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

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

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

Let’s hear those summer hits!

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

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

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

Track 2: Robbie Williams – Freedom

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

Track 3: Peter Andre and Bubbler Ranx – Mysterious Girl

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

Track 4: Dodgy – Good Enough

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track 7: Underworld – Born Slippy

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

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

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

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

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

Track 10: Pianoman – Blurred

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

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

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

Track 12: Louise – Naked

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

Track 13: Mark Morrison – Return Of The Mack

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

Track 14: 2Pac and Dr Dre – California Love

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

Track 15: Pato Banton – Groovin’

Dull tune, dull vocals, not keen.

Track 16: Reel 2 Real – Jazz It Up

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

Track 17: Maxi Priest and Shaggy – That Girl

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

Track 18: Los Del Mar – Macarena

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

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

Track 19: Umboza – Sunshine

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

Track 20: Josh Wink – Higher State Of Consciousness

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

Urgh.  See the link for my review.

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

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

Track 22: Robert Miles – Children

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

Track 23: George Michael – Jesus To A Child

Lovely, melancholy song from George Michael.  Beautiful tune.

Track 24: Oasis – Wonderwall

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

Track 25: The Bluetones – Slight Return

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

Track 26: Paul Weller – Peacock Suit

Dull tune, very dad-rock.  Not keen.

Track 27: Bon Jovi – Hey God

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

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

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

Track 29: Belinda Carlisle – In Too Deep

Nice instrumentals, but the vocal is pretty dull.

Track 30: Suggs – Cecelia

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

Track 31: Blur – Charmless Man

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

Track 32: Suede – Trash

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

Track 33: Joan Osborne – One Of Us

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

Track 34: Crowded House – Instinct

Nice tune, really like this one.

Track 35: Lighthouse Family – Ocean Drive

Feelgood track with an awesome singalong chorus.  Lovely.

Track 36: Tina Turner – On Silent Wings

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

Track 37: Everything But The Girl – Wrong

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

Track 38: OMC – How Bizarre

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

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

Lovely tune, really interesting track.

Track 40: Space – Female Of The Species

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

Track 41: Cast – Walkaway

Nice tune, but a bit slow for me.

Track 42: Boyzone – Coming Home Now

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

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #32

Day 32, and Now! #32, which was released on 13th November 1995.

November 1995
This is how the world looked in November 1995 (actually October, yadda yadda), or at least the small bit of the world that was me looking sulky next to a piano. I made those earrings myself out of a kit, and only got round to chucking them out a couple of months ago.

Let’s listen to some songs by people who probably didn’t have to make their own earrings.

Now! That's What I Call Music #32
Track 1: Queen – Heaven For Everyone

Lovely track, gorgeous tune.

Track 2: Meat Loaf – I’d Lie For You (And That’s The Truth)

Another great rock ballad from Meat Loaf.  Really like this one!  I remember him promoting it on Blue Peter.

Track 3: Simply Red – Fairground

Didn’t like this one at the time, but I do now.  Great tune.

Track 4: U2 – Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me

Really like this offering from the Batman Forever soundtrack – it’s got a great atmosphere.

Track 5: Tina Turner – Goldeneye

I do love a James Bond theme song, and this one is really solid.  Awesome tune.

Track 6: Cher – Walking In Memphis

I mentioned in my review of the Marc Cohn original on Now! #20 that the Cher version was entirely pointless (unless you think the sole change of having vocals by Cher makes it worthwhile), and I stand by that, but it’s still a great track.

Track 7: The Beautiful South – Pretenders To The Throne

Lovely tune, like the piano.

Track 8: Louise – Light Of My Life

Louise Redknapp (or Nurding, as she was then) starting her post-Eternal solo career.  Unfortunately this is a super dull ballad, although the tune on the chorus is alright.

Track 9: Jimmy Nail – Big River

Found it boring at the time, find it boring now.

Track 10: Sacred Spirit – Yeha-Noha (Wishes Of Happiness And Prosperity)

I’m not a huge chillout fan, but this one is quite nice.

Track 11: Radiohead – Lucky

Loathed it at the time, mixed on it now.  Pretty, melancholy tune on the verses, but the chorus ruins it a bit.

Track 12: Pulp – Sorted For Es And Wizz

Love this one!  Great tune, great lyrics.  This was a favourite among friends when we lived in Southampton, due to the ‘in a field in Hampshire’ bit.

