Now That’s What I Call Music 23 (EMI / Virgin / Polygram, 1992)

Now 23

Now 23 r

“Everything you are about to see and read is a fantasy, a dream, pretend”.

Sex: wrapped and sealed in a polyethylene terephthalate Mylar bag. 128 pages. Spiral bound with an aluminium cover that has the word “Sex” stamped in the middle and a warning label. The front page also shows Madonna against a sky blue backdrop. The metal cover was inspired by Public Image Limited. £25 in Easons. Thank you maestro.

Sleeping Satellite became Tasmin Archer’s debut single. It was released on 31 August 1992 and had reached the top spot by 11 October. Inspired by the moon landings, it remains one of the decade’s most enduring one-offs and is a perfect opener to Now That’s What I Call Music 23. Singing in the rain; Jon Secada’s Just Another Day prolongs the uplifting and soulful vibe with its gentle piano-led melody. The debut 45 theme continues on Charles and Eddie’s gentle R&B driver Would I Lie To You? And the mystery of Shake Your Head is compounded even further. Two versions of the Was (Not Was) track had already appeared on Now Dance ’92 with a third popping up here. This one is longer than the original single mix and has an extra verse.

Jah rule: Bob Marley got a posthumous career retrospective – Songs Of Freedom – and the previously unavailable Iron Lion Zion was given a modern remix to push into the UK top five. Also making waves were Go West and the expertly-crafted Faithful which ensured that the Indian Summer album was their most successful. Meanwhile Too Funky ended up being George Michael’s last single for Sony and was donated to the Red Hot + Dance AIDS awareness project. Our feet stay firmly on the floor for Arrested Development’s hip hop inversion People Everyday which was based on Sly and The Family Stone’s 1969 classic Everyday People. Kick up the treble tone. The laid back tempo continues with Simply Red’s sweetie For Your Babies and Erma Franklin’s jeans-busting (Take A Little) Piece Of My Heart. And then derailment. . .

Wrecking ball: Brian May’s overwrought Too Much Love Will Kill You, Simple Minds’ admittedly decent Alive And Kicking [already on Now That’s What I Call Music 6 so why not Love Song?], John Lee Hooker’s repetitive Boom Boom [another trouser advert], Billy Ray Cyrus’ dire Achy Breaky Heart and Little Angels’ sub-par Bryan Adams rocker Too Much Too Young. The reckless man on backing vocals. An attempt to stem the blood flow is made by Richard Marx on Take This Heart. It’s no Hazard. Finally a breakthrough from the unlikeliest of bands – Genesis and the televangelist-slamming Jesus He Knows Me. We Can’t Dance was their last LP with Phil Collins and is overdue a re-appraisal. We go down under for the final pair: INXS whimper on with the bland Baby Don’t Cry while Crowded House’s It’s Only Natural is easily their worst single to date. Glad it’s all over.

Pop! The First 20 Hits saw Erasure compile their singles to date. A remix of the very first one – Who Needs Love Like That – was released as a tie-in. Now 23’s third number one comes from The Shamen. This version of Ebeneezer Goode appears to have been lifted from the aforementioned Now Dance ’92 with its partial-mixing. As a result, right at the start, it features the final ‘boom’ from the end of House of Love, which preceded it on the compilation, plus an early fade to avoid capturing the start of Something Good by Utah Saints, which followed it. Rage’s urban dance of Run To You and Bizarre Inc’s corking I’m Gonna Get You keep the party pumping while Heaven 17’s Temptation (Brothers In Rhythm Remix Edit) is a real treat; a stylish update of the seminal 1983 original. Closer.

Still: Here come the young men – East 17 – with the pounding House Of Love. Rivals Take That; The Beatles And The Stones. Ruby Trax throws up another curveball with The Farm’s somewhat leaden cover of Don’t You Want Me while Undercover continue mining 1978 for inspiration on the wistful Never Let Her Slip Away [original by Andrew Gold]. Nintendo time: Doctor Spin was a pseudonym used by Andrew Lloyd Webber and record producer Nigel Wright for their hit single Tetris, a Eurodance cover version of the most famous tune [an instrumental version of the Russian folk song Korobeiniki] in the Game Boy version of the game Tetris. Its success meant that the Ambassadors of Funk and MC Mario released a record based on the music from World 1-1 titled Super Mario Land. The Ambassadors hailed from Texas and it’s a genius decision to put both tracks together.

“A change of speed, a change of style.
A change of scene, with no regrets”

Roxette lead the charge with the charming How Do You Do? It’s followed by ABBA’s positively desperate Dancing Queen; released to promote Gold: Greatest Hits. And in more supreme sequencing, Björn Again pop up again with their super take on Erasure’s A Little Respect. Vanessa Paradis returns, all grown up, with Be My Baby while Betty Boo steals the summer on Let Me Take You There. Banned in the USA: the video for Sophie B. Hawkins’ epic Damn I Wish I Was You Lover. Nifty When The Levee Breaks break. To death row: Peter Gabriel looked towards capital punishment for Digging In The Dirt, his first single since ’87. The world music vibe continues with Enya’s magical Book Of Days before winding down on Roy Orbison and kd lang’s “duet”, Crying. The 1992 Olympics were held in Barcelona and once again, Freddie Mercury and Monsterrat Caballé’s collaboration was blasted all over the world. It opened Now That’s What I Call Music 10 and, somewhat fittingly, was chosen as the finale here.

