Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #42

Day 42, and here we are on 29th March 1999, when Now! #42 was released.

March 1999
This is how the world looked in March 1999…well, sort of. Again, we sucked at taking pictures that spring, so here’s one from later in the summer. The South of France never really changes, but I don’t wear tacky fake Hard Rock Cafe T-shirts from tourist stalls anymore *cringe*

Let’s see what the hits were as we went into the final year of the ’90s.

Now! That's What I Call Music #42
Track 1: Boyzone – When The Going Gets Tough

I mentioned this in my review of Now! #7, when discussing the Billy Ocean original.  As I said there, the cover doesn’t do anything different, but it was the Comic Relief single for 1999, so it probably raised a lot of money.  Including mine, ’cause I bought the single.

Obligatory ‘I hate pointless ’90s covers’ rant: And the reason I bought the single is because I thought ‘hey, that’s a great song!’ without realising there was a much better original version.  Sigh.

Track 2: Steps – Better Best Forgotten

Quite liked it at the time, find it super irritating now.

Track 3: Cher – Believe

I don’t hate this as much as some people do – in fact, I quite like the tune – but it was really overplayed at the time, so I don’t think there was anybody who wasn’t sick of it.

Track 4: Steps, Tina Cousins, Cleopatra, B*Witched and Billie Piper – Thank Abba For The Music

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

Medley of Abba songs performed at the Brit Awards 1999 by contemporary pop artists in tribute to Abba.  It was pretty cringeworthy at the time, and is even more so nineteen years later.

Track 5: Spice Girls – Goodbye

The Christmas number one from 1998, so it’s one of those ones that feels like it’s the wrong time of year for it.  Pretty track, though.

Track 6: Honeyz – End Of The Line

Like this tune, but the vocals aren’t really to my taste.

Track 7: Billie Piper – Honey To The Bee

Found it a bit dull at the time, but I quite like the tune nowadays.

Track 8: The Corrs – What Can I Do

Lovely tune, great instrumentals.  Big fan of this one.

Track 9: Emilia – Big Big World

Really liked it at the time, find it a bit saccharine now.  Still a nice tune.

Track 10: Tina Cousins – Killin’ Time

Epic-sounding dance track – really like this one.

Track 11: Vengaboys – We Like To Party! (The Vengabus)

Bit of a guilty pleasure, this one, ’cause I do love that singalong chorus (and I have a soft spot for anything with a daft bus theme).

Track 12: Cartoons – Witch Doctor

Dance cover of the ’50s classic.  Always quite liked this one.

Track 13: Ace Of Base – Always Have, Always Will

Jaunty track with a mid-century retro tinge.  Happily nodding along.

Track 14: Blockster – You Should Be

Dull dance track based around a sample of You Should Be Dancing.  It’s pretty uninspired.

Track 15: A+ – Enjoy Yourself

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

I quite like the take on Beethoven’s Fifth, but the rap is a bit generic.

Track 16: Deetah – El Paradiso Rico

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

I like the La Isla Bonita bit, but the rest of the track is pretty awful.

Track 17: Emmie – More Than This

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

Fairly dull dance track.  The vocal is quite nice, but the rest of the track’s pretty uninspired.

Track 18: DJ Sakin – Protect Your Mind (For The Love Of A Princess)

Dance cover of James Horner’s For The Love Of A Princess from the Braveheart soundtrack.  It’s as awful as it sounds.

Track 19: Fool Boona – Popped

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

There’s a nice sample from Iggy Pop’s The Passenger in there somewhere, but it gets lost among a ridiculous amount of other stuff going on.  It’s just a big mess, unfortunately.

Track 20: Sash! – Colour The World

Nice tune, but it’s pretty repetitive.

Track 21: Justin – Over You

Slow and dull, and I find the vocal too high-pitched and annoying.

Track 22: Robbie Williams – Strong

Never been a fan of this one – I find the tune super irritating.

Track 23: Lenny Kravitz – Fly Away

Classic rock track, really like this.  Love that singalong chorus.

