Now That’s What I Call Music 1992: The Millennium Series (EMI / Virgin / Universal, 1999)

Now Millennium 1992

Now Millennium 1992 r

My seven month sojourn in Dublin came to end during the final week of April 1992. Just before I departed, I made one final record shop sweep. Last stop was HMV, Grafton Street where a bunch of about 15 Morrissey and Smiths fans were anxiously waiting for a delivery of the We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful single. I remember the haughty and officious sales assistant (glasses, possibly DJed in McGonagles) who eventually deigned to approach them with a dismissive quip “it’s not in yet and won’t be in later either.” The single was taken from the then-unreleased Your Arsenal and was the first Morrissey single to be co-written with Alain Whyte and produced by glam rock hero Mick Ronson. “This is by far and away the ex-Smith’s WORST single.” (Andrew Collins, NME)

All but one of the tracks on the 1992 Millennium edition have already been discussed:
Now That’s What I Call Music 21: Shakespear’s Sister – Stay, The Temptations – My Girl, Shanice – I Love Your Smile, Kylie Minogue – Give Me Just A Little More Time, Madness – It Must Be Love, Right Said Fred – Deeply Dippy.
Now That’s What I Call Music 22: Richard Marx – Hazard, Soul II Soul – Joy, Incognito – Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing, Ce Ce Peniston – Finally, Erasure – Take A Chance On Me, SL2 – On A Ragga Trip, The Cure – Friday I’m In Love, Utah Saints – Something Good, Ugly Kid Joe – Everything About You, Joe Cocker – Unchain My Heart, Elton John – The One.
Now Dance ’92: Stereo MCs – Connected, The Shamen – Ebeneezer Good, Was (Not Was) – Shake Your Head, East 17 – House Of Love (the latter three are also on Now 23).
Smash Hits ’92: U2 – One.
Now That’s What I Call Music 23: Jon Secada – Just Another Day, Tasmin Archer – Sleeping Satellite, Charles and Eddie – Would I Lie To You, Arrested Development – People Everyday, Bizarre Inc featuring Angie Brown – I’m Gonna Get You, Billy Ray Cyrus – Achy Breaky Heart, Roxette – How Do You Do?, John Lee Hooker – Boom Boom, INXS – Baby Don’t Cry, Brian May – Too Much Love Will Kill You.
The Awards 1993: Boyz II Men – End Of The Road, Dina Carroll – Ain’t No Man.
Now That’s What I Call Music 1992: Del Amitri – Always The Last To Know.

After a hectic 1989 and 1990 (Disintegration, The Prayer Tour, Entreat, Mixed Up), The Cure took some time out. In March 1992 they returned with the sparkling pop gem High and their ninth album Wish, a hybrid creation of the previous two LPs. Half of the songs had one word titles – Open, High, Apart, Trust, Cut, End – while aggressive guitars and lyrics of self-loathing and alienation were to the fore. It remains their last great work. Beaming a light through the forest was the upbeat relentless jangle of 45 Friday I’m In Love, described by Robert Smith as both “a throw your hands in the air, let’s get happy kind of record” and “a very naive, happy type of pop song.” In December 1992, three years since that legendary RDS concert, the band returned to Dublin; this time the Point Depot. And in 1993, fans were treated to a double live CD in September – Show – followed by a single disc set, Paris, in October. Finally, just before Christmas, the Lost Wishes cassette appeared; four instrumentals from the Wish sessions available via mail order.

The Lightning Seeds’ released their second album Sense in 1992. The lead 45 was the glittering pop spectacular The Life Of Riley which was a modest March hit #28. It really took off when Match Of The Day began to use each week for clips of their Goal of the Month. Hearing it now takes me back to those students days and Saturday nights spent in front of the television with Oranjeboom and the prospect of a few Late Night Movies treats. The song was originally written about Ian Broudie’s firstborn son. 26 years later, Riley Broudie now plays second guitar in The Lightning Seeds – and so is in the strange situation of performing a song his father wrote about him before he was born. “We don’t dwell on that,” says Ian, “That was written when I was waiting for him to be born, wondering what’s going to happen, if he’s going to be OK, if I’m going to be a good dad – it’s quite emotional really, and it’s a fabulous thing for me to be able to do gigs with him.”

