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- 25th November 1985
Not a whole lot of change since the summer, as the bands included prove! Queen seem to get to open up a lot of these albums, but then, it’s Queen during their second peak, so that makes sense.
This album came out two days before my little sister was born. I don’t think I ever had the childish jealousy thing with her. I’d have to ask my Mum to be sure. Anyways, my little sister was born. 28 years later she will be best man at my wedding, and in between she remains one of my best friends. I shall try to remember anything humiliating that coincides with the dates of these releases to shame her if she reads this…
If I had to save one track from this album, and Paul Young would get all the rest to put in his evil, evil mouth, that track would be… Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush, because Kate Bush is one of the greatest things about music, and Hounds of Love is one of the greatest albums. Not a whole lot of competition on this album, though Eurythmics deserve honourable mention.
Track by track breakdown
Queen : “One Vision”
In which Queen channel AC/DC, fantastically. Still riding a wave of greatness. Dreading reaching 1991 at this rate.
Nik Kershaw : “When a Heart Beats”
Ooh, rhythmic interest! He’s singing the verses in 6/8 time over a 4/4 beat, creating a weird disorientating staggering feeling. When Radiohead do it, critics have fangasms. Ergo, this is genius.
Feargal Sharkey : “A Good Heart”
The more I hear from Mr Sharkey, the clearer it is that the rest of the Undertones were the talented ones. He tries to sound passionate, it sounds like he’s trying to pass a kidney stone.
Eurythmics : “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)”
Battier than Adam West. Sounds like the musical equivalent of one of those days where everything just goes right. Absolutely ace. I do wonder if the hitting 27 notes at the end of each line is taking the piss out of that X Factor style of comically melismatic singing.
Simple Minds : “Alive and Kicking”
Sounds like U2 post 1995. All stadium pomp and no soul.
Bryan Adams & Tina Turner : “It’s Only Love”
An a average rock growl rescued the moment St. Tina jumps in. A toughie. I hate Bryan Adams (not so much his fault, as that of the mouth breathers who kept Everything I Do at no.1 forever), but love Tina.
Gary Moore : “Empty Rooms”
He really means it. Stonking power ballad. Not very good.
Marillion : “Lavender”
His voice sounds like a bad punchline to an unfunny joke. They’ve turned medieval nursery rhymes into a set closer. For this alone, I’ll let it go, because how stupid an idea is that? Dilly dilly.
Elton John : “Nikita”
Not his best song. Bland balladry with an interesting subject matter, handled ham fistedly. He’ll never be brilliant 70’s Elton again, but he was once. He has nothing to prove.
Kate Bush : “Running Up that Hill (A Deal With God)”
I’m not actually sure if anyone tops this song in the following 29 years. Nothing else sounds like this.
Level 42 : “Something About You”
If I become an architect and build a skyscraper, I will leave out the 42nd floor, purely so nobody has to be reminded of this abberation.
Tina Turner : “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)”
My favourite theme from my favourite Mad Max film. I love Tina Turner, she can do no wrong. Less so Mel Gibson, but at this point, he’s capable of being in a film that doesn’t blame the English or the Jews for the world’s problems! Small win, but a win.
UB40 : “Don’t Break My Heart”
A lovely chord progression on a sort of dub reggae lite backing. Slightly eerie. I mean, it’s not Lee Perry, but it’s still good.
Phil Collins & Marilyn Martin : “Separate Lives”
Against All Odds was the high watermark of your balladry Phillip. Give up on this, record some big old pop songs and the 80’s will be yours, with your wispy tongue of hair.
Cliff Richard : “She’s So Beautiful”
It is very easy to criticise Sir Cliff. He misses the mark with this attempt at 80’s pop, but in doing so,probably ends up with a better song than if he’d succeeded. Better than I expected.
Arcadia : “Election Day”
I don’t even know what this is. It’s stupid. Not irredeemably so, but I’m lost. I don’t know what they were aiming for with this. Alice Cooper fronting Duran Duran? Nowhere near as good as that sounds.
UB40 & Chrissie Hynde : “I Got You Babe”
I love this cover. Almost as joyful and summery as the original. Normally Chrissie Hynde’s voice can grate with it’s earnestness, but here it really sells the passion, especially next to Ali Campbell’s languid style.
Fine Young Cannibals : “Blue”
Not much could follow Johnny, Come Home and not dissappear. This is an upbeat, summery, soul number but yes, nowhere near as good.
Midge Ure : “If I Was”
The 80’s production belies a lovely, folorn, old fashioned torch song. A very pleasant song and act of self sabotage.
Siouxsie and the Banshees : “Cities in Dust”
I’ve never really fallen for Siouxsie. Too bland. X Ray Spex were much better. Some quirky fashion draped over half a song here.
Madness : “Uncle Sam”
Album by album, I’m starting to suspect that Madness got away with releasing a lot of shit over the years. The big ones cover for this, but this is not good.
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions : “Lost Weekend”
I’m a sucker for songs that are nostalgic for some faded memory, and while the smug sounding vocal is a turn off, this has that feel. A nice contrast between jauntiness and loss score a win in spite of it’s glaring flaws.
The Communards : “You Are My World”
Falsetto soul stomper. I’m sold, and I’d kill for half of that vocal range. Utter joy.
Paul Hardcastle : “Just For Money”
A poorly acted Radio 4 play over 80’s funk. Should be much worse than it is. It’s actually terribly good fun.
Jan Hammer : “Miami Vice Theme”
Not very good theme from not very good show. It has better music. The show is just terrible though.
Maria Vidal : “Body Rock”
Triumphant nonsense for shopping mall PA systems. It has all the DNA of cheesy 80’s pop. Synth riff, hand claps, fake heavy guitar. Sounds like Jump by Van Halen after a neutering.
Baltimora : “Tarzan Boy”
Dated as anything, but you can’t deny that awesome hook. Whoa-a-oh-a-oh-a-oh-a oh a! indeed.
Mai Tai : “Body And Soul”
I’m honestly on the fence here. I feel like I should live this lolloping goth pop but it’s just not grabbing my interest.
Cameo : “Single Life”
All their songs sound the same. But that same is a driving Prince-lite funk, so I’m all good with that. Why all their songs start with the leitmotif from Ennis Morricone’s The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly is a mystery to me, but I like it!
Jaki Graham & David Grant : “Mated”
What a hideously unromantic title. It’s the usual caterwauling over a wet backing track that covers the mass of landfill R&B of the last 30 years.
Final verdict: 15 1/2 good, or 52% Now, 48% Never.
Edit: Smart alec Now 6 for good looking clever folk.