Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #44

Day 44, and Now! #44, which was released on 22nd November 1999.

November 1999
This is how the world looked in November 1999 (actually December, you know the drill). Apologies for the poor quality photo, but these are dodgy old TIF scans from the early ’00s! I need to dig out the originals and re-scan them. Technology marches on, and so does my sense of style (I got rid of that shapeless gold velvet thing a LONG time ago).  My parents had the cushions of those screamingly ’70s chairs re-covered in the ’00s, and they’re still in use.

Let’s see what was in the charts as we approached the end of the millennium.

Now! That's What I Call Music #44
Track 1: Britney Spears – …Baby One More Time

Loved it at the time, bought the single.  It’s pretty overplayed these days, but I still have a bit of a soft spot for it.

Track 2: Shania Twain – That Don’t Impress Me Much

I’ve always quite liked this one, and I love her daft leopard-print outfit in the video.

Track 3: Lou Bega – Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of…)

The turn-of-the-millennium Latin pop craze was in full swing by this point, and so songs like this were huge.  I’ve always loved this one – the lyrics are great, and it’s really danceable.  I know it’s early on, but I’m going to make this my top wedding disco track of today.

Track 4: Eiffel 65 – Blue (Da Ba Dee)

I absolutely adored this one at the time, mainly because people were constantly singing it at me (I had, and still have in storage, a bright blue chenille cardigan that I wore constantly between 1998 and 2004 – you can see it in the picture for the Now! #40 review).  I still love the tune and the lyrics – great song.

Track 5: Steps – Tragedy

Daft, epic cover of the Bee Gees classic.  I can’t not mention the ludicrous video, which I must have seen a hundred times back in the day.

Track 6: Geri Halliwell – Mi Chico Latino

Geri Halliwell hopping on board with the Latin craze.  I quite like this tune, and I always appreciate a bit of Spanish guitar.

Track 7: Robbie Williams – She’s The One

I shouldn’t like this ballad (and apparently Robbie Williams didn’t like it himself for quite a number of years), but I do actually really like the tune.  Not sure why, as it’s the kind of thing I’d normally find depressing.

Track 8: Ronan Keating – When You Say Nothing At All

Cover of the country song.  I actually prefer this version, mainly ’cause it’s not country, but it’s still pretty cheesy and pedestrian.

Track 9: Melanie C – Northern Star

I had the Northern Star album and pretty much every track on it was a cracker – Melanie C’s solo stuff was far and away the best out of all the Spice Girls, and not just because she had the best voice.  This track is beautiful and melancholy, with an absolutely gorgeous atmosphere.

Track 10: Sixpence None The Richer – Kiss Me

The tune’s pleasant enough, but I find the theme a bit twee and irritating.

Track 11: Texas – Summer Son

Really like this one – it’s one of my favourite Texas tracks.  Love the instrumentals, love the edgy atmosphere to the song.

Track 12: Moloko – Sing It Back

Great upbeat tune – I’ve always quite liked this track.  Happily nodding along.

Track 13: Bob Marley & The Wailers and Funkstar De Luxe – Sun Is Shining

Remix of the 1971 track that adds a slightly messy dance beat over the top.  Still a great tune though.

Track 14: Diana Ross – Not Over You Yet

Dance track with a good atmosphere and interesting instrumentals.  Quite like this one.

Track 15: Tina Turner – When The Heartache Is Over

I’ve always quite liked this tune, though it mainly reminds me of an episode of Ally McBeal in which Tina Turner featured at the time.

Track 16: Jamiroquai – Canned Heat

Really like this tune – one of my favourite Jamiroquai tracks – though before I became aware of the title, I always misheard the lyric as ‘candy in my heels‘ rather than ‘canned heat in my heels‘.

Track 17: Tom Jones and The Cardigans – Burning Down The House

I owned and loved the Reload duet album that Tom Jones did, and this was probably one of the best tracks on it.  Great tune, wonderful singalong chorus, excellent stuff.

Track 18: Bran Van 3000 – Drinking In LA

Always really liked this one, to the extent that on the one single occasion in my life I have gone drinking in LA (at LAX airport in 2012 while waiting for a connection) I made sure to photograph the moment just so I could caption it appropriately on Facebook.

Track 19: Supergrass – Moving

I find this one a bit depressing – it’s just kind of slow and drone-y.

Track 20: Phil Collins – You’ll Be In My Heart

Boring tune, and I don’t like the country-tinged guitar.

Track 21: R Kelly – If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time

Slow, irritating ballad.  Not my thing.

Track 22: Geri Halliwell – Lift Me Up

Repeated artist alert!  This track’s a bit twee and cheesy, so really I think the Now! compilers should have just gone with Mi Chico Latino for this compilation.

Track 23: Tin Tin Out and Emma Bunton – What I Am

We’re certainly getting a lot of Spice Girls solo stuff at the moment.  This one is a fairly uninspired cover of the Edie Brickell & New Bohemians track from 1988.  It’s okay to nod along to.

Track 24: Martine McCutcheon – I’ve Got You

Boring ballad, depressing tune.  Not keen.

