Now That’s What I Call Music 1984: The Millennium Series (EMI / Virgin / Universal, 1999)

Now Millennium 1984

Now Millennium 1984 r

Review
The Top Of The Pops repeats are now up as far as November 1984. Despite the skipped episodes, there’s enough evidence that it was one of the finest years ever for pop music – up there with 1983. A few weeks ago, I posted a message on Facebook that stated:
“I can’t wait to finally see the four Top Of The Pops from June 1984. I was in Irish college at the time so missed them.
The all-important check on presenters
7 June – David Jensen, John Peel
14 June – Mike Read, Peter Powell
21 June – Simon Bates, Gary Davies
28 June – Steve Wright, Andy Peebles.”

As it happens, Gary Glitter’s Dance Me Up caused the 21 June edition to be dropped off the schedule. Why the BBC couldn’t just cut it out, I don’t know.

The vast majority of these songs have already been discussed in the following reviews:
Now That’s What I Call Music: Culture Club – Victims, Simple Minds – Waterfront.
Now That’s What I Call Music II: Madness – Michael Caine, Nik Kershaw – Wouldn’t It Be Good.
Hungry For Hits: The Special AKA – Nelson Mandela (also on Now 3).
Now That’s What I Call Music 3: Queen – I Want To Break Free, Duran Duran – The Reflex, Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Two Tribes, The Bluebells – Young At Heart, Tina Turner – What’s Love Got To Do With It, Style Council – You’re The Best Thing, Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel – White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It), Phil Collins – Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now), Ultravox – Dancing With Tears In My Eyes, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Locomotion, Bronski Beat – Small Town Boy, Bananarama – Robert De Niro’s Waiting.
The Hits Album: Billy Ocean – Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run).
Now That’s What I Call Music 4: U2 – Pride (In The Name Of Love), Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder – Together In Electric Dreams, Eurythmics – Sex Crime (Nineteen Eighty-Four), Paul McCartney – No More Lonely Nights, Julian Lennon – Too Late For Goodbyes, John Waite – Missing You, Elton John – Passengers.
The Hits Album 2: Dazz Band – Let It All Blow, Jim Diamond – I Should Have Known Better.
Out Now!! 2: Billy Idol – Rebel Yell.
Now That’s What I Call Music 1984: Depeche Mode – Master And Servant, Scritti Politti – Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin), Tears For Fears – Shout, Kool and The Gang – Joanna.

My first trip abroad was a school tour to London. We got the ferry from Rosslare Harbour to Fishguard on 30 May 1984. The European Cup Final was on; Liverpool beat Roma on penalties after a 1-1 draw. We all watched it as the ship crossed the calm seas. In west end shopping centre, I remember seeing large adverts for Spandau Ballet’s Parade which was a new release that week. I’ll Fly For You was the second single released, cracking the charts in August and a family holiday memory as I frantically persuaded my parents to find a pub or hotel with a television so that I wouldn’t miss Top Of The Pops. A gorgeous saxophone with perfect instrumentation and a cracking beat. It’s easily my favourite album of theirs with Only When You Leave, Highly Strung and Round & Round being equally fine 45s. The devastating With The Pride with its amazing vocal is the absolute highlight.

“There are going to be several street dancing movies this summer and Breakin’ is the first one, sweet and high-spirited and with three dancers who are so good they deserve a better screenplay. This is really two movies: A stiff and awkward story, interrupted by dance sequences of astonishing grace and power.
The story, alas, is predictable from beginning to end. We meet Kelly, a young Los Angeles dancer (Lucinda Dickey) who is the student of a hateful choreographer. Through a friend she meets a couple of break-dancers on the boardwalk at Venice. They have a concept of dancing that’s totally different from hers; while she polishes technique, they turn up the volume on their ghetto blasters and lose themselves in the joy of street dancing. She likes them, dances with them, and they form a team.”

(Roger Ebert, May 1984)

Breakin’ or Breakdance The Movie really hit the spot during the summer of 1984. The flimsy plot didn’t deter from the magical power of the dance moves. Some called it “the longest Nike ad of all time.” Ollie E Brown was a percussionist from Detroit who had performed on Raydio’s debut LP in 1978. This led to a partnership with Raydio bassist Jerry Knight, who was also a prolific session musician. Together they formed a duo, Ollie & Jerry, and released the euphoric Breakin’…There’s No Stopping Us which was the opening track on the film’s soundtrack LP. A magic slice of body popping excellence. This west coast film didn’t quite carry the same authenticity as the more credible east coast hip hop vibe of Beat Street but the tunes were more fun. We get the longer soundtrack album cut rather than the 7″ edit. See the fantastic High Life International if you want the latter.

