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- 21st March 1988
Rihanna was born, and Divine died. Make of that what you will. Morrissey goes solo, and frankly it’s a mixed bag, and Sinead O’ Connor comes onto the scene, so in both cases, a win for the loadmouthed truth speakers. House is a big thing now.
Thomas the Tank Engine is kind of a big thing to me. I wrote a letter to the Rev. WH Awdry and got a reply. I still think that that is the coolest thing ever. I’m all about Sodor.
If I had to save one track from this album, and the remainder were remaindered, that track would be… Suedehead if only for the fact that Morrissey makes the world a better place.
Track by track breakdown
Pet Shop Boys – “Always on My Mind”
The worst Pet Shop Boys song yet. Recently voted the best cover of all time. That’s how good they are at their laziest. They’re just too good!
Belinda Carlisle – “Heaven Is a Place on Earth”
It’s big and silly and cute. I think a lot of the best 80’s pop can be judged by asking the question, ‘Would I shout the chorus of this while drunk?’. A resounding yes for this one.
Billy Ocean – “Get Outta My Dreams, Get into My Car”
It’s catchy enough, but a childhood of stranger danger messages mean that I find the title very sinister. Also, the Stones reference when he says ‘Hey! You! Get onto my car‘ serve as a reminder much better songs exist.
Jermaine Stewart – “Say It Again”
Great voice, but the song is completely by the numbers 80’s soul. Needs to be shocked awake.
Eddy Grant – “Gimme Hope Jo’anna”
If all songs about apartheid were this good, you’d almost wish it were still going on!
Eddie Cochran – “C’mon Everybody”
I wish all Now! albums had a classic rock n roll song on them. Haven’t failed to enjoy one yet. Eddie Cochran basically dictated my childhood idea of rebellion and cool with this and Summertime Blues.
Morrissey – “Suedehead”
Not even close to his witty best, but still a glorious, sunny sounding, but amusingly self obsessed bit of pop-indie. The line about his diary having many illustrations never fails to make me smile.
Elton John – “Candle in the Wind”
A sweet, plaintive tribute to Marilyn Monroe, ruined by it’s reuse a decade later for some bint the Daily Express is obsessed with. I dunno, Jade from Big Brother or something.
Wet Wet Wet – “Angel Eyes (Home & Away)”
More blue eyed soul from the Scots. Cracking bridge and chorus, that they’ll struggle to match for the following decade.
Johnny Hates Jazz – “Turn Back the Clock”
At last, their goodish song! It has a chorus that’s memorable! After this I assume they dissappear which is also good!
T’Pau – “Valentine”
Big and moody, but ultimately forgettable.
Billy Idol – “Hot in the City”
His sneer and swagger does not fit well over an almost 60’s pop rock style summer song. But actually that makes it more charming to me. If you’re going to fail, fail entertainingly.
Sinéad O’Connor – “Mandinka”
For an edgy, exciting artist, this is a pretty ordinary song. Maybe Prince should write all your hits?
The Mission – “Tower of Strength”
Creates a big, dark, Depeche Mode sounding atmosphere. Then forgets to put in a melody or any point of interest.
Whitesnake – “Give Me All Your Love”
So clichéd it could almost be a Spinal Tap number. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s just brilliant rock excess at its most irresistible. Enough to make you think long, greasy hair is a good look on a man.
Kylie Minogue – “I Should Be So Lucky”
A literal no brainer. It takes no brains to write, perform and enjoy this song. And enjoy it you will. As irresistible as cheese and crackers.
Mel & Kim – “That’s the Way It Is”
Looks cheap and empty next to Kylie. The contrast really shows it up.
Joyce Sims – “Come into My Life (Radio)”
Dear the 80’s,
See, you can do good, female fronted soul music still, now stop fucking about and give me more like this, and less shopping centre music.
Jellybean featuring Elisa Fiorillo – “Who Found Who”
So bland I forgot I was listening to it for the purpose of review, and listened to Hall and Oates over a shop tannoy for the majority of the song. Hall and Oates are great.
Bananarama – “I Can’t Help It”
After the fun of Venus and Love in the First Degree, this feels a little facilities and pedestrian. Dissapointing.
Dollar – “Oh L’amour”
The first 20 seconds write a cheque the rest of the song fails to cash. By no means bad, but so much less than the beat promises…
Vanessa Paradis – “Joe le taxi”
Gallic pop fun. Everything sounds cooler in French. Even the bad stuff. I’d swap Nigel Farage for Marine Le Pen. Et voila, classy sounding racists.
Morris Minor And The Majors – “Stutter Rap (No Sleep Til Bedtime)”
A tame Beastie Boys parody. The fact that this is on here, and No Sleep Till Brooklyn on Fight for Your Right haven’t been is pants.
Bomb The Bass – “Beat Dis”
A collection of samples used better by other artists (Beastie Boys, Eric B and Rakim, Public Enemy) over a beat. Smells like cheap cash in.
Coldcut featuring Yazz and the Plastic Population – “Doctorin’ the House”
See Bomb the Bass, this is how you sample! From the stab of Afrika Bambaata, this song hits it so well, you’re almost disappointed when vocals come in. Top notch.
Krush – “House Arrest”
The template for a lot of bland dance music to come. Write average house music, employ average singer to sing an average lyric about partying and love. Buy house with profits.
Jack ‘n’ Chill – “The Jack That House Built”
Now has jumped aboard the house scene something rotten on this edition. It’s good fun, but I imagine at the time it would have been an embarrassing selection for anyone actually into the scene, like when the local news has to cover dubstep or grime.
Beatmasters featuring The Cookie Crew – “Rok da House”
A glorious, scruffy mess. Whoever recorded the vocals needs to learn to get them to stand back from the microphone. It gets by on sheer enthusiasm though.
Two Men, a Drum Machine and a Trumpet – “I’m Tired of Getting Pushed Around”
The band name says everything there is to know about the track. All four elements of it are there, and deeply average.
Climie Fisher – “Rise to the Occasion”
Great instrumentation and sampling, wasted on a pretty limp song. It’s like a really good R&B (modern meaning) backing track, with a sub boy band ballad over the top.
Final verdict: 15.5 from 30, scraping by at 53% pop magic.