Now That’s What I Call Music 1985: The Millennium Series (EMI / Virgin / Universal, 1999)

Now Millennium 1985

Now Millennium 1985 r

Jo Payton’s sleeve notes for the 1985 edition of Now’s Millennium series are centred around Live Aid. There’s a nice snapshot of memories from 13 July: references to Jack Nicholson introducing U2, Simple Minds playing out of Philadelphia plus Queen’s epic performance. The latter were all involved in solo projects that year – Freddie Mercury releasing I Was Born To Love You, John Deacon guesting on Elton John’s Ice On Fire and Roger Taylor producing solo singles by Feargal Sharkey and Jimmy Nail.

Every single track has already been compiled elsewhere. Take a look at these reviews:
The Hits Album 2: Kirsty MacColl – A New England, Ashford and Simpson – Solid, Commodores – Nightshift, Stephen ‘Tin Tin’ Duffy – Kiss Me.
Out Now!: Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule The World, Paul Hardcastle – 19, Nik Kershaw – The Riddle, Phyllis Nelson – Move Closer, David Grant and Jaki Graham – Could It Be I’m Falling In Love, Go West – We Close Our Eyes.
Now That’s What I Call Music 5: Fine Young Cannibals – Johnny Come Home, Duran Duran – A View To A Kill, U2 – The Unforgettable Fire, Marillion – Kayleigh, Katrina and The Waves – Walking On Sunshine, Bryan Ferry – Slave To Love, Phil Collins – One More Night, Kool and The Gang – Cherish, Jimmy Nail – Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.
Out Now!! 2: Billy Idol – White Wedding, Dan Hartman – I Can Dream About You.
The Greatest Hits Of 1985: DeBarge – The Rhythm Of The Night.
Now That’s What I Call Music 6: Queen – One Vision, Simple Minds – Alive And Kicking, Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill, Feargal Sharkey – A Good Heart, Midge Ure – If I Was, Elton John – Nikita, Tina Turner – We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome), UB40 – Don’t Break My Heart, Level 42 – Something About You.
Hits 3 – The Album: Huey Lewis and The News – The Power Of Love, John Parr – St Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion), Colonel Abrams – Trapped.
Hits 4: Pet Shop Boys – West End Girls.
Now That’s What I Call Music 1985: Talking Heads – Road Of Nowhere.

For the second successive year, Queen were in pole position. One Vision was recorded in September 1985, released as a single in November and was also included on the Iron Eagle soundtrack – but the film didn’t made its debut in UK cinemas until August 1986. Other movie tie-ins include Duran Duran’ A View To A Kill, John Parr’s St Elmo’s Fire, Huey Lewis & The News’ The Power Of Love (Back To The Future), DeBarge’s The Rhythm Of The Night (The Last Dragon), Dan Hartman’s I Can Dream About You (Streets Of Fire), Bryan Ferry’s Slave To Love (9 1/2 Weeks) and Tina Turner’s Mad Max II slowburner We Don’t Need Another Here (Thunderdome). 1985 was also the year of The Breakfast Club (Simple Minds are here, but with Alive and Kicking), Desperately Seeking Susan, Fletch, The Goonies, Jewel Of The Nile, Krush Groove, Vision Quest and Teen Wolf. I am currently working on an 80s soundtrack mix project. I’ve bought loads over the years and there’s tonnes of new wave, pop and rock tracks from such films that are obscure or just languishing. It’ll consist of multiple parts and will be finished in early 2018.

War was still a musical theme during 1985. While Orbis’ part-work Nam: The Vietnam Experience 1965-1975 was still two years away, Paul Hardcastle dropped a strong anti-war message with 19, topping the UK charts for five weeks and also a #1 in 12 other countries. 19 featured sampled narration (voiced by Peter Thomas), out-of-context interview dialogue (“I wasn’t really sure what was going on”) and news reports from Vietnam Requiem, the ABC television documentary about the post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by Vietnam veterans. There were three different 12″ mixes in the UK – Extended Version, Destruction Mix and The Final Story – along with other takes recorded in French, Spanish, German and Japanese. The accompanying self-titled album included a version which omitted the Peter Thomas narration, instead using the voice of Clark Peters.

