Now That’s What I Call Music 1989: The Millennium Series (EMI / Virgin / Universal, 1999)

Now Millennium 1989

Now Millennium 1989 r

The anthem of summer ’89 was Soul II Soul’s Back To Life. In the sleeve notes for this 1989 Millennium edition, Jo Payton states “Dance music took a big step towards chart domination in 1989.” Their singles were lifted from the optimistically titled Club Classics Volume 1. Meanwhile after five years of uninterrupted success, compilation albums ended up being placed in their own chart from January 1989. Ashley Abram attributes this to “pressure from US companies on their UK counterparts i.e. Warner/Sony as they couldn’t understand why their superstars were being kept off the top by Now!”

Check out these reviews of mine for more discussion on the following tunes:
Now That’s What I Call Music 14: Fine Young Cannibals – She Drives Me Crazy, Marc Almond and Gene Pitney – Something’s Gotten Of My Heart, Roy Orbison – You Got It, Status Quo – Burning Bridges (On And Off And On Again), Inner City – Good Life, Paula Abdul – Straight Up, Erasure – Stop!, Simple Minds – Belfast Child, Sam Brown – Stop.
The Hits Album 10: Mike and The Mechanics – The Living Years.
Now That’s What I Call Music 15: INXS – Mystify, Kirsty MacColl – Days, Roxette – The Look, Soul II Soul featuring Caron Wheeler – Back To Life (However Do You Want Me), Neneh Cherry – Manchild, Pet Shop Boys – It’s Alright, Holly Johnson – Americanos.
Smash Hits Party ’89: Bobby Brown – My Prerogative.
Monster Hits: Cher – If I Could Turn Back Time, Kaoma – Lambada.
Now That’s What I Call Music 16: Tears For Fears – Sowing The Seeds Of Love, Debbie Harry – I Want That Man, Belinda Carlisle – Leave A Light On, Technotronic featuring Felly – Pump Up The Jam, Sydney Youngblood – If Only I Could, Tina Turner – The Best, De La Soul – Eye Know, Richard Marx – Right Here Waiting, Living In A Box – Room In My Heart.
Now That’s What I Call Music 1989: Phil Collins – Another Day In Paradise, Electronic – Getting Away With It, Kylie Minogue – Hand On Your Heart.

“This is Rain Parade at ease after the storm. This is Dream Syndicate going through a recurring nightmare. This is an aural Bic Mac laced with psychedelic dill. This comes from Manchester and is made by people who think Levenshulme is a suburb of San Francisco. This is The Byrds after they’ve flown the coop. This is living proof that acid is good for you. This is quite good. Just.

There are plenty of people who would differ about this. Take the chap who, after chomping a hit of LSD-impregnated graph paper at a party last weekend, solemnly told me that this eponymous album was “The greatest record ever made”. There again he thought he was having a conversation with Bugs Bunny at the time and I definitely don’t have a tail.

There is, it must be admitted, something that elevates The Stone Roses above simple retro-guitar blasts. Maybe it’s the humour. You can’t fail to clock the latter – it’s apparent straight after the first song is ushered in by a noise which sounds like a dozen fish-heads being digested. The guitars reach for the clouds while Ian, with Beelzebub’s bloodshot eye staring out of his naval, moans “I don’t have to sell my soul / He’s already in me / I wanna be adored”. The Stone Roses are not modest.

It’s not all choppy riffola though, unfortunately. There are tunes, for example, Waterfall, where the band try so studiously to be blissed out that they are as inviting as a bathtub of purple jelly left over from the S*x*I*s. The latter’s coda of backwards noises merely reinforces the feeling that The Stone Roses are occasionally stuck in a time and mindwarp.

