This article is part of a series, chronicling a foolish attempt to chronicle the history of modern pop, through the Now That’s What I Call Music series. All the previous articles, and some other fun stuff, can be found here.
Released- 5th August 1985
The Now albums haven’t settled into their pattern of three albums a year yet, with this one coming out about 9 months after the last. After some of the disgracefully poor quality music that made it onto the last one, this is hopefully a good thing! Also, Live Aid happens, so the whole famine things been solved, and Radiohead, Boogie Down Productions and Guns ‘n’ Roses blink into existence.
For my first birthday, The Smiths release Meat is Murder, so thanks for that Moz. According to WebMD (again) I am teething and gaining a sense of self, so between the agony and self consciousness, I am The Smiths’ angsty target market.
If I had to save one track from this album, and all the others had to be wiped out by ebola, as we all will be soon, that track would be.. Johnny Come Home by Fine Young Cannibals. It’s a great, if maudlin song, just pipping Axel F’s synthfunk groove, by dint of not having been covered, soul crushingly, by a ringtone, and N-n-n-n-Nineteen Not Out, by not being a novelty song that appeals to a very small crossover in the Venn diagram of cricket fans who love Paul Hardcastle.
Track by track breakdown
Duran Duran : “A View to a Kill”
Covers all of the Duran Duran and James Bond theme bases. The film was not good, sub Lazenby, but still, good theme. Stabby hits on the synth make it sound really…actioney.
Scritti Politti : “The Word Girl”
Some nice and interesting close harmonies fail to save this song from bland indifference. And I always get them mixed up with Milli Vanilli.
Harold Faltermeyer : “Axel F”
Best synth riff ever. You’re probably singing it in your head as you read this. If you’re not, you should be.
Fine Young Cannibals : “Johnny Come Home”
Gloomy as anything, but with a killer hook and interesting subject matter. It’s one of those songs that succeeds despite breaking a great many rules of what is acceptable in a pop song. The fact it exists and succeeded reaffirms my faith in humanity.
Dead or Alive : “In Too Deep”
This is why people only remember You Spin me Round. As interesting as the personal life of accountants.
Stephen ‘Tintin’ Duffy : “Icing on the Cake”
Aspirational nonsense, that could only have come out of the UK at this point in history. You know when something’s just nice, like kittens, or milk bottle sweets? Cute, and unique.
Kool & the Gang : “Cherish”
I love Kool & the Gang. But this sounds like a parody of a limp soul number from a bad sitcom. It can’t have taken more than 10 minutes to write. Honestly, it’s absolutely horrible.
Paul Young : “Every Time You Go Away”
You don’t appreciate my dedication. I sit through Paul Young songs so you don’t have to. I should be paid for this. Paid a lot.
Marillion : “Kayleigh”
Bleh. What the hell is with this bland arse band. They seem to have a following. Who are these people? Why are these people?
Bryan Ferry : “Slave to Love”
Still near enough to his Roxy Music heyday that it’s not a complete hideous croonfest. Not a whole lot to it. Brian Eno would have made them work on it longer. Although he probably would have also dug out his crystal figurine collection and asked, ‘Is maths post art biscuit production?’
David Bowie and the Pat Metheny Group: “This Is Not America”
Bleak and depressing. Not necessarily in a good way. A pretty weak effort for Bowie, but it’s Bowie. He has the whole cocaine excuse.
Simple Minds : “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”
Dear Mr. Vernon,
We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But, we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us: in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But, what we found out is that each one of us is: a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question?
The Breakfast Club.
The Power Station : “Get It On”
Robert Palmer, Duran Duran and Chic get together to cover T Rex. It is so much less than the sum of it’s parts. A deeply unnecessary, pointless cover.
China Crisis : “Black Man Ray”
A pleasant, introspective song. But I worry about the title. Is about the artist, or is it just a racist title about differentiating between some people called Ray? And if so, is A Guy Called Gerald even more racist?
Phil Collins : “One More Night”
Unworthy to lick the boots of Against All Odds. Positively narcoleptic chunk of sentimental guff.
Sister Sledge : “Frankie”
It wants to be a soul number and one of those old rock n Roll songs about boys. It commits to, and succeeds at neither.
Mai Tai : “History”
Pop soul of little interest- this album’s number maker upper. I listened to it five minutes ago and can barely remember a thing about it.
Simply Red : “Money’s Too Tight (To Mention)”
Taking the piss out of Simply Red is far to easy. This is actually a pretty good song, with an update of the old blues standard of having no money. My one criticism? It was written by a Manc, in the 80’s. Why do you feel the need to have a breakdown disseminating the economics of Washington? Surely there was enough going on back home? But otherwise, a great piece of 80’s soul.
Steve Arrington : “Feel So Real”
Meaningless words, screeching at you over some jack music. Smoke alarms are more listenable.
Jaki Graham : “Round and Around”
Heart fm music. The subject matter, music and style is all so pedestrian that it’s almost ironic that you’d only ever hear this song on a car stereo when you can’t tune in to any other station.
The Conway Brothers : “Turn It Up”
George Clinton meets synthpop. They party. Everybody joins in. Starring Steve Guttenberg.
Loose Ends : “Magic Touch”
Soul without soul. Nothing feels loose or exciting in this song. Everyone sounds bored. I’m bored too.
The Commentators : “N-N-Nineteen Not Out”
A reworking of a protest song about Vietnam, to instead talk about England’s disastrous cricket series against the West Indies in 1984. As a massive cricket fan, I find it hilarious, and as a Paul Hardcastle fan, I love the song anyway. Pop fact- the impressions of the Test Match Special team are all by a young Rory Bremner!
U2 : “The Unforgettable Fire”
Amusingly both forgettable, and deeply lacking in fire. Being mean to Bono is far too easy.
The Style Council : “Walls Come Tumbling Down”
Still Paul Weller, still shite. Has a bit of s pulse though. The least shite pile of shite from the shitefather.
Katrina And The Waves : “Walking On Sunshine”
This song woke me up once and I kicked a speaker to death in punishment. In hindsight, the song is harmless enough. I’d still not want it waking me up. I assume it was written as a joke, or as a jingle for women’s hygiene product advert.
Gary Moore & Phil Lynott : “Out In The Fields”
An axis of guitar. Luckily more on the Lynott rock the flipper out than the Moore stodgy blues with lots of sustain end of the scale. Yeah, it’s not Jailbreak, but what is?
The Damned : “The Shadow Of Love”
Does anything like The Damned get on these things any more? The theme from Rawhide filtered through a recovering heroin addict.
Howard Jones : “Life in One Day”
Ooh calypso. Not necessarily good calypso. I think the fact it’s raining heavily as I write this is softening me to something I’d normally hate. You get away with it this time Jones.
Jimmy Nail : “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”
Cheesily atmospheric. In a good way. Got to love Jimmy Nail.
Final verdict: 15/30, or just about a pass mark, at 50%.
Edit: Again, a cleverererer analysis of Now 5 resides at this uvver blog.