Now That’s What I Call Music 12 (EMI / Virgin / Polygram, 1988)

Now 12

Now 12 r

“Cold wind, tide move in
Shiver in the salty air
Day breaks, my heart aches
I will wait for you right here”.

Once again the most beautiful woman of the 1980s gets second billing on a Now album. Circle In The Sand is an exotic tale of longing and intertwined passion. July 1988: I walked along Lahinch beach and watched the waves, walkman snug in my jacket pocket. Both Maxi Priest [Wild World] and Aswad [Give A Little Love] keep the summer fire burning as I make a right and head for the fruit machines. It’s starting to rain. Wet Wet Wet and Sgt Pepper Knew My Father. Sonic Youth and The Fall stole the show. Within You Without You and A Day In The Life. The Wedding Present’s Get Better was a laugh-a-minute; Billy Bragg’s She’s Leaving Home: a superb reading. Marti Pellow and Co’s effort was tepid; the barrel-scraper. They should have flipped to the Bard of Barking.

Love Changes (Everything). The brackets are important. No hip hop remix. The Saturday night disco was now real and a weekly event. One guy asks 50 girls to dance. They all decline. Drunk teenagers singing Climie Fisher at the top of the voices in a crowded gents toilet. Alright for fighting. Reg strikes back. I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That punctures the top 30. No justice. And it’s Miles Davis on trumpet as Scritti Politti’s Provision selection Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry For Lover Boy). Sweet outside; a rotten centre and Amandla sucked too. A welcome return for Phil Collins as In The Air Tonight gets a makeover for 1988.

What’s Another Year? Hold Me Now. Johnny Logan’s success means that we host the ’88 contest. The Hothouse Flowers come on before the voting and steal the show with Don’t Go. The LP was People; the sleeve changed for the international release. Morrissey’s epochal Everyday Is Like Sunday is next; the coastal town and the end of days. To Dundee and Danny Wilson. Uncomplicated and enjoyable – that’s Mary’s Prayer. And it’s four in a row for Johnny Hates Jazz and Heart Of Gold. Did I say that Turn Back The Clock is an immense LP? Voice Of The Beehive crash in with the cute Don’t Call Me Baby before the [side 2] rock machine turns us on. Iron Maiden’s wicked Can I Play With Madness, Heart’s evocative These Dreams and T’Pau’s monster lung-buster I Will Be With You.

There’s a strictly dance emphasis across much of the second disc. The Timelords. Time Boy and Lord Rock. Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty. Also known as the Justified Ancients Of Mu-Mu. Also known as The KLF. Mash up Rock and Roll (Part Two) with Ron Grainer’s Doctor Who theme and throw in samples of Sweet’s Blockbuster and Steve Walsh’s Let’s Get Together Tonite. Hit #1 and watch the money roll in. Big in France, big in Italy, big just about everywhere – that’s Sabrina. Boys (Summertime Love) is wonderfully silly but perfectly encapsulates that era. It’s followed by a sandwich where two SAW acts are the tasty bread – Bananarama [I Want You Back – Jacquie’s first 45] and Hazell Dean [Who’s Leaving Who – maximum hi-NRG]. The succulent meat is Tiffany and her chart-topping version of Tommy James and The Shondells’ I Think We’re Alone Now. Children the air. Watch the dancefloor explode.

Red: take #2 for The Communards. There’s More To Love is an impassioned plea for tolerance and just as topical now. Jermaine Stewart’s Get Lucky is almost as joyous as the unrelated Daft Punk song of the same name. Glenn Medeiros nailed his colours to the mast that July with his dreary ballad Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You. It’s four to the floor for the final quarter as S-Express blast off with their Theme From S’Express which samples heavily from Rose Royce’s Is It Love You’re After and TZ’s I Got the Hots for You. By way of note, the hi-hat is sampled from an aerosol spray. Get back to the 1970s: Rose Royce’s reissued Car Wash also makes an appearance along with James Brown and The Payback Mix (Part One). Handbuilt by Coldcut.

While not quite as seminal as Now 11’s house side, there’s a few more bangers lurking around. Salt ‘N’ Pepa’s Push It was ubiquitous then; le grind. Switch to the late Derek B and the thrilling urban hip hop of Bad Young Brother. Nice vocoder too. Natalie Cole’s take on Bruce Springsteen’s Pink Cadillac is a groovy driving tune while Jellybean’s fourth top 20 hit in six months – Just A Mirage – turns out to be his finest hour. All kudos to Adele Bertei’s marvellous vocal. Will Downing is the last man standing; the radio remix of John Coltrane’s Love Supreme is a lush production of sweet and percussive soul.

“Elation. Elegance. Exaltation”.

Favourite tracks
Belinda Carlisle – Circle In The Sand

Tiffany – I Think We’re Alone Now

S’Express – Theme From S-Express

Derek B – Bad Young Brother

Lest we forget
Jellybean featuring Adele Bertei – Just A Mirage

Missing tracks and other thoughts
The video selections had become predictable by now. Just a bunch of tracks from the main release. Now 12 is a strong entry but not nearly as powerful as the eleventh volume. These could have made it better.

Pet Shop Boys – Heart. A superior single mix. Their fourth and final #1.
Def Leppard – Armageddon It. Hysteria just keeps on giving.
New Order – Blue Monday ’88. If Phil Collins and Rose Royce can do it. . .
Joy Division – Atmosphere. ‘Cause they were plugging Substance.
Kylie Minogue – Got To Be Certain. Underrated and unlucky.
INXS – Never Tear Us Apart. Killer love story.
Housemartins – There’s Always Something There To Remind Me. Bow out in style.


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10 Responses to Now That’s What I Call Music 12 (EMI / Virgin / Polygram, 1988)

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  6. Martin Davis says:

    I first heard this album properly in early 2004 and remember particularly enjoying “Wild World” and “Give A Little Love”.

    I acquired cassette copies of the self titled “Maxi” that ‘ Wild World’ came off of and A Greatest Hits compilation on the same day (was a 16 year old still living on pocket money and as cassettes were being sold off for next to nothing at car boot sales it was an economical way to build up my music collection). Remember the version on “Maxi” being a bit different to the one on Now 12 (no sax solo in the middle) but the one on the Greatest Hits compilation being the same. I assume the one on Now 12 is the single version?

    Likewise do you know if the version of the Aswad track is also the single version?

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Hi Martin, Aswad and Maxi Priest both single versions here.

      • Martin Davis says:

        Thanks for confirming that.

        “Give A Little Love” is an excellent track but I’ve always been under the impression “Don’t Turn Around” is more well known. Is it more likely that it wasn’t included on Now 12 due to being on the rival Hits album or was “Give A Little Love” more recent at the time Now 12 came out?

        • nlgbbbblth says:

          Give A Little Love was a June hit – Now 12 was out a few weeks later so it was “current”. Whereas Don’t Turn Around – while a #1 – was getting on for 5 months old at that point. This was the first summer face-off between Now and Hits.

          • Martin Davis says:

            Thanks for clarifying that. I always assumed “Don’t Turn Around” came out in the summer rather than earlier on in 1988.

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