Track 25: Backstreet Boys – Larger Than Life

The track’s a great danceable song (especially that epic guitar solo!), and I always liked the Y2K-themed video.

Track 26: Jordan Knight – Give It To You

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

Interesting fairground-y instrumental during the intro, and there’s a good atmosphere to this one.  There’s a lot going on, but I quite like it.

Track 27: Gabrielle – Sunshine

Nice tune, but it’s a little slow for me.

Track 28: Honeyz – Never Let You Down

Slow, dull ballad, and I don’t like those.

Track 29: S Club 7 – S Club Party

Another irritating track from S Club 7, though there are some good singalong hooks if you’re in the right mood (approximately six or seven pints should do it).

Track 30: Lolly – Mickey

Pointless cover of the Toni Basil classic, with the only change being the more muddy and electro instrumentals.  Unlike with most pointless ’90s covers, I was actually aware of the original when this one came out, and I remember being totally confused about why someone would release a cover that was so similar, and why anyone would buy it (I did have a friend who actually bought it, though I won’t name and shame!).

Track 31: Ann Lee – 2 Times

Pretty, feelgood, interesting track – I’ve always really liked this one.

Track 32: Vengaboys – We’re Going To Ibiza!

It’s a fairly typical daft Vengaboys track, with the added major irritation that they don’t know how to pronounce ‘Ibiza’, so the lyric sounds like ‘whoa – we’re going to eat pizza‘.  Which is definitely something to get excited about, but maybe not to the point of releasing a song.

Track 33: Enrique Iglesias – Bailamos

Loved it at the time, requested an Enrique Iglesias album for Christmas off the back of loving this track (and then it turned out to be an earlier album that didn’t have this track on it.  Oh well).  Still a great tune.

Track 34: Shaft – (Mucho Mambo) Sway

Oh, it’s this one!  Great atmosphere, great Latin beat.  Good stuff.

Track 35: ATB – Don’t Stop!

ATB using a similar irritating instrumental hook to the one on their last track, 9PM (Till I Come).  Bored already.

Track 36: DJ Jean – The Launch

Annoying, repetitive hook.  Not keen.

Track 37: Groove Armada and Gram’ma Funk – I See You Baby [Fatboy Slim Radio Edit]

Classic dance track, great vocal hook.

Track 38: Wamdue Project – King Of My Castle

I’ve always found this one pretty interesting, mainly due to the utterly incomprehensible lyrics (she’s doing what with her trestle?).  Good tune too.

Track 39: Alice Deejay – Back In My Life

Irritating, repetitive vocals, generic dance backing track.  Never really liked this one.

Track 40: Alena – Turn It Around

Boring dance track, nothing good about it.

Track 41: Tina Cousins – Angel

Pretty vocals, but the track is otherwise very uninspired.

Track 42: Liquid Child – Diving Faces

The vocal sample is awful, but I quite like the electro hooks.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #39

Day 39, and Now! #39 was released on 6th April 1998.

April 1998
This is the way the world looked in April 1998 – warm enough for a barbecue, even in Scotland (not dissimilar to the late April of twenty years later). Holiday caravans haven’t changed much, but I can’t remember the last time I had toasted marshmallows (it’s difficult to find ones that are gelatine-free).

Let’s see what was on the radio twenty years ago this spring.

Now! That's What I Call Music #39
Track 1: All Saints – Never Ever

Classic track, great theme, great lyrics, great video.  All Saints never bettered this.

Track 2: Lighthouse Family – High

My favourite Lighthouse Family track – lovely tune.

Track 3: Janet Jackson – Together Again

Oh, it’s this one.  The tune’s okay, but I’ve always found this track a bit so-so.

Track 4: Spice Girls – Stop

This was never my favourite Spice Girls song – I find the tune pretty irritating.

Fun fact: this was the first of their songs not to go straight in at number one – it only reached number two.

Track 5: Natalie Imbruglia – Torn

I still consider this a classic – it’s a gorgeous tune, but it is a bit overplayed nowadays.

Fun fact: this was actually the fourth version of the song, but it’s the one most people know.

Track 6: Billie Myers – Kiss The Rain

Gorgeous tune, really interesting vocals.  Great stuff.

Track 7: Robbie Williams – Angels

Probably Robbie Williams’ most classic track.  It’s a gorgeous ballad, but again it suffers a bit from being overplayed.

Track 8: Various Artists – Perfect Day

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause.

This was everywhere at the time – first as the BBC Music advert and then as the official Children In Need track for 1997.  Gorgeous, epic semi-cover (because Lou Reed was involved, alongside pretty much everybody else!) of the 1972 classic.

Track 9: Boyzone – Baby Can I Hold You

Pointless ’90s cover of the Tracy Chapman song.

Obligatory ‘I hate pointless ’90s covers’ rant: I’m still really annoyed that it took me nearly two decades to realise that it WAS originally a Tracy Chapman song.

Track 10: Tin Tin Out and Shelley Nelson – Here’s Where The Story Ends

Electronic cover of the Sundays song.  It’s fairly uninspired.