Track 24: Fatboy Slim – Praise You

A classic!  Great dance track, love this one.

Track 25: Armand Van Helden and Duane Harden – U Don’t Know Me

Highly irritating intro.  Once the hook gets going, it’s sort of okay.

Track 26: Mr Oizo – Flat Beat

I had (in fact, I think I still have) the single of this one.  I don’t like it as much as I used to – it’s fairly tuneless.

Track 27: The Cardigans – Erase/Rewind

Another great rock track from the Cardigans.  Awesome tune.

Track 28: Stereophonics – Just Looking

Urgh, incredibly annoying and depressing chorus.  Don’t like this one at all.

Track 29: The All Seeing I and Tony Christie – Walk Like A Panther

I’ve always liked this track – great tune.

Track 30: The Divine Comedy – National Express

I normally like the Divine Comedy, but this is another one with an annoying chorus.  The verse is great though!

Track 31: Terrorvision – Tequila [Mint Royale Shot]

A classic, and it was a bit of an anthem for me and my friends at the time.  True fact: I drank my first shot of tequila while this song was playing, on Hogmanay 1999, Millennium Eve.  Good times.

Track 32: The Beautiful South – How Long’s A Tear Take To Dry?

It’s a nice tune, but as often happens with the Beautiful South, I find the theme a little awkward.

Track 33: Roxette – Wish I Could Fly

Lovely tune, solid as ever from Roxette – great atmosphere too.

Track 34: 911 – A Little Bit More

It was too cheesy for me at fourteen, so you can imagine what I think of it at thirty-three.  Just no.

Track 35: Dru Hill – These Are The Times

Slow, boring ballad with a forgettable tune, and you know what I think about those.

Track 36: Kele Le Roc – My Love

Another dull ballad.  Not keen on this at all.

Track 37: All Saints – War Of Nerves

Great atmosphere, but there’s a slight disharmony between the vocal and instrumental that gets on my nerves.

Track 38: Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Inkanyezi Nezazi (The Star And The Wiseman)

Nice a cappella track – lovely tune.

Track 39: Blur – Tender

Gorgeous tune, great lyrics – really like this one.

Track 40: Dusty Springfield – You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me

Classic ’60s track, re-released in tribute to Dusty Springfield, who had just passed away in March 1999.  Great song.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #23

Day 23’s Now! compilation takes us to 16th November 1992.

November 1992
This was how the world looked in November 1992. I was bang on trend in my pink and purple pastels, and the wee bro was apparently into the Red Arrows (or, more likely, we knew someone who was and they had gifted him the sweatshirt). Our house was not bang on trend, still rocking its ’70s brown furnishings. Also, my fringe still does that when I can’t be bothered styling it, which is 99% of the time.

These tracks were also bang on trend, I guess.

Now! That's What I Call Music #23
Track 1: Tasmin Archer – Sleeping Satellite

Oh, it’s this one!  Very pretty tune, like it.

Track 2: Jon Secada – Just Another Day

Another lovely tune, really nice atmosphere.

Track 3: Charles & Eddie – Would I Lie To You?

It’s an okay song (with yet another nice tune) but I’m not loving this one.

Track 4: Was (Not Was) – Shake Your Head

Good beat, but the song’s not got enough melody for me.  Interesting chorus though.

Track 5: Bob Marley & The Wailers – Iron Lion Zion

A ’70s track back in the charts – great reggae classic.

Track 6: Go West – Faithful

Go West did this one when I saw them in November, and it seemed to go down well with the audience.  I prefer their ’80s stuff (as you might expect), but this is still a great solid pop song.

Track 7: George Michael – Too Funky

Good head-nodder, nice instrumentals.  Quite like this one.

Track 8: Arrested Development – People Everyday

Really like the beat on this one, though it’s a bit repetitive otherwise.

Track 9: Simply Red – For Your Babies

Slow, dull ballad, and you know how I feel about those.

Track 10: Erma Franklin – (Take A Little) Piece Of My Heart

Another oldie back in the charts, from the ’60s this time!  This one’s a classic – great track.

