NOW Dance: The 80s is a four-disc set released by NOW Music, which combines most of the tracks from three volumes from NOW Dance: The 12” Mixes, a series of compilations that were released in the 1980’s. The original series included extended or remix versions of songs that were popular in the U.K. at the time, as well as popular club tracks.
When it comes to the tracks included on this compilation, there was a mixture of songs I was familiar with and songs that I didn’t know prior to listening to this. For a lot of the songs that I already knew, I hadn’t heard these mixes before.
Disc One opens with the Extended Dance Remix of Philip Bailey and Phil Collins’ “Easy Lover,” and this was a great choice to open the set with. This is a strong remix for a great song, and I thought it helped to set the stage for what to expect on this compilation album. I’d even go so far as to say that this my favorite mix on this entire compilation.
This disc also includes the Hot Pursuit Mix of Eddy and the Soulband & Mahogany’s cover of “Theme From Shaft.” I wasn’t aware that a cover of this song had been done in the 1980’s, so that was an interesting discovery. Unfortunately, this mix is on the lengthy side, which made the track wear out its welcome. If this mix had been two or three minutes shorter, I probably would have had a better appreciation for it.
Disc One also introduced me to “You Should Have Known Better” by T.C. Curtis through the inclusion of the 12” Version. I’m assuming this is an extended remix, and if it is, it should give a pretty good feel for what the original version sounds like. After hearing this mix, I thought “You Should Have Known Better” sounds like a strong mid-1980’s dance track.
The second disc also includes the Dance Mix of Aretha Franklin’s “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?” I really like the original mix of the song that I heard on the radio back in the mid-80’s, but it’s one of those songs that you really never hear on the radio anymore. I’ve always thought that “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?” is a fun song, and I think this remix captures and retains that feel. This mix may be around eight-and-a-half minutes in length, but it didn’t feel like it was that long when I listened to it.
A track that grabbed my interest on Disc Two was the Shep Pettibone Remix of Timex Social Club’s “Rumors.” When I saw this on the tracklist, I thought I didn’t know the song. But as I listened to this track, I found myself recognizing the chorus. I haven’t heard this song in years, but I must have heard it enough on the radio back when it was being promoted that it remained in my memory. On a personal level, this was a nice discovery. Maybe I should try to track down the original version of “Rumors.”
Disc Three includes the extended mix of “Holiday Rap” by MC Miker G & DJ Sven. This song is basically someone rapping with Madonna’s “Holiday” serving as the background music for the track. The rap isn’t bad, but I think what ultimately sells this song is using an already-known song like “Holiday.” Without the inclusion of “Holiday,” I don’t think this song would have been the hit in the UK that it ended up being.
This disc also introduced me to Phil Fearon & Galaxy’s “I Can Prove It” with the inclusion of the full version of the song. Admittedly, I have no memory of this song from when it was released in the mid-80’s. After listening to this track, I thought it was just an OK song. Musically, I think it has a neat groove, but it just kind of gets stuck in that groove and really doesn’t go much of anywhere until you’re about a minute-and-a-half away from reaching the end. Lyrically, the song falls into the same trap of getting stuck and not really going anywhere. Perhaps I might have a little more appreciation for this song if I heard an edit of it.
Disc Three introduced me to “Don’t Waste My Time” by Paul Hardcastle through the inclusion of the New Extended Version. Before listening to this compilation, my only real knowledge of Paul Hardcastle was the song “19.” And let’s just say that this song sounds quite different. Even though it’s different than what I was expecting, I still enjoyed this mix of “Don’t Waste My Time.” At some point, I’ll need to track down the original version of this song to compare it with this mix.
The fourth disc introduced me to The Cookie Crew through the inclusion of the 12” Version of “Got to Keep On.” As I listened to this song, I couldn’t help but make comparisons with Salt-N-Pepa. From what I see, though, The Cookie Crew was formed first. However, it seems The Cookie Crew’s success was centered in Europe, which would explain why I’d never heard of them before listening to this compilation. This isn’t necessarily a bad song, but I think I prefer Salt-N-Pepa’s material.
Disc Four also introduced me to The Beatmasters featuring Merlin;s “Who’s in the House?” through the inclusion of The Hip House Anthem. Before listening to this compilation, I was only familiar with The Beatmasters through remixes that they’ve done over the years for acts like Depeche Mode, Erasure, The Shamen, and Moby. After hearing this track, though, I found I preferred their remix work over their own material. “Who’s in the House?” just didn’t work for me, and I thought it was among the weaker tracks that were included on this compilation.
This disc also introduced me to Kym Mazelle’s “Got to Get You Back” through the inclusion of The Groovy Piano Mix. Musically, you can hear that is a dance track from the late 1980’s. In that respect, it does sound a little dated. I’m not familiar with the original track, so I don’t know if this sound is caused by the remix or if the elements that sound dated come out of the original track. The song itself sounds promising, but I think I would enjoy it more if I could hear a shorter version of it. This mix, which is almost six-and-a-half minutes in length, makes the song sound repetitive lyrically. Hopefully a shorter version would help with this issue.
