“Good times we had return to haunt me”
April 1995: The Now series was hitting 30. The previous year was their most consistent to date and topped off by the super selection on Now That’s What I Call Music 29.
Levi’s advertising campaign continued through the decade with Norman Cook’s new venture, Freak Power, getting the gig with the eternal groove of Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out. Ms Jackson follows with the sixth single from May 1993’s Janet, the effortlessly catchy Whoops Now! And it’s first blood for Dublin’s Boyzone with their syrupy cover of Love Me For A Reason. The Comic Relief single for ’95 saw a melting pot of Cher, Chrissie Hynde, Neneh Cherry and Eric Clapton on the stately Love Can Build A Bridge. This slow pace is magnified by the inclusion of East 17’s deathly earnest Stay, a million seller and Christmas #1 for 1994 – UK and all over the world. Those bells.
There’s a downbeat vibe on Mike and The Mechanics’ melancholy Over My Shoulder while Jimmy Nail’s mournful Crocodile Shoes and its accompanying television series is firmly etched in my mind; a regular watch in the run up to the previous year’s festive season. And here’s one for all those precious indie kids: Scarlet’s Independent Love Song. A China In Your Hand for the 1990s, balladtastic. The road turns towards Simple Minds; fighting to stay relevant in ’95. She’s A River has some flashes of the old genius but they’re all too brief. The cobwebs are swept away with the Boo Radleys’ breakthrough Wake Up Boo! Unrelenting in its cheeriness. So I’m relieved to hear the mature eight-legged groove machine of Octopus; the latest Human League LP and its swish 45 Tell Me When.
The rise and rise of M People and their elegant club sound on Sight For Sore Eyes. In every home a heartache. Elsewhere Sting and Pato Banton get together on the incongruous Cowboy Song while Shut Up And Dance inject Duran Duran’s Save A Prayer with righteous dance beats – Save It ‘Til The Morning After. We switch to R&B delights on R Kelly’s Bump ‘N’ Grind and Eternal’s sensual Oh Baby I. . . Over to Bristol: City vs Rovers. Massive Attack loop in Everything But The Girl’s Tracey Thorn on the sublime trip hop classic Protection. Follow that with Glory Box, Portishead’s scorching fragmented blues sound. And bringing us up to half time are Oasis with Whatever; their standalone single and most ambitious work to date. Only available on this compilation for quite some time; this version loses the closing clapping [which I never liked anyway].
“I wrote the song two hours before we met
I didn’t know your name or what you looked like yet
Oh I could have stayed at home and gone to bed
I could have gone to see a film instead”
Disc 2 is geared towards club sounds. It’s worth nothing that 15 tracks on Now That’s What I Call Music 30 had already appeared on Now Dance ’95 which was released a month beforehand. We start with the Chicago-based Outhere Brothers and their frantic Don’t Stop (Wiggle Wiggle). Then it’s Alex Party’s pounding Don’t Give Me Your Life coupled with Strike’s hypnotic U Sure Do and Kenny Dope’s crucial The Bomb. Push The Feeling On had been a heavily played 12″ in most nightclubs for the previous 18 months; finally a new remix saw it fly up the charts and ensure immortality for The Nightcrawlers. Groove to Tin Tin’s gorgeous re-working of Burt ‘n’ Hal’s Always Something There To Remind Me.
Pump up the volume: Corona’s bouncing Baby Baby improves with age. Clock bring Axel Foley into the 90s with a fast-paced upgrade while N-Trance’s Set You Free slays all and still makes the hairs on my neck stand up. The son of a gun – mystery man JX – returns with the hardbag monster You Belong To Me. Next: Paul Oakenfold’s Perfecto Allstatz mob burning up Pigbag’s ’82 hit. More: an 1820s Darude Sandstorm [Rednex’s Cotton Eye Joe]. Blink and you’ll miss it: Deuce’s pop stomper Call It Love as produced by Phil Harding and Ian Curnow. The tempo gets back up with 2 Unlimited’s furious Here I Go and the dreamy Run Away from MC Sar and The Real McCoy. Leave them all behind.
Stretch out and wait to Nicki French’s faithful version of Total Eclipse Of The Heart. We trot over to Albert Square to see Sean Maguire [Aidan Brosnan] singing the feelgood Suddenly. Time for a hot tip; a Victims if you will. Bobby Brown’s Two Can Play That Game getting remixed by K-Klass and flying high. It’s followed by Ultimate Kaos representing teenage London on the smooth Hoochie Booty. Pato Banton pops up a second time with Ranking Roger on the toasty Bubbling Hot. It’s the tighter radio edit [the Beatmasters Searchin’ Remix appears on Now Dance ’95]. We close the book with Mica Paris and her incredibly soulful interpretation of U2’s One. Higher than the sun indeed.
“If there’s been a way to build it
There’ll be a way to destroy it
Things are not all that out of control”
Portishead – Glory Box
Oasis – Whatever
Massive Attack – Protection
M People – Sight For Sore Eyes
Deuce – Call It Love
Lest we forget
Tin Tin Out featuring Espiritu – Always Something There To Remind Me
Missing tracks and other thoughts
Now That’s What I Call Music 30 covers off winter ’94 and early spring ’95 with customary aplomb. There’s a great selection of era-defining classics and a few numbers that shone briefly before fading away. I’d like to propose the following candidates for inclusion:
Baby D – Let Me Be Your Fantasy. The regular radio edit please.
The Stone Roses – Love Spreads. Back after five and a half years of silence.
Supergrass – Mansize Rooster. Setting themselves up for the summer.
Elastica – Waking Up. A gradual build-up to a stunning debut album.
The Prodigy – Poison. Unleash the antidote.