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 #22

Day 22, and we’ve arrived at 27th July 1992.

July 1992
This was the way the world (Germany, to be precise) looked in July 1992. We went touring all around Europe that month so we’ve got oodles of pictures showing how the world looked, but I’ve chosen our car in front of a building, ’cause I like pictures of cars.

Let’s see what might have been on the car stereo while we were exploring!

Now! That's What I Call Music #22
Track 1: Erasure – Take A Chance On Me

Erasure get to their ‘Abba covers’ phase.  I’m generally a fan of synth covers of classic songs, and I do like this one, apart from the random rap towards the end.

Track 2: CeCe Peniston – Finally

I’ve always found the chorus on this one annoying.  Sorry!

Track 3: KWS – Please Don’t Go

Nice tune, but it’s a bit repetitive for me.

Track 4: Take That – It Only Takes A Minute

Take That make their first Now! appearance!  I adored them so much as a little girl.  Robbie was my favourite, and I was so gutted when he left the group.  To this day, I don’t consider them proper Take That (‘Fake That’, I used to say derisively when they first reappeared in the ’00s) unless Robbie’s involved.

Ahem.  Anyway.

This is a nice solid pop cover of the Tavares classic – good, danceable stuff.

Track 5: Nick Berry – Heartbeat

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

Urgh, Nick Berry‘s back.  I thought after Every Loser Wins, we had all suffered enough.  This one is a pointless ’90s cover of the Buddy Holly classic, presumably to tie in with the TV show Heartbeat.

Track 6: Snap – Rhythm Is A Dancer

Absolute classic, epic dance track – I love this one!  One of my favourites.

Track 7: Utah Saints – Something Good

Brilliant track with epic-level sampling of Kate Bush’s Cloudbusting.  Now, THIS is how you sample appropriately.  Wonderful stuff.

Track 8: The Cure – Friday I’m In Love

One of my favourite tracks from my favourite band – lovely feelgood song with beautiful instrumentals.

Track 9: Marc Almond – The Days Of Pearly Spencer

I’m going to see Marc Almond later this year!  I’m very excited.

Sadly, it won’t be at the one-off Soft Cell reunion gig, which is one of my big gig disappointments this year – I really wanted to go, but due to a miscommunication I missed the ten-minute ticket window.  However, I will be seeing him solo at the Electric Dreams festival, so that sort-of makes up for it.

This track has a lovely epic atmosphere and beautiful instrumentals – really like this one.

Track 10: The Beautiful South – Bell Bottomed Tear

Pretty tune and nice vocals, but it’s a bit slow for me.

Track 11: Prince – Thunder

I like the epic intro and chorus, and the instrumentals are interesting.  Good track.

Track 12: U2 – Even Better Than The Real Thing

Repetitive instrumentals, dull tune.  Not keen on this one.

Track 13: The Shamen – LSI (Love Sex Intelligence)

Good upbeat dance track – happily nodding along here.

Track 14: Electronic – Disappointed

Nice bit of synth electro from Electronic.  Solid stuff.

Track 15: Shakespear’s Sister – I Don’t Care

Nice upbeat track with a rockier edge.  Vocals not as impressive as usual for Shakespear’s Sister, but still solid.

Track 16: Carter USM – Do Re Me, So Far So Good

So, after me going on for weeks about various great Carter USM covers of various tracks, they finally show up on a Now! compilation with one of their original songs!

Great upbeat rock song, typically brilliant Carter lyrics and singalong chorus.

Track 17: Ugly Kid Joe – Everything About You

Could do without the spoken word on the intro, but it’s a classic track and a good head-nodder.

Track 18: SL2 – On A Ragga Tip

The reggae bit’s good, but the track in general is a bit haphazard.

Track 19: The Orb – Blue Room

Nice bit of chillout, though I could do without the siren noises.

Track 20: Richard Marx – Hazard

Epic atmosphere, great solid track.

Track 21: Elton John – The One

Nice tune, but it’s fairly generic for Elton John.  Not a favourite.

Track 22: Roy Orbison – I Drove All Night

This one was apparently written for Orbison, but I prefer the Cyndi Lauper version, which came out first (I’m not sure which one counts as the ‘cover’ in this case).  Still a great song, though, whoever’s singing it.