The one thing about this set that makes me scratch my head a little is the fact that the first three discs end with either one or two mixes (usually extended mixes) for songs that are ballads, not dance songs. For a compilation being billed as a dance compilation, these tracks feel out of place. And the fact that the fourth disc doesn’t have any of these slower tracks makes the inclusion of them on the first three discs even more puzzling. Of course, since this release is simply gathering up the majority of the tracks that had been included on previously released compilations, it begs the question as to why these ballad tracks had been included on the original compilations to begin with.
Here’s a breakdown of the artists that appear on NOW Dance: The 80s: Philip Bailey & Phil Collins, The Power Station, Eurythmics, Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy, Belouis Some, Eddy and the Soulband & Mahogany, Lillo Thomas, T.C. Curtis, The Cool Notes, Loose Ends, Jermaine Jackson, Phyllis Nelson, Ashford & Simpson, DeBarge, Five Star, Gwen Guthrie, Aretha Franklin, Jaki Graham, Grace Jones, Joyce Sims, Midnight Star, Ca$hflow, Timex Social Club, Boris Gardiner, Communards with Sarah Jane Morris, Jermaine Stewart, Bronski Beat, Sinitta, MC Miker G & DJ Sven, Tavares, Phil Fearon & Galaxy, Paul Hardcastle, Fine Young Cannibals, Double Trouble & The Rebel MC, Tone Loc, Maze & Frankie Beverly, Neneh Cherry, Bobby Brown, Inner City, The Cookie Crew, The Beatmasters featuring Merlin, D-Mob featuring LRS & DC Sarome, Paula Abdul, Kym Mazelle, Yazz, Coldcut featuring Lisa Stansfield, Paul Simpson featuring Adeva and introducing Carmen Marie, and Soul II Soul.
Outside of the questionable inclusion of four slower songs, NOW Dance: The 80s isn’t a bad compilation album. On compilations such as this, there are always going to be tracks included that will be “hit and miss” for listeners depending on their tastes, so I’m not holding that against this one. If you have an appreciation for dance music from the 1980’s, you might enjoy NOW Dance: The 80s.
NOW: Yearbook 1978 is part of a series of compilation CDs being released in the United Kingdom by Sony Music / EMI, which feature songs that were hits in the U.K. during the year featured on each set. As an American, I’ve been finding these discs to be fascinating, since there are some songs and artists I have never heard of included on these releases. There are also artists that I recognize who had some success in the United States, but I don’t know the songs that are appearing on these releases.
Between the four discs in this set, there’s a wide mix of artists and styles included. The first disc includes rock, pop, and disco. The second disc is a mix of alternative, pop, and rock. The third disc features disco and R&B. The fourth disc includes pop and rock.
One of the biggest surprises for me on Disc One was “Dreadlock Holiday” by 10cc. Prior to listening to this compilation, the only song I knew by the act was “I’m Not in Love.” As the song started, I was stunned and found myself thinking, “This was the same band that did ‘I’m Not in Love’?” Musically and stylistically, the two songs are quite different. While “I’m Not in Love” is a ballad, this is a more uptempo reggae track. Even though this wasn’t what I was expecting from 10cc, I thought this was a great song and a neat discovery.
Another song on this disc that I discovered for the first time was “Uptown Top Ranking” by Althea & Donna. This is a reggae track, that, according to Wikipedia, had initially been recorded as joke. The story goes that John Peel accidentally played the song on BBC Radio 1, and this airing resulted in numerous requests for additional plays. “Uptown Top Ranking” is a song that never charted in the United States, and I assume it’s because it wasn’t promoted here. Even though this song may have been recorded as joke, it’s actually a fun and catchy track. I enjoyed this one quite a bit.
Disc One also introduced me to “Substitute” by Clout. According to Wikipedia, this is a new arrangement of a song by Righteous Brothers composed by Willie Wilson. As I heard this song, I couldn’t help but think that during the chorus, Clout was trying a little too hard to sound like ABBA. According to Wikipedia, this song only peaked at #67 on the Billboard Hot 100, which would help explain why I’d never heard it of before listening to this compilation. It’s not a bad song, but I just can’t shake the perception that the band was trying to sound like ABBA.
I was also introduced to “If You Can’t Give Me Love” by Suzi Quatro when I listened to the first disc. Prior to listening to this compilation, I was only familiar with Suzi through her role as Leather Tuscadero on Happy Days. I never knew that she also had a music career. After listening to the song, I thought it was OK, but there wasn’t much to make it stand out from similar-sounding material being released during the same era.
