Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #36

Day 36 brings us to Now! #36, which was released on 24th March 1997.

March 1997
This is how the world looked in March 1997. I’ve not been back to Malta since, so I don’t know how much it’s changed, but I know I don’t wear cycling shorts as daywear anymore.

Let’s see what would have been in my headphones on the plane to Malta.

Now! That's What I Call Music #36
Track 1: Spice Girls – Mama

So I guess every Now! compilation is going to feature a Spice Girls track for a few albums?  Okay then.

Mama wasn’t my favourite at the time – it was just a bit slow for me – and I’m not keen now either.  I’ve always preferred their more upbeat stuff.

Track 2: Texas – Say What You Want

Liked it at the time, find the tune a bit annoying now.

Track 3: Bee Gees – Alone

Nice classic-sounding track from the Bee Gees – lovely tune.

Track 4: The Beautiful South – Don’t Marry Her

Nice guitar intro, but I’m not hugely keen on the rest of the track.

Track 5: No Doubt – Don’t Speak

Gorgeous song – beautiful tune, lovely theme.  A classic.

Track 6: White Town – Your Woman

Great track – I absolutely love those spiky instrumental hooks.

Track 7: Blue Boy – Remember Me

Oh, it’s this one!  Interesting lines, quite like the vocal.

Track 8: Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity

Loved it then, still quite like it now.  At the time I couldn’t stop watching the classic video, which isn’t quite as impressive nowadays as it was twenty-two years ago but is still pretty cool.

Track 9: Robert Miles and Maria Nayler – One And One

Nice tune, but the vocals are a bit annoying.

Track 10: George Michael – Spinning The Wheel

I’ve always liked this one – lovely tune, great beat.

Track 11: Mark Morrison – Horny

Messy, irritating song.  Not a fan of this at all.

Track 12: Peter Andre – Natural

Generic tune, annoying vocals.  Not keen.

Track 13: Damage – Love Guaranteed

More cheesy pop-by-numbers – there’s nothing original or interesting about this.

Track 14: Eternal – Don’t You Love Me

Nice intro, great atmosphere, good instrumentals.  Quite like this one.

Track 15: Gabrielle – Walk On By

Awesome atmosphere, really interesting track.  Good stuff.

Track 16: Kavana – I Can Make You Feel Good

Kavana was a bit of a Smash Hits darling at the time, but I was never much of a fan.  This is okay though – nice solid pop song.

Track 17: East 17 – Hey Child

Nice harmony on the vocals, and the tune is pleasant, but it’s a bit slow for me.

Track 18: Boyzone – A Different Beat

One of the better Boyzone tracks – really like the tune on the chorus.

Track 19: Backstreet Boys – Anywhere For You

Saccharine and dull.  Not a fan.

Track 20: 911 – The Day We Find Love

Slow dull ballad from 911.  They definitely did better songs, from what I remember.

Track 21: U2 – Discothèque

It’s a bit messy, but it’s also quite refreshingly different at this point, what with the slightly harder rock guitars.

Track 22: The Prodigy – Breathe

Great danceable track, great vocals.  Really like this one.

Track 23: The Chemical Brothers – Block Rockin’ Beats

Liked it at the time, find the tune annoying and repetitive now.

Track 24: Placebo – Nancy Boy

Love this one!  Great guitar intro, great tune, awesome lyrics.  Another classic.

Track 25: Monaco – What Do You Want From Me?

Oh, it’s this one!  Great tune, good atmosphere, really like this track.

Track 26: Sheryl Crow – Everyday Is A Winding Road

Another Sheryl Crow song where I can’t get past the annoying tune.  Also, the word(s) in the title should be ‘every day‘, not ‘everyday‘.

Track 27: Blur – Beetlebum

It’s not the kind of song I’d typically like, but I’m quite fond of this one – happily nodding away here.

Track 28: James – She’s A Star

Nice tune, nice atmosphere.  Quite like this one.

Track 29: Mansun – Wide Open Space

Interesting tune, good atmosphere, good stuff.

Track 30: Cast – Free Me

Dull, repetitive tune.  Not keen on this one.

Track 31: Space – Dark Clouds

I quite like the instrumentals and atmosphere, but the tune’s pretty boring.

Track 32: Cathy Dennis – Waterloo Sunset

Guitar-driven cover of the Kinks classic.  It’s quite a nice version, but it doesn’t change much from the original.

