Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #35

Day 35 equals Now! #35, which takes us to 18th November 1996.

November 1996
This is the way the world looked in November 1996 (well, obviously it wasn’t actually November, as I wouldn’t have been wearing short sleeves in November in Scotland – this was September, as we didn’t take any photos in the latter part of the year for some reason). I don’t know why I chose those trainers, ’cause I thought they were super ugly even at the time.

Let’s listen to some tracks by people who were probably better dressed, even if it was the sartorially-challenged ’90s.

Now! That's What I Call Music #35
Track 1: Spice Girls – Say You’ll Be There

The eagerly-awaited (by me, anyway) follow-up to Wannabe.  With hindsight, this song’s actually pretty poor, with a dull tune and generic theme; however, it’s quite hard to separate it from the nostalgia for me, so I still have a soft spot for it.

Track 2: George Michael – Fastlove

Lovely atmosphere, great vocal hooks – really like this one.

Track 3: Peter Andre – Flava

The instrumentals are quite fun, but the vocals are pretty annoying, and that rap is super generic.

Track 4: East 17 and Gabrielle – If You Ever

Really like the intro, and it’s got a lovely tune and atmosphere.

Track 5: Deep Blue Something – Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Loved it then, love it now.  This one was a youth club classic during my first year of high school.  Great theme, great lyrics, lovely tune.

Track 6: Pet Shop Boys – Se A Vida É (That’s The Way Life Is)

I’ve always liked this one – a nice slower track with a feelgood atmosphere.

Track 7: Babybird – You’re Gorgeous

Found it annoying at the time, really quite like it now.  Love the theme and the instrumentals.

Track 8: The Beautiful South – Rotterdam

This one, on the other hand, I’ve never stopped finding annoying.  It’s that irritating chorus.

Track 9: Dodgy – If You’re Thinking Of Me

This is Dodgy’s slow, dull one.  I don’t think I even enjoyed it when I saw it live.

Track 10: Crowded House – Don’t Dream It’s Over

Crowded House’s late ’80s classic, back in the charts – I’m not sure why, but I’m not complaining.  Lovely tune.

Track 11: The Bluetones – Marblehead Johnson

Oh, it’s this one!  Great guitar hook, nice tune.

Track 12: Ocean Colour Scene – The Riverboat Song

An all-time favourite!  Absolute anthem, epic energy, great lyrics, wonderful guitar riff.  I adore this one.

Track 13: Sheryl Crow – If It Makes You Happy

I’ve always found this one annoying – not keen on the tune.

Track 14: Garbage and Tricky – Milk

Great atmosphere – really like this track.

Track 15: Neneh Cherry – Woman

Nice epic intro, awesome atmosphere all the way through.  Good stuff.

Track 16: Lighthouse Family – Goodbye Heartbreak

Nice to hear some saxophone at this late stage!  The rest of the track is a little dull, although the ‘I don’t need you now‘ bit has quite a good singalong aspect.

Track 17: Pulp – Something Changed

Nice tune, nice instrumentals, great epic chorus.  Lovely track.

Track 18: Cast – Flying

Oh, it’s this one.  Found it a bit dreary at the time, still do now.  Just not keen on the tune.

Track 19: Suede – Beautiful Ones

Good upbeat track, great tune, great lyrics.  Another solid song from Suede.

Track 20: Belinda Carlisle – Always Breaking My Heart

Nice guitar intro, nice classic-sounding track, great chorus.  Really like this one.

Track 21: Dina Carroll – Escaping

Interesting chillout bit at the start, nice beat during the verses.  Not a typical Dina Carroll ballad, which is a welcome relief.

Track 22: Boyzone – Words

Introspective cover of the Bee Gees classic.  Lovely tune, great atmosphere.

Track 23: Eternal – Someday

Fairly paint-by-numbers ballad that was released to tie in with Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame film.  As such, it’s very musical-theatre-sounding.

Track 24: Backstreet Boys – I’ll Never Break Your Heart

Far too saccharine for me, and also now a Christmas-associated song thanks to the music channels (the video‘s set in a ski lodge, which I guess is why it gets put on the Christmas playlists).

Track 25: Damage – Love II Love

Oh, it’s this one.  Never been keen on this – the chorus is repetitive and irritating.

Track 26: Clock – Oh What A Night

Fairly pointless cover of the Four Seasons classic.  The main addition is the rap over the top.  It’s not horrible, but it’s not great.

Obligatory ‘I hate pointless ’90s covers’ rant: this was the version that introduced me to this song.

Track 27: Louise – Undivided Love

Good beat, but it’s a pretty generic pop tune.

Track 28: Ant & Dec – When I Fall In Love

Ant & Dec, now having changed their name from PJ & Duncan (see Now! #31 review for discussion of why), try their hand at a ballad (well, it’s a ballad until the chant-along chorus kicks in, anyway).  Horrific!