Even so, despite the fact that they cant be bothered or can’t afford to explore the possibilities for psychic disintegration made available by new technology, there is still something charming about The Stone Roses – their complete obnoxiousness. Anybody who can rhyme “imbecile” with “feel” and do a cover of Scarborough Fair and change the lyrics to “Tear me apart and boil my bones / And her breast till she’s lost her throne / My aim is true and my message is clear / It’s curtains for you Elizabeth my dear” can’t be all bad. (7)” (Jack Barron)

This underwhelming review of The Stone Roses’ debut album made for interesting reading in late 1989. After building steady momentum throughout the summer, the band exploded that November. In paint. Kevin Cummins’ famous NME photo shoot was followed by an appearance on Top Of The Pops performing Fools Good. In tow were the Happy Mondays and Hallelujah. Let’s go back a few months to when the trajectory commenced:
18 March: Made Of Stone makes a brief one week chart appearance at a lowly #90.
29 July: She Bangs The Drums is released. Vital statistics 36 – 44 – 70.
23 November: Fools Gold on Top Of The Pops. Peaks at #8.
30 December: The reissue revival starts with Sally Cinnamon, originally released in 1987 as the band’s second single. On the Revolver label, it peaks at #46.
3 March: We’re into 1990 with Elephant Stone, a refugee from the autumn of 1988 and also included on the cassette and CD of the album. This time its zenith is #8.
17 March: Another crack for Made Of Stone. It enters the chart at #20.
31 March: The singles are coming thick and fast. The reissued She Bangs The Drums goes in at #34 but falls afterwards.
27 May: The Stone Roses play Spike Island. You had to be there.
14 July: It was the time of Prince concerts in Cork, Beat On The Street in Waterford and a new single. The euphoric One Love debuts at the heady heights of #4.

The album initially charted on 13 May 1989. Its journey was somewhat lacklustre with four separate chart runs between then and the end of September. The opening position of #32 was as good as it got. Top Of The Pops changed everything. During the first week of December, The Stone Roses re-entered the album charts for a 48 week sojourn that attained a very respectable #19 in February 1990. The indie charts in Ireland during that period saw both them and the Happy Mondays take the top two positions with the then 15 months old Bummed enjoying a revival on foot of the loved-up Madchester Rave On EP. The new chapter for Sean Ryder & Co would commence in March with the launch of Step On, a terminally groovy cover of a little known John Kongas number from 1971. But more about that in my review of the 1990 edition which you can read about on 6 January 2018.

Feets, don’t fail me now. During the 1989 – 1991 era (my Baggy Years), I wore Doc Marten boots everyday. Regulation black were the original of the species, 8 hole too slight, 14 hole too much of an effort. So I settled for a perfect 10 ’cause we all love our love in different sizes. By October, I had a second pair: ox blood. I chose to break them in on the day of The Sugarcubes’ concert at the SFX, a most memorable gig with Life’s Too Good played in its entirety. People were still getting to grips with Here Today, Tomorrow, Next Week. Funds were low so we had to walk back to Dartmouth Square. About 100 yards into the journey, the Docs started to cut me. By the time I got to Ranelagh there was real blood. Around the same time – across the water in Chester – an old friend Hector was busy moshing to The Wedding Present performing Take Me on the Bizarro tour. His shoe came off mid-song and could not be located afterwards. “Orange slices and that Fall LP”

“Sitting by the radio waiting to push Record on New Year’s Eve. Spare C90 and Hot Press inlay card at the ready!” (Anam)
When Love Comes To Town remains one of my least favourite U2 songs. During the Lovetown Tour concerts, it would be played, usually along with Angel of Harlem and the equally derivative Love Rescue Me, in an encore featuring B. B. and his band. It’s a great pity that the far superior All I Want Is You didn’t get the nod. The tour is still remembered fondly, especially the four dates at Dublin’s Point Depot. The band playing every night as if it was their last.
“Such a brilliant night, my radio reception was annoyingly imperfect as I recall, so little bursts of static here and there, so slightly frustrating, but still what a night! The anticipation was off the charts, must have been electric being there in person.”(Caledonia)
“I was explaining to people the other night, but I might’ve got it a bit wrong – this is just the end of something for U2. And that’s what we’re playing these concerts – and we’re throwing a party for ourselves and you. It’s no big deal, it’s just – we have to go away and … and dream it all up again.” (Bono, 30 December 1989)

