Music Review: Pet Shop Boys: Agenda

There was a new Pet Shop Boys EP released yesterday, which is always a good thing! I’ve never listened to a Pet Shop Boys record I didn’t like, largely because they are extremely reliable and consistent in what they do (i.e. great synthpop tunes). The new release, Agenda, is no exception.

Pet Shop Boys - Agenda

Let’s have a listen to the tracks.

Give Stupidity A Chance

Lovely happy synthscapes to kick off. Bit of a contrast with the doomy lyrics, but after the Specials last week I’m starting to get used to that!

On Social Media

Classic upbeat synthpop that was an instant earworm when I first listened to it on Thursday night. The rhymes are daft in an endearing way, and it’s a bit ‘old men ranting about modern technology’, but the tune is awesome and I’m going to be listening to it all week.

What Are We Going To Do About The Rich?

Great chant-along track! Another one for the daily playlist. The rhythm is fantastic.

The Forgotten Child

Something a bit slower, but gorgeously atmospheric, for the last track. Love the twinkly melancholy instrumental – it’s almost Christmassy for a minute, and then the beat drops. Gorgeous stuff.

Classic and classy as ever from PSB. Love this EP!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #72

Day 72 brings us to Now! #72, which came out on 6th April 2009.

April 2009
This is how the world looked in April 2009. That is the kind of happy face you only get from me on the first day it’s warm enough to sit out in a beer garden after a long winter.

2009 really brought the electropop, from what I remember, so let’s get cracking!

Now! That's What I Call Music #72
Track 1: Lily Allen – The Fear

Great tune, great lyrics.  I’ve always really liked this one.

Track 2: Lady Gaga and Colby O’Donis – Just Dance

Awesome danceable piece of electropop.

Track 3: Flo Rida and Kesha – Right Round

It’s based around the hook from Dead Or Alive’s You Spin Me Round (Like A Record), so I was always going to like this one.  Flo Rida’s rap style actually goes really nicely with it.

Track 4: Alesha Dixon – The Boy Does Nothing

Alesha Dixon’s post-Strictly solo comeback song.  Love this tune, and the retro big band feel is much appreciated.

Track 5: The Saturdays – Just Can’t Get Enough

Pointless cover of the Depeche Mode classic, and one of the official Comic Relief singles for 2009 (so charity fundraising, as ever, is the ‘point’).

Track 6: Kelly Clarkson – My Life Would Suck Without You

This one’s pretty acclaimed, but I’ve always found the tune and theme really annoying.

Track 7: Tinchy Stryder and Taio Cruz – Take Me Back

Nice atmosphere – I like the electro lines.

Track 8: Kid Cudi and Crookers – Day ‘N’ Nite

Boring, repetitive tune, with some irritating vocal tics going on.

Track 9: Britney Spears – Womaniser

Great pop track – love the hooks on this one.

Track 10: TI and Rihanna – Live Your Life

It’s based around the hook from O-Zone’s Dragostea Din Tei, which gives the track quite an interesting sound.

Track 11: Akon – Right Now (Na Na Na)

Nice tune, quite like this one.

Track 12: Shontelle – T-Shirt

Interesting vocals, but I find the tune very generic.

Track 13: Ne-Yo – Mad

Boring tune, annoyingly saccharine vocals.

Track 14: The Saturdays – Issues

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had the Saturdays on track 5.

I quite like the rhyming of the lyrics on this one, but the tune’s a bit dull.  The Saturdays did much better songs later on.

Track 15: Leona Lewis – Forgive Me

Great vocals, great atmosphere, but the tune’s pretty forgettable.

Track 16: Girls Aloud – The Loving Kind

Another boring tune, and the vocals make it a bit too ballad-y for me.

Track 17: September – Can’t Get Over

Good beat, good electro lines.  The vocals are a little generic though.

Track 18: Steve Angello, Laidback Luke and Robin S – Show Me Love

Semi-cover of Robin S’s 1993 hit, mashed up with various other things.  It’s not very inspired.  See my Now! #24 review for the original song.

