If there was Now before Now

Now before now

While the primary remit of this site is to publish weekly reviews of compilations from the distant past, I thought it might be fun to rewrite history and create some re-imagined or fantasy editions. This project works on the premise that the Now That’s What I Call Music series started in April 1980 (instead of November 1983) and released three volumes per year. I have assumed that fairly strict licensing restrictions did apply – particularly at the beginning of the venture as success needed to be earned & the series established. Priority has been given to EMI and Virgin artists. Playlists for each album are now on Spotify – links below – so accordingly a few track substitutions were required – denoted by an asterisk in the listings. The originally-intended song will be mentioned underneath. In an ideal world, every 7″ mix would be on Spotify but there is a tolerance for album versions once they’re not excessively lengthy. Each volume consists of 30 songs over four sides of vinyl – you need to take the side breaks into account when listening. As always, I would encourage people not to use the shuffle option as sequencing and track flow is key. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments box below.

Now 1980.1
Record 1 Side 1
01 Queen – Save Me
02 Pink Floyd – Another Brick In The Wall
03 Squeeze – Another Nail In My Heart
04 Peter Gabriel – Games Without Frontiers
05 Genesis – Turn It On Again
06 Joe Jackson – It’s Different For Girls
07 Jon & Vangelis – I Hear You Now

Record 1 Side 2
08 Pretenders – Brass In Pocket
09 Tourists – So Good To Be Back Home Again
10 The Vapors – Turning Japanese
11 B.A. Robertson – Kool In The Kaftan
12 Cliff Richard – Carrie
13 Kenny Rogers – Coward Of The County
14 Marti Webb – Take That Look Of Your Face
15 Rupert Holmes – Escape (The Pina Colada Song)

Record 2 Side 1
01 The Jam – Going Underground
02 Blondie – Atomic
03 Martha & The Muffins – Echo Beach
04 Boomtown Rats – Someone’s Looking At You
05 John Foxx – Underpass
06 New Musik – Living By Numbers
07 The Whispers – And The Beat Goes On

Record 2 Side 2
08 UB40 – King
09 Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Geno
10 Body Snatchers – Let’s Do Rock Steady
11 The Selector – Three Minute Hero
12 The Specials – Too Much Too Young
13 Elvis Costello & The Attractions – I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down
14 The Shadows – Riders In The Sky
15 Mike Oldfield – Blue Peter

Released April 1980. All tracks present and (mostly) correct although it would be nice if the 7″ version of Another Brick In The Wall was on Spotify. A clean introduction is always nicer. You can find it on The 80s – The Album Of The Decade. This one brings back some very strong memories of second class in the Bantiles – before they burned down and packed us off to the Youth Centre. As is traditional, Queen get side 1, track 1.


Now 1980.2
Record 1 Side 1
01 Queen – Play The Game
02 David Essex – Silver Dream Machine *
03 Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Messages
04 Hot Chocolate – No Doubt About It
05 Roxy Music – Over You
06 Paul McCartney – Coming Up
07 Kate Bush – Breathing
08 Don McLean – Crying

Record 1 Side 2
09 Blondie – Call Me
10 Joan Armatrading – Me Myself I
11 Leo Sayer – More Than I Can Say
12 Dr Hook – Sexy Eyes
13 The Korgis – Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime
14 Dynasty – I’ve Just Begun To Love You
15 Sky – Toccata

Record 2 Side 1
01 Gary Numan – We Are Glass
02 The Cure – A Forest
03 Siouxsie & The Banshees – Christine
04 Human League – Empire State Human
05 Sex Pistols – (I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone
06 The Ruts – Staring At The Rude Boys
07 Jona Lewie – You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties
08 Fischer-Z – So Long

Record 2 Side 2
09 UB40 – Food For Thought
10 Madness – Night Boat To Cairo
11 The Specials – Rat Race
12 Bob Marley & The Wailers – Could You Be Loved
13 The Beat – Mirror In The Bathroom
14 Junior Murvin – Police & Thieves
15 Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart

Released July 1980. Queen start us off again while it can only end with Love Will Tear Us Apart. My intention was to follow Play The Game with The Yellow Machine Orchestra’s Computer Game (Theme From The Invaders), a tune which evokes the arcade machines in The Penguin chipper. Due to its unavailability, I settled for David Essex and Silver Dream machine. Note the inclusion of Virgin’s faint hopes, The Human League.


