Now That's What I Call Music! 19
Now That's What I Call Music! 19
NOW 19 took its cues from its older brother, 18 in that it featured a big, bland 'NOW' and minimal colours and design. They did though shrink the 'NOW' lettering this time around, allowing space for a two-tone flavour of yellow and purple. Like 18 it is quite hard to see the series number and one has to squint a little to see the array of dark yellow '19s' hiding amongst the slightly lighter yellow block. It could well be that this problem gave us the creation of the 'now' familiar logo which would appear on 20 and remains to this day.
01 – The Clash – Should I Stay Or Should I Go (#1)
I'm going to start this, the nineteenth instalment of the NOW series with a moan. 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go' was a No17 'hit' in 1982 and that's where things should have been left. It wasn't a No1 record, else it would have been back then. But because of idiotic sheeple, it did become a No1 hit in 1991 because these spoon-fed imbeciles insisted on buying any record – no matter what it was – purely because it was in a specific advert. It could've been any record at all: 'Ooh-Wakka-Doo-Wakka-Day', 'Dancing Queen' or 'Mouldy Old Dough' – the same morons would still have been legging it to Our Price the second the commercial break had finished to help give whoever had been featured an undeserved No1 hit. It did however knock the fucking Simpsons off the No1 spot, so there is something to be positive about. Thing is, The Clash weren't an especially big band in their day anyway and never achieved a single Top 10 hit – even when punk was at its peak. They're one of those bands who are now retrospectively rimmed by musos and hipsters who can't describe anything without using the word 'zeitgeist' and describing things as 'seminal'. Despite The Clash being no more in 1991, Columbia records saw the chance for a cash-in, so along came a series of re-issues. 'Rock The Casbah' which made No16, 'London Calling' which made No64 and a new singles collection. Of course, what with The Clash being such a popular act, such a retrospective would have been incredibly popular surely? No68 and on the album chart for a fortnight.
02 – Scritti Politti featuring Shabba Ranks – She's A Woman (#20)
From a No1 to a No20 already then. You might be wondering why a lesser-sized hit which only made No20 has been given such a prime position on the compilation. Well, a quick scan of the sleeve notes explains everything. Firstly, it was included on the compilation before the release of 19. Makes sense. But then you might also wonder why an act whose last two single were three years ago, and failed to chart were expected to suddenly have a big hit. The answer is clearly down to self-promotion from Virgin. Scritti Politti are on Virgin. NOW is a Virgin/EMI release. Simple really. All this hype now makes them look a bit silly as 'She's A Woman' – a sort of pop funk cover of a Beatles song featuring unnecessary interruptions from Shabba 'I Hate Gays' Ranks – wasn't the hit Virgin had hoped for. It's not helped by the fact that 'She's A Woman' isn't a terribly good song in the first place, after all, The Beatles only used it as a B side. It would also be the last time Green Gartside's gang would see the Top 40. Nevertheless, Gartside's penchant for reggae collaborations continued when on next (flop) single – a cover of Gladys Knight & The Pips' 'Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me' - he hooked up with Sweetie Irie - AKA Dean Bent. Let's hope he was just Bent by name and not nature, else Shabba Ranks won't be happy.
03 – The Source featuring Candi Staton – You Got The Love (#4)
The story of this record is one hell of a tangled web, so bear with me if I don't get it entirely correct.
OK, so, as far as I can discover, the original version of the track was recorded in 1986 for a documentary about some obese American bloke. I don't know who – could be any one of about 56,000,000 possibilities. Amongst this original recording was an acappella of the track and the story goes that producer Eren Abdullah created a bootleg by taking this and throwing it over the top of an instrumental house track – namely 'Your Love' by Frankie Knuckles. This bootleg then became legal and in 1991 it was commercially released and commercially successful, reaching No4 in late February. The song does owe its distinctive quavering notes and minimal bassline to Frankie Knuckles and if you have a listen to 'Your Love' you'll see/hear just how much of it was used. A belated follow-up single 'Rock The House' was released in '92 but it bombed. Due to countless remixes, reissues and rehashes though, 'You Got The Love' remains high in the public's consciousness, all of which featured on future NOW releases. The most notable of these is of course what has now arguably become the definitive version of the track, the 'Now Voyager Mix' which made No3 in 1997 and has a place on NOW 36. After this success, there was a brief attempt to revive The Source as an act and move away from 'You Got The Love' when 'Clouds' made No38 in late summer '97 – but it was basically a nothingness of a song with the 'Now Voyager' beats slung underneath it. Jump nine years into the future and an unnecessary new now voyager mix – the New Voyager Mix – was apparently needed. To be fair it peaked at No7 and got itself on NOW 63, so somebody was in need. A few years later still, and Florence + The Machine took it upon themselves to produce another inferior version, which yet again saw the song in the Top 10 (giving it a spot on NOW 74). What then happened to this cover a year later doesn't even bear thinking about, although I will have to come NOW 76.
04 – The KLF – 3 A.M. Eternal (#1)
The KLF were no strangers to No1 hits, nor appearing on a NOW compilation. A quick jaunt back to NOW 12 sees the inclusion of 'Doctorin' The Tardis' under the moniker of The Timelords. Following that though they were concentrating on being The KLF again and in 1989 they went full-on pop with the release of 'Kylie Said To Jason'. An up-tempo, synthpop song which borrowed the melody from 'Endless Love' – although I seem to be the only person who's noticed that - and sounded more like Pet Shop Boys than Pet Shop Boys themselves. Sadly, it bombed but another switch in sounds revived their fortunes and in some style. Reworking instrumental trance piece 'What Time Is Love' into an infectious, electro-rap thumper gave them another piece of Top 10 action. Following on was the anthemic stadium house monster that we have here. Like 'What Time Is Love', '3AM..' began its life as a deep trance track, before being 'popped up' – gaining extra vocals and raps amongst other rattles and blips. Speaking of raps, this release saw the first appearance of Ricardo Da Force – who would become the bands resident rapper before finding a home with n-trance. As well as this, Cauty and Drummond gave the track their trademark big 'live' sound, which was created within the studio. Something that the chaps didn't hide and even made light of, labelling this new single mix 'Live At The S.S.L.' – SSL standing for Solid State Logic, a mixing desk. Part of the track's success lies in its uniqueness. It sounds like nothing else before or since. Listening to it now, it still sounds fresh and because it didn't follow any current fads it isn't dated. The same can also be said for the follow-up to '3 A.M. Eternal' – 'Last Train To Trancentral'. This storming, dance epic rattles along like a runaway steam engine and almost matched its predecessor's success. After speeding into the Top 5, it abruptly it hit the buffers and despite residing at platform No2 for a fortnight, they couldn't dislodge Cher and her 'Shoop Shoop Song'.