Track 19: N-Dubz – Strong Again

Boring tune, but I quite like some of the vocal hooks.

Track 20: Katy Perry – Thinking Of You

Dull ballad, not keen on this one.

Track 21: Alexandra Burke – Hallelujah

The annual bit of karaoke from the X Factor winner.  To give credit to Alexandra Burke, this is not a pointless cover: there have been so many different and beautiful versions of the Leonard Cohen classic, and she did put her own stamp on it, but it just doesn’t have as much feeling in it as classic versions like those of Jeff Buckley or Rufus Wainwright.

Speaking of the X Factor

Track 22: X Factor Finalists 2008 – Hero

There was an annoying trend in the late ’00s/early ’10s where the final twelve contestants in the X Factor would release a group single with everyone getting a line, which, just like the winner’s single, was inevitably a pointless cover of a classic song.  This meant that everyone who was interested in pop music but didn’t care about the X Factor had to put up with not one but two irritating karaoke numbers in the charts around Christmas time.  2008’s offering was a pointless cover of the Mariah Carey song.  (As often happens, the ‘point’ was charity fundraising, this time for Help For Heroes and the Royal British Legion.  Charity fundraising = awesome!  Releasing a soulless, uninspired remake of an existing song = not awesome.)

Track 23: Take That – Greatest Day

It should feel epic and sweeping – but I just find the tune irritating.  I’m not sure why.

Track 24: Alesha Dixon – Breathe Slow

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Alesha Dixon on track 4.

This one’s got a nice backing track, but the tune is fairly generic.

Track 25: James Morrison and Nelly Furtado – Broken Strings

Irritatingly cheesy and slow ballad.  Not my cup of tea.

Track 26: Taylor Swift – Love Story

Super saccharine soft pop-rock!  Again, not my thing.  I prefer Taylor Swift’s more pure pop stuff from the early-to-mid-’10s.

Track 27: Pink – Sober

Nice guitar, interesting theme, but the tune’s pretty dull.

Track 28: The Killers – Human

I still remember people getting irritated about the grammar of the line ‘are we human or are we dancer‘.  Would it sound better and less jarring if the lyric was ‘dancers‘?  Yes.  Is it grammatically incorrect?  Technically, no.  Brandon Flowers is using ‘dancer‘ to mean a sort of faux-species here, and the use of the singular as an adjective in the same way that ‘human‘ can be used as an adjective is, I believe, meant to emphasise this.

Anyway, it’s quite a good tune.

Track 29: The Script – Breakeven

I’m generally not keen on this kind of soft rock, and this is no exception.  Bland tune, very forgettable.

Track 30: Jason Mraz – I’m Yours

I find this kind of cheery, bouncy, acoustic-y track really irritating.  Sorry!

Track 31: Noisettes – Don’t Upset The Rhythm (Go Baby Go)

Great bassline, lovely bit of electropop.  Really like this one.

Track 32: Metro Station – Shake It

Really like the instrumentals on this track – great guitar, great synth.  It all adds up to a nice retro ’80s tinge, which I’m all about!

Track 33: U2 – Get On Your Boots

Interesting vocals, good guitar line, quite like this one.

Track 34: MGMT – Kids

Oh, it’s this one!  Lovely electro hook, great bassline.

Track 35: The Prodigy – Omen

I saw the Prodigy at M’era Luna 2009, and this song was the anthem of the weekend, with everyone singing it all over the place.  Great dance track, builds beautifully, wonderful atmosphere.

Track 36: Kevin Rudolf and Lil’ Wayne – Let It Rock

Another great bassline and another awesome atmosphere – good track.

Track 37: Wiley and Daniel Merriweather – Cash In My Pocket

I like the ’60s retro tinge on this one.

Track 38: Kanye West – Heartless

Nice tune, quite like this track.

Track 39: TI and Justin Timberlake – Dead And Gone

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had TI on track 10.