Disc Two introduced me to “Rat Trap” by The Boomtown Rats. Prior to listening to this compilation, the only song I really knew by the band was “I Don’t Like Mondays.” This song doesn’t sound anything like “I Don’t Like Mondays,” and that’s a good thing. This upbeat song is catchy and fun, and it tells the story of a boy named Billy who thinks the depressing town he lives in is a “rat trap.” After hearing this, I think I need to track down some more material by The Boomtown Rats in order to check it out, because I enjoyed “Rap Trap” a lot.
Another song I heard for the first time on this disc is “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)” by Buzzcocks. Technically, I should say that it’s the first time I’ve ever heard Buzzcocks’ recording of it, because I’m familiar with a cover recorded by Fine Young Cannibals in the late 1980’s. Listening to this recording by Buzzcocks, I discovered that Fine Young Cannibals slowed their rendition down quite a bit. Even though I was previously familiar with the cover version, I found that I also enjoyed the original version of this song. The lyrics work with both this uptempo version and the slower tempo recorded by Fine Young Cannibals. I thought this was another great discovery.
This disc also introduced me to “Airport” by The Motors. I’d never heard of either this song or the band prior to listening to this compilation, so I had no idea what to expect. By the time I finished listening to this song, I found that I really enjoyed this power pop/new wave track. “Airport” never charted in the United States, but I don’t know if this was due to the song not being promoted here or not resonating with listeners here. This is a song I wish I had been exposed to much earlier than this, but I’m glad that I’ve now heard it and know that it exists.
Disc Two also served as my introduction to “18.104.22.168.” by City Boy. Again, I’d never heard of either this act or of this song before. However, I was surprised to discover on Wikipedia that this song peaked at #27 on the Billboard Hot 100. I guess the fact that it couldn’t hit the Top 20 on Billboard would explain why I’ve never heard it getting any recurrent play on the radio. It’s a power pop song with some new wave influence, but the new wave sound isn’t as blatant as it was on “Airport.” After listening to both songs, I don’t think that “22.214.171.124.” was quite as catchy as “Airport.” However, I did still enjoy it.
The third disc introduced me to “Sorry I’m a Lady” by Baccara. I knew nothing about this artist or this song before listening to the disc, but I found that I enjoyed this disco-sounding track. The chorus for it is quite catchy. This song never charted in the United States, and I’m guessing that it wasn’t promoted here. While it would have fit with the disco material that would have been popular here in 1978, it also has more of a European sound than the disco hits during this era in the U.S. did.
My favorite discovery on Disc Three was “Singin’ in the Rain” by Sheila & B. Devotion. Yes, this is a disco cover of the song sung by Gene Kelly in the film of the same name. Fans of musicals might be offended by this rendition, but I thought it that worked. This is the same act that did “Spacer,” a song that appeared on NOW: Yearbook 1980, which I also liked, so I was happy to be able to hear another song by them.
Another amusing discovery on this disc was “I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper” by Sarah Brightman & Hot Gossip. Yes, it’s the Sarah Brightman you’re thinking of, and this was her debut when she was 18 years old. This is a disco track that was recorded to cash in on the hype surrounding the original Star Wars film. While the main focus of the lyrics is on Star Wars, there are other science fiction references as well. Musically, the song uses musical themes from Star Wars, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and the “spaceship communication” melody from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Admittedly, the song is on the cheesy side, but I enjoyed it a lot.
Disc Three also introduced me to “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” by Rose Royce. Prior to listening to this compilation, I was only familiar with Madonna’s cover version on the Like A Virgin album. The original version by Rose Royce isn’t bad for what it is, but after listening to Madonna’s cover for almost 40 years, the Rose Royce rendition almost sounds like a demo version. Although I have to give Rose Royce credit for their rendition, since it would have musically been on the cutting edge when it came out in 1978. After hearing this version, it’s obvious that Madonna was able to take this song and make it her own.
Disc Four introduced me to “Bad Old Days” by Co-Co. I’d never heard of this song before, and after reading up on it, I know why I don’t know it. “Bad Old Days” was the British entry for the 1978 Eurovision Song Contest, and it only ever charted in the UK. Musically, it’s a typical sounding late 1970’s pop song that tries to do some minimal experimentation around the chorus. Lyrically, this song is from the point of view of a speaker who is grateful for someone coming into their life and that the time before then was “the bad old days.” Admittedly, it’s not a strong song, but it was still enjoyable.
This disc also introduced me to Elkie Brooks’ recording of “Don’t Cry Out Loud.” Before listening to this compilation, I was only familiar with the Melissa Manchester version of the song. After listening to Elkie’s rendition, I can say that it’s a decent version, but I think that Melissa has the stronger voice between the two vocalists.
The fourth disc closes with “Smurf Song” by Father Abraham. Yes, it’s a song about the little blue creatures. This was the first successful Smurfs record, which was recorded by Dutch singer, writer and producer Pierre Kartner (who recorded it under the name Father Abraham). I loved the Smurfs when I was a kid, so this song piqued my interest, since I had never heard it before listening to this compilation. After listening to it, I can hear why I’d never heard it before. It sounds like something that would have been big in Europe but never would have been a hit in the United States in the late 1970’s. It probably didn’t help that the Smurfs didn’t really become part of pop culture in the U.S. until the early 1980’s.
