Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #26

Day 26, and we’ve reached 15th November 1993, which marks a full decade of Now! compilations!

November 1993
This was how the world looked in November 1993 (actually December, obviously. We don’t have any photos of autumn 1993 at all, which is a bit alarming!). My outfit here is cute, although my bob is still unfortunate, and the wee bro is still wearing that rugby shirt that he’s apparently not taken off all year.

Now! 26 is a bit of a classic one – loads of the kids at school had it, so it always got played at parties.  Let’s have a listen.

Now! That's What I Call Music #26
Track 1: UB40 – (I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You

Cover of the Elvis classic in standard UB40 style.  I quite like this one – it’s got a nice epic atmosphere.

Track 2: Pet Shop Boys – Go West

Fabulous synthpop cover of the Village People song!  I’ve always loved this one, even if it does bring back embarrassing memories of doing a dodgy dance performance (choreographed by two friends who did tap, jazz and modern classes and thus thought they could choreograph) to it for the rest of my primary school class.

Track 3: Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Relax

We’ve had this one already, on Now! #2!  The prevalence of this nonsense at the moment just shows how many great ’80s tracks were returning to the chart in the early ’90s.

You know the drill, click the link for my review.

Track 4: M People – One Night In Heaven

I usually quite like M People, but this one is a bit dull.

Track 5: Eternal – Stay

Dull tune, annoying vocals.  I’m sure Eternal did better tracks.

Track 6: SWV – Right Here [Human Nature Radio Mix]

Oh, it’s this one…and I’m back in the backseat of our Volvo 340 with the radio on, endless Scottish country roadsides zooming past.  It’s not that great a track, but it certainly brings back some memories.

Track 7: DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Boom! Shake The Room

An absolute classic, played at every birthday party I went to in the early ’90s.  I’m aware I’ve said that about a few songs, which makes me think I should compile some sort of ‘kids’ birthday nostalgia’ playlist.  Anyway, you can’t not sing along to this one.

Track 8: The Shamen – Comin’ On

A bit repetitive, not enough melody for me.

Track 9: Stakka Bo – Here We Go

Another repetitive, dull track – not keen on this at all.

Track 10: Chaka Demus & Pliers – She Don’t Let Nobody

The tune annoys me, and I find the vocals a bit saccharine.

Track 11: Tina Turner – Disco Inferno

Nice rock-tinged cover of the Trammps classic.  Like this one.

Track 12: Belinda Carlisle – Big Scary Animal

Belinda Carlisle’s gone all ’90s and guitar-edged.  Not hugely keen.

Track 13: Spin Doctors – Two Princes

Adore this one!  Absolutely stunning tune, great singalong track.

Track 14: REM – The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite

Lovely tune from REM – and I always appreciate that little The Lion Sleeps Tonight reference in the opening vocals.  Great song.

Track 15: Levellers – This Garden

Lovely song from the Levellers – beautiful tune, never gets old (and because Geth and I used to go to Beautiful Days all the time I’ve seen this one played live many times).

Speaking of seeing stuff live at Beautiful Days…

Track 16: James – Laid

This was probably my highlight of James’ set at Beautiful Days 2009, and is probably my favourite track of theirs.  Great tune.

Track 17: Crowded House – Distant Sun

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

Track 18: Radiohead – Creep

Classic track, although it’s a bit overplayed these days.

Track 19: Meat Loaf – I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)

I’ve always loved this one (and it’s gotta be the full twelve-minute version!) – it’s an absolutely beautiful track.

Track 20: Cappella – U Got 2 Let The Music

Great uptempo dance tune – happily chair-dancing away here.

Track 21: Haddaway – What Is Love

Absolute stunner, one of my favourite songs of this era.  Beautiful dance tune.

Track 22: 2 Unlimited – Maximum Overdrive

This one’s a bit of a dull tune, but the beat’s good and danceable.

Track 23: Culture Beat – Mr Vain

Another absolute dance classic with a great tune and wonderful singalong vocals – love this one.

Track 24: The Goodmen – Give It Up

Lots of upbeat drumming, nothing much else until it breaks into the slightly messy melody.  Not one for the playlist, I’m afraid.

Track 25: Leftfield and John Lydon – Open Up

Nice upbeat head-nodder – quite like this one.

Track 26: Apache Indian – Boom Shack-A-Lak

Good jaunty retro-tinged reggae – great stuff.

Track 27: Urban Cookie Collective – Feels Like Heaven

Nice dance-pop tune – big fan of this.

Track 28: Captain Hollywood Project – More And More

Great electro instrumentals, but the vocals let it down.

