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- 20th November 1989
This is the only Now! album with no number one singles. True story. You’ve only missed out on more Jive Bunny and sadly, Ride on Time by Black Box. The last of the 80’s too. As we slide into the early 90’s, I will have to start using terminology culled from The Simpsons and Seinfeld to stay current.
I think this was the first year I was allowed to stay up until midnight for New Year’s. It was the most illicit and exciting thing EVER. Although I was a little scared, as midnight is the witching hour and I’d seen Roald Dahl’s the Witches, and knew well enough to be TERRIFIED.
If I had to save one track from this album, and the remainder were New Year’s Resolutioned out of existence, that track would be… You’re History by Shakespear’s Sister, because it’s just odd, and lovely at the same time. Still, also love Rebel MC and Tina Turner. But just not as much.
Track by Track Breakdown
Tears for Fears : “Sowing the Seeds of Love”
The verses and chorus appear to come from seperate songs. Luckily they’re both pretty good songs, so they get away with it.
Belinda Carlisle : “Leave a Light On”
Does the end of the 80’s mean the end of power balladry? I sure as hell hope not. A nice, uptempo example of how this should be done.
Erasure : “Drama!”
Back to form again. Erasure really are miles better than I remember them being at the time.
Deborah Harry : “I Want That Man”
The start of the slow decline of one of the coolest women ever, which will end with the godawful Maria in a decade or so.
Sydney Youngblood : “If Only I Could”
The problem is, 808s don’t guarantee a good song. The can just make it sound dated and tacky.
Curiosity Killed The Cat : “Name and Number”
Okay. It’s a great song. Funky and dumb. But I much prefer what happened when De La and Q Tip got their hands on it.
The Beautiful South : “You Keep It All In”
The lovely 60’s duet sound masks a sense of humour that can only be described as pitch black. Ergo, I absolutely love it.
Wet Wet Wet : “Sweet Surrender”
So bad it’s just bad.
Queen : “Breakthru”
Despite its relentless pace, and brilliant musicianship, probably one of the most boring Queen songs. And I hate saying that.
Tina Turner : “The Best”
How, in the name of all that is holy, was this not a number one over here? It’s iconic, inspirational and huge. Possibly a little overblown, but that’s part of the fun. Plus, a not shit sax solo!
Transvision Vamp : “Born to Be Sold”
Great song, full of grumpiness and cynicism. However, she sounds like Bob Dylan trying to be a sexy woman. Which is, to say the least, a touch odd.
Wendy & Lisa : “Waterfall ’89”
Yuck. Slap bass. Dull, meandering, and not really worth your time.
Kate Bush : “The Sensual World”
As expected, ethereal, woozy, folk and all the other adjectives required when commenting on the marvellous Kate Bush.
Fine Young Cannibals : “I’m Not the Man I Used to Be”
Slower and sadder than their usual singles, but makes a good case for what a timeless, soulful act they were.
Then Jerico : “Sugar Box”
It doesn’t have to be Jerico. Anywhere war torn where there’s a good chance a rogue sniper’s bullet might take them out.
Living in a Box : “Room in Your Heart”
A series of noises that a more charitable reviewer might call a ballad. I’d gaffer tape up the box and chuck it in a river.
Richard Marx : “Right Here Waiting”
Pure schmaltz. Sentimental pap. Probably a standard on The X Factor. And yet it has a loveable charm.
Milli Vanilli : “Girl I’m Gonna Miss You”
How could anybody mime a rap this bad? If you’re going to fake it, at least fake something worth faking. This is hilariously bad!
Rebel MC & Double Trouble : “Street Tuff”
More reggae heavy hip hop that makes you bounce like a complete tit. Which is exactly what you want from it. Fuck grime, this may be the high watermark of London’s rap scene. Funny how the music was a lot more joyful when the town was a dump!
Bobby Brown : “On Our Own”
Couldn’t sound more dated if it were played on Betamax, while doing your diary in a filofax.
Technotronic featuring Felly : “Pump up the Jam”
Stone cold classic. Makes me wish I was 13 years older and deeply into disco biscuits in 1989. I would grind the hell out of my teeth to this…
Lil’ Louis : “French Kiss”
With all the pop house it’s nice to have some minimal, Moroder esque house, even if it resorts to that old Serge Gainsbourg trick of having sex noise to try and drum up a little controversy.
Adeva : “I Thank You”
House soul. Terribly familiar by this point, and I’m not sure I could pick it out of a lineup, but danceable and good enough.
D Mob featuring Cathy Dennis : “C’Mon & Get My Love”
Pop dance that does exactly as you’d expect and nothing more.
De La Soul : “Eye Know”
Lovely, summery, sentimental track. That is still nowhere near the best track they released this year. Possibly makes the top 5. That’s how good they were at this point in time.
Inner City : “Whatcha Gonna Do with My Lovin'”
Sleepwalk soul. The breakdowns have some nice synth sounds, if that helps?
Big Fun : “Can’t Shake the Feeling”
Their best song. Still not Big Fun. More Medium Slight Amusement.
Cliff Richard : “I Just Don’t Have the Heart”
Cliff Richard doing mildly house influenced soul. Yes. It is just as unnerving as it sounds. I’m hiding behind my fingers.
Jimmy Sommerville featuring June Miles Kingston : “Comment te dire adieu?”
Les chansons en Francais sont plus cool de l’Anglais. Mais moins bien sans Richard Coles.
Brother Beyond : “Drive On”
It’s bad. But slow it down by 10 bpm, and make the singer sound more bored, and you’d have a New Order song. Honestly.
Shakespear’s Sister : “You’re History”
Two things you must know about Shakespear’s Sister. One, they’re batshit crazy. Two, they’re bloody brilliant. A good song, made brilliant by the kind of lunatic falsetto only Prince or Russell Mael could otherwise get away with.
Oh Well : “Oh Well/Oh Well”
On a plus side, it sounds gloriously 80’s. On the downside, it actually manages to wreck everything that was good about one of Fleetwood Mac’s best songs. Horrible, horrible cover.
Neneh Cherry : “Kisses on the Wind”
A little dissapointing after the first couple of entries, but only in that it’s not incredibly good, just merely good.
Redhead Kingpin and the F.B.I. : “Do the Right Thing”
Wonky conscious hip hop of the kind I love. Like a marginally less good A Tribe Called Quest. So brill.
Fresh 4 feat. Lizz E : “Wishing on a Star”
To lift liberally from Ned Stark, ‘Trip hop is coming’.
Final verdict: 20 out of 35, or a jolly good 57%, in spite of some awful tracks.