“He thought of cars
And where, where to drive them”
Made In Heaven was Queen’s 15th and final LP. It was released on 6 November 1995, just one week before Now That’s What I Call Music 32. After Freddie Mercury’s death, bass player John Deacon, drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Brian May worked with vocal and piano parts that Freddie had recorded before his death, adding fresh instrumentation to the recordings. Heaven for Everyone was written by Roger Taylor and originally appeared on Shove It, a 1988 LP by his other band, The Cross. Freddie handled guest vocals on that occasion and for the posthumous record, the track was reworked with Queen’s music. It’s got an eerie, poignant feel and the video fits the mood, containing footage of Georges Méliès 1902 silent film A Trip to the Moon. A suitably fitting opening.
1995 had been a memorable year for many reasons, some good and others bad. Now 32 provides a soundtrack for the late summer and autumn period. The endless good weather stretched into October when Meatloaf unleashed his overwrought duet with Patti Russo, I’d Lie For You (And That’s The Truth). And Simply Red finally reach the top of the singles chart with the Goodmen-sampling Fairground. Video shot in Blackpool. Blockbusters – summer: the cinemas were full of punters anxious to see Batman Forever. U2’s brooding Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me was a key moment; a track which saw them building on the Zooropa template and nicely bridges the gap to the future Pop sound. Autumn: The new Bond, Pierce Brosnan, was eagerly anticipated in Goldeneye. Tina Turner delivers.
We move into ballad territory with Cher’s decent cover of Marc Cohn’s Walking In Memphis. It’s followed by the cutting Pretenders To The Throne, The Beautiful South’s first release since the mega-selling Carry On Up The Charts. Meanwhile Louise breaks free from Eternal; Light Up My Life being her sweeping big debut. And Oz is back – Big River is a intensely personal song, a six minute elegy to the days when shipbuilding was it its height in Newcastle. Jimmy goes on to lament the later decline of the industry and the marginalisation of the Tyne itself. Next comes the ambient / world / new age Wishes of Happiness and Prosperity (Yeha-Noha) by the German musical project Sacred Spirit. This tribal number is sung by Navajo elder Kee Chee Jake from Chinle, Arizona. Pipes of peace.
War Child is a non-governmental organisation founded in the UK in 1993 which provides assistance to children in areas experiencing conflict and its aftermath. The Help Album was released in September ’95 with the aim of assisting its charitable efforts particularly in respect of the Bosnian war. A new Radiohead track, Lucky, was chosen as the lead song on the Help EP and also featured on the star-studded album. It’s a slow-paced anthem and kicks off an excellent Britpop sequence that continues until the end of the disc. Pulp’s tale of highs and comedowns Sorted For Es And Wizz never fails to raise a smile. The dealer in the single version is now “messed-up”; the accompanying LP Different Class came with a photo frame sleeve which meant you had 12 different covers to choose from.
The Battle of Britpop is marked by Blur’s Country House and Oasis’ Roll With It both appearing. By now their respective LPs were in the shops: What’s The Story (Morning Glory) having considerably more staying power than The Great Escape. Stuck in the middle are Cast with the storming Alright. Travel back to May when Thieves met Suede. Or their ex-members David McAlmont and Bernard Butler did and created the spiritual and uplifting Yes. Meanwhile Paul Weller’s solo success continues with the warm sound of Broken Stones. A Fab Four finale: Suggs covers I’m Only Sleeping. And Weller, Macca and Noel Gallagher Come Together as The Smokin’ Mojo Filters. All for Help.
“Where were you while we were getting high?”
CD2 begins with two #1s; the first of which is Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise. Walking through the valley of the shadow of death. On a lighter tip is Shaggy’s Boombastic, also used to advertise jeans. Co-sign on N-Trance’s bouncy update of Stayin’ Alive; the iconic Saturday Night Fever trailer track. The spirit of 1977 is cleverly extended into the next tune; Rollo’s remix of Donna Summer’s classic disco synth monster I Feel Love. Not long enough. But neatly leads to Berri’s pulsating Sunshine After The Rain, also a hit in ’77, for Elkie Brooks. Not Eartha Kitt. Silver linings and rainbows. Try out some Eurodance: Corona’s Try Me Out and The Original’s I Luv U Baby. Smash up the continental discotheques.
Everything But The Girl appeared on 1984’s The Hits Album. The evocative Missing got the benefit of a Todd Terry remix and became huge. Meanwhile Eternal became three with the loss of Louise [see CD1] but Power Of A Woman seemed to lack their usual funky fizz. Soul II Soul were up to Volume V and dropping the eponymous I Care (Soul II Soul). Elsewhere there’s fluff on show for The Outhere Brothers’ La La La Hey Hey while Whigfield’s Big Time sees her move into Ace Of Base territory. Hotly tipped: the new Alex Party single Wrap Me Up. And Josh Wink’s Higher State Of Consciousness climbed to #8 in July; a perennial party favourite that benefited from a remix 12 months later.
Already reactivated was Wildchild’s Renegade Master. But the timeless number in this sequence is Goldie’s dreamy drum ‘n’ bass monster Inner City Life. Moving on: a busy year for the Human League with Red Jerry speeding up Don’t You Want Me. This is the cue for pitch +8s: Candy Girls’ Fee Fi Fo Fum is followed by the Happy Clappers’ havin’ it large Ibiza belter I Believe. The Perfecto team get their hands on Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams and turn it into a club tune for Wild Colour. Best wine for last: E’voke – Runaway. Remember their names: Marlaine Gordon and Kerry Potter. A euphoric end-of-night classic. Us Girls.
“Let’s all meet up in the year 2000
Won’t it be strange when we’re all fully grown?”
U2 – Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
Pulp – Sorted For Es And Wizz
Goldie – Inner City Life
Paul Weller – Broken Stones
McAlmont and Butler – Yes
Lest we forget
E’voke – Runaway
Missing tracks and other thoughts
Now That’s What I Call Music 32 is a mostly memorable volume; a story split between rock, pop, indie and club tunes. It does run into a samey trough halfway through disc two but picks itself up again. Here are seven more songs that could have made it to the end:
New Order – Blue Monday ’95. They missed out with 1988 so one more chance.
Boyzone – So Good. Another big hitter strangely absent.
Clock – Everybody. Devastatingly effective Eurodance.
The Verve – History. A song for all those lonely nights.
Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue – Where The Wild Roses Grow. An unlikely Aussie duet.
Bluetones – Bluetonic. Top early tune from the Blue Army.
Smashing Pumpkins – Bullet With Butterfly Wings. Owned Fanning’s Fab 50 then / now.
Promotional poster courtesy of the Now That’s What I Call Music Collectors Group UK.