“Love kills, drills you through your heart
Love kills, scars you from the start”

Favourite tracks
Heaven 17 – Temptation (Brothers In Rhythm Remix Edit)

Sophie B. Hawkins – Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover

Betty Boo – Let Me Take You There

Doctor Spin – Tetris

Lest we forget
Björn Again – A Little Respect

Missing tracks and other thoughts
Not a vintage edition. CD1 is truly a disc of contrasts; a pleasant and relaxed first half with a turgid run from tracks 11 to 19. Thankfully disc 2 is a much better prospect. Although these could have enhanced the overall experience.

Felix – Don’t You Want Me. Forget The Farm. Find on the Dutch CD Now Dance 2.
Paul Weller – Uh Huh Oh Yeh. Flying solo.
R.E.M. – Drive. First blood on the austere Automatic For The People.
The Cure – A Letter To Elise. Make it three in a row for the Wish 45s.
The Orb – Assassin. Ever-growing and pulsating.


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29 Responses to Now That’s What I Call Music 23 (EMI / Virgin / Polygram, 1992)

  1. In case you didn’t know, Alive and Kicking was on here because it was used in the sky advert for the first Premier League. It may have been re-released with Love Song but no one ever played that song (kind of like nowhere playing or featuring Ebb Tide when re-released with Lovin’ Feelin’ the previous year).

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  10. Andrew Chinnock says:

    Great reviews. Enjoying reading them all. You’re spot on about Ebeneezer Goode being lifted from Now Dance 92. If you turn up the volume right at the end you can catch a few beats of the string intro of Something Good.

    More interesting is the Was (Not Was) track Shake Your Head. For 26 years I’ve been puzzled as to where that edit comes from. It seems like a radio edit lifted in the order performed on the 12″, as opposed to the normal radio edit, where the verses are in a different order. Recently I purchased the track on 7″ vinyl and, to my surprise, the version on there is the edit used on Now 23 (and Now 1992). It appears there were 2 radio edits. The one on the cd single is the most commonly known I think. I have a hunch that Hurley often created the 7″ versions of his own mixes as they are rarely just edited down versions of the full length track – there are usually subtle differences, bits added or taken away. Maybe it was intentional to release two separate radio edits?

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Thanks very much Andrew, appreciate the feedback. Re: Shake Your Head – definitely the CD single mix is the common radio edit. I have a bunch of recordings from 2FM chart show when it was out and it’s definitely the CD single version that got aired here.

  11. Martin Davis says:

    Am listening to Now 23 right now and just heard the end of “House Of Love” at the start of Ebeneezer Goode. Do wonder why they just didn’t put the two tracks side by side on Now 23?

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      They’re side by side on the earlier Now Dance ’92 which is partially mixed. I am pretty sure they used the same source for Ebeneezer Goode when including it on Now 23 – hence the reason for the sloppy overlap. The version of House Of Love used is different to the one on Now Dance ’92.

      • Martin Davis says:

        Thanks for clarifying this. I think I own Now Dance 92 but in all honesty never listened to it.

        At least “End Of The Road” turned up on the Now 1992 Millenium Series.

        I agree with your suggestion that “Drive” by REM should have been included.

    • Andrew Chinnock says:

      The Now 23 version is taken from Now Dance 92. 27 years on and I still cannot work out why Abram decided to include a part of that boom instead of starting with the vocals (obviously there would have been some of the boom, but far less noticeable). The Now Dance 92 version of House of Love would have been unusable on Now 23. In fact. Ebeneezer Goode would have been almost unusable, but Abram used it. I don’t understand why. There are 5 tracks shared between ND92 and N13. Only 1 was lifted from Now Dance 92. Odd.

  12. Martin Davis says:

    Could End Of The Road by Boys 2 Men have fitted in here?

  13. Telly Fan says:

    What’s particularly interesting about this one is the amount of repeated numbered-Now content, when there had never been any repeated content before. As well as Alive and Kicking, and Barcelona being direct repeats from 6 and 10, you’ve got the remix of Temptation from 1 and even a cover of 13’s A Little Respect.

    Then of course the next Now starts with a repeat from 3!

  14. Andrew Chinnock says:

    One thing of note is that it’s perhaps a surprise that they went with ‘Never Let Her Slip Away’ instead of ‘Baker Street’, given how big the latter was during the summer. Quite often the last Now of the year has featured a big hit instead of a follow up that was a bit of an unknown.

    Agreed about the 2nd half of disc 1 being turgid. It wasn’t the best Now of the year. Betty Boo is lifted from Wicked! as well.

  15. Andrew Chinnock says:

    Hi Paul, another thought with this. One noticeable omission on here that I would have expected is Dr. Alban’s ‘It’s My Life’. BMG had been pretty generous to Now 22, particuarly with ‘Rhythm is a Dancer’, yet there isn’t a single BMG track on Now 23. Three weeks prior to the release of Now 23 it slumped to no. 21 in the charts and was clearly on its last legs in terms of chart success.

    It’s maybe even more surprising that ‘It’s My Life’ failed to show up on any of the end of year hits or dance albums. Its first outing on a compilation was on Dino’s ‘Energy Rush II’, released two weeks after Now 23 and then on Telstar’s ‘Sonic System’ the week after. Smash Hits 1992 was released the same week as Energy Rush II but Abram didn’t go for the track.

    It makes me wonder if some record companies advertise their tracks as being available for compilation. There are a few examples of Telstar and Dino releasing albums at similar times with similar tracklistings.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Hi Andrew
      It’s My Life would have been a good fit on Smash Hits 1992
      I do believe that some labels made subtle marketing nod re compilation inclusion. For tracks that wouldn’t be licensed, they tended to be more vocal.

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