Now That’s What I Call Music 1995: The Millennium Series (EMI / Virgin / Universal, 1999)

Now Millennium 1995

Now Millennium 1995 r

Review
The sleeve notes to the 1995 edition of Now’s Millennium series commence by referencing Robbie Williams departure from Take That. They then discuss the rise of Boyzone who had been voted Best Band On The Road at the 1994 Smash Hits road show. Their debut album, Said And Done, went straight into the album charts at #1 in September which cemented their place at the top of the boy band league. Their cover of Cat Stevens’ 1970 hit Father And Son leads off CD2 of this compilation and became the sixth best-selling boy band single of the decade. It got significant airplay in Ireland during the last two months of the year and could be heard at all hours of the day – before breakfast, during my lunch hour at work and even as late as 3.00am over the speakers of Jason’s pool hall in Ranelagh.
“Now there’s a way and I know that I have to go away
I know I have to go.”

Check out these reviews of mine for more discussion on the following tunes:
Smash Hits ’95 – Volume 1: Strike – U Sure Do*.
Now Dance ’95: Kenny Dope presents The Bucketheads – The Bomb (These Sounds Fall Into My Mind)*, R Kelly – Bump ‘n’ Grind*.
Now That’s What I Call Music 30: Boo Radleys – Wake Up Boo, Mike and The Mechanics – Over My Shoulder, Massive Attack featuring Tracy Thorn – Protection, Portishead – Glory Box, East 17 – Stay Another Day, Freak Power – Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out, Bobby Brown – Two Can Play That Game, Alex Party – Don’t Give Me Your Life, Cher with Chrissie Hynde and Nenah Cherry – Love Can Build A Bridge.
Smash Hits 2: Livin’ Joy – Dreamer**, Edwyn Collins – A Girl Like You**, Oasis – Some Might Say**.
Now That’s What I Call Music 31: Supergrass – Alright, Pulp – Common People, Del Amitri – Roll To Me, Baby D – I Need Your Lovin’ (Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime).
Now That’s What I Call Music 1995: N-Trance – Stayin’ Alive***, The Original – I Love You Baby***.
The Greatest Hits Of ’95: Coolio featuring LV – Gangsta’s Paradise***.
Now That’s What I Call Music 32: U2 – Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Cast – Alright, Tina Turner – Golden Eye, Meat Loaf – I’d Lie For You (And That’s The Truth), Eternal – Power Of A Woman, Shaggy – Boombastic.
The ’96 Brit Awards: Paul Weller – The Changingman, Blur – The Universal****.
Now That’s What I Call Music 33: Boyzone – Father And Son.
Now That’s What I Call Music 34: Lighthouse Family – Ocean Drive.
* Also on Now 30 / ** Also on Now 31 / *** Also on Now 32 / **** Also on Now 33.

CD1 starts with U2’s Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me. Taken from the soundtrack of Batman Forever and one of two missing links between Zooropa and Pop. Other tracks to bridge the gap for U2 are: Night And Day (after Rattle & Hum and before Achtung Baby) and Salome (1992 B-Side between Achtung Baby and Zooropa). Which brings me to Miss Sarajevo which appears further on during the first half; a mixture of Brian Eno’s ambience and Luciano Pavarotti’s emotion. US journalist Bill Carter suggested to Bono an idea to film a documentary based on Sarajevo’s underground resistance movement. From the sleeve: “The camera follows the organisers through the tunnels and cellars of the city, giving a unique insight into life during a modern war, where civilians are the targets. The film captures the dark humour of the besieged Sarajevans, their stubborn refusal to be demoralised and suggests that surrealism and Dadaism are the appropriate responses to fanaticism.” Due to being released in November, the song has a downbeat Christmas feel and slots in perfectly between Portishead’s Glory Box and Tina Turner’s Golden Eye.

I finally ditched my Sony 4-in-1 in 1995. The record player, cassette deck, radio and CD player had served me for nine years with extremely heavy use throughout. As I was now earning a salary, it was time to go to Richer Sounds and invest in proper separates. For the turntable, I chose an Ariston Pro 1200, a solid deck. The first LP I spun on it was The Great Escape, Blur’s fourth album and also known as the final part of their “Life” trilogy. While initially likeable, the album gradually unveiled itself to be a busy, sprawling flawed mess of a record – loads of differing emotions all clashing with each other and preventing the creation of a unified whole. Thankfully Ashley Abram decided to use The Universal rather than the battle-hardened Country House. The video sees the band getting dressed up as droogs like A Clockwork Orange; all in white perfoming at the Milk Bar. The 7″ was only pressed for jukeboxes and did not make it into the shops. Aside from Abbey Discs.