Here’s a breakdown of the artists that appear on NOW: Yearbook 1978: Electric Light Orchestra; Gerry Rafferty; Rod Stewart; ABBA; Boney M.; 10cc; Althea & Donna; Donna Summer; Chaka Khan; Yvonne Elliman; Chic; Odyssey; Rose Royce; Commodores; Marshall Hain; Clout; Bonnie Tyler; Suzi Quatro; Wings; Kate Bush; The Boomtown Rats; The Undertones; Buzzcocks; Siouxsie & The Banshees; The Rezillos; Blondie; Elvis Costello & The Attractions; The Clash; The Jam; Ian Dury & The Blockheads; Patti Smith; The Cars; The Motors; City Boy; Sweet; Elton John; Billy Joel; The Who; Foreigner; Joe Walsh; Blue Oyster Cult; Jeff Wayne, Richard Burton & Justin Hayward; A Taste of Honey; Tavares; Alicia Bridges; Dan Hartman; Michael Zager Band; Raffaela Carra; Baccara; Sheila & B. Devotion; Voyage; The Three Degrees; Eruption; Dee D. Jackson; Sarah Brightman & Hot Gossip; Crown Heights Affair; Gladys Knight & The Pips; Hot Chocolate; Earth, Wind & Fire; Heatwave; Olivia Newton-John; John Travolta; Darts; Bill Withers; John Paul Young; Barry Manilow; Renaissance; Scott Fitzgerald & Yvonne Keeley; Brotherhood Of Man; Co-Co; Dollar; Andrew Gold; Dean Friendman with Denise Marsa; The Manhattan Transfer; David Soul; Crystal Gayle; Elkie Brooks; David Essex; Brian & Michael featuring St. Winifred’s School Choir; and Father Abraham.
Since I would have been three years old when this material was released, it’s not surprising that there was more here that I wasn’t familiar with when compared to some of the later releases in the NOW: Yearbook series. But thanks to this compilation, I discovered some new (at least, new to me) music that I really enjoyed.
NOW: Yearbook 1978 seems to give a decent overview to the music and songs that were popular in the United Kingdom during that year. This is a compilation CD I would recommend to readers who enjoy an eclectic range of music from the late 1970’s.
“In Your Life” was a previously unreleased track that was released as a single in memory of La Bouche’s vocalist Melanie Thornton, who died in a plane crash in late 2001. The song itself sounds like a “typical” La Bouche track; in some ways, it’s reminiscent of “Be My Lover” and “Sweet Dreams.”
The one drawback to the maxi-single was the fact that neither the original version nor a radio edit of the original was included. The single opens with an extended mix of “In Your Life,” which is an extended version of the original song. It’s a rather straightforward extended version; basically, it just takes the original song and extends out the music to make it longer.
Next is the “DezroK Club Mix,” which is the longest mix on the single. This mix incorporates a harder bassline, and echo effects are occasionally used on the vocals. The mix itself isn’t bad, but it’s a little on the lengthy side. This mix would have been better if it was shorter. I wish the mix was either shorter, or that a radio edit of this mix had been included instead.
The next mix is the “Shane 54 Vocal Mix,” which has a harder bassline than the original; it’s also a faster tempo. There is a lot of echo on the vocals, which are also occasionally distorted. The main problem with this mix is its length; if the ending was cut down by about a minute, then I would enjoy listening to this mix a bit more..
The final track is “The Xquizit DJ X Remix,” which has the vocals processed and pushed to the back of the mix in the intro; during the mix, the processing done to the vocals during the chorus become annoying rather quickly, and the ending just went on for too long. This is a more “synth-based” mix than the others. However, this is easily the weakest mix on the single.
If you’re a fan of La Bouche and want to own every version of “In Your Life” that’s been released, you need to try to find a copy of this single.
(reviewed by Lesley Aeschliman on January 31, 2003)
On May 11, 2023, the Pretenders released “Let the Sun Come In,” the lead-off single from their forthcoming album, Relentless. The last new song I personally heard by the band was 1994’s “I’ll Stand By You,” so when I saw this song included in my new release playlist that’s curated for me by Spotify, I was intrigued and decided check it out. So what did I think?
Musically, I thought “Let the Sun Come In” sounded like the band was doing a throwback to their 80’s material, yet modernizing the sound so it doesn’t sound dated. With the last new song I heard by the band prior to this being a ballad, I appreciated hearing the Pretenders releasing a song that’s rooted in rock.
