Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #21

Day 21, and Now! #21 was released on 13th April 1992.

April 1992
This is the way the world looked in April 1992. If you’re thinking it looks a bit ’80s, that’s because this shiny new-to-us holiday caravan was a few years old when we bought it, and so its original features are actually of a similar era to those of the gorgeous late ’80s house in which Geth and I now live. That TV was definitely not new either (I don’t think they were even still making black and white TVs in 1992).

Let’s have a listen to the stuff that soundtracked those ungodly-long-to-a-seven-year-old three-hour car journeys to the caravan!

Now! That's What I Call Music #21
Track 1: Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody

Absolute classic, the ultimate in epic atmospheres.  A welcome return to the charts made it the Christmas number one for 1991.  Beautiful piece of work.

Track 2: Wet Wet Wet – Goodnight Girl

Wet Wet Wet definitely into their slower, more introspective ’90s phase.  Some lovely vocals here.

Track 3: Shakespear’s Sister – Stay

Beautiful, classic song, with both vocalists used to brilliant effect.  Absolutely adore this one.

Track 4: The Temptations – My Girl

There seems to have been a bit of a trend in the early ’90s for ’60s classics coming back into the charts, though I think this example probably had something to do with the My Girl film.  Lovely track, anyway.

Track 5: Simply Red – Stars

Nice instrumentals, but the vocals and tune on this one annoy me.

Track 6: The KLF – Justified And Ancient

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

Bit of a messy track, with too much going on.  Not keen on the tune to the vocals either.

Track 7: Madness – It Must Be Love

Re-release of Madness’ awesome 1981 cover of the Labi Siffre song.  Great to have this song and its fabulous sax solo back in the mix!

Track 8: Genesis – I Can’t Dance

Great rock-edged head-nodder from Genesis.  Love that singalong chorus, not to mention the classic shuffle in the video!

Track 9: Julia Fordham – (Love Moves In) Mysterious Ways

Nice piano instrumentals, but it’s too much of a slow, dull ballad otherwise.

Track 10: Crowded House – Weather With You

I’ve always liked the atmosphere of the verses on this – lovely guitar and vocals.

Track 11: Right Said Fred – Deeply Dippy

Typically daft track from Right Said Fred – nice tune on the bridge though.

Track 12: Mr Big – To Be With You

Argh, annoying vocals from the start, and that chant-along chorus only makes it worse!  Never been a fan of this one – too cheesy for me.

Track 13: Everything But The Girl – Love Is Strange

Everything But The Girl are a bit hit and miss for me.  This one’s too slow and too repetitive as far as I’m concerned.

Track 14: Roxette – Church Of Your Heart

Solid pop-rock as ever from Roxette – nice tune, good head-nodder.

Track 15: Brian May – Driven By You

Nice upbeat rock track, suitably epic lines going on.  Really like this one.

Track 16: The Wonder Stuff – Welcome To The Cheap Seats

I actually had this one in my head earlier today because the interview I was transcribing for work contained the phrase ‘we’re in the cheap seats’.

Anyway, the song is an absolute belter and one of my favourite Wonder Stuff tracks.  Stunning folk-rock instrumentals, singalong chorus, and bonus backing vocals from Kirsty MacColl.  Beautiful.

Track 17: The Jesus & Mary Chain – Far Gone And Out

Great upbeat rock track – Jesus & Mary Chain are another band that nailed that ’90s sound early on.

Track 18: James – Born Of Frustration

Love this tune and the way it builds – that trumpet hook is truly epic!

Track 19: The Cure – High

Lovely, sweet track from the Cure – gorgeous tune.

Track 20: Shanice – I Love Your Smile

The vocal hook on this one has always annoyed me, and that rap is awful and misplaced.  It gets one point for the sax solo, though.

Track 21: The Pasadenas – I’m Doing Fine Now

Pleasant, inoffensive cover of the ’70s classic.  A little dull for my tastes, though.

Track 22: Kylie Minogue – Give Me Just A Little More Time

Another generic cover of a ’70s track.  Not a fan of this trend.

Track 23: East Side Beat – Ride Like The Wind

Nice atmosphere, good upbeat dance track.

Track 24: 2 Unlimited – Twilight Zone

Typically epic dance from 2 Unlimited – great track.

Track 25: The KLF and The Children Of The Revolution – America: What Time Is Love?

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

An annoying doubling-up-the-artist faux pas from the Now! compilers – we’ve not had one of those for a while!

Unfortunately, this track is just as messy as the earlier one in my book – some nice samples, but they get drowned out by the cacophony.

Track 26: Clivilles & Cole – A Deeper Love

This one’s a bit generic – the piano instrumentals and vocals sound like pretty much every song that was released around this time.