Track 33: The Divine Comedy – Everybody Knows (Except You)

Sweet upbeat tune, quite like this one.

Track 34: Alisha’s Attic – Indestructible

Interesting instrumentals (nice to hear a bit of synth!) but it’s a little slow for my liking.

Track 35: Ant & Dec – Shout

Bizarrely serious-sounding song for Ant & Dec, with dodgy ‘homage’ to Tears For Fears’ Shout during the chorus.  The only saving grace is Erasure’s Andy Bell on backing vocals (though I’ve no idea what he was doing there).

Track 36: The Source and Candi Staton – You Got The Love

We’ve had this one already, on Now! #19!  Do they think nobody was listening back then?

Grr.  See the link for my review.

Track 37: Sash! – Encore Une Fois

I adored this one at the time, but I don’t think it’s aged that well, and I find it a bit so-so nowadays.

Track 38: DJ Quicksilver – Bellissima

Loved it then, still quite like it now – great tune.

Track 39: BBE – Flash

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

Like the hooks, but it’s pretty repetitive.

Track 40: Amen! – Passion

Really like the instrumental hook, but I don’t like the vocals at all!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #34

Day 34 brings us to Now! #34, which came out on 12th August 1996.

August 1996
This is the way the world looked in August 1996 (actually July – we seem to be short of photos again for 1996). Sunlounger, Walkman and speakers, dodgy cycling shorts ‘n’ swimsuit combo – a perfect late 20th century summer’s day.

Let’s hear those summer hits!

Now! That's What I Call Music #34
Track 1: Spice Girls – Wannabe

At eleven, I was exactly the right age for the Spice Girls, and from the moment this first song of theirs came out, I adored them.  I bought every single and every album in HMV on the day they came out, I had every single Spice magazine (still do), I had the limited edition Spice Girls Impulse body spray.  I was a huge fan, to put it mildly, and I remember carefully writing down the lyrics of this song and editing it over the course of several months, trying to work out what they were saying (I’ve mentioned before that I’m no good with being able to hear lyrics, and a lot of it was so nonsensical that there were endless arguments in the playground about what the words were – it was only when the album came out in December, complete with lyric insert, that I was able to confirm them properly).

Nowadays, I find this first track pretty cringeworthy – they did much better songs later on.  I still remember how much I loved it at the time, though, the summer I moved from primary school to high school.  Interesting times.

Track 2: Robbie Williams – Freedom

Pointless cover of the George Michael track.  Although Robbie was my favourite member of Take That and I was gutted when he left, I find his solo stuff can be a bit hit and miss, and this cover doesn’t add anything to the original.

Track 3: Peter Andre and Bubbler Ranx – Mysterious Girl

Quite liked it at the time –  nowadays I see it as a ‘so-bad-it’s-hilarious’ classic.

Track 4: Dodgy – Good Enough

I was never hugely keen on this one, though I quite enjoyed it when we saw them live at Beautiful Days in 2013.

Track 5: Ocean Colour Scene – The Day We Caught The Train

I adore Ocean Colour Scene (they were my favourite band for quite a while in my teens) and this is an absolute classic – great tune, great instrumentals, great lyrics.

Track 6: Larry Mullen Jr and Adam Clayton – Theme From Mission: Impossible

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

The two less famous members of U2 taking on the Mission: Impossible theme for the film version.  It’s perhaps slightly rockier than the original, but not hugely different.  I’ll give it a pass, though, ’cause you wouldn’t want a classic theme like this to be changed too much.

Track 7: Underworld – Born Slippy

Really liked it at the time, find it dated and annoying now.

Track 8: JX – There’s Nothing I Won’t Do

Quite like the tune on this dance track, but the vocals annoy me.

Track 9: Gina G – Ooh Aah (Just A Little Bit)

The UK’s Eurovision entry for 1996.  Loved it at the time, find it irritating now.  I’m finding that’s a bit of a theme with 1996.  I must not have been hugely discerning at eleven.

Track 10: Pianoman – Blurred

Nice piano lines, as you might expect – the rest of the track is a bit messy, especially the misplaced sample from Blur’s Girls And Boys.

Track 11: Livin’ Joy – Don’t Stop Movin’

Oh, it’s this one.  The vocals are at least interesting, but I find the style irritating and a bit generic.