Track 29: 911 – Don’t Make Me Wait

Great, interesting piano intro.  It leads into a fairly generic and cheesy pop track, though.

Track 30: Strike – My Love Is For Real

I quite like the verses on this dance track – there’s a bit of edge there – but the tune is pretty uninspired.

Track 31: Faithless – Insomnia

Classic dance track, great epic atmosphere, wonderful electro hook.

Track 32: BBE – Seven Days And One Week

Oh, it’s this one.  I think I liked this more at the time than I do now – it’s a bit repetitive.

Track 33: Stretch ‘N’ Vern – I’m Alive

Loved it at the time, forgot about it for over twenty years, can’t say I’m too keen on it now.  The backing track is great, but the rap’s fairly awful.  I quite like the Boogie Wonderland sample though.

Track 34: Healy & Amos – Stamp!

I think I’m back in the imaginary ’90s nightclub that plays nothing but dance, although to be fair 1996 isn’t quite as bad as 1995 was.  This one has some interesting lines, but it’s a bit messy for my liking.

Track 35: Livin’ Joy – Follow The Rules

Another very generic dance track – nothing special here.

Track 36: Wildchild – Jump To My Beat

Very messy track with irritating lines.  Don’t like this at all.

Track 37: Underworld – Pearl’s Girl

Dull lines, very little melody, messy track.  The beat’s quite good though.

Track 38: Space – Neighbourhood

Great atmosphere, great instrumentals, really nice track.

Track 39: Björk – Possibly Maybe

Not keen on the experimental-sounding instrumentals – they’re giving me a headache – but the vocal is nice when I can hear it over the top.

Track 40: Shed Seven – Chasing Rainbows

One of my friends had a poster of Shed Seven on the wall even though she didn’t really like them.  I think she’d got it free when they were supporting someone else.  That sort of sums up Shed Seven for me – they weren’t really a band that anybody actually liked.

The track itself is dull, slow and very forgettable.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #30

Day 30 takes us to Now! #30, which was released on 10th April 1995.

April 1995
This is how the world looked in April 1995. There seems to be a bit of a theme of photos from halfway up hills and in woods and on beaches lately. Those things have obviously not changed in appearance, but my T-shirt collection has – not sure I could pull off bright yellow these days.

On with the tunes!

Now! That's What I Call Music #30
Track 1: Freak Power – Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out

It’s starting to get to the point with some of these where I’m a bit like ‘oh!  I haven’t even thought about this song for more than twenty years’, and all these incredibly vague memories sort of flash through my mind for a second.  This must be what getting old feels like.

The track is still great – love that tune on the chorus.

Track 2: Janet Jackson – Whoops Now

Slightly ’60s-tinged, jaunty track – another one I haven’t thought about for a long time.  The chorus is a little repetitive, but it’s a nice tune.

Track 3: Boyzone – Love Me For A Reason

Yup, I had this album.  Boyzone showed up just at the right point when Take That were coming to the end of their original run, giving tween girls everywhere a new favourite band.  Pretty much every girl in my primary school class loved this song.

To adult ears, it’s kind of cheesy, and while I’ve never heard the original ’70s version, I’m guessing the cover probably doesn’t add much.

Track 4: Cher, Chrissie Hynde, Neneh Cherry and Eric Clapton – Love Can Build A Bridge

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

Absolutely loved this one at the time, still like it now.  It was the Comic Relief song for 1995, back when Comic Relief songs were still good.  Love the tune, really like the way the vocals are shared throughout the song.

Track 5: East 17 – Stay Another Day

This track’s status as the Christmas number one for 1994, its festive bells toward the end, its snowy video and its ubiquity on the music channels during December all mean that this is very firmly considered a Christmas song nowadays, so it feels highly out of place in May.  I’ve always loved it, though, and remember being wowed by it when I first saw it performed on Top of the Pops in late 1994.

Track 6: Mike & The Mechanics – Over My Shoulder

This one was the ‘played all the time on the ferry’ track of summer 1995, so it just takes me straight back to being on a cross-channel voyage.  Great song, love the tune.

Track 7: Jimmy Nail – Crocodile Shoes

Super annoying chorus – never been keen on this one.

Track 8: Scarlet – Independent Love Song

Nice tune, nice atmosphere, but a bit slow, and the chorus is kind of overblown.

Track 9: Simple Minds – She’s A River

Great, epic-sounding rock song.  Really like this one.

Track 10: The Boo Radleys – Wake Up Boo!

I think the tune and theme to this one are pretty annoying, but I still find myself nodding along to it.

Track 11: The Human League – Tell Me When

Good to see the Human League back in the charts, with a great bit of synthpop.  Lovely tune.

