Being a Band Aid baby, or: one hell of a bucket list

If you’re lucky, there’s something special about the song that was number one when you were born.  Maybe it symbolises something about your life, or your interests, or the person that you ended up growing up to be.  Maybe it’s just a really awesome song.

If you’re unlucky, you end up like Geth and get Theme From M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless) (UK number one from 25th May 1980 to 14th June 1980, fact fans!) as your birthday number one.  It’s not bad as TV theme tunes go, but it’s not special to Geth – he didn’t grow up to be a soldier, or an expert on the Korean War, or even much of a M*A*S*H fan, really.

I was lucky, and my birthday number one is special to me.  I love it as a Christmas baby, as an ’80s throwback, as a chart geek, and as a lover of music in general.  It’s an extremely well-known Christmas song – one of those tracks you hear constantly from the middle of November until early January.  It held the record for the best-selling single in UK chart history for more than twelve years, only ever being overtaken by Elton John’s Candle In The Wind ’97 after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in September 1997.

My birthday number one is Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas?, one of the most famous recordings in music history.

Do They Know It's Christmas?

I was born on 3rd January 1985, the twenty-sixth day of the thirty-five day period (9th December 1984 to 12th January 1985) that Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? spent at number one in the UK.  From the 1984-1985 UK birthrates available online, I estimate that I share my birthday number one with approximately 71,000 other Band Aid babies, including Georgia Moffett, Lewis Hamilton, and Newton Faulkner.  (I would love to be able to work out the exact number, but the internet is not forthcoming at the moment!)

Due to the ubiquity of the song, I grew up with it, and it became my favourite Christmas song long before I realised that it was my birthday number one.  I pored over the upside-down answers to Smash Hits quizzes that challenged readers to name all the artists involved in the song, and memorised names that were unfamiliar to me in the context of the early ’90s pop music landscape.  I dutifully learnt to sing the song with my primary school class in preparation for our Christmas performance at the local old folks’ community centre.  I waited excitedly for it to come on as soon as my brother and I were allowed to play the family’s Christmas compilation CD (That’s Christmas) on the 1st of December every year.  It’s one of those songs that you hear hundreds of times every year, and so it never really goes out of your mind.  That’s not something you can say about Theme From M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless).

The finer points of Bob Geldof’s project to put together a charity supergroup and the song’s recording on 25th November 1984 are well known, detailed in a hundred different BBC4 documentaries and summarised fairly well on Wikipedia (though I highly recommend the Smash Hits coverage of the recording day included in the collection book The Best Of Smash Hits: The ’80s for a bit of period flavour – it has a great group photo of all the artists involved except for Boy George, who infamously didn’t show up till six o’clock in the evening due to oversleeping in New York and having to get on a Concorde back to London).

I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my life, including a lot of concerts by artists who were big in the ’80s due to it being my favourite music era and favourite era in general.  But the other day, it occurred to me that I had never gone to see a single one of the thirty-seven artists who performed on my birthday number one.  I had never even seen any of the additional seven artists who couldn’t make it to the recording and so sent recorded Christmas messages to be used on the B-side of the single.

This is the part of the post where I get to the point.

I will never get to see every single one of the artists involved in my birthday number one.  Sadly, two of the musicians who contributed to the song (George Michael and Rick Parfitt) and two who recorded B-side messages (Stuart Adamson and David Bowie) have since passed away.  But I have decided that I will make a concerted effort to see as many of the rest of them as possible.  After all, I have more opportunity than some.  My brother’s birthday number one is Ben E King’s Stand By Me (a re-entry at UK number one between 15th February 1987 and 7th March 1987), which means that since King’s death in 2015 he has no longer had the possibility of seeing his birthday number one artist.  People who were born between 14th December 1980 and 20th December 1980, when (Just Like) Starting Over was number one following John Lennon’s assassination, have never had the chance to see their birthday number one artist.

Enter the Band Aid bucket list!

For most of my bucket lists, I reckon that if I’m lucky enough, I’ve got another fifty or sixty years left to get them completed.  Time is not so much on my side for this particular list, given that all the artists on it are now in their fifties and sixties and won’t be performing or alive forever.  As such, rather similarly to the huge hoard of ’80s vintage clothing I’m collecting while it’s still cheap and plentiful, I aim to get the bulk of this project achieved while I’m still in my thirties, and so I’m targeting >50% list completion by my fortieth birthday on 3rd January 2025.  That gives me six years, one month and fourteen days as of this post to see as many of the following artists as possible.  I’d better get a wiggle on.