Go West won Best British Newcomer at the 1986 Brit Awards. Their debut single, We Close Our Eyes, went all the way to #5 in the UK with its Godley and Creme directed video becoming an MTV favourite. The debut album – also called Go West – was a soulful pop treat and included successful follow up singles Call Me, Goodbye Girl and Don’t Look Down. A remix LP called Bangs And Crashes followed in 1986. My most enduring memory of them is the appearance of Goodbye Girl in the opening episode of Miami Vice’s second season, The Prodigal Son. Friday nights on RTE 1. Crockett, Tubbs and Jimmy in Club DEliRiOUS. In the same episode is Phil Collins’ Take Me Home, a track which I’d love to have seen instead of One More Night which already made the 10th Anniversary series.

“Do you remember chalk hearts melting on a playground wall
Do you remember dawn escapes from moon washed college halls
Do you remember the cherry blossom in the market square
Do you remember I thought it was confetti in our hair”

1985: when Marillion were gods. Is Misplaced Childhood the last great progressive rock album? I remember when it came out; about a week or so after I broke up for the summer holidays. I’d just finished my first year in secondary school and my taste was getting wider. The concept was conceived by Fish during a 10 hour acid trip. The story has thematic elements of lost love, sudden success, acceptance, and lost childhood, along with an upbeat ending. The wistful Kayleigh follows Midge Ure’s If I Was on this compilation, and is centred around Fish’s ex Kay Lee. Loads of baby girls born during the late spring and early summer of 1985 were named Kayleigh. After the album’s release Fish announced, “Now there is time for one more track… the name of the track is Misplaced Childhood”, and the band performed the entire album in sequence. You still see comments like “I was named after this song” all over YouTube. Sadly Kay Lee passed away in October 2012.

Back to Live Aid. This trio of male artists all played in the afternoon:
2.22pm: Nik Kershaw – Wide Boy / Don Quixote / The Riddle / Wouldn’t It Be Good.
3.49pm: Howard Jones – Hide And Seek.
4.40pm: Paul Young – Do They Know It’s Christmas? (intro) / Come Back and Stay / That’s the Way Love Is” (with Alison Moyet) / Every Time You Go Away.
All had released two albums and between six and eight singles each. Each one of them would release their third LP in 1986 with their respective lead singles all performing (relatively) poorly compared with previous releases.
Nik Kershaw – When A Heart Beats (27).
Howard Jones – No One Is To Blame (16).
Paul Young – Wonderland (24).
The shininess of new pop was coming to an end.

I said this in my review of Now That’s What I Call Music 1985: “What does 1985 mean to me? Well it’s my favourite year for albums; I own more LPs from ’85 than any other and will produce a definitive list of these later on in 2015.” So, slightly later than originally anticipated, here’s 101 reasons why I think 1985 is the best year ever for albums.

10,000 Maniacs – The Wishing Chair
ABC – How To Be A Zillionaire
A-ha – Hunting High And Low
Arcadia – So Red The Rose
Big Audio Dynamite – This Is Big Audio Dynamite
Blancmange – Believe You Me
Michael Brook – Hybrid
Kate Bush – Hounds Of Love
Camper Van Beethoven – Telephone Free Landslide Victory
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – The Firstborn Is Dead

The Chameleons – What Does Anything Mean? Basically
China Crisis – Flaunt The Imperfection
The Church – Heyday
Clan Of Xymox – Clan Of Xymox
Lloyd Cole and The Commotions – Easy Pieces
Phil Collins – No Jacket Required
Colourbox – Colourbox
The Cult – Love
The Cure – The Head On The Door
The Damned – Phantasmagoria

Dead Can Dance – Spleen And Ideal
Dead Kennedys – Frankenchrist
Dead Or Alive – Youthquake
Dexys Midnight Runners – Don’t Stand Me Down
Dif Juz – Extractions
Dire Straits – Brothers In Arms
Dream Academy – The Dream Academy
Stephen TinTin Duffy – The Ups And Downs
Dukes Of Stratosphear – 25 O’Clock
Brian Eno – Thursday Afternoon