Track 11: Space and Cerys Matthews – The Ballad Of Tom Jones

Loved it then, love it now!  Hilarious theme, great track.

Track 12: Texas – Insane

Great atmosphere – really like this one.

Track 13: Hanson – Weird

Loved it at the time, but only because I was a huge Hanson fan.  Because I was the only one of my mates with cable TV at this point, I remember having to sit in front of The Box channel (‘music television YOU control!’ – I’ve discussed this before) for hours, waiting for the video to come on so I could tape it off the TV and give the VHS to my friend who was an even bigger Hanson fan.  Ah, 20th century technology.

But yeah, anyway, I find the song pretty irritating now.

Track 14: LeAnn Rimes – How Do I Live

Hated it then, still hate it now.  Can’t stand the tune, don’t like the style, just not my cup of tea in the slightest.

Track 15: Shania Twain – You’re Still The One

Again, not my thing.  I don’t like country music, especially not country music ballads.

Track 16: Sheryl Crow – Tomorrow Never Dies

I do love a James Bond theme, and this is no exception.  Great, epic track.

Track 17: Radiohead – No Surprises

Another lovely, melancholy tune from Radiohead.  Great stuff.

Track 18: The Verve – Lucky Man

I’ve never been hugely keen on the droning style of Britpop vocals, and it takes a good song to mitigate them.  This is not quite a good enough song in that respect, although the tune’s okay.

Track 19: Pulp – This Is Hardcore

Great epic atmosphere, lovely instrumentals.  Good stuff.

Track 20: Robbie Williams – Let Me Entertain You

Repeated artist alert!  I’m shaking my head in disapproval, Now! compilers.

However, given that this is the best, most epic, most anthemic track that Robbie Williams ever did, I suppose I can forgive them just this once.

Track 21: Catatonia – Mulder And Scully

Great track – love the theme, love the tune.

Track 22: Cornershop – Brimful Of Asha [Norman Cook Remix]

A classic!  Endlessly danceable, great singalong track.  I’m going to make this one today’s top ‘wedding disco’ song.

Track 23: Run DMC and Jason Nevins – It’s Like That

House style re-working of the 1983 track.  This was everywhere at the time, and the video was great.

Track 24: Wildchild – Renegade Master ’98

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

We already had the original on Now! #32, and this version’s really not that different (other than some additional messy sampling), so I am side-eyeing a bit at its inclusion.

Track 25: Bamboo – Bamboogie

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

Oh, it’s this one.  Not the biggest fan of this one, as the lines are pretty messy, but I do like that KC & The Sunshine Band sample.

Track 26: Ultra Naté – Found A Cure

Quite like the guitar riff on the intro of this one, and the vocals are great too.  Good track.

Track 27: Sash! – La Primavera

Great feelgood dance tune, always liked this one.

Track 28: Aqua – Barbie Girl

Great track!  Brilliant theme, brilliant pop tune.  I bought the single of this while on a school trip to France, just because we heard it absolutely everywhere we went.

Track 29: Steps – 5, 6, 7, 8

See, this is the kind of corny faux-line-dance track I can get behind.  Steps were just at the right level of ‘not taking themselves too seriously’ that was perfect for late ’90s pop.

Track 30: Louise – Let’s Go Round Again

Cover of the Average White Band track.  I should find the tune annoying, but I actually quite like it.

Track 31: Chumbawamba – Amnesia

I’ve always loved this follow-up to Tubthumping – it’s another great, danceable track.

Track 32: Camisra – Let Me Show You

Highly irritating vocals, headache-inducing intro, but the main hook is quite pleasant.

Track 33: DJ Quicksilver – Planet Love

The tune’s okay, but the vocal samples are pretty generic.

Track 34: Rest Assured – Treat Infamy

There’s a bit too much going on in this track, but there is quite a soothing atmosphere – right up until the Bitter Sweet Symphony sample kicks in.  Just why?

Track 35: Warren G and Sissel – Prince Igor

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

Really like the instrumentals and the atmosphere, and the rap’s okay as well, but nothing compared to that lovely operatic chorus!  Quite like this one, but it is a bit of an odd mix.

Track 36: Lutricia McNeal – Ain’t That Just The Way

The tune is a little annoying, but otherwise there’s something quite pleasant and feelgood about this track.

Track 37: Prince Buster – Whine And Grine

Reggae track with a bit of a dull tune and an annoying theme.  Not hugely keen on this one.

Track 38: The All Seeing I – The Beat Goes On

Liked it at the time, find it a bit repetitive now.

Track 39: Goldie – Believe

Irritating, messy track – there’s just far too much going on.

Track 40: Backstreet Boys – All I Have To Give

It’s another painfully saccharine track from the Backstreet Boys.  I know they did do ones that were actually quite good, but we’ve not had any on these Now! compilations so far.

Track 41: Vanilla – No Way No Way

Loved it at the time (especially the Muppets-esque ‘mahna mahna’ bit), find the vocals pretty annoying nowadays.

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.