The artists who sang on the track:

The extra artists who recorded messages for the B-side:

Current progress: song artists 5/37 (13.5%); message artists 2/7 (28.6%); total artists 7/44 (15.9%).

I have arranged to find out about future performances by all of these artists using the extremely lazy 21st century method of following them all on Twitter!

I’ll keep updating this post as I see more artists.  I’m looking forward to this project!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #53

Day 53 brings us to Now! #53, released on 18th November 2002.

November 2002
This is how the world looked in November 2002 (actually December). It was party season and I was starting to look vaguely grown-up, now I was at uni and everything. That dress is another one that I only just got rid of in the giant clothes cull.

Let’s see what was played at all the Christmas parties that year.

Now! That's What I Call Music #53
Track 1: DJ Sammy, Yanou and Do – Heaven

Trance cover of the Bryan Adams classic that was everywhere at the time.  Give me the original any day.

Track 2: Las Ketchup – Aserejé

Daft novelty song with accompanying dance.  It was fun to dance to in the Cav after a few VK Apples, but the less said about that the better.

Track 3: Enrique Iglesias – Love To See You Cry

Enrique Iglesias’ song themes are just getting creepier and creepier *shudder*

The Spanish guitar is nice, but I can’t get past the creep factor.

Track 4: Sugababes – Round Round

Great solid pop song, really like this one.

Track 5: Atomic Kitten – The Tide Is High (Get The Feeling)

Pointless cover of the Blondie classic with a sort of extra bad song tacked onto the end of it.  Should have left well alone.

Track 6: Blue – One Love

Irritating chorus, pretty bland otherwise.

Track 7: Darius – Colourblind

Another irritating, saccharine song.  Not my thing at all.

Track 8: Busted – What I Go To School For

Busted are a good example of what I call ‘pop-pop-punk’ – very obviously fake ‘alternative’ aesthetic, present themselves as playing their own instruments, but they’re far too manufactured to be in any way actually alternative.  This track is a bit of a guilty pleasure though.

Track 9: Liberty X – Got To Have Your Love

The instrumentals on the intro are okay, but then the generic vocals kick in and make everything very dull.

Track 10: Romeo and Christina Milian – It’s All Gravy

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

Uninspired rap track with boring sung vocal interjections.  Nothing exciting about this.

Track 11: Samantha Mumba – I’m Right Here

It’s better than a lot of the Samantha Mumba tracks featured recently, but it’s still pretty bland.

Track 12: Abs Breen – What You Got

Instrumentals a bit more interesting than most of these tracks, but the vocals are very generic.

Track 13: Britney Spears – I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll

Really awkward pointless cover of the Joan Jett classic.  There’s just no edge to this at all.

Track 14: S Club Juniors – Automatic High

More irritating kiddie warbling.  Let’s move on.

Track 15: Kylie Minogue – Come Into My World

Nice tune, but it’s a bit repetitive.

Track 16: Jakatta and Seal – My Vision

Fairly dull dance chillout track, though the vocals are good.

Track 17: Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Music Gets The Best Of Me

Highly annoying chorus – not keen on this one.

Track 18: Kelly Llorenna – Heart Of Gold

More irritating vocals and a highly generic dance hook.

Track 19: Milk Inc – Walk On Water

Yet more annoying, generic vocals.  The tune’s pretty awful too.

Track 20: Jan Wayne – Because The Night

Starts off as a fairly pointless cover of the Patti Smith classic, then it turns into an uninspired dance track.  The tune’s good, ’cause it’s a good song originally, but I get very irritated by covers like this.

Track 21: Lasgo – Pray

Utterly grating vocals, generic tune.

Track 22: Scooter – Posse

The shouty vocals are a bit daft, but the tune is good.

Track 23: Coldplay – In My Place

It’s Coldplay-by-numbers – dull and depressing.

Track 24: Oasis – Little By Little

Good atmosphere, but it’s too slow for me, and the chorus annoys me.

Track 25: U2 – Electrical Storm

Nice instrumentals, but I find the rest of the track too repetitive.

Track 26: Chad Kroeger and Josey Scott – Hero

I’ve always found the tune to this Spiderman tie-in track really annoying.  Not a fan.