Now 1980.3
Record 1 Side 1
01 The Jam – Start
02 Roxy Music – Oh Yeah (On The Radio)
03 Rolling Stones – Emotional Rescue
04 Robert Palmer – Johnny & Mary
05 Cliff Richard – Dreamin’
06 Hazel O’Connor – Eighth Day
07 Sheena Easton – 9 To 5
08 Kenny Rogers – Lady

Record 1 Side 2
09 The Police – Don’t Stand So Close To Me
10 Spandau Ballet – To Cut A Long Story Short
11 Kate Bush – Babooshka
12 XTC – Generals And Majors
13 Skids – Circus Games
14 Matchbox – When You Ask About Love
15 Dennis Waterman – I Could Be So Good For You

Record 2 Side 1
01 Queen – Another One Bites The Dust
02 Kelly Marie – Feels Like I’m In Love
03 Gibson Brothers – Mariana
04 Grace Jones – Private Life
05 Dexys Midnight Runners – There, There My Dear
06 Bow Wow Wow – C30, C60, C90 Go
07 Split Enz – I Got You

Record 2 Side 2
08 Blondie – The Tide Is High
09 Madness – Baggy Trousers
10 Bad Manners – Special Brew
11 Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Enola Gay
12 Gillan – Trouble
13 Darts – Sh-Boom
14 Jona Lewie – Stop The Cavalry
15 St Winifred’s School Choir – There’s No One Quite Like Grandma

Released November 1980. The single version of Start! seems to have vanished no matter what The Hit Parade may say. There’s a rare outing for the Rolling Stones while we end with a hotly tipped number. You’ll forgive me in time, I hope. And all would change, change utterly on 8 December.


Now 1981.1
Record 1 Side 1
01 John Lennon – Woman
02 Ultravox – Vienna
03 Madness – Embarrassment
04 The Look – I Am The Beat *
05 The Freshies – I’m In Love With The Girl On The Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk *
06 Steve Winwood – While You See A Chance
07 Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight

Record 1 Side 2
08 Blondie – Rapture
09 Kelly Marie – Hot Love
10 Heatwave – Jitterbuggin’
11 Kool & The Gang – Celebration
12 The Whispers – It’s A Love Thing
13 Beggar & Co – (Somebody) Help Me Out
14 Linx – Intuition
15 Yarbrough & Peoples – Don’t Stop The Music

Record 2 Side 1
01 Kim Wilde – Kids In America
02 Visage – Fade To Grey
03 Passions – I’m In Love With A German Film Star
04 Spandau Ballet – The Freeze
05 The Beat – Too Nice To Talk To
06 The Specials – Do Nothing
07 The Who – You Better You Bet
08 Tony Capstick & The Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band – Capstick Comes Home

Record 2 Side 2
09 John Lennon – (Just Like) Starting Over
10 Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Plan B
11 Polecats – John I’m Only Dancing
12 Racey – Runaround Sue
13 Styx – The Best Of Times
14 Rainbow – I Surrender
15 Roxy Music – Jealous Guy

Released April 1981. The long cold winter lingers in the memory. You could call this the John Lennon edition – he gets two slots plus we end – inevitably – with Roxy Music’s Jealous Guy. On side 1, I originally intended Dave Stewart & Colin Blunstone’s What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted to be followed by Yoko Ono’s Walking On Thin Ice. Nevertheless, The Look and The Freshies are more than ample replacements albeit placing the latter with Steve Winwood means you say “What! They both didn’t make the top 40!”


Now 1981.2
Record 1 Side 1
01 Smokey Robinson – Being With You
02 Michael Jackson – One Day In Your Life
03 Quincy Jones – Razzamatazz
04 Sheena Easton – When He Shines
05 Odyssey – Going Back To My Roots *
06 Phil Collins – If Leaving Me Is Easy
07 Elaine Paige – Memory

Record 1 Side 2
08 Vangelis – Chariots Of Fire
09 The Specials – Ghost Town
10 The Jam – Funeral Pyre
11 Squeeze – Is That Love
12 Public Image Limited – Flowers Of Romance
13 Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes
14 Bob Marley – No Woman No Cry
15 Hazel O’Connor – Will You

Record 2 Side 1
01 Human League – The Sound Of The Crowd
02 Duran Duran – Planet Earth
03 Spandau Ballet – Musclebound
04 Depeche Mode – New Life
05 Japan – The Art Of Parties
06 Ultravox – All Stood Still
07 Kim Wilde – Chequered Love

Record 2 Side 2
08 Coast To Coast – (Do The) Hucklebuck
09 Kirsty MacColl – There’s A Guy Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis
10 Bad Manners – Can Can
11 Teardrop Explodes – Treason *
12 Toyah – I Want To Be Free
13 Siouxsie & The Banshees – Spellbound
14 Tenpole Tudor – Swords Of A Thousand Men
15 Red Sovine – Teddy Bear

Released July 1981. I am not sure what’s going on with Imagination and Spotify but excluding the non-dub singles means an unfortunate gap for Body Talk which I have plugged with Odyssey’s Going Back To My Roots. And in an ideal world, Wordy Rappinghood would have snuck in ahead of Treason. What’s that you say? “Great to hear Teddy Bear again.”