Lyrically, this song sees the speaker refusing to feel old. In a lot of ways, it also seems like the speaker is refusing to become old. This is most evident in the lines: “To live forever, that’s the plan / The longest living mortal man / With a soul that can’t be perished / With a song that’s always cherished.” The chorus also hits on this theme, especially with lines such as “We don’t have to get fat, we don’t have to get old” and “We don’t have to fade to black.”
Thematically, this song makes sense for Chrissie to sing, since she’s now in the early 70’s. The fact she’s still out here rocking is incredible, and when you listen to the song, you can tell that she’s still got it.
I was impressed by “Let the Sun Come In,” and I’m legitimately interested to hear what else the Pretenders have to offer on their forthcoming album. This song will definitely appeal to fans of the band, and I think the lyrics will also resonate with older listeners. As a woman in her later 40’s, I relate to the thoughts and feelings that the lyrics are portraying.
On June 2, 2023, The Weeknd released “Popular,” a collaboration with Playboi Carti and Madonna, as a single from the soundtrack for The Idol. My main knowledge of The Weeknd comes from the song, “Blinding Lights,” but I was curious to hear something else by him. And seeing that Madonna had involvement with the track piqued my interest even more. So what did I think of it?
Musically, this is a dance track that wears its late 1990’s/early 2000’s R&B influence on its sleeve. When the song first starts, the groove sounds kind of cool. However, as the track goes on, the music doesn’t go much of anywhere. By the end of the song, I felt like the song got stuck in a groove musically and was just starting to wear out its welcome as the song began fading out.
Lyrically, the song is about a woman who tries to act like she doesn’t want the limelight, but in reality, she craves popularity. As the song progresses, the lyrics make it clear that the character of the song is willing to go to any lengths to get that popularity.
As far as the collaboration goes, Madonna is most noticeable in the spoken intro and the second verse. She might also appear as a background vocalist on other sections of the song, but those were the two parts where I could clearly hear her. I thought Madonna sounded great and that her voice blended well with The Weeknd’s. As for Playboi Carti’s contributions, I wasn’t quite as impressed. For most of Playboi Carti’s appearances on the track, I didn’t think he truly added much. It wasn’t until the final bridge where I felt that Playboi Carti truly had a reason to appear in the song.
While I can’t say that “Popular” is a great song, I can’t say that it’s a bad song, either. For me, it was just kind of “meh.” However, I know there’s an audience for this kind of material, and this song will appeal to that audience. Fans of The Weeknd will likely appreciate this track. Fans of Madonna and Playboi Carti should also listen to this song at least once in order to hear their respective contributions and decide if they like the song or not.
On April 21, 2023, Sophie Ellis-Bextor released “Lost in the Sunshine,” a song from her album, HANA. The first and only song I remember hearing by Sophie was 2001’s “Murder on the Dancefloor.” “Lost in the Sunshine” is a song that appeared on the new music playlist that Spotify curates for me every week, and I was curious to check this out, since it’s been over 20 years since I last heard anything by Sophie Ellis-Bextor. So what did I think?
When the song started, I was surprised by how it sounded musically, because it didn’t sound anything like “Murder on the Dancefloor.” I was pleased to hear an evolution to Sophie’s sound, so that isn’t a complaint. Musically, this one has a light and airy feeling about it, and it sounds perfect for a “summer song.” There were points in the song where I thought I could hear a little bit of a 70’s influence on it sonically. This midtempo track is perfect to listen to if you need something a little more laid back to help you relax.
When it comes to the lyrics, Sophie has been quoted as saying, “’Lost in the Sunshine’ is about a lazy, hazy, hot, romantic, perfectly sunny day with the one you love.” After listening to the song, I agree with Sophie’s description. And I really love how the sound of the song helps to emphasize the theme of the lyrics.
Vocally, I thought Sophie sounded a little different than what I remembered from hearing on “Murder on the Dancefloor.” It’s been a little over 20 years, so her voice has probably changed, at least somewhat, during that time. But I think she sounds great on this song.
“Lost in the Sunshine” gives me the impression that the HANA album could have some real potential. I may need to track down other songs from the album to hear what else Sophie Ellis-Bextor has to offer.
On April 27, 2023, Simply Red released the song “Just Like You” as a single from the band’s album, Time. The last time I heard a new song by Simply Red was back in 2003, when “Sunrise” was being promoted as a single. I’d lost track of the band after that, so I was surprised when Spotify included “Just Like You” in the personalized new music playlist that they post to my account every week. I was curious to hear what Simply Red was up to now, so I gave this song a listen. And what did I think of it?
I actually just listened to a copy of Simply Red’s 1992 album, Stars, that I purchased recently, so the sound of that album was fresh in my mind when I went to check this out. As soon as the music for “Just Like You” started, it wasn’t anything like I was expecting from Simply Red. The best way to describe the music of this mid-tempo track is “funky,” which is an adjective I thought I’d never use with a band like Simply Red. But having said that, I do like the sound of this song and its musical arrangement.