05 – C + C Music Factory – Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) (#3)
Known more by its subtitle than main title, 'Gonna Make You Sweat' was David Cole and Robert Clivilles' first outing as the C + C Music Factory. It's the subtitle that opens this distinctive hip-hop-dance fusion, swiftly by some dirty honking, brassy synths and a rap from Freedom Williams (Real name Frederick). Aside from Williams' verses, there's no real song to speak of, just Martha Wash's instructional inserts every now again. If you've not heard it, imagine a party remix of 'The Power' by Snap! A party anthem it certainly is and is still liable to get 'everybody' to 'dance now' at most gatherings. Following up a big hit is never easy, especially when it was your début and in this instance the guys went the safe route. 'Here We Go' tried to encapsulate everything that 'Gonna Make You Sweat...' was, but tried far too hard – in fact the synth refrain is virtually note-by-note identical. As are the beats. Much better was third single 'Things That Make You Go Hmmm', an enjoyably humorous ode about being suspicious which took the two C's back to the top 5. Future releases charted, but not as highly – whether as the 'Factory' or as Clivilles & Cole. Cole sadly died in 1996 due to an AIDS related illness. He was aged just 32. So next time you're hopping about to this whilst out partying, buy yourself an extra drink, raise it in honour of David and thank him for making you sweat.
06 – Nomad featuring MC Mikee Freedom – (I Wanna Give You) Devotion (#2)
The fake crowd samples continue on this the début and only major hit for short-lived dance 'outfit' Nomad created by Damon Rochefort and Steve McCutcheon. Through the clearly-looped cheering emerges a nice acid line, some honking sax and not terribly fast breakbeats. As the track reveals itself, we're also treated to the intermittent wailings of Sharon D. Clarke and a superfluous amount of rap from MC Mikee Freedom. I'm picturing Harry Hill on TV Burp turning to the camera and shrugging there. It's a decent enough track and is widely regarded as a dance anthem. Despite being a huge dance music fan, it's never done a great deal for me, I have to be honest. I spend most of my time listening to it, thinking of others things. For starters, there are these occasional breaks which for some reason makes me think it's going to segue into Adamski's 'Killer'. Another – rather different - artist I'm reminded of are the Mad Jocks, who recorded a silly Scotch dance medley which featured said track. As well as adding a few 'och ayes' to the piece, they also changed the main hook from 'I wanna give you devotion' to 'I want to live in Dunfermline'. Once you've heard it, you can't unhear it - as all the cool kids say. Despite my misgivings, the track was a smash, selling loads but sticking at No2 which the guys would have every right to feel annoyed about, seeing as it was the fucking 'Bartman' keeping it off the summit. Poor quality follow-up 'Just A Groove' - which sounds like a live recording of a jazz club on board a submarine – amazingly made No16, but a further also not-very-good single 'Something Special' – which sadly doesn't feature squeaky-clean, bum-faced, child-annoyer Justin Fletcher - bombed. All was not lost though as both went on to better things – I say 'better', Rochefort became a scriptwriter and wrote several episodes of 'Birds Of A Feather'. Steve McCutcheon however, became Steve Mac and has since become a phenomenally successful writer and producer. Mac has been the producer and writer of so many songs, I can't list them all here. But to give you some idea of his talent, his success ranges from Westlife's 'Flying Without Wings' and JLS' 'Beat Again' , right up to songs as recent as Mabel's 'Dont' Call Me Up' and Ed Sheeran's grammatically incorrect 'Shape Of You', which despite Mac's song-writing prowess, means he deserves to be hurled into a burning lift shaft for the line 'we push and pull like a magnet do'.
07 – EMF – I Believe (#6)
The early nineties saw a number of acts who one could describe as indie-dance. I would put the likes of Jesus Jones in that bag, along with these guys from Gloucestershire and perhaps The Farm too. A number of stories exist about what EMF stands for – none of which are especially interesting. EMF had already launched themselves onto the music scene with the rock-pop anthem 'Unbelievable' – a track which not only hit No3 here, but went to the very top State-side. They then had the unenviable task of trying to match that. They tried with this one – 'I Believe'. There's a lot going on here, with the frenetic chopping pianos at the intro, fast-paced rhythms and crunching guitars. It just lacks a decent hook. There's no real chorus to speak of with what sounds like a rather weedy warbling of the word 'love' a few times between verses. Nevertheless it was a hit – peaking at No6 in February '91. A Top 5 album followed, which had the puntastic but irrelevant title of 'Schubert Dip'. But next single 'Children' – which sounded like an even more manic version of 'I Believe', but with even less of a hook, only just managed the Top 20 and when fourth single, the forgettable 'Lies' only just managed the Top 30, it was time to move on. Post 'Schubert Dip' there was less of a dance feel about their output and more rock. And less fun. They continued to chart around the mid-to-high twenties, largely down to their loyal fan-base until some of the fun returned when in 1995 they collaborated with legendary loons Reeves & Mortimer for a cover of 'I'm A Believer' – which has now superseded The Monkees original as the definitive version of the song. The band continues to tour, reform etc, etc, yadda yaddda yadda...
08 – 808 State – In Yer Face (#9)
Manchester's 'State' had already begun to position themselves as acid house pioneers. Having already impressed with distinctive electronica, such as the mystical horn-fest 'Pacific State' and theme from 'The Big Country sampling hip-houser 'The Only Rhyme That Bites'. 'In Yer Face' wasn't exactly the most accessible slice of dance music the charts has ever seen, but for all its industrial moodiness it was still very catchy and distinctive as its Top 10 placing testifies. The striking, phat bass sounds were a sort a precursor the theme tune they composed for the ghastly but compelling culture/music show The Word, which also included large portions of previous single 'Olympic'. 808 State are perhaps one of those acts that the man in the street doesn't really know anything about, but when presented with examples of their work, like this or 'Pacific State', bells tend to ring. The band's members have continued to record and work in the music industry, but as 808 State things began to tail off from the following year and pretty much ceased by the millennium, although some sort of new album has been pencilled in for 2019. Seeing as dance music has completely run out of ideas these days, it'd be nice if the chaps could help pioneer another new direction for the genre, instead of having to put up with the same old generic toss from the same few producers over and over. In yer face, Calvin...