Nice piano intro, nice epic atmosphere.  Great stuff, though it would be better without the rap.

Track 40: Daniel Merriweather and Wale – Change

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Daniel Merriweather on track 37.  Give someone else a chance, Now! compilers!

This is a great track, though – lovely tinkly piano, good beat.

Track 41: Pet Shop Boys – Love Etc.

Nice to see Pet Shop Boys back in the charts.  I have missed that perfect synth!  Wonderful tune.

Track 42: Duffy – Rain On Your Parade

More great instrumentals!  Lovely atmosphere on this one.

Track 43: Vanessa Jenkins, Bryn West, Tom Jones and Robin Gibb – Islands In The Stream

Daft semi-cover (semi due to Robin Gibb’s involvement) of the Bee Gees-written song made famous by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, featuring comedy characters Vanessa Jenkins (Ruth Jones) and Bryn West (Rob Brydon) from the sitcom Gavin & Stacey.  This was another song released for Comic Relief 2009.  The video‘s funny, but the song’s a bit pedestrian until Tom Jones shows up at the end.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #66

Day 66 brings us to Now! #66, which came out on 2nd April 2007.

April 2007
This is how the world looked in April 2007, or at least it did if you were drinking with me, Sharpy and Kieran in the pub. I like to think that none of us look any older eleven years later, though I have thankfully stopped dyeing my hair and doing the lazy roots thing.

I seem to remember that 2007 was not a bad year for chart music.  Let’s see if my memory is correct.

Now! That's What I Call Music #66
Track 1: Mika – Grace Kelly

Great tune, very danceable, interesting vocals.  I’ve always really liked this one, especially the classic-sounding epic atmosphere.

Track 2: Kaiser Chiefs – Ruby

Great rock track – another one that I loved playing on Lego Rock Band.  The Wurzels’ live cover, which I saw at Beautiful Days 2010, is also something to behold.

Track 3: Sugababes and Girls Aloud – Walk This Way

Weak cover of the classic Aerosmith vs. Run DMC version.  It doesn’t really work when you have two artists from the same genre, i.e. girl groups who sing pop.  It was released as the official Comic Relief single for 2007, so hopefully it kept the charity money rolling in.

Track 4: Take That – Patience

This one marks the arrival of what I always considered ‘Fake That’ (the Robbie Williams-less lineup).  Gorgeous song though.

Track 5: Justin Timberlake – What Goes Around…Comes Around

Great instrumentals, good atmosphere, but the vocals are a bit dull in my book.

Track 6: Nelly Furtado – Say It Right

Another great atmosphere and a nice tune.  Quite like this one.

Track 7: Beyoncé – Irreplaceable

Nice, powerful song – you can really hear the disdain coming through the vocals.  Good tune too.

Track 8: Kelis and Cee Lo Green – Lil’ Star

Repetitive intro, takes ages to get going.  Once it does, the tune is okay but the vocals are a bit twee for my liking.

Track 9: Akon and Eminem – Smack That

Great brooding atmosphere – quite like this one.

Track 10: Just Jack – Starz In Their Eyes

Nice retro-tinged guitar and bassline, interesting vocals.  Good stuff.

Track 11: Calvin Harris – Acceptable In The ’80s

One of my favourites, obviously, and something I will always dance to no matter my mood.  The whole ‘I got love for you if you were born in the ’80s, the ’80s‘ section is just a classic dance hook and a great lyric.  Love it to bits.

Track 12: Mason and Princess Superstar – Perfect (Exceeder)

Great beat, great rhythmic vocals, very danceable track.

Track 13: Booty Luv – Boogie 2Nite

Another good beat, and the ’70s disco tinge is also much appreciated.  It’s actually a cover of a song by Tweet, but I’m not familiar with the original.

Track 14: Eric Prydz and Pink Floyd – Proper Education

Dance remix of Another Brick In The Wall.  The samples from the original provide a great atmosphere, but it’s one of those examples where I just want to go and listen to the original song afterwards.