Lyrically, “Just Like You” is a love song. Ultimately, what the speaker is saying to someone is that they’re the reason why the speaker is able to love. Yes, it’s a simple sentiment, but with all of the anger and tension in the world today, hearing something with this kind of a message is a refreshing change of pace.
Mick Hucknall, the lead singer for Simply Red, still has the voice that he was known for on the band’s earlier recordings. While he may be older now, you can still hear Mick pull off the blue-eyed soul sound that he’s known for.
My only real complaint with “Just Like You” is the fact that right near the end, the song becomes lyrically redundant. Fortunately, shortly after I thought it was sounding redundant, the song started fading out. And since the song has a runtime of just slightly over three minutes, there wasn’t enough time for the lyrics and music to get stuck in a groove for very long.
While I enjoyed “Just Like You,” I’m not ready to purchase the Time album quite yet. I’ll want to listen to some more songs from it before I make up my mind.
For Record Store Day 2023, Madonna released American Life Mixshow Mix (Honoring Peter Rauhofer). This eight-track vinyl release commemorates the 20th anniversary of the American Life album, as well as honors the late DJ and remixer Peter Rauhofer. However, it should be noted that of the eight remixes included on this release, only four of them were done by Peter Rauhofer.
The first side of the record opens with “American Life [Peter Rauhofer’s American Anthem New Edit].” This is an edit of Peter Rauhofer’s American Anthem Part 1, which originally appeared on the remix CD single for “American Life.” During this era, remixers were doing long remixes that lasted around nine to 10 minutes in length, and they seemed to pad the mixes out by adding a lot of music for the intro and outro. There were a lot of remixes I heard back then where I thought they would have been stronger if they were shorter. This edit cuts the mix down by about six minutes, and sure enough, the mix was stronger due to this edit. I wish an edit of this mix had been released 20 years ago.
This is followed by “Hollywood [Deepsky’s Home Sweet Home Vocal Edit],” which is an edit of Deepsky’s Home Sweet Home Vocal Remix. While the original mix was about seven-and-a-half minutes in length, this edit cuts the mix down by about half. Once again, this edit made this mix stronger, since it took the original version almost four minutes to truly get going. Of course, both versions have the issue of not including a lot of the vocals from the original track, but at least the edit makes this mix more tolerable to listen to.
Next is “Love Profusion [Ralphi Rosario House Vocal Mix],” which is actually a shorter version of the track that appeared on the “Love Profusion” single. However, there’s an even shorter edit of this mix that appears on the Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones release. This mix adds new life to a song that was more of a slow-to-midtempo ballad on the American Life album. The last couple of minutes of this mix drag on a little longer than they need to, though, so if I’m going to listen to this remix, I’d rather listen to the edit that appears on Finally Enough Love.
The first side closes with “Nobody Knows Me [Peter Rauhofer’s Private Life Edit],” which is an edit of the Peter Rauhofer’s Private Life Part 1 remix that appears on the “Nothing Fails” single. Again, this edit cuts the mix down by about half of its runtime. Unfortunately, this is a case where cutting the runtime in half didn’t help to strengthen the mix, because this mix of “Nobody Knows Me” just isn’t as strong as most of the other remixes that appear on this release.
The second side of the record opens with “Nothing Fails [Peter Rauhofer’s Classic House New Edit],” which is an edit of the Peter Rauhofer’s Classic House Mix that appears on the “Nothing Fails” single. The edit cuts around three minutes from the original mix. This mix is a nice interpretation of this song, although it’s not as catchy as Peter Rauhofer’s mix of “American Life.” It sounds like something that would be played near the end of a DJ set to wind down the night at a club.
This is followed by “Mother And Father [Peter Rauhofer’s Re-Invention Edit],” which is an edit of a mix that was originally released on a promo CD-R back in the mid-2000’s. American Life Mixshow Mix (Honoring Peter Rauhofer) marks the first time that any version of this mix has been released commercially. “Mother And Father” was never among my favorite tracks on American Life, and one of the biggest turn-offs for me with it is some of Madonna’s vocal delivery on it. After listening to this mix, I didn’t think it really did anything to help improve the song. Of all the mixes that appear on this release, I thought it was the weakest one that was included.
The next track on the second side is “Die Another Day [Thunderpuss Club Edit],” which is an edit of the Thunderpuss Club Mix that appeared on the “Die Another Day” single. When I reviewed the “Die Another Day” single for AeschTunes back in 2002, I said that the original mix got stuck in a groove but I thought the mix would have been stronger if it was shorter. This edit cuts the mix in half, and I was right, it was a stronger mix when it was shortened down. It still kind of gets stuck in a groove, but it doesn’t feel as repetitive with this edit.