09 – Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy (#13)
Going against the muso's grain here, I'm going to say it now – 'Unfinished Sympathy' isn't that good. Often regarded as being the first – or at least one of the first – trip-hop records, 'Unfinished Sympathy' began its life as a song that vocalist Shara Nelson had written herself titled 'Kiss And Tell'. Having heard her singing snatches of it the band decided to have a bit of an old jam around it and eventually it became thus. At first the distinctive strings were synthesized, but even now, faux strings always sound a tiny bit tacky – there's no substitute for the real thing. Massive – as they had temporarily decided to call themselves due to worries about it associating them with the Gulf War (I know) – agreed and commissioned a full string section which was recorded at the legendary Abbey Road studios. It cost the band a lot more than they had anticipated but it was money well spent in the long run as the song more than put them on the map. I said at the start though that it isn't that good and it isn't. The song is essentially a few verses with the epic strings and sampled 'hey hey hey' serving as a chorus, and for such a celebrated single, it's perhaps telling that it didn't even make the Top 10. I suppose it's more about the mood than the song itself, but despite the amount of lauding it receives, I myself can take it or leave it. It won't surprise you to learn that 'Unfinished Sympathy'' was listed amongst greatest songs of all time – by readers of The Guardian. Massive Attack have always been a bit of a pretentious act anyway, so it's not surprise that hipsters continue to pull themselves off to this even now – providing they've managed to get parent album 'Blue Line's on vinyl of course. Then when they've finished they might relieve themselves to Metalheadz 'Inner City Life' a bit later on.
10 – MC Hammer – Pray (#8)
For his first UK hit, Mr Stanley Kirk Burrell owed a huge debt to Rick James, then The Chi-Lites and for single No3 from 'Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'em' (whoever 'em' were remains unclear) we got something completely original. Only joking, of course we didn't. This is commercial rap isn't it. So this time, it was the stumpy purple one himself, Prince who saw the main hook from his pop/funk classic 'When Doves Cry' used as the basis for this preachy rap – or 'pap' for short. To be fair mind you, the sample works well and is very effective, but then that's largely down to the fact that it was a fine distinctive piece of music in the first place. As for the lyrics, well it's just Stanley banging on about why we pray – or 'word we pray' – according to online lyrics sources, whilst remembering to send this out to the Lord. If you're still not feeling nauseous then perhaps Burrell's suggestion to “Take a minute, bust a prayer, and you're good to go” might finally have you running for the lavatory. It does seem a touch repetitive too. Some songs are often criticised for being pretentious and never mentioning the title at all. No such problem here as the word 'Pray' features one-hundred-and-forty-seven times. Every now and again, there's a (usually rap) record that for some reason has a 'reply' record. Whilst I've always considered this to be naff and cynical marketing, I've also always considered that 'In Your Dreams You Filthy Old Binman' would make a good reply to 'C'Mon On Eileen', but that's not important right now. I do though think a 'reply' for 'Pray would've been good, listing all the reasons why we don't pray – or 'word' we don't.
11 – Kim Appleby – G.L.A.D. (#10)
Mel & Kim 'widow' Kim Lorraine Appleby's solo career got off to a fine start with No2 smash 'Don't Worry'. Next up was 'G.L.A.D.', a single which again had an up-tempo bounce to it that sounded even more like a Stock Aitken Waterman production than the previous one. It's clear that 'G.L.A.D.' – AKA 'Good Loving And Devotion' - was more than a nod to Mel & Kim hit 'F.L.M.' – AKA 'Fun, Love And Money'. According to Pete Waterman's autobiography F.L.M actually stands for 'fucking lovely mate', a phrase that the sisters regularly used. That makes more sense as fun, love and money should really be 'F.L.A.M.'. This also begs the question as to whether there's a ruder alternative to G.L.A.D. Get Laid And Disappear would work - were Kim a man of course. For all comparisons to 'F.L.M.', 'G.L.A.D.' isn't half as effective as it's distant cousin and feels a little bit contrived. I mean, who actually says that? I've never spoken to a woman on Tinder who lists that as what they're looking for in a potential suitor. It also contains a rather naff and unnecessary rap which is crowbarred into the song at various inopportune moments. 'G'L'A'D'' hit No10 in mid-February 1991 where it sat for two weeks, but her run of Top10 hits came to an end with next single 'Mama' – a down-tempo affair that sounds like Amazulu at the wrong speed. Reaching No19 it also signalled the end of any more hits for Kim full-stop. A fourth single 'If You Cared' missed the Top 40, as did everything that came with second album 'Breakaway'. She does though appear at all these 'Rewind' retro festivals that have sprung up of late and unlike some acts from the day, she does have a decent amount of hits to perform.
12 – Kylie Minogue – What Do I Have To Do (#6)
From a SAW sound-a-like to a genuine bit of SAW then. 'What Do I Have To Do' was the third single to be lifted from Kylie's 'Rhythm Of Love' album and her twelfth straight top ten hit, which is pretty damn impressive one has to admit. A run that would continue for just one further single however. Fourth and final single 'Shocked' also hit No6, but 'Word Is Out' – the lead single from fourth album 'Let's Get To It' – peaked at a disappointing No16. Her popularity was starting to wane now as this fourth album failed to make the Top 10, peaking at No15. When one considers the fact that her first two LPs were No1 (and the third was No9) you can see why Kylie was eyeing a move away from the SAW stable. Regarding' What Do I Have To Do' though, the version included here was a remixed single version and is listed sometimes as the 'New Single Mix' – but not here. This new mix doesn't differ hugely from the album version mind you. There are a few shitty vocal samples at the start and a hi-hat reminiscent of Technotronic, but that aside you wouldn't really know it was a remix if you didn't know. Tweaks aside it remains a decent, up-tempo pop-dance tune, but admittedly not as strong as 'Better The Devil You Know' and 'Step Back In Time'. It's still very polished and dancey, as it was around this time SAW were dipping their toes into the rave scene and sneaking little sounds into their product. This is evident here during the break with a fake crowd sample, chopping pianos and ascending whoop sounds. They went full-on rave in early '92 with 'Do You Dare', the B side to 'Give Me Just A Little More Time'. We can talk about that though when we dissect NOW 21 as said Chairmen Of The Board cover is included on there.
