of that unexplainable mid-’80s Scottish band sound, but in a great way. I absolutely love this track – the rapid tempo, the stop-start hooks, the catchy vocals. Awesome song.
How this one shaped my music taste: I love interesting hooks. And piano.
Track 6: Jellybean and Steven Dante – The Real Thing
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
On the surface this one is a bit dull, but it’s got a nice singalong chorus, and I always find myself nodding along.
How this one shaped my music taste: It’s not always the expected tracks that have you chair-dancing.
Track 7: Johnny Hates Jazz – I Don’t Want To Be A Hero
Great upbeat pop song with a catchy, singalong chorus. There’s something nice and emotional about the bridge, too.
How this one shaped my music taste: You can find a lovely epic bridge in the most unexpected songs.
Track 8: The Style Council – Wanted
Nice feelgood track from the Style Council – as ever, the backing vocals are great. Love those tinkly instrumental hooks.
How this one shaped my music taste: I really appreciate good backing vocals.
Track 9: T’Pau – China In Your Hand
Beautiful, beautiful song – another one with an epic atmosphere. The vocals are stunning, the way the song builds is perfect, and that sax solo is brilliantly over-the-top.
How this one shaped my music taste: There’s nothing I like more than an epic ’80s sax solo!
Track 10: Heart – Alone
This one is really special to me. It’s a gorgeous rock ballad that has really spoken to me throughout various periods of my life, and always makes me quite emotional. Beautiful lyrics, beautiful guitar solos – epic, epic song.
How this one shaped my music taste: I adore huge overdramatic rock ballads. Really!
Track 11: Kiss – Crazy Crazy Nights
Great singalong party song from Kiss. I love those rocked-out verses and the chorus is mega, especially once you hit the key change.
Due to being hard of hearing, and thus having a lot of issues with background noise, I’ve always found it difficult to make out what singers are singing about – I am the queen of misheard lyrics – but this nice, simple chorus is easy to sing along to. Great job!
How this one shaped my music taste: I have a soft spot for key changes. I even quite liked it when Westlife used to do their terrible cheesy ones with the accompanying standing-up-from-stools-on-stage.
Track 12: Billy Idol – Mony Mony
Another great singalong rock chorus that even hard-of-hearing types can make out! In later life, I grew to love other Billy Idol songs even more than this one, but that nice simple ‘mony mony‘ lyric has a special place in my heart.
How this one shaped my music taste: ’80s pop rock, ’nuff said. It also strongly shaped my fashion taste, due to the accompanying picture of Billy Idol in the record sleeve with all his spiky hair and black leather and general rock attitude. By the time he showed up in The Wedding Singer a decade later, my love of the ’80s rock look was set in stone.
Track 13: Whitesnake – Here I Go Again ’87
More classic ’80s rock! Brilliant singalong track that is only enhanced by the over-the-top video and all its ridiculous double Jaguar bonnet cartwheeling. Not bad for a band from Middlesbrough.
I have to say I prefer this version to the version they originally did in 1982, probably because this is the one I heard so often in childhood, due to this compilation.
How this one shaped my music taste: Hair metal. I love it and I won’t apologise.
Track 14: The Alarm – Rain In The Summertime
Great feelgood track with lovely jingly instrumentals. I’ve seen this performed live, when the band played at Beautiful Days 2010. I dragged Geth to see them, purely because of their presence on this compilation, and he was not impressed! What I found out that day: playing a song entitled Rain In The Summertime, when outdoors in the British summer, is just asking for it, and the inevitable downpour that struck that evening meant that we had to shelter in the Big Top indoor stage. We did end up getting engaged that night, so you can’t complain.
How this one shaped my music taste: I have a whimsical appreciation for songs about rain.
Track 15: Marillion – Sugar Mice
Bit of a slow one, but it builds in a great epic fashion, culminating in an awesome epic guitar solo.
How this one shaped my music taste: I really love songs that build well.