Track 23: Jimmy Nail – Ain’t No Doubt

More upbeat than usual for Jimmy Nail – I quite like this one.

Track 24: Joe Cocker – Unchain My Heart

A bit overblown in the vocals at the start, but once the beat gets going it’s quite good – great funk bassline.

Track 25: Curtis Stigers – You’re All That Matters To Me

Another too-slow too-saccharine one from Curtis Stigers, and this time there’s no sax to save it.  Not keen.

Track 26: Wilson Phillips – You Won’t See Me Cry

Nice feelgood tune, nice atmosphere, great sax solo.  Still a little slow for me though.

Track 27: Crowded House – Four Seasons In One Day

Lovely tune, great lyrics – really like this one.

Track 28: Annie Lennox – Why

Nice introspective track from Annie Lennox – I really like her stuff from this period.

Track 29: George Michael and Elton John – Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me

Classic duet, epic track – lovely song.

Track 30: Diana Ross – One Shining Moment

Lovely tune, but again it’s a bit of a slow ballad for me.

Track 31: Vanessa Williams – Save The Best For Last

This is another one of those feelgood ballads that I always heard on the radio on ferries during family holidays around this time.  It was also used in an advert for Bisto or Oxo (I think?  I’m sure it was stock cubes or soup or something ‘comforting’), so I kind of associate it with that vibe.

Track 32: En Vogue – My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)

Great upbeat head-nodder from En Vogue – really like this one, especially the a cappella bit towards the end.

Track 33: Soul II Soul – Joy

This one’s a bit dull in my view – nothing special going on here.

Track 34: Incognito – Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing

Great upbeat track to finish on today – love those instrumentals!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #14

Two weeks into this review series, and Now! 14 takes us to 20th March 1989.

March 1989
This is how the world looked in March 1989. Nice garden stonework features, lots of plants, and head-to-toe red outfits.

Both me and the wee bro were clearly better dressed than this lot, but let’s listen to their songs anyway.

Now! That's What I Call Music #14
Track 1: Marc Almond and Gene Pitney – Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart

The Gene Pitney solo original from the ’60s is one of my all-time favourite songs.  This version with Marc Almond doesn’t quite match the original for me, but it’s still really good.

Track 2: Phil Collins – Two Hearts

Phil Collins back on form after that awful one from yesterday.  Great bouncy singalong chair-dancer.

Track 3: Erasure – Stop!

Love the spiky synth on this one.  More great pop from Erasure.

Track 4: Bananarama and LaNaNeeNeeNooNoo – Help!

An early example of a Comic Relief single, with Bananarama teaming up with their parody versions (actually French and Saunders) for a not-quite-pointless cover of the Beatles classic.  There’s not much added to the song other than the daft comedy spoken word sections, but the backing instrumentals are quite interesting.

Track 5: Hue & Cry – Looking For Linda

More upbeat than Ordinary Angel yesterday, but the chorus annoys me.  Sorry!

Track 6: Yazz – Fine Time

Yazz has ditched the Plastic Population, and judging by this song, I can’t decide whether it was the best move.  The tune is nice and soulful, but perhaps a little slow for me.  No annoying chorus, though, so that’s a huge improvement.

Track 7: Kim Wilde – Four Letter Word

Obligatory Kim Wilde gig mention.  Yes, she played this one too!

Bit of a slower, quieter one from Kim Wilde, but still a great pop track – really nice build to the atmosphere.

Track 8: Sam Brown – Stop

This is the second track on this compilation with this title.  Between this and the Transvision Vamp/Duran Duran mixed message from yesterday, I’m beginning to think bands in the late ’80s were running out of originality when it came to titles.

Absolutely love this track – beautiful tune, wonderful epic atmosphere.

Fun fact: Jamelia did the most pointless of pointless covers of this in 2003 for the Love Actually soundtrack – it sounds EXACTLY the same.

Track 9: Roy Orbison – You Got It

Was Roy Orbison really still going in 1989?  *googles*  Apparently so.

Really like this tune, especially that bridge.  Nice head-nodder.