“Politician granny with your high ideals, have you no idea how the majority feels?”
The good old days of Atlantic 252. Long wave. Requests, so many. Beaming out of our kitchen and my sister’s bedroom. It launched on Friday 1 September 1989 and the first song played was Sowing The Seeds Of Love. The music video was directed by Jim Blashfield, and won two awards at the MTV Music Video Awards: Best Breakthrough Video and Best Special Effects. It was also nominated in the Best Group Video and Best Postmodern Video categories. The B-side Tears Roll Down is an early, mostly instrumental version of Laid So Low (Tears Roll Down) which was released as a single in 1992 to promote Tears Roll Down (Greatest Hits 82-92). Which brings me to Tears Laid Low (A Tears For Fears Alter Collection), one of my most cherished and rarest CDs. It’s a selection of B-sides limited to 200 copies and was part of the Tears Roll Down promotional campaign. Back to The Seeds Of Love; it’s an epic pop-rock production that’s a cross between Spirit Of Eden and Sgt Pepper. The songs are lengthy, melancholy and beautifully sung. Love the gospel feel. Can’t wait for the super deluxe edition which is due in 2019.

March 1989 was a frantic time. I was busy studying (or panicking) for my mock Leaving Cert. Arriving towards the end of the madness was Depeche Mode’s 101, a live album and documentary chronicling the closing leg of the band’s Music for the Masses Tour and the final show at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena (18 June 1988). The 101st performance. And a documentary not a concert film so the full show does not exist on tape – only in the memories of those who were lucky enough to be there. Ultimately, the film focused on what Depeche Mode considered to be their primary strength – live performance – as well as capturing the spirit of their fan base.Notably, 101 prominently features a group of young fans travelling across America as winners of a “be-in-a-Depeche Mode-movie-contest,” which culminates at the Rose Bowl stadium. By August, I was getting my Leaving Cert results and the band were starting a new chapter, the guitar stomp of Personal Jesus.
“It’s a song about being a Jesus for somebody else, someone to give you hope and care. It’s about how Elvis Presley was her man and her mentor and how often that happens in love relationships; how everybody’s heart is like a god in some way, and that’s not a very balanced view of someone, is it?” (Martin Gore)

1989 was the year when the Pet Shop Boys revitalised the careers of both Liza Minnelli and Dusty Springfield. The Cabaret star began with a cover of Losing My Mind, originally written by Stephen Sondheim for the 1971 musical Follies. Assisting Neil and Chris was Julian Mendelsohn. The Pet Shop Boys demo version of Losing My Mindwas later remixed and released as a B-side to Jealously. This demo contains a scream that Minnelli opted not to include on her release. The subsequent album Results is a pop classic. There are covers of Twist in My Sobriety (Tanita Tikaram), Love Pains (Yvonne Elliman) and two from the producers, Rent and Tonight Is Forever. The bridge to If There Was Love features Minnelli reciting Sonnet 94 by William Shakespeare: “They that have power to hurt”. But the true highlight is the stunning So Sorry, I Said.
“The last few seconds – where she has a quick intake of breath and smiles pathetically in a ‘I still love him and I know I shouldn’t but what can you do’ sort of a way – contain the best acting I’ve ever seen from a pop star” (Into The Pop Void)

Meanwhile Dusty’s confidence had been boosted by the success and universal acclaim that followed What Have I Done To Deserve This? In February 1989, she released Nothing Has Been Proved which would play over the closing credits of the film Scandal, an account of the Profumo Affair. According to Neil Tennant, film producer Stephen Woolley liked the idea of having the song performed by someone who was already well-known at the time (1963). The music video shows Springfield in the studio along with a Christine Keeler lookalike being interviewed with camera flash bulbs going off. Along with these come short reels from the film starring Joanne Whalley, John Hurt, Ian McKellen, Britt Ekland, and Bridget Fonda as well as original news footage from 1963. The Boys play journalists interviewing Christine. We also get an orchestral arrangement by Angelo Badalamenti and a soprano saxophone solo by Courtney Pine while Marshall Jefferson provided a dance mix for the 12″. The LP Reputation would follow in June ’90. High: Occupy Your Mind.