Track 16: Wet Wet Wet – Sweet Little Mystery
Great upbeat pop – always been a fan of this one. I really like Wet Wet Wet’s ’80s stuff, before they got all grown-up and introspective in the ’90s.
How this one shaped my music taste: I appreciate nice, simple pop songs.
Track 17: Curiosity Killed The Cat – Misfit
Really like this one – my favourite Curiosity Killed The Cat track. As a kid, not being familiar with the idiom, I used to get upset by the band’s name (I love cats).
How this one shaped my music taste: I never judge a band by their name.
Track 18: Los Lobos – La Bamba
A cover of the Ritchie Valens classic. The cover is very close to the original, but deliberately so as it was recorded for the film La Bamba, which was about Valens, so I’m not going to call it a pointless cover – instead I’ll just enjoy the tune, which is a great party track and was played at every birthday party I went to in the late ’80s.
How this one shaped my music taste: Sometimes the oldies are the goodies. (And now that it’s the ’80s hits that are the oldies, this has never been more true.)
Track 19: Fat Boys and Beach Boys – Wipeout
Great surf-themed song. The Fat Boys’ cackle at the start of the song is another thing that scared me as a kid (they also looked pretty scary in their album sleeve picture, which I seem to remember involving snakes), but once the song gets going it’s great, especially when the Beach Boys’ harmonies kick in.
How this one shaped my music taste: I never judge a band by the way they look. This has served me well in the goth scene!
Track 20: Bananarama – Love In The First Degree
Another pop classic from Bananarama – I absolutely adored this one as a kid and still love it now.
This is another one where the album sleeve picture made a big impression on my young brain. The band members were all fully clothed themselves, but they each had a topless dude as an accessory. This is something you’d be less likely to see in pop music today, where female artists are usually hugely objectified and barely clothed. In some ways, we’ve gone backwards since the ’80s. </soapbox>
How this one shaped my music taste: Bananarama’s music, for me is the epitome of the fun and intelligence that pop music and lyrics used to have. If pop music doesn’t have that – which, nowadays, it usually doesn’t – it’s not pop music in my book. It’s that simple.
Track 21: Cliff Richard – My Pretty One
The vocals are far too saccharine for me, ’cause it’s Cliff Richard, but the instrumentals are actually really nice!
How this one shaped my music taste: I know not to listen to Cliff. Is that cheating?
Track 22: Karel Fialka – Hey Matthew
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
I’ve always loved this one – a really, really interesting song with vocals that, despite having a nice melody when you listen closely, sound almost spoken in some ways, actual spoken word from a child that manages to be interesting rather than annoying, and great screechy electro hooks.
How this one shaped my music taste: I have a soft spot for spoken word.
Track 23: Jan Hammer – Crockett’s Theme
So much better than his main theme for Miami Vice! I’ve always adored this tune.
How this one shaped my music taste: I love a good instrumental soundtrack.
Track 24: Nina Simone – My Baby Just Cares For Me
Love the plinky piano on this classic track. Can’t remember why it was in the charts again, but I’m not complaining!
How this one shaped my music taste: I really like interesting piano stuff.
Track 25: Erasure – The Circus
One of my favourite Erasure tracks – but then, I love everything they did in the ’80s. This is a gorgeous song.
How this one shaped my music taste: More great synthpop that cemented my electro addiction.
Track 26: The Housemartins – Build
Lovely track from the Housemartins – beautiful introspective lyrics and nice slow tune.
How this one shaped my music taste: Sometimes, there’s something beautiful about a slower song.
Track 27: Level 42 – It’s Over
A slower one from Level 42, with really interesting instrumental lines.
And no, I’ve still not booked tickets to that October gig I keep going on about. I will get round to it soon, I promise!
How this one shaped my music taste: Speaking of slower songs, they can be really musically interesting as well!
Track 28: ABC – When Smokey Sings
Adore ABC, adore this track. I love that epic intro, Martin Fry’s vocals, the instrumentals – everything.