Track 15: Sharam – Party All The Time

Dance cover of Eddie Murphy’s 1985 hit.  Other than the dance beat, not much is added here.  They’ve just sampled the chorus over and over and made it really repetitive.

Track 16: Cascada – Truly Madly Deeply

Eurodance cover of the Savage Garden song.  The original is gorgeous and didn’t deserve to be ruined like this.  Awful.

Track 17: Girls Aloud – I Think We’re Alone Now

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Girls Aloud on track 3.

Interesting cover of the Tiffany classic – there’s some edgy instrumentals added and a really good beat.  It’s quite refreshing to have a cover that’s not entirely pointless, but the vocals are still pretty much identical to the original version.

Track 18: Seamus Haji and KayJay – Last Night A DJ Saved My Life

Dance cover of the Indeep song from 1982.  Is it karaoke night or something?  That’s six covers in a row.  Let’s have some original songs, please.

Track 19: Camille Jones and Fedde Le Grand – The Creeps

Great beat, nice eerie instrumentals.  Really like this one.

Track 20: Jamelia – Beware Of The Dog

I love the Personal Jesus sample, and there’s a nice rhythm to the vocals.  Good track.

Track 21: Gwen Stefani – Wind It Up

That yodeling at the start is just awful!  Once the song gets going, though, it’s quite interesting.

Track 22: JoJo – Too Little, Too Late

Slow, bland ballad, with a depressing tune.  Not my thing.

Track 23: Leona Lewis – A Moment Like This

Pointless cover of the Kelly Clarkson song.  This was the X Factor winner’s single for 2006 and also the Christmas number one, so it still shows up on all the music channels every Christmas time.

Track 24: The Fray – How To Save A Life

The tune’s very depressing-sounding, but at least it builds nicely.

Track 25: The View – Same Jeans

Twee theme, but the tune’s okay, and I quite like the chorus.

Track 26: Gossip – Standing In The Way Of Control

Great bassline, great beat, great vocals.  Really like this track.

Track 27: Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Catch You

Nice edgy instrumentals, more great bass, interesting vocals.  Another great song.

Track 28: Klaxons – Golden Skans

Interesting track, nice vocals.  Quite like this one.

Track 29: Fall Out Boy – This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race

Great beat, good epic atmosphere, interesting vocals, brilliant rock chorus.  Another awesome song.

Track 30: The Killers – Read My Mind

Like the atmosphere, and the tune is nice.  Disc two of this Now! compilation is really delivering so far!

Track 31: U2 – Window In The Skies

I like the way this one builds, and the chorus is really interesting.

Track 32: Robbie Williams and Pet Shop Boys – She’s Madonna

Great synth line, great tune – really like this collaboration.

Track 33: The Fratellis – Whistle For The Choir

Too acoustic-y for me, and I find the tune pretty generic.

Track 34: The Ordinary Boys – I Luv U

This one’s a little too cheesy and slow for my liking.

Track 35: Snow Patrol – Open Your Eyes

Slow, bland vocals, and those repetitive one-note guitar chords really irritate me.

Track 36: Razorlight – Before I Fall To Pieces

Nice upbeat tempo and feelgood guitar lines.  Quite like this one.

Track 37: Scissor Sisters – She’s My Man

Great guitar riff, great bassline.  Highly danceable track.

Track 38: The Feeling – Love It When You Call

I like the beepy instrumental at the start, and the guitar riff’s quite nice, but the vocals are not edgy enough for my liking.

Track 39: McFly – Sorry’s Not Good Enough

The theme is a bit cheesy, but the instrumentals are interesting.

Track 40: Lily Allen – Alfie

Love the old-timey carnival/big band sound of this one.  Great song, really different to everything else that was going on at the time.

Track 41: Jamie T – Calm Down Dearest

Irritating theme and faux ‘drunk’ vocals.  Not a big fan of this.

Track 42: Sugababes – Easy

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Sugababes on track 3.  This and the Girls Aloud repetition would have been best avoided by leaving off Walk This Way so that we could all have happily forgotten about that one.

