Now That’s What I Call Music 1988 (EMI / Virgin / Polygram, 1993)

Now 1988

Now 1988 r

Review
“We used to be angry young men
Hiding our heads in the sand
Gave me the word I finally heard
I’m doing the best that I can”
.

Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father was released in 1988 as a multi-artist compilation recording new versions of the songs on The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band which turned 21 on 1 June. The NME produced the LP and the royalties went to Childline. Highlights included The Wedding Present’s Getting Better with Talulah Gosh’s Amelia Fletcher [later of Heavenly fame] on backing vocals, Sonic Youth’s Within You Without You and The Fall’s A Day In The Life. However the two sides of the lead single were given to Wet Wet Wet and Billy Bragg; With A Little Help From My Friends and She’s Leaving Home. This double A-side topped the charts during May and June. With A Little Help From My Friends – never released as a Beatles 45 in the UK – got most of the airplay and is the first song here. It also kicked off Now That’s What I Call Music 12.

The big hitters move on with Erasure’s autumnal A Little Respect and the Pet Shop Boys’ 1987 Christmas #1 Always On My Mind before Yazz’s late-summer dominator The Only Way Is Up. S’Express continue the house tip with the ecstatic rush of Theme From S-Express while Yello’s The Race steamrolled its way to #7 for the back-to-school generation. The driving theme stays on course with the clever sequencing of Natalie Cole’s Pink Cadillac and Billy Ocean’s Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car. Next is the huge dance pop sound of Taylor Dayne and her iconic Tell It To My Heart before the unwelcome entrance of Chubby Checker and The Fat Boys doing a bloated take on The Twist, the fourth track from Now That’s What I Call Music 13 to appear here. Thankfully pop justice is restored with the thrilling SAW knee-tremblers I Should Be So Lucky and I Want You Back. Imperial Nana was coming to an end but what a run it was.

Tiffany was initially wary of covering Tommy James and The Shondells because their sound wasn’t hip enough. I Think We’re Alone Now ended up being her biggest hit and the opening strains will still fill a dancefloor. Kim Wilde’s sublime You Came follows in its wake, a grandstanding slice of terrific songwriting. The remainder of CD1 focus on soul / R&B with Push It leading the way. Never out of my DJ box. And then we hit Detroit and Inner City for their debut single Big Fun sung by Paris Grey while the Pasadenas also kick-started their career with Tribute (Right On). The funk continues with Womack and Womack’s Teardrops before the dope beats of Joyce Sims Come Into My Life drop down the tempo. Finally it’s the Art Of Noise and their unique re-arrangement of Prince’s Kiss complete with a fine vocal from Tom Jones.

“How I dearly wish I was not here”.

Disc 2 starts with Phil Collins’ mind-expanding cover of The Minebenders’ A Groovy Kind Of Love. Seriously. It’s followed by Fairground Attraction’s breezy Perfect and Danny Wilson’s earnest Mary’s Prayer. Fleetwood Mac were still tangoing in ’88: Everywhere is simply fantastic, an ode to adoration. Then we have Climie Fisher and their biggest success, the #2 smash Love Changes Everything. Heartily sung by John Furlong in the gents toilets of the Crosbie Motor Hotel during Easter ’88. We all joined in. The quality drops alarmingly with the hackneyed trio of Gimme Hope Joanna, Don’t Turn Around and Don’t Worry, Be Happy before Enya’s ethereal Orinoco Flow calms us down. And The Hollies go lager lager lager with He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.

Somewhere In My Heart and The King Of Rock ‘N’ Roll were sequenced together on both The Hits Album 8 and Smash Hits Party ’88. On this album the order is reversed with Prefab Sprout taking the lead. The sleeve notes make reference to it being their solitary commercial success. Roddy Frame’s driving tune is the first in a mini Celtic rock cluster, a sort of Heartlands vibe. Right on cue are Deacon Blue and the storming Real Gone Kid before U2’s sweeping Desire. Meanwhile Johnny Logan’s Eurovision winner Hold Me Now means that we host the 1988 contest. The Hothouse Flowers come on before the voting and steal the show with Don’t Go. Check out their 1993 classic Songs From The Rain.

