The Now vs Hits wars were not just a UK phenomenon. I’ve already reviewed two entries in the Dutch Now This Is Music series; now it’s time to look at their Hits Albums. Volume 5 was the first one to come out on CD and contains 16 tracks. Seven of them had been included on the UK Hits 5 with two others turning up on Now That’s What I Call Music 7.
The Final Countdown is first out of the traps. And it’s the album version which is about 1:10 longer than the 45. An interesting leader. A-ha’s I’ve Been Losing You is magnificent, all soaring choruses and that false ending. Rod Stewart’s Every Beat Of My Heart and Don Johnson’s Heartbeat are lukewarm and barely ticking; thankfully The Pretenders arrive to blow away the cobwebs with the spirited Don’t Get Me Wrong. Other tunes ported over from the UK pressing include the over-familiar You Can Call Me Al, the deathless brilliance of A Different Corner and the Bangles’ spiky Walk Like An Egyptian [omitted from the Hits 5 CD so its inclusion is most welcome here].
The S.O.S. Band’s Borrowed Love is a slick jam; shame it’s the over-long LP cut. Miami Sound Machine’s Words Get In The Way is a beautiful slow mover while Prince and The Revolution’s Kiss is funk immaculate and thankfully we do get the 7″ edit. Michael McDonald’s Sweet Freedom is a track of many parts: R&B, synthpop, blue-eyed soul, soft rock. The greatest of these. If you attend an 80s disco then judge it on the basis of this song being played or not. The bearded wonder makes a second appearance – with Patti LaBelle on the slick duet On My Own. Also getting a second run-out is George Michael as part of Wham! with The Edge Of Heaven. Both of these tracks feature on Now 7.
One of the oddest songs of Madonna’s entire career is White Heat. It’s the third track on True Blue and is a tribute to the 1949 Warner Brothers film of the same name starring James Cagney. The introduction of Madonna’s song uses lines from the original movie dialogue [a scene in which the criminal discovers his trusted friend is a cop in disguise]. It’s as funky as hell and should really have been released as a single. I still haven’t worked out why it’s here. The semi-obscure Everybody Needs A Little Rain from Gerard Joling and Randy Crawford is the last track; another slowburning soul tune.
Michael McDonald – Sweet Freedom
Prince and The Revolution – Kiss
Lest we forget
George Michael – A Different Corner