Now That’s What I Call Music 1982: The Millennium Series (EMI / Virgin / Universal, 1999)

Now Millennium 1982

Now Millennium 1982 r

Review
“I rang Pandora, she is coming round after her viola lesson. Love is the only thing that keeps me sane. . .” (Adrian Mole, Saturday 3 April 1982)

I remember that day so well. I wasn’t sniffing solvents nor did a model aeroplane get stuck to my nose. The FA Cup semi finals were on and I was glued to BBC Radio 2. Tottenham Hotspur (“the arch enemy”) reached the final for the second successive season with a 2–0 semi-final win at Villa Park over surprise contestants Leicester City, while second division Queens Park Rangers overcome West Bromwich Albion 1-0 at Highbury to reach the final for the first time in their history. Tottenham’s victory was marred by Leicester fans booing Argentine midfielder Ossie Ardiles amid hostility over the Falklands War.

I’ve already discussed 23 of these tracks on the following compilations:
Action Trax: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Maid Of Orleans, XTC – Senses Working Overtime.
Chart Busters ’82: Toni Basil – Mickey.
Overload: Simple Minds – Promised You A Miracle, Yazoo – Only You, Roxy Music – More Than This.
Turbo Trax: Madness – House Of Fun.
Breakout: Hot Chocolate – It Started With A Kiss, Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger.
Chart Attack: Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five – The Message.
Chart Hits ’82: Eddy Grant – I Don’t Wanna Dance, Bananarama with The Fun Boy Three – Really Saying Something, Trio – Da Da Da.
Chart Wars: Wham! – Young Guns (Go For It), Talk Talk – Talk Talk.
Raiders Of The Pop Charts: Culture Club – Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?, Robert Palmer – Some Guys Have All The Luck, Kid Creole and The Coconuts – Annie (I’m Not Your Daddy).
Hotline: Phil Collins – You Can’t Hurry Love (also on Now That’s What I Call Music).
Now That’s What I Call Music – Smash Hits: Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Come On Eileen, ABC – The Look Of Love (Part 1), Duran Duran – Save A Prayer.
The 80s – The Album Of The Decade: Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder – Ebony & Ivory

Come On Eileen: The Millennium Series 1982, like so many other CD compilations, omits the fiddle introduction and coda but uses the unedited main section and runs for 4:06. The worldwide 12″ and UK and US 7″ singles featured the fiddle intro and the unedited main section. The track – the most well-known of Dexy’s output – undergoes numerous tempo and key changes throughout. Its music video was filmed in the inner south London suburb of Kennington in the vicinity of the corner of Brook Drive and Hayles Street. The character of Eileen in the music video, as well as on the single cover, is played by Máire Fahey, sister of Siobhan. Despite its wedding disco vibe, Come On Eileen never fails to get me out.

You will note that Duran Duran’s Save A Prayer is the US single edit of 3:45. I am pleased to report that this edition of the Millennium Series has a much better hit rate of correct single versions than the previous two which were plagued with album cuts. Primary offenders are Eddy Grant – I Don’t Wanna Dance, Toni Basil – Mickey. The former’s 45 version runs for about 22 seconds shorter than the LP and seems to be uncompiled on CD. However there’s no excuse for Mickey – but thankfully it is relatively common elsewhere. There’s also an error on disc 2 with the CD playing tracks out of order. Sleeve vs reality:
08 Junior = 12
09 Kool and The Gang = 08
10 Rockers Revenge = 09
11 Grandmaster Flash = 10
12 Hot Chocolate = 11

This time around, Human League are followed by Soft Cell. The standalone single, Mirror Man – “another start, a brand new day” was written after the League completed the Dare world tour. It plays like a celebration of Motown with plenty of “oohs” and “ahhs”. The basic premise of the video: Oakey is a ghost of a performer who has died and now inhabits the theatre where he reveals himself to the band who have come to rehearse. Meanwhile Soft Cell were busy with that most 80s of creations, a remix album. Non Stop Ecstatic Dancing contained remixes of the group’s older material along with one brand new track, a cover of Judy Street’s What? A total cracker, northern soul glam romantic stomp.

Originally intended as a B-Side, Tears For Fears’ Mad World became their third single. The song was influenced by the theories of Arthur Janov, author of The Primal Scream, and the lyric “the dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had” suggests that dreams of intense experiences such as death will be the best at releasing tension. The flip was Ideas As Opiates. The 12″ had an alternative version titled Saxophones as Opiates. 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds. Attack of another killer B – Kraftwerk with The Model: originally recorded 1978 on The Man Machine LP and released on the other side of 1981’s Computer Love” but DJs kept spinning The Model. A re-issue followed and it reached the summit in February 1982. The band – opposed – were not amused.