Now 1981.3
Record 1 Side 1
01 Soft Cell – Tainted Love
02 Depeche Mode – Just Can’t Get Enough
03 Human League – Open Your Heart
04 Duran Duran – Girls On Film
05 Spandau Ballet – Chant No 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On)
06 Japan – Quiet Life
07 ABC – Tears Are Not Enough
08 Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Souvenir

Record 1 Side 2
09 Stevie Wonder – Happy Birthday
10 Ottawan – Hands Up
11 Olivia Newton-John – Physical *
12 Linx – So This Is Romance
13 Diana Ross & Lionel Richie – Endless Love
14 Madness – It Must Be Love
15 Sheena Easton – For Your Eyes Only

Record 2 Side 1
01 The Jam – Absolute Beginners
02 Ultravox – The Thin Wall
03 The Police – Invisible Sun
04 Squeeze – Labelled With Love
05 Elvis Costello – A Good Year For The Roses
06 Aneka – Japanese Boy
07 UB40 – One In Ten

Record 2 Side 2
08 Fun Boy Three – The Lunatics (Have Taken Over The Asylum)
09 Godley & Crème – Under Your Thumb
10 Bill Wyman – (Si Si) Je Suis Un Rock Star
11 Genesis – Abacab
12 Cliff Richard – Wired For Sound
13 Alvin Stardust – Pretend
14 Ten Pole Tudor – Wunderbar
15 Queen & David Bowie – Under Pressure

Released November 1981. Again, Imagination are solely missed although Olivia’s Physical packs many punches. The power of the new romantic movement is fully illustrated on the first side; I am sure many of you listened to K-Tel’s Modern Dance that Christmas.


Now 1982.1
Record 1 Side 1
01 Human League – Don’t You Want Me
02 Kraftwerk – The Model
03 Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Maid Of Orleans (The Waltz Of Joan Of Arc)
04 ABC – Poison Arrow
05 Depeche Mode – See You
06 Associates – Party Fears Two
07 Soft Cell – Say Hello Wave Goodbye

Record 1 Side 2
08 The Jam – Town Called Malice
09 XTC – Senses Working Overtime
10 Stiff Little Fingers – Listen
11 Fun Boy Three & Bananarama – It Ain’t What You Do, It’s The Way That You Do It
12 Dexys Midnight Runners – The Celtic Soul Brothers *
13 The Stranglers – Golden Brown
14 The Mobiles – Drowning In Berlin
15 Visage – The Damned Don’t Cry

Record 2 Side 1
16 The J Geils Band – Centrefold
17 Robert Palmer – Some Guys Have All The Luck
18 Status Quo – Dear John
19 Tight Fit – The Lion Sleeps Tonight
20 Toni Basil – Mickey
21 Elkie Brooks – Fool If You Think It’s Over
22 Adrian Gurvitz – Classic
23 Geoffrey Burgon – Brideshead Revisited Theme

Record 2 Side 2
24 Kool & The Gang – Get Down On It
25 Roxy Music – More Than This
26 Philip Lynott – Yellow Pearl
27 Shakatak – Easier Said Than Done
28 Godley & Creme – Wedding Bells
29 Jon & Vangelis – I’ll Find My Way Home
30 Japan – Ghosts

Released April 1982. The sound of The Big Snow; a formative period in my musical development as I listened to more radio than ever before. I has hoping for the rare inclusion of an Adam & The Ants track – the reissued early single Deutscher Girls – but to no avail. While the CBS stuff is all there (and will feature in If there was Hits before Hits), Dexys step here. Licensing The Associates was tricky but it worked out in the end.