Track 11: Brian May – Too Much Love Will Kill You

Beautiful track.  I probably marginally prefer the Queen version (Wikipedia has some interesting stuff about the differences) but it’s a stunner in both cases.  Lovely.

Track 12: Simple Minds – Alive And Kicking

Simple Minds’ 1985 classic back in the charts – this Now! compilation is certainly showing some love to the older tracks.

Wait a minute.

We already had this track on Now! #6!  I can’t tell you how annoyed I am that we’re only 23 albums in and the Now! compilers have started repeating tracks already.  Sort it out!

As such, I’ve already reviewed this one.

Track 13: John Lee Hooker – Boom Boom

Classic ’60s blues track, back in the charts for some reason.  Summer 1992 was clearly a highly nostalgic time.

Track 14: Billy Ray Cyrus – Achy Breaky Heart

Awful line dance ‘classic’.  Country music is not my thing at all, I’m afraid!

Track 15: Little Angels – Too Much Too Young

Nice rock instrumentals, but the vocals are a bit cheesy for me.

Track 16: Richard Marx – Take This Heart

Richard Marx can be a bit hit-and-miss for me, and this one’s a miss.  Too saccharine by far.

Track 17: Genesis – Jesus He Knows Me

It’s not quite clear from the title whether it’s meant to indicate startled realisation (‘Jesus!  He knows me.’) or religious sentiment (‘Jesus: he knows me.’).  Punctuation matters, people.

From the lyrics, it seems to be the latter.

It’s a great track otherwise – upbeat, epic atmosphere, awesome tune.  Really like this one.

Track 18: INXS – Baby Don’t Cry

Not hugely keen on the melody, and it’s a bit repetitive.

Track 19: Crowded House – It’s Only Natural

Nice tune, good head-nodder.

Track 20: Erasure – Who Needs Love Like That [Hamburg Mix]

Remix of the 1985 classic.  I couldn’t find the remix on Spotify, so it’s a good excuse to listen to the original!

Solid synthpop as ever from Erasure – great tune.

Track 21: The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode

Classic early ’90s anthem complete with sledgehammer-subtle drug reference.  Great, danceable song.

Track 22: Rage – Run To You

Slightly odd dance cover of the Bryan Adams song.  I shouldn’t like it, but I kind of do.

Track 23: Bizarre Inc and Angie Brown – I’m Gonna Get You

Repetitive, irritating dance track.  Not a fan.

Track 24: Heaven 17 – Temptation [Brothers In Rhythm Remix]

We already had the original 1983 version of the song back on Now! 1, so I really don’t think this remix should have been included!

For what it’s worth though, it’s a super interesting remix with a great atmosphere.

Track 25: East 17 – House Of Love

Great danceable pop classic.  Really like this one!

Also, I never noticed until the Now! compilers’ inspired tracklisting here that both the ’80s and the ’90s had really famous pop bands with names that ended in ’17’.

Track 26: The Farm – Don’t You Want Me

Immediate side-eye at the notion of somebody covering the Human League classic, which in my view can’t be bettered.

Um…it’s fairly awful.  Messy track, bad cover.  Not a fan of this at all.

Track 27: Undercover – Never Let Her Slip Away

Nice tune, nice spiky synth line, nice sax solo.  Cheesy vocals, but you can’t have everything!

Track 28: Doctor Spin – Tetris

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

Novelty Eurodance reworking of the classic Tetris music (I guess it would have been ‘new’ rather than ‘classic’ at this point) with bonus sampling of 2 Unlimited’s Get Ready For This.  Amusing, but a bit messy – though you can’t help but have an epic atmosphere with this tune.

Track 29: Ambassadors Of Funk and MC Mario – Supermarioland

More comedy stylings from the Now! compilers, with two Game Boy themed tracks one after the other.  Now I feel nostalgic for my Game Boy.  Of course, being a hoarder, I obviously still have it, though I’m more likely to play those classic games on my 3DS nowadays.

Anyway, the song.  It’s a rap about playing Super Mario Land, with the Super Mario Land music interspersed throughout.  Kind of all over the place, but I love that the Game Boy apparently inspired so much chart music at the time.

