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Celebrating the variously compiled world of pop.

Celebrating all things related to the variously compiled world of pop.
Latest Episode10/28/2022

NOW 9 - Spring '87: Will Harris

Season 3, Ep. 10
Jack, jack, jack….wait? What? Who is this Jack?It’s 1987, and the future has arrived in the shape of the first No1 of the year courtesy of Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley - House Music is here!Hold up, wait a minute!As the ninth edition of the famous Now, That’s What I Call Music testified from within it’s (so 80s!) Ring binder cover, the charts were much more varied. Whilst dance music was loading up its record box and turning up the BPMs for the coming 12 months, the 30 top chart hits across the four sides of the latest compilation was telling a whole different story. Those big jeans adverts (or was that River Phoenix?) were bringing a spritely 48 (!) Year old Ben E. King back to the top, Jackie Wilson was r-r-r-r-esplendent in plasticine all over again and even Freddie Mercury was camping up The Platters smash from 1956 with The Great Pretender. What decade are we in again?Fear not, as 1987 was definitely serving up its fair share of blistering singles from the likes of Robbie Nevil, The Blow Monkeys, a-Ha, Westworld and many others! Bright new things like Erasure, Curiosity Killed The Cat and Simply Red were rubbing shoulders with more experienced chart names like The Pretenders and Genesis whilst a swingorilliasnt smattering of one-off acts like Mental As Anything and Taffy were providing some shiny, memorable pop memories.And Hot Chocolate were back, Back, BACK and testing our knowledge of which Greatest Hits they were promoting this time (clue - not the Malteser one).So much to unpick, and who better to do it with than pop fan and Needle Mythology records’ Will Harris. Find out how Will passed his Elvis impersonator test (and which song he chose), how he championed the store racks (and West London's soul boys) of the 80s Our Price stores, and how the Finn Brother’s dad provided some much loved appreciation for his sons’ demo tracks.And discover Will’s big 1987 favourites from NOW9 and what was missing (spoiler - they were all on HITS6!)Let's fly high (like a rocket in the sky) back to a pop year like no other, and get ready for some great (BIG HAIR) memories!Altogether now, woooahh, we're half way there....
10/28/2022

NOW 9 - Spring '87: Will Harris

Season 3, Ep. 10
Jack, jack, jack….wait? What? Who is this Jack?It’s 1987, and the future has arrived in the shape of the first No1 of the year courtesy of Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley - House Music is here!Hold up, wait a minute!As the ninth edition of the famous Now, That’s What I Call Music testified from within it’s (so 80s!) Ring binder cover, the charts were much more varied. Whilst dance music was loading up its record box and turning up the BPMs for the coming 12 months, the 30 top chart hits across the four sides of the latest compilation was telling a whole different story. Those big jeans adverts (or was that River Phoenix?) were bringing a spritely 48 (!) Year old Ben E. King back to the top, Jackie Wilson was r-r-r-r-esplendent in plasticine all over again and even Freddie Mercury was camping up The Platters smash from 1956 with The Great Pretender. What decade are we in again?Fear not, as 1987 was definitely serving up its fair share of blistering singles from the likes of Robbie Nevil, The Blow Monkeys, a-Ha, Westworld and many others! Bright new things like Erasure, Curiosity Killed The Cat and Simply Red were rubbing shoulders with more experienced chart names like The Pretenders and Genesis whilst a swingorilliasnt smattering of one-off acts like Mental As Anything and Taffy were providing some shiny, memorable pop memories.And Hot Chocolate were back, Back, BACK and testing our knowledge of which Greatest Hits they were promoting this time (clue - not the Malteser one).So much to unpick, and who better to do it with than pop fan and Needle Mythology records’ Will Harris. Find out how Will passed his Elvis impersonator test (and which song he chose), how he championed the store racks (and West London's soul boys) of the 80s Our Price stores, and how the Finn Brother’s dad provided some much loved appreciation for his sons’ demo tracks.And discover Will’s big 1987 favourites from NOW9 and what was missing (spoiler - they were all on HITS6!)Let's fly high (like a rocket in the sky) back to a pop year like no other, and get ready for some great (BIG HAIR) memories!Altogether now, woooahh, we're half way there....
9/16/2022