Now 1982.2
Record 1 Side 1
01 Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder – Ebony & Ivory
02 Elton John – Blue Eyes
03 Bananarama with Fun Boy Three – Really Saying Something
04 Madness – House Of Fun
05 Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf
06 Echo & The Bunnymen – The Back Of Love
07 The Steve Miller Band – Abracadabra
08 Roxy Music – Avalon

Record 1 Side 2
09 Pigbag – Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag
10 Shalamar – I Can Make You Feel Good
11 Junior – Mama Used To Say
12 Hot Chocolate – Girl Crazy
13 Pluto – Your Honour
14 Shakatak – Night Birds
15 Queen – Body Language

Record 2 Side 1
01 Charlene – I’ve Never Been To Me
02 Prelude – After The Goldrush
03 Captain Sensible – Happy Talk
04 The J Geils Band – Freeze-Frame
05 Natasha – Iko Iko
06 Kid Creole & The Coconuts – I’m A Wonderful Thing Baby
07 Monsoon – Ever So Lonely
08 Tight Fit – Fantasy Island *

Record 2 Side 2
09 Yazoo – Only You
10 ABC – The Look Of Love
11 Soft Cell – Torch
12 Gary Numan – We Take Mystery (To Bed)
13 Talk Talk – Talk Talk
14 Simple Minds – Promised You A Miracle
15 Classix Nouveau – Is It A Dream

Released July 1982. While Fantasy Island is undoubtedly a pop classic, I was really hoping to include Chalk Dust: The Umpire Strikes Back by the enigmatic Brat. Unsurprisingly it’s nowhere to be found on Spotify. That was the year Jimmy Connors surprised McEnroe in an underrated Wimbledon final. Elsewhere Queen are relegated to propping up side 2.


1982.3
Record 1 Side 1
01 Musical Youth – Pass The Dutchie
02 Dexys Midnight Runners – Come On Eileen
03 The Belle Stars – The Clapping Song
04 Bananarama – Shy Boy
05 Madness – Driving In My Car
06 Soft Cell – What
07 David Essex – Me And My Girl (Nightclubbing)
08 Trio – Da Da Da

Record 1 Side 2
09 Duran Duran – Save A Prayer
10 Talk Talk – Today
11 Simple Minds – Glittering Prize
12 Tears For Fears – Mad World
13 The Jam – The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had To Swallow)
14 Mari Wilson – Just What I Always Wanted
15 Human League – Mirror Man

Record 2 Side 1
01 Culture Club – Do You Really Want To Hurt Me
02 Hot Chocolate – It Started With A Kiss
03 Rockers Revenge featuring Donnie Calvin – Walking On Sunshine
04 Kid Creole & The Coconuts – Stool Pigeon
05 Fat Larry’s Band – Zoom
06 Shalamar – A Night To Remember
07 Japan – I Second That Emotion

Record 2 Side 2
08 Wham! – Young Guns (Go For It!)
09 The Kids From Fame – Hi-Fidelity *
10 Haysi Fantaysee – John Wayne Is Big Leggy
11 Midge Ure – No Regrets *
12 ABC – All Of My Heart *
13 Blancmange – Living On The Ceiling
14 Heaven 17 – Let Me Go
15 Yazoo – Don’t Go

Released November 1982. A busy year for compilation albums which you can read about elsewhere on this site. The final side sees a compromise of sorts as the following tracks were not on Spotify: Pinkees – Danger Games, Philip Jap – Total Erasure, Wavelength – Hurry Home. I am sure you’ll agree that the subs bench is more than adequate.


Now 1983.1
Record 1 Side 1
01 Duran Duran – Rio
02 Malcolm McLaren & The World’s Famous Supreme Team – Buffalo Gals
03 In Deep – Last Night A DJ Saved My Life
04 Central Line – Nature Boy
05 Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes – Up Where We Belong
06 Lionel Richie – Truly
07 John Williams – Flying (Theme From ET: The Extra-Terrestrial)

Record 1 Side 2
08 Wham! – Wham Rap
09 David Joseph – You Can’t Hide (Your Love From Me)
10 Level 42 – The Chinese Way
11 Talk Talk – My Foolish Friend
12 Tracey Ullman – Breakaway
13 Pale Fountains – Thank You
14 Style Council – Speak Like A Child
15 Culture Club – Time (Clock Of The Heart)

Record 2 Side 1
01 David Bowie – Let’s Dance
02 A Flock Of Seagulls – (Wishing) I Had A Photograph Of You *
03 Orchestral Maneouvres In The Dark – Genetic Engineering
04 Ultravox – Hymn
05 Marillion – He Knows You Know
06 Big Country – Fields Of Fire
07 Blancmange – Waves

Record 2 Side 2
08 U2 – New Year’s Day
09 Joe Jackson – Steppin’ Out
10 Tears For Fears – Change
11 Maisonettes – Heartache Avenue
12 China Crisis – Christian *
13 Madness – Tomorrow’s Just Another Day
14 The Belle Stars – Sign Of The Times
15 The Jam – Beat Surrender

Released April 1983. The two awkward buggers are Orange Juice (Rip It Up) and Wah! The Story Of The Blues. Sort it out lads! However both subs A Flock Of Seagulls and China Crisis are bloody superb. Meanwhile there’s the changing of the guard with The Jam and The Style Council on the one compilation.


