EVA released Now This Is Music 5 in November 1986. Unlike its UK counterpart, a decision was taken to put all tracks from the vinyl and cassette on to the CD version. Good? Well to a point. Instead of a double disc, two separate CDs were made available – Volume 1 and Volume 2. This had the result of driving up the cost and consequently very few copies were sold. This rather unusual practice would continue until Now This Is Music 9 when the CDs reverted to a scaled-down one disc version. Meanwhile the rest of the world was embracing the fatbox.
This 13 track CD starts with Queen and Friends Will Be Friends. A sentimental but likeable number from A Kind Of Magic LP. My sister purchased the 7″ single at the time; the sleeve showed the band performing in front of a massive crowd. However the video was filmed at JVC Studios, Wembley in May 1986 and shows Freddie and company singing the song in front of fan club members a.k.a. Queen’s Greatest Show Never Performed.
The bulk of the remaining tracks had already featured on the vinyl versions of UK compilations such as Now That’s What I Call Music 7 [UB40, Sly Fox, David Bowie, Art Of Noise with Max Headroom], Now That’s What I Call Music 8 [Robert Palmer, Stevie Winwood, Human League, Jermaine Stewart], Hits 4 [Mr Mister] and Hits 5 [Bruce Hornsby and The Range]. As you know Now 7 and Hits 4 had no CD equivalent while Now 8 and Hits 5 only had abridged one disc selections. Thankfully Now This Is Music 5 – Volume 1 mops up a lot of these not-on-CD tracks; with only one of them – We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes off being a duplication [it was also compiled on Now That’s What I Call Music ’86].
UB40’s Sing Our Own Song has grown in stature over the years; once a pleasant, now thought-provoking. In a mirror of the Now 7 sequencing, Sly Fox’s suggestive Let’s Go All The Way comes booming out the speakers. Then there’s David Bowie’s Absolute Beginners, a stunning return to form after the disappointing Tonight LP. Sadly it would be short-lived as 1987’s Never Let Me Down was even worse. The quality beginning is maintained with Robert Palmer’s doth-protest-too-much I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On [a welcome respite from the over-familiar Addicted To Love]. And it’s opera meets Italo with Matia Bazar’s magnificent synth screamer Ti Sento. The lung-busting vocal was provided by Antonella Ruggiero and the song topped the charts in Belguim and Italy.
Nothing goes down well on a Saturday afternoon like driving down the motorway and Steve Winwood’s Higher Love blaring on the stereo for the benefit of all the traffic. The gentle sounds of The Way It Is comes next; a strong memory from the summer of 1986, strawberry-picking in the morning and golf in the afternoon. Going back to spring ’86 for Mr Mister’s plaintive Kyrie before the car-crash romance-killer of Human. Paranoimia was Max Headroom and The Art of Noise’s unlikely collaboration. The 7″ was concerned with sleep while the 12″ saw Max introducing the band comprising Peter O’Toole, Martina Navratilova, Cher and the Pope. After the well-worn We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off, the CD concludes with an atmospheric summer classic from Chris Rea – On The Beach (Special Remix) which is far superior to the 1988 speeded-up version.
“The secrets of the summer I will keep
The sands of time will blow a mystery
No-one but you and I
Underneath that moonlit sky
Take me back to the place that I know
On the beach”.
Matia Bazar – Ti Sento
Chris Rea – On The Beach
Lest we forget
Art of Noise with Max Headroom – Paranoimia