Track 12: Louise – Naked

Finally a decent one from Louise – great solid pop track.

Track 13: Mark Morrison – Return Of The Mack

Classic tune, quite like this one.  It’s been sample-covered horribly by at least two different ’10s artists, but I’m sure we’ll get to those later.

Track 14: 2Pac and Dr Dre – California Love

Really like this one!  Great song, love that chorus.

Track 15: Pato Banton – Groovin’

Dull tune, dull vocals, not keen.

Track 16: Reel 2 Real – Jazz It Up

Quite a funky danceable beat, but it’s a bit of a dull tune.

Track 17: Maxi Priest and Shaggy – That Girl

Nice jaunty vocals, but that sample of Booker T & The MGs’ Green Onions is super repetitive.

Track 18: Los Del Mar – Macarena

No, that’s not a typo.  Los Del Mar were basically a tribute band that only existed in order to cover Macarena by Los Del Rio (who were themselves little more than a one-hit wonder).  Maybe the Now! compilers couldn’t get the rights to the original.

The cover is pretty pointless – it’s pretty much note for note the River Fe-Mix version of the original.

Track 19: Umboza – Sunshine

Another misplaced sample, this time Bamboléo by the Gipsy Kings.  The rest of the track is fairly generic.

Track 20: Josh Wink – Higher State Of Consciousness

We’ve had this already, on Now! #32, which was only a couple of compilations ago!  That’s just lazy.

Urgh.  See the link for my review.

Track 21: Todd Terry, Martha Wash and Jocelyn Brown – Keep On Jumpin’

Messy semi-cover of the ’70s hit, with samples and random lines all over the place.  It’s pretty awful.

Track 22: Robert Miles – Children

I’ve always loved this one!  Gorgeous electro tune.

Track 23: George Michael – Jesus To A Child

Lovely, melancholy song from George Michael.  Beautiful tune.

Track 24: Oasis – Wonderwall

A little late to the party for the Now! compilers, as this was more of a late 1995 hit, but it’s a classic, probably the best song Oasis did in my opinion, and so still very welcome.

Track 25: The Bluetones – Slight Return

Oh, it’s this one!  Pleasant tune, happily nodding along right now.

Track 26: Paul Weller – Peacock Suit

Dull tune, very dad-rock.  Not keen.

Track 27: Bon Jovi – Hey God

I normally like Bon Jovi, but I find this one a bit uninspired.

Track 28: Bryan Adams – The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You

Found it annoying at the time, just find it a bit so-so now.

Track 29: Belinda Carlisle – In Too Deep

Nice instrumentals, but the vocal is pretty dull.

Track 30: Suggs – Cecelia

Loved this reggae-tinged cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic at the time, still love it now!  Great track.

Track 31: Blur – Charmless Man

I’ve always found the tune to this one a bit annoying.  Not my favourite Blur track.

Track 32: Suede – Trash

Good head-nodder from Suede – really like this one.  Great singalong chorus too.

Track 33: Joan Osborne – One Of Us

That old-timey American traditional rhyme at the start is super annoying, but the song itself is an absolute classic – great tune.

Track 34: Crowded House – Instinct

Nice tune, really like this one.

Track 35: Lighthouse Family – Ocean Drive

Feelgood track with an awesome singalong chorus.  Lovely.

Track 36: Tina Turner – On Silent Wings

Dull tune, dull ballad.  Not a fan of this one.

Track 37: Everything But The Girl – Wrong

Good beat, but I’m not keen on the tune.

Track 38: OMC – How Bizarre

I’d forgotten about this one!  Pleasant, jaunty track, really like it.

Track 39: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Walking On The Milky Way

Lovely tune, really interesting track.

Track 40: Space – Female Of The Species

Loved it at the time, love it now.  I remember endless arguments in the back of the car about whether the lyric was ‘more deadlier‘, which was what it sounded like, or the grammatically correct ‘more deadly‘.  I think I argued for the latter position, just because I couldn’t believe a professional band would write such a horrendously wrong sentence (ah, childhood innocence).  A quick google just now tells me it was indeed the latter, but it really does sound like the former.

Track 41: Cast – Walkaway

Nice tune, but a bit slow for me.

Track 42: Boyzone – Coming Home Now

Liked it at the time, find the tune pretty irritating now.