Now That’s What I Call Music 42 (EMI / Virgin / Polygram, 1999)

Now 42

Now 42 r

Review
Now That’s What I Call Music 42 was released at the end of March 1999. It contained a total of 40 tracks. 10 of these have already been discussed on the following compilations:
Big Hits ’98: The Corrs – What Can I Do.
Hits ’99: Cher – Believe, All Saints – War Of Nerves.
The 1999 Brit Awards: Fatboy Slim – Praise You.
New Hits ’99: Steps – Better Best Forgotten, Mr Oizo – Flat Beat, Blockster – You Should Be, Ace Of Base – Always Have, Always Will, Divine Comedy – National Express, Stereophonics – Just Looking.

Billy Ocean’s exuberant When The Going Gets Tough (The Tough Get Going) made its mark on The Jewel Of The Nile soundtrack while blasting its way to the top of the UK charts during February 1986. 13 years pass and Boyzone decide to cover it for the Comic Relief teleton. The Tough Get Going brackets piece gets dropped – never a good sign – and it’s a pretty rubbish version. The music video cast of shame: Graham Norton, Jo Brand, Phill Jupitus, Mel Smith, Davina McCall, Harry Hill, Steve Collins, John McCririck, Jimmy White, Mystic Meg, Will Mellor, James Dreyfus, the cast of Emmerdale, Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish, and Ulrika Jonsson and Saracen from Gladiators.

Here I go again: Mamma Mia the musical was due and the latest ABBA revival was in full swing. At the recent Brit Awards, Steps, Tina Cousins, Cleopatra, B*Witched and Billie Piper got together and performed a medley consisting of Take A Chance On Me, Dancing Queen, Mamma Mia and Thank You For The Music. You can live without it. Meanwhile the Spice Girls picked up their eighth #1 with the stunning ballad Goodbye. We get the 4:20 Radio Edit. No Geri Halliwell. There’s an air of finality about the promo video with its castle scene and frozen couples. Honeyz pick up the baton with the stunning End Of The Line while Billie Piper buzzes up a sticky ‘n’ sultry groove on Honey To The Bee.

At the same time the affecting Big, Big World was going massive, Emilia was studying Economic History. Bach to good vibes: Tina Cousins’ bangin’ Killin’ Time ’99 followed by Vengaboys and the introspective We Like To Party. Still in division 3, an abysmal cover of Witch Doctor from Dane pranksters Cartoons before a glimmer of light – A+ with Enjoy Yourself. Sample: Walter Murphy’s A Fifth of Beethoven (1976). Another – Deetah’s taut El Paradiso Rico and elements of La Isla Bonita. Bad cover versions continue on Emmie’s More Than This while DJ Sakin’s Braveheart trance and Fool Boona’s formulaic Popped (Iggy can’t save it) are pure muck. There’s a brief respite on the competent Colour The World from Sash! before CD1 ends with Justin’s cloying Over You. Teenage dreams etc.

Another Now album, another Robbie Williams tune. He scooped up Brits for Best Video (Millennium), Best Song (Angels) and Best Male Solo Artist. Strong is average stuff, another smash from I’ve Been Expecting You. Move over: Fly Away saw Lenny Kravitz reach #1, an agreeable concoction of funk rock. Exploding the joint – Armand Van Helden’s filtered house You Don’t Know Me. Great strings! Next The Cardigans’ motorik Erase / Rewind. And the beat goes on: Tony Christie joins the All Seeing I for the tawdry Walk Like A Panther. Shades of Jason King: Terrorvision’s beaty makeover by Mint Royale – Tequila – before The Beautiful South lift us out of the mire on the gorgeous How Long’s A Tear Take To Dry? “The flowers smell sweeter the closer you are to the grave.”

Roxette returned after a four year absence with the stirring ballad Wish I Could Fly; 911 serve up an execrable cover of Dr Hook’s A Little Bit More while the soppy These Are The Times (Dru Hill) and My Love (Kele Roc) run out of steam very fast. Thankfully the closing triple play sees a form of redemption. First is Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s Inkanyezi Nezani (The Star And The Wise Man), a track famous from a Heinz Ketchup advert. Which nicely sets the scene for Blur’s Tender (full version from 13), a spellbinding classic which has backing vocals from London Community Gospel Choir. Finally there’s a lovely gesture by Ashley Abram – as a tribute to the late, great diva Dusty Springfield (who died 2 March 1999), we sign off with the timeless You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me. Amazing.

“Come on, come on, come on
Love’s the greatest thing”

Favourite tracks
Spice Girls – Goodbye

The Beautiful South – How Long’s A Tear Take To Dry?

Armand Van Helden featuring Duane Harden – You Don’t Know Me

Stereophonics – Just Looking

Blur – Tender

Lest we forget
Dusty Springfield – You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me

Missing tracks and other thoughts
The booklet contains an advert for the upcoming Millennium Series – “Coming to a shop near you Spring 1999”. It displays the front covers of 16 volumes spanning 1980 – 1995. It’s a welcome distraction given that Now 42 is probably the weakest volume of the entire series to date. In particular, two thirds of CD1 are sub-par which is somewhat reflective of the charts at the time. The second half is an improvement but it’s still well off the usual standard. Here are some suggested improvements:

Aqua – Good Morning Sunshine. You can’t go wrong with a bit of Hair.
Gay Dad – To Earth With Love. Glam rock meets indie. Severely undervalued.
Duran Duran – Electric Barbarella. The Medazzaland era and robot sex dolls.
Mansun – Six. Touched by the hand of Arthur Baker.
Aphex Twin – Windowlicker. Smooth yet erratic. To surf on sine waves.

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9 Responses to Now That’s What I Call Music 42 (EMI / Virgin / Polygram, 1999)

  1. andynoax says:

    I’m not as down on this one as you are, and actually disagree with you on a fair few (which is unusual!)

    For example, I quite liked Emmie’s cover of More Than This. And absolutely detested that Emilia song – drippy nonsense like the endless awful covers of 80s songs you hear on ads these days. Also the All Seeing I track is one that I’ve always enjoyed.

    Spot on with most of the rest though, and I especially love the A+ track, an unusually rare example of good R&B from this period. Even at the time I was amazed at the Dusty tribute, not that it’s unwelcome of course.

    Oh, and I could be wrong but a small correction – I think it was Heinz Beans rather than Ketchup that was being advertised.

  2. nlgbbbblth says:

    Hi Andy – no worries 🙂 great to hear another perspective. The Emmie track isn’t the worst of the covers – just a little disappointing (one of my friends was bigging it up at the time). You’re right re Ladysmith – it’s beans!

  3. Feel the Quality says:

    Ever noticed how Strong rips off All Around the World by Oasis? Play Strong and when the chorus begins, start singing the chorus to All Around the World. It’s uncanny.

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