The final track on the second side is “Easy Ride [Tracy Young’s Easy Edit].” The full length version of this mix was originally released on Tracy Young’s Danceculture CD in 2005, and this edit marks the first time that any version of this mix has been included on a Madonna release. I had to re-listen to the original version of “Easy Ride,” because I couldn’t recall what it sounded like. It’s an acoustic track, so it’s surprising that this was chosen to be remixed. Tracy Young is known for putting out good remixes, and she tried her best with this song. It’s not a bad mix for what it is, especially since the original song is an acoustic track. However, the mix is more on the laid-back side, and it just doesn’t quite stand out as much as some of the other mixes included on this release.
I don’t know how easy it’s going to be to find a copy of American Life Mixshow Mix (Honoring Peter Rauhofer) now, since it had a limited release for Record Store Day 2023. However, if you’re a Madonna fan who wants to own every version of every remix that exists in her catalog, this release is worth picking up if you can find a copy of it at your local record store.
Now That’s What I Call 60’s Pop is a compilation CD released in the United Kingdom by Sony Music / EMI, which features songs that were hits in the U.K. during the 1960’s. The set includes a mixture of songs I’m familiar with and songs that I didn’t know prior to listening to this compilation.
One of the most interesting tracks to me on the first disc was Lulu & The Luvvers’ “Shout.” This song was recorded in 1964, and Lulu left the group to go solo two years later. Prior to listening to this compilation, I was only familiar with Lulu through her solo hit, “To Sir With Love.” It turns out that “Shout” is a cover of The Isley Brothers’ hit from 1959. This is a good rendition of the song, although I wasn’t expecting Lulu to sound like she does here, since I only knew her from “To Sir With Love.” This was a nice discovery, and I’m glad I can now say I know more than one song recorded by Lulu.
This disc also includes “Fire” by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, which I had never heard prior to listening to this compilation. It’s definitely… something. Considering this song was released in 1968, I guess the odd sound of the song makes sense for the time period. It appears this song never charted in the United States, and after hearing it, I think I understand why. I recognized the opening spoken part of this song, though, so I must have heard a song that either sampled or recreated it at some point. I just don’t remember what it was, though.
Another song I discovered on this disc is “The Legend of Xanadu” by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. As soon as this song starts, you can tell right away that it was recorded in the 1960’s. It’s not necessarily a bad song, but there’s not really much that helps to differentiate it from other similar songs that were being released at the same time.
On the second disc, the song that stood out to me the most was “The Laughing Nome” by David Bowie. It’s a song of his I’d never heard before listening to this compilation, and it stood out to me in a not in a good way. This isn’t one of David’s better songs, and I can hear why it was left off of the David Bowie greatest hits album that my husband and I own. The “gnome” that talks in the song sounds Alvin from The Chipmunks, since he used the trick of speeding up someone’s voice to provide the sound for this character. If I hadn’t known the song was supposed to be about a gnome, I would have thought he was talking to Alvin.
I was surprised to see a track from Elvis Presley on the second disc, since these compilations usually can’t get the rights to songs by artists with such big names. “Wooden Heart” is a song by Elvis that I’d never heard prior to listening to this compilation, although I have heard Erasure cover it in the past. But when “Wooden Heart” came on, I didn’t recognize it as Elvis right at first. I think the accordion was throwing me off, because I don’t associate accordions with Elvis Presley. But once I focused on the voice, I was like, “Yes, this is Elvis Presley.” Even though it sounds different than what I would expect from The King of Rock and Roll, it’s not a bad song.
Disc Two also exposed me to “Sunny” by Bobby Hebb. Even though this was a top three hit in the United States, I’d never heard this soul jazz standard prior to listening to this compilation. This is a really good song, though, and I’m a little disappointed that I’d never heard it before now.
The big highlight for me on Disc Three is Julie London’s “Fly Me to the Moon.” I’m actually more familiar with this song through its use as the ending theme for the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime. After hearing the various renditions of this song that were used for Neon Genesis Evangelion, I appreciated hearing another version of the song. Even though Julie London wasn’t the original artist for this one, I still enjoyed listening to her recording of it.
Another song that stood out to me was Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas’ version of “Do You Want to Know a Secret.” I’m familiar with the original recording by the Beatles, so this one interested me. This is a decent rendition of the song, but I do think the Beatles’ recording is the stronger version.
The Troggs’ “Love Is All Around” is another song that caught my attention on this disc. Before listening to this compilation, I was more familiar with covers by Wet Wet Wet and R.E.M. I was surprised when I heard the original version by The Troggs, since I was only familiar with this band through “Wild Thing.” This song isn’t something I would have expected from the band that did a song like “Wild Thing,” but this is a great song. After hearing this, I now know that both Wet Wet Wet and R.E.M. remained rather faithful to the original version.
This disc also exposed me to Jackie DeShannon’s “When You Walk in the Room.” Prior to listening to this compilation, the only song I knew by her is “What the World Needs Now Is Love.” This is another song that surprised me, because this isn’t what I would have expected from Jackie DeShannon when I was only familiar with another song that sounds so different. Even though this isn’t something that I expected, I still enjoyed “When You Walk in the Room.”
