Released- 18th November 1996
Suge Knight regrets paying out so much money to Tupac, as he decides to walk headlong into a bullet. Crowded House split, after dreaming it’s over. Jack Gills marries Meg White, and in a break from tradition, takes his wife’s name. Those guys should form a band or something.
I’m in my second year of secondary school, I’ve discovered that I like girls but can’t talk to them. I have started growing my hair, and have what is known at the time as curtains. Luckily, few digital pictures of this exist, so I’m safe for now…
If I had to save one track from this album, and the rest were to be knocked out in the semi final of the tournament on penalties, that track would be… You’re Gorgeous by Babybird, as it’s likely the only chance I’ll have to include a Babybird song. Honourable mention to Faithless and Björk.
Track by Track Breakdown
Spice Girls – “Say You’ll Be There”
Well, the girls are two for two so far, with this summery, funky track. You’d think they’d be an icon for 90’s pop on the strength of this!
George Michael – “Fastlove” (Forthright Edit)
Second best song of this era to sample Patrice Rushen. The best is by Will Smith. This is okay. Amusing video sending up his being caught cottaging in LA.
Peter André – “Flava”
Terrible. Truly terrible. Like This is How We Do It rubbed in faeces.
East 17 featuring Gabrielle – “If You Ever”
The final good East 17 song. But by God, that’s a B list team up if you ever saw one. And good might be a bit strong. Not bad.
Deep Blue Something – “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”
Easy enough to hate. But actually it’s pretty likeable, if you don’t mind a little cheesiness.
Pet Shop Boys – “Se a Vida é (That’s the Way Life Is)”
Welcome back again! A lovely, slightly sentimental summer song, but with their slightly snarky perspective. Probably one of their weaker eras, still great.
Babybird – “You’re Gorgeous”
It is a tragedy that this is all Babybird are remembered for. He has a cheeky wit lacking in a huge amount of music, and deserves way more than being remembered as the You’re Gorgeous guy. Not that this is in any way a bad song to be remembered for!
The Beautiful South – “Rotterdam”
You know that Morrissey song, We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful? This was probably their biggest song, and therefore I liked it least. It does have all the things that are good about the Beautiful South.
Dodgy – “If You’re Thinking of Me”
Maudlin, amateur hour, open mic night averageness all round here. Good Enough looking like a fluke here.
Crowded House – “Don’t Dream It’s Over”
Fair play Crowded House, this is rock solid. Probably their very best. Consider my hat doffed.
The Bluetones – “Marblehead Johnson”
A second great song from The Bluetones. Shifts tonally quite nicely.
Ocean Colour Scene – “The Riverboat Song”
It’s literally the simplest riff ever, at just three notes. Even Smoke on the Water has four. The song is less good than the riff, but will do.
Sheryl Crow – “If It Makes You Happy”
Easy to like, but sadly, nigh impossible to love. Consistently pretty good her whole career.
Garbage featuring Tricky – “Milk”
Blimey. I’d forgotten how good early Garbage was. Lovely sparse misery set on vinyl. Or cassette, they aren’t quite dead yet!
Neneh Cherry – “Woman”
There are very, very few people who could get away with recording a reply song to a James Brown song. Neneh Cherry is in that minute, possibly single occupancy, bracket.
Lighthouse Family – “Goodbye Heartbreak”
They’ll claim it’s three different singles, but it’s the same single tree times. And a bad one at that.
Pulp – “Something Changed”
Even the sappier end of their seminal album, Different Class, is without fault. This is a love song from the perspective of somebody yet to meet the live of their life. An optimistic heart wrencher.
Cast – “Flying”
Finally, a stinker from Cast. Facile lyrics, generic sludgy rock backing. Nearly unlistenable.
Suede – “Beautiful Ones”
Two singles, two classics on two Now! albums in a row for Suede. Although the two do sound pretty similar….
Belinda Carlisle – “Always Breaking My Heart”
For the first time in an age, Belinda Carlisle plays to her strengths with a big, 80’s style upbeat power ballad. And reaps the rewards.
Dina Carroll – “Escaping”
Some Lion King sounding inspiro-soul. Irritatingly likeable.
Boyzone – “Words”
Remember what that nasty Irish gander did to Cat Stevens? They’re now doing the same to Tracy Chapman. Is there no end to their depravity?
Eternal – “Someday”
Gives ditchwater a bad name. Relentlessly tedious ballad.
Backstreet Boys – “I’ll Never Break Your Heart”
See Eternal? This is how you do a pop ballad. Embrace the essential tackiness and run with it.
Damage – “Love II Love”
By all means, steal from You’re All I Need by Marvin Gaye and Tammy Tyrell. But for God’s sake do something worthwhile with it.
Clock – “Oh What a Night”
A third classic ruined. Screw you, Clock.
Louise – “Undivided Love”
Nope. Naked was a one off. This is simple and clunky and inelegant. It sounds like it steals from about three other songs too.
Ant and Dec – “When I Fall in Love”
It’s no Eternal Love, I tells ya. Irritatingly catchy chorus though. Still music’s loss is ITV’s gain, I suppose.
911 – “Don’t Make Me Wait”
Bless 911. Like Take That or Boyzone on a budget. There’s only three of them, their songs are a third less good. Austerity in motion.
Strike – “My Love Is for Real”
The rise of trance and better quality dance acts, like Faithless and Underworld has left this track looking very dated in comparison. One for Now 25 rather than 35.
Faithless – “Insomnia”
I had a friend who used to work on the ferry to France out of Dover. One night, he was tending bar on the graveyard shift, and Maxi Jazz came in. Maxi made the mistake of saying he was tired, to which my friend said, ‘Damn. You can’t get no sleep?’. I think he made an enemy for life that day.
Otherwise, an absolute irrefutable classic.
BBE – “Seven Days and One Week”
The minimal trance thing is a thing now. Lots of sparse, haunting keyboard riffs, like Kraftwerk without the musicianship.
Stretch ‘n’ Vern – “I’m Alive”
Full on, jittery disco house. Doesn’t change the world, doesn’t need to. Does fulfill a funky bouncing need for fun!
Healy and Amos – “Stamp!”
Everything’s getting a bit more big beat. Which works for me, even if this one’s just about okay.
Livin’ Joy – “Follow the Rules”
Exactly the same as previous efforts but crappier.
Wildchild – “Jump to My Beat”
It’s only sin is not being Renegade Master. Otherwise it’s an energetic rave romp, which is perfectly acceptable.
Underworld – “Pearl’s Girl”
Karl Hyde- genius poet or just shouting the first thing that comes into his head at any given moment until some of it sounds profound. Who cares, it really works!
Space – “Neighbourhood”
The silliest fun you can have while avoiding taking part in a fight inside a giant trifle wearing nothing but a fox’s tail.
Björk – “Possibly Maybe”
Everyone thinks Björk is barmy, but she’s actually just incredibly honest, and sometimes there’s a line and a delivery in one of her songs which is like a kick in the stomach of your soul. In this one its just the vulnerability and doubt of, ‘As much as I definitely enjoy solitude, I wouldn’t mind perhaps spending a little time with you, sometimes‘.
Shed Seven – “Chasing Rainbows”
Always one of the blander Britpop groups. That being said, this is one of their better efforts, verging on vaguely anthemic.
22 out of 40 or 55%. A trend towards second and third singles off of albums affecting the quality here. No matter, still 55 albums to make it up!
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.