13 – Hale & Pace & The Stonkers – The Stonk (#1)
I'm going to shock younger readers here. Ready? Right. Now, Comic Relief actually used to be comic. I know it's hard to believe because these days its about people from Eastenders doing a dance routine and whoever the current industry darling is pulling a track from the latest album for a charity single, but back then it was a night of comedy and comedians doing silly records. Despite Comic Relief being a BBC thing and Hale & Pace stars of ITV, they were given the honour of representing the charity. Along with comedy writer Joe Griffiths, Gareth and Norm' came up with fictitious dance craze 'The Stonk'. Produced by Queen's Brian it does sound a bit like something that's being played in school assembly by the orchestra and music teacher, but the object was to be silly and it is. Lyrically it's just a list of silly things to do. Most notable is 'microwave a pussy cat for your tea', which is a nod to a skit they did on their ITV show where they clearly PRETENDED to microwave a cat. Something they clearly DIDN'T and WOULDN'T do. Still, thousands of imbeciles complained didn't they. On the track there are a handful of celebrity samples and cameos, including an intro from Angela Rippon. There's also an 'outro' well after the song has finished – a very silly reference to Jacques Cousteau that I shall leave you to find yourself. The single was released as a Double A with the A side given over to Victoria Wood's 'The Smile Song' where she attempted to parody modern pop stars such as Kylie and Pet Shop Boys amongst others. Chart-wise it was No1 for one week, knocking fake No1 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go' off the top spot, before the one and only Chesney Hawkes did the same to Norm' and Gareth the following week.
14 – 2 In A Room – Wiggle It (#3)
2 In A Room were rap/production duo from New York and had already had a club hit – and chart miss (No66) - with the sample house, and surprisingly rap-less 'Somebody In The House Say Yeah'. 'Wiggle It' managed to do both and having become a huge club and chart hit in their homeland in 1990, it eventually crossed over to our shores and repeated its US success. Kicking off with a hard drum and acid blips, things then build with a bassline and organ stabs before Rafael "Dose" Vargas chips in with his rhymes. We then gain some pianos as the verse progress, before we hit the simple, chant-along chorus of 'Wiggle it, just a little bit' which gives the track an insanely catchy hook. All these ingredients mix together well, making 'Wiggle It' a fine party record. One which you don't hear so much at parties these days for some reason. The track was popular at the time and hit the Top 3 in February, spending eight weeks on chart. Follow-up single 'She's Got Me Going Crazy' - which sounded a wee bit like a rap version of Moby's 'Go' - didn't do quite so well and only made No54 in the UK. The pair had a brief resurgence in 1994 when they were signed to dance label Positiva. This was a time when club hits that didn't get any TV or radio exposure would still chart, usually between 20 and 40. A remixed version of 'El Trago (The Drink)' was one such club hit and minor chart hit, making No34 in the October of that year. As well as 'Wiggle It' being popular, the name '2 In A Room' was also popular, with DJ remix service Mastermix. They produced a number of silly novelty tracks under variations of the name, such as 2 In A Tank and 2 In A Takeaway. The most notable of these aliases was 2 In A Tent, which gave Amadeus Mozart (not that one) and Andy Pickles a Top40 hit in December 1994 with a galloping dance cover of George Formby's 'When I'm Cleaning Windows', although according to my Guinness chart book, Mike Stock and Matt Aitken were behind it. My money's on the people behind Jive Bunny, not Jason Donovan.
15 – Vanilla Ice – Play That Funky Music (#10)
Having somehow managed to have a huge hit with a tacky, weakly produced rip-off of Queen and Bowie's 'Under Pressure', Mr Ice was now given the task of following it up. What we got was this, 'Play That Funky Music' - a track which 'Ice Ice Baby' had originally been the B Side to in the US. Yes it is that 'Play That Funky Music' – well it is rap isn't it, you didn't expect something original did you? Wild Cherry's funk classic was obviously chosen for its 'white boy' reference as 'Ice' was of course a white rapper. And being a rapper his contribution to the track amounts to little more than a lame poem added to Wild Cherry's music. I should perhaps give old van Winkle some respect for rhyming 'wino' and 'rhino' to be fair, but apart from that clear moment of genius, the rest is just bollocks. The release of '...Funky Music' was following the success of No4 album 'To The Extreme', so the hype was still very much in the air, allowing Vanilla the chance of a second Top 10 hit – just. And then as quickly as success appeared, it disappeared, when third single 'I Love You' missed the Top 40 altogether. It's hardly surprising if you listen to it. It's little more than the backing track from a Barry White B side, with 'Ice' talking about his woman over it whilst sounding like an utter cock in the process. If it proves anything, its that this is why rappers have to steal records to be successful because when they try themselves, they fail spectacularly. He did actually return to the Top 30 twice after 'I Love You', with two tracks taken from some embarrassing 'live' LP. The pathetic gloat 'Rollin' in My 5.0' and the Rolling Stones rip-off 'Satisfaction'. Since then, the dickhead from Dallas has continued to release material, but to no commercial success. In February 2015, he was arrested and charged with burglary and theft after it was alleged he pinched some furniture, a pool heater, bicycles and other items from a house in Florida. In his defence he claimed that he had thought the house was vacant. That's what I thought too...
16 – Jesus Loves You – Bow Down Mister (#27)
There's some strange track ordering going on here as we move from Vanilla Ice to Boy George's religious 'celebration'. Thinking about it though, it makes sense because both songs are rather embarrassing – just for different reasons. Let's be clear, Boy George has done some great things in his time. He's also done a lot of odd shit too and this is down there amongst the dog turds. The NOW sleeve notes seem very keen for this to be a hit and big up JLY, stating that so far they've had a few “near hits” - an incredibly optimistic way of saying 'flops'. They also declared that 'Bow Down Mister' was “destined to climb”. It did indeed climb, but only as far as just inside the Top 30. It did rather well in Austria for some reason, peaking at a disturbingly high No2. Quite what the appeal is if you're not a follower of the Hare Krishna movement I've no idea – maybe there's a mass of followers in Austria, who knows/cares. It remains painfully cringe-worthy throughout, with its Christian-favoured acoustic guitar and distant harmonica, plus a happy-clappy bongo beat. Then just when you think it's finished, it hasn't and we're 'treated' to some god-awful Indian wailing and some ill-conceived housey piano. If you don't want to stop it after ten seconds of her ethnic caterwauling, then I commend you. I mentioned earlier that MC Hammer's 'Pray' had the word 'pray' repeated throughout it entirety almost 150 times. I'm guessing that 'Bow Down Mister' comes close – not with 'pray' but 'hare', which has enough mentions to give Hammer a run for his money. Fucked if I'm counting them all up though...