Eurythmics – Be Yourself Tonight
Everything But The Girl – Love Not Money
The Fall – This Nation’s Saving Grace
Felt – Ignite The Seven Cannons
Bryan Ferry – Boys And Girls
Fine Young Cannibals – Fine Young Cannibals
Five Star – Luxury Of Life
Aretha Franklin – Who’s Zoomin’ Who
Peter Gabriel – Birdy
Half Man Half Biscuit – Back In The DHSS

Paul Hardcastle – Paul Hardcastle
Robyn Hitchcock and The Egyptians – Fegmania!
Husker Du – New Day Rising
Husker Du – Flip Your Wig
Iron Maiden – Live After Death
Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri – Worlds In A Small Room
Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy
Grace Jones – Slave To The Rhythm
Howard Jones – Dream Into Action
Killing Joke – Night Time

Level 42 – World Machine
LL Cool J – Radio
Lone Justice – Lone Justice
Love and Rockets – Seventh Dream Of Teenage Heaven
Madness – Mad Not Mad
Marillion – Misplaced Childhood
Meat Puppets – Up On The Sun
Mekons – Fear And Whiskey
Microdisney – The Clock Comes Down The Stairs
Mission Of Burma – The Horrible Truth About Burma

Joni Mitchell – Dog Eat Dog
Van Morrison – A Sense Of Wonder
New Order – Low-Life
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Crush
Pale Fountains – From Across The Kitchen Table
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – Southern Accents
The Pogues – Rum, Sodomy and The Lash
Andrew Poppy – The Beating Of Wings
Power Station – The Power Station
Prefab Sprout – Steve McQueen

Prince and The Revolution – Around The World In A Day
Propaganda – A Secret Wish
Chris Rea – Shamrock Diaries
REM – Fables Of The Reconstruction
The Replacements – Tim
Run DMC – King Of Rock
Sade – The Promise
Scritti Politti – Cupid and Psyche ’85
Shriekback – Oil And Gold
Simple Minds – Once Upon A Time

Sisters Of Mercy – First And Last And Always
The Smiths – Meat Is Murder
Belouis Some – Some People
Sonic Youth – Bad Moon Rising
The Sound – Heads And Hearts
Squeeze – Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti
Sting – Dream Of The Blue Turtles
Strawberry Switchblade – Strawberry Switchblade
Style Council – Our Favourite Shop
David Sylvian – Alchemy: An Index Of Possibilities

Talking Heads – Little Creatures
Tears For Fears – Songs From The Big Chair
Richard Thompson – Across A Crowded Room
Thompson Twins – Here’s To Future Days
Those Nervous Animals – Hyperspace
Suzanne Vega – Suzanne Vega
Tom Waits – Rain Dogs
The Waterboys – This Is The Sea
Working Week – Working Nights
Robert Wyatt – Old Rottenhat
Paul Young – The Secret Of Association

Favourite tracks
U2 – The Unforgettable Fire

Duran Duran – A View To A Kill

Bryan Ferry – Slave To Love

Marillion – Kayleigh

Lest we forget
Commodores – Nightshift

Missing tracks and other thoughts
Despite the lack of real surprises, The Millennium Series 1985 is another very enjoyable trip. The first half of CD1 is suitably anthemic with big music – a stadium-like trilogy from Tears For Fears – U2 – Simple Minds. Running Up That Hill + Road To Nowhere = genius. I also love the understated punch of A New England and The Riddle that signs off disc 1. Part 2 is suitably melancholy – West End Girls through Thunderdome via the Howards’ Way yacht vibes of Bryan Ferry and Phil Collins. An extended soul and R&B sequence is works really well too before the closing pop gems of We Close Our Eyes, Kiss Me and Love Don’t Live Here Anymore. It’s a pity that there’s no look back to Now Dance – The 12″ Mixes as the RAH Band’s Clouds Across The Moon would have really worked.

