Book Review: The Complete Beauty Book

I bought this impressively heavy tome on Amazon Marketplace a couple of years ago. I’d been browsing YouTube tutorials for ’80s makeup looks, none of which were quite 100% period accurate, and a commenter recommended this book – it came out in 1985, and was apparently considered one of the ultimate hair and makeup guides of the era.

The Complete Beauty Book

Like everything else in life, I like my hair and makeup to look vaguely ’80s – not full on backcombing and Boy George blusher (unless I’m going clubbing!), but using the correct techniques for day makeup that were popular at the time. This book provides a really good immersive experience in that sense. There are also a lot of very pretty pictures of ’80s bathrooms and dressing tables with lots of plants everywhere!

It also gives a really interesting insight into the mindset of beauty specialists at the time. This is a little tangential, but when I studied history at university, the realisation that made the most sense of the passing of time to me was that you don’t know you are living in a particular period of history while the world is still going through it. Since the mid-’90s, society has had this very particular cultural view of the ’80s that it was the decade of excess – in fashion terms, that means big hair, big shoulders, excessive makeup, everything over-exaggerated. But reading the words of the authors in 1985 paints a very different picture. From their perspective at that time, it was the ’60s that were stark and over-exaggerated in makeup trends – white panstick, black eyes, no nuance – whereas ‘nowadays’ the trend was a lot softer and ‘more natural’. Given that we’ve been told for more than twenty years that ’80s makeup looked anything but natural, I found this standpoint absolutely fascinating!

I’m not the greatest at makeup, so I haven’t really perfected all the eyeshadow patterns yet, but the book does give a lot of tips to try out. It’ll be staying in my collection!

Thirty-four

It’s my birthday today, but I didn’t go out tonight. I’m thirty-four years old now – I have far better things to do. Things I did do today:

  • Got up early and went to Slimming World, because it’s important to keep an eye on things over Christmas even when it is your birthday.
  • Opened presents and cards under Mum and Dad’s Christmas tree, just as I do every year. It’s the tenth day of Christmas and that Christmas tree is still important! Nobody’s ever got me any lords a-leaping for my birthday though.
  • Listened to my birthday number one – Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? – more than once. Was inordinately pleased that the current chart rules mean that it is currently yet again sitting in the Top Ten a whole thirty-four years later.
  • Drank prosecco and blew out candles on my birthday cake – it was a New York style cheesecake as usual, made by the world’s best dad as usual!
  • Packed up and left Edinburgh to go back to Newcastle after ten lovely days spent at Mum and Dad’s for Christmas.
  • Got on a train. Geth was worried about travel stress spoiling my birthday, but it was actually a really relaxed journey.
  • Got home and put on the heating and both fires to warm up our ice block of a house!
  • Ordered takeaway pizza and drank more prosecco. It’s my last non-sober birthday, and it’s been a double-prosecco day. I am okay with this.
  • Spent a perfect birthday evening watching ’80s episodes of Top of the Pops recorded off BBC4. I’m very nearly at the point in the marathon where I’ll get to watch the episode from Thursday 3rd January 1985! So glad I was born on a Thursday. That one’s going to be staying on the digibox and constituting my birthday viewing for many years to come.

It’s been a good day.

OOTD 3rd January 2019
OOTD: favourite day, favourite jumper. Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), jumper Carlo Colucci (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2017), leggings Primark (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Alison Moyet – This House
Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf

And a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

Kraftwerk – The Model

Plus my awesome birthday playlist that I made on Spotify earlier:

will.i.am and Cody Wise – It’s My Birthday
50 Cent – In Da Club
Lesley Gore – It’s My Party
Bowling For Soup – 1985
The Birthday Massacre – The Birthday Massacre
The Crüxshadows – Winter Born (This Sacrifice)
Altered Images – Happy Birthday
Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas?