Track 27: Opus III – It’s A Fine Day

Really like the vocal melody on this one.

Track 28: Erasure – Breath Of Life

Another perfect piece of synthpop from Erasure – those synth lines are to die for.

Track 29: MC Hammer – Addams Groove

Daft novelty track to tie in with the Addams Family film.  Still better than most of the stuff MC Hammer did.

Track 30: Salt-N-Pepa – Expression

Not enough in the track to keep my interest here – pretty much Salt-N-Pepa-by-numbers.  I do quite like the line ‘excuse us while we rap’, though.

Track 31: CeCe Peniston – We Got A Love Thang

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

Annoying vocals, generic tune.  Not a fan.

Track 32: Paula Abdul – Vibeology

Like the instrumentals, but the song structure is a bit messy.  Also, that I-can-only-imagine-it’s-a-pregnancy-reference ‘in the funky way’ hook is insanely annoying.

Track 33: Alison Limerick – Make It On My Own

Not enough melody for me here – this one’s pretty dull.

Track 34: Tina Turner – Way Of The World

As is typical with most Tina Turner songs of this era, this one’s a bit slow and dull for me.  Nice sax solo though.

Track 35: Curtis Stigers – I Wonder Why

Mega sax intro, but it can’t save this boring, saccharine ballad.  Not for me.

Track 36: Diana Ross – When You Tell Me That You Love Me

And we’re back to an overblown, slow ballad to close the compilation.  Nice tune, but it’s just too cheesy for me.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #19

Day 19, and we’ve reached 25th March 1991.

March 1991
This is the way the world looked in March 1991 (actually April, as March was photo-less – we seem to be having that issue a lot at the moment). Rocks and trees are some of those lovely timeless things that haven’t changed since before humans were around and will still be here long after we’ve gone, so I imagine these ones still look the same. I don’t think little girls wear hair ribbons as much as they used to, though (and coats are definitely not as stylish nowadays).

Let’s see what was on the radio at the time!

Now! That's What I Call Music #19

Track 1: The Clash – Should I Stay Or Should I Go

No idea why this early ’80s classic was back in the charts, but I love it – one of my favourite Clash songs – and as chart music quality was rapidly declining at this point, I’ll take what I can get!

Track 2: Scritti Politti and Shabba Ranks – She’s A Woman

Nice tune, but there’s a bit too much going on throughout the track, so it sounds a bit messy.

Track 3: The Source and Candi Staton – You Got The Love

…and my heart just sank as I realised that the Florence & The Machine song from 2009, which I always quite liked, is a pointless ’00s cover of this track.  The lesson: never become complacent about your level of music knowledge.

(This is why I hate pointless covers so much, incidentally – I’ve always felt really aggrieved to learn that chart songs I adored when I was growing up in the ’90s were actually bland, unimaginative, nothing-new, cash-in covers of ’70s and ’80s songs.  While I typically transfer my affection to the original in such cases, I still feel pretty cheated.)

Track 4: The KLF and The Children Of The Revolution – 3AM Eternal

Nice stormy-atmosphere intro, nice vocals, nice chillout track.  Good stuff.

The version I found on Spotify has some random sampling of The Blue Danube in, for some bonus relaxation points.

Track 5: C&C Music Factory and Freedom Williams – Gonna Make You Sweat

One of those ‘ohh, it’s this one!’ moments.  I always just assumed this track was called Everybody Dance Now.  Classic dance tune, anyway, and I’ll be up on the wedding dancefloor for this.

Track 6: Nomad and MC Mikee Freedom – (I Wanna Give You) Devotion

Dull and repetitive dance song with boring sung vocals and uninspired rapping.  Not for me.

Track 7: EMF – I Believe

I really like EMF, and this is a great guitar-driven dance track.  Happily nodding along here.

Track 8: 808 State – In Yer Face

Nice electro track, love the instrumentals on this.

Track 9: Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy

Massive Attack were really killing it during this period – really like this one.  The way it builds is beautiful.

Track 10: MC Hammer – Pray

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

This one’s not bad – I quite like the melody on the sung vocals and it’s nice and upbeat.  Could do without the sampling of When Doves Cry, though (I do NOT like it when brilliant classic pop tunes are sampled as backing music in newer songs).

Track 11: Kim Appleby – GLAD

Nice piece of solid pop, a welcome breather from all the dance and hip-hop.  Lovely.

Track 12: Kylie Minogue – What Do I Have To Do?

Another great upbeat pop track from the ever-reliable Kylie (who’s still having chart hits in 2018, incidentally, but we won’t talk about that just yet).