So how does it compare with Now’s 10th Anniversary? Well there are 25 overlapping tracks between the two sets – Fine Young Cannibals, Duran Duran, Marillion, Katrina and The Waves, Bryan Ferry, Phil Collins, Jimmy Nail, Simple Minds, Kate Bush, Feargal Sharkey, Midge Ure, Elton John, Level 42, Kirsty MacColl, Ashford and Simpson, Stephen ‘Tin Tin’ Duffy, Huey Lewis and The News, John Parr, Colonel Abrams, Pet Shop Boys, Tears For Fears, Paul Hardcastle, Phyllis Nelson, Go West, Talking Heads. There were two Now albums released in 1985 and 18 of their tracks are featured on this Millennium entry.

19 songs reached the top of the UK charts during 1985. Only four of them are present whereas the 10th Anniversary set had eight. West End Girls was a 1986 #1. Easy Lover really should be here along with Jennifer Rush. I’d also welcome Wham!’s I’m Your Man. More omissions: The Cure – In Between Days, Paul Young – Everything Must Change or Every Time You Go Away, Howard Jones’ Things Can Only Get Better and anything by King. Frankie Goes To Hollywood were still on a high and the #2 placing for Welcome To The Pleasure Dome should have ensured its selection. Once again, Pie Jesu is regrettably absent while if you’re considering a one hit wonder then who better than Baltimora’s Tarzan Boy or even The Commentators’ 19 ace parody sequenced straight after Paul Hardcastle. Non-obvious choice: Loving You rather than A Good Heart. And of the three big charity records of 1985, We Are The World would have been a grand finale for CD2.

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

Now Millennium 1984

Now Millennium 1984 r

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.


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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Now That’s What I Call Music 1983: The Millennium Series (EMI / Virgin / Universal, 1999)

Now Millennium 1983

Now Millennium 1983 r

After three excellent volumes from the non-Now years, the 1983 instalment sees a move into more familiar territory as we now overlap with both the main Now series and its 10th Anniversary editions. Key events of the year include the following:
1 January: ZTT Records is founded.
8 January: The UK singles chart is tabulated from this week forward by Gallup.
2 March: Compact discs go on sale in the United States. They had first been released in Japan the previous October.
1 September: Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon issue a press statement announcing that Mick Jones has been fired from The Clash.
25 December: Marvin Gaye gives his father, as a Christmas present, an unlicensed Smith & Wesson .38 special calibre pistol so that he could protect himself from intruders. A few months later, Gaye Sr would use it to shoot his son dead.

The stories of 1983’s pop tunes have been told in reviews of the following records:
Raiders Of The Pop Charts: Madness – Our House.
Hotline: Joe Jackson – Steppin’ Out.
Chart Runners: U2 – New Year’s Day.
Chart Encounters Of The Hit Kind: Eddy Grant – Electric Avenue.
Chart Stars: Fun Boy Three – Our Lips Are Sealed, Heaven 17 – Temptation*.
Hits On Fire: Freeez – IOU, Mike Oldfield – Moonlight Shadow*.
Headline Hits: Yazoo – Nobody’s Diary, KC and The Sunshine Band – Give It Up*.
The Hit Squad Chart-tracking: Bananarama – Cruel Summer, New Edition – Candy Girl*.
The Hit Squad Hits Of ’83: Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes – Up Where We Belong.
Now That’s What I Call Music: UB40 – Red Red Wine, Culture Club – Karma Chameleon, Duran Duran – Is There Something I Should Know, Human League – (Keep Feeling) Fascination, Tina Turner – Let’s Stay Together, Peabo Bryson and Roberto Flack – Tonight I Celebrate My Love, Kajagoogoo – Too Shy, Tracey Ullman – They Don’t Know, The Cure – The Love Cats. NB – songs marked with an * above were also included on this first Now album – 13 in total.
Chart Trek: Tears For Fears – Pale Shelter.
Now That’s What I Call Music II: Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Relax.
Now That’s What I Call Music 3: Nik Kershaw – I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.
Now That’s What I Call Music 1983: Elton John – I’m Still Standing, The Jam – Beat Surrender, Level 42 – The Sun Goes Down (Livin’ It Up), Spandau Ballet – True, Siouxsie and The Banshees – Dear Prudence, Style Council – Speak Like A Child.