It was the year of Alright. I Should Coco, the debut album from Supergrass, came out in mid-May, around the same time that I was intensely cramming for my final university exams. The vast majority of my friends had decided to defer at that point, figuring that they’d repeat the year and knuckle down during the 1995-96 college year. I carried on regardless and the band’s spiky singles Caught By The Fuzz, Lenny, Mansize Rooster and Lose It are forever associated with that hazy time. Sofa (Of My Lethargy) sounds like a late ’60s psych tune brought right up to date for the middle of the 1990s. However, the fifth single from the album, Alright (released at the start of July), saw Supergrass hit paydirt and immortality. It was in the top 3 for a month. A bona fide teen anthem even though Gaz Coombes remembers otherwise “It wasn’t written as an anthem. It isn’t supposed to be a rally cry for our generation. The stuff about ‘We are young/We run green…’ isn’t about being 19, but really 13 or 14. and just discovering girls and drinking.”

Cast’s debut single, Fine Time, was released on the same day as the Supergrass smash. People hoping for an acoustic-style cover of the New Order Ibiza anthem were out of luck. Comparisons to Paradise City have been suggested for 23 years, but as first singles go, this is a cracking tune that takes me back to extremely warm and bright evenings. Walking down Moyne Road and up Dunville Avenue to purchase 20 cigarettes; toying with Camel Mild (or was it Medium), Consulate, Winston as well as Marlboro Reds. Two months later the heat was still relentless and Cast dropped their second 45, Alright. In the video, John Power is reading Revolution In The Head: The Beatles Records and The Sixties by Ian MacDonald. It remains a Britpop highlight: brash, brittle, toppy and full of energy. The debut LP, All Change, came out in time for my graduation and became the highest selling debut album in the history of the Polydor label. O’Reilly Hall, photos by lake.

1995 was a massive year for Oasis and their story has been recounted on several occasions throughout these pages. Thankfully the far superior Some Might Say gets the nod over Roll With It. Other people will make a case for Wonderwall but by not including it, means that Ashley Abram can throw in the delightful cover version by The Mike Flowers Pops. Led by Mike Roberts, the MFP (a nod to budget label Music For Pleasure), cashed in on the easy listening revival of mid-90s. I got sucked in too, along with another friend, who stunned the crowd in Strictly Fish at Power’s Hotel, Kildare Street when he dropped an exotic version of Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head. Over the next 12 months, compilations like The Sound Gallery, Inflight Entertainment and The Sound Spectrum opened the gateway into new worlds and labels like Studio 2 Stereo, Circle Of Sound, Stereo Gold Award and the musical delights of Ray Davies and The Button Down Brass. The latter’s 1974 LP Themes From The Exorcist was a key purchase for me in late 1995.

“You have to put the death in everything.”
If you listen to Wake Up Boo! a little more closely, then you’ll realise that it’s about the change from summer to autumn. The lyrics offer two different viewpoints: the narrator’s upbeat positivity contrasted with his companion’s pessimistic outlook. On the album version of the song, the “Wake up, it’s a beautiful morning” refrain is performed as an acappella prelude to the main track; this is absent from the single edit, which is otherwise identical. The second CD single and 12″ feature a version called Wake Up Boo!: Music for Astronauts which later featured on the group’s Find The Way Out best of. Meanwhile the parent album, Wake Up, was one of 1995’s unsung highlights, a true distillation of pop, gleaned from years of listening to Beach Boys and Beatles records. Find the answer within.

Dodgy’s first LP, imaginatively titled The Dodgy Album was released in 1993 and produced by Ian Broudie. It’s a surprisingly enduring record, full of pop blasts and mellow turns. Its successor Homegrown arrived around the same time as Suede’s Dog Man Star and doesn’t mess with the formula. The catchy hooks and quirky melodies are all present and correct with the LP getting some serious turntable action during that hazy late spring of 1995; particularly in mornings as the sun came up. Generally speaking we hadn’t gone to bed yet. The opening track Staying Out For The Summer had peaked at #38 in late ’94. It was remixed and reissued in June 1995, reached #19 and perfectly encapsulates the vibe of that time. They also played at Féile in Cork; still the greatest value for money festival ever.

rsz_feile_95

Favourite tracks
Dodgy – Staying Out For The Summer ’95

Blur – The Universal

Cast – Alright

Passengers featuring Luciano Pavarotti – Miss Sarajevo

Lest we forget
The Mike Flowers Pops – Wonderwall

Missing tracks and other thoughts
The 1995 Millennium edition is definitely my favourite one of the decade. No maybe. It’s extremely well sequenced with Oasis leading the British pop charge that takes in all the expected artists – Supergrass, Boo Radleys, Pulp, Cast, Dodgy, Edwyn Collins, Paul Weller and Blur. On either side of that we get a couple of big movie tunes from U2 and Tina Turner with two trip hop classics from Massive Attack and Portishead. The previously uncompiled gems from Passengers and Sheryl Crow also add a fresh flavour. CD2 is primarily geared towards the dancefloor and oozes good memories of open windows and blaring car stereos. And including Mike Flowers’ take on Wonderwall is a total blast.

