Updated 19 July 2020
© Paul English and A Pop Fan’s Dream, 2014-2020.
Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.
This blog is not affiliated with any record labels that have been involved with releasing Now That’s What I Call Music and / or any other compilation albums.
Any opinions, unless otherwise attributed, are mine alone.
Links to websites such as YouTube are posted for information purposes only. I can take no responsibility for any content that may be amended or deleted after I post the links.
The purpose of A Pop Fan’s Dream is to provide a central resource for pop and dance compilations of the 1980s, 1990s and beyond. This is primarily done via weekly reviews which are published every Saturday. In addition, there are the following sections:
Mixes: This contains tracklists, notes and Mixcloud or Spotify links to my own themed compilations.
Setlists: for any DJing I do.
Words: This is an occasional series for one-off articles or projects. Here you will find my re-imagined or fantasy Now and Hits albums where I assume that both series began in 1980. Spotify links are also included.
The starting point for the reviews was 1983 with the first instalment in the long-running Now That’s What I Call Music series. While the Nows form a core part of these pages, I also analysed their rivals and the burgeoning dance compilations that emerged from 1987 onwards. In addition to UK releases I also focused on European compilations (particularly those late 1980s series from West Germany and The Netherlands as they were great for featuring single edits).
In July 2016, I made a decision to go right back to 1980 and examine a selection of K-Tel and Ronco compilations – plus a few from other labels. These were my earliest exposures to pop music and really re-kindle long buried memories.
The sign of a good compilation is effective sequencing and use of the correct hit versions. Over the years I have purchased thousands of 7″ and 12″ singles. As standalone items they sound wonderful. However when a number of them were squeezed onto one side of an LP (lasting 30 – 35 minutes) the sound quality inevitably suffered. CD compilations were a god-send for me and, aside from releases dating from the early years (say 1980 – 1985), this blog primarily focuses on the shiny discs.
May 2014 – January 2016
Reviews were posted every two days and followed this alternating pattern:
Type #1: The main UK pop compilation series in chronological order i.e. Now That’s What I Call Music, Now Dance, Now spin-offs, Hits, Telstar Greatest Hits Of, Smash Hits, Brit Awards, Best Of Dance etc.
Type #2: All other pop and dance compilations (both UK and European). If there was more than one in a series then I tried to review these in order of release date.
July 2016 – May 2017
Reviews were posted every Saturday and followed a (mostly) chronological pattern of UK compilations from 1980 to 1984. At the end I featured a couple of foreign variants.
May 2017 – May 2018
Reviews continued on a weekly basis. I went back to finish off the canon compilations of the 1990s.
May 2018 – December 2018
For this period, I looked at a selection of UK dance compilations – starting in 1988 and finishing up in 1997.
January 2019 onwards
I am now trawling through the years for compilations that didn’t necessarily make the headlines or make a lasting mark. Ambient moods, soul, soft rock, indie will all feature.
Each post includes commentary under the following headings:
Review. Should be self-explanatory.
Favourite tracks. My personal picks (usually two, three or four songs) with accompanying YouTube clips.
Lest we forget. A YouTube clip of one key track that’s great / underrated / may have slipped through the cracks etc.
Missing tracks and other thoughts. What might have been. What else could have featured. This is really only relevant for Now and Hits albums.
Advertising. If there’s a television advert or promo spot I’ll feature it. If you find one that I’ve missed then please inform me of its existence by commenting on the respective post.
Note on YouTube clips: Please note that I will try to post a link to the version of the track that appears on the compilation (which may not necessarily be the official music video).
Categories and tags
Categories. Albums are categorised under the series they belong to. Standalone compilations will be filed under one of the following: Dance non-UK, Dance UK, Pop non-UK and Pop UK. If you can’t find what you’re looking for under these general categories, then I haven’t got around to reviewing it yet.
Tags. I have disabled these as they were impacting on search engine optimisation results.
Please do not ask me to share copyrighted material via MP3 or other uploads. All the compilations reviewed on this blog are available on the second hand market.
Comments and feedback are welcome here and on any of the posts.
You are also encouraged to follow via email or through my Twitter feed. In addition, you can subscribe to my Mixcloud and YouTube channels.
Spamming and personal abuse will not be tolerated.
Other stuff I’ve written about compilations
When I first starting listening to and buying music in the 1980s, I often dreamed of writing for Smash Hits (1978-2006). It never happened.
Classic Pop magazine has been described as “Smash Hits for adults.” In its December 2017 issue, I wrote a six page feature on pop compilations. You can now read it on their website:
Now & Then: Now That’s What I Call Music
Top 15 Pop Compilations 1980-1999
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