“For information only. These were the other number ones of 1983.
Michael Jackson – Billie Jean.
David Bowie – Let’s Dance.
Spandau Ballet – True.
The Police – Every Breath You Take.
Billy Joel – Uptown Girl.”
(Blurb on original Now That’s What I Call Music sleeve)

Two down (Spandau Ballet, The Police) so three to go. Two more are here. The first of these – Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl – also kicks off the first CD. Inspired by Frankie Valli and The Seasons with the subject of the lyrics centering on two supermodels. Either / or Elle McPherson and Christie Brinkley. The parent album – An Innocent Man – traces Joel’s musical history through his teenage years in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Doo wop and soul provide the DNA and the album cover artwork was taken on the front steps of 142 Mercer Street, just north of the intersection of Mercer and Prince Street in the SoHo neighborhood in New York City. While it’s somewhat overplayed today, I still have a huge fondness for its retro feel that seemed so out of step back in 1983/1984. Seven singles were released from the LP, so it’s effectively Joel’s Bad / Hysteria equivalent.

After a relatively quiet 1982 (two singles: Cat People and Little Drummer Boy), 1983 saw David Bowie return with a new album on a new label (EMI). Let’s Dance was co-produced by Nile Rodgers with the remit to create a record that had “an original party-funk cum big bass drum sound greater than the sum of its influences.” Listening to it today – in the wake of absorbing myself in the recent A New Career In A New Town box – it sounds very different to the previous home run of classic LPs. A slick production with a commercial feel, it’s a rather radical departure what saw the usual hipster critics turn up their noses – then and now. I really hate elitist pop snobbery like this: “The record had a great deal in common with Wham! and Phil Collins.” (Ed Power, Irish Examiner)

The music video for Let’s Dance was filmed in Australia namely a bar in Carinda (New South Wales) and the Warrumbungle National Park near Coonabarabran. In the beginning it featurs Bowie with a double bass player inside the one-room pub at the Carinda Hotel and an Aboriginal couple dancing “to the song they’re playin’ on the radio”. Bowie’s calling “put on your red shoes” recalls the Hans Christian Andersen’s tale. The singer later confirmed “The red shoes are a found symbol. They are the simplicity of the capitalist society and sort of striving for success – black music is all about ‘Put on your red shoes’.” Stevie Ray Vaughan played guitar and it topped the UK charts for three weeks.

New Order’s Blue Monday was released on 7 March 1983 and subsequently became the greatest selling 12″ single of all time. Running for 7:29 and a crucial link between disco and house, its influences come from five primary sources:
1) Arrangement: Klein + M.B.O. – Dirty Talk.
2) Signature bassline with octaves: Sylvester – You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).
3) Beat: Donna Summer – Our Love.
4) Choir sound: Kraftwerk – Uranium
5) Long keyboard pad on intro and outro: Kraftwerk – Geiger Counter.
In 1999 it was my favourite song of all time. The throbbing synth bass line, the dead pan vocals, the melody that sounds out of sync, the glorious outro. The sleeve was designed by Peter Saville and resembles a 5.25 inch floppy disc. The inner was silver and die-cut. The money facts: It cost so much to produce that Factory Records actually lost money on each copy sold. Matthew Robertson remembers that “due to the use of die-cutting and specified colours, the production cost of this sleeve was so high that the single sold at a loss.” Tony Wilson noted that it lost 5p per sleeve “due to our strange accounting system.”

This Is What You Want… This Is What You Get is one of the most unpleasant albums of all time. It’s definitely a blot on PIL’s copybook and one I try to actively avoid listening to. It contains a re-recorded version of This Is Not A Love Song, probably the most palatable song on the LP. And that’s what is included, not the original 7″. Thankfully normal service would be resumed in 1986 and 1987 with Album and Happy? There’s no Squeeze but we do get Orange Juice. Rip It Up is synth meeting disco with a choppy Chic guitar effect. The Roland TB-303 makes its chart debut here. The 7″ sleeve depicted a US P-40 Warhawk fighter plane (decorated with eyes and teeth) partially submerged, tail first, in the sea. It was drawn by Edwyn Collins. Zeke Manyika bangs the drums. When I was younger I used to confuse him with The Police album Zenyatta Mondatta.