Track 27: Richard Ashcroft – Check The Meaning

The tune’s okay, but it’s pretty forgettable.

Track 28: Eva Cassidy – Imagine

Slow acoustic cover of the John Lennon classic.  As ever with Eva Cassidy, the vocals are gorgeous, but the style is too slow for me.

Track 29: Vanessa Carlton – A Thousand Miles

Really like this tune!  Great track.

Track 30: Badly Drawn Boy – You Were Right

Good, interesting tune – quite like this one.

Track 31: Ronan Keating – I Love It When We Do

Irritating chorus, boring tune.  Not keen.

Track 32: Appleton – Fantasy

Follow-up band comprising half the members of All Saints.  It’s got a slightly rockier edge than the All Saints stuff, but the tune’s not much to write home about.

Track 33: Ms Dynamite – Dy-Na-Mi-Tee

The tune’s a bit repetitive, but the chorus is quite fun.

Track 34: Beenie Man and Janet Jackson – Feel It Boy

Messy track, boring tune.  Nothing interesting here.

Track 35: Daniel Bedingfield – James Dean (I Wanna Know)

Another dull, repetitive tune, though the hook on the chorus is okay.

Track 36: Eminem – Without Me

Classic and hilarious.  Love this one, especially the fact that MTV still to this day mute out the ‘they wanna shut me down on MTV‘ line.

Track 37: Puddle Of Mudd – She Hates Me

Found the theme stupid at the time, still do now.  The tune’s okay though.

Track 38: Bowling For Soup – Girl All The Bad Guys Want

Great track!  Loved it then, love it now.  Classic piece of pop-punk.

Track 39: Supergrass – Grace

Nice feelgood tune, quite like this one.

Track 40: Status Quo – Jam Side Down

Amazed that enough people were still buying new Status Quo singles in 2002 that this actually charted!

This track’s quite refreshing for a 2002 playlist – it’s the same kind of classic rock that Quo have always done.

Track 41: Raven Maize – Fascinated

Repetitive, boring dance track.

Track 42: Who Da Funk and Jessica Eve – Shiny Disco Balls

Dull dance track with daft, irritating vocals.

Track 43: Paul Oakenfold – Starry Eyed Surprise

Another uninspired dance track with ‘bonus’ generic rap over the top.  A poor end to a poor Now! compilation.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #33

Day 33’s Now! compilation was released on 18th March 1996.

March 1996
This is how the world looked in March 1996 (actually April), or at least it did if you were skiing. I hated the feel of cagoules and have never worn them as an adult.

On with the music!

Now! That's What I Call Music #33
Track 1: Queen – Too Much Love Will Kill You

We’ve already had the Brian May solo version on Now! #23, but as I said in that review, I marginally prefer the version with the full band.  Beautiful track.

Track 2: Oasis – Don’t Look Back In Anger

Classic Britpop anthem.  At the time, my brother made up a full set of comedy actions to go with the lyrics that he would perform every time this song came on, and so I can’t unsee that whenever I hear it.  Like most Oasis tracks, it hasn’t aged that well, but it’s still a nice tune.

Track 3: Babylon Zoo – Spaceman

Loved this at the time, still quite like it now.  Really interesting rock song, played at every school disco circa 1995-1996.

Track 4: Supergrass – Going Out

Quite like the instrumental hook, but the vocals are pretty annoying.

Track 5: Pulp – Disco 2000

Another classic from Pulp.  The lyrics are just brilliant, although I do wonder how dated the concept of ‘let’s all meet up in the year 2000‘ must seem nowadays to those unfortunate souls who are too young to remember the 20th century.

Track 6: Cher – One By One

Nice epic guitar on the intro, nice tune.  Quite like this one.  Still rocking the sax solo too!

Track 7: Meat Loaf – Not A Dry Eye In The House

Not my favourite Meat Loaf track, but still a solid rock ballad.

Track 8: Enya – Anywhere Is

Great tune from Enya – loved it then, love it now.

Track 9: The Connells – ’74-’75

I’ve always adored this one – it’s another track that we had on a Top Gear compilation.  Gorgeous, wistful tune.

Track 10: Boyzone – Father And Son

I’ve never been hugely keen on this cover of the Cat Stevens classic.  At the time, it was just too slow for me; nowadays, I find it inferior to the original.

Track 11: Blur – The Universal

Love the way the track builds to that epic anthemic chorus.  Great stuff.