How this one shaped my music taste: I love songs that bang in right from the start. Start as you mean to go on!
Track 29: Squeeze – Hourglass
Great jaunty song. That chorus is just awesome, typical bit of fun from Squeeze!
How this one shaped my music taste: I really appreciate songs that have something whimsical about them.
Track 30: The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale Of New York
An all-time classic. One of my favourite Christmas songs, and one I learnt to adore early in life, thanks to this compilation. Just beautiful.
How this one shaped my music taste: Though you might not be able to guess at the moment, due to me being super curmudgeonly about them when it’s springtime, I adore Christmas songs. I get my playlist on the go in early November and I watch the music channels religiously in the lead-up to the festive season. Very few of them are as good as this one, but the genre is special to me.
You might be aware that the Now! That’s What I Call Music compilation album series will be releasing its 100th edition on 20th July this year. I’ve got a huge soft spot for the series, largely because my parents bought the vinyl release of Now! That’s What I Call Music #10 in 1987 and it basically shaped my music taste, but also because it was such a big thing when I was growing up in the ’90s – at school and at parties, someone always had a Now! album kicking about. I’m surprised in some ways that the series is still going strong in the age of streaming, but it is, which is nice and nostalgic for me.
To celebrate the upcoming 100th edition, I’m going to review every single Now! compilation – one per day between today and 20th July – starting, obviously, with #1, which came out on 28th November 1983.
(When I say ‘review’, I of course mean ‘burble about anything that comes to mind about these particular tracks’. Just clarifying that in case you thought this was going to be in any way musically technical!)
Let’s get started, shall we?
Track 1: Phil Collins – You Can’t Hurry Love
’80s-era solo Phil Collins, especially poppy, bouncy nonsense like this, is very much what I consider a ‘guilty pleasure’. A few ciders and I will always be up dancing to this one at weddings.
Track 2: Duran Duran – Is There Something I Should Know?
I love Duran Duran, and this one’s a cracker, especially the constant backing vocals. The lyrics are great too:
And fiery demons all dance when you walk through that door Don’t say you’re easy on me, you’re about as easy as a nuclear war
People just don’t write songs like this nowadays (waves stick in air).
Track 3: UB40 – Red Red Wine
Another ‘I’d dance to this one at a wedding’ track. There may be a theme emerging. Cheesy, but in a pleasant, head-nodding way.
Track 4: Limahl – Only For Love
I wasn’t familiar with this one, which is unusual for me with ’80s pop songs. I do like the epic nature of the bridge, and the song gets better as it goes on, but I probably wouldn’t add it to my Spotify playlist.
Track 5: Heaven 17 – Temptation
A favourite! I defy anyone not to chant along with the ‘temp-tation‘ bits. Incidentally, if you ask Geth to DJ your wedding, you’ll inevitably hear this one.
Track 6: KC & The Sunshine Band – Give It Up
Bit cheesy even for me, this one, but I do like the instrumental bits.
Track 7: Malcolm McLaren – Double Dutch
Another one I didn’t know. I’m not keen on the sampling mishmash at the start, but I quite like the idea of an ode to skipping ropes. It’s the kind of whimsy that’s mostly missing from music today.
Track 8: Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse Of The Heart
One for singing along to at the top of your voice when you’re absolutely certain nobody else can hear you (this is a pleasure that was denied to me for quite a few years until I moved into a detached house last month).
Track 9: Culture Club – Karma Chameleon
Not my favourite Culture Club song, but I have fond memories of my friend Laura and I writing notes to each other in our homework diaries in high school, arguing about the correct lyrics to this song (she thought it was ‘if you were the colour of my dreams‘, rather than ‘if your colours were like my dreams‘). These things were extremely important.
Track 10: Men Without Hats – The Safety Dance
I make no apologies for adoring this one. I also point you to this wonderful meme, which Geth likes to use for complaining purposes whenever we hear it in a goth club.
Track 11: Kajagoogoo – Too Shy
Daft song, but it’s still better than all of Limahl’s solo stuff except for Neverending Story.