I was too young to appreciate Layla in 1982. The song, written by Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon, was released by Derek and the Dominos, as the 13th track from the Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs (1970). Its famously contrasting parts were composed separately by Clapton and Gordon. A blues rock movement + a piano coda = perfection. Upon reissue in 1982, it reached #4 on the UK chart. Fast forward to 1990 and the piano exit soundtracked a pivotal scene in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. That’s when I first experienced its power – in a packed Regina cinema, Waterford. The following autumn saw the VHS release – and interminably long queues to rent it from the local video libraries.

The Stranglers’ Golden Brown spent two weeks at #2 – behind The Jam’s Town Called Malice. Hugh Cornwell says “Golden Brown works on two levels. It’s about heroin and also about a girl. Essentially the lyrics describe how both provided me with pleasurable times.” The Pyramids feature in the video. Straight in at #1, Town Called Malice – an ode to Weller’s teenage years in Woking – was the first in a line of last lap 45s for The Jam. Then there’s the great lost U2 single, A Celebration. In 1999, its inclusion was quite a coup and the first appearance on CD anywhere. The Best Of 1980 – 1990 had ignored it and other key 45s like Another Day and 11 O’Clock Tick Tock. The B-side, Trash, Trampoline And The Party Girl was just as good and became a regular during the War tour of 1983.

As One was the 14th album by veteran funksters Kool and The Gang. Ooh La, La, La (Let’s Go Dancin’) is a reggae-tinged joy and – like Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Roxy Music, Madness – their third successive appearance on the Millennium Series. Next in line, Rockers Revenge, a studio musical project which was assembled by producer Arthur Baker. Walking On Sunshine was written by Eddy Grant (appearing on his 1978 LP of the same name) and featured Donnie Calvin on vocals. It’s a wonderful mix of upfront funk and synths – altogether a super groove. And then – four songs later than expected – the Junior track comes on: a fine slice of British R&B and a truly joyful jam. In 1984, Junior recorded some songs with Phil Lynott.

Freeze Frame: time for The J Geils Band and Centrefold. It’s about a man who is shocked to discover that his high school crush appeared in a centerfold spread for an unspecified men’s magazine. He’s torn between disappointment and lust. “His blood has run cold.”
On with the show (people) and the grand finale from Mari Wilson. On The Compact Organisation, a memory from The Embassy Club, Bond Street, London: Just What I Always Wanted is stupendous, impossibly catchy and performed with aplomb. Listen to the voice and the natural expression Mari gives to each line. Upbeat, stylish, simply the best. Plus she also appeared in Soft Cell’s video for What? “Mind your bee-hives, girls”

“This famous linguist once said that of all the phrases in the English language, of all the endless combinations of words in all of history, that “cellar door” is the most beautiful.”

Favourite tracks
Tears For Fears – Mad World

Human League – Mirror Man

Soft Cell – What?

Mari Wilson – Just What I Always Wanted

Lest we forget
U2 – A Celebration

Missing tracks and other thoughts
The third volume in Now That’s What I Call Music’s Millennium series is probably the strongest of the entire run. It’s a perfect mix of established chart classics, intense synth pop, a thoughtful rock selection, some ageless new romantic numbers, quality post-punk, thrilling new wave, endlessly groovy funk and R&B plus some choice show-stoppers for the last lap. While retrospective compilations are frequently accused of cherrypicking, this look back at 1982 is top notch and really hits almost all the nostalgia pressure points.

21 songs hit #1 on the UK chart in 1982 with eight of them appearing on this compilation. I’d like to have seen Irene Cara’s frantic Fame and Musical Youth’s endearing Pass The Dutchie along with a tune by Haircut 100. Bucks Fizz wouldn’t go amiss either – take your pick between The Land Of Make Believe or My Camera Never Lies. And fact fans: there’s one track here that also appears on Now’s 10th Anniversary Series – Phil Collins’ You Can’t Hurry Love which turns up on Now That’s What I Call Music 1983. So kudos to Ashley Abram for letting us have the glorious Mari Wilson banger plus U2’s A Celebration with its corking guitar riff and molten drums. I’ll let Bono have the last word – the following text is taken from a 1983 radio interview.

Interviewer: “Do you not like it?”