Revenge: Eurythmics peak. You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart. Driven by a drum machine, a ballad of yearning to escape from a destructive relationship. Heart to Heart: These Dreams is mesmerising stuff, a floating fantasy. The emotional cycle continues with Terence Trent D’Arby’s third 45, the intense Sign Your Name. Meanwhile it’s Miles Davis on trumpet as Scritti Politti’s Provision selection Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry For Lover Boy) kicks in. Sweetness and light with a dark centre. Lastly it’s the droning maudlin sound of Ben and Tracey; Everything But The Girl’s I Don’t Want To Talk About It. The 7″ was purchased with millennium 50p coins, struck to commemorate 1,000 years of Dublin.

“We’re off the streets now
And back on the road
On the riot trail”
.

Favourite tracks
Eurythmics – You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart

Heart – These Dreams

Bananarama – I Want You Back

Scritti Politti – Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry For Loverboy)

Everything But The Girl – I Don’t Want To Talk About It

Lest we forget
Hothouse Flowers – Don’t Go

Missing tracks and other thoughts
Now That’s What I Call Music 1988 is when the series starts to get a little less interesting. There are a number of reasons: it’s a curate’s egg of a compilation with inspired bursts and dull bouts; there’s an over-reliance on the familiar and a failure to include any of the revolutionary house music included on side 4 of Now That’s What I Call Music 11. Notwithstanding this, the second half of CD2 is ace with its inspired Celtic rock section followed by the searing introspection and powerful emotion of the closing five tracks.

26 of the 40 tracks were compiled on 1988’s Nows: five from Now 11, 10 from Now 12 while Now 13 gave us 11. The Hits series was represented with 13 songs; 10 from Hits 8 with just three taken off The Hits Album 9. That just leaves U2’s Desire as the sole song that wasn’t featured on the main UK compilations of 1988. Both series had now fully embraced the CD format but the Hits team decided on fading 19 tracks early on Hits 8; thankfully some of these are fully restored now [Everywhere, Sign Your Name, You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart, Don’t Turn Around, Theme From S-Express].

20 tracks held the #1 position in 1988 and 12 of them are compiled here while Heaven Is A Place On Earth was already included on Now That’s What I Call Music 1987. Personally I would gone for Heart instead of Always On My Mind [the Millennium series rectifies this] while leaving off The Timelords was inevitable given its quasi-novelty status. Elsewhere One Moment In Time would have been a much better fit than Aswad. But the worst omissions are these: Bros – I Owe You Nothing [’88 was their year], Angry Anderson’s Suddenly, Eighth Wonder’s epic I’m Not Scared and the aforementioned house numbers such as Bomb The Bass’ Beat Dis and Krush’s House Arrest. And what of Morrissey? 1988 saw a solo flight that resulted in two singles reaching #5 and #9 respectively while best that The Smiths could achieve was two #10s. The more you ignore me, the closer I get.

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2 Responses to Now That’s What I Call Music 1988 (EMI / Virgin / Polygram, 1993)

  1. cosmo says:

    1988 is to me an unfairly maligned (by some) year for music, with plenty of “perfect pop” moments. Again, an excellent album (IMO), where every track is a winner.

    Although I agree with you on some of the omissions, such as the house acts, Bros (I’d include Drop the Boy), Eighth Wonder, and Morrissey. But, to me, the biggest gap is that left by Divine Emotions by Narada Michael Walden.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      I’d forgotten about Divine Emotions – cool tune. It’s on the Dutch Hits Album 8 which I’ll get round to covering at some point.
      I had the Bright Lights, Big City soundtrack back then; nicely chosen selection of tracks.

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