Stuff I like about my parents’ house #7: this awesome new plant of my dad’s

Inspired by my sister-in-law Steff, who’s been filling her Toronto home with plants over the last couple of years, Dad has recently started collecting houseplants again.  For reference, back in the ’80s, our family home looked like this:

Family home in 1984
Trailing plants and wooden furniture and a brand new 1984 Grundig TV, oh my!  That table the TV is sitting on has been living with me and Geth for over a decade now, although it’s a bit worse for wear these days.

…as you may remember from my Now! #2 review.  Anyway, this is the way I always visualise the house from when I was growing up, with plants trailing down from every bookshelf.  Most of them were spider plants, and I loved the shape of the leaves.  Unfortunately, they all eventually died (Dad says this is because Mum was always over-watering them!) and so the house was plant-less for quite some time.

This last year, however, Dad has been breeding spider plants again (and I don’t think Mum’s allowed to water them anymore).  They’re growing and multiplying very rapidly, and so I’ve been promised one for my own house.  I’m a bit nervous about taking one, because I’m probably as bad as Mum at killing plants (I’m still in mourning for Basil the basil plant, who did not survive our time at our last house), but Dad says spider plants are quite easy to maintain, so we’ll see.

Anyway, Dad also got this gorgeous new plant, which is the subject of the post!

Houseplants
I’m not sure what it’s called, but it’s beautifully spiky.

It goes really nicely with the spider plants.  It’s so nice to see the house full of plants again – just like it was back in the ’80s!

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 4/37 (10.8%); message artists 2/7 (28.6%); total artists 6/44 (13.6%).

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!

Vintage fair haul: Newcastle Vintage & Street Food Market

Vintage fairs are back for the autumn/winter!  There’s another one I’m planning to go to next month, by which point I may no longer be strong/warm enough to resist the lure of vintage ’80s jumpers.  I have plenty.  I still want more.

I was sensible today, though, and didn’t buy any jumpers for now.  Instead, I picked up two things I’d actually been visualising: a red blouse to go with one of this year’s Christmas outfits, and a jersey dress that will be nice and comfortable for ’round the house’ days, which, for a work-from-home type like me, is most days.

Vintage fair haul
The red material looks shiny here but it’s actually more kind of sheer.

It’s very satisfying to be able to add a piece here and there to my vintage collection.  Looking forward to wearing both of these!

Day out at South Shields

Due to my all-encompassing work project, Geth and I didn’t get to enjoy the bank holiday last Monday, so we arranged to take a day in lieu and go for a day trip today instead.

South Shields seafront
The weather has been a bit strange over the last month – rather than having a spring, we’ve basically gone straight from winter to summer, but I’m not complaining.

We had a lovely walk along the seafront and climbed right up to the replica self-sinking gun on the cliff.

Replica of late 19th century gun
1987 replica of 1887 gun. You know me and 1980s stuff!

According to the plaque, the original gun was tested in 1887, and did work in terms of being able to sink back into its foundation after being fired, but because it took far too long (eight hours) to prep, it was never actually used.  This replica was installed in 1987 for the 100th anniversary.

South Shields beach
On the beach at South Shields. After such a long winter, it was so nice to feel the sand under my feet!

We then walked back to the seafront and had lunch and a couple of pints in the Sanddancer, which is the best place to go in South Shields when it’s not Great North Run day (on GNR day, because it’s the first pub you get to after collecting your goodie bag, it’s absolutely rammed, so you’re better off going to another pub a bit further down the seafront).

After that, we went back to Newcastle, did a bit of shopping in town and went for another couple of pints.  A perfect ‘bank holiday’!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #16

Day 16 takes us to 20th November 1989.

November 1989
This is the way the world looked in November 1989, when I was small and Christmas trees were…silver. I am 100% positive that nobody usually put up their Christmas trees in November back in the ’80s – that is most definitely a 21st century thing due to ongoing Christmas creep – but I think my great-aunt and great-uncle got the decorations out early that year so that the wee bro and I could ‘help’. Of course, in my world, Christmas decorations still look like that – or even older – ’cause my mum and her mum before her have been keeping them all as heirlooms since the ’40s.

So, we’ve reached the end of the ’80s in our Now! compilation journey.  Let’s enjoy those last few glorious tracks!

