Released- 28th March 1994
1994. Britpop becomes A Thing, Mark Goodier takes over presenting the chart show, and having not appeared on a single Now! album in his lifetime, Kurt Cobain takes his own life. I’m not saying that if he’d been on a Now! Album it wouldn’t have happened, but I will say that Paul Weller has, and I’d happily trade one for the other.
I am 10, a whole decade old, and this is the year I get into music hard. To the point where I would listen to songs over and over, hand transcribing the lyrics. God bless the Internet!
If I had to save one track from this album, and the rest were to be sold off to venture capitalists, that track would be… a surprise to me! I thought it was Tori Amos or Doop. But Enigma’s Return to Innocence just edges everything else out. Do not take this as proof new age music has any value.
Track by Track Breakdown
Ace of Base – “The Sign”
Pop reggae corker from the Sedish popsters. Incredibly catchy, and once again, forever tainted by a rude version which starts ‘I saw your Mum‘. I shall use the rest to your febrile imaginations.
Chaka Demus and Pliers featuring Jack Radics & Taxi Gang – “Twist and Shout”
Less good than Salt n Pepa’s version, the Beatles version and the version from Ferris Buellers Day Off. To name but a few. Still, it’s one of those songs that nobody can actually ruin.
D:Ream – “Things Can Only Get Better”
Catchy and fun. With hindsight, musically I was wrong to hate it. With the same hindsight, it will forever be linked to barbaric dictator lover Tony Blair, so I’m afraid I return to my original position. This song is poison.
East 17 – “It’s Alright”
Peak East 17 here. A joy when it kicks in. And let’s not forget the genius of Brian Harvey, a man who ran himself over while feeling sick after 3 baked potatoes. A true hero.
M People – “Moving on Up”
By no means cool or clever, but to try and fight that chorus would be like trying to fight the tides of the ocean.
Eternal – “Save Our Love”
Eternal really were a consistent machine, turning out good to adequate R&B with impressive regularity. This one feels like two different ideas sellotaped together, but both ideas are good enough to get away with it.
Enigma – “Return to Innocence”
I hate new age music with a passion normally reserved for those who commit genocide. But as stopped clocks are right twice a day, so this song is brilliant. Also, this is sampled and turned into a beautiful autotune nightmare on Das Racist’s near perfect second mixtape, Sit Down, Man.
Bee Gees – “For Whom the Bell Tolls”
Actually a really good late era ballad. Hideous production, but clearly a good song beneath. I mean, it’s not How Deep is Your Love, but really good for a band that peaked 17 years hence.
Wendy Moten – “Come In Out of the Rain”
Rote balladry. Like lint and cauliflower it exists, but who cares?
Dina Carroll – “The Perfect Year”
Theoretically, 365 times better than Lou Reed’s Perfect Day. In practice, a serviceable but unremarkable ballad.
Phil Collins – “Everyday”
It’s a nice little ballad, but it sounds out of place now. It belongs in its safe little 80’s bubble. Sorry Phil.
Richard Marx – “Now and Forever”
A nice guitar backing, reminiscent of Blackbird by the Beatles, or Tracy Chapman. Which is then ruined by Valentine’s card sentiment and the vocal ‘talents’ of Karl Marx’s idiot grandson. Workers of the world unite and lynch this man already.
The Cranberries – “Linger”
There is a part of me that will always love 90’s teen films. As a result of the soundtracks of these, I will always also love The Cranberries, as I sensitively look camera left and set my skateboard aside to have a Kevin Williamson scripted talk about my feelings.
Tori Amos – “Cornflake Girl”
Yay! Tori Amos is now a thing! And what a brilliant introduction. Dark but catchy. Nearly every bit feels like a hook.
The Beautiful South – “Good as Gold (Stupid as Mud)”
A joyfully bouncy and wickedly cynical song. I think this is the track I first knew and liked by them, and I remember getting ribbed for liking them. I should have fought back more!
Meat Loaf – “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through”
The melodrama of the 80’s ballad returns, with that Meatloaf humour ensuring that we’re all in on the joke together. I love the big lug.
