“Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come”
Summer ’94: Wet Wet Wet cover The Troggs’ Love Is All Around. It entered the charts at #4 on 15 May and reached the top a fortnight later. And remained there for 15 weeks, the second longest UK chart reign of all time [beaten only by Bryan Adams and (Everything I Do) I Do It for You”, which was #1 for 16 weeks]. On 11 September Whigfield put the nation out of its misery when Saturday Night reached the summit. Love Is All Around’s success was largely fuelled by its appearance in Four Weddings And A Funeral. As a result one of the main chart bridesmaids were All-4-One whose gentle pop soul of I Swear stayed rooted to #2 for seven weeks. It’s kinda fitting that it follows Marti and Co.
Ace Of Base continued to make hay with a surprisingly good take of Aswad’s Don’t Turn Around. And in some clever positioning the reggae boys are next with their infectious Shine. Back to the silver screen: The Flintstones was the buddy film of ’94 and catapulted the BC52s back into the charts. Another pop gem is the fantastic Crazy For You by Let Loose while D:Ream make it third time lucky for UR The Best Thing: remix makes #4. The original is on Now That’s What I Call Music 25. The Beautiful South carry on up their charts with a smooth rendition of Fred Neil’s Everybody’s Talkin’ from Midnight Cowboy.
Ex-sister of Shakespeare, Marcella Detroit delivers an amazing pick-me-up on I Believe while The Pretenders return in style on the gracefully addictive I’ll Stand By You. Stiltskin recorded the grungey Inside for a Levi Strauss and Co. advert known as Creek. Lead singer Ray Wilson would later join Genesis. A monochrome memory from Marlborough Road. As was Blur’s Parklife album; endlessly looped around bongs / Oranjeboom. Girls And Boys is immense, a singalong stormer. M People’s jazzed-up piano pounder Renaissance and Eternal’s quality R&B Just A Step From Heaven are two of 13 tracks that also feature on Now Dance – Summer ’94. I see the latter as a complementary rather than duplicate buy.
Now for a US #1: Toni Braxton’s classic soul groover Another Sad Love Song. It’s followed by China Black’s Searching, the original Longsy D mix. Not as good as the uptempo hit version. The vibe stays mellow on Dawn Penn’s smooth reggae mover You Don’t Love Me (No No No) while Chaka Demus and Pliers fly the flag for good loving on I Wanna Be Your Man. Meanwhile I Say I Say I Say became Erasure’s sixth LP; synth ballad Always’ video features Andy Bell in a Chinese scroll painting-inspired backdrop. Beautiful. The first disc ends with Seal’s portentous and haunting Prayer For The Dying. This bleeds 90s.
“When the cracks appear in the plan
And the rocks turn into sand
Better call my new French girlfriend”
The second disc: club zone. Swamp Thing, The Grid’s big breakthrough. Trance mission next; Two Cowboys, a Euro house project from Italy. You can file under “Better than Rednex”. Rave on with Maxx’s old skool smash Get-A-Way and Reel 2 Real’s lesser known Go On Move. The Prodigy make it seven in a row on the skittering clatter techno of No Good (Start The Dance). And Cappella continue to party hard as U And Me crashes into the top 10. Haddaway’s Rock My Heart and 2 Unlimited’s The Real Thing bring flashbacks of the Cellar Bar sound: Ray Houghton’s winner in The Giants Stadium. Channel the beats on the Sonic Surfers’ Don’t Give It Up; lose it to DJ Miko’s relentless What’s Up. And the Euro anthems continue with Club House’s burning Light My Fire. Carl Fanini in the house.
Sit back and drift: Tony Di Bart chases rainbows on the evocative Real Thing. Take a break from cramming and it drifts out of the radio speaker. Back to reggae with CJ Lewis and Bitty McLean before Salt ‘N’ Pepa join En Vogue on the street-tough Whatta Man. Get some smooth soul as R Kelly gets busy on Your Body’s Callin’ while N’Dea Davenport showcases her stunning vocal on the Brand New Heavies’ Dream On Dreamer. Another reactivation: Juliet Roberts’ floor-filler Caught In The Middle [again, the original is on Now 25]. Don’t forget Gloworm’s techno-gospel cracker Carry Me Home. And now some Comic Relief: Jennifer Saunders and Joanne Lumley team up with Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe for the incomparable electric disco of Absolutely Fabulous. Chant as you speak.
“Dull soulless dance music”.
Tony Di Bart – The Real Thing
Let Loose – Crazy For You
Marcella Detroit – I Believe
All-4-One – I Swear
Cappella – U And Me
Lest we forget
Absolutely Fabulous – Absolutely Fabulous
Missing tracks and other thoughts
Now 28 was the final volume to be released in a fatbox; 1994 being its last gasp death shuffle. From on normal-sized hinged cases became the default. While there were shelf-saving benefits, the new slimmer sets were far less durable and prone to damage. Like the previous volume, this is another quality compilation with a number of underrated classics that don’t get the credit they deserve. A few more worthy of consideration:
Kate Bush – The Red Shoes. Wow.
Oasis – Supersonic. Starting to build momentum. Or else Shaker Maker.
Deep Forest – Deep Forest. Purely moody.
Pet Shop Boys – Liberation. Worthy of a double appearance.
Symbol – The Most Beautiful Girl In The World. Two Prince tracks appeared on previous Nows so this wouldn’t have been totally impossible.