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 #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.