17 – Enigma – Sadness (Part 1) (#1)
Not so long ago there was a social media 'thing' whereby you found out what was No1 when on your 14th birthday and this would be the song that essentially sums up your life. This was mine, believe it or not. Yes that's right, sadness sums up my life. Great. Mind you, the track's title is actually 'Sadeness' – a sort of pun on the name of French nobleman/revolutionary/politician/revolutionary/philosopher/writer/dirty bastard Marquis de Sade, of whom the track is meant to be about. The title was only altered to 'Sadness' for the UK. Oh and Japan for some reason. Enigma is the brainchild of Romanian-born German (yes I know) musician/producer Michael Cretu. He had intended to produce something that didn't follow the rules of normal music and he pretty much achieved that by mixing electronic beats with atmospheric scores and in this instance Gregorian chants. Cretu apparently told his wife the project would either be huge or nothing at all. Huge it was. 'Sadness (Part 1)' reached No1 in not only the UK, but also - *takes a deep breath* – Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Far from being a novelty hit, this combination of religious chanting and chilled-out electronica spawned a hit album too. 'MCMXC a.D.' followed shortly after and gave Michael a No1 album too. Several singles followed from the début album, but none charted inside the Top 40. 'Mea Culpa' – which reached a lowly No55 – sounds rather like a remix of 'Sadness', but with less hooks. 'Principles Of Lust' landed four places lower and at least has the novelty of a vocal that could be from Madonna's 'Erotica' and also a bit of a saucy video. It still has those fucking pipes/flutes though. Virgin clearly weren't going to admit defeat and threw out a fourth single – The Rivers Of Belief'. This sounding even more like 'Sadness' than the previous two singles. It even has the same beat. This was far from the end however as Enigma would continue to see success with albums rather than singles, with only NOW 27's 'Return To Innocence' being Enigma's only other hit single. Oh and in case you were wondering, there was a 'Sadness (Part 2)', which appeared a mere 26 years later...
18 – Praise – Only You (#4)
After Enigma had opened up the market for down-tempo, new-age, ambient-influenced pop, production group Praise were one of the first acts to reap the benefits. Helped also by its inclusion in a TV advert for the never popular family car, the Fiat Tempra, 'Only You' was a pleasant enough example of, well, down-tempo, new-age, ambient-influenced pop. It is of course very moody and atmospheric and there's a lot of vocal but very little lyric, with vocalist Miriam Stockley delivering mostly “Ohs and whoas”. Aside from a wobbly 'Only You' every now again, there doesn't appear to be any other actual words. There could be in all honesty, but I can't pick out anything recognisable. Things then go a bit off piste two thirds of the way in with a rather tuneless sax, which is thankfully substituted for a more aurally pleasing flamenco guitar. 'Only You' is all very slick, if a little busy. The NOW sleeve notes suggest that the track was helped by the “musical talents of George Michael's cousin”. No name is given though and further investigation finds that this single mix was remixed by 'Laker Boy', who appears to be none other than Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou himself. A handful of other singles were produced much in the same vein, but none saw the charts – some not even a release. An eponymous album appeared in the US and Canada and featured more of the same, erm, down-tempo, new-age, ambient-influenced pop.
01 - Oleta Adams - Get Here (#4)
It doesn't happen often, but every now and again somebody produces a cover version and it shits all over the original and gains 'definitive version' status. One such example of this is Pet Shop Boys' treatment of The Village People's 'Go West'. Another, is this. Yes, it is indeed a cover. Originally written and recorded by US vocalist Brenda Russell in 1988, Oleta Adams more than made it her own a couple of years later after hearing it in a Stockholm record shop. Russell's original isn't that different, but Adams' vocal delivery is far superior and the switch from chiming organ to piano is a simple but effective change. Written by Brenda herself, she realised the track having witnessed hot air balloons floating over Stockholm – bit spooky that Stockholm keeps cropping up. Brenda's original only saw a US release where it peaked at No37 on the Billboard R&B chart, but nowhere on the Hot 100. Adams' cover not only reached No5 on said Hot 100, but also the Top 5 in the UK and Ireland. 'Get Here' had always been a good song, it just needed a bit more of a polish to become a hit and it was Oleta's performance, Roland Orzabal's production and also its unintentional lyrical relevance to the Gulf War, that made it happen. Missing someone is a timeless state of affairs and will always resonate, especially during wartime and one can understand the sentiment – just get here! Things do get a bit silly on the lyrical, but once you've gone with an idea you have to stick with it. Meaning that Russell ended up with a few slightly surreal ways to reach somebody - windsurfing indeed. Thing is, were this written now you'd have no end of techy ways to reach someone, which would have made Brenda's job a whole lot easier and a lot less silly. Though I think I would rather reach someone windsurfing than Tinder.
02 – Rick Astley – Cry For Help (#7)
Just like Cliff Richard and Sean Paul, dear old Rick Astley is another artist whose name the public struggle with. Cliff Richards, John Paul and Rick Ashley don’t exist, OK? Right, so now we know who we’re talking about, let’s get on. Like Kylie soon would, Rick Astley was getting tired of his association with Stock Aitken Waterman. Because of the sniffy music industry and press slagging SAW off all the time now, Rick decided if he wanted to continue his career he should give them up. ‘Cry For Help’ was the first in the now long-haired Rick’s move towards a more serious and soulful sound. Co-written with Rob Fisher of Climie Fisher ‘fame’, ‘Cry For Help’ is a pleasant, if limp affair. With its tinkly piano it starts off nicely enough, like some end of the night tinkly ballad, but ends up as more of a gospel-tinged ‘adult contemporary’ track. It was certainly a marked change from later SAW singles, such as ‘Take Me To Your Heart’. It performed OK on the singles chart though, reaching No7 in early ‘91. This No7 peak meant that Astley set a chart record for being the first solo male to have his first eight singles all reach the Top 10. The record would end there though with no further Top 10 entries. In fact from then on in there were barely any chart entries at all. Parent album ‘Free’ did make the Top 10 – just – but second and third singles ‘Move Right Out’ and ‘Never Knew Love’ bombed. Fourth album ‘Body & Soul’ didn’t even chart but its second single ‘Hopelessly’ which was moderately successful in the US, charted here at No33. But that was that, and Rick’s career was no longer on a roll. Like a lot of eighties stars though, Astley has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years. Unlike a lot of eighties stars he has produced new product and had great success with it. In 2016 his album ‘50’ hit No1 and two years later ‘Beautiful Life’ made No6. Take note Carol Decker.
03 – Robert Palmer – Mercy Mercy Me/I Want You (#9)
The forever-suave and heavy-smoking Robert Palmer gets himself another NOW appearance, following on from his UB40 collaboration on the eighteenth edition. This single – Palmer’s final Top 10 hit – was a coupling of two Marvin Gaye standards. ‘Mercy Mercy Me’ - Gaye’s somewhat prophetic outlook on the environment and the rather more straightforward ‘I Want You’. Performed in an up-tempo, brassy jazz style, the medley itself works but it does get a bit boring after it moves to ‘I Want You’ and overall has a bit of a ‘cabaret’ feel to it. Still, it had a certain appeal and made No9 in early '91, matching the chart peak of parent album 'Don't Explain'. An album which amongst its superfluous eighteen tracks contained a handful of other cover versions alongside new jazz-rock Palmer material - including Otis Redding re-work 'Dreams To Remember' which became the LP's third and final single. It failed miserably and charted for a sole week at No68 – Palmer's gravelly delivery really added nothing to the original. Perhaps also three covers in a row was a bit much and the gruff old goat might have instead gone for an original of his own.