“In the House, a resignation, guilty faces everyone,
Christine’s fallen out with Lucky, Johnny’s got a gun,
Please, Please Me’s number one.”

Favourite tracks
The Stone Roses – Fools Gold

Depeche Mode – Personal Jesus

Tears For Fears – Sowing The Seeds Of Love

Kylie Minogue – Hand On Your Heart

Lest we forget
Dusty Springfield – Nothing Has Been Proved

Missing tracks and other thoughts
The Millennium Series 1989 is another strong performer, the third in succession. The opening ex-Genesis pairing of Phil Collins and Mike and The Mechanics is a clever ploy and eases in the strong female 1-2 punch of Cher and Tina Turner. Then there’s a brilliant sequence that starts with INXS’ Mystify and runs through Sowing The Seeds Of Love and Getting Away With It before the 1960s nostalgia of Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart, Nothing Has Been Proved and Days. More ladies to the fore with Roxette, Kylie, Debbie and Belinda all dropping crackers. CD2 is more club-focused and there’s a knowing house bridge between It’s Alright and Good Life. Elsewhere the crucial R&B cuts of Straight Up and My Prerogative are both here along with Eye Know (lifted from the hip hop LP of ’89). The endless Belfast Child ushers in a show-stopping slow set of Stop – Right Here Waiting – Room In My Heart. The circular walk around the dancefloor. Endless, endless.

You could say this one is on a par with Now’s 10th Anniversary entry for the year. There are 20 overlapping tracks – Fine Young Cannibals, Roy Orbison, Inner City, Paula Abdul, Erasure, Sam Brown, Mike and The Mechanics, Tina Turner, Roxette, Soul II Soul, Bobby Brown, Tears For Fears, Debbie Harry, Belinda Carlisle, Technotronic featuring Felly, Sydney Youngblood, Richard Marx, Phil Collins, Electronic, Kylie Minogue. There were three regular Now albums released in 1989 and 25 of their tracks are featured on the Millennium entry. The Hits Album franchise gets less of a look in here – just three songs compared to seven on Now That’s What I Call Music 1989. Key omission: Losing My Mind.

There were 18 chart toppers on the UK charts during 1989. We get four whereas the 10th Anniversary team had seven. Both Ride And Time and All Around The World would have enhanced disc 2. And a couple of more SAW numbers such as Sonia’s You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You and Jason Donovan’s Sealed With A Kiss or When You Come Back To Me (a #2, his Christmas tune due to one line about “armfuls of presents”). Novelties that rock: I still lament the disappearance of Jive Bunny’s Let’s Party and Andy Stewart’s Donald Where’s Your Troosers? (1989). More absentees – slow: The Bangles – Eternal Flame, Natalie Cole’s Miss You Like Crazy, The Beautiful South’s Song For Whoever. Fast: The Wedding Present – Kennedy, Transvision Vamp – Baby I Don’t Care, Fuzzbox – Pink Sunshine or International Rescue, Darling Buds – Hit The Ground. And if you’re feeling sinister, throw on Morrissey’s Ouija Board, Ouija Board. “S-T-E-V-E-N”

And that’s all from me for 2017. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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19 Responses to Now That’s What I Call Music 1989: The Millennium Series (EMI / Virgin / Universal, 1999)

  1. cosmo says:

    Another absolute belter! Actually, I take back saying the previous year’s volume was the better one of the Millennium volumes, and I’ll correct myself and say THIS one is. Because I still have happy memories of when I first bought it and listening to it for the first time, the brilliant tracklisting sheer took my breath away. And left my drooling. Literally. Very probably the second best one of the Millennium editions covering the 80s (after 82). With many of the the year’s and decade’s biggest and best numbers. (*)

    This one really features the best of the best of that year. Very difficult to highlight favourites here. But I still have some space to make a few comments:
    On Disc 1, I’ll mention the sequence of Genesis members Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford to kick it off. Well done.

    (That said, I also think Another Day in Paradise is a bit “meh”, over-preachy, and “take or leave it” for me – probably Two Hearts would have been a much better choice?)

