“Here comes Johnny Yen again
With the liquor and drugs”
Now That’s What I Call Music 33 saw the compilers continue with the tradition of Queen being the opening song. Now That’s What I Call Music 32 had begun in similar fashion with the poignant Heaven For Everyone. On this occasion, the track was Too Much Love Can Kill You, originally written during 1988 for The Miracle LP. It didn’t make the cut and Brian May later recorded a solo version which is on Now That’s What I Call Music 23. The first version – containing Freddie Mercury’s vocal – turned up on Made In Heaven and was subsequently released as a single in February 1996. A powerful and emotional ballad.
Oasis and the monster that was (What’s The Story) Morning Glory continued to break records into 1996. The masterful and explosive Don’t Look Back In Anger went straight in at #1, selling 250,000 copies in the process. It was also used in the groundbreaking television series Our Friends In The North that was broadcast on Monday nights between 15 January and 11 March 1996. The nine episodes covered 31 years; 1964 to 1995. By the time the final episode (1995) was transmitted, Don’t Look Back In Anger was on top of the charts making for a delicious dovetail. Time for a riot: Babylon Zoo’s colourful Spaceman and Supergrass’ sparkling mod pop of Going Out. Pulp’s third top 10 single of ’95 was the true life vignette Disco 2000; a track that aired at many millennium parties four years on.
There’s a seamless transition to more mainstream fare with Cher’s catchy One By One. It was written by Anthony Griffiths of The Real People; Liverpool, under the radar baggy and a t-shirt in Brookside. Johnny Logan covered it too. Get the tissues out for Meat Loaf’s heartbreaking Not A Dry Eye In The House. Enya’s mysterious and memorable Anywhere Is had already appeared on Hits ’96 while I have written about the best one hit wonder of the decade in Now That’s What I Call Music 1995. That’s the The Connells and ’74-’75 which was being prepped for re-release in March ’96; strangely it did worse the second time. Give a big hand for Boyzone’s sincere cover of Father And Son. A Jason’s anthem.
The Britpop tunes are sequenced in clusters. The Universal dwarfs the rest of The Great Escape. Blur’s most grandiose moment to date. We really, really could have won etc. Next: Paul Weller’s super Sunday soundclash Out Of The Sinking. It was around this time that the NME turned on him with their pathetic Dadrock jibes. Another enjoyable album of the era’s is Cast’s groovy All Change. Sandstorm is the third 45 from it; a cracker. Fists in their air – it’s Mike And The Mechanics and the surprisingly great remix of All I Need Is A Miracle. Judgment is reserved on Status Quo covering The Beach Boys’ Fun Fun Fun with the latter on backing vocals. Elsewhere Terrorvision rock on with the Perseverance.
Lush’s third album Lovelife saw their 4AD ethereal style dropped to match the prevailing Britpop sound. Ladykillers is three minutes of fiery harmonies and driving guitars. Sadly drummer Chris Acland would take his life in October ’96. Ugh! Your ugly dreadlocks! The Levellers re-appear with the hackneyed Just The One. Much better are Radiohead who finally break the top 5 with the spine-tingling Street Spirit (Fade Out). Keep the circle around: Oasis appear again closing CD1 with Live Forever. A top 10 hit in summer 1994 which had sold consistently ever since and became one of nine Oasis singles in the UK chart on 25 February 1996. The detail: 01 – 30 – 64 – 70 – 71 – 74 – 75 – 77 – 79.
“Random blonde bio high density rhythm
Blonde boy blonde country blonde high density”
CD2 gets us into a soulful mood with the Lighthouse Family’s breezy Lifted. Easy listening for ocean drives. Eternal stay sassy on the fly funk of Good Thing while Etta James covers Willie Dixon’s I Just Want To Make Love To You and makes it her own. Famous for its inclusion on that Diet Coke advert. Simply Red keep it mellow on the drifting Never Never Love; another choice cut from Life. Stephanie Beacham and Billie Whitelaw in the video. The return of Gabrielle: a brassy sound to Give Me A Little More Time. This is followed by East 17’s steamy Thunder before the beats gradually get heavier on Luniz’s dope slammer I Got 5 On It. The samples include Club Nouveau – Why You Treat Me So Bad, Kool And The Gang – Jungle Boogie, Audio Two – Top Billin’. A staple of MTV Raps.
More zeds – Kaliphz and Prince Naseem drop some fighting wordplay with Walk Like A Champion. There’s boom boom rap from Shaggy and the oblique Grand Puba on Why You Treat Me So Bad. And the Tag meets Outlaw drum ‘n’ bass sounds of Baby D’s So Pure. Bangers abound for Gat Decor’s supremely wicked bassline on Passion. It’s quickly followed by Gusto’s filtered house deluxe Disco’s Revenge which is based on a sample of Harvey Mason’s Groovin’ You. Another old skool gem is Ken Doh’s pounding rush I Need A Lover Tonight while Ace Of Base unleash a harder sound on the euphoric Beautiful Life.
Get naked with Louise; her second solo 45, the upbeat In Walked Life. And in an inspired pairing-up, two of the era’s most evocative manic pop thrills. First is Dubstar’s melancholy yet sumptuous Not So Manic Now. Nothing at all to do with The Holy Bible. It’s followed by Saint Etienne’s fast-paced He’s On The Phone. To Dreadzone: motivated by “scanning the positive elements to feedback into a unique sound that reflects cultural diversity in the UK”. The hypnotic melodies of Little Britain turned up on Football League Extra. Late night memories. Goldbug build on the vibe with an inspired reworking of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love. A final memory: Technohead’s The Passion from UCD Bar. I Want To Be A Hippy is a frenzied in-joke, true to the late Lee Newman’s sense of humour.
“And we don’t know just where our bones will rest
To dust I guess”
Oasis – Don’t Look Back In Anger
Pulp – Disco 2000 (7″ Mix)
Dubstar – Not So Manic Now
Paul Weller – Out Of The Sinking
Gusto – Disco’s Revenge
Lest we forget
Dreadzone – Little Britain
Missing tracks and other thoughts
The best one since Now That’s What I Call Music 29. Enhance your pleasure by including some of the following. Note – The Millennium Edition for 1995 takes care of the first two:
Passengers – Miss Sarajevo. U2’s exploratory vision of Original Soundtracks.
The Mike Flowers Pops – Wonderwall. Nailing the easy listening revival.
Frank Black – Men In Black. Alien invasion.
Smashing Pumpkins – 1979. Infinite sadness.
The Beatles – Real Love. Why not mark the Anthology era?