04 – Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes – (I've Had) The Time Of My Life (#8)
Let me begin by confusing you a little. What we have here is an eighties hit that was taken from a film set in the sixties but still sounds like a product of the eighties and was re-released in the nineties. Let’s break that down a little then shall we? ‘...Time Of My Life’ was a hit back in 1987 when it made No6 after being featured in the hugely overrated chick flick ‘Dirty Dancing’. A film that takes place in 1963 – that’s 1963. I’ve seen the film once at the behest of a girlfriend and apart from finding the film shit, I don’t understand how a song set in 1963 can have the characters perform a song that could not have been made in that era. It would have been perfectly simple to have produced the song with a sixties sound, but it has the sound of the time it was made and that’s the mid eighties. Musical mismatches aside the song features Righteous Brother Bill Medley and er, um, Jennifer Warnes. To be fair to Warnes she was a well-known in the US and had charted in the UK once before with a ‘Up Where We Belong’ which was also a duet and also taken from a film. Originally though, Joe Esposito and Donna Summer were in the frame, but Summer declined due to thinking that due to its title, the film itself was some sort of blue movie. That’ll teach her for letting her ‘Christian views’ dictate everything. So a big finale song from a big film was of course going to be a hit and it was. This was when the film was in the cinema. When it was shown on terrestrial TV over Christmas 1990, the track was apparently subsequently re-released due to ‘public demand’. How that manifested itself back in the early nineties before the internet is anybody’s guess – picketing the record label offices? What’s more likely is that the film saw large viewing figures so the record company took a chance on people wanting it and to be fair, they did. And they still do to this day. Not many discos pass by without ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life’ rearing its admittedly tiresome head. Whilst I’ve got you, can I just ask you to take this on board and pass it on? It is not a slow song, or ballad. It’s not a song for the erection section. Yet for some reason, whenever I play this at a do, the second the acappella intro starts everyone gets into couples and pull each other close as though they’re anticipating ‘Three Times A Lady’. Then thirty seconds in they realise and have to uncouple. You’d think you’d all have realised by now!
05 – The Righteous Brothers – You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' (#3)
A retrospective look at these NOW albums usually gives us a feel of the sounds and styles of the time. With so many re-issues from the fifties and sixties filling up the charts it’s bit harder to gauge what the sound was as we entered a new decade. All it tells us really is that there was a fad for old records, just like there was a fad for ‘UK Garage’ in 2000. We are also told by the writer of the sleeve notes that ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ is, and I quote, “possibly the finest pop record ever made”. It really isn’t. That’s not to say it’s dreadful, of course it isn’t. It just isn’t worthy of such an accolade. I could give it the accolade of ‘most unnecessary use of apostrophes’ for both lovin’ and feelin’ I suppose. Co-written and produced by Phil ‘trigger happy’ Spector, it was recorded by The Righteous Brothers in 1964 and later acknowledged it was one of his greatest, if not the greatest, works. The title of which was intended to be something else and ‘you’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’ was initially nothing more than a ‘dummy line’ with the idea that it be changed later, but Spector ended up liking it and there it remained. Whether or not the line was originally written without any g’s is unknown. Should you not be familiar with the song – for some reason - in summary it’s a blue-eyed soul ballad which appears to shift tempo throughout and features all manner of peaks and troughs – as well as some over the top vocals. Upon it’s original UK chart release it hit No1 after fighting off competition from a version by our Cilla. It was re-released some five years later and again made the Top 10 and then for a third time in 1991 off the back of the success of another re-issue ‘Unchained Melody’. That has continued to stalk the pop charts in a variety of awful ways, where as ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ has now thankfully retired from chart life. There has been one subsequent version I would like to draw your attention to. Whilst not being the finest pop record ever made, there is a version ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ that might go down as the finest cover of a pop record ever made. If it’s not on your radar then it should be, and once it is then you’ll never be able to listen again to the original without hearing Paul Shane – yes, Paul Shane – shouting “Baby baby!” making the ‘brothers’ sometimes over the top vocals seem downright timid. I’ll leave it there so you can head over to You Tube now...
06 – Seal – Crazy (#2)
After coming to everyone's attention when he provided the vocal for Adamski's No1 dance hit 'Killer', Henry Olusegun Adeola Samuel or Sealhenry Samuel – take your pick - was naturally going to be offered some sort of solo deal. The first fruits of his work with legendary producer Trevor Horn was this soulful, arty piece of pop/rock, 'Crazy'. The beaty but soft début is allegedly about things that were happening around the world in 1989/1990 – in particular the fall of the Berlin wall. Whatever its meaning, it struck a chord with the public and spent a whole fifteen weeks in the Top 75. It almost matched the success of 'Killer' but Seal was denied being the vocalist of a second No1 hit by Enigma. No matter though as Seal had now arrived as a serious artist and a No1 LP 'Seal' – yawn – followed. The album spawned more hits, namely Future Love Paradise, The Beginning, a pointless re-recording 'Killer' and 'Violet' - none of which are especially remembered now. But again, no matter, as bigger things were to come. In 2018 Seal became yet another famous male to have some sort of bullshit sexual assault allegation made about him, when some nobody US actress claimed that two years previously she was in Seal's kitchen to retrieve a salad spinner she'd lent him, when all of a sudden he lunged at her and tried to kiss her. Funnily enough, the allegation never came to anything. Whether or not she got her salad spinner back though remains unclear.
07 – Banderas – This Is Your Life (#16)
Similar to Seal stepping out on his own after being a featured artist, Banderas were a duo made up from The Communards' backing singers, who themselves had featured on a No1 hit. 'This Is Your Life' was the first single in the rather short career of Caroline Buckley and Sally Herbert as Banderas. It's one of those records which was moderately successful at the time but hasn't really been heard since and when it is given an airing, elicits a response of 'Oh yeah, I remember this!'. Chugging bassline,funky beats and wacka-wacka guitar licks sounded pretty fresh then and still does today. The verses are also rather reminiscent of Rozalla's 'Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)' which came some six months later, interestingly. You almost found yourself singing 'Brother and sister together we'll make it through'. The track also sees gay potato Jimmy Somerville returning backing vocal favours. As well as helping out on the track, a quick glance at Buckley, suggests that wee Jimmy also helped her out with barber recommendations. 'This Is Your Life' charted in February '91 and should perhaps have climbed a little higher than No16, but there you go. Off the back of this, a Top 40 – just – album was released, which reached No40 – see? A similar, but more string-laden track 'She Sells' was issued from said album, but the song lacked anything really memorable and it unsurprisingly failed to hit the Top 40. As well as hairstyles, they should perhaps also have copied their muse's penchant for cover versions too, then they might have got a second chart entry.