Now! That's What I Call Music #16

Track 1: Tears For Fears – Sowing The Seeds Of Love

So I was super gutted when Tears For Fears announced their tour last autumn, ’cause the tickets were pricy, we would have had to travel to Leeds, and I just couldn’t justify the expense at the time.  It was one of my big gig regrets for 2018.

In the last week, they’ve announced they’ve had to postpone the tour to 2019 for medical reasons.  The tickets all became available again, I found out Alison Moyet was supporting (which I hadn’t known before), and I was feeling a bit more flush than I had in the autumn.  I bought tickets for the Leeds gig.  Of course I did.

So I’m going to see Tears For Fears (and Alison Moyet) in February 2019, and now I don’t have to feel sad and disappointed every time one of their tracks comes on Vintage TV (which is approximately every five minutes).  Winning!

Anyway, this track.  It’s a bit ‘pre-1990s’ for my liking, especially ’cause I adore their early-to-mid-1980s stuff so much, but it’s a nice tune and I always find myself singing along when it comes on Vintage TV.  Which, as I say, is often.

Track 2: Belinda Carlisle – Leave A Light On

Really like this singalong track.  Lovely vocals, lovely tune.

Track 3: Erasure – Drama!

Lovely tinkly slow synth intro before the beat bangs in.  Epic atmosphere, great track.

Track 4: Debbie Harry – I Want That Man

Really like the tune on this one.  Nice upbeat pop.

I think you can probably guess, however, how I feel about the line ‘here comes the twenty-first century/it’s gonna be much better for a girl like me‘.  Yeah.  I’m glad someone’s optimistic.

Track 5: Sydney Youngblood – If Only I Could

Gotta love those bouncy instrumentals.  Great head-nodder.

Track 6: Curiosity Killed The Cat – Name And Number

I’ve always really liked this one!  That chorus is great.

Fun fact: Little Mix avoided a pointless cover of this by doing that strange 2010s thing where you cover the chorus only and then do a completely different verse, meaning you can call the track a different name (in this case How Ya Doin’?).

Fun fact 2: In a further example of my family’s sloth-like speed at adopting new phone technologies, we didn’t get an answerphone until the mid-’90s, so I wouldn’t have understood the premise of this song at the time.

Track 7: The Beautiful South – You Keep It All In

Nice jaunty instrumentals, and in comes Jacqui Abbott on the vocals – we are definitely post-Housemartins now.  Not my favourite Beautiful South track, but it’s a nice tune with typically whimsical lyrics.

Track 8: Wet Wet Wet – Sweet Surrender

A bit slower from Wet Wet Wet, but I really like those instrumentals.  Chorus could be more epic, though.

Track 9: Queen – Breakthru

Nice vocal harmony intro to a slightly erratic track.  The tune is a bit dull, but it’s still pretty solid from Queen.

Track 10: Tina Turner – The Best

Classic singalong track – one of those ones where I’m up on the dancefloor at the wedding disco.  Epic song.

Track 11: Transvision Vamp – Born To Be Sold

Slower and a bit acoustic from Transvision Vamp today.  I still really like it, though.

Track 12: Wendy & Lisa – Waterfall ’89

Slow pop-by-numbers, dull repetitive tune, nothing special.

Track 13: Kate Bush – The Sensual World

Church bell intro!  You don’t hear that on every pop song, but then it is Kate Bush.  Love the tune too, nice epic atmosphere.

Track 14: Fine Young Cannibals – I’m Not The Man I Used To Be

For some reason, on Now! #16 there were a few tracks that featured on the CD release only.  I don’t know if it’s because CDs had more space, and the Now! compilers were excited about the novelty of that, or what.  Anyway, this is the first of them.

Nice instrumentals, but this track is a bit slow and dull for my liking.

Track 15: Then Jerico – Sugar Box

A bit saccharine, but I quite like the tune, especially when it gets a bit rockier as the track goes on.

Track 16: Living In A Box – Room In Your Heart

Wow.  We’ve reached 1989 and even Living In A Box were doing dull ballads.  Nothing to elevate this one.

