Telstar ditched the fatbox for their 1991 review of the year. Instead we got two individual jewel cases marked Volume One and Volume Two enclosed in a cardboard slipcase. Buy one – get one free was a mantra that echoed back to Chart Hits ’81. As a result you see quite a few orphaned discs for sale while the slipcase is rarely found intact. And in line with trendy marketing, the year was abbreviated to ’91.
Shiny Happy People: In 2005, Q magazine included the song in a list of Ten Terrible Records by Great Artists. In 2006, the song received the number one position on AOL Music’s list of the 111 Wussiest Songs of All Time. Blender magazine also ranked the song at #35 on its list of the 50 Worst Songs Ever. Love will save the day on Oleta Adams’ Get Here, a sweet slow comforting jam. The positive vibes continue on All Together Now – socialism, brotherhood and football. Remixed by Terry Farley and Peter Heller. Shamefully listed as “Altogether Now”. There’s two show-stopping ballads next: the first being Beverley Craven’s wistful and positively desperate Promise Me and the second is Bros’ Are You Mine? The latter was the lead single for their third LP Changing Faces. The tide and turned and they would only release one more 45 – Try. Nevertheless Are You Mine is a powerful sign-off that stands the test of time.
The Bee Gees’ final album for Warner Brothers was High Civilization. Secret Love is an uptempo tune that sounds like The Supremes. Time for Banderas’ Balearic spinner This Is Your Life that perfectly captures the moment of cautious optimism and smells of youthful curiosity. The Stephen Hague production definitely helped. Shades of True Faith sentiments. The compilers stole a march on the upcoming Now 20 by including of 2 Unlimited’s debut single Get Ready For This. The eurodance is short-lived as we return to more traditional rock on The Whole Of The Moon and the dreaded Anniversary Waltz (Part 2) from Status Quo. You’ll remember Part 1 from Now That’s What I Call Music 18. Was this going to be an annual nightmare?
New Kids On The Block continued to improve with the illsick Games (Kids Get Hard Mix). Novelty rock time: Good – Arnee and The Terminators knocking out I’ll Be Back in two hours. Steven Wright’s got the right stuff. It’s nothing personal. He’s from the future. Nothing can stop him. Bad – The Stonk is here too. Moving quickly along, Bananarama’s Pop Life [their only LP recorded with Jacquie O’Sullivan] was a well-crafted effort that benefited from Youth and Shep Pettibone’s input. The Culture Club-meets-eurodisco of Preacher Man is excellent. Elsewhere Jason Donovan’s looks to the late 60s with his cover of Happy Together. Still in the past, T.Rex’s 1973 glam smash 20th Century Boy returned to the UK top 20 in 1991, peaking at No. 13 when it was used in a Chris Hartwill-directed commercial for Levi’s starring Brad Pitt. Rock on velvet goldmine.
The second disc is mostly focused on dance anthems. Lisa Stansfield’s Change is stunning: simple, soulful and powerful. C&C Music Factory and Freedom Williams give us Things That Make You Go Hmmmm. It’s about suspicious stuff not good things. (I Wanna Give You) Devotion and You Got The Love both remind me of my carefree youth. The last throw of the teenage die. Happiness through the prism of nostalgia and two killer grooves. Time for a soul gathering as Driza Bone’s Real Love kicks off a quality sound while Heavy D and The Boyz’s evergreen Now That We’ve Found Love ignites the jam. The story of the year continues with Seal’s epic Crazy, 808 State’s doom-laden In Yer Face, The KLF’s stadium house of 3AM Eternal before the catwalk beat of Right Said Fred’s I’m Too Sexy.
One hundred years from now, the music archeologists will select Rozalla’s Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good) as the soundtrack and ethos of the 1990s. Meanwhile De La Soul Is Dead yielded Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey) a party jam that samples Fat Larry’s Band’s Act Like You Know. Dannii Minogue’s successful year continued with her energetic version of Stacy Lattislaw’s 1980 hit Jump To The Beat. We slow down for Ralph Tresvant’s smooth Sensitivity and Stevie B’s saccharine-drenched but likeable I Love You (The Postman’s Song). The Grease Megamix rears its clíched head before Kylie Minogue’s rhythmic funk of Shocked. The closing track is from Rick Astley; he rises to the occasion with the gospel soul of Cry For Help. This review is dedicated to the memory of Rob Fisher 1956 – 1999.
Nomad – (I Wanna Give You) Devotion
The Source featuring Candi Staton – You Got The Love (Erens Bootleg Mix)
Bananarama – Preacher Man
Marc Bolan and T.Rex – 20th Century Boy
Lest we forget
Bros – Are You Mine?
Missing tracks and other thoughts
I would have started with Losing My Religion instead of Shiny Happy People.
Time is eternal.
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Hi. Surprised at a lack of responses to this. This was my first ever compilation purchase, mainly for Right Said Fred and 2 Unlimited. I never knew the cds came in a cardboard box sleeve, never seen that before.
I found this a bit of a strange album in terms of sequencing, especially cd 1. I would have put 2 Unlimited on cd 2 and Rick Astley on cd 1.
Couple of questions if I may – any idea where the versions of ‘Things That Make You Go Hmmm’ and ‘Cry For Help’ came from? Cry For Help is much shortened on Now 19 and misses the almost gospel-esque chorus which finishes it off nicely for me. Album version? The C&C Music Factory track appears to be missing a verse, yet is longer than I’d expect and doesn’t sit like an edited 7″ version.
A few tracks are lifted from other compilations too. ‘Promise Me’ comes from Hits Album 15 (you can barely make out the end of ‘Gypsy Woman’). You Got The Love is pinched from Hardcore Dancefloor (again, you can just make the end of ‘Pray’ by MC Hammer). I think ‘This Is Your Life’ is also taken from there, given where the fade ends. It might not be unreasonable to think that Shiny Happy People came from Hits 15. Telstar used tracks from Smash Hits Massive elsewhere, so ‘Games’ and ‘The Whole Of The Moon’ may have come from there.
This begs the second question. Where did companies like Telstar get their audio copies from? Was it simply a case of picking up a cd single and taking the track from there, or did they need masters in some other format? Nowadays making a compilation on a computer is an absolute doddle, but would computer systems have been good enough back then? Thinking back to 1991, a cd single would have cost £3. 34 tracks – £102. Peanuts in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps record companies insisted on supplying a master? Kym Sims’ sublime ‘Too Blind To See It’ has a hint of reverb on the cd single yet this is absent from every version I’ve heard on a compilation. ‘Feel It’ by The Tamperer is different on Now 40 and every other compilation I’ve heard from the cd single, yet the 12″ version on Club Hits 98 is the same, albeit shortened, as the cd single.
I’ve prattled on for too long again, but I am curious about these things.
Appreciate the comprehensive comment Andrew.
Rick Astley album version. I am not sure about C&C Music Factory.
I believe Now team used get individual masters in the early days – not sure about Telstar. Agree that some of these are lifted off other compilations like the eponymous 91 Hits Album.
Thanks again. I need to get Moran and Abram around a table and pick their brains!!