Once again the first Now release of 1986 was a spin-off, this time a 30 track double LP titled The Summer Album. They finally got around to issuing a sequel in June 2014. . .
The Summer Album mixes classic hits from the late 1950s right through to 1985 [Katrina and The Waves – Walking On Sunshine which had featured on Now 5 the previous August]. It even includes a pair of tracks from The Beatles [Here Comes The Sun and All You Need Is Love]; this would never happen today with the band’s reluctance to licence tracks for compilations. Other acts to get two bites at the cherry are The Beach Boys, The Lovin’ Spoonful and Cliff Richard. While California Girls is a given, I was initially surprised to see the soaring Do It Again here before learning that it was a chart-topper in 1968. The Lovin’ Spoonful tracks are placed one after the other on side 4 – both languid delights. Summer In The City is wonderfully hazy while Daydream has a wistful quality.
The 1950s are represented by two rock’n’roll favourites. You get Eddie Cochran’s furious Summertime Blues and Jerry Keller’s memories-are-made-of-this Here Comes Summer. The following decades brought a number of imports to UK shores with Bobby Goldsboro’s introspective Summer (The First Time), Astrud Gilberto’s sultry Girl From Ipanema and The Young Rascals smooth Groovin’. Pride of place has to go to The Isley Brothers with their fuzz guitar cover of Seal and Crofts’ Summer Breeze. The version included here is a unique edit.
Elsewhere The Monkees carve up the wedding dancefloor with the evergreen Daydream Believer while Scott MacKenzie’s San Francisco is the song of 1967’s summer of love – a countercultural anthem for all generations. On either side of it are the Mamas and Papas haunting California Dreamin’ and the simple sentiments of All You Need Is Love. Homegrown treats include The Small Faces’ stunningly accurate Lazy Sunday and The Kinks’ razor-sharp portrayal of resigned reality that is Sunny Afternoon.
Things get funked up with a decent selection of 1970s goodness. Bill Withers and 10cc work well in tandem; the laidback vibes of both Lovely Day and Dreadlock Holiday making for a most pleasant listen. Mungo Jerry’s In The Summertime hasn’t lost its charm despite oodles of airplay while Elton John’s Island Girl is an excellent mid-period groover from his finest LP Rock Of The Westies.
Side 3 houses six numbers from the 1980s. Echo Beach is a new wave one hit wonder from Canadian group Martha and The Muffins while Level 42’s funk star shines brightly on The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up). KC and The Sunshine Band’s Give It Up had already featured on the first Now album but its two sleepers from The Barracuddas [the surf epic Summer Fun] and Haircut 100 [the cheerful Fantastic Day] that really grab the headlines.
Now That’s What I Call Music – The Summer Album gave this 14 year old a quick history lesson in “old music” [1950s/1960s], a smattering of soul [1970s] and a couple of pop tunes that I missed the first time around [1980s]. For those reasons alone it will always be cherished in my record collection.
Barracudas – Summer Fun
Isley Brothers – Summer Breeze
Elton John – Island Girl
Small Faces – Lazy Sunday
Lest we forget
Haircut 100 – Fantastic Day