This track’s got some very repetitive vocals, but the retro-tinged atmosphere and bassline are great.

Track 43: Amy Winehouse – You Know I’m No Good

Lovely, melancholy track.  Really nice tune.

Track 44: The Proclaimers, Brian Potter and Andy Pipkin – I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)

Daft semi-cover featuring the comedy characters Brian Potter (Peter Kay) from Phoenix Nights and Andy Pipkin (Matt Lucas) from Little Britain.  We’ve already had the original on Now! #13, so see the link for my review of that utter classic.

This recording, which was another song released for Comic Relief 2007, got to number one and outsold the original.  Go figure.

We’ve avoided any ‘Not on Spotify’ moments for a fourth time!

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 #28

Day 28, and we’ve reached 1st August 1994 with the Now! compilations.

August 1994
This is how the world looked in August 1994. Beaches have not changed, and neither has my wardrobe, apparently – the leggings/t-shirt/hightops combo is still my daily go-to. These days it’s because I work from home and rarely leave the house, but back then it was because I was an active girl who did things like building sandcastles.

Let’s get on with those summer hits.

Now! That's What I Call Music #28
Track 1: Wet Wet Wet – Love Is All Around

I remember the long, long summer when this was number one for fifteen weeks (which feels like a long time when you’re nine).  I got so sick of it at the time, but I actually think nowadays that it’s quite a nice cover of the Troggs classic.

Google Image Search is failing me on this one, but the highlight of the whole thing was when Smash Hits did a parody cover from the year 2050 with ‘Wet Wet Wet still number one’ as the headline, four skeletons as the image, and a cover price of £21.50 or something.  Well, I thought it was hilarious at the time.  I’ll have to go through my old Smash Hits collection and see if I can find it.

Track 2: All-4-One – I Swear

In summer 1994, I visited the US for the first time with my family.  I’d never been out of Europe before, and so going to North America was super, super exciting – we’re actually flying over a noticeable bump in the Earth’s surface!  We’re going to see all those places from TV shows!  Then I remembered that America was the place with the guns, and so I had a week-long freakout about OMG WHAT IF I GET SHOT.

Anyway, we went to New England for four weeks, none of us got shot, my dad had a good joke with airport security about how he wouldn’t like to have to stab anyone on the plane with his penknife (they laughed and let him take it in the cabin.  Oh, 20th century, you were a different world!), my mum discovered iced cappuccino, we stayed in actual motels and swam in all the swimming pools, we ate silver dollar pancakes for breakfast at the Tremont House Hotel in Boston, and everywhere we went and everything we did, this song played on the radio, the biggest hit of the summer.

For the rest of the year, whenever we heard it anywhere, the wee bro and I would be all like OMG THIS REMINDS ME OF AMERICAAAA and get slightly emotional.

Uh, anyway, the track.  Lovely tune, great sax solo, precious memories.  Can’t beat it.

Track 3: Ace Of Base – Don’t Turn Around

Interesting tune, great jaunty beat.  Like this one.

Track 4: Aswad – Shine

Great Latin-tinged track, gorgeous tune.  Loved it then, love it now, a longtime favourite.

Track 5: The B-52s – (Meet) The Flintstones

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

Novelty cover of the classic TV theme tune, released to tie in with the live-action film.  I thought the film was terrible even when I was nine, but I quite like this version of the song.

Track 6: Let Loose – Crazy For You

Smash Hits had a huge bee in their bonnet around this time about how ‘old’ and ‘decrepit’ Let Loose were.  Hang on a second while I depress myself by googling how old the band members actually were in 1994.

Answer: 24, 26 and 27.  Yeah.

The track is edgier and rockier than I remember, with a slight ’80s throwback vibe about it.  I really like it, actually.

Track 7: D:Ream – U R The Best Thing

We already had this one, on Now! #25, which was only three compilations ago!  Did the Now! compilers think nobody would notice this stuff?