08 – Stevie B – Because I Love You (The Postman Song) (#6)
Joining Living In A Box's 'Room In Your Heart' and Breathe's 'Hands To Heaven' on the 'ballads airbrushed from history' play-list comes this US No1, courtesy of Miami's Mr Steven Bernard Hill AKA Stevie B - although technically it should be Stevie H shouldn't it? 'Because I Love You (The Postman Song)' is a cutesy, piano-tinkling ballad which is not to be confused with 'Hev Yew Gotta Loight Boy' by The Singing Postman. It takes its subtitle from the opening line of 'Got your letter from the postman just the other day' – or post man as Stevie says. As for the bloke who wrote the sleeve notes, he says something rather more odd I'd like to add. I quote: “... released in Britain on Valentine's Day week and had moved-along-very nicely-thank-you to No18 by February 24th”. Of course, I could well be thicker than a whale omelette here, but I don't get what they mean by that at all. It's like they've made a joke that refers to being a postman. Like saying a song called 'The Pilot Song' took off and flew higher and higher up the charts. Maybe postmen are famous for saying 'move along very nicely thank you' and I've never realised. As well us being a US No1 and a Top 6 hit here, the song visited the Top 10 in most of Europe too. Aside from 'The Postman Song' though, B's success was on the whole confined to his homeland. Follow-up 'I'll Be By Your Side' failed to make even the Top75 and so Mr B's UK career failed to move along very nicely.
09 – Chris Rea – Auberge (#16)
For a few seconds there I thought I was listening to 'Hillbilly Rock, Hilllbilly Roll' but thankfully the lead single from the notorious smoggy's eleventh album emerges instead. Sounding a little like a speeded-up 'Road To Hell', 'Auberge' gave the gruffer-than-Robert-Palmer Rea his fourth Top 20 hit. Not that impressive if one considers he first charted back in 1978, but like a lot of his contemporaries, Chris Rea was not a pop single kind of artist. A No16 single was not to be sniffed it however and although it owed a lot to it being a new song to prelude a new album, it's also a pleasant and much jauntier than one might at first imagine. 'Auberge' is a French word meaning 'inn' and I interpret the lyrics to be simply about going to the pub. “This is the naked truth, this is the light, there's only one place left to go – Auberge”. It makes sense, doesn't it? “This is the naked truth, this is the light, there's only one place left to go – the pub”. Things also seem to get a bit sillier as things go on with more instrumentation being added, along with increasingly odd backing vocals as though they're getting more inebriated as the song goes on. I could be completely and utterly wrong but have a listen yourself and imagine it as a song about going to the pub and I think you'll hear it too. You may also note that its bears more than a passing resemblance to the theme from automobile-based stag-do The Grand Tour.
10 – Chris Isaak – Blue Hotel (#17)
Another re-issue! But this one is a deserved one, so we’ll let him off. Best-known for previous single, the Top 10 hit ‘Wicked Game’ Christopher Joseph Isaak had released ‘Blue Hotel’ way back in 1987, when it reached the lowly level of one-hundred on the UK charts. I’m not quite sure just how far the charts go. The shops and radio went with a Top 40, the music industry used to publish a Top 75 every week, so who was recording past seventy-five I’ve no idea. I digress… Having finally cracked the UK charts, it’s perfectly acceptable to have another go with something that didn’t succeed a few years previous. You wouldn’t know it was older as they’re very much two peas from the same pod, as Isaak still delivers his Orbison-esque vocals like certain parts of his anatomy have turned the same colour as his hotel. ‘Blue Hotel’ is a lot more upbeat than the laid-back, sleazy feel of ‘Wicked Game’, but retains all the bluesy, surf-rock sounds one might expect to hear. Listening to it now, it is incredibly hard not to compare him to The Big O and perhaps with a bit more media support he might’ve become The Big I. In the UK at least, there were no further hit singles. That said, Isaak has still received various accolades over the years for his music and continues to record, but his success is largely US and album-based. He is also an occasional actor and you may have spotted him playing the role of a SWAT commander in Silence Of The Lambs – although I doubt it.
11 – Free – All Right Now (#8)
I’m afraid I’m going to have a moan about spoon-fed dickheads buying records because they’re in adverts again. Yep, we have yet another fucking advert re-issue /remix. Back in 1970, bluesy rockers Free scored the biggest of not very many hits when ‘All Right Now’ spent a whopping five weeks at No2, stuck fast behind Mungo Jerry’s ‘In The Summertime’. As summer turned to autumn and Mungo freed himself from his perch, they still couldn't go the final step and in waltzed Elvis with ‘The Wonder Of You’. Paul Rodgers and his band of men hit the Top 5 again the following year with ‘My Brother Jake’ but by ‘73 they’d disbanded, with Rogers moving on to form Bad Company. And that should’ve been it for Free and ‘All Right Now’, but thanks to city centre pavement spoilers Wrigley, they charted again in early 1991 with what is apparently a remix of ‘All Right Now’. It’s a very light remix in that it’s virtually the same. It still starts with that imitable guitar lick which appears at each step of the stripped down verses and the chorus still rocks out in the same way. It didn’t manage to get to No1 again, but No8 was pretty respectable in the circumstances. Four years previous to this re-issue, the song had almost made the Top 40, in the form of a cover version. By Pepsi & Shirlie. Yes, Pepsi & Shirlie. All you need to know is that it made No50. Perhaps they should’ve teamed up with Hubba Bubba...