I didn’t purchase Divine Madness until June 1992. The record shop in Kilkenny – Top Twenty – had to order in the double LP. It was the era when vinyl sales were fading fast. On the same day I first tasted Pringles: an intense sour cream and onion flavour devoured all the way home to New Ross on Jimmy Phelan’s 1976 reg bus. That Madness album was played frequently at weekends; mainly in our summer hangout of Ard Na Greine. Naturally there were flaws: no Sweetest Girl and the use of album versions for The Prince, One Step Beyond, The Return Of The Los Palmas 7, Cardiac Arrest, Shut Up, Tomorrow’s Just Another Day. But the songs transcend such quibbles and their timeless quality has sated me and endured since those faraway school days of the early 1980s. It Must Be Love, House Of Fun and My Girl were all reissued in ’92. Their Labi Siffre cover is here. For an exhaustive and fun review of Divine Madness, check out this piece by Craig at Flip Flop Flyin’. On Michael Caine: “And it was released in the winter, and I think it fits the cold British wet February days, perfectly.”

And so to ABBA. Erasure first covered the Swedes in April 1986 with the inclusion of Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! on the 12″ of Oh L’Amour. In 1992, they originally planned a full covers album but eventually settled for a four track single which arrived at the beginning of June. The lucky quartet: Lay All Your Love (1980), SOS (1975), Take A Chance On Me (1977), Voulez-Vous (1979). In terms of popularity and radio play, Take A Chance On Me was the winner and having starred on Now 22, eventually made its on way onto seminal singles compilation Pop! The First 20 Hits later on that year. Voulez-Vous was in second place and benefited from inclusion on Now Dance ’92. Meanwhile Smash Hits ’92 gave a spot to SOS while The Awards 1993 sensibly decided to feature Lay All Your Love On Me. Also part of the story was the remix EP namely:
Voulez-Vous (Brain Stem Death Test Mix) (remixed by Fortran 5)
Lay All Your Love on Me (No Panties Mix) (remixed by Fortran 5)
Take A Chance On Me (Take A Trance On Me Mix) (remixed by Philip Kelsey)
SOS (Perimeter Mix) (remixed by Chris & Cosey)

September 1992 saw the release of Gold: Greatest Hits or ABBA Gold as it more commonly known; after many years in semi-wilderness, they finally came in from the cold. There had been previous compilations:
Greatest Hits (1976). The one with the park bench cover. Benny and Frida are kissing, while Björn reads a paper and Agnetha looks straight into the camera.
Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (1979). Rounds up everything since then.
The Singles: The First Ten Years (1982): Top selection, glorious sound quality.
Absolute ABBA (1988): A cheap Telstar release but got 10/10 in the NME and the my first.
Prior to the release of ABBA Gold, all of the above compilations had been deleted and only the original studio albums (along with the 1986 live album) remained in print. This new collection was well received by the music-buying public, and went on to be one of the best-selling albums of all time, shifting 30 million copies. The original 1992 release included an edited version of Voulez-Vous and the US Promo Edit of The Name of the Game. As we moved into autumn, the double LP became a weekend fixture in our party zone.

Féile ’92: The third Trip to Tipp. Three men in a holey tent. Fosters everywhere. Burgers and chips. A ghettoblaster with Chumbawamba’s Shhh on repeat. The hare krishnas. The massive tent like a house that was stolen the following year. Getting down and barely missing PJ Harvey. Making up for it: Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine played The Only Living Boy In New Cross. Later on we got Primal Scream in the rain. Higher Than The Sun (A Dub Symphony In Two Parts) was other worldly. Saturday afternoon indie fest with A House, Therapy?, Inspiral Carpets. That night, Shakespear’s Sister had high billing. Sunday saw more rain – torrential – during Christy Moore. Rubbish. The flooded tent. Whipping Boy’s Submarine on the stereo Monday morning. The final comedown.