Urgh.  See the link for my review.

Track 8: The Beautiful South – Everybody’s Talkin’

Pretty cover of the ’60s classic – good stuff.

Track 9: Marcella Detroit – I Believe

Nice tune, nice instrumentals, but a bit slow.

Track 10: Pretenders – I’ll Stand By You

I’ve always found the tune on this one annoying, and it’s not hard enough to be a rock ballad favourite.  Not a huge fan.

Track 11: Stiltskin – Inside

The only version on Spotify is a live version, which would normally warrant a YouTube Pause (TM) (I hate live versions of stuff – if I want to hear it live, I’ll go see the band), but I’m a bit pushed for time tonight so I’m being lazy with this one.

That guitar riff is absolutely classic, so I hope they put a real version on Spotify soon so I can add it to my playlist.

Track 12: Blur – Girls And Boys

Classic chant-along Britpop anthem.  Brilliant song from a brilliant album.

Track 13: M People – Renaissance

Great beat, but the tune is pretty repetitive.

Track 14: Eternal – Just A Step From Heaven

Like the atmosphere – this is a nice track when it’s not the slightly irritating chorus.

Track 15: Toni Braxton – Another Sad Love Song

Fairly generic pop ballad.  Not keen on this one.

Track 16: China Black – Searching

Nice jaunty beat, but the tune’s a bit so-so.

Track 17: Dawn Penn – You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)

Great, classic track – loved it then, love it now.  You can’t not sing along to that chorus.

Track 18: Chaka Demus & Pliers – I Wanna Be Your Man

Annoying vocals, annoying tune.  Not a fan.

Track 19: Erasure – Always

Quality synthpop as ever from Erasure, but due to this song playing on the radio during a bout of carsickness en route to the caravan (I probably wasn’t actually sick, just really nauseous due to reading in the backseat, but those associations are strong), I…still feel sick when I hear it.

Track 20: Seal – Prayer For The Dying

Lovely track from Seal – beautiful atmosphere, beautiful tune.

Track 21: The Grid – Swamp Thing

Like that banjo line – fairly solid dance track.

Track 22: Two Cowboys – Everybody Gonfi Gon

Two slightly country-inspired dance tracks in a row, but it turns out I don’t mind country-inspired so much when the Eurodance is this good.  Great track, wonderful electro instrumentals.

Track 23: MAXX – Get-A-Way

Another great dance track.  I may have to start making a list of requests for the next time I find myself at a ’90s night!

Track 24: Reel 2 Real and The Mad Stuntman – Go On Move

Classic bassline!  The rest of the track’s not really anything special, though.

Track 25: The Prodigy – No Good (Start The Dance)

Not the first track to sample the ’80s classic You’re No Good For Me, but definitely the best.  Classic stuff.

Track 26: Cappella – U And Me

Great atmosphere, great beat, great dance track.  I’d forgotten how good 1994 was for dance!

Track 27: Haddaway – Rock My Heart

Pretty similar to What Is Love, but as that one’s a stone-cold classic I’m not complaining.  Brilliantly danceable stuff.

Track 28: 2 Unlimited – The Real Thing

Another great dance track – how many of these were there at the time?  Love those slightly eerie instrumentals.

Track 29: Sonic Surfers – Don’t Give It Up

I’m starting to feel like I’m in a nightclub.  Was everything a dance track in summer 1994?  Maybe I was so busy hearing Wet Wet Wet and All-4-One everywhere that I just didn’t notice.

This one is…another great dance track, believe it or not!

Track 30: DJ Miko – What’s Up

Irritating dance remix of 4 Non Blondes’ What’s Up (see Now! #25 for my review of the original version).  This is a song that very definitely did not need to be turned into a generic dance track.  Not keen on this treatment.

Track 31: Clubhouse and Carl – Light My Fire

Danceable beat, jauntily camp vocals, atmospheric synth lines – this one’s a lot of fun.