Incidentally, I’m sure most people realise that Kylie Minogue guest starred in an episode of Doctor Who (Voyage of The Damned, 2007), but the only reason I’m pointing that out…

Track 13: Hale & Pace and The Stonkers – The Stonk

…is that Hale & Pace did too (Survival, 1989).  Nice bit of prophetic track-listing there, Now! compilers!

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

Daft novelty track from the comedy duo, which, judging by the lyrics and video, I’m guessing was for Comic Relief.  I actually quite like those guitar instrumentals.

Track 14: 2 In A Room – Wiggle It

Quite like the backing track and the chorus, but the verse is a bit repetitive.

Track 15: Vanilla Ice – Play That Funky Music

I wasn’t aware that Vanilla Ice did an awful cover of the Wild Cherry classic, but I’m not exactly surprised.  It’s very different to the original, so not a pointless cover, but there’s nothing good about all the stuff that’s different, especially not the typically bad rapping.

Track 16: Jesus Loves You – Bow Down Mister

Not a fan of the all-over-the-place vocals in the intro, or the folky guitar bit that follows.  Apparently this was Boy George’s project post-Culture Club.  It’s very different to his previous stuff, and not my cup of tea, unfortunately.

Track 17: Enigma – Sadness [Part 1]

Always love that monastic chanting.  Great classic chillout track.

Track 18: Praise – Only You

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

Another nice chillout track – lovely vocals.

Track 19: Oleta Adams – Get Here

For some reason, they always played this one on the radio on ferries in the early ’90s when I was travelling with my family, so I strongly associate it with cabin bunk beds and pristine white sheets.  Classic ballad, lovely tune.

Track 20: Rick Astley – Cry For Help

Who knew Rick Astley was still having hits into the ’90s?  Wow.

The track’s got a nice tune and a good atmospheric chorus – quite like this one.

Track 21: Robert Palmer – Mercy Mercy Me/I Want You

Good, interesting track from Robert Palmer – great vocals, nice tune.

Track 22: Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes – (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life

The Dirty Dancing soundtrack classic, back in the charts for some reason (I’d like to think that reason was that none of the new stuff being released was anywhere near as good, but I know that music taste is subjective, blah blah boring blah, and so others will disagree.  They’re wrong though – this feelgood singalong number complete with epic sax solo is worth a million repetitive house tracks).

Track 23: The Righteous Brothers – You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’

Another old track back in the charts, this time from the ’60s.  A bit saccharine for me, but it’s such a classic I’ll forgive it.

Track 24: Seal – Crazy

Great epic atmosphere, brilliant tune.  A classic in my book.

Track 25: Banderas – This Is Your Life

Bit of a repetitive dance number, though the vocal melody is quite interesting.

Track 26: Stevie B – Because I Love You (The Postman Song)

Slow track, but it’s got a great atmosphere – I really quite like this.

Track 27: Chris Rea – Auberge

Could do without the ‘music video’ whistling and car noises on the intro.  Just start the track, please.

Once it gets going, it’s quite interesting, if a bit slow.

Track 28: Chris Isaak – Blue Hotel

Typical dramatic atmosphere from Chris Isaak, with some great Spanish-tinged guitar.  Great tune.

Track 29: Free – All Right Now

Slightly annoying chorus, but it is a good chant-along track, especially after a few pints.

Incidentally, an old uni mate whose surname is Allwright once told me that her dad had declared this their official family song.  I did do some googling to see if I could find a good equivalent for mine, but in all honesty I don’t think I’m into the family song thing.

Track 30: INXS – Disappear

Great solid pop song, nice tune, good rockier chorus.  I like this one.

Track 31: Belinda Carlisle – Summer Rain

Really interesting tune with a great atmosphere on the verses – big fan of this.

Track 32: The Railway Children – Every Beat Of The Heart

A little saccharine for me, but the tune is quite nice.

Track 33: Thunder – Love Walked In

Bit more acoustic-y than I usually go for, but I really like the tune and the atmosphere, especially when it goes full-on rock ballad a couple of minutes in.

Track 34: Queen – Innuendo

You can always rely on Queen for a nice dramatic tune.  Good track to end today’s compilation.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #18

Day 18, and today’s Now! compilation takes us to 19th November 1990.

November 1990
This is the way the world looked in November 1990 (actually December, but November was another one of those months we didn’t take any photos). Pirate Lego, thankfully, hasn’t changed (or at least it hasn’t if you keep all your stuff from childhood! The new larger pirate minifigures are just wrong). Also, those twentieth century carpets are still a regular sight in British pubs, who obviously all got a job lot circa 1980.

Here’s some music from some people who may have grown out of Lego by 1990, ’cause apparently it’s only millennials who keep playing with that stuff into adulthood.

Now! That's What I Call Music #18
Track 1: The Beautiful South – A Little Time

Nice tune, vocals and atmosphere, but this track’s a bit slow for me.

