“You will hear my heart and the circle will be complete”
Now That’s What I Call Music 37 was released on Bastille Day 1997. After three successive CD1, song 1 slots for the Spice Girls, the opening ceremony was awarded to Hanson and their summery MMMBop. Absolutely nothing to do with Crash Test Dummies; instead a harmonious slice of harmless fluff. Then it’s the turn of Eternal to team up with Bebe Winans on I Wanna Be The Only One before The Cardigans’s finely-tuned Lovefool. The latter was reborn after its use in Romeo and Juliet. Also reissued was No Doubt’s sparky meets dreamy Just A Girl. Now Ashley drops a trance banger into the mix; the new number from Sash! Ecuador which also features Rodriguez, presumably a footballer.
No Mercy toss in some Latino sounds with the flower power vibe of Peter Sarstedt on Where Do You Go, already picked up on New Hits 1997 along with Backstreet Boys’ Quit Playing Games (With My Heart). Meanwhile the Spice Girls’ Who Do You Think You Are had its first airing on Smash Hits Summer ’97 – along with George Michael’s sleek Star People, Damage’s Wonderful Tonight and R Kelly’s Space Jam ballad I Believe I Can Fly. Equally suitable for the dancefloor are Ultra Nate’s crossover Free and Rosie Gaines’ funky Closer Than Close. The divas of En Vogue are in fine form on Don’t Let Go (Love).
Mood: relaxed. Shola Ama’s wonderful cover of You Might Need Somebody. Jack it up! Coolio is back; this time with 40 Thevz on C U When U Get There and based on the melody of Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major. As featured in the film Nothing To Lose. Elsewhere we smoke out Warren G and Ron Isley while 911 bring us on The Journey. Continuing on the smooth path are Boyzone with their eighth successive smash, Isn’t It A Wonder. Just before we break for half-time, the beats get tougher on N-Tyce’s cover of Zhane’s Hey DJ. And teenage hip hop sensation Foxy Brown drops another bomb – I’ll Be – featuring Jay Z. Future legend: as nasty as they wanna be etc.
“Then you discover
What you thought was freedom is just greed”
CD2 is a different beast. After the gentle false start of Wet Wet Wet and If I Never See You Again, it’s mostly straight ahead indie, Britpop and rock. U2’s wonderful Staring At The Sun, remixed from Pop. The Verve’s wistful Bittersweet Symphony with its sympathetic massive strings. Urban Hymns spent a lot of time of my turntable. John Squire’s mob, The Seahorses get a top 3 hit with their debut single Love Is The Law while Ocean Colour Scene’s 100 Mile High City is the sound on the band on top form. Robbie Williams’ Old Before I Die is real anthemic stuff; a poptastic rush. Cast’s second wave; the underrated guitar gem Guiding Star. In good company, next is Macca’s bouncy Young Boy.
Radiohead’s OK Computer: one of the greatest albums of all time. The meandering and cryptic Paranoid Android was the lead single; four distinctive sections and no edits offered. It’s preceded by Sheryl Crow’s A Change Would Do You Good, an effective Beck pastiche. And followed by Texas’ continued renaissance, the driving Halo. Supergrass launch another mod rocket, the sharp shock of Sun Hits The Sky. Next: James – Waltzing Along, “all roads lead to death row”. And Blur successful reinvention continues as On Your Own makes it three hits in ’97, a melting pot of styles and a template for Gorillaz.
I can’t warm to Scooby Snacks and its censored Pulp Fiction samples. Possibly the most conservative music I’ve ever heard. The Orbital’s version of The Saint theme is much more like it; creepy, innovative and loaded with strings. Brainbug’s Nightmare is in good company. Move over for The Course’s spanking version of Ready Or Not. Next comes the cavalry: Todd Terry hitchin’ a ride with disco divas Martha Wash and Jocelyn Brown on the haunting Something Goin’ On. Goodbye: Diddy’s storming club classic Give Me Love.
