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Now That's What I Call Music... Revisited

Date: 
October 9, 2017
Writer: 
John Wilson

As a result of an obsession with BBC4's "Top of the Pops: 1984" we had a look at the era's other pop behemoth - the sprawling Now That's What I Call Music series. Starting at volume 1 and carrying on until we get bored we'll report back with highlights and lowlights of each release. First up, John Wilson goes right back to the start and gives us his take on Now 1.

Release Date: 28 November 1983

Peak UK Chart Position: #1

Best Song: Tracey Ullman - They Don't Know

A cover of Kirsty McColl's original (listen out for McColl singing “BAHHBEEE!!!” on this too), released by Stiff Records and a big hit in its day, this 60s girl group homage is the best thing on here. Temptation by Heaven 17 is a good second though.

Worst Song: Limahl - Only For Love

How much did Limahl's management pay for this to be included? Although there were a few strong contenders for the accolade of worst song (the Roberta Flack and Peabo Bryson “Tonight I Celebrate My Love For You” last dance of the school disco smaltz-fest being one) this is gossamer-thin, throwaway pop that should have literally been thrown away in the nearest pop incinerator.

Era Defining Song: Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse of the Heart & Culture Club - Karma Chameleon

You can actually hear the massive hair, shoulder pads and make up. Both massive hits in their day and still well known. Both are about as camp Christopher Biggins putting up a row of tents too.

Daft Track: Malcolm McLaren - Double Dutch

A song about skipping from the Sex Pistols' former manager. What more do you need to know? However, Paul Simon did later use this as the inspiration for his “Graceland” album. Possibly...

Most Surprising Track: Mike Oldfield - Moonlight Shadow
Probably now remembered to people of a certain age as Dave Angel's theme tune, this sticks out like a Farah slacks-wearing middle aged pipe smoker at a One Direction concert. I doubt the youth of 1983 were crying out for MOR fodder like this on their compilations.

Don't Remember: Kajagoogoo - Big Apple

Again, how much involvement did their management have in compiling this album? To be fair there are a few that I don't remember on here. For example, UB40's cover of “Red Red Wine” (the beginning of the end of their career in my opinion) is joined by their lesser-known “Please Don't Make Me Cry” It's as if they agreed to having their “hit” on the album only if their less attractive pal could join the party too.

Aged Well: Madness – The Sun And The Rain

Not one of their massive well known hits but still something that sounds good today and could have easily been released by them in the last few years (and probably was).

Aged Badly: Will Powers – Kissing With Confidence

Basically a duet between Carly Simon and an annoying talking American bloke (actually Lynn Goldsmith using a voice-recorder to sound like a man). I'm sure it was groundbreaking in its day! But then so was the repeal of the Corn Laws.

Indie Infiltration: The Cure – Love Cats

Although massively well known now, it was only a year after they released the album “Pornography” with it's joyous opening of “It doesn't matter if we all die” so possibly quite incongruous in this setting, especially when compared to the likes of Kajagoogoo and Limahl (have I mentioned they are on this album?)

Notes:

2 Kajagoogoo songs and one by Limahl????? Did their manager compile this album? Even I know the Kajagoogoo “universe” wasn't THAT popular in 1983.