Tracey Ullman’s Move Over Darling pre-dates her two 1984 hits, My Guy and Sunglasses. It entered the charts on 3 December 1983 and as Doris Day covers go, is pretty magical. The video is a blast – as outlined by John Firefly: “The actor (resembling Eric Idle) is fantastic – I love his sneering grin ‘cos he thinks he’s gonna get his oats later! Tracey’s expression when she does the splits is a joy to behold as is her knowing glance downwards when she sings Make Love To Me then hides her face in her frilly dress! I roared with laughter when Tracey desperately clung to the mirror ball and the final “choo-choo cha-cha” into the train engine was superbly choreographed. Just a brilliant video and I had no idea Hank Marvin played the intro, although I should have guessed!”

David Bowie’s Pin-Ups and Bryan Ferry’s These Foolish Things: two albums of covers that have enjoyed a fairly decent reputation over the years. For their fourth LP, UB40 went down the same route, choosing 10 of their favourites that originally emerged between 1969 and 1972. Reaction was mixed but as the years went by, Labour Of Love was seen as the moment that the band jumped the shark and became dreadfully unhip. While the band cited a lack of original material and pressure to follow up 1982’s UB44, they subsequently made no secret of their desire for commercial success. Cherry Oh Baby was the third single from the LP and is a slow burner, taking many months before it got under my skin. The video was lifted from the accompanying 30 minute Labour Of Love film which followed a fictional version of the lives of the band members, their relationships with family and girlfriends, and their jobs in a junkyard. All roles played by the band and their mates.

Purchases from London included not one but two books about calculators, a pack of tarot cards, TSR’s Dungeon adventure board game, singles by Duran Duran (The Reflex), Pointer Sisters (Automatic) and Deniece Williams (Let’s Hear It For The Boy). But most cherished of all was The Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever 7″ from Virgin, Oxford Street.

rsz_london_1984_-_1

Favourite tracks
Spandau Ballet – I’ll Fly For You

Madness – Michael Caine

UB40 – Cherry Oh Baby

Tracey Ullman – Move Over Darling

Lest we forget
Ollie & Jerry – Breakin’…There’s No Stopping Us

Missing tracks and other thoughts
The Millennium Series 1984 maintains the high standard set so far. It starts with an act who loved being in the side 1, track 1 position – Queen. I Want To Break Free’s 40 second introduction works perfectly as an entree. There’s a curveball thrown early on with Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell, a track which peaked at #62 in March 1984 before making the top 10 some 18 months later i.e always associated with 1985 for me. There’s a nice downbeat section later on with No More Lonely Nights and You’re The Best Thing. It’s the regular ballad of the Give My Regards To Broad Street number that’s here. Back in 1984 we had to settle for the Special Dance Edit as Macca’s management wouldn’t license anything else. Elsewhere it’s still the crappy 3:11 edit of White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It) – I remember my 7″ being almost a minute longer – while Waterfront has no sticks intro. And in a very sloppy move, the track titles for CD2 are in capitals while CD1’s are lower case.

There are 23 overlapping tracks between the Millennium and 10th Anniversary sets – Madness, Queen, Duran Duran, Special AKA, The Bluebells, Tina Turner, Style Council, Grandmaster and Melle Mel, Phil Collins, Ultravox, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Bronski Beat, U2, Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder, Paul McCartney, Julian Lennon, John Waite, Billy Ocean, Jim Diamond, Depeche Mode, Scritti Politti, Tears For Fears, Kool and The Gang. There was three Now albums released in 1984 and 23 of their tracks (including Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time, which first emerged on Hungry For Hits) are featured on this Millennium entry. Elsewhere Culture Club’s Victims and Simple Minds’ Waterfront had first been compiled on Now That’s What I Call Music.