Track 12: Paul Weller – Out Of The Sinking

Another one off Stanley Road that I hated at the time.  It still annoys me purely due to to bringing back memories of being stuck in a backseat with no escape, but I can appreciate the musicality now.  Sort of.

Track 13: Cast – Sandstorm

Oh, it’s this one!  Great tune, love the vocal line on the verses.

Track 14: Mike & The Mechanics – All I Need Is A Miracle

Great tune – there’s something a bit ’80s throwback about it, which is no bad thing.

Track 15: Status Quo and Beach Boys – Fun, Fun, Fun

Semi-cover of the ’60s classic.  Not sure that Status Quo’s signature guitar lines were really needed on this song, but it’s at least different.

Track 16: Terrorvision – Perseverance

Another one I’d sort of forgotten about.  I like the upbeat vocals on the verses, and that singalong chorus is great.

Track 17: Lush – Ladykillers

Great song – great vocals, nice guitar line, really danceable.

Track 18: Levellers – Just The One

Great singalong tune, great theme, reminds me of hearing this played live at every Beautiful Days festival I went to between 2009 and 2013.

Track 19: Radiohead – Street Spirit (Fade Out)

Gorgeous, melancholy track.  Beautiful.

Track 20: Oasis – Live Forever

We have a repeated artist on the same Now! compilation, which as I’ve explained before is a DJing/compiling no-no!  Not impressed.

I’ve always found the tune on this one a bit annoying.

Track 21: Lighthouse Family – Lifted

Found the tune irritating at the time, still find it irritating now.  There are much better Lighthouse Family songs.

Track 22: Eternal – Good Thing

Dull tune, dull beat.  Not keen on this one.

Track 23: Etta James – I Just Want To Make Love To You

Classic ’60s cover of the Muddy Waters track, back in the chart for 1996 due to the infamous Diet Coke advert.  Great tune.

Track 24: Simply Red – Never Never Love

Oh, it’s this one.  Found it annoying at the time, find it dull now.

Track 25: Gabrielle – Give Me A Little More Time

Never been hugely keen on this one as I find the tune a bit generic.

Track 26: East 17 – Thunder

Great piano intro, great atmosphere.  The verses are a bit saccharine, but in general I really like this one.

Track 27: Luniz – I Got 5 On It

Always quite liked this one – it’s got a good atmosphere.

Track 28: Kaliphz and Prince Naseem – Walk Like A Champion

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

Found this annoying at the time, find it more annoying now.  Not a fan of this at all.

Track 29: Shaggy and Grand Puba – Why You Treat Me So Bad

Really don’t like the tune, and the track is pretty messy.  Not keen.

Track 30: Baby D – So Pure

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

Fairly generic dance track, irritating vocals.

Track 31: Gat Decor – Passion (Do You Want It Right Now)

Another dull dance track – nothing special at all.

Track 32: Gusto – Disco’s Revenge

Quite like the instrumental hook, but the vocals are pretty irritating and messy.

Track 33: Ken Doh – I Need A Lover Tonight

Not enough melody for me – just uninteresting and repetitive.  Not keen.

Track 34: Ace Of Base – Beautiful Life

Lovely piano intro, great atmosphere.  Really nice track.

Track 35: Louise – In Walked Love

Revoltingly saccharine.  Don’t like this at all.

Track 36: Dubstar – Not So Manic Now

Really like this one – lovely tune, lovely vocals.

Track 37: Saint Etienne – He’s On The Phone

Another one that we had on a Top Gear compilation.  I absolutely love this one – it’s a great tune with a gorgeous atmosphere.

Track 38: Dreadzone – Little Britain

Dreadzone were a favourite at Beautiful Days around the time that Geth and I were going regularly, as they played there so often.  This one’s a great, upbeat danceable track with interesting orchestral-tinged hooks.

Track 39: Goldbug – Whole Lotta Love

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

Female-vocal-led cover of the Led Zeppelin classic – other than the incorporation of the Pearl & Dean theme, it’s fairly uninspired.

Track 40: Technohead – I Wanna Be A Hippy

Loved it at the time, fairly irritated by it now.

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 #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.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #8

Day 8’s Now! compilation was released on 24th November 1986.

November 1986
Um, I’m not sure I can really say that this is what the world looked like in November 1986, given that my face pretty much takes up this whole photo. It’s what I looked like in November 1986, though, and I bet you can’t get dungarees that cute nowadays.