Track 17: Richard Marx – Right Here Waiting

I’ve always had a soft spot for this ballad.  It’s the kind of thing I should hate, but I don’t.

Track 18: Milli Vanilli – Girl I’m Gonna Miss You

It’s Milli Vanilli and their possibly-fake vocals again!  I actually really like this one, it’s a lovely tune and theme.

Track 19: The Rebel MC and Double Trouble – Street Tuff

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

Nice upbeat dance track, like the sampling.  Good stuff.

Track 20: Bobby Brown – On Our Own

Good instrumentals and sung vocals on this one – the rap’s a bit dull though.

Track 21: Technotronic and Felly – Pump Up The Jam

Classic dance track – another ‘oh, it’s this one!’ moment.  Happily chair-dancing right now.

Track 22: Lil’ Louis – French Kiss

Another track that was on the CD release only.

Repetitive intro that goes on too long – get on with it!  The shortest version I was able to find is eight minutes long, so it takes forever to get going.  Not my kind of thing, especially when it slows down and brings in the orgasm noises.  I’m guessing this is not the version that was on the Now! compilation.

Track 23: Adeva – I Thank You

Highly pre-1990s dance track.  Vocals a bit over-the-top for me.

Track 24: D-Mob and Cathy Dennis – C’mon And Get My Love

Really like the drum machine on that intro.  Solid dance tune.

Track 25: De La Soul – Eye Know

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

Too repetitive for me, and I don’t like the backing tune.

Track 26: Inner City – Whatcha Gonna Do With My Lovin’

Not an Inner City fan anyway, and this one is kind of slow and repetitive.  Not for me.

Track 27: Big Fun – Can’t Shake The Feeling

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

Something about the tune annoys me.  It’s fairly pop-by-numbers otherwise.

Track 28: Cliff Richard – I Just Don’t Have The Heart

Actually quite an upbeat one from Cliff Richard!  His vocals are still super cheesy and irritating though.

Track 29: Jimmy Somerville and June Miles Kingston – Comment Te Dire Adieu

Great track!  Daft French atmosphere, awesome tune.  I’m chair-dancing again here!

Track 30: Brother Beyond – Drive On

Another ‘CD release only’ track..

A bit cheesy, but I really quite like this – it’s just nice, pure, upbeat pop.

Track 31: Shakespear’s Sister – You’re History

Really squawky and squeaky in the vocals, with Siobhan Fahey going a bit overboard, obviously still feeling that post-Bananarama freedom.  Quite an interesting tune, though.

Track 32: Oh Well – Oh Well

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

Nice funky melody, quite a nice track when they’re not rapping.

Track 33: Neneh Cherry – Kisses On The Wind

Bit of a messy sample mishmash at the start, but it’s okay once it gets going.

Track 34: Redhead Kingpin & The FBI – Do The Right Thing

Headache-inducing intro, repetitive track.  Not my cup of tea.

Track 35: Fresh 4 and Lizz E – Wishing On A Star

Not a fan of this drum ‘n’ bass cover, but at least it does something different to the Rose Royce original.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #15

Day 15’s Now! compilation was released on 14th August 1989.

August 1989
This is what the world looked like in August 1989. Beautiful sunshine, beautiful view, and I’m clearly complaining about something, ’cause I’m four. At least I’m complaining while wearing an awesome ’80s coat though.

On with the tracks!

Now! That's What I Call Music #15
Track 1: Queen – I Want It All

Brilliant track, one of my favourites from Queen.  Wonderful guitar solo from Brian May, of course, but the best bit is when it goes quiet for a drums ‘n’ chanting singalong.  Great stuff.

Track 2: Simple Minds – Kick It In

After an uninspiring slow intro, this track does what it says on the tin, thankfully.  Vocals a bit experimental for my liking, though.

Track 3: Fine Young Cannibals – Good Thing

Bit of a retro-sounding track from Fine Young Cannibals.  Nice tune, but a bit repetitive for me.