Two of the biggest stars of 1984 were Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Nik Kershaw. To accommodate appearances on this edition and the next one, two of their hits which originated in 1983 but peaked the following year are included now. Relax was released on 24 October and finally reached #1 three months later. ZTT initiated its ad campaign with two quarter-page ads in the British music press. The first ad featured images of Rutherford in a sailor cap and a leather vest, and Johnson with a shaved head and rubber gloves. The images were accompanied by the phrase “ALL THE NICE BOYS LOVE SEA MEN” and declared “Frankie Goes to Hollywood are coming … making Duran Duran lick the shit off their shoes … Nineteen inches that must be taken always.” The second ad promised “theories of bliss, a history of Liverpool from 1963 to 1983, a guide to Amsterdam bars.”

Relax came in a variety of formats and versions:
7″ (Move) ZTAS 1. The standard one. Came in a non-picture sleeve too.
7″ Picture disc (Move) P ZTAS 1.
12″ (Sex Mix) 12 ZTAS 1. Over 16 minutes of action.
12″ Picture disc (Sex Mix) P 12 ZTAS 1. This actually plays the US Mix.
12″ (US Mix) 12 ZTAS 1. Also known as the Long Mix.
MC (From Soft To Hard – From Dry To Moist) CTIS 102.
12″ (Disco Mix). Greece only.
12″ (Long Version). US only. Plays the US Mix.

I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me was originally written as a folk song but Kershaw’s manager signed him up to Peter Collins and Pete Waterman’s Loose Ends production company, so it became a pop anthem in the studio. Although released in mid-September, the song was written during the latter part of the Cold War period when nuclear war between Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States was still a very real concern. It was the era of films like The Day After and Threads. The lyrics reflect a satirical view of politics and the threat of war with lines such as “old men in stripey trousers, rule the world with plastic smiles”, and “forefinger on the button, is he blue or is he red?”
I’ll leave the last word to Nik:
“It’s probably not immediately obvious but I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me is about The Bomb, or rather about people taking responsibility for what they do generally. It’s saying that it probably won’t do much good for one person to shout about these things but I’m going to anyway.” (Number One magazine, September 1984)

Favourite tracks
David Bowie – Let’s Dance

Billy Joel – Uptown Girl

Orange Juice – Rip It Up

The Jam – Beat Surrender

Lest we forget
New Order – Blue Monday

Missing tracks and other thoughts
The Millennium Series 1983 is another well-sequenced volume. Massive pop classics like Uptown Girl and Karma Chameleon give way to new wave and synth pop with a mini dance ‘n’ funk selection at the end of CD1. The second half begins on a romantic vibe before settling into pop gems like Cruel Summer, Too Shy and They Don’t Know. The last third or so is taken up with an alternative set that – PIL aside – is a cracker. Comparisons with its 10th Anniversary rival are inevitable. There are 22 overlapping tracks between the two sets – UB40, Culture Club, Duran Duran, KC and The Sunshine Band, Human League, Heaven 17, Tina Turner, Mike Oldfield, Kajagoogoo, New Edition, Tracey Ullman, Elton John, U2, The Jam, Joe Jackson, Freeez, Level 42, Yazoo, Spandau Ballet, Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes, Siouxsie and The Banshees, Style Council. The Nik Kershaw track can also be found on Now That’s What I Call Music 1984. There was just one Now album released in 1983 and 13 of its tracks are featured on this Millennium entry.

17 songs reached the top of the UK charts during 1983. Nine of them are here while Phil Collins’ You Can’t Hurry Love can be found on the 1982 edition. Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean is notable by its absence – a legacy of the difficulties in licensing his music – while Rod Stewart’s Baby Jane, Paul Young’s Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home) and Men At Work’s Down Under are the three others that fail to appear on either annual round-up. Elsewhere I’d like to make plugs for Ryan Paris – Dolce Vita, The Beat – Can’t Get Used To Losing You, Herbie Hancock – Rockit and take your pick from JoBoxers, Nick Heyward and the Thompson Twins. And as an finale, The First Picture Of You by the Lotus Eaters would have been a perfect sign-up to an absolutely brilliant year of pop.

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