So let’s go back to Now That’s What I Call Music 3: “Charted at No. 54 on 19th June – sped to No. 36 the following week” was the blurb beside Young At Heart.
Nine years on: “Young At Heart originally reached No. 8 in 1984. . . The use of the track on a VW advert sent it racing to No. 1 in late March ’93. . . Bobby, Ken, David, Lawrence and Russell split up some years ago and are now pursuing different careers”.
The Bluebells were surely the band least likely to. I played their debut LP frequently during the closing months of 1984; I’m Falling and Will She Always Be Waiting really hit the mark. The VW jam always left me a little cold.
At first glance there’s a somewhat stale vibe coming from Now That’s What I Call Music 24. Five of the tracks had already featured on the recently revived Hits ’93 – Volume 1 [Take That, 2 Unlimited, West End featuring Sybil, Annie Lennox and Snap] while three others had previously been included on earlier Now volumes [Bluebells, Hue and Cry, Genesis]. To be fair, Invisible Touch is a live take from The Way We Walk Volume 1 but there’s major disappointment when Labour Of Love turns out to be the original version as opposed to the funky Urban Edit 7″. You’ll be wanting Mega Dance 2 – The Energy Zone for the latter; another Abram compilation from the same EMI, Virgin and Polygram stable.
The Take That rollercoaster continued with Could It Be Magic, peaking at #3. Sub Sub’s Ain’t No Love (Ain’t No Use) was a hot tip; a beaty number with a fine Melanie Williams vocal. Snap’s Exterminate sets up the killer disco of Sister Sledge’s We Are Family (Sure Is Pure Remix Edit). 1993 was the year for 1979 – 1984 reboots. What follows is a jaw-dropping dancehall triple play that’s gone down in history. Snow’s story of wrongful arrest Informer. Shabba Ranks’ joyous Mr Loverman featuring Chevelle Franklin. “Shabba”. And Shaggy’s loose fit / clown’s pocket groove of Oh Carolina. Meanwhile Deep was East 17’s third hit and remains a defining pop rap tune of the era. The video intercuts clips of the band performing the track in various locations whilst hanging out and playing pool in their local area.
The club tunes are in full swing on the ultra-cool boogie funk of Stereo MCs’ Step It Up and Arrested Development’s swinging hip hop Tennesse (The Mix). “Horseshoes“. The floor-fillers continue as Robin S intones Show Me Love while Lulu makes another comeback with the Brothers In Rhythm in tow on Independence. The Love I Lost sees Sybil tackle Philly soul with aplomb while No Limit pounds the listener into submission. Classic trance time with Cappella and U Got 2 Know. In every club and on every walkman. Suncreem’s throbbing melodies come next – Pressure Us – before Monie Love’s dope Prince-penned Born To B.R.E.E.D. We sign off CD1 with the Kane brothers’ Labour Of Love’s sadly not the “well-acclaimed remix”. Ain’t gonna work for you no more.
By 1993 Duran Duran’s star was fading. Ordinary World changed all that; a soaring epic ballad that screams massive and became their biggest hit since A View To A Kill. It’s followed by the equally sweeping Love Song For A Vampire, another Annie Lennox smash that played over the closing credits of Dracula. There’s a switch to a more understated sound with World Party’s thoughtful and bittersweet Is It Like Today? and KD Lang’s endlessly-caned Constant Craving. And Tasmin Archer’s got the power with the powerfully harrowing In Your Care. Meanwhile PM Dawn’s Looking Through Patient Eyes was the best thing on The Bliss Album, poetry in motion. Speaking of bliss, The Beloved had their biggest hit with the gorgeous and excellent Sweet Harmony. Ex:el.
The New York Philharmonic Orchestra assist Dina Carroll on her sedate ballad This Time. We go live for Simply Red [Lady Godiva’s Operation] and Genesis [Invisible Touch] before the paint-stripping guitar sound of Lenny Kravitz’s Are You Gonna Go My Way. Depeche Mode return with the searing I Feel You while Peter Gabriel Steam was his most successful 45 since Sledgehammer. The final party of five is an odd ride. Three covers in a row: Ugly Kid Joe’s grotesque Cats In The Cradle is followed by Faith No More’s slick Easy and Bryan Ferry’s beguiling I Put A Spell On You. There’s just time for Ultravox’s Vienna [released to promote If I Was – The Very Best Of Midge Ure And Ultravox] before the simple Macca Mecca good vibrations Hope Of Deliverance. Duelling banjos.
“And we’ll never be royals,
It don’t run in our blood”.
East 17 – Deep (Breath Mix)
Duran Duran – Ordinary World (Single Version)
Cappella – U Got 2 Know
The Beloved – Sweet Harmony
Lest we forget
Sister Sledge – We Are Family (Sure Is Pure Remix Edit)
Missing tracks and other thoughts
The first Now for 1993 is just like Now That’s What I Call Music 23 – a curate’s egg. These would have spiced it up.
Freddie Mercury – In My Defence. The hits just keep coming.