Favourite tracks
Madness – It Must Be Love

Stereo MCs – Connected

INXS – Baby Don’t Cry

The Cure – Friday I’m In Love

Lest we forget
Lightning Seeds – The Life Of Riley

Missing tracks and other thoughts
The 1992 Millennium edition is another strong volume in the series. Starting with Boyz II Men is a surprise. The heat gradually builds from there – a sort of memorable mellow gold (especially Just Another Day and Sleeping Satellite) and then culminats in a classy soul ‘n’ R&B stretch taking in gems from Soul II Soul and Arrested Development. There’s fewer out and out club tunes – a slight burst at the end of the first disc. CD2 begins with the big guns: U2 and Madness before a quick indie fix. Just time for another dance sequence before a rock(y) home stretch taking in the good, the bad and the ugly (Kid Joe). Sparkling after all these years: the selections from INXS and Roxette while The One and Too Much Love Will Kill You make for a sentimental finale.

On this occasion I think the 10th Anniversary series has a slight edge. There’s a total of 20 overlapping tracks – Shakespear’s Sister, The Temptations, Shanice, Madness, Right Said Fred, Richard Marx, Ce Ce Peniston, Erasure, SL2, Utah Saints, Ugly Kid Joe, Jon Secada, Tasmin Archer, Charles and Eddie, Arrested Development, Bizarre Inc featuring Angie Brown, The Shamen, Was (Not Was), Billy Ray Cyrus, Del Amitri. There three regular Now albums released in 1992 and 30 of their tracks are featured on the Millennium entry (including Ebeneezer Good, Shake Your Head, House Of Love, versions of which first appeared on Now Dance ’92). However – and I’m repeating myself here – for the ultimate soundtrack to the year, look no further than Smash Hits ’92.

There were just a dozen number ones in 1992. We get seven while the 10th Anniversary set had 10. End Of The Road which was missing from the latter kicks us off while I Will Always Love You is still absent. Of the others, Ain’t No Doubt is the party guest most lamented. My 10th Anniversary wishlist had a plea for East 17 which has been answered here. However, the following tunes are sadly MIA: Queen – These Are The Days Of Our Lives, Lionel Richie – My Destiny, Jesus and Mary Chain – Reverence, Rage Against The Machine – Killing In The Name, anything from Annie Lennox’s Diva, REM – Drive, Mike Oldfield – Sentinel, Prince and The New Power Generation – Money Doesn’t Matter 2 Night. And for fans of epics in the vein of American Pie; what about the brooding Slane heroes Guns ‘n’ Roses – November Rain or the fantastic shimmering haze of Ride – Leave Them All Behind? “Just let it flow.”

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8 Responses to Now That’s What I Call Music 1992: The Millennium Series (EMI / Virgin / Universal, 1999)

  1. Feel the Quality says:

    Agree with the 10th Anniversary Edition being superior. It just has more of the big hits, especially The KLF and Oz. Although this edition has a few “exclusives” that may not have been as big but are still fine songs, Incognito and The Lightning Seeds especially.

    I think my biggest problem here is the sequencing. End of the Road and Just Another Day are so bland and dreary. It picks up for the next few tracks but then it’s back to sleep with Charles and Eddie, The Temptations and Shanice. Luckily, the second half of Disc 1 speeds it up but the damage has been done. A rare case IMO of the unequalled master of sequencing getting it wrong. (Although as has been mentioned before, he did have nineteen others to compile, so I think I can forgive him).

    There’s a few missing here that were on the 10th Anniversary, like Crowded House, Barcelona anything by Genesis and as you said, Annie Lennox. The only others suggestions missing from both that immediately spring to mind are George Michael – Too Funky and En Vogue – My Lovin’.

    And then there’s ABBA-esque. I had been longing for Erasure (and Vince Clarke in any form) to finally get a Number 1 and whilst I’m glad they finally got there, it still bugs me that they had to resort to ABBA covers to achieve it. When you think of all their great releases that didn’t reach the summit and this did, it felt a bit shallow.
    And for the first couple of weeks of its release here, Lay All Your Love on Me was treated as the lead track. Then they shifted attention towards the far more friendly and (even by their standards) campy, Take a Chance on Me which has since by default become the representative. Shame really, as I preferred the former.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Hi there, I don’t mind the mellow sequence but think it would have worked better at the end rather than being front-loaded. As you say, the damage is done by the time it picks up. Too Funky and Ain’t No Doubt would have definitely worked well.
      Do you think the track order on ABBA-esque initially determined that Lay All Your Love On Me get more airplay? In Ireland, Take A Chance On Me got the lion’s share with Voulez Vous also getting played a bit.
      But yes – you’re totally right – at that point, at least a half dozen of their previous singles deserved to go all the way.

