During autumn 1986 I started to see more CDs in the shops. The compilers had already laid down a marker with the release of the single disc Hits 5 and it was common knowledge that the imminent Now 8 would also have a CD version. However the appearance of Now That’s What I Call Music ’86 caught me by surprise. It was an end of year compilation that was released two weeks before the main event [Now 8]. Would that not affect sales – bearing in mind that CDs were still bloody expensive items? Ultimately Now That’s What I Call Music ’86 would peak at #65 and spent a total of four weeks on the chart.
Lets talk about the track selection. Seven of them had already appeared on Now 7, five tracks would feature on Now 8 with the remaining four being “exclusive” to Now’s main series. However the compilers had a cunning plan. The CD version of Now 8 was going to include 17 of the vinyl’s 32 tracks while the aforementioned five tracks were selected from the “missing 15” i.e. there was no overlap. Clever. Meanwhile the four remaining songs had appeared on Hits 4, Now Dance ’86 and one more tune that’s never been compiled on CD since then.
Seven from Now 7: We start with three big ones – Queen’s “late entry” A Kind Of Magic, David Bowie’s magnificent Absolute Beginners and Peter Gabriel’s lead single from So, Sledgehammer. There’s also Level 42’s cracking beast that is Lessons In Love, one hit musicmakers Sly Fox [Let’s Go All The Way], the last decent UB40 tune [Sing Our Own Song] and the sweet duet On My Own from Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald. At the time it was great to have those classic 1986 tracks in CD quality.
The Now 8 quintet: Well two of them are number ones. That’s a good selling-point. The Communards’ smash cover of Don’t Leave Me This Way and Boris Gardiner’s sweet reggae piece I Wanna Wake Up With Me. Jermaine Stewart’s We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off works much better in smaller [7″] doses while Status Quo’s In The Army Now and that Cutting Crew ballad fit in quite well despite their overplayed status. Now 8 featured a total of three gold medals; none are included on its own CD version.
And then there were four. Two chart toppers – the first being one of the decade’s greatest singles. West End Girls. And Diana Ross’s Chain Reaction which had already featured on Hits 4 and the most recent Now Dance in extended form. Also ported over from the latter was the single mix of Gwen Guthrie’s disco funk gem Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On But The Rent. Which just leaves Tears For Fears. You’ll remember that they were absent from Live Aid. In order to “get Geldof off our backs” they re-recorded Everybody Wants To Rule The World as Everybody Wants To Run The World. The primary beneficiary was the Sports Aid charity event which was held on 25 May 1986. 89 countries, 274 cities, 19,800,000 participants and US$ 37,000,000 raised to support famine relief in Africa. This remains its only appearance on CD. Sign of the times.
David Bowie – Absolute Beginners
Level 42 – Lessons In Love
Lest we forget
Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants To Run The World