Track 4: Holly Johnson – Americanos

I’m not hugely keen on Holly Johnson’s post-FGTH solo stuff.  There’s something irritating about the tune and instrumentals on this one.

Track 5: Transvision Vamp – Baby I Don’t Care

Great pop-rock track from Transvision Vamp.  Nice singalong chorus, great guitar.

Track 6: INXS – Mystify

Nice bouncy instrumentals, nice vocals, lovely epic quiet chorus.  Really like this one.

Track 7: Roxette – The Look

Love this track!  Great guitar, great vocals, awesome tune.  Roxette are one of those bands where I like pretty much all of their stuff, but this is a real standout.

Track 8: Stevie Nicks – Rooms On Fire

Slight aside for a minute while I bemoan the fact that I am no longer going to try and get tickets to see Fleetwood Mac this year because they’ve had drama again, with Lindsey Buckingham quitting, and I WANTED TO SEE ALL FIVE OF THEM BECAUSE THAT’S THE CLASSIC LINEUP DAMMIT.  This is the only gig disappointment of 2018 that I have not been able to mitigate somehow.

Anyway, this Stevie Nicks solo track is lovely and epic, absolutely holding its own against the Fleetwood Mac back catalogue.  Cracking song.

Track 9: Paul McCartney – My Brave Face

Nice upbeat track, nice tune.  Good head-nodder.

Track 10: Gerry Marsden, Paul McCartney, Holly Johnson and The Christians – Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey

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

Never been keen on any version of this track, ’cause the chorus annoys me.  I do appreciate the instrumental treatment of this one, though.

Track 11: The Beautiful South – Song For Whoever

So, back on Saturday when I was listening to Now! #10, Geth went on this big ominous ramble during Build by the Housemartins that that was the point when the Housemartins were starting to sound like the Beautiful South, and that it would only be a matter of time before the former went bang and the latter rose from the ashes.  That did of course happen in the late ’80s, but as much as I do prefer the Housemartins, I don’t think the Beautiful South are a bad thing.  This song is lovely and has just the right level of whimsy for my liking.

Track 12: Kirsty MacColl – Days

Beautiful cover of the Kinks track.  There’s enough interesting things done with the instrumentals here (not to mention MacColl’s gorgeous vocals) to make the cover non-pointless, and the result is lovely and sweeping.

Track 13: Danny Wilson – The Second Summer Of Love

Not sure about this folk-rock track – I quite like the bridge, but the chorus is a bit cheesy.

Track 14: Waterfront – Cry

Good instrumentals on the intro, but the track is a bit generic.  Sax solo does save it a bit.

Track 15: Hue & Cry – Violently

Another slow one from Hue & Cry – again, a bit dull for me.  They just never matched Labour Of Love as far as I’m concerned.

Track 16: Cliff Richard – The Best Of Me

1989: the year everyone decided Cliff Richard was a thing again for some reason.  This one is mouldy cheddar, but what do you expect?

Track 17: Soul II Soul and Caron Wheeler – Back To Life (However Do You Want Me)

I’ve always liked that ‘back to life/back to reality‘ hook.  Nice head-nodder as well.

Track 18: Neneh Cherry – Manchild

Nice tune and great instrumentals, but it’s a bit slow for me.

Track 19: Bobby Brown – Every Little Step

Dull tune, but the beat’s all right.

Track 20: Inner City – Do You Love What You Feel

Nice intro – then the dull vocal kicks in.  Not a fan.

Track 21: D-Mob and LRS – It’s Time To Get Funky

Good dance track, quite like this one.

Track 22: Donna Allen – Joy And Pain

Love that sax!  Nice tuneful ballad, even if the vocals are a bit repetitive.

Track 23: Gladys Knight – Licence To Kill

Love a James Bond soundtrack song!  (We’ll gloss over the missed opportunity of A View To A Kill for now.)  Epic almost-orchestral instrumentals, building atmosphere, great vocals – this is what you want.

Track 24: Natalie Cole – Miss You Like Crazy

Super saccharine ballad, annoying chorus.  Not my thing.

