Released- 10th April 1995
Richey Edwards disappears, Bill Berry leaves REM, Eazy-E leaves this mortal coil (the conceptual term for life, not the band). Tupac becomes the first artist to have a number one album while in prison, and gets married there too. I’m sure that will last a long while…
I’m in my last months of primary school. I’m a table leader in the canteen bitches! I am also now obsessed with buying C-90 blank cassettes and recording the charts, and Smash Hits magazine. I own a PJ and Duncan album and a Shampoo album. I’m that cool.
If I had to save one track from this album, and the rest were to be held back a year, and we just lose touch, y’know, that track would be… more difficult than ever! Between The Boo Radleys, Massive Attack, Oasis, Freak Power, R Kelly, N-Trance and East 17, this album keeps winning! By a whisker…
Track by Track Breakdown
Freak Power – “Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out”
Hunter S Thompson referencing, George Clinton sounding low slung soul. Possibly the sextet track on a Now album so far. Welcome back Norman Cook, now on your 4th different name so far.
Janet Jackson – “Whoops Now”
Relentlessly cheery, summery track that after 20 years, still makes me unreasonably angry. Kill it immediately. Please.
Boyzone – “Love Me for a Reason”
Cover of one of those Osmonds songs which isn’t Crazy Horses and is therefore garbage. Likeable enough, but sadly, introduced us to such atrocities as Louis Walsh, and Shane Lynch stupid shaved eyebrow bit.
Cher, Chrissie Hynde and Neneh Cherry with Eric Clapton – “Love Can Build a Bridge”
3 great female artists whose voices really don’t blend, and a guitarist who supported Enoch Powell, and got so wasted once he let his kid die, then made a shitload of money off the resultant song team up for charity. Worthwhile cause, shit song.
East 17 – “Stay Another Day”
I think I mentioned before that there is one good slow song by East 17. This is it. Transcendently brilliant classic. People still seem to think it’s a Christmas song, because they wore coats in the video. Fools.
Mike + The Mechanics – “Over My Shoulder”
Catchy, but a little plodding MOR. A few years ago when I worked at an energy company, one of my colleagues made a version which explained industry terminology. Which I now wish I hadn’t mentioned as I realise how geeky that sounds.
Jimmy Nail – “Crocodile Shoes”
When you want to criticise the modern pop scene, just remember, 20 years ago, anyone who appeared in a popular ITV drama could successfully launch a pop career with no songs or talent. And 20 years before that? One word. Yewtree.
Scarlet – “Independent Love Song”
Somehow manages to find the line of best fit between Bonnie Tyler and Tori Amos, and come out of it well. More than impressive.
Simple Minds – “She’s a River”
The best song Simple Minds have done since the 80’s. Sadly this only brings it to the dizzying heights of mediocrity.
The Boo Radleys – “Wake Up Boo!”
Summer, represented in musical form in the most effective way since the Beach Boys. You genuinely cannot feel sad while listening to this song.
The Human League – “Tell Me When”
On the one hand it sounds just like The Human League I love. On the other, after all this time, they still sound exactly the same despite the passage of time. Imagine how good it would have been if they had developed.
M People – “Sight for Sore Eyes”
Not all that bad, but probably the first sign that M People aren’t quite as brilliant as that opening salvo of singles suggested…
Sting – “This Cowboy Song”
Sting’s entire solo career appears to be an attempt to prove that Stewart Copeland was the genius behind The Police. In my opinion, this is correct. Without his rhythmic genius, Sting churns out attempts to ride a zeitgeist like this, or terrible world music appropriation.
Shut Up and Dance – “Save It ‘Til The Mourning After”
A quick caveat, I am aware how lyrically weak this track is. But a conscious hip hop track over Duran Duran is possibly one of the best ideas making has had since building henges.
R Kelly – “Bump n’ Grind”
My mind’s telling me no. But my body? My body’s telling me yes, this might just be the greatest slow jam of all time. Better than Slow Jamz by Yeezy. Better than Boyz 2 Men. Damn, better than Bone, Thugz ‘n’ Harmony.
Eternal – “Oh Baby I…”
Romantic but deeply underwhelming ballad. Needs about another half hour to remove the floury taste…
Massive Attack featuring Tracey Thorn – “Protection”
Manages both to be quite heavy, in a dub type sense, but light and beautiful at the same time. A tremendous achievement. Also, amazing Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) video.