The fourth disc opens with Ike & Tina Turner’s “River Deep – Mountain High.” I listened to this disc just a couple of days after Tina’s passing, and that added some impact when I heard this track. This song showcases Tina’s voice, and you can already hear here that she was destined to become legendary.
A song that stood out to me on this disc was The Foundations’ “Baby Now That I’ve Found You.” The only song I knew by them prior to listening to this compilation was “Build Me Up Buttercup,” so I was curious to hear something else they’d released. Musically, you can kind of hear some of “Build Me Up Buttercup,” but it’s not a direct copy of it. This is an enjoyable track, but I think that “Build Me Up Buttercup” is the stronger song.
Another song that stood out to me was Marmalade’s cover of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.” Yes, we get another Beatles cover on this compilation album. I don’t want to say that this was a bad cover, but I felt like Marmalade was trying too hard to sound like the Beatles and didn’t really bring anything new into their recording of the song.
This disc also includes “Everlasting Love” by Love Affair. Prior to listening to this compilation, I was only familiar with the cover Gloria Estefan recorded for her 1994 album, Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me. I really liked Gloria’s rendition of the song and thought the original would also be an enjoyable song. After listening to Love Affair’s version on this compilation, I can say that I was right. Gloria stayed rather faithful to the original, but she modernized her version to sound like a contemporary 1990’s dance song.
Here’s a breakdown of the artists that appear on Now That’s What I Call 60’s Pop: The Plastic Ono Band; The Who; The Animals; Manfred Mann; Gerry & The Pacemakers; Herman’s Hermits; The Hollies; The Box Tops; The Temptations; Four Tops; Roy Orbison; Bobby Vinton; Bob Dylan; The Crazy World of Arthur Brown; The Move; Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich; Zager & Evans; The Spencer Davis Group; Tom Jones; Lulu & The Luvvers; Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston; Nina Simone; Simon & Garfunkel; The Byrds; The Mamas & The Papas; The Flowerpot Men; Scott McKenzie; The Stone Poneys; Sonny & Cher; The Crystals; The Chiffons; The Ronettes; The Beach Boys; The Monkees; Ohio Express; Elvis Presley; David Bowie; The Tokens; Little Peggy March; The Toys; Bobby Hebb; Jeff Beck; Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity; Traffic; Peter Sarstedt; The Everly Brothers; Cliff Richard & The Shadows; The Righteous Brothers; The Walker Brothers; Dionne Warwick; Petula Clark; Sandie Shaw; Andy Williams; Julie London; Astrud Gilberto & Walter Wanderley; Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames; The Drifters; The Four Seasons; Stevie Wonder; Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs; Bruce Channel; Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas; Freddie & The Dreamers; Jackie DeShannon; The Mindbenders; The Troggs; The Tremeloes; Ike & Tina Turner; The Supremes; Martha & The Vandellas; The Miracles; Aretha Franklin; Helen Shapiro; Dusty Springfield; Love Affair; The Foundations; The Searchers; The Easybeats; The Honeycombs; Tommy Roe; Marmalade; The Scaffold; The 5th Dimension; Matt Monro; Mama Cass; Esther & Abi Ofarim; Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin; Skeeter Davis; and Engelbert Humperdinck.
Now That’s What I Call 60’s Pop includes a lot of great music. Fortunately, the weaker songs are few and far between on this compilation, which helps to make it an enjoyable listen. If you have an appreciation for music from the 1960’s, I would recommend trying to get a hold of this release to add to your music collection.
On May 19, 2023, Swedish rock band Ghost released Phantomime, a five-track EP of cover songs. The final track on the release is a cover of Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome),” which has received major attention after Tina’s passing on May 24, 2023.
I first heard of this band when they contributed a version of “Enter Sandman” to The Metallica Blacklist, a tribute album for Metallica’s 1991 self-titled album. While their version of “Enter Sandman” didn’t make much of an impression on me, I still decided to check out Ghost’s cover of one of my favorite Tina Turner songs.
Musically, the song is a little more upbeat than the original, but this works for what Ghost was going for with this cover. I appreciate that the band wasn’t simply trying to replicate the sound and feel of the original. They brought something new to the table and made this song their own. I give them credit for not trying to compete with the original.
I think that while the words may be the same between both versions, the vocal delivery really differentiates the two of them. In Tina’s original version, the lyrics are more of a plea than a statement of fact. With Ghost’s vocalist’s delivery of these same words, he’s demanding that there be no more heroes. I think that both these takes on the lyrics work.
It’s kind of chilling that Ghost’s cover of “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)” was released just five days before Tina Turner’s passing. I know it’s likely that there will be listeners, like me, who hear about this cover with the news of Tina’s death and check it out. I wish I had heard about this cover version before her passing, though.
Ghost’s rendition of this song is worth checking out, especially if you have an appreciation for cover songs.