Track 10: Fine Young Cannibals – She Drives Me Crazy

Hands down my favourite Fine Young Cannibals song.  Absolutely classic track with a beautiful simplicity to the vocals and lyrics, and some stunning guitar instrumentals.  Adore this one.

Track 11: INXS – Need You Tonight

That hook!  Another one that used to be used to announce the ad breaks on VH1 Classic.  An all-time favourite, with wonderful vocals and a great atmosphere.

Track 12: Status Quo – Burning Bridges (On And Off And On Again)

Annoying riff to start that reminds me of a sing-song nursery rhyme.  This is echoed in the chorus.  The verses are okay though.  Then there’s that random instrumental of the tune that I only know from Manchester United’s Come On You Reds song in the ’90s.  Just a bit of a mess, really.

Track 13: Then Jerico – Big Area

Nice tinkly intro, which smashes into a bit of epic guitar-led atmosphere.  Boring vocals, but the instrumentals are great.

Track 14: Morrissey – The Last Of The Famous International Playboys

Fairly upbeat for Morrissey.  Bit of a dull tune though.

Track 15: Poison – Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Boring slow guitar track.  My least favourite kind of music!  Not a fan at all.

Track 16: Simple Minds – Belfast Child

Beautiful track from Simple Minds, based on traditional melody As She Moved Through The Fair.  A favourite since childhood.

Track 17: Neneh Cherry – Buffalo Stance

I’ve got a soft spot for this classic, which I find to be a great singalong head-nodder.

Track 18: Inner City – Good Life

A little repetitive, but better than Big Fun yesterday.

Track 19: S-Express – Hey Music Lover

Super irritating spoken sample at the start!  I like the synth lines though.

Track 20: Living In A Box – Blow The House Down

Nice upbeat pop track, good head-nodder.  Really like that chorus.

Track 21: The Style Council – Promised Land

I’m a little surprised the Style Council were still going in ’89 – I was sure Paul Weller had gone solo by then.  Oh well, gotta keep improving that music knowledge.

Nice track though – good bouncy song, great synth going on in there.

Track 22: Adeva – Respect

Vocals a bit erratic for my liking, but a good dance track.

Track 23: Tone Lōc – Wild Thing

I quite like that clappy intro.  Rap bit is kind of dull though.

Track 24: Natalie Cole – I Live For Your Love

The dullest type of dull ballad, only marginally saved by the tinkly instrumentals.  Not keen.

Track 25: Robin Beck – First Time

Really like the tune on this one – great rock ballad.

Track 26: Paula Abdul – Straight Up

Great chair-dancing track.  Love the chorus too, good singalong potential.

Track 27: Samantha Fox – I Only Wanna Be With You

Upbeat cover of the Dusty Springfield classic.  Different enough not to be pointless (there’s no mistaking that ’80s synth), but there’s something cheesy and annoying about it.

Track 28: Brother Beyond – Be My Twin

Vocals are too saccharine, but I quite like the tune.  Nice sax solo too.

Track 29: Climie Fisher – Love Like A River

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

We’re getting towards the end of the compilation!  Do I dare hope?  Could today finally be the day when every track from the original compilation is present and correct on Spotify…oh.  Oh well.  So close.

Typically cheesy vocals for Climie Fisher, although there’s a nice almost-edge to the instrumentals underneath.

Track 30: Duran Duran – All She Wants Is

Yup, I still love Duran Duran, and this one is predictably wonderful (that bassline! that synth! those vocals! that chanting!) as ever.  Just a cut above.

Track 31: Level 42 – Tracie

All right, all right, I’m clicking on that ticket link now!  I’m buying those tickets!  I’ve received the email confirmation!  I’m going to see Level 42 in October!

It was for the best that I did that tonight, too, ’cause there were only two floor seats left that were next to each other!

This one’s a great jaunty track with some nice synth hooks.  Hope they play it when I go see them!

Track 32: Michael Ball – Love Changes Everything

I’ve got a soft spot for Michael Ball, mainly ’cause he’s so ubiquitous on British TV these days.  This track from the musical Aspects Of Love is as saccharine as you would expect, but it makes a nice change from the slow pop ballads that have been ending the last few Now! compilations.