Track 30: Roxette – How Do You Do!

More solid pop-rock from Roxette – this one’s a bit retro-inspired.  Interesting vocals too.

Track 31: Abba – Dancing Queen

Classic ’70s anthem, back in the charts for 1992.  Can’t complain!

Track 32: Björn Again – A Little Respect

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

I’m not sure who’s trolling us harder here – Björn Again, who are covering Erasure as a response to Erasure covering Abba (my head hurts), or the Now! compilers, who have placed a track by an Abba tribute band directly after a track by actual Abba.  Also, I can’t remember what phrase people used instead of ‘trolling’ before the internet became ubiquitous.  ‘Taking the piss’, maybe.

As for the track, well, you can’t beat the Erasure original, but the quality of the music is not the point of this one, I don’t think.

Track 33: Vanessa Paradis – Be My Baby

Nice tune, very ’60s-retro-tinged.

Track 34: Betty Boo – Let Me Take You There

Lovely synth instrumentals, though as ever I’m not keen on Betty Boo’s rap style.

Track 35: Sophie B Hawkins – Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover

I’ve always liked this one, largely ’cause we had it on a Top Gear compilation when I was a kid.  Nice tune, great lyrics.

Track 36: Peter Gabriel – Digging In The Dirt

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

I tell a lie.  This one is on Spotify, but it’s a live version, and I hate live versions, so I’m going to be un-lazy and pause the playlist.

Verse is a bit dull, but it livens up for the bridge.  The tune is horribly repetitive though.

Track 37: Enya – Book Of Days

Wonderful heartlifting tune from Enya – absolutely beautiful atmosphere.

Track 38: Roy Orbison and KD Lang – Crying

I find the original Roy Orbison solo version pretty slow and saccharine as it is, and I’m not a fan of KD Lang anyway (I don’t like singer-songwriter slow acoustic-y type stuff), so I’m not keen on this.

Track 39: Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé – Barcelona

I’m extremely cross with the Now! compilers.  We already had this track on Now! #10, where it opened my favourite childhood album perfectly.  The fact that it was back in the charts to coincide with the Olympics is not an excuse to repeat tracks!

You already know what I think of this one – just follow the link above.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track 2: Wet Wet Wet – Goodnight Girl

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

Track 3: Shakespear’s Sister – Stay

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

Track 4: The Temptations – My Girl

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

Track 5: Simply Red – Stars

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

Track 6: The KLF – Justified And Ancient

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

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

Track 7: Madness – It Must Be Love

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

Track 8: Genesis – I Can’t Dance

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

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

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

Track 10: Crowded House – Weather With You

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

Track 11: Right Said Fred – Deeply Dippy

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

Track 12: Mr Big – To Be With You

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

Track 13: Everything But The Girl – Love Is Strange

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

Track 14: Roxette – Church Of Your Heart

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

Track 15: Brian May – Driven By You

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track 18: James – Born Of Frustration

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

Track 19: The Cure – High

Lovely, sweet track from the Cure – gorgeous tune.

Track 20: Shanice – I Love Your Smile

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

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

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

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

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

Track 23: East Side Beat – Ride Like The Wind

Nice atmosphere, good upbeat dance track.

Track 24: 2 Unlimited – Twilight Zone

Typically epic dance from 2 Unlimited – great track.

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

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

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

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

Track 26: Clivilles & Cole – A Deeper Love

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

Track 27: Opus III – It’s A Fine Day

Really like the vocal melody on this one.

Track 28: Erasure – Breath Of Life

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

Track 29: MC Hammer – Addams Groove

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

Track 30: Salt-N-Pepa – Expression

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

Track 31: CeCe Peniston – We Got A Love Thang

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

Annoying vocals, generic tune.  Not a fan.

Track 32: Paula Abdul – Vibeology

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

Track 33: Alison Limerick – Make It On My Own

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

Track 34: Tina Turner – Way Of The World

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

Track 35: Curtis Stigers – I Wonder Why

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

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

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

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