Portishead – “Glory Box”
Ethereal, slightly chilling and utterly brilliant. The Isaac Hayes sample works a treat, as a backing for this jazzy trip hop. Honestly, buy any of their three albums and you won’t be dissapointed. But Dummy has all the killer singles on it.
Oasis – “Whatever”
Their high water mark, and the best song of their best years. I’m always eleven and falling deep in love with music when I hear this song.
Outhere Brothers – “Don’t Stop (Wiggle Wiggle)”
I loved this at the time, but with the distance of time, I think the only reason they did well might be the filthy versions of their songs. This was the era of Smokie feat. Roy Chubby Brown if you remember.
Alex Party – “Don’t Give Me Your Life”
Having just reviewed the 90’s dance revivalism of Now 90, I realise they’ve failed to revive handclaps, or good soul singers. And this is why this is miles better.
Strike – “U Sure Do”
So far so good in the dance stakes on this one. More breakbeaty than any of the house tracks over the last 4 years or so. And that gives it an energy your standard four to the floor can’t.
Kenny Dope presents The Bucketheads – “The Bomb (These Sounds Fall into My Mind)”
I bought this on cassette. With hindsight, I made a great choice. Disco house, with some mad discord stuff going on. I was like a prepubescent John Peel!
Nightcrawlers – “Push the Feeling On”
I used to think this song was hilarious, and said ‘Life’s full of sperm. And I still do. Good chilled dance, BTW.
Tin Tin Out – “Always (Something There to Remind Me)”
Simple rule. If you’re going to do a Bacharach/David number, they probably got it right at the time. And it wasn’t a half arsed house tune.
Corona – “Baby Baby”
Reasonably fun, but incredibly predictable dancey thing. It’ll do, I suppose.
Clock – “Axel F”
Yep. Long before Crazy Frog, somebody hated mankind enough to make a dance version of the Beverly Hills Cop music. The universe hates us all equally.
N-Trance – “Set You Free”
Anthemic. I listened to this track about eight times, and I have nothing more to say on the matter. Go and listen to it eight times. Enjoy.
JX – “You Belong To Me”
More basic than Gwyneth Paltrow. Dance by numbers.
Perfecto Allstars – “Reach Up (Papa’s Got A Brand New Pig Bag)”
So good, it nearly earns the right to reference James Brown in its title. Floor filling classic.
Rednex – “Cotton Eye Joe”
I want to be mean and cynical (because I am mean and cynical), but I would love it if a song like this made it to number one today. I have become sentimental in my old age. Let’s start a hoedown house revival.
Deuce – “Call It Love”
Oh god. I really liked this at the time. I taped it off the top 40. I am very sorry mankind. This is bloody dreadful.
2 Unlimited – “Here I Go”
2 years since their last good single, they’re still here. Like the guy at a party who is trying to cut open a bag of wine and lick the last few dregs at 5am, as the remaining tenants argue about who invited him in the first place and how to get rid of him.
MC Sar & The Real McCoy – “Run Away”
Not even the novelty of synth pan pipes can lift this song from big utterly terrible. It deserves MC SARS.
Nicki French – “Total Eclipse of the Heart”
Not even fit to lick cats piss off of Bonnie Tyler’s kitchen floor.
Sean Maguire – “Suddenly”
Formerly of Grange Hill and Eastenders, it’s one of those beautiful moments that a soap star tries to have a pop career. The song is a turd, but the effort is endearing.
Bobby Brown – “Two Can Play That Game”
Another one I hated at the time. I was wrong, it’s a great, jumping, new jack soul anthem.
Ultimate Kaos – “Hoochie Booty”
More junior R&B. A better song than their last, but again, it mainly gets by on being endearing, rather than good.
Pato Banton and Ranking Roger – “Bubbling Hot”
The thing is, they’re both West Indian, but this song sounds like white people trying to do reggae. Good fun regardless, but not exactly great.
Mica Paris – “One”
Somehow more smug than when Bono does it. Still a great song, but a terrible version. Shouting and passion are not the same thing.
23 out of 40. 58 %, but of that 58% the quality is REALLY DAMN HIGH. Seriously- the arbitrary grading system does not show how much I enjoyed this one!
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.