Now That’s What I Call Music 13

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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 November 1988

Music History

Roy Orbison passes away- I am mean about him later, but I suppose his death explains why the festering turd that is You Got It sold so well. Bear in mind that otherwise, I love his music.

In other news, Nine Inch Nails, A Tribe Called Quest, and Sultans of Ping FC all form, readying the 90’s, which are but a year away.

Me History

I think I was supposed to start school, but I was pretty ill, so I actually didn’t start till January of the following year. This explains why I have very fond memories of my Grandad teaching me maths, and Wacaday.

If I had to save one track from this album, and the remainder were to be used to appease Galactus, the world eater, that track would be… (I’m Gonna Be) 500 Miles by the Proclaimers. Do you really need an explanation? It’s perfect in all it’s aspects.

Track by track breakdown

Yazz And The Plastic Population : “The Only Way Is Up”

This is one of the first songs I remember loving. I should totally travel back in time to tell 4 1/2 year old Ben that the production is by Coldcut, and save myself the 12 year gap before I discover they fricking rule.

Womack And Womack : “Teardrops”

Makes up for any less great songs on prior volumes. This is all good! Absolute stone cold pop classic, with a soul feel. Has a real drive to it. So very enjoyable.

Erasure : “A Little Respect”

I got a telling off for singing along a little too loud in a department store recently. Which is a strong recommendation for its sheer infectiousness. The falsetto is particularly fun.

The Christians : “Harvest for the World”

Massively inferior version of an Isley Brothers classic. Why bother covering anything if you can’t outdo the original? Frustrating. Not bad, but just a terrible waste.

Hue And Cry : “Ordinary Angel”

Easy, breezy listening. No real substance to it. It floats around, like a stale fart in a lift.

UB40 with Chrissie Hynde : “Breakfast in Bed”

The law of diminishing returns comes in hard on this repeat collaboration. Meanders along with no real purpose. Inoffensive but dull.

Robert Palmer : “She Makes My Day”

Actually great. His name lowered my expectations, so I was taken by complete surprise by quite a sweet and sentimental song. Having my expectations subverted is my favourite thing about doing this.

Breathe : “Hands to Heaven”

Sometimes, the best I can do is force myself to stay awake through this. Narcoleptic ballad.

Phil Collins : “A Groovy Kind of Love”

Now this is how to do a slow ballad! Take note, Breathe, you useless sacks. If it sounds beautiful and heartfelt coming from Phil Collins, you know it must be well written!

Bobby McFerrin : “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”

Yes, it’s essentially telling you to turn a blind eye to all that’s wrong with the world, which is silly. But it’s catchy, laid back insouciance is actually a small wonder. Simple fun.

Art of Noise featuring Tom Jones : “Kiss”

I’d much rather have Prince, but sod it, a good song is a good song, even if it’s the third best version of it. And it’s a really good song. Irresistibly good. But without the biddlebiddlebiddlebiddlebow bit on the guitar, about 50% less funky.

Bryan Ferry : “Let’s Stick Together”

This song did not require your wibbly voice over the top of it. Loses all of its scuzzy charm in this version.

Kim Wilde : “You Came”

A bit of a low for Ms. Wilde. Very standard pop song, with little of her distinctive trademarks, save for maybe big hair and a denim jacket…

Bomb the Bass : “Don’t Make Me Wait”

Cheesier than roquefort but by golly it’s good stomp along fun.

Brother Beyond : “The Harder I Try”

A wisp of nothing much at all.  Boy bands are starting, but the formula is far from perfected yet…

The Hollies : “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”

A perfect, sentimental, trundling home drunk at 3am type song. Even without listening to the lyrics you feel slightly emotional. A classic, doubly so if you’re a scouser.

Fat Boys / Chubby Checker : “The Twist (Yo, Twist)”

Last time you got away with it on sheer novelty. The trick doesn’t work twice. A parody of Run DMC over a hideously overproduced reworking of a rock and roll classic.

Wee Papa Girl Rappers : “Wee Rule”

The stupidest, bestest, childishest chorus it has been my opportunity to enjoy while doing this. Will not be topped for about 15 years. Spoiler- it’ll be Daphne and Celeste. Also has the benefit of reminding me of the ‘Dancing in our Pants’ skit that Tvev and Simon used to do.

Salt ‘N’ Pepa : “Twist and Shout”

It’s great fun, full of attitude and sneer. They’re good enough right now they could do the phone book to the tune of Isn’t She Lovely and still come up smelling of roses.

Yello : “The Race”

A perfect addition to any running playlist. It always brings a dumb smile to my face, possibly by association with the underrated art house classic, Nuns on the Run.

Inner City (featuring Kevin Saunderson) : “Big Fun”

House is starting to get that deep, atmospheric vibe. It’ll sound tired and worn out soon enough, but in the context of this album, it sounds positively futuristic.

D-Mob (featuring Gary Haisman) : “We Call It Acieed”

It’s classic status belies the fact it’s more irritating than a rectal rash. Proof, if proof were needed, that being around people on drugs, while not on drugs yourself, is really bloody irritating.

The Beatmasters with P. P. Arnold : “Burn It Up”

A bloody waste of a perfectly good singer. Template dance music, all a bit tired. Ruins a fairly good run of good music.

Milli Vanilli : “Girl You Know It’s True”

Mimey, passable pop hop from the years before their time front for producers. Let’s be fair, good looking talentless fronts are now the norm, rather than the exception, so really, these guys were trailblazers rather than scam artists.

Level 42 : “Heaven in My Hands”

Actually quite good until the vocal comes in. So top marks for the first 43 seconds. The rest of it is shite. What did you expect? It’s Level 42…

Jane Wiedlin : “Rush Hour”

More predictable and by the numbers than Murder She Wrote. And no Angela Lansbury. Echt.

The Proclaimers : “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”

If you don’t love this song, I bar you from this blog for life. It’s happiness in a bottle. It is one of those rarest animals, a perfect pop song.

T’Pau : “Secret Garden”

What it lacks in tunefulness and musicality it makes up for in enthusiasm. Unremarkable, but decent.

Transvision Vamp : “I Want Your Love”

Pitch perfect pop sleaze. It actually sounds like an off cut from the Rocky Horror Show soundtrack. In a great way.

Duran Duran : “I Don’t Want Your Love”

Another fine dollop of funk pop. A lot of these 80’s acts are now past their peak, but this is still an acceptable entry in the D2 canon.

The Human League : “Love Is All That Matters”

A brilliant bit of sequencing on the last three tracks. I am now royally confused about how the Midlands feel about love. Not the strongest Human League song, but I’ve heard worse- just wait for the mid 90’s!

All About Eve : “Martha’s Harbour”

Ooh moody. I feel like Dawson, sitting at his damnable creek, looking moodily top left of the camera. In all seriousness, it’s actually quite lovely, with some effective chord changes signalling the different moods, and a simple and effectively used vocal, balancing the loss and hope of the song. Another great surprise.

Final verdict:  18/32 listenable tracks. 56%. Average, with the occasional stand out track. Seriously, the bad on this one is a worse bad than usual though. Given that I write this, I could change my marking scheme to take this into account, but ‘m, not going to. It’s the least worst and simplest solution.  Consider it a low 56%.

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