Track 12: Mike Oldfield – Moonlight Shadow
I love this one – it’s epic and beautiful. It was also used to really good effect in the ’80s edition of The Doctor Who Years, which is sadly no longer available to watch.
Track 13: Men At Work – Down Under
Wonderfully silly party song that always reminds me of an Australian guy called Ben that I used to work with circa 2002. In the pub post-shift, this was his song.
Track 14: Rock Steady Crew – (Hey You) The Rock Steady Crew
I can’t listen to this one without being reminded of its use in Peter Kay’s brilliant Britain’s Got The Pop Factor parody in 2008 (and I can’t believe that show is nearly a decade old already). The song itself is pretty nonsensical, but I quite like the synth line.
Track 15: Rod Stewart – Baby Jane
Actually my favourite Rod Stewart song, just edging out Maggie May. I love the instrumentals (especially that sax solo!), the lyrics, the epic nature, everything.
Track 16: Paul Young – Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)
To be honest, though I usually like Paul Young, I find this one a bit dull, so I think it was a poor choice for ending disc one of the album.
Track 17: New Edition – Candy Girl
Never been a fan of New Edition or this song, largely because I have an aversion to squeaky kid voices, especially squeaky kid voices singing love songs. Let’s move on.
Track 18: Kajagoogoo – Big Apple
Please take a moment to envisage my raised eyebrow here, as I was always taught when learning to DJ that repeating an artist in a setlist (or compilation album, in this case) is lazy, unimaginative and generally Not Done. Give another artist a chance to be heard!
As for the song itself…it’s nice bouncy ’80s pop with cute little bursts of saxophone, but nothing hugely special.
Track 19: Tina Turner – Let’s Stay Together
Boring slow intro and verses, but good ‘chair-dancer’ once the chorus gets going.
Track 20: The Human League – (Keep Feeling) Fascination
Typical upbeat Human League stuff for this era. Not my all-time favourite of theirs, but perfectly catchy and pleasant.
Track 21: Howard Jones – New Song
I didn’t really get into Howard Jones until about a year ago, when Vintage TV started playing his stuff a lot. This one’s a nice bouncy, catchy number with a great synth instrumental bit. Big fan of this.
Track 22: UB40 – Please Don’t Make Me Cry
More repetition of artists (sigh). If they were determined to do that, they should have saved Red Red Wine for side two, as it’s a much better song than this one. Slow, downbeat, nice sax solo but generally a bit dull.
Track 23: Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack – Tonight, I Celebrate My Love
The kind of appallingly saccharine ballad that I would have hated if I’d been an adult listening to it in 1983, but from my lofty perch of hindsight in 2018 I can just put it into a box marked ‘charmingly of its time’.
Track 24: Tracey Ullman – They Don’t Know
I do like ’80s-era Tracey Ullman and her comedy-tinged music videos. There’s something a bit mid-century retro about this one, which I quite like. It was originally a Kirsty MacColl track, which explains the quality.
For some reason I always think of Genesis as more musically respectable than solo Phil Collins. I’m not sure why. This one’s another head-nodder, but not playlist-worthy for me.
Track 27: The Cure – The Love Cats
Being a shameless goth, the Cure are my favourite band. This is a great upbeat party song, but if you want something more epic, beautiful and melancholy, I thoroughly recommend all the other tracks on the Japanese Whispers EP. I remember spending all of 2004, which was a tough year for me, just listening to it over and over. Gorgeous stuff.
Track 28: Simple Minds – Waterfront
Lovely guitar intro on this one. Fairly paint-by-numbers Simple Minds, without much in the way of hooks.
Track 29: Madness – The Sun And The Rain
Madness can’t do much wrong as far as I’m concerned. Great bouncy track.
Track 30: Culture Club – Victims
Eyebrow goes up again at another repeated artist! I’ll forgive the Now! compilers this time, though, because I do love this one and its epic and sweeping chorus.