Track 32: Tony Di Bart – The Real Thing

Two tracks with the same name on the same Now! compilation!  I feel like we’re back in the title-inspiration-starved late ’80s again.

This one’s not as good as the identically-named 2 Unlimited song, but it’s still a good dance track, and I’m still on that dancefloor in the imaginary nightclub.  I’m not sure whether that Bee Gees lyric (‘if I can’t have you/I don’t want nobody, baby‘) is homage or theft, though!  (Wikipedia calls it ‘sampling’, but the tune is totally different.)

Track 33: CJ Lewis – Sweets For My Sweet

Annoying chorus alert!  Good dance beat though.

Track 34: Bitty McLean – Dedicated To The One I Love

Feelgood reggae-tinged cover of the ’50s classic.  Nice track.

Track 35: Salt-N-Pepa and En Vogue – Whatta Man

Absolutely classic collaboration, great track with a fabulous singalong chorus.

Track 36: R Kelly – Your Body’s Callin’

Found R Kelly and his penchant for underage girls creepy then, still find him creepy now.  Some things don’t change!

The song’s boring, anyway.

Track 37: The Brand New Heavies – Dream On Dreamer

Oh, it’s this one!  Nice upbeat track, great tune.  Like this song.

Track 38: Juliet Roberts – Caught In The Middle

This one was ALSO already on Now! #25!  I hope they were offering partial refunds to people who’d bought both compilations!

See link for review, yadda yadda.

Track 39: Glo-Worm – Carry Me Home

Irritating lyrics, but the tune and atmosphere are quite nice.

Track 40: Pet Shop Boys – Absolutely Fabulous

More great synthpop from Pet Shop Boys, released to tie in with the TV show.  We always watched the show in our house, so I’ve appreciated this one ever since.

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.

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.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #15

Day 15’s Now! compilation was released on 14th August 1989.

August 1989
This is what the world looked like in August 1989. Beautiful sunshine, beautiful view, and I’m clearly complaining about something, ’cause I’m four. At least I’m complaining while wearing an awesome ’80s coat though.

On with the tracks!

Now! That's What I Call Music #15
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 Kill for 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.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #11

Day 11’s Now! compilation takes us to 21st March 1988.

March 1988
This is the way the world looked in March 1988 – and it’s a welcome break from the baby photos today, as we had a new-to-us car, a ropey old Austin Ambassador. I loved that car and I cried my eyes out when it broke down and we had to get rid of it a year or two later.

Here’s some music by people who almost certainly drove better cars than my dad did that month.

Now! That's What I Call Music #11
Track 1: Pet Shop Boys – Always On My Mind

Great cover of the Elvis classic.  I love the synth line on this one, but then I love the synth line on pretty much every Pet Shop Boys track.  This was the 1987 Christmas number one – I would say ‘deservedly so’ if it weren’t for the fact that it should have been Fairytale Of New York that year.

Track 2: Belinda Carlisle – Heaven Is A Place On Earth

Love this one!  Another classic from my ’80s playlist I made in the early ’00s.  I used to blast it in my first student flat.  Thankfully my flatmates all loved it too.

Track 3: Billy Ocean – Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car

Is Billy Ocean’s car a dodgy red Austin Ambassador?  If so, I’d get into it any day.  I miss that car.

Great bit of pop, always liked this one.

Track 4: Jermaine Stewart – Say It Again

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

Nice piano intro, nice tune on the chorus, generally pleasant song.

Track 5: Eddy Grant – Gimme Hope Jo’anna

Argh, annoying chorus alert!  Good party song, but give me Electric Avenue any day.

Track 6: Eddie Cochran – C’mon Everybody

Not sure why this ’50s classic was back in the charts, but here it is.  Nice bit of timeless rock ‘n’ roll.

Track 7: Morrissey – Suedehead

Fairly typical of Morrissey’s just-post-the-Smiths era.  I’m not a big fan of this one, there’s nothing in the tune that I like.