Now 1983.2
Record 1 Side 1
01 Spandau Ballet – True
02 F.R. David – Words
03 Elton John – I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues
04 The Police – Every Breath You Take
05 Booker Newberry III – Love Town
06 David Bowie – China Girl
07 Cliff Richard & The London Philharmonic Orchestra – True Love Ways

Record 1 Side 2
08 Yazoo – Nobody’s Diary
09 Culture Club – Church Of The Poison Mind
10 Donna Summer – She Works Hard For The Money
11 Freeez – I.O.U.
12 Wham! – Bad Boys
13 Style Council – Money Go Round (Part 1)
14 Tracie – The House That Jack Built
15 Joan Armatrading – Drop The Pilot

Record 2 Side 1
01 New Order – Blue Monday
02 Galaxy featuring Phil Fearon – Dancing Tight
03 Mezzoforte – Garden Party
04 Tom Robinson – War Baby *
05 Bob Marley & The Wailers – Buffalo Soldier
06 I-Level – Minefield
07 Fun Boy Three – Our Lips Are Sealed

Record 2 Side 2
08 Big Country – In A Big Country
09 Heaven 17 – Come Live With Me
10 The Cure – The Walk
11 Tears For Fears – Pale Shelter
12 Robert Wyatt – Shipbuilding
13 Kissing The Pink – The Last Film
14 David Sylvian & Ryuichi Sakamoto – Forbidden Colours
15 Lotus Eaters – The First Picture Of You

Released July 1983. The soundtrack to strawberry picking and one of the hottest summers ever. The continuing absence of Jimmy The Hoover’s Tantalise continues to disappoint; that’s why Tom Robinson’s sweat dance of equals, War Baby is here. Side 3 is a groove-busting 31 minutes with Blue Monday and Garden Party taking up over 13 and a half minutes between them. If the 7″ mix of the Mezzoforte classic ever shows up on Spotify, be sure to let me know. “Seeing the flowers scream their joy.”

4 Responses to If there was Now before Now

  1. Andrew Chinnock says:

    Hi mate, I have a bit of a random collection for music. I was 5 in 1983. I used to play keyboard in a ska/punk band, so had some of the pre 83 era covered.

    I love the way there’s several tracks that would be considered “forgotten 80s”. Each cassette side makes sense. When I’ve attempted mine it’s been a look at chart successes. You’ve gone beyond that. It’s either an intelligent approach that you’ve used or instinctive. Probably both.

    I could entirely imagine these being released when they were. I sometimes talk compilations with my wife. She doesn’t see what the fuss is about. I see these as nuggets that represent that small time period when they were released. They encapsulate that short period of time. No compilation ever manages that truly, but the aim is to get close. She couldn’t care less.

    I think this is superb and I can’t wait for your Hits albums before they came to being. Just need them on cd!

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Hi Andrew – yes, definitely a few that were massive for few weeks and then nothing. A total fade away. I have tried to avoid falling into the retrospective compilation trap which is picking the brightest lights and instead approached it from a actual trawl through the charts. I also have my original notebooks to refer to. These contained my own lists and charts.

      I have tried to keep to the licensing “rules” but there is a bit of leeway and crossover. The first Now came out in April so nabbed Brass In Pocket. Hits is targeted to start in June 1980 so will grab all the future Pretenders 45s.

      You’re spot on re the time capsule – they capture a fleeting period, but impossible to be 100% accurate. Close is sometimes good enough because you can never go right back into the past – there’s always an invisible wall stopping you.

      Hits series is well underway. It’ll consist of two per year and 32 tracks each. So nine in total bringing it up to June 1984.

      Thanks for your kind words and support.

  2. Jens Arne Kristensen says:

    Thank you for doing this great work. I love it. *Just an illusion’ / Imagination is hard to miss. One of my all time favourites. I think I would add the album version.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s