Primal Scream – “Rocks”
Impressive Rolling Stones impression. Possibly drags on a minute or so longer than it needs to, but I know from experience it gets better the drunker I am. Eventually I’ll Mick Jagger strut. Bobby who?
Gin Blossoms – “Hey Jealousy”
Never got this band, and have always lumped them in with those alternative bands for people who dislike alternative music. See also- Incubus, Kasabian, Hard Fi, anything Paul Weller touches.
Smashing Pumpkins – “Disarm”
Moody and triumphant, a brilliant first entry to the pop canon by William Corgan and co, from their classic album Siamese Dream. You could pick nearly any track and it would fit the bill.
Doop – “Doop”
Or the UK Eurovision entry 2015. Except miles better. Old time Charlestown music. Dance beat. One word that isn’t even a word for the entire lyric. Absolute bloody genius. I hated it when I was 10. I was an idiot.
Right Said Fred – “Wonderman”
Never enough jaw harp on pop records is there? It’s a bit odd, this one, and to be honest, a little bit half arsed. But I do love jaw harp.
Cappella – “Move on Baby”
Incredibly generic retread. Lyrics contain the first rhyme that comes into their heads so much that it just has somebody shouting ‘baby baby’ about a million times by the end.
Culture Beat – “Anything”
Saved from 90’s dance obscurity by being incredibly frantic. As if they only had 20 minutes studio time and decides to record the entire thing in double time.
2 Unlimited – “Let the Beat Control Your Body”
Their best effort since No Limit. Nowhere near as good, but it has a certain hectic charm.
Reel 2 Real featuring The Mad Stuntman – “I Like to Move It”
The breakbeat is fantastic, the chorus is dumber than a cheesecat and I have no idea what he’s saying in the verses. Full marks from me.
K7 – “Come Baby Come”
I was obsessed with this song at 10, never realising how rude and euphemistic it is. It only adds to my enjoyment now. Swing batterbatterbatter swing and a hit.
Credit to the Nation – “Teenage Sensation”
Swinging, whistling, chilled hip hop. Very much an enjoyable thing. And it chucks in the Apache beat, which has never been used in a bad song. Praises be upon Michael Viner.
E.Y.C. – “The Way You Work It”
The era of new jack soul is upon us. Enjoy the increase in dancing and cheesy chat up lyrics. The last comment didn’t get across how awesome new jack soul is. It’s awesome.
Bitty McLean – “Here I Stand”
Ska and lovers rock inflected cover of the 60’s classic. Bitty McLean’s warm, friendly voice carrys it well.
Deep Forest – “Sweet Lullaby”
New agey, incense burning, unmitigated crap. Literally the best thing ever if you’re Chris Traege from Parks and Recreation, otherwise to be avoided at all costs.
Björk – “Violently Happy”
One of the best things about Björk is that she can take a very leftfield idea, and make it beautiful. Here is a song about irrationality. It’s brill.
Shara Nelson – “Uptight”
When you’ve been the main event on an absolute classic like Unfinished Sympathy, something this pedestrian is always going to feel a little dissapointing. By no means bad, but a little bit one note.
Gabrielle – “Because of You”
After the rote blandness of her last single, Gabrielle tries to reach the heights of Dreams again, by copying the arrangement almost note for note. Better, but a wee bit obvious…
Carleen Anderson – “Nervous Breakdown”
Admirable attempt to write a Tina Turner style soul ballad with oomph. Comes very close to succeeding.
Juliet Roberts – “I Want You”
Her best song yet. Much like my favourite trip to the dentist, hardly a recommendation.
Urban Cookie Collective – “Sail Away”
M People without the distinctive singer, good chorus or anything good, whatsoever.
Degrees of Motion featuring Biti – “Shine On”
And so the mantle of predictable, dull dance track for morons is passed on to another bland piece of poo.
Joe Roberts – “Lover”
It’s an attempt to do a Prince style ballad. Sadly Joe Roberts is a bit too much of a crooner, and it lacks the attention and groove needed. Still, it makes it halfway, which is better than expected.
24.5 out of 38. A stonking 64%. That puts it up there with the very best of them.
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.