Track 12: M People – Sight For Sore Eyes

Great danceable track  – really like this tune.

Track 13: Sting – This Cowboy Song

The instrumentals are nice, but there’s nothing special about the song.

Track 14: Shut Up And Dance – Save It Till The Mourning After

‘Sampling’ of Duran Duran’s Save A Prayer where they’ve just taken the backing track and chorus and added a horrible misplaced rap over the top.  I’m also not sure why, in the title, they’ve changed ‘morning’ to ‘mourning’.

However, no matter how messy the sampling, I love Duran Duran, and Save A Prayer is one of my favourites, so I’m just going to enjoy the sample and ignore everything else.

Track 15: R Kelly – Bump ‘N’ Grind

The vocal gymnastics at the start are pretty anthemic, but once the track gets going it’s messy, dull and irritating, not my cup of tea at all.

Track 16: Eternal – Oh Baby I…

Fairly generic-sounding ballad.  Not keen.

Track 17: Massive Attack and Tracey Thorn – Protection

Too slow for me, and I find the tune pretty dull.

Track 18: Portishead – Glory Box

Great hook, great tune, classic track.

Track 19: Oasis – Whatever

Nice violin instrumentals, awesome tune.  It’s another one I hadn’t thought about for a while.

Track 20: Outhere Brothers – Don’t Stop (Wiggle Wiggle)

This was everywhere in 1995.  It’s actually a really annoying song, but it certainly has a lot of memories attached to it.

Track 21: Alex Party – Don’t Give Me Your Life

Oh, it’s this one!  Another one I’d forgotten about.  Loved it at the time, find that chorus a little annoying nowadays.

Track 22: Strike – U Sure Do

And…oh, it’s this one!  I’ve got a feeling this is going to start happening a lot.  Found the tune annoying at the time, find it quite nice and nostalgic now.

Track 23: Kenny Dope and The Bucketheads – The Bomb! (These Sounds Fall Into My Mind)

Absolute classic – great party tune with an awesome singalong chorus.

Track 24: Nightcrawlers – Push The Feeling On

I find this one pretty repetitive, but I do like the instrumental hooks.

Track 25: Tin Tin Out – Always (Something There To Remind Me)

Electro dance cover of the ’60s classic.  The instrumentals are too messy for my liking, unfortunately.

Track 26: Corona – Baby Baby

Great dance track, great atmosphere – really like this one.

Track 27: Clock – Axel F

Before Crazy Frog ruined the Harold Faltermeyer classic in the ’00s (which I mentioned in my review of the original), Clock had a go at a ’90s cover, which is basically a dance remix of the ’80s track.  I don’t hate it, but nothing beats the purity of the original tune.

Track 28: N-Trance – Set You Free

Absolutely classic dance track – that chorus is epic.

Track 29: JX – You Belong To Me

Ten dance tracks in a row, and we’re most definitely back in the imaginary ’90s nightclub.  This one’s got a nice atmosphere around the vocals, but it’s a bit generic otherwise.

Track 30: Perfecto Allstars – Reach Up (Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag)

Cover/sampling/remix (the line is becoming a bit blurred with these dance producers) of the Pigbag song with some messy drums over the top at the start and some irritating dance vocals cutting in thereafter.  Really not keen on all the messing with classic tracks that started happening during this period.

Track 31: Rednex – Cotton Eye Joe

Daft novelty country/linedance/electro dance track.  I loved it at the time, but it’s become super overplayed in the intervening years.

Track 32: Deuce – Call It Love

Great piano intro, great atmosphere.  Really like this one.

Track 33: 2 Unlimited – Here I Go

The tune to the vocals is nice, but it’s pretty generic otherwise.

Track 34: MC Sar & The Real McCoy – Run Away

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

Great bassline, great atmosphere.  Good stuff.

Track 35: Nicki French – Total Eclipse Of The Heart

Dance cover of the Bonnie Tyler classic.  The vocals are very far from the original standard, and the dance beat is a bit wishy-washy.  It’s different enough not to be pointless, but it’s pretty poor.

Track 36: Sean Maguire – Suddenly

Irritating tune, irritating vocals.  I remember Smash Hits being obsessed with this guy, but his stuff’s hugely forgettable.

Track 37: Bobby Brown – Two Can Play That Game

I really liked this one at the time, and I still quite like it now – great tune.  Shame it’s by Bobby Brown.

Track 38: Ultimate Kaos – Hoochie Booty

More creepy kiddie vocals about sex from Ultimate Kaos.  Please go away.

Track 39: Pato Banton and Ranking Roger – Bubbling Hot

Like that saxophone in the background, as well as the reggae instrumentals.  Nice jaunty song.

Track 40: Mica Paris – One

Slow, soulful cover of the U2 song.  The vocals are a bit overblown, but I quite like it.