Track 8: Elton John – Candle In The Wind

Again, I have no idea why this song was back in the charts more than a decade after its original release, but it was.  I actually prefer the Diana tribute reworking from 1997.  Honestly!

Track 9: Wet Wet Wet – Angel Eyes (Home And Away)

Another annoying chorus – there’s something kind of whiny about it.  I’m not sure what the ‘home and away’ in the title is about, either – it just reminds me of the soap opera, which I’m not sure had even started in 1988.

Track 10: Johnny Hates Jazz – Turn Back The Clock

Kind of a dull one in my book, though the instrumentals are quite nice.

Track 11: T’Pau – Valentine

Really like the way this one builds – great, interesting track.

Track 12: Billy Idol – Hot In The City

A bit repetitive in its tune, but still a good head-nodder.

Track 13: Sinéad O’Connor – Mandinka

Nice upbeat track, love the guitar and the vocals on the bridge and chorus.

Track 14: The Mission – Tower Of Strength

Goth club classic!  Get that two-step going.

Track 15: Whitesnake – Give Me All Your Love

Not as epic as the best Whitesnake songs, but still a nice singalong hair metal chorus.

Track 16: Kylie Minogue – I Should Be So Lucky

This was my favourite song in 1988, but then it was also the favourite song of every other girl in my nursery class (you’re not very original when you’re three).  I still love it – great pop track.

Track 17: Mel & Kim – That’s The Way It Is

More great pop from Mel & Kim.  I think this may be one of my favourites of theirs.

Track 18: Joyce Sims – Come Into My Life [Radio Mix]

Nice tinkly intro, great catchy hooks, great tune.

Track 19: Jellybean and Elisa Fiorillo – Who Found Who

Chair-dancing from the start with this one – bit of a cheesy vocal, but a nice bouncy track.

Track 20: Bananarama – I Can’t Help It

Love this one!  Another solid pop song from Bananarama.

Track 21: Dollar – Oh L’amour

Fun fact: the original Erasure version of this was never a hit, which is probably why this Dollar cover (which was a hit) appears on so many ’80s compilations.  Absolute epitome of a pointless cover, as it changes nothing from the original (in fact, I was playing it the other day and I don’t think Geth even noticed it wasn’t the original, and he’s a huge Erasure fan), but that at least means that it’s just as danceable.

Track 22: Vanessa Paradis – Joe Le Taxi

Slightly slower one, but still a nice track.  One for the chillout playlist.

Track 23: Morris Minor & The Majors – Stutter Rap (No Sleep Till Bedtime)

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

Daft Beastie Boys parody, very of its time.  Mildly amusing, but not playlist-worthy.

Track 24: Bomb The Bass – Beat Dis

How could I fail to love a track with a Thunderbirds sample?  This one is great.

Being the queen of misheard lyrics, I was all ‘OMG, is that the f-word in my lovely innocent ’80s pop?’  No, of course it’s not!  They’re actually singing ‘funky’.  Contrast that to today’s charts, where every second word in pretty much every song has to be muted on the radio.  I hate this century. </getoffmylawn>

Track 25: Coldcut and Yazz & The Plastic Population – Doctorin’ The House

Another annoying chorus.  What is it with those today?  I quite like the rest of the track, though.

Track 26: Krush – House Arrest

Great dance song.  I don’t imagine most wedding DJs would play this one, but I might request it off Geth next time he’s DJing a wedding.

Track 27: Jack ‘N’ Chill – The Jack That House Built

I really like this one as well – lots of chair-dancing today.  Great synth line, love the samples too.

Track 28: Beatmasters and The Cookie Crew – Rok Da House

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

This one’s not so much my cup of tea, though I do like the piano bit.

Track 29: Two Men, A Drum Machine & A Trumpet – Tired Of Getting Pushed Around

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

Wikipedia informs me these were actually a Fine Young Cannibals spinoff band.  I quite like the track.

Track 30: Climie Fisher – Rise To The Occasion

Bit of a dull ballad, which is becoming standard for the last track.  Let’s have something more upbeat, Now! compilers!