14 songs reached the top of the UK charts during 1984. Just three feature here; I Should Have Known Better and The Reflex were also on the equivalent 10th Anniversary album. Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Two Tribes is the other #1. On this occasion, Ashley Abram has used the Cowboys and Indians 7″ version. You’ll recall that Now 3 included the We Don’t Want To Die 7″ picture disc mix. The former is a pop / radio-orientated production that dispenses with a section of the song’s middle eight altogether. The absence of any Wham / George Michael track is keenly felt. 99 Red Balloons is another that would have fitted in well – perhaps before Two Tribes. And maybe afterwards, Blancmange’s compelling Don’t Tell Me. Hearing it half-asleep on the ferry will always stay with me. Other omissions – the Thompson Twins (again!), Neil’s Hole In My Shoe, Howard Jones’ Hide And Seek and something from The Smiths – ideally William, It Was Really Nothing.

“Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about”

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9 Responses to Now That’s What I Call Music 1984: The Millennium Series (EMI / Virgin / Universal, 1999)

  1. cosmo says:

    This is also very good, but I actually prefer the Anniversary version, since it featured many other numbers that wouldn’t have gone amiss here: Wham!/George Michael (BIG omission(s)), Echo & The Bunnymen, The Smiths, Chaka Khan, Miami Sound Machine etc. That said, this does feature the rare “Passengers” by Elton John (1984 was also the semi-official Apartheid Awareness Year, aside from being also the semi-official Year of Nuclear War.)

    I agree that White Lines edit is very odd. And if it was me, I would swap Eyes Without a Face for Rebel Yell, Master & Servant for People are People, Shout to the Top for You’re the Best Thing, and Only When You Leave for I’ll Fly for You. And, at a push, add Down in the Street by Shakatak – one of that year’s main “lost nuggets”.

  2. Feel the Quality says:

    Back again with more missing songs! Although as 1984 I saw my favourite year for pop, obviously I’d need about three compilations to fit them all in…
    That’s Living Alright (ok, I’m biased as it’s the closing theme to my favourite TV show ever but it was a big hit and received a lot of airplay. Break my Stride would’ve fit in nicely too, next to Joe Fagin in the “middle-aged men with beards” section.
    Nellie the Elephant was a huge youth club favourite and maybe if Christmas 84 wasn’t one of the biggest selling periods of Singles in the UK, it would’ve been a #1 hit. Ah, memories of dancing around like a loon when the chorus kicked in.
    I actually forgot Eurythmics were on this series. If this is their only appearance (I might be wrong there though) why the god-awful Sexcrime? I know Here Comes the Rain Again already appeared on the 10th Anniversary edition but it’s so, so much better than the track on offer here.
    More big hits that could have been included.. Never Ending Story, Islands in the Stream, anything by Howard Jones and either of Cyndi Lauper’s two big hits (preferably Time after Time as it’s a stunning song). Then maybe a few more less mainstream bands: Fiction Factory, Big Country, China Crisis, Echo and The Bunnymen.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Hi there Feel The Quality. I’d certainly welcome that pair of Now II beardies on board. AWP is such a great show, loved re-living it on DVD a few years back.
      I’m a big fan of Eurythmics 1984 soundtrack so am glad Sexcrime is there. Definitely Never Ending Story though and maybe Big Country’s Wonderland plus China Crisis’ Wishful Thinking.

  3. andynoax says:

    You’re dead right about me being happy that Shakatak don’t feature here!

    1984 is not one of my favourite years for music (in fact it’s probably the 2nd weakest of the 80s I reckon) and this compo doesn’t do an entirely brilliant job of selecting the good stuff – many of the omissions mentioned above are very good calls.

    Stuff that shouldn’t be here then: Eurythmics (crap), The Dazz Band (hardly an 84 essential), OMD (I have an irrational hatred for the song they’ve chosen), Ollie & Jerry (Break Machine would’ve been a better representative), UB40 (CRAP!)

    Nice to have: Elton John (he must really hate this song, it’s only been on one of his hits collections!), Macca again, Phil Collins (soundtrack songs don’t always get compiled), Spandau Ballet (because it’s the best thing they ever did) & Jim Diamond (not sure if it gets compiled much, though possibly it did more often back then)

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Cheers Andy,
      Agree that Dazz Band and OMD are superfluous. Although I’d love if they went for Talking Loud And Clear or even better – Never Turn Away. Yes, Elton seems to have an aversion to Passengers. Not on the big To Be Continued box either so good to see it on this.

  4. Pingback: Hot Summer Nights (Stylus Music, 1989) | A Pop Fan's Dream

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