Let’s move onto the music.

Now! That's What I Call Music #8
Track 1: Duran Duran – Notorious

Yup, I still love Duran Duran.  I also wish the Now! compilers would start putting their tracks later in the mix.  I appreciate the need to start with a great tune, but sometimes it’s nice to save the best for last!

The song is one of my favourites (and not just for that Sparkle Motion bit in Donnie Darko that everyone always brings up).  I love the ‘no-no-notorious’ hook, the way the verses build, the funk guitar – great track.

Track 2: Pet Shop Boys – Suburbia

Another great track from Pet Shop Boys – absolutely beautiful chorus and synth line.

Track 3: Aerosmith and Run DMC – Walk This Way

Bit overplayed these days, but still a classic, although I have to say I prefer the original version that Aerosmith did themselves.

Track 4: The Communards and Sarah Jane Morris – Don’t Leave Me This Way

A childhood favourite and one of the first pop songs I learnt to sing along to!  I guess when you’re a toddler it’s easier to hit those high notes.

I discovered while Richard Coles was competing on Strictly last year that he’s responsible for the longest piano solo of the ’80s, which occurs in the middle of this song.  Plus points!

Track 5: Swing Out Sister – Breakout

Nice and upbeat, but there’s something about the vocal that annoys me.

Track 6: Steve Winwood – Higher Love

Charming song, always liked this one.  Great instrumentals, and I love that singalong chorus.

Track 7: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – (Forever) Live And Die

A bit slower than usual for OMD, but still a lovely tune.

Track 8: Genesis – In Too Deep

Nice epic instrumentals building throughout the song – really like this one.

Track 9: Cameo – Word Up

Another classic.  There have been a lot of pointless ’90s, ’00s and ’10s covers in an attempt to replicate the greatness of this song, but nothing has come close to the original.

Track 10: Grace Jones – I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Perfect For You)

I do like Grace Jones, and I really like the atmosphere of this track, especially during the verses.

Track 11: Mel & Kim – Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend)

I’ve got a huge soft spot for Mel & Kim, and I really like this one, even though every time it pops up on Vintage TV Geth complains that they never show Respectable, which he apparently remembers as being a much bigger hit.

Track 12: Jermaine Stewart – We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off

I love this one!  I never actually heard it until 2011, when it re-entered the charts after being featured in a Dairy Milk TV advert.  Great pop track.

Track 13: Jaki Graham – Step Right Up

Probably the best out of the Jaki Graham tracks that the Now! compilers have chosen recently.  Nice upbeat track with a catchy chorus.

Track 14: Janet Jackson – What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Quite a fun tune, but the lyrics annoy me.

Track 15: The Human League – Human

I really like this lovely, introspective track – a bit of a departure from the Human League’s earlier stuff, but really nice.

Track 16: Boris Gardiner – I Want To Wake Up With You

Bit cheesy for my liking, though I like the reggae beat.

Track 17: Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush – Don’t Give Up

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

Lovely duet, lovely tune.  Really like this one.

Track 18: The Housemartins – Think For A Minute

I don’t think the Housemartins did a bad tune, and this is gorgeous as usual.

Track 19: Madness – (Waiting For) The Ghost Train

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

Madness turn their hand to ‘spooky’.  Another one for the Hallowe’en playlist!

Track 20: Status Quo – In The Army Now

I really like the atmosphere of this one, and I’m not the biggest Status Quo fan.  Great track.

Track 21: Huey Lewis & The News – Stuck With You

A bit daft and cheesy, but it’s a nice head-nodder.

Track 22: Big Country – One Great Thing

This is a better Big Country track than has been included on Now! compilations so far.  Nice chant-along chorus.

Track 23: Billy Bragg – Greetings To The New Brunette

I like Billy Bragg’s stuff, though I wouldn’t necessarily add it to a typical ’80s party playlist.  It’s more for post-party listening circa 4am.  This one’s got a nice tune and awesome lyrics.

Track 24: Cutting Crew – (I Just) Died In Your Arms

A favourite from back during my first flush of ’80s nostalgia in the early ’00s – I played it over and over.  I was lucky enough to see Cutting Crew play back in November, and the crowd naturally went absolutely nuts for this one.  I think that was the point that Geth and I decided we were no longer going to be stuck in the upper gallery at the Sage, where the party is decidedly not happening.  Apart from anything else, you can’t take drinks into the upper levels!  This decision turned out to be a good one on Monday night, when we went to the Kim Wilde gig and enjoyed a much more high-energy atmosphere down on the floor.

