Now That’s What I Call Music 25 (EMI / Virgin / Polygram, 1993)

Now 25

Now 25 r

Review
“I would like a place I could call my own,
Have a conversation on the telephone,
Wake up every day that would be a start,
I would not complain of my wounded heart”
.

Now That’s What I Call Music 25 was released at the beginning of August 1993. Five of the tracks had already been included on Now Dance ’93 which had come out in June. More five jiving with Five Live, which included tracks performed by George Michael, Queen, and Lisa Stansfield. Somebody to Love and These Are the Days of Our Lives were recorded at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, held on 20 April 1992 at Wembley Stadium. All proceeds from the sale of the EP benefited the Mercury Phoenix Trust. It debuted at #1 in the UK chart. Somebody To Love is the opening track here; an oddly decent version which showcases George Michael’s strong ability to cover other people’s material.

4 Non Blondes hailed from the streets of San Francisco. What’s Up? was heavily played on MTV and is still one of the decade’s most well-loved one hit wonders. It’s followed by Tina Turner’s resigned I Don’t Wanna Fight, the first single from the soundtrack of the What’s Love Got To Do With It. Then it’s a brace from Now Dance ’93: Ace Of Base’s All That She Wants is the second of four number ones on Now 25 and saw them take off internationally while Gabrielle’s unforgettable Dreams saw her move overground to lasting stardom. Lena Fiagbe’s You Come From Earth wasn’t so lucky and stalled at #69 despite all the hype and being on U2’s Mother Records label. And U2 were originally called The Hype. It’s an inoffensive tune with a nicely chilled vibe but lacks the bite to make it big.

Hang on: it’s those witty, enigmatic geniuses from Athens, Georgia. Everybody Hurts is universal now and was played at every hour of the day in the late spring / early summer months of 1993. Late night pool in Goodfella’s. A stroll down to Donnybrook Fair for the paper. Equally anthemic were New Order as the epic guitar and bass of the Stephen Hague-produced Regret ushered students out on the floor in their hundreds. Dazed in O’Connell Street. The ghosts of shoegazing past. And speaking of spirits, Freddie’s continued to thrive on the No More Brothers Remix of Living On My Own. Another #1 string to his bow; the original reached #50 in 1985. The power of the remixer continued as Phil Kelsey’s doctoring brought Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive back into the top five.

Inner Circle’s Sweat reggae fusion (A La La La La Long) is followed by Chaka Demus and Pliers’ unholy dancehall crossover Tease Me. Louchie Lou and Michie One mix up Shout and Peter Gunn before Shabba Ranks’ distinctly ordinary Housecall. There’s a switch in styles as Duran Duran follow up their unexpected comeback smash Ordinary World with the enchanting Come Undone. Equally great is Paul Weller’s soulful and melodic Sunflower, the lead single from Wild Wood, his pastoral sophomore LP. The closing track on the first disc is from Melody Maker favourites Kingmaker. Ten Years Asleep was a student disco favourite but lacked the charm of Eat Yourself Whole. Another planet.

“Ruined in a day,
You could be the lover of jade,
Forever on your own in the shade”
.

Tribal Dance made it six of the best for 2 Unlimited. A Focus for the 1990s. Robin S followed up Show Me Love with the cryptic Luv 4 Luv while Sybil’s When I’m Good And Ready showed that the American diva was no flash in the plan. Meanwhile Dannii Minogue’s cover of Van McCoy and Melba Moore’s This Is It proved to be an infectious floor-filler. The Time Frequency build on the foundations of New Emotion and broke through to the top 20 with the euphoric Ultimate High. There’s always been a dance element to my music: Jon Secada’s mysterio-groove of Do You Really Want Me. The song that taste forgot: If I Can’t Have You, Kim Wilde’s unwise career move. And never forget East 17’s cover of West End Girls. Altogether now “Heart of glass, heart of stone”.

Joey Lawrence was the dude from US television series Blossom; Nothin’ My Love Can’t Fix is Jordan Knight-lite. It’s a London thing next: Efua Baker, familiar from Lil’ Louis, Soul II Soul and Maxi Priest videos. Somewhere is a wicked track; a humorous heartfelt spoken word treatise on love set to a jazzy beat. Sade follows with the simmering and bleak ballad No Ordinary Love. The 5:21 single mix is on Now 25 but it’s the shorter video edit that’s selected below. Remember Living In A Box? Lead singer Richard Darbyshire cuts loose with the pleasant soul of This Is Swear. That’s Lisa Stansfield you hear in the background. The romantic sequence continues with OMD’s Barry White / Love Unlimited Orchestra homage Dream Of Me. This sparkling pop bauble is a far cry from the likes of Stanlow but a beguiling departure nonetheless that only works its magic after repeated plays.