Track 29: Juliet Roberts – Free Love

Interesting instrumentals, good uptempo beat.

Track 30: Jamiroquai – Too Young To Die

Nice funky track, a little slow, but it is absolutely standard Jamiroquai even this early on, so I do like it.

Track 31: Dina Carroll – Don’t Be A Stranger

The most overblown of all the overblown Dina Carroll ballads.  Nice tune, but the style is just too much for me.

Track 32: Take That – Pray

I’ve mentioned that I was a big Take That fan during this era, and this is another solid pop song.  Great stuff.

Track 33: Gabrielle – Going Nowhere

Nice upbeat tune, but I find the vocals a bit dull.

Track 34: Lena Fiagbe – Gotta Get It Right

Annoying tune, annoying cheesy lyrics.  Vocals are interesting, but generally not a fan.

Track 35: Soul II Soul – Wish

Too slow and dull for me.

Track 36: Lisa Stansfield – So Natural

Urgh, saccharine ballad!  Not a fan of this at all.

Track 37: Björk and David Arnold – Play Dead

Great, interesting duet with a wonderfully epic atmosphere.  A classic.

Track 38: Lenny Kravitz – Heaven Help

Another dull ballad.  Not keen.

Track 39: Go West – The Tracks Of My Tears

Slow guitar cover of the Smokey Robinson classic.  I shouldn’t like it, but it’s such a great song however it’s done that I can’t help it.

Track 40: Janet Jackson – That’s The Way Love Goes

Dull, repetitive track – not enough melody for me.

…Do my eyes deceive me?  Have we really reached the end of a Now! compilation without a single ‘Not on Spotify’ moment?  We really must be approaching the modern age!

It’s also the first Now! compilation to stretch to 40 tracks.  No wonder it’s taking longer and longer to listen to these every day!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #20

Day 20’s Now! compilation was released on 18th November 1991.

November 1991
This is the way the world looked in November 1991 (actually October, so we’re in the wrong month with the photos for the fourth day in a row. Maybe my parents were always too distracted by TV adverts for Now! compilation releases to take any photos during those months?) It’s more timeless rocks, just like yesterday, for which I apologise. My dress with the pompoms was super cute though…and I still have that scrunchie.

I doubt any of the following tracks will be as pleasing as my pompom dress, but let’s have a listen anyway.

Now! That's What I Call Music #20

Track 1: Vic Reeves and The Wonder Stuff – Dizzy

Big Wonder Stuff fan – have seen them fairly often – so I really like this cover of the Tommy Roe classic that they did with Vic Reeves.  There’s enough folky instrumentals here to make it quite different from the original – good stuff.

Track 2: Belinda Carlisle – Live Your Life Be Free

Vocals are a bit overblown here for my liking, but I do like the track, especially the rockier edge.

Track 3: U2 – The Fly

Urgh, the ’90s, when U2 got boring.  Dull tune, repetitive vocals, no fun anymore.

Track 4: Pet Shop Boys – Where The Streets Have No Name (I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You)

And speaking of U2…being a synthpop nut, I do actually prefer this cover to the original.  Sorry, Bono & Co.

Track 5: Erasure – Love To Hate You

Another solid synth track from Erasure – gotta love that I Will Survive sampling.  This is a good example of a sample from a classic tune being used in a track that actually suits it.

Track 6: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Sailing On The Seven Seas

I’m a huge fan of OMD’s stuff, and this is a good solid track, even though it’s not quite as synthy as their earlier work.  Great chant-along vocals.

Track 7: Simply Red – Something Got Me Started

I know I said before that the ’80s are my favourite Simply Red era, but this is definitely my favourite individual song of theirs.  Great instrumentals, wonderful atmosphere on the vocals, nice upbeat tempo, and that sax-into-piano solo is mega.  Love it.

Track 8: Lisa Stansfield – Change

Dreary vocals, boring backing track.  Not a fan of this one.

Track 9: Zoë – Sunshine On A Rainy Day

Something about the vocal annoys me here.  I’m not keen on the tune either.

Track 10: Salt-N-Pepa – Let’s Talk About Sex

This was a favourite for kids in my class to sing loudly in my primary school playground in 1991, probably because it was risque and hence kind of rebellious in the thinking of a six-year-old.

I think it was also popularised by the ‘Let’s Talk About Juice’ version in the Fruit-Tella advert (was it Fruit-Tella?  Let me google that a minute.  Um, googling was inconclusive, but it did tell me that it was definitely Fruit-Tella that did the ‘I’m Too Juicy’ takeoff of Right Said Fred’s I’m Too Sexy, so I’m fairly sure they must have done this one too).