Speaking of Kim Wilde…

Track 25: Kim Wilde – You Keep Me Hangin’ On

Is it another excuse to post the slightly blurry video I took of Kim Wilde performing this song on Monday night?  I think it is!

I like most stuff that Kim Wilde has done, but this is my absolute favourite track of hers.  Stunning cover of the ’60s classic that brings it storming into 1986 – amazing epic atmosphere.

Track 26: It Bites – Calling All The Heroes

Good pop track, though the messed up beat at the start annoys me a bit.  Great singalong chorus.

Track 27: Doctor & The Medics and Roy Wood – Waterloo

Utterly daft cover.  Sadly, I’m going to have to class it as a ‘pointless ’80s cover’, as it’s just not different enough from the Abba version.

Track 28: Debbie Harry – French Kissin’ In The USA

Okay song, but this has never come close to her Blondie classics for me.

Track 29: Robert Palmer – I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On

I really like Robert Palmer’s stuff, and this one is great – awesome instrumentals throughout.

Incidentally, it’s interesting in today’s climate to hear a song of this theme from a male singer.

Track 30: Paul Hardcastle – The Wizard

More interesting sampling from Paul Hardcastle.  Some great bits of tune on this track.

Track 31: Gwen Guthrie – (They Long To Be) Close To You

Nice gentle cover of the Carpenters track.  Not at all a pointless cover – it’s very different.

Track 32: Nick Berry – Every Loser Wins

Really dislike this one, sorry.  Cheesy ballad that I believe was released as an Eastenders tie-in.  Not a fan.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #4

Day 4, and today’s Now! compilation was released on 26th November 1984 (just one day after the recording of the original Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band Aid, fact fans).

November 1984
In November 1984, there were still far more houseplants around than there are today, and soft furnishings featured a lot more brown (probably a hangover from the ’70s).

I wonder what the Now! compilers have in store for me today?

Now! That's What I Call Music #4
Track 1: Paul McCartney – No More Lonely Nights [Special Dance Mix]

I couldn’t find the dance mix, so I’m reviewing the original.  Nice tune, but a bit slow for my liking.

Track 2: Giorgio Moroder and Philip Oakey – Together In Electric Dreams

Another one of Geth’s DJing favourites.  Great synthpop, love this one.  That chorus!

Track 3: Bronski Beat – Why?

Great dance track, really like this one, especially the trumpet instrumentals.

Track 4: Limahl – Neverending Story

Hey, it’s Limahl’s one good solo song that I was talking about the other day!  (Well, I say solo – it’s actually a duet with Beth Anderson, but she never gets credited.)  Love the ethereal vocals, great tune.

Track 5: Nick Heyward – Warning Sign

I like the guitar instrumentals.  Most of the song is a bit pedestrian, but it does step up towards the end.  Also, is that a rap at about two-thirds of the way in?  You almost never hear that in pop of this era.  Interesting.

Track 6: John Waite – Missing You

A favourite.  Nice intensity on the chorus, great guitar line.

Track 7: Michael Jackson – Farewell My Summer Love

Bit saccharine for my liking.  I prefer Michael Jackson’s stuff when it has a bit of edge.

Track 8: Lionel Richie – Hello

I think most people know this one for the so-bad-it’s-hilarious video, which features Geth’s least favourite trope, that of the icky student-professor relationship.  The song is extremely cheesy, but is also in the realm of so-bad-it’s-good for me, and I actually quite like it in a serious way when I’m in the right mood.

True fact: one time in Southampton, a couple of random guys serenaded me on the street with this song.  I could not stop laughing, which I’m not sure was the desired effect.

Track 9: Culture Club – The War Song

Argh, it’s another example from the ‘annoying’ end of Culture Club’s back catalogue!  I do like some of their stuff…I just can’t think of any examples at the moment.

I forgot to mention during the Karma Chameleon review the other day that that song gets bonus points for inspiring the Lothian Buses ‘Karma Chameleon’ no. 26 bus, which was one of my favourite stories of 2017.  It goes to Edinburgh Zoo, is painted in red, gold and green, and says ‘we come and go’ on the back!  I am in love.  I never go to zoos ’cause I always think the animals look sad, but I gotta get myself on that bus sometime when I’m in Edinburgh.

