The Sound Of Today was released as a 28 track double LP and cassette by Dutch label Arcade in 1985. A slimmed-down CD version containing 16 songs followed in early 1986. Missing from the silver disc are Fiction Factory’s (Feels Like) Heaven, Tears For Fears’ Change, Bronski Beat’s Why, ABC’s The Look Of Love, The The’s Uncertain Smile, Howard Jones’ Hide And Seek, Kim Wilde’s The Second Time, Paul Young’s Love Of The Common People, Nik Kershaw’s Wouldn’t It Be Good, The Pretenders’ Brass In Pocket, Special AKA’s Nelson Mandela and Fun Boy Three’s Tunnel Of Love.
The selection spans 1980 to 1985. Frankie Goes To Hollywood start with Relax. The first official video was directed by Bernard Rose and set in a S&M themed gay nightclub, featuring the band members accosted by buff leathermen, a glamorous glued-up drag queen, and an obese hanger-on dressed up as a Roman emperor. MTV and the BBC refused to show it which prompted the recording of a second video, directed by Godley and Creme. This one saw the group performing with the help of laser beams. This also fell foul of the broadcasters. The masses got to hear it on Now That’s What I Call Music II.
The spirit of the early Now volumes is present on The Sound Of Today. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark went all Junk Culture and the inane Locomotion was the result. Easily the worst single from the album. It was compiled on Now That’s What I Call Music 3 along with Ultravox’s apocalyptic Dancing With Tears In My Eyes. If you’re still feeling sinister then there’s Eurythmics’ career highlight Sex Crime (Nineteen Eighty Four) which also appeared on Now That’s What I Call Music 4. Elsewhere the strident shout to the top of Walls Come Tumbling Down was a highlight of Now That’s What I Call Music 5. And if you want to go right back, there’s Heaven 17’s most successful outing Temptation that was side 1, track 4 of Now That’s What I Call Music.
The treats keep coming with the 7″ mix of the Blue Nile’s Tinseltown In The Rain. Sublime and deeply melancholic. It’s followed by the perfect synthesised pop of the Thompson Twins and Love On Your Side. One day after my 10th birthday, The Jam released Town Called Malice. 1982: the last run out. I remember jumping around the sitting room as RTE Radio 2 played it. Waiting for the cake and never wanting the song to end. Back to 1984: Lloyd Cole and The Commotions arrived with the Rattlesnakes LP and three super 45s – Perfect Skin, Forest Fire and the wordy jangle of the title track. A delicious pop sundae.
U2 loomed large in those years. So what else has changed? New Year’s Day is great; a anthem about the Polish Solidarity movement with an amazing bassline and unforgettable piano. Slipping back to 1980 and it’s the brooding sound of The Cure and A Forest. The definitive early mood piece. Like listening to Fanning’s Fab 50. To the time of the Big Snow, January 1982: more radio memories – XTC’s edgy Senses Working Overtime. And later in the spring, our New Gold Dream. The funky Promised You A Miracle with its splashy keyboards. The closing track is appropriately from Culture Club. The standalone single Time (Clock Of The Heart). A tender story of lost love. Time will pass no matter what you do; you should appreciate the time you have to do the things that you want.
Blue Nile – Tinseltown In The Rain
Lloyd Cole and The Commotions – Rattlesnakes
Lest we forget
Culture Club – Time