Track 2: Steve Miller Band – The Joker

This one was later a Modos classic when I hung about there in 2008-2011 – it was always on DJ Mantash’s playlist.  Good times.

Good tune, great lyrics, solid head-nodder.

Track 3: Elton John –  Sacrifice

Quite a nice ballad – lovely tune, nice tinkly synth hooks.

Track 4: Roxette – It Must Have Been Love

Really like this Roxette ballad – lovely vocals, great atmosphere.  Awesome track.

Track 5: Phil Collins – Something Happened On The Way To Heaven

Epic intro, epic tune.  Like this one.

Track 6: Wilson Phillips – Hold On

Great rock ballad!  Love the tune and the vocals.

Track 7: Sinéad O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U

Classic, beautiful song.  Perfect lyrics, stunning melody.

Track 8: The Righteous Brothers – Unchained Melody

No idea why this was back in the charts, but it’s a ’60s favourite for me, so I’m not complaining!

Track 9: Belinda Carlisle – (We Want) The Same Thing

Probably my favourite Belinda Carlisle track – brilliant, epic rock ballad.

Track 10: Status Quo – The Anniversary Waltz [Part 1]

Irritating retro-tinged dad-rock medley of all of Status Quo’s worst tracks.  Not my cup of tea.

Track 11: INXS – Suicide Blonde

Great instrumentals, nice upbeat atmospheric pop-rock.  Really like this one.

Track 12: Public Image Ltd – Don’t Ask Me

Good tune, like the guitar intro, interesting vocals (well, it is John Lydon).  Great track.

Track 13: Talk Talk – It’s My Life

I’m a little surprised to find this featuring so late, ’cause I had it in my head as being late ’80s.  Great synth line, great tune.

Track 14: The LAs – There She Goes

The LAs crack the definitive ’90s sound early on.  Super acoustic and plaid-sounding.

Track 15: Tina Turner – Be Tender With Me Baby

Pretty dull ballad, but some of the instrumentals are quite interesting.

Track 16: Robert Palmer and UB40 – I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight

Standard reggae tune from UB40, with Robert Palmer’s vocals giving it plus points.

Track 17: Pet Shop Boys – So Hard

Pet Shop Boys enter the ’90s with some slightly harder electro.  The usual great synth lines are still intact though.

Track 18: Bass-O-Matic – Fascinating Rhythm

Nice bassline (as you might expect) but everything else is a bit generic.

Track 19: Soul II Soul and Kym Mazelle – Missing You

Boring soul track with standard early ’90s beat, nothing special.

Track 20: DNA and Suzanne Vega – Tom’s Diner

Love that jaunty singalong hook!  Fantastic track.

Track 21: Sting – Englishman In New York

An all-time favourite – lovely, melancholy song with beautiful lyrics and a gorgeous sax solo.  Love this one.

Track 22: The Cure – Close To Me ’90

Really like this 1990 reworking of the 1985 classic.  Great track from the Cure.

Track 23: Neneh Cherry – I’ve Got You Under My Skin

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

Not enough melody here for me, although there’s quite a nice bassline that starts up mid-track.

Track 24: Blue Pearl – Little Brother

Dull tune, annoying vocals.  Not keen on this one.

Track 25: Kylie Minogue – Step Back In Time

Annoying chorus alert!  It would be a solid pop song, but that chorus makes it the kind of unwanted earworm that I need to cleanse with OMG ANYTHING OTHER THAN THIS.

Track 26: Kim Appleby – Don’t Worry

Nice ’70s-retro-tinged pop tune.  Quite like this one.

Track 27: Technotronic – Megamix

Largely enjoyable medley of dance tracks, some better than others.

Track 29: Bombalurina – Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

This silly novelty track was played at every birthday party I went to in the early ’90s.  It’s not high art, let’s face it, but I still find myself happily nodding along.

Track 30: Betty Boo – Where Are You Baby?

For some reason, I’ve got a vague, distant memory of Betty Boo being a figure of derision in Smash Hits in the early ’90s.  But then, lots of artists were, so I could be getting confused.

The track’s not much to write home about either way – bad rap verse, mid-century-retro-tinged chorus.  Not my thing.

Track 31: The Adventures Of Stevie V – Dirty Cash (Money Talks)

Like the atmosphere on this one – good solid pop, with a bit of sax in there for good measure.

Track 32: MC Hammer – Have You Seen Her?

Irritating slow track from MC Hammer with slightly creepy vocals.  Not a fan of this one.

Track 33: Jimmy Somerville – To Love Somebody

Odd, slow reggae cover of the Bee Gees classic.  Still, better than the saccharine ballads that usually end these compilations.