    Good points on Cher & Tina and the 60s-themed sequence (Dusty’s track here is a corker!).

    Electronic (Barney Sumner and Chris Lowe) here is probably THE “surprise” track – and very welcome it is too!

    A propos Kylie, I would have gone for Never Too Late. OK, I may be personally biased as for somewhat reason it is the early track by her that I most seem to remember from “back then”.

    Soul II Soul were great, and anything from them is welcome, and Back to Life is fab, though again, I prefer Keep on Movin’. For Bobby Brown, again good as his presence here is, I would have slightly preferred Every Little Step. And Blow the House Down for Living in a Box.

    And as for missing tracks, agree on all the tracks you mentioned. Plus: Donna Allen’s Joy & Pain (from Now Dance 89), Chaka Khan’s Ain’t Nobody (on the Anniversary version) or I’m Every Woman remixes, anything by Big Fun, Cliff’s I Just Don’t Have the Heart, Donna Summer’s This TIme I Know It’s for Real, anything by Adeva, anything by De la Soul, Gladys Knight’s Licence to Kill, Luther Vandross’ Never Too Much remix (on Monster Hits 1/Hits 11), and the Cure’s Lullaby. And many more, but I’ll stop there! 🙂 But those are just minor “quibbles” – each and every one of the tracks mentioned would further improve a fantastic album!

    (*) I still say 88 was better for music overall, though. 🙂

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Thank you Cosmo, excellent post. Glad to see that this one also brings back good memories for you. I left school in 1989 and went onto third level education so there was a huge personal sense of freedom. That feeling began in June when I finished my exams and was heightened once college started in September. A lot of the songs here accompanied or soundtracked some very memorable times from back then. Good call on Donna Summer and The Cure – yes Lullaby would be ideal here – given that they were responsible for my my favourite concert of all time.

  2. nlgbbbblth says:

    Since writing this review, Christine Keeler passed away. Farewell to a true 1960s icon.

  3. Feel the Quality says:

    Definitely one of the best Milłenium editions. I’m biased as I have very fond memories of 1989, especially the summer but this is on a level with the 10th Anniversary and maybe even exceeds it.
    Thank God it didn’t include some of the other 1989 S/A/W shite like Sonia, Big Fun, Cliff’s brief dalliance with them and (shudder) The Reynolds Girls.

    There’s a few missing songs though. You mentioned them already but this is my usual “bemoan the fact that Pink Sunshine didn’t get higher in the chart” comment. They should be here, along with Robert Howard/Kym Mazelle – Wait, Kon Kan – I Beg Your Pardon (still love that intro), Roachford – Cuddly Toy, Guns N’Roses – Sweet Child o’ Mine. Hits 10 really got the shaft here.

    Other missing songs: Deacon Blue – Fergus Sings the Blues, Then Jerico – Big Area, Lil Louis – French Kiss, anything by Madonna as 89 was a banner year for her. One more, it may have been around from Christmas the year before but I’d like to have seen Keeping the Dream Alive by Freiheit. German one hit wonders should not be just for Christmas.
    Speaking of which, in the immortal words of some ugly yet awesome Brummie rockers, Merry Xmas Everybody. (Damn the inability to type letters back to front).

    • cosmo says:

      Had forgotten Wait!, I Beg Your Pardon and Cuddly Toy (among others)! And excellent call for [Münchener] Freiheit (future Eurovision act) – entered chart before Xmas 88, and actually peaked in the second week of 89.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Thanks Feel The Quality.
      You’re dead right re Hits 10 – definitely my favourite compilation of 1989 and really gets unjustly overlooked here. Like A Prayer is sorely missed and Keeping The Dream Alive is a definitely not just a seasonal number. Have a good one!

  4. andynoax says:

    This collection is OK but doesn’t quite do it for me – too many average tracks. As ‘Feel The Quality’ says above, there were many great tunes on Hits 10 that missed out here. Donna Summer’s ‘This Time I Know It’s For Real’ should definitely be present.

    I can understand why it’s here but the song with the title that everyone gets wrong – ‘The Best’ – is bloody awful. So is that U2 track – ‘All I Want Is You’ is my wife’s favourite and is brilliant.