D:Ream continued to move on up with the earnest pop of U R The Best Thing while Juliet Roberts flounders in a sea of stodgy R&B as Caught In The Middle proves to be the dampest of squibs. Oui 3 turn up the heat on the Notting Hill rap of Break From The Old Routine, a track that makes more sense now than it did in ’93. Utah Saints’ fourth single from their debut LP was the bone-crushing I Want You which sampled Slayer’s War Ensemble. The crunch continues with the finale: Jesus Jones’ throbbing and twitching Zeroes and Ones. File under armageddon baggy mondobrutale.

“You turn and face the strange,
You turn and face yourself”
.

Favourite tracks
Paul Weller – Sunflower

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Dream Of Me (Based On Love’s Theme)

Sade – No Ordinary Love

Duran Duran – Come Undone

Lest we forget
Efua – Somewhere

Missing tracks and other thoughts
By now the series was starting to tread water and was making fewer waves. Despite this one being better than Now That’s What I Call Music 24, it was proving to be a lacklustre run. However all would change with the next volume – a blinder from out of nowhere. The inlay mysteriously hinted towards the past – “Coming soon. . . The Now 10th anniversary”. I jumped the gun with Now That’s What I Call Music 1983 last week. More of these to follow from 22 April. Meanwhile here’s an overlooked trio to consider:

Jamiroquai – Blow Your Mind. Funk major.
Sting – Fields Of Gold. Hypnotic. Bali. Barley.
Roxette – Almost Unreal. Super with a surreal video.

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Promotional poster courtesy of the Now That’s What I Call Music Collectors Group UK.
Now 25 poster

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22 Responses to Now That’s What I Call Music 25 (EMI / Virgin / Polygram, 1993)

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  7. Andrew Chinnock says:

    Weird one on here – the stereo channels on What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes have been swapped. Not an obvious one, but one that caught me by surprise. The version on Smash Hits 1993 is the same as this.

  8. Andrew Chinnock says:

    It’s great to find someone with a huge interest in 90s compilations as well. I don’t know how it would have happened. The same happens with Perez Prado’s Guaglione on every Global release as well. I do a lot of listening with headphones and it’s strange to find these things. There are also a couple of examples of tracks appearing in mono on some of the Universal TOTP and Box Dance albums in the late 90s.

  9. liver deux says:

    Richard Darbyshire – This I Swear

  10. Martin Davis says:

    Have heard the standard single version of Sweat (A La La La La Long) more than enough times over the years but I remember one instance seeing an edition of TOTP2 where the track was performed and in the chorus the lyrics were altered from “I’m going to push it some more” to “I’m going to make you dance some more”. Do you happen to know why there might have been a change in lyrics when the track was performed live?

    Also I seem to remember “Bad Boys” accompanying this track on the cassette single but seemingly charting in its own right as of August 1993. Was the track originally released as a B-Side but then re-released as an A Side?

  11. Andrew Chinnock says:

    Two awards for this compilation. Most pixelated photos in the booklet (dreadful). Also, Somewhere by Efua. One of the most random selections on a Now. Strangely, I like it and would never have heard of the track if it hadn’t been for Now 25.

    Another interesting point is that the booklet says it made no. 46 by 11th June. Now 25 took 4 weeks to be released after this. The track spent 3 weeks climbing to no. 46, so was always going to be a chart dud, but Abram decided to include it anyway as a freebie.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      I noticed that Andrew; a definite failure that wasn’t going to set the world alright. Nice lost track though

      • Andrew Chinnock says:

        It is. It creeps into my play list far too often! With this and the Lena Fiagbe track, there can’t be too many Nows with 2 tracks that missed out on the top 40.

        Now there’s a thing of interest – a showcase of tracks that never made the top 40. The Greatest Hits of 1993 (or whenever) that missed out completely. There’ll be gems, there’ll be utter crap!!

        • nlgbbbblth says:

          A compilation of 41-100 hits would be good. My Even More Forgotten ’80s series also covers that territory – https://apopfansdream.wordpress.com/mixes/pauls-even-more-forgotten-80s/ – 90s is harder to do though.

          • Andrew Chinnock says:

            I’ll run that by Mrs C. The 80s was her era. I was 11 at the start of the 90s, so I’m more of a 90s man. Might be a project for another day!

            Back to Now 25, another track that was a glaring omission from virtually everything that year – Jump Around by House of Pain. A perfect fit for this or Hits 93 volume 3, it wasn’t picked up on anything after its successful second release until Greatest Hits 93 and Now Dance 93 (Best of). Dino picked up the other part of the double A side ‘Top Of The Morning To Ya’ on Energy Rush 5, but Jump Around remained invisible on compilations until the end of year stuff. Slightly surprising as XL were always keen on allowing their material to feature on compilations, even if tracks were recent.

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