      • Feel the Quality says:

        Being the first track probably played a big part in it being pimped as the lead song and it also had a pretty memorable video. Although given the more chart-friendly nature of Take a Chance and its even more memorable video (Vince in drag!), it’s easy to see why it then took over as the main event.
        It certainly wasn’t like Crackers International where none of the other songs got any airplay. In that case Stop! was such a great track you can see why TV/Radio would never need to play another of the four. But the others did get a big short-changed, The Hardest Part especially.

  2. cosmo says:

    Another great volume. Absolutely adored it when I first played it (like the 89 volume). This is neck-with-neck with the Anniversary edition for me… but, like the previous year’s volume, is enhanced by another improved dance selection on CD1.

    The jazz-house selection was followed by an equally brilliant rave selection.

    Personally, I like the MOR sequence at the start of CD1, although I can understand why some might not feel it appropiate for a start of compilation. That said, wasn’t 92 a year strong on ballads in the charts? Seems then suitable that this compilation featured some of the year’s biggest.
    The Lightning Seeds and the Cure further improves this album and CD2’s tracklisting.

    Agreed on Barcelona (which could have also been on the 87 volume, preferrably starting it, as on Now 10!), George Michael, Annie Lennox, and En Vogue being notable ommissions here. Along with Alison Limerick (Make it on my Own), Simply Red (Stars), Snap! (Rhythm is a Dancer), Opus II (It’s a Fine Day), Kriss Kross (Jump), Vanessa Williams (Save the Best for Last), Curiosity Killed the Cat (Hang on in There Baby) and Ten Sharp (You).

  3. Andrew Chinnock says:

    Hi Paul, Having never even considered this millennium series, it’s been fascinating reading your review as always, plus the other comments. Are the versions of Ebeneezer Goode and Connected the ones lifted from Now Dance 92? I haven’t found the proper single version of Connected on a compilation yet. Was (Not Was) as Now 23?

    End of the Road should have been on the 10th anniversary series – Polygram track, no excuses.

    It seems to me, looking through the series, that this was done on a budget. The 10th anniversary series didn’t sell too well; releasing 5 albums one week and five soon after was going to be a struggle for most to afford. These compilations seem to contain a higher percentage of EMI/Virgin/Universal tracks than the 10th anniversary series. In fact, there’s a distinct lack of BMG, Warner and Sony stuff on them – barely anything. It does appear that there was an effort to make the tracks as in house as possible to cut down on licensing costs.

    Is that a bad thing? In some ways, no. There are tracks on these that you wouldn’t normally find. Talk on Telstar’s Greatest Hits albums about whether a strict Top 10 policy can be stifling spring to mind. This series is just different, not as good for me looking at track listings as the 10th anniversary, yet still decent enough compilations and just about as reflective of each year. Just done, clearly, on the cheap.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Hi Andrew
      Thanks – glad you’re finding them interesting.
      Timewise, Ebeneezer Goode is the same 3:37 – pretty sure identical to Now Dance ’92. Connected is 3:47 – I think Now Dance ’92 version runs a bit longer – but can’t check as the latter CD is in parents’ house.
      Shake Your Head is 4:00 here too, so I think same as Now 23.

      1983 10th Anniversary is a great volume and slightly better than Millennium 1983. Although they’ve used an early 90s remix of Sweet Dreams. 1984 also hard to call although the Millennium has FGTH (as does 1983 Relax). 1985 & 1986 – 10th Anniversary way better. 1987 – draw. 1988, 1989, 1990 & 1991 – Millennium shades it. But for 1992, I go for 10th Anniversary.

      Yes, done on the cheap(ish) but has some sleevenotes. I am more forgiving of the errors as they’re new compilations and not trying to pass themselves off as reissues. Now Forgotten ’80s is riddled with mistakes but I have played it lots now – can’t say the same for the reissues of Now 1-5.

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