    • Feel the Quality says:

      Oh God, people who call that (bloody awful and overplayed) song “Simply the Best” should be taken to one side and slapped into line. They’re on a level with those bell-ends who refer to the “Rumours” line-up of Fleetwood Mac as the “original”.

      • nlgbbbblth says:

        Thanks Andy, yeah – All I Want Is You really gets ignored on retrospectives. Any of Donna Summer’s three singles would do it for me – the best SAW LP ever.

      • nlgbbbblth says:

        The Best is a shocker; song title nearly always misquoted. Interesting point re Fleetwood Mac – had that very conversation with someone this week! Insisted that the 1975 album was their debut. FFS.

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  8. Matt Hayes says:

    This comp is, for me, more interesting for what’s NOT on there. Astonishing to omit “Ride on Time” – wasn’t it the biggest hit of the year? And “Eternal Flame” can’t have been far behind… it was a #1 and in the charts for what seemed like forever. “Ride on Time” had well documented legal issues so maybe that has something to do with leaving it off but I doubt it… it’s been included on plenty of comps since then. It also raises an eyebrow that Lisa Stansfield wasn’t included. Curious that all of the major omissions were from the Hits series – it’s hard to imagine but possible licensing problems? They certainly had room on the album – it only contains 36 tracks and they could have ditched the horrific “Burning Bridges” if needs be.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Yes – Ride On Time was the top-seller that year. The different versions (original sample / re-cut) should not have affected its inclusion – must have been licensing costs….

  9. Matt Hayes says:

    For some reason, it’s not letting me reply… so let’s try this…

    I think Roachford’s “Family Man” is a better track than “Cuddly Toy” but the latter was a bigger hit…and “Family Man” never gets included on any of these comps anyway.

    As for my favorite compilation of 1989, that’s a tough one. I don’t regard it as a particularly stellar year for chart music (though obviously it’s miles ahead of most crap churned out nowadays) and both Now and Hits had some issues. Now 15 in particularly is anemic, with side 2 the prime suspect, and I think the worst in the series up to that point. Now 16 contained zero number ones but overall I think it’s better than 15. Now 14 was great, however a number of the tracks were released at the tail end of 1988.

    As for Hits, Hits 10 is terrific – so I’d probably agree it’s the best compilation of 1989 (not counting Smash Hits Party ’89 or The Greatest Hits of ’89). Only one number one but it’s a good one (“Eternal Flame”), plus it contains the amazing “This Time I Know It’s For Real” and “Wait” – not to mention some Guns N’ Roses (albeit a terrible edit). Monster Hits was good too but it did contain a few low charters – and a couple that didn’t even make the top 40 – and we had to endure yet another round of shoddy rebranding courtesy of the green monster. Still, it does contain “Ride on Time”, “All Around the World”, “Love’s About to Change My Heart”, “Cherish”, “Partyman”…. boy, now that I think about it, it does give Hits 10 a bit of a run for its money.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Hi Matt, thanks for the comments, much appreciated and great to read.

      Family Man a rare one on compilations – at the time, it did appear on the West German Hot And Fresh which started to grab my attention that year.

      In terms of Nows – agree Now 14 is best for 1989 – not much between 15 and 16.
      Both Hits albums are streets ahead. Not mad on the single edit of GNR but it’s rightfully there. Monster Hits is great now – some really forgotten bits

      Hits 10 blurb I wrote for Classic Pop
      “Hits 10 was the last one to follow the chronological number sequence before the series imploded into repeated rebranding. We’re served up a tasty menu of pop and dance from the spring of 1989. There’s peak SAW – Pat & Mick (I Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet), Rick Astley (Hold Me in Your Arms) and Donna Summer (This TimeI Know It’s For Real), some great house led by Ten City (That’s The Way Love Is) Coldcut featuring Lisa Stansfield (People Hold On) alongside forgotten gems like Aussie pop-rockers 1927’s That’s When I Think Of You and Fuzzbox’s glorious Pink Sunshine.”

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