Track 25: Pet Shop Boys – It’s Alright

More classic synthpop from Pet Shop Boys.  Love those synth hooks.

Track 26: Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers – Swing The Mood

Novelty cartoon rabbit that I quite liked at the time, being four.  The mix of classic swing and rock ‘n’ roll tracks leaves a little to be desired, though.

Track 27: Swing Out Sister – You On My Mind

Nice upbeat track, lovely tune, good vocals – I quite like this one.

Track 28: Bananarama – Cruel Summer ’89

I don’t know whose idea this 1989 remix was, but it’s a good excuse to hear some classic Bananarama again!  Great track when it’s not the weird remix bit.

Track 29: De La Soul – Say No Go

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 1: lazy tribute version substitute.

Finally, some rap that’s actually interesting!  Great instrumentals too.

Track 30: Norman Cook and MC Wildski – Blame It On The Bassline

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

Here’s another phoenix from the ashes of the Housemartins’ split, back in the days before he was going by Fatboy Slim.  This was actually the Beats International project, although I guess they hadn’t come up with the name yet.

Really quite like this mishmash of samples, especially the Blame It On The Boogie hooks.

Track 31: Double Trouble and The Rebel MC – Just Keep Rockin’

Nice upbeat dance track – happily nodding along here.

Track 32: The Cure – Lullaby

My favourite song from my favourite band!  Now THIS is a good way to end a compilation.  Indescribably beautiful mournful track – I will adore it forever.

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 #13

Day 13’s Now! compilation came out on 21st November 1988.

November 1988
This is the way the world looked in November 1988. I wasn’t actually put in a cage that often. If I had kids they’d be in a cage – uh, sorry, ‘playpen’ – 24 hours a day. This is one of the many reasons I know I’m not meant to be a parent.

Let’s see what pop hits the Now! compilers have for me today.

Now! That's What I Call Music #13
Track 1: Yazz & The Plastic Population – The Only Way Is Up

Classic party track, and that blaring horn at the start is great, but I find the tune to the vocal a bit annoying.

Track 2: Womack & Womack – Teardrops

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

Track 3: Erasure – A Little Respect

I adore this one!  Brilliant singalong party track.  Also, I can’t not post that excellent Tube singalong video.

Track 4: The Christians – Harvest For The World

A little ashamed to say that I’m not familiar enough with the Isley Brothers original to be able to say whether this cover is pointless or not.  There’s lots of very ’80s twiddly instrumentals, but the vocal is a bit mid-century throwback, so it’s hard to guess.

Track 5: Hue & Cry – Ordinary Angel

Interesting instrumentals at the start, a bit Eastern-tinged.  Nice tune, though it’s a bit slow for me.

Track 6: UB40 and Chrissie Hynde – Breakfast In Bed

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

Fairly standard UB40 slow reggae – great vocals from both singers.  I actually like this even more than their cover of I Got You Babe.

Track 7: Robert Palmer – She Makes My Day

Really nice tune from Robert Palmer – interesting instrumental lines and great vocals.

Track 8: Breathe – Hands To Heaven

Nice instrumentals, but far too slow and saccharine for me.  Apart from the sax solo.  You can’t go wrong with a sax solo.

Track 9: Phil Collins – A Groovy Kind Of Love

Not a pointless cover as it’s very different from the Mindbenders original.  It’s much slower and a lot more boring.  Not a fan.

Track 10: Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry, Be Happy

I’ve always quite liked this jaunty tune.  Didn’t they use to sell singing novelty fish that sang this song, or am I imagining that?

Track 11: The Art Of Noise and Tom Jones – Kiss

Nothing can beat the original Prince version, but this cover is not bad at all.  It’s very different to the original, and I’m a big fan of Tom Jones and his distinctive voice.  That guitar solo is great too.

Track 12: Bryan Ferry – Let’s Stick Together

Nice upbeat track, originally released a decade earlier, so the stylings are obviously very ’70s.  Love the instrumentals though, and though it’s a late ’70s song, there’s something quite glam rock about it – Ferry still channelling his earlier Roxy Music days.

