Now That’s What I Call Music 1994 is a best of for January – September and draws heavily from the two Now albums that had already been released that year. The “Great Value 2 CD Set” on the booklet was put there to ensure that people knew they were getting a double disc album. The fatbox was rapidly approaching its demise.
We’re in Now That’s What I Call Music 27 territory from the off. Chaka Demus and Pliers imbue Twist And Shout with a reggae spice while Ace Of Base hit the heights all over Europe with The Sign. Then it’s a switch to some heretofore uncompiled tracks with a trio of late summer smashes: Red Dragon featuring Brian and Tony Gold mix calypso, ragga and doo-wop on the easy skank Compliments On Your Kiss. Meanwhile Danish sensation Whigfield’s continental monster Saturday Night became the track that finally dethroned Love Is All Around. It’s followed by another massive Euro number, The Rhythm Of The Night by Corona complete with luscious vocal from Olga De Souza. All three tunes along with Shampoo’s Trouble later feature on Now That’s What I Call Music 29.
D:Ream’s Things Can Only Can Better would end up as New Labour motivational music in 1997. Battle of the boybands next: Take That’s sparkling Everything Changes and East 17’s reassuring It’s Alright. Time for a brace of reggae blasters from Now That’s What I Call Music 28 – CJ Lewis’ Sweets For My Sweet and Aswad’s Shine. Ragga to the max with Reel 2 Real and The Mad Stuntman before The Prodigy’s headrushing No Good (Start The Dance). We remember Music For The Jilted Generation, Vicks Vaporub, The Point Depot on New Year’s Eve ’94 and Waterford’s Metroland on New Year’s Day 1995.
Judge not: The Grid’s big break came with Swamp Thing in June. The focus is on the catchy banjo tunes and the drumming. Mr Raggmann Gary and Linda Meek are Maxx and Get A Way is insanely addictive. Elsewhere DJ Miko’s dance version of 4 Non Blondes’ Watch Up broke the US and Europe before cracking the UK in August. The rest of disc 1 passes by in a frantic blur of pounding dance madness. From 2 Unlimited’s hypnotic Let The Beat Control Your Body to Club House’s heated Light My Fire. Chuck in the crazy Charleston sound of Doop and K7’s dopey Come Baby Come before topping up with potent combination of Salt ‘N’ Pepa meets En Vogue. Funky divas to the max.
CD2: It’s good to see the Mykaell S Riley Mix of China Black’s Searching. The version on Now 28 is extremely lame. Fellow travellers Dawn Penn and Bitty McLean follow before M People’s fifth consecutive smash, the jazzy funk of Renaissance. After Eternal’s pure R&B Just A Step From Heaven, Haddaway slows the pace with the heartfelt I Miss You which was included on Hits ’94 – Volume 1 but in edited form. There’s some divine diva action from Wendy Moten and Dina Carroll with the gorgeous Come On In Out Of The Rain and hopeful vibes of The Perfect Year. And a switch to indie pastures as The Cranberries’ Linger drifts by, followed by the Pretenders magnificent I’ll Stand By You.
“I just dig it”
Pop! The Second 20 Hits starts with Always, Erasure’s plaintive love tale. Give way to Enigma and the doom-laden Return To Innocence. Reprise the chants: toward the within as Stiltskin channel the spirit of Kurt on Inside. Meat Loaf rocks on while Glasgow’s Gun burn up Cameo’s Word Up. Blur’s Girls And Boys stormed to #5 in March ’94. Next come the dazzling teenage pop princesses Shampoo with the bubbly Trouble. The fun feeling continues on The BC52s’ (Meet) The Flintstones before an odd final track, one of the 1990s’ forgotten #1s. The Manchester United Football Squad’s Come On You Reds is based on Status Quo’s Burning Bridges but with adapted lyrics. “On and off and on again”.
Eternal – Just A Step From Heaven
Take That – Everything Changes
Pretenders – I’ll Stand By You
Haddaway – I Miss You
Lest we forget
Manchester United Football Squad – Come On You Reds
Missing tracks and other thoughts
Just like Now That’s What I Call Music 1993, the 1994 edition is decent listen but it’s somewhat difficult to see the rationale behind it. The market was already crowded. Once again, vinyl fans got a crammed double LP with almost 39 minutes of music per side.
The statistics: 13 tracks are lifted from Now 27 with a further 18 appearing on the recently released Now 28. Four more would end up on Now 29 while the Haddaway tune had already been on Hits ’94 – Volume 1. So it’s somewhat short on surprises with just three stray numbers – Take That, Gun and the closing football anthem. I have to say that Come On You Reds is 1994’s Mr Blobby – namely a track that’s been airbrushed out of history. On that basis alone, Now That’s What I Call Music 1994 scores a vital goal.