I will probably end up doing a whole post soon about how advertising doesn’t work in this respect.  I remember pretty much every TV advert shown during my ’90s childhood, but I can hardly ever remember what the exact product was that they were advertising.

Track 11: Color Me Badd – I Wanna Sex You Up

Bit of a repetitive one, but I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for it due to it being another one that was used in Britain’s Got The Pop Factor.

Track 12: Kenny Thomas – Best Of You

It’s a nice upbeat tempo, but I find the song a bit dull.

Track 13: Prince and The New Power Generation – Gett Off

Prince is another artist who really went downhill in the ’90s as far as I’m concerned.  Not enough melody or joy for me here.

Track 14: Rozalla – Faith (In The Power Of Love)

Nice upbeat dance track, and that sax solo is lovely.  Some really interesting instrumentals here.

Track 15: 2 Unlimited – Get Ready For This

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

Absolute classic dance track from childhood – played at every birthday party in the early ’90s, often during pass-the-parcel in order to ramp the adrenaline up.

Track 16: Moby – Go

Nice epic atmosphere, though the track is a bit repetitive.

Track 17: The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu – It’s Grim Up North [Part 1]

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

This is another alias of the KLF, incidentally.  Good brooding dance track, really like this one.  That Jerusalem sampling is inspired.

Track 18: PM Dawn – Set Adrift On Memory Bliss

Okay a cappella intro, but then we’re straight into the misplaced sampling of Spandau Ballet’s True with awful spoken word and cacophonic clashing vocals over the top.  Just terrible.

Track 19: Paul Young – Don’t Dream (It’s Over)

Utterly pointless cover of the Crowded House classic from a whole five years earlier.  Why did people even buy covers like this?  Surely the original was still available to buy on an album in the record shops!

Track 20: Enya – Caribbean Blue

Beautiful chillout track from Enya – lovely stuff.

Track 21: Julian Lennon – Saltwater

Really nice instrumentals, though the vocals are pretty dull.

Track 22: Paula Abdul – Rush Rush

Nice tune, but it’s a bit slow for me.  Interesting violin solo, though!

Track 23: Jason Donovan – Any Dream Will Do

This was too cheesy for me even as a six-year-old, though lots of my classmates loved it, which meant we had to sing it in music class a lot.  Blurgh.

Track 24: Cathy Dennis – Too Many Walls

Again, solid pop, but I’d prefer it if it were a bit more upbeat.

Track 25: Alison Moyet – This House

Obligatory ‘going to see this artist soon!’ squee.  Well, if you can count next February as ‘soon’…

Beautiful slow ballad with an epic, dramatic atmosphere and gorgeous lyrics.  Hope she plays this one when I go see her!

Track 26: Marc Cohn – Walking In Memphis

Classic, beautiful song – absolutely love this one.

(I even have a real soft spot for the later Cher cover, though that one really is pointless – it’s just this version with Cher’s vocals on top.  Anyway, I won’t get ahead of myself in case it features later.)

Track 27: Glass Tiger – My Town

Cheesy pop-rock, pretty generic.  Not a fan.

Track 28: Scorpions – Wind Of Change

Lovely epic atmosphere, great rock ballad.

Track 29: INXS – Shining Star

Nice interesting track from INXS – great vocals, good build to the song, nice sax towards the end.

Track 30: Roxette – Joyride

Another great upbeat bit of pop-rock from Roxette – great stuff.

Track 31: James – Sit Down

A classic bit of ’90s indie.  When I saw them at Beautiful Days in 2009 they actually finished with this one, which is apparently not at all usual, because being their biggest hit it’s the one they’re sick of.  I do like it, though.

Track 32: Voice Of The Beehive – I Think I Love You

Really like those guitar instrumentals, and the atmosphere is great.  This is probably the best version of the Partridge Family track as far as I’m concerned – it’s so different and so interesting.

Track 33: Slade – Radio Wall Of Sound

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 1: lazy tribute version substitute.

Slade’s earlier stuff is amazing to me, but this track is a bit rock-by-numbers, though I do like that singalong chorus.

Track 34: Monty Python – Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life

Not sure why this classic Life of Brian soundtrack song was back in the charts, but here it is.  Pleasant diversion, but it’s a bit ‘novelty’ for me.

Track 35: Don McLean – American Pie

Often back in the charts since its original 1971 release, this is a great classic to end on!  Beautiful lyrics, lovely tune, absolutely worth its eight-minute-plus running time.