After almost nine months we finally got a new volume in the Now That’s What I Call Music main series. Now 5 was released on the August bank holiday [ours is the first Monday of August; UK’s is on the last Monday] which meant that the local record shop was closed. I wasn’t able to pick it up until the following weekend. While it took some time to dig it, Now 5 is one of my all-time favourites in the series and was a worthy response to Hits 2 and Out Now!
We start with a big gun – A View To A Kill – which was the theme song for the latest James Bond movie and Duran Duran’s fourth appearance. The Taylors also appear later on in their Power Station clothes [a great cover of Get It On]. 007 is followed by Scritti Politti and The Word Girl which was lifted from one of the greatest albums of the year – Cupid and Psyche 85. It’s a delightful reggae-tinged slice of summer smoothness. Next up is another movie track – Axel F from Beverly Hills Cop. The other main hit from that soundtrack – Glenn Frey’s The Heat Is On – had been snapped up by Out Now! in May. There’s another film number on the second side – the big sound of Simple Minds as heard on The Breakfast Club. A pair of underrated pop tunes can also be found on side 1; Icing On The Cake which was Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy’s caustic follow-up to Kiss Me and Dead Or Alive’s stirring In Too Deep.
There’s a number of romantic numbers on the first record which vary in quality. Kool and The Gang’s Cherish is easily the weakest of their 1984/1985 material while Paul Young’s cover of Every Time You Go Away is slightly underwhelming in single form [curiously for a slowie, the 12″ is much better]. Things improve with Bryan Ferry’s lush Slave To Love, Marillion’s breakthrough smash Kayleigh [which gave a new name to so many baby girls born during 1985] and Phil Collins’ magnificent One More Night complete with timeless saxophone solo. Yet another cinema link is provided with David Bowie and The Pat Metheny Group’s This Is Not America which is an eerie mid-paced ballad from The Falcon and The Snowman. Rounding up the second side are China Crisis and their enigmatic Black Man Ray.
There’s only one chart-topper here and it’s frontloaded to the beginning of side 3. Sister Sledge’s surprise hit Frankie. I played a lot of tennis during the summer of 1985 and that song will always remind me of those days. The remainder of the side is mostly taken up with dancefloor action and it does not disappoint. Remember The Conway Brothers? Well Turn It Up is dope and rarely compiled elsewhere. Dutch band Mai Tai unleash the bitter yet eloquent History. Loose Ends’ Magic Touch, Steve Arrington’s Feel So Real and Jaki Graham’s Round And Around are three joyful and upfront pop-soul tunes that 1985 does so well. Now 5 also sees the first ever appearance from Simply Red; their debut single Money’s Too Tight (To Mention) which was a cover of a Valentine Brothers track from 1982.
Which brings us to Rory Bremner. The Commentators was a one-off name used for N-N-Nineteen Not Out which as a parody of Paul Hardcastle’s 19 which held the top spot on the UK charts for five weeks during April and May. As the original was a Chrysalis release, Out Now! got it. But N-N-Nineteen Not Out is hilarious. Bremner impersonates a series of BBC cricket commentators and replaces Hardcastle’s Vietnam war references with quips about the 1984 Test series between England and the West Indies. In that contest the England captain David Gower achieved and average of how many runs? 19. As is the beauty of Now, this track has not been compiled elsewhere and remains a shadowy memory from pop’s fun box.
As often happens the final furlong is allsorts city. Some epic rock from U2 and Phil Lynott / Gary Moore’s storming duet Out In The Fields. Phil would be dead less than six months later. Walking On Sunshine too. Still being blasted out on radios today. Plus more goth Damned [the sinister Shadow Of Love] and one of Weller’s finest creations – the agitation pop of Walls Come Tumbling Down. Howard Jones returns for a fourth entry with that difficult third single from the second album, Life In A Day. And finally there’s a throwback to Now II and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. It’s Oz covering Rose Royce. What a way to sign off. The pig would never been seen again.
Style Council – Walls Come Tumbling Down
Conway Brothers – Turn It Up
Scritti Politti – The Word Girl
Gary Moore and Phil Lynott – Out In The Fields
Lest we forget
The Commentators – N-N-Nineteen Not Out
Missing tracks and other thoughts
Now 5 saw EMI / Virgin reverting to the traditional two format release. Rumours of a CD version were rife a few years ago with an online source claiming that a copy was on sale at a record fair. For £795. Hmmm.
Having just one chart-topping single was a poor return even allowing for the two rivals getting in ahead during the spring. 1985 was the year for charity records. So what about USA For Africa – We Are The World or The Crowd – You’ll Never Walk Alone?
Otherwise Marti Webb covering Michael Jackson i.e. Ben.
Go West’s edgy Call Me
Five Star – All Fall Down. Ditch Sad Old Red and put this in.
Propaganda – Duel. A much better prospect than Life In A Day.
And for the romantics. . .
Freddie Mercury – I Was Born To Love You.
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – So In Love
Feargal Sharkey – Loving You.
The last two did appear on the Now 5 video selection.
That’s living alright.