In September 1995, there was the last throw of the 10th Anniversary series dice. That release is my favourite of the three “add-on” volumes. If you want to compare with this Millennium release, then note that there there are just 12 overlapping tracks, which is fewer than usual – Freak Power, Boo Radleys, Alex Party, Kenny Dope presents The Bucketheads, Bobby Brown, Strike, Supergrass, Edwyn Collins, Baby D, Livin’ Joy, N-Trance, The Original. There were three regular Now albums released in 1995 and 27 of their songs are featured on this Millennium entry. Caveat: 9 of these first appeared on fellow Virgin compilations under the Smash Hits and Now Dance franchises. Meanwhile, three more would turn up 1996 Now volumes – 33 and 34.

There were 17 number ones in 1995. We get five here while East 17’s Stay Another Day is considered a 1994 chart-topper. I’d have thrown in Fairground, Unchained Melody and Back For Good. Other songs that also really, really could have won are: The Beautiful South – Dream A Little Dream or Pretenders To The Throne (both non-album and bridging the gap between “Carrion” and Blue Is The Colour), Black Grape’s gloriously chaotic Reverend Black Grape, The Charlatans’ groovy Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over, Queen’s spooky Heaven For Everyone, Everything But The Girl’s Missing as remixed by Todd Terry (not Terje), N-Trance’s Set You Free (instead of Stayin’ Alive), TLC’s jam hot Waterfalls, Scarlet’s Independent Love Song (indie fans rejoice) and The Stone Roses’ Ten Storey Love Song. More: The Prodigy’s frantic Poison, Ash’s other-worldly Girl From Mars and lastly Perez Prado’s Guaglione (mine’s a Guinness).

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8 Responses to Now That’s What I Call Music 1995: The Millennium Series (EMI / Virgin / Universal, 1999)

  1. Ben Cook says:

    Very odd to put Sheryl Crow on the 1995 comp! Have always been put off by the “will this do” basic artwork of the millennium series and the tracklists always feel slightly off. Not how you would expect a Now compilation to be sequenced.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Hi Ben,
      Yes – more of a late 1994 hit than anything else – although it was still in the chart until February 1995. I agree that the artwork is rather formulaic and lacks the individuality of the main series.

  2. Feel the Quality says:

    95 is one of those great years for music, so there’s so many missing tracks here I could easily add a third CD. Even so, there’s quite a few I’d get rid of on here.

    Opening with U2 is a mistake. If they had to include a song from Batman Forever then I’d go with Seal but even then I’d gladly pass it by (I worked in a cinema that summer, by the end of August I was at the point where if I ever met U2 or Seal, I wouldn’t be held responsible for my actions). Much the same can be said for Goldeneye, which miraculously isn’t the worst Brosnan Bond theme. Between this, Eno and U2, could this album get any further up their rectums? Three songs too many by that lot. And as a final insult to Disc 1, we get another Meatloaf 90s song that isn’t I’d Do Anything for Love, so it really doesn’t matter.

    Strange choices in tracklisting here. I’d have Oasis open Disc 1 and let Coolio kick off Disc 2. Father and Son can be moved to the end of Disc 1 instead. Not quite sure where to put the other opening few from the second CD but they don’t really fit in with the dance nature of the rest of the disc.

    Fully agree that Some Might Say is the better choice here, one of the anthems of the summer. Roll With It is Oasis’ weakest single and although I was in the Gallagher camp for the Britpop war, Blur deservedly won that particular battle. I would prefer Country House here but that’s only because The Universal is on 96 too. And Stayin’ Alive instead of Set You Free is a baffling inclusion.

    A few more missing tracks…. Diana King – Shy Guy (another movie song that was everywhere but this one was actually, you know, good), Dana Dawson – 3 is Family, Perfecto Allstarz – Reach Up, Montell Jordan – This is How we do It, Radiohead – Just, The Human League – Tell me When and a couple that could also appear on 96 too; The Levellers – Just the One and The Connells – ‘74-‘75.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      I feel your pain FTQ – have worked in cinemas in the past so feel the same overload for the likes of Top Gun. I still think that U2’s 1990s’ material is fantastic so no complaints for the inclusion of either track. Good point re the sequencing – definitely Father And Son should have been placed as a closing tune. Some good suggestions there – I just gone back and listened to Diana King, first time in years. The Connells’ song is my favourite one hit wonder of the decade but at least it’s on the 1995 10th Anniversary.

      As for Blur – no issue with The Universal here. I’d have left them off 1996 completely. Pity Damon Albarn’s Closet Romantic wasn’t released as a single.

  3. cosmo says:

    This one complements the “original” one quite well. I, too, would have preferred Seal’s Kiss from a Rose to U2’s Hold Me… Otherwise, the tracklisting here is all fine. Although East 17 and Sheryl Crow were choices more apt for the previous year’s volume, though foregiveable, as they were still in the chart in January 95.

    (I prefer Mike & The Mechanics to Phil Collins!)

    (Remember this tune from that ad with Sophie Marceau.)

    (Bobby Brown was a welcome inclusion here.)

    As usual, the omissions are spot on. I would have included Missing by EBTG and the Nightcrawlers’s Push the Feeling On. To me, those are two essential 95 tunes.

  4. Pingback: Now That’s What I Call Music 1996: The Millennium Series (EMI / Virgin / Universal, 1999) | A Pop Fan's Dream

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