Bono: “No I do like it actually, I’m… sometimes I hate it, I mean it’s like with a lot of music, if I hear it in a club it really excites me, and I think it is a forerunner to War and a lot of the themes. It was great in Europe because… A song like Seconds people thought was very serious – on the LP War, Seconds – it’s anti-nuclear, it’s a statement. They didn’t see the sense of humour to it, it’s sort of black humour, where we were using a lot of clichés; y’know it takes a second to say goodbye, blah blah, and some people took it very seriously. And it is black humour, and it is to be taken sort-of seriously, but this song had the lines in it, I believe in a third world war, I believe in the atomic bomb, I believe in the powers that be, but they won’t overpower me. And of course a lot of people they heard I believe in a third world war, I believe in the atomic bomb, and they thought it was some sort of, y’know, Hitler Part II. And Europeans especially were (puts on outraged French accent) Ah non! Vive le France! and it was all like, all sorts of chaos broke out, and they said, What do you mean, you believe in the atomic bomb? And I was trying to say in the song, I believe in the third world war, because people talk about the third world war but it’s already happened, I mean it’s happened in the third world, that’s obvious. But I was saying these are facts of life, I believe in them, I believe in the powers that be BUT, they won’t overpower me. And that’s the point, but a lot of people didn’t reach the fourth line.”

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11 Responses to Now That’s What I Call Music 1982: The Millennium Series (EMI / Virgin / Universal, 1999)

  1. Feel the Quality says:

    Agree with you on this one being the best in the series. There’s just such a variety of tracks on display here and it rivals the early 10th anniversary editions for consistent song quality. I also like that they pulled the same trick as they did with the 10th Anniversary by sticking Beat Surrender on the 83 editions when even though it was still in the chart then, it is very much a 1982 single. Regardless, another Jam song is never a bad thing and it frees up a slot here.

    The track listing error is such a rarity. There were very few errors on any Now Albums ever, be it the blurb inside, the chart Information, probably even the catalogue numbers were accurate. It does smack of a bit of a rush job but considering the consistency of the music, it’s forgiven.

    The only missing thing (you covered Bucks Fizz and Irene Cara) would be Shaky again. He was probably the most consistently charting male singles artist of the first half of the 80s, yet he doesn’t appear on any of these. Maybe I could make an argument for one of the Tight Fit songs but it’s not essential by any means (or good for that matter).

    I had struggled for many years to find a compilation that includes the opening fiddle from Come On Eileen. Even on iTunes, it proved elusive. Luckily, The Perks of Being a Wallflower soundtrack finally completed my long search for a few seconds on the beginning of a track I have God knows how many times. I can at least justify buying that album by it having a truly brilliant track list (if you haven’t already, check it out, it’s IMO one of the best soundtracks of recent times).

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Good morning!
      It’s a good tactic re moving tracks between years. Also works out well for Relax and I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me for the 1983 edition which frees up space for Two Tribes and Wouldn’t It Be Good on 1984.

      Oh Julie would work well either side of Come On Eileen. The fiddle intro is on A Kick Up The Eighties Volume 2 – another excellent series although they included the same Big Country track across two volumes – a bit like Blur’s The Universal on the Millennium 1995 and 1996 editions.

      Thanks for the tip on The Perks Of Being A Wallflower – just checked out the tracklist – looks great.

  2. andynoax says:

    This one is indeed a very good collection. Definite plus points for including Soft Cell (an unfairly forgotten single by them) and Mari Wilson and although I’d gladly never hear either again, big hitters like Dexy’s and Survivor are here too. I absolutely hate the edit of ‘Save A Prayer’ though – tracks that good deserve to be heard in their proper versions (mind you, Duran’s own ‘Greatest’ collection pulled the same trick!)

    The only track I’d lose – and I know you won’t agree with me here! – is the U2 one. Not a big enough song to warrant its inclusion and a Fizz track should definitely have taken its place.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      The U2 track reached #47, eight places better than Gloria. I wonder the compilers know how much of a rarity it was then? While you can’t expect a compilation to be stuffed with lost tracks and non-hits, it’s good to have a mix of heavy hitters and the forgotten.

      Didn’t know that Duran’s Greatest has the same mix of Save A Prayer. Decade had the Rio version.

  3. cosmo says:

    Yes, this is the best in the Millennium series – but then again, we’re talking about one of the “perfect pop” years!
    CD 1 plays as a reliable snap-shot of the biggest numbers of the year, with more eclectic choices on CD1. That said, CD 1 features The Model by Kraftwerk – which is probably another “non-compilations” act. And it fits like a glove among the other synth-pop tracks on this album.

    And CD 2 features Some Guys Have All the Luck by Robert Palmer – covered and improved in chart position by Rod Stewart two years later.

    But, yeah, I really can’t emphasise much on this album. It really is *that* wonderful. (I played my first copy so much I wore it out – and had to buy a second!)

  4. Martin Davis says:

    I do think “You can’t hurry love” should have been on Now 1983 given its place in “Now History” as the first track on the first volume.

  5. Pingback: All By Myself Volume 2 (Dover, 1991) | A Pop Fan's Dream

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