12 – INXS – Disappear (#21)
Second single from No2 platinum LP ‘X’ was ‘Disappear’, an upbeat chunk of jangly rock that bears more than a passing resemblance to previous single ‘Suicide Blonde’. It’s also about a woman, a woman who when she’s around makes all Mike’s troubles, well, ‘disappear’. It starts off sounding a little like Simple Minds ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’, but when the chorus and guitars crack in, you can’t help but think of ‘Suicide Blonde’. Thankfully there’s no harmonica, just Hutchence giving it the old ‘doo doo doo doo doo’. As with so many rocky bands, their videos are almost always shit and it’s no different here as it’s little more than a fucking boring black and white affair showing the band performing the song in a dark studio. One striking thing about watching the video right now on You Tube is the fact that the song the site offers up next is one ‘(Don’t You (Forget About Me)’! For a record that INXS fans already had on the ‘X’ LP, a peak on the Top 40 at No21 isn’t bad. It also isn’t bad when you consider that INXS weren’t really a hit singles band and only ever had one Top 10 entry. So it wasn’t really surprising that third ‘X’ single ‘By My Side’ - a forgettable and largely acoustic ballad with another boring video - missed the Top 40 altogether. Undeterred, Mercury records put out a fourth and perhaps due to a slow chart week, ‘Bitter Tears’ - a more upbeat but demo-sounding track with yet another boring fucking video of them performing the song in black and white - slid itself into the Top 30 in mid-July. Hit singles were easier to come by in other countries and ‘Disappear’ itself hit No1 in both Canada and Poland. Must have been very slow charts that week.
13 – Belinda Carlisle – Summer Rain (#23)
By the time this hugely underrated piece of melancholy pop rock was unleashed, the charts had already seen a hefty five songs torn from Belinda's platinum LP 'Runaway Horses'. After lead single 'Leave A Light On' had hit the Top 5, 'La Luna' and 'Runaway Horses' reached the Top 40 by a tiny margin and 'Vision Of You' missed it by a tiny margin. Things had picked up again though with the release of the raucously good '(We Want) The Same Thing', which returned the ravishing redhead to the Top 10. 'Summer Rain' really should have joined it, but then perhaps six singles from an album was overkill. With its somewhat moody tone, sinister strings and mournful vocals, the song apparently tells the tale of a widow looking back on her husband lost during conflict somewhere across the other side of the world. Upon his departure he had promised that nothing would change and they would always be together forever. Now a widow, this of course was not the case. Add this very relatable story to the fact that it's already a good record and you have a record that really should receive more appreciation. Belinda herself has been quoted as saying it is her favourite song from her canon of pop creations. It should be yours too.
14 – The Railway Children – Every Beat Of The Heart (#24)
The Railway Children may well have been a classic part of children's literature, but that doesn't mean it makes a terribly good band name. It's rather wet and not the sort of thing one can imagine indie kids would want emblazoned across their long-sleeved T shirts. Formed in Wigan, the foursome initially signed with Factory records, which may well be why 'Every Beat Of The Heart' at least has a very Smiths/New Order type sound. You could probably put them in the same bag as Danny Wilson and at a push, Deacon Blue. The song was the band's sole chart entry and that only happened the second time around, as originally it had only reached a rather lowly #68 back in March 1990. It's quite pleasant, if a little forgettable and it seems time has indeed forgotten it altogether. Hopes were undoubtedly raised a little when the children finally hit the forty and a second hit was perhaps expected. It didn't happen sadly. Follow-up, the punchier, but less catchy 'Music Stop' got no further than No66 and next single, the Charlatans-esque 'So Right' fell at two places lower. I'm struggling to find much more to say about this track, and the band in general in all honesty. Even the video is rather 'meh'...
15 – Thunder – Love Walked In (#21)
The best way I can perhaps describe these rock non-entities is consistently unsuccessful. Despite releasing a handful of singles almost every year throughout the nineties, none registered on your average pop fan's radar. They all charted within the Top 40 mind, but never hung about. From their first entry, positions went thus: 32,25,36,34,21,22,36 etc, etc. Nothing that one could really call a big hit, but not a flop either. Basically it all came down to a very hardcore fan base, but no fair-weather fans. Outside of this undoubtedly double-denimed assemblage, nobody has a clue who they are. If you're reading this in company, ask whoever is there if they've heard of UK rock act Thunder. They haven't. I shouldn't even bother trying to ask them to name one of their songs. They can't. They certainly won't have heard of this, the token balled, 'Love Walked In', which was the fifth and final single to be lifted from début LP 'Back Street Symphony'. As rock ballads go, it's not terribly good and it lacks the emotion, the gloss and perhaps the synthesizers that such a song by their US counterparts might have included. As such, just sounds like a rather tedious, slowed down rock track, as opposed to a proper power ballad. It charted though, peaking at No21 which isn't bad for a fifth single from a rock album, but then as we've noted, Thunder's fans are somewhat dedicated. In fact they remain loyal to this day. As recent as January 2019 saw the band's twelfth studio LP chart at No8 on the UK albums chart. So even now, somebody likes them. Just nobody ever meets anyone who does.
16 – Queen – Innuendo (#1)
The final track of NOW 19 and surprisingly it's a No1 single. Seeing as it's Queen too and not Timmy Mallett one might deem it odd for Queen's third No1 single to be tucked away at the end of the second disc. In this case though I think I have an answer. I would imagine that the compilation compilers were being kind, as this overblown, prog-rock borefest clocks in at a little over six and a half minutes. If one imagines cassette buyers in particular, that's a lot of crap to fast forward through mid- side isn't it. So well done NOW for rightly putting it at the end. Surprisingly, this was only Queen's third since their first hit some seventeen years ago. And this one wasn't even a genuine chart topper. It simply reached the top because it was a new Queen record not on an album, so naturally there were enough Queen fans to buy the single and therefore take it to the top. It spent just one week at the summit and only six weeks in the entire Top 74. It's not surprisingly that it only appealed to Queen fans, because it is absolute bollocks. A pretentious mish-mash of random bits, from standard May guitar to an out of place flamenco break. As for the 'song', well there isn't one that I can spot. Mercury just belts out some forgettable lines throughout whenever he sees fit. After the LP of the same name (inspired...) also made No1, a second single – the much better 'I'm going slightly mad' was issued. What with it already appearing on the album, upon its release, many Queen fans didn't bother because in their eyes they already had it - hence its lowly No22 placing. Of course, had 'I'm Going Slightly Mad' been the lead single, that would've been No1 and 'Innuendo' I doubt would've even made the Top 20, let alone No1. Worries about chart positions though would soon become a huge irrelevance as 1991 would turn out to throw up the biggest moment in Queen's history...
Released – March 1991
High Points – '3AM Eternal', 'Sadness (Part 1)', 'Summer Rain', 'Gonna Make You Sweat'.
Low Points – 'Bow Down Mister', 'Love Walked In', 'Play That Funky Music', 'Innuendo'.
Song Count – 34
Number 1s – 5 this time – and a fair old mix of genres!
Flops – No flops as such – everything made the Top 30.
Notes – As of 2016, NOW 19 was apparently the lowest-selling of the entire NOW series. If true it might have been down to the arguably confusing cover design, which as mentioned earlier, led to every subsequent NOW having the large generic 3D logo. For some reason, there was no VHS companion to this edition.
Overall Mark 6/10