Track 13: Blur – Country House

Loved it at the time, love it now.  Absolute classic, great singalong track.

Track 14: Cast – Alright

Found the tune annoying at the time, kind of so-so about it now.  It’s just sort of…okay.

Track 15: Oasis – Roll With It

I can’t actually remember whether I wanted this one or Blur’s Country House to be number one during that particular chart battle, ’cause I liked them both.  With hindsight, though, the best song definitely won – this offering from Oasis is a bit uninspired.

Track 16: McAlmont & Butler – Yes

I’ve always adored this one – we had it on a Top Gear compilation.  Beautiful tune.

Track 17: Paul Weller – Broken Stones

Mum and Dad had the Stanley Road album, so this was a regular feature of car journeys, and I absolutely loathed it at the time – it was far too serious and boring.  I’m still not a huge fan, but I can appreciate the tune a bit more nowadays.

Track 18: Suggs – I’m Only Sleeping

I always liked this cover of the Beatles song – lovely tune, great atmosphere.

Speaking of Beatles covers…

Track 19: The Smokin’ Mojo Filters – Come Together

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

This one’s actually a semi-cover, ’cause Paul McCartney was involved in this supergroup.  Fairly uninspired cover, turning the song into dull ’90s soft rock.

Track 20: Coolio and LV – Gangsta’s Paradise

Loved it then, love it now!  Absolutely brilliant atmosphere, great tune.

Track 21: Shaggy – Boombastic

Annoying chorus alert!  Never been that keen on this one.

Track 22: N-Trance and Ricardo Da Force – Stayin’ Alive

‘Cover’ of the Bee Gees classic that basically takes the original backing track and adds rapping over the top.  I shouldn’t like it, but I do.

Track 23: Donna Summer – I Feel Love [Rollo and Sister Bliss Monster Mix]

Remix of the classic 1978 hit, turning it into a ’90s-standard dance track.  It’s a bit messy, and I’m not hugely keen, especially since I like the original so much.

Track 24: Berri – Sunshine After The Rain

Really liked this one at the time, but I find it pretty irritating now.

Track 25: Corona – Try Me Out

I’d forgotten about this one.  Super irritating chorus!

Track 26: The Original – I Luv U Baby

Oh, it’s this one!  Really quite like this tune.

Track 27: Everything But The Girl – Missing

I’ve never been keen on this one – there’s something nauseatingly depressing about it.

Track 28: Eternal – Power Of A Woman

The vocals on the chorus give me a headache, and the tune is super generic.  Not a fan at all.

Track 29: Soul II Soul – I Care

Most of the tune is quite dull, but the chorus is nice.

Track 30: Outhere Brothers – La La La Hey Hey

Dull, forgettable, unmelodic track – nothing good here at all.

Track 31: Whigfield – Big Time

Daft yodeling hook throughout, but at least this one is interesting.

Track 32: Alex Party – Wrap Me Up

Dull, repetitive dance track, not keen.  I think 1995 is probably around the point at which I should leave the imaginary ’90s nightclub.

Track 33: Josh Wink – Higher State Of Consciousness

Messy track, not enough melody.  Getting my coat, going home for an early night.

Track 34: Wildchild – Renegade Master

Oh, wait, I’ll hang about for one more!  I really like this one – classic track.  A few years ago, Geth had a student who wrote a hilariously bad essay with an intro about a ‘renegade cyclist’, so ever since then I’ve switched the lyrics in my head, which makes it even better.

Track 35: Goldie – Inner City Life

And we’re back to dull chillout dance.  Not keen at all.

Track 36: The Human League – Don’t You Want Me [Red Jerry 7 Inch Remix]

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

Remix of the classic 1981 song.  I love the original and this is really taking a sledgehammer to everything that’s good about it.  Just awful.

Track 37: Candy Girls – Fee Fi Fo Fum

This starts off as an okay dance track, but the vocals are terrible.

Track 38: Happy Clappers – I Believe

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

Super annoying vocal ticks at the start.  I’ve downed my pint of Strongbow and am definitely leaving the club this time.

Track 39: Wild Colour – Dreams

Interesting clangy bit and a good electro line, but jarred together the track just becomes a mess.  I’m doing up the buttons on my vintage ’80s trenchcoat.

Track 40: E’Voke – Runaway

The irritating vocals start up on this track just as I sweep through the door of the imaginary ’90s nightclub.  I’m in the taxi.  I’m done.

Let’s hope 1996 is an improvement.