Now That’s What I Call Music 17

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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-  23rd April 1990

Music History

The 90’s are here. Raise your Global Hypercolor t shirts and Game Boys to the sky. This is the first Now album with a strong indie (well, baggy and grebo) section, something that seems to pop up every few years. God awful high tech computer graphics cover too.

Me History

And speaking of retro computer graphics, I think I got an Atari ST since the last Now album, so 6 year old Ben (he grows up so fast!) Is now obsessed with Bombjack and Space Harrier.

If I had to save one track from this album, and the remainder were destined to the Global Hypercolor bin of bad ideas, that track would be…  Dub Be Good to Me, in spite of strong competition from every early 90’s indie band except the Stone Roses, and Orbital to boot. Stiff competition on this one.

Track by Track Breakdown

Erasure : “Blue Savannah”

As I mentioned before, I love Erasure. But as a realist, this is a weak opening track, and the world music-isms in the middle of the song don’t help it’s cause at all.

Rebel MC : “Better World”

Bigger and more wide screen than his previous records, but sadly lacking some of its charm as a result. Still, singing Burt Bacharach midflow- that’s cool.

Paula Abdul : “Opposites Attract”

I remember seeing the video to this on The Chart Show and it was really cool to my 6 year old brain. 24 years on, both song and video are kind of average. Dissapointment abounds.

Beats International : “Dub Be Good to Me”

Tank fly boss walk jam nitty gritty this IS jam hot! The bassline from a Clash song (The Magnificent Seven?) repurposed to magnificent effect by Norman Cook and co.

UB40 : “Kingston Town”

Nice enough cover. You know, deep down, they’re singing about Digbeth though…

Candy Flip : “Strawberry Fields Forever”

Deeply unnecessary baggy cover version of the Beatles classic. I’m just throwing it out there, but I like it more than the original. The version Lennon would have preferred, had he lived.

Tina Turner : “I Don’t Wanna Lose You”

The song is great. I’m just going to throw it out there… Rick Rubin and Tina Turner. Comeback album. I’ll buy 10 copies myself. Beyoncé would run scared.

Phil Collins : “I Wish It Would Rain Down”

Sounds like Phil Collins, trying too hard to sound like a Phil Collins he knows he isn’t anymore.

Happy Mondays : “Step On”

One of the best cover versions of all time (the track was originally a bluesy stomper by John Kongos), and infinitely danceable, in that sloppy, I want to be Bez kind of way. Pure joy distilled into a very simple keyboard riff basically. Everything that follows doesn’t really matter after that, you’re having too much fun. I saw the Happy Mondays a decade later. Shane Ryde stormed off after forgetting the words to this song…

Primal Scream : “Loaded”

In his present role as spokesperson for arrested development and arrogance, Bobby Gillespie is doing his level best, both in interviews and with the turgid rawk albums he puts out, to piss away all the goodwill this track, and the Screamadelica album as a whole built up.

Depeche Mode : “Enjoy the Silence”

I thought this was one of the best songs of the 80’s. Turns out it’s one of the best songs of the 90’s. Who knew?

Jesus Jones : “Real Real Real”

I just like an excuse to say Grebo. Fun if unremarkable.

Inspiral Carpets : “This Is How It Feels”

I don’t love much by the Inspiral Carpets, but this is probably the best song ever written about depression. And their best song.

The House of Love : “Shine On”

Slightly maudlin, enjoyable indie schmindie shoegazey  fun. They’ve really gone in for baggy and indie on this volume, and it’s a good thing, to my mind.

Faith No More : “From out of Nowhere”

Fairly high on my list of bands I didn’t expect to hear on a Now album. So very glad they are. The 25 years of Mike Patton since have been a pleasure of strangeness and brilliance. And if you haven’t heard Faith No More’s comeback single Motherfuckers you really should. Now.

The Quireboys : “Hey You”

A great run of quality tracks, ruined by this turgid pub rock crap. Horrible.

Technotronic featuring MC Eric : “This Beat Is Technotronic”

Deserved one hit wonders. This isn’t the one hit. MC Eric is one of the worst rappers I’ve ever heard. And let’s be fair, I grew up in the 90’s.

Lonnie Gordon : “Happenin’ All over Again”

It’s dance pop pap. But it has a nice chord progression in the bridge and a catchy chorus, which patch up a lot of it’s more glaring flaws.

49ers : “Don’t You Love Me”

The last of the dullard soul house clangers stumbles out of the gate, about two years late for the race. I’d put it down. It’s the decent thing to do.

Jimmy Somerville : “Read My Lips (Enough Is Enough)”

Nowhere near his peak. It just meanders on sadly, despite a great message.

Cliff Richard : “Stronger Than That”

Feels more and more incongruous every time he appears. Inoffensive pop from about three years behind the curve. Bless his cotton socks.

Jam Tronik : “Another Day in Paradise”

Better than the Phil Collins version. Contains an Oh yeah! sample the original lacked.

JT & The Big Family : “Moments in Soul”

Did this sample Art of Noise or vice versa. Either way, Katy Perry used the same atmospheric sample recently. It always works.

Mantronix featuring Wondress : “Got to Have Your Love”

It may just contain the greatest bassline of all time. Even if it’s on a synth. A synth soul classic, cool as milk.

Bizz Nizz : “Don’t Miss the Party Line”

The crowd noises sound so fake. Like they’ve taken the crowd noise from the 1966 World Cup and stuck in over some piss poor rave rap.

E-Zee Possee featuring MC Kinky : “Everything Starts With An ‘E'”

Making reference to a then controversial drug does not make this any less of a novelty track than Mr Blobby or Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh. At least one of those is better than this fake patois part time rave nonsense.

D Mob featuring Nuff Juice : “Put Your Hands Together”

Much more like it. Good break, a fun if average rap. Not great, but it could be The Prodigy after the last couple of terrible songs.

Adamski featuring Seal : “Killer”

Fully deserving of it’s classic status. Seal is a cracking singer, full of passion, and the relentless thumping bassline and chirps and bleeps of the soundscape are absolutely brilliant.

Orbital : “Chime”

Repetitive, but in the good Steve Reich way where it enters your skull and evolves and becomes almost meditative. And there’s a strange joy in the lead line.

Tongue ‘n’ Cheek : “Tomorrow”

A little bit of cheesy Friday night drive time dance soul. It’s crap, but it doesn’t cause any offense. The musical equivalent of Alan Titchmarsh.

Electribe 101 : “Talking with Myself”

I like it more than it deserves, especially the cheeky reference to the Mission Impossible Theme music.

Sydney Youngblood : “I’d Rather Go Blind”

How strange, I’d rather go deaf. I wonder why?

Final verdict

20 from 32 or a very pleasing 63%. Possibly the most enjoyable volume so far, irrespective of the score. I’m genuinely looking forward to the next one, which hasn’t happened for a while. I hope the 90’s remain this good, but I know they won’t, sadly, having lived through them- I know that Boyzone are coming.

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