“And as sure as my words are pure
I praise the day that brings you pain”
Blur – On Your Own
U2 – Staring At The Sun
The Verve – Bittersweet Symphony
Supergrass – Sun Hits The Sky
Orbital – The Saint
Lest we forget
Cast – Guiding Star
Missing tracks and other thoughts
A very decent entry in the series. CD1 is consistent and smooth but the key tunes come on disc 2. Here’s a quartet of busy numbers that also were flavour of the season:
Suede – Lazy. Coming Up milked to the max.
Daft Punk – Around The World. Love where they say “around the world”.
Pet Shop Boys – Somewhere. One for the trouser enthusiasts.
Massive Attack – Rising Son. Clear vinyl 12″ released just before release date. Hot tip.
Promotional poster courtesy of the Now That’s What I Call Music Collectors Group UK. Note the reference to a vinyl edition which doesn’t exist.
The best Now of ’97. Subjective, of course.
Eternal with their best-known number.
Baz Luhrmann’s vision of a post-modern Romeo & Juliet shot Leonardo di Caprio to international stardom (a status cemented by Titanic) – and also the Cardigans to #2 in the UK charts for the first time with Lovefool. They would have a spell of relative mainstream success for the rest of the decade (and millennium!). Probably Sweden’s second-most internationally successful pop band after ABBA?
Eurodance á la Florida Latino with No Mercy:
Ultra Naté, an acid house vocalist who had been bubbling under the mainstream for the best part of a decade, also struck gold that summer with Free:
Also “around for quite a while”, and finally cracking it that years was Rosie Gaines with Closer than Close:
Shola Ama also takes a cover version further than the original with Randy Crawford’s You Might Need Somebody. (Shola #4; Randy #11 in ’81)
R. Kelly also hits another career highpoint with I Believe I Can Fly: from Space Jam, where the Looney Tunes characters meet Michael Jordan.
One of Sir Paul’s better latter-day songs, Young Boy was.
And Todd Terry gets together with Martha Wash and Jocelyn Brown and make the big time a second time round with Something Goin’ On.:
Nice selections Cosmo; definitely stronger than Now 36. Met Rosie Gaines in a Cork pub, July 1990. A few hours before the Prince gig. Nude tour.
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Could “Blackbird On The Wire” by Beautiful South have fitted in on this album? I seem to recall it came out around April 1997 but am not aware of it being compiled anywhere so presumably it didn’t chart that high?
It could have fitted in Martin. Reached #23.
Thanks for clarifying this. Always had a bit of a soft spot for that track so would have liked to have seen it included.
Would have liked to have seen “Somewhere” by The Pet Shop Boys included. Nearly 20 years later and I included it on a self-made mix album (sits alongside “A Little Loving” by The Foremost). Heard the track for the first time in late March 2017, a couple of days after Theresa May triggered the Article 50 process to exit the EU and everything felt strange and uncertain. Fell in love with that track after hearing it that week.
The promotional poster making reference to a vinyl release makes me laugh but I’m guessing any vinyl fans must have been left disappointed when it only came out on CD and Cassette. Got a feeling Now 64 was advertised as being available on cassette but subsequently wasn’t. Or was but only in very limited numbers.
Somewhere would have been perfect – great choice.
Not sure there were many Now vinyl fans at that point – the sales were miniscule at that point. Most chart club DJs had moved to CD by that point – you couldn’t work with the Nows as the grooves were too tight and the sound very poor.
Hi Paul, I never really got into this Now for some reason. One point, bar some needless editing, Diddy’s ‘Give Me Love’ appears to be an earlier or original edit. I remember buying the single when it was released and it was quite a decent piano based track with vocals. This seems to be the edit from 1993/94, somewhat disappointingly. In fact, I don’t recall the 97 version ever being compiled.
Thanks Andrew – didn’t realise this was the earlier version. Wonder why it was used….