808 State and UB40 – One In Ten. An unlikely two sevens clash.
The Frank and Walters – After All. The big time. With Radiohead as support.
Saint Etienne – You’re In A Bad Way. Marlborough Road all-nighter anthem.
Heaven 17 – We Don’t Need This Fascist Groove Thing (1993). The remix trend.
David Bowie – Jump They Say. Maxwell.
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I’ve heard rumours of an uncensored Genesis track on some copies of Now 24 – do you know about this?
BTW, sorry to be a pedant but the Simply Red song title is wrong. Although I suppose them covering the Velvet Underground would only be one step on from covering Talking Heads.
Ooops on the Godiva :). The Genesis track is uncensored on the live album The Way We Walk: The Shorts. The single version has a beep and that’s the one on my Now 24 anyway. Wasn’t aware that some copies used the album version by mistake.
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I share your sentiment that this album comes across as being a bit stale. I think by the time I acquired it I was familiar with most of the tracks on there.
My favourite track on the album is most probably the Paul McCartney track and think it works well as the album’s final track whether intentional or not.
Out of interest do you have any idea of the release date for this volume? Have seen a few different dates floated about online.
19 or 26 April 1993. I bought it around the end of the month.
Thanks for explaining. Admittedly something random I always associate with April 1993, I am a fan of the soap opera Neighbours and 23rd April 1993 saw the 80s style titles and original version of the theme tune replaced here in the UK. You don’t happen to remember that by any chance?
Hi Martin – I had stopped watching it by then – 1991 was where it ended for me!
The early 90s was probably my favourite era. It was surprising that at the height of the shows’ popularity Kylie and Jason only found their way onto one ‘Now’ each.
Must say that all your suggestions for extra tracks are good ones. As suggested previously I do feel this volume is quite stale and could have done with some spicing up.
Must admit I didn’t realise “In My Defence” was released around that time. Am assuming it was to do with the release of the “Freddie Mercury album” but am guessing it didn’t chart as high as “Five Live” or “Living On My Own”?
With regards to “Labour Of Love” and “Vienna” were any additional tracks released by Hue and Cry and Ultravox respectively to promote this greatest hits compilation? Similarly do you know if any additional Bluebells tracks were re-released as a follow up to “Young At Heart”?
Something else I’d be interested to find out, was “Tennessee” a more recent Arrested Development release than “Mr Wendel”? Pretty sure the latter came out in late 1992 so presumably could have fitted here but was the decision to include “Tennessee” possibly to do with the fact it was a more recent track or due to the fact “Mr Wendel” had already appeared on Hits 93 Volume 1?
In My Defence reached #8 – not a bad showing.
Don’t think Hue & Cry or Ultravox released anything else to promote their Best Ofs
Young At Heart was reissued on foot of the Volkswagen advert; their singles compilation was 1991. They didn’t put out anything else at that time.
Tennessee was originally released summer 1992 but failed to make top 40. After Mr Wendal did so well in early ’93, it got a second push. The Hits inclusion may have precluded Now getting it.
Hello again Paul
Once again thanks for taking the time to answer these questions.
Just amazed to think that despite “In My Defence” reaching No 8 its not compiled on Now 24 or any other compilations from around that era. Am assuming there is no reason for that?
Slightly unrelated but am I right in thinking the Bluebells Singles Collection didn’t get a vinyl release? From memory the track blurb on Now 24 is the only one to say “From CD/Tape” and seem to recall that on the back of the CD it states “Also available on Cassette”
Most albums around this time did seem to still get a vinyl release so wonder why this one didn’t.
No UK compilation appearances for In My Defence. It did turn up on the Finland pressing of Missing You 2 and an AIDS benefit Greek release.
Correct – no vinyl release for the Bluebells. In the early ’90s it was not unusual for Best Ofs / Greatest Hits / Singles Collections to just get a CD / Tape release. New vinyl sales were falling rapidly and rather than have the cost of manufacturing a double LP or trying to cram as much music onto a single platter, companies went for the easy option and didn’t bother. It made no odds to most people – in this instance it was a compilation of singles from the vinyl era (many not on CD) so a CD release was more welcome.
Once again thanks for your response.
I’m quite surprised to hear that it was common for “Best Of” compilations in the early 90s not to have a vinyl release. Queen Greatest Hits 2, Divine Madness, Abba Gold and Carry On Up The Charts almost certainly did and according to Now so did the ‘best of compilations from Midge Ure and Frankie Goes To Hollywood”.
My parents also had a “Frankie Valli” Greatest Hits LP that was released in 1992.
Do you know of any other compilations other than the Bluebells one that didn’t come out on vinyl?
Other than the last few songs, disc 2 is sublime and one of my favorite in the entire Now series. As a teenager I found it a fascinating if somewhat disturbing listen… something about the kd Lang and World Party track in particular that I always found odd. Perhaps they are in an unusual key, I’m not sure. Essential listening, though.
Yes Matt, certainly starts very well. KD and World Party work well together