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

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

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

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

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

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

Track 2: George Michael – Fastlove

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

Track 3: Peter Andre – Flava

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

Track 4: East 17 and Gabrielle – If You Ever

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

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

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

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

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

Track 7: Babybird – You’re Gorgeous

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

Track 8: The Beautiful South – Rotterdam

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

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

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

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

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

Track 11: The Bluetones – Marblehead Johnson

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

Track 12: Ocean Colour Scene – The Riverboat Song

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

Track 13: Sheryl Crow – If It Makes You Happy

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

Track 14: Garbage and Tricky – Milk

Great atmosphere – really like this track.

Track 15: Neneh Cherry – Woman

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

Track 16: Lighthouse Family – Goodbye Heartbreak

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

Track 17: Pulp – Something Changed

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

Track 18: Cast – Flying

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

Track 19: Suede – Beautiful Ones

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

Track 20: Belinda Carlisle – Always Breaking My Heart

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

Track 21: Dina Carroll – Escaping

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

Track 22: Boyzone – Words

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

Track 23: Eternal – Someday

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

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

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

Track 25: Damage – Love II Love

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

Track 26: Clock – Oh What A Night

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

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

Track 27: Louise – Undivided Love

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

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

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

Track 29: 911 – Don’t Make Me Wait

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

Track 30: Strike – My Love Is For Real

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

Track 31: Faithless – Insomnia

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

Track 32: BBE – Seven Days And One Week

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

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

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

Track 34: Healy & Amos – Stamp!

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

Track 35: Livin’ Joy – Follow The Rules

Another very generic dance track – nothing special here.

Track 36: Wildchild – Jump To My Beat

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

Track 37: Underworld – Pearl’s Girl

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

Track 38: Space – Neighbourhood

Great atmosphere, great instrumentals, really nice track.

Track 39: Björk – Possibly Maybe

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

Track 40: Shed Seven – Chasing Rainbows

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

The track itself is dull, slow and very forgettable.

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