“I’m older than I wish to be
This town holds no more for me”
Now That’s What I Call Music 1995 is a best of for January – September and lifts two thirds of its tracks from the pair of Now albums that had already been released that year. It’s the third and final volume from the weird addendum to Now’s 10th Anniversary series.
The Battle of Britpop: The front cover of NME’s 12 August edition made reference to the “British Heavyweight Championship” with photographs of Damon Albarn and Liam Gallagher. The ongoing Blur vs Oasis chart battle was now at peak antagonism. Food Records decided to move the release date of Country House to match Roll With It. Blur won the battle of the bands, selling 274,000 copies to Oasis’ 216,000 – the songs charting at number one and number two respectively. However, in the long run Oasis became more commercially successful than their rivals. Therefore it’s only right and just that Country House kicks off this compilation. A enjoyable ditty about a man who escapes the rat race, it remains one of Blur’s weaker singles when compared to the rest of their catalogue.
Ashley Abram wisely decides to add a strong supporting cast. Country House is followed by Alright, the massive summer anthem by Supergrass which in turn leads into Suggs’ competent cover of The Beatles’ I’m Only Sleeping. And then, fourth in the running order, comes the catchy Roll With It. So that’s fresh and new tracks in the opening salvo – a surefire way of dragging in the casual punter. After that it’s a brace of beauties from the recently released Now That’s What I Call Music 31: Edwyn Collins’ stormer A Girl Like You and Freak Power’s laidback Levi’s pusher Turn On, Turn In, Cop Out. There’s a neat bridge into Ini Kamoze’s Here Comes The Hotstepper and N-Trance’s booty-shaking cover of Stayin’ Alive. And The Human League’s cracking new decade synth pop, Tell Me When.
Wake Up Boo! crashes in with unprecedented optimism and is followed by boyband rivals East 17 and Take That. Never Forget crushes Hold My Body Tight. A couple of spring tunes next: Now That’s What I Call Music 30 era – Scarlet’s fine ballad Independent Love Song and Boyzone’s starting point Love Me For A Reason. Open your heart to M People’s gorgeous Search For The Hero. Moving on to Stanley Road: Paul Weller’s third solo LP yielded the emotional You Do Something To Me. The NME hated it. Meanwhile The Connells wistful high school throwback ’74-’75 packs a powerful punch. Should have been on The Brothers McMullen soundtrack. Slow down with Portishead’s marvellously doomy Sour Times and Erasure’s haunted and minimalist Stay With Me. Half day closing.
“And it looks like we might have made it
Yes it looks like we’ve made it to the end”
CD2: Bring your dancing shoes. First blood to Alex Party’s urgent Don’t Give Me Your Life. Next comes the resurgent I Luv You Baby from The Original and The Nightcrawlers splendidly addictive Push The Feeling On. Corona’s frantic Try Me Out made it three successive smashes. And what of Berri? Sunshine After The Rain is a pulsating cover of Elkie Brooks’ original and comes across like a crossover with I Feel Love. Elsewhere Clock give Harold Faltermeyer’s Axel F with a lemon twist. “Achmel, Achwel?”. More massively attacking dance tunes come from Perfecto Allstarz’ Reach Up and Billie Ray Martin’s Your Loving Arms. And a bolt out of the blue: Umboza’s calypso rhythms of Cry India.
Familiarity breeds contentment. So that’s Kenny Dope and The Bucketheads dropping The Bomb, Bobby Brown funking for Jamaica on Two Can Play That Game and MN8’s catchy groover I’ve Got A Little Something For You. And yes, before you ask, The Outhere Brothers are here. Basil Brush would be happy. Then there’s Baby D welcoming Korgis to the jungle on I Need Your Loving (Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime) while Livin’ Joy make the dancefloors implode to the sounds of Janice Robinson’s vocal on Dreamer. Slide away to Whigfield Danish delight When I Think Of You and Dana Dawson’s beaming 3 Is Family. Get the rush from Strike’s U Sure Do with Deuce’s poptastic and sparkling Call It Love the clear highlight of the closing quarter. Final serve to Rednex. Double fault.
“I was the one who let you know
I was your sorry ever after
Giving me more and I’ll defy
‘Cause you’re really only after
Paul Weller – You Do Something To Me
Human League – Tell Me When
Supergrass – Alright
Erasure – Stay With Me
Lest we forget
The Connells – ’74-’75
Missing tracks and other thoughts
Now That’s What I Call Music 1995 is my favourite of the three post-anniversary editions. The statistics: 14 tracks are lifted from Now 30 with a further dozen appearing on the recently released Now 31. Two songs had already been nabbed by Hitz Blitz [M People, Take That] while seven more would end up on November’s Now 32 but their inclusion gave the compilation a fresh vibe: Blur, Suggs, Oasis, N-Trance, The Original, Corona, Berri. So just like Now That’s What I Call Music 1994, there’s only three stray numbers – Paul Weller, Erasure, Umboza.
That just leaves The Connells. Mike and David grew up in Macon, Georgia and formed the band in 1984. The brilliant ’74-’75 with its excellent video was a hit all over Europe, peaking at #14 in the UK during August 1995. The road not taken: the chorus is full of devastating regret. Getting it on vinyl is a tough pull; their album Ring got a LP release in Greece and nowhere else. A French single-sided 12″ exists as does a UK jukebox 7″, all three are as rare as hen’s teeth. Even more than Now That’s What I Call Music 33, where it ended up when the track was reissued the following spring – only reaching #21 this time. Music journalist Pete Paphides was a happy man when he finally found the double LP.
I agree with you in that of the “complimentary” volumes of the 10th Anniversary series, this one was the best.
Of course, the remaing three months of the year still had some noteworthy hits, some of which wouldn’t have gone amiss here, but would have to wait until Now 32 to appear.
I wonder what would a 1996 volume have looked like…
I wonder what the sales were like…. must do a fantasy 1996 volume soon.
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Interesing that you mention about Take That and M People appearing on Hitz Blitz. It would appear this Now took the versions straight from that compilation. This seemed to be getting more common in 1995.
It’s one thing lifting from their own spin-offs….but a rival!
Freak Power was from Now 30 and not Now 31 (it was the opening track, somewhat bizarrely). Pretty solid compilation, albeit missing a few key players (Queen, Cast, Coolio) due to the strange decision to release it months before the end of the year.
Thanks – I must correct that. Back then I was writing four reviews a week so some errors did creep in. Yes, releasing a best of the year in September made no sense.
I’ve never owned this, but looking at the timings, it appears that Take That and M People were lifted from Hitz Blitz. Thinking back he borrowed edited tracks from Hits 93 vol 3 as well. Those were BMG tracks. However, Haddaway’s ‘I Miss You’ features in proper full length single version on Now 1994, not the edited Hits 94 vol 1 version.
You’d think it would have been easy to create a compilation where all the tracks are unedited, untouched single versions. Why Abram would lift from another compilation is a bit of a strange one. He also lifted a few tracks from New Hits 96 that featured on Now 34.
It’s unusual for then – if it happened now, you’d be less surprised. I can imagine the licensing follow-up being quite haphazard to allow those edited tracks to re-appear elsewhere.