Um, back to The War Song.  ‘War is stupid, and people are stupid‘, and in all honesty I find these lyrics irritatingly stupid too.  Sorry.

Track 10: Elton John – Passengers

I quite like this bouncy song when I’m in the right mood, especially the chanting on the chorus.

Track 11: Julian Lennon – Too Late For Goodbyes

Nice upbeat track, though it’s more of a ‘background’ one for me.

Track 12: The Style Council – Shout To The Top!

I’m not usually that keen on the Style Council, but this one’s actually all right – I like the strings on the intro and the slightly urgent atmosphere.

Track 13: Thompson Twins – Doctor! Doctor!

I just remembered I really like this one (great synth line!), so maybe I was a bit hasty in writing off the Thompson Twins during yesterday’s review.  Another one that was used well in The Doctor Who Years, which was kind of an obvious choice if you think about it.

Track 14: Heaven 17 – Sunset Now

Typically nice pop from Heaven 17, though I prefer their more synth-y stuff.

Track 15: Kane Gang – Respect Yourself

I’m a big fan of this one, largely because the video was filmed in central Newcastle, and as I only moved to Newcastle in 2015 (and had never been here in my life until Geth and I came to househunt a month before we were due to move), I find it fascinating to see what the Quayside looked like in the mid-’80s before it was de-industrialised and gentrified.  Quite like the song too.

Track 16: Tina Turner – Private Dancer

I can’t put my finger on why, but I’ve never really liked this one, even though it does have a couple of nice sax solos.

Track 17: Queen – It’s A Hard Life

Not my favourite Queen song, but I can’t say they ever did a bad song – it’s still a good chair-swayer.

Track 18: Status Quo – The Wanderer

I quite like the jauntiness of this one.  It might even make my list of ‘songs I’d dance to at a wedding reception’ – if I’d had a lot of cider.

Track 19: Big Country – East Of Eden

Probably one of the best Big Country songs in my opinion.  Great tune and atmosphere.

Track 20: U2 – Pride (In The Name Of Love)

Most of the song is a bit dull, but I do quite like the chorus.

Track 21: Feargal Sharkey – Listen To Your Father

Not only is this song not on Spotify, but there’s no tribute version either, so I couldn’t be lazy this time – I had to pause the playlist and hit up YouTube.  So inconvenient.

As for the song, I quite like this one – nice uptempo track and instrumentals, even if the lyrics are a little irritating.

Track 22: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Tesla Girls

Awesome uptempo synthpop.  OMD delivering the goods as usual.

Track 23: Kim Wilde – The Second Time

Great piece of pop!  It’s everything I love about the ’80s – great bassline and instrumentals, epic atmosphere, strong lyrics.  It’s begging to be played on vinyl on my dad’s old sound system, rather than digitally through my tinny laptop earphones.

Incidentally, I’m going to see Kim Wilde at the Sage Gateshead tomorrow!  I’M SO EXCITED.  Watch out for my review of the gig on Tuesday.

Track 24: Nik Kershaw – Human Racing

A bit slow and dull for me, and there’s something I’m not keen on in the tune.  Nice lyrics though.

Track 25: Ray Parker Jr – Ghostbusters

How can you not love this one?  The ultimate party song.

I also have many happy memories of playing it on Lego Rock Band.  Now that I live in a detached house, I have got to break out those Rock Band drums again.  It’s just a case of finding the time!

Track 26: UB40 – If It Happens Again

Another good chair-swayer, but again this one’s a bit more ‘background’ for me.

Track 27: Pointer Sisters – Jump (For My Love)

It’s an okay party song, but I’ve always been a bit ‘meh’ about this one.

Track 28: Level 42 – Hot Water

Good danceable song, great instrumentals.

Track 29: Eurythmics – Sex Crime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)

I really like Eurythmics, and this one’s a great dance song with chantable lyrics.  It vastly improves what has been a relatively poor second disc so far.

Track 30: Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me

I LOVE this song.  Great sing-along track, great for Hallowe’en playlists, great for parties.  Awesome video too.

Track 31: Malcolm McLaren – Madam Butterfly

Quite a nice chillout track until the spoken word kicks in.  Is there an instrumental version of this?

Track 32: Eugene Wilde – Gotta Get You Home Tonight

Fairly typical ’80s soul.  Nice tune, if a bit slow.