Friday, 29 November 2013

Now listen

Yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of the release of the first Now That's What I Call Music compilation. I own a copy, look, there's my copy over to the left. Funny out of all the records I've owned in the past, that one has stuck with me. I didn't even particularly want it. I was just getting interested in music at the time - I was twelve going on thirteen - and what I actually wanted was a compilation issued as a tie-in with the BBC's Mike Read-fronted Saturday Superstore programme. The reason I wanted that LP was because it contained a track called Love is a Wonderful Colour by a band called The Icicle Works. My sister was an assistant in a record shop at the time and was tasked by my parents to purchase this Saturday Superstore release. As it turns out, they'd sold out of Saturday Superstore so she took it on herself to buy Now... instead. When I unwrapped the parcel on Christmas Day she explained what had happened and passed it off with a "That's miles better, anyway". As it happens, it was miles better. It was through this album that my love for Simple Minds first manifested itself, a love that's held firm, through thick, thin and Street Fighting Years, to this day. Their track Waterfront is included, which I'm guessing was Virgin's way of getting the band some publicity for their new album as the blurb on the sleeve just says "Released from their forthcoming LP and cassette", which was issued in February 1984.
But what else is on there? Well, two tracks each buy Kajagoogoo (no. 1 hit Too Shy and the single Big Apple which made the Top 10 after they booted out Limahl. Limahl's first solo effort, Only For Love, is also on here) and UB40 (Red Red Wine, one of my most hated songs of all time and something called Please Don't Make Me Cry). There's Will Powers' Kissing With Confidence (rotten), Men at Work's Down Under (Oh dear), and Hey You the Rock Steady Crew by, er The Rock Steady Crew, to name but a few.
Leaving out Culture Club's Karma Chameleon - a massive no.1 in 1983 - is perhaps a bit of an oversight (although not in my book, I've always thought it's a terrible record), it was ditched in favour of, in my view, a far superior single, Victims. Whoever wrote the blurb on the sleeve was perhaps a bit optimistic though as it claims that Victims is "Almost certain to be no. 1 by the time you have this". It never reached no. 1, stalling at no.3.
What I'll never understand is why one of my favourite hits of 1983 was missed off: David Bowie's Let's Dance. It should have been a shoo-in, what with The Dame being signed to EMI at the time. Perhaps he refused its inclusion, but I don't know why he'd resist, what with him going for an all-out pop sound at the time.
I find it kind of comforting that they're still being released and still selling in healthy numbers on what we'd these days call 'physical format'. I've just bought my sister's eleven year-old Now 86 for Christmas. That's the same sister who took it upon herself to buy Now... instead of Saturday Superstore back in 1983.
I guess it's a good job I didn't get Mike Read's Saturday Superstore album, or Simple Minds might just be 'another Eighties group' to me today. I did have Mike Read's Pop Quiz board game though. It was crap.

The tracklist in full:

1 You Can't Hurry Love Phil Collins   
2 Is There Something I Should Know Duran Duran   
3 Red Red Wine UB40   
4 Only For Love Limahl   
5 Temptation Heaven 17   
6 Give It Up KC And The Sunshine Band   
7 Double Dutch Malcolm McLaren   
8 Total Eclipse Of The Heart Bonnie Tyler   
9 Karma Chameleon Culture Club   
10 The Safety Dance Men Without Hats   
11 Too Shy Kajagoogoo   
12 Moonlight Shadow Mike Oldfield   
13 Down Under Men At Work   
14 (Hey You) The Rock Steady Crew (1983 Recording) Rock Steady Crew  
15 Baby Jane Rod Stewart  
16 Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home) Paul Young   
17 Candy Girl New Edition  
18 Big Apple Kajagoogoo   
19 Let's Stay Together Tina Turner   
20 (Keep Feeling) Fascination The Human League  
21 New Song Howard Jones 
22 Please Don't Make Me Cry UB40   
23 Tonight, I Celebrate My Love Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack   
24 They Don't Know Tracey Ullman   
25 Kissing With Confidence Will Powers  
26 That's All Genesis   
27 The Lovecats The Cure  
28 Waterfront Simple Minds   
29 The Sun And The Rain Madness   
30 Victims Culture Club