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 #9

Day 9 equals Now! #9, which was released on 23rd March 1987.

March 1987
This is how the world looked in March 1987. Well, it did in our house; maybe other people had moved on from the endless brown furnishings. I’m not sure that every toddler was lucky enough to have such an excitingly squishy new toy to play with that month, either *poke poke poke*. Sadly, said toy is not displayed on my display shelves with my other stuff from the ’80s. It is now over six foot tall and resident in Canada, and I only get to see it occasionally 🙁

Here are some tracks that may have floated into my tiny brother’s tiny ears.

Now! That's What I Call Music #9

Track 1: Jackie Wilson – Reet Petite

I hear this one regularly every Christmas period due to its status as the 1986 UK Christmas number one.  As a result, it’s slightly Christmas-associated in my book, and also slightly annoying.

Track 2: Mental As Anything – Live It Up

I wasn’t familiar with this one.  Nice chorus, good upbeat track.

Track 3: Simply Red – The Right Thing

This one’s a bit repetitive for me, though I like the instrumentals.

Track 4: Erasure – Sometimes

This is Geth’s go-to Erasure DJing track, so I kind of associate it with 2.55pm in a goth club.  Great tune, though.

Track 5: Robbie Nevil – C’est La Vie

It’s a bit dull, but there’s something I quite like about it, maybe just ’cause it’s been featured on so many ’80s compilations I’ve heard.

Track 6: Hot Chocolate – You Sexy Thing

This was a hit again ’cause it had a new remix for its tenth anniversary, though I can’t work out whether it was the original or the remix that was featured on this compilation.  Classic tune either way.

Track 7: The Blow Monkeys – It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way

I’ve always liked this one – great chorus, great saxophone riffs.

Incidentally, the Blow Monkeys are going to be supporting Level 42 at that gig at the Sage Gateshead in October!  I should really stop going on about said gig on here and go buy tickets instead.

Track 8: The Housemartins – Caravan Of Love

One of my favourite Housemartins tracks – lovely a cappella cover of an Isley Brothers song from the previous year.

Track 9: Boy George – Everything I Own

Hmm, not for me, this one.  Boy George has basically brought the ‘annoying’ aspect of Culture Club songs into his solo career.

Track 10: UB40 – Rat In Mi Kitchen

Nice jaunty, daft tune.  Love the whimsy of this one.

I should, however, point out that as a professional editor, I absolutely hate that misspelling of ‘my’ in the title.  Just why?

Track 11: The Gap Band – Big Fun

Like the atmosphere of this one, though the samples and vocals are a bit dull.

Track 12: Five Star – Stay Out Of My Life

I’m not a huge Five Star fan, and I find this one pretty dull, though some of the instrumental hooks are quite interesting.

Track 13: Pepsi & Shirlie – Heartache

It’s a bit pop-by-numbers, but I really like that the girls from Wham! got to go and have some hits by themselves (great vocals too now that they’re not playing second fiddle to George Michael!) before fading into obscurity again.

Track 14: Bananarama – Trick Of The Night

Love that sax intro, love the atmosphere of this one.  Great track.

Track 15: Berlin – Take My Breath Away

Another one from my original ’80s playlist circa 2001.  A bit overplayed due to the Top Gun connection, but a stunning pop ballad.

Track 16: Freddie Mercury – The Great Pretender

Wonderfully cheesy over-the-top dramatic number.  I’d expect no less from Freddie Mercury.

Track 17: Ben E King – Stand By Me

Nice ’60s classic – back in the charts, I believe, due to the film of the same name.  Lovely singalong track.

Track 18: Curiosity Killed The Cat – Down To Earth

Nice slightly laid-back track.  It’s a bit ‘background’ for me, but I do like it.

Track 19: The Communards – So Cold The Night

A slightly more dramatic one from the Communards, with a great epic atmosphere.

Track 20: Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley – Jack Your Body

Like the tune, but the vocal sample is really irritating!

Track 21: Taffy – I Love My Radio (Midnight Radio)

Great synth line, great catchy vocals!  Will be adding this to the playlist.

Track 22: Nick Kamen – Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever

Lyrics a bit cheesy for my liking, though the tune is quite nice, and that sax solo is great.

Track 23: A-ha – Manhattan Skyline

Interestingly slow verses before it kicks in with a great upbeat chorus.  Nice epic atmosphere, great track from A-ha.

Track 24: Westworld – Sonic Boom Boy

Quite a fun wee track, good chant-along head-nodder.

Track 25: Bon Jovi – Livin’ On A Prayer

Hair metal headbanging time!  Most definitely a guilty pleasure.  This was a Cav classic circa 2001-2002 (i.e. played regularly at the Cavendish, a godawful cheap nightclub in Edinburgh that sold VK Apple alcopops for £1 each, resulting in a thousand hangovers during that era.  Ah, teen years.  The club still exists but, several name changes later, is now called Atik).

Track 26: Genesis – Land Of Confusion

Probably my favourite Genesis song – I love this one!  Bonus points also for the Spitting Image video.

Track 27: Europe – The Final Countdown

More headbanging, another guilty pleasure, and also, incidentally, another Cav classic (see above).  I can almost taste the VK Apple, which is not a good thing.

Track 28: Gary Moore – Over The Hills And Far Away

Love this folk-tinged bit of classic rock!  I’ve spent my adulthood in goth clubs hearing the Nightwish cover, but I prefer this original version.

Track 29: Ward Brothers – Cross That Bridge

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

Nice bit of upbeat pop, currently chair-dancing here.  Great synth in the instrumentals.

Track 30: Pretenders – Hymn To Her

Great lyrics, though the track is a bit slow for me.  Nice tune too.