Track 13: Kim Wilde – You Came

At the Kim Wilde gig last week (sorry, not going to shut up about that just yet!), Kim dedicated this one to the audience.  Great solid pop track with an awesome epic singalong chorus.

Track 14: Bomb The Bass – Don’t Make Me Wait

Bit of an irritating intro, but the track is good once you get past that – great synth line, great vocals, great tune.

Track 15: Brother Beyond – The Harder I Try

This one’s a bit cheesy for me, but the tune’s quite nice and it’s a good head-nodder.

Track 16: The Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

Not sure why this one was back in the charts, but it’s a classic for a reason.  Great track.

Track 17: Fat Boys and Chubby Checker – The Twist (Yo, Twist!)

It’s that Fat Boys cackle at the start again, but this retro-tinged rap track would not have been at all scary to my toddler self.  Definitely a party song.

Track 18: Wee Papa Girl Rappers – Wee Rule

Quite an interesting song – I like the tune on the chorus, and it’s nice to hear female-fronted rap in the ’80s style.

Track 19: Salt-N-Pepa – Twist And Shout

Speaking of which…  Was it a thing in 1988 to fuse rap with retro rock ‘n’ roll stylings?  I wouldn’t have expected to like that, but I do.  This one’s great, with rap verses straddling the classic chorus.  The opposite of a pointless cover.

Track 20: Yello – The Race

Ohhhh…it’s this one!  Classic party tune, but I didn’t know what it was called or who it was by.  Every day’s a learning experience.

Track 21: Inner City and Kevin Saunderson – Big Fun

Fairly standard for Inner City – nodding my head, but the tune’s not super exciting.

Track 22: D-Mob and Gary Haisman – We Call It Acieed

Infamous vocal, classic dance track.  Bit repetitive for me, but it’s a good party song.

Track 23: Beatmasters and PP Arnold – Burn It Up

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

I find this one a bit dull, nothing out of the ordinary, though I quite like that trumpet hook.

Track 24: Milli Vanilli – Girl You Know It’s True

By the time I started reading Smash Hits in the early ’90s, Milli Vanilli were a bit of a joke in the pop magazines as it was widely believed that they didn’t actually provide the vocals on their records.  I’m not sure if this was true, but it was the kind of thing that was a symptom of the irritating move towards manufactured pop groups.

As for the song itself, the possibly-fake vocals are a bit cheesy, but the instrumentals are great.

Track 25: Level 42 – Heaven In My Hands

I have the Sage Gateshead tab open ready on my browser to order those tickets!  I’ve just…not done it yet.  I will soon.

More fab instrumentals, great upbeat guitar, interesting track.  Like this one.

Track 26: Jane Wiedlin – Rush Hour

Chair-dancing here from the start – great singalong chorus, great tune.

Track 27: The Proclaimers – I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)

The unofficial Scottish national anthem, played whenever we score points at the rugby.  Get several hundred Scots in a room, play this song, and watch the chaos ensue.  The ultimate in singalong classics.

Track 28: T’Pau – Secret Garden

The chorus annoys me, but otherwise it’s quite a good tune.

Track 29: Transvision Vamp – I Want Your Love

Really interesting song with great vocals.  Big fan of this one…

Track 30: Duran Duran – I Don’t Want Your Love

…and the title juxtaposition here is hilariously schizophrenic.  I hope that was deliberate, Now! compilers!

Duran Duran may not want our love…but I think you know what I’m about to say.  I love Duran Duran, and this song is another cracker.  Lovely vocal harmonies on the verses, nice epic atmosphere, brilliant singalong chorus, great lyrics.

Track 31: The Human League – Love Is All That Matters

Interesting to hear the Human League’s later ’80s stuff here.  The synth isn’t nearly so prominent, and it’s a bit smoother and more polished-sounding than their earlier stuff, especially the backing vocals.  Nice tune, too, and that outro is beautiful.

Track 32: All About Eve – Martha’s Harbour

Classic goth ballad.  I’ve always liked this one, so I’ll forgive the Now! compilers for ending yet another compilation with a ballad.