NOW 19 - Spring ‘91: Niall McMurray

Season 3, Ep. 9
1991.It was the first palindromic year since 1881, and to be honest I’m not really up on the hits of that particular Victorian number. (Newsflash: Bruckner’s 6th Symphony was pretty hot that year)Fast forward to the 2nd year of the ‘nineties’ as we called it, and there are plenty of other newsflashes abound. War in the Gulf dominated the spring (news and charts, but more of that later), Eastern Europe was reshaping, and on TV it was either Springfield or a cup of damn fine coffee. So what was taking up the prime positions on the nation’s favourite compilation series in March 1991?Well, you actually may have been wondering what year it actually was. 1982? 1987? 1965? 1970? They were all here (you know which songs were which, don’t you? Of course you do.)Yes pop fans, TV, film, and TV films amongst other factors (chewing gum, jeans, Patrick Swayze) were all leaving quite a mark on the topper most region of the charts. However fear not! The story of NOW, That’s What I Call Music 19 is much, much more - resplendent in it’s purple and yellow (ahem!) gatefold cover. The biggest number of tracks to date (34!), encompassing the blossoming decade’s many exciting genres (and Stevie B).And so we throw open the doors and welcome (amongst others) The KLF broadcasting loud and proud on Radio Freedom, Massive (yes, no Attack during this war period) providing a bona fide Unfinished classic, Kylie being totally imperial, Seal being totally everything and Chris Rea being like a pub (we believe) and providing youngsters up and down the country with the perfect CD for Dad this Christmas.Elsewhere there were big ballads (Oleta and long haired ‘serious’ Rick), big dance (The Source and Nomad) big pop (Belinda, her wonderful hair and INXS) and a majestic (if not entirely singable) ending from Steve Howe (and Queen).And yes, alright, seeing as you ask the totally amazing Banderas. One hit wonder or not? You decide.And indeed our guest does! Into the PopVoid blogger (he says it’s coming BACK, possibly) and all round Scots pop super fan Niall McMurray steers us expertly and enthusiastically across the hits, headlines (and Stevie B) from volume 1991. He also provides some great stories about growing up and branching out as a student in Glasgow (I was there too!), suggests some amazing (and they are AMAZING) missing tracks and we both, quite frankly, gush justifiably about ABBA Voyage. All of this and much more (it says in my notes) - and find out why EMF, Hale and Pace and probably several others won’t be returning our calls anytime soon. 1991 - Awesome! (As a few other similar looking compilations told us.)
8/23/2022

NOW 18 - Autumn ‘90: Lucy Bright

Season 3, Ep. 8
1990. Well it certainly was time for the guru, but as the first year of the new decade was drawing to a close, it was time - a little time, if you will - for so much more. And as always, our favourite compilation series was there to capture it all.So volume 18 provided us with the NOW albums second numbered album of 1990 in the shape of big ballads, bigger ballads, pop, rock, dance, indie and even Timmy Mallet. Yes, all life forms were present and correct! Elton was BACK and, with Bernie Taupin, scoring his biggest hit in years (and a first solo No1!). Sinead was rewriting the Prince songbook and music video like no one else could, William Orbit was quietly ushering in the rest of the decade with some fascinating rhythms and Kylie was not only sidling nicely alongside her then boyfriend Michael in INXS, she was riding on the love train somewhere back in time.There were remixes and reissues aplenty too; best of albums for PiL and Talk Talk alongside (are we allowed to say indie dance?) excursions from The Cure, Sting and Suzanne vega were reminding us that the 80s were still a force to be remixed with.And so to step back in time to NOW18 in this episode we are joined by film and TV music supervisor Lucy Bright. Lucy started out at Mute Records working with artists such as Nick Cave and Depeche Mode, she then moved to Warner Classics for six years before leaving to manage composer Michael Nyman.In 2020 Lucy launched her own music publishing company, Bright Notion Music, which currently represents and nurtures some of the world’s most influential artists and composers working today. And Lucy has music supervised some of the most critically-acclaimed British films and TV series of recent years: Samantha Morton’s directorial debut The Unloved, Charlotte Wells’ Cannes winning After Sun and both Shane Meadows’s This is England ‘90 and The Virtues.So we can think of no one better to navigate us through an album chock filled with film and TV related tracks! Jeans! Pottery Wheels! Julia Roberts! Bridesmaids! Julian Temple in the desert! Tim Pope in a wardrobe! As well as deciphering these conundrums, Lucy also joyfully revisits her first (and only?) NOW album whilst delighting us with some wonderful and personal stories including guest appearances from Youth, James Mason, Prince (and a chocolate milkshake), Michael Hutchence, Shane Meadows and Holly Knight (she wrote some big songs, oh yes) to name but a few! 1990 - who has time for the guru with all of this going on?Jump straight back in to the wonderfully eclectic and memory packed NOW18!
7/30/2022

NOW 6 - Autumn ‘85: Polly Birkbeck

Season 3, Ep. 7
‘One goal, one mission…one vision!’.November 1985, and the latest poptastic edition of NOW kicks off with the unifying cry from Freddie and the boys, after an unforgettable summer when music really did seem to change the world from London to Philadelphia and beyond. But how representative of those wonderful UK charts is Now, That’s What I Call Music 6?Well, the events of Live Aid had certainly worked some magic for the chart placings for some with such luminaries as Queen, Elton, Phil and Tina all checking in across this double album. Elsewhere, some of the decades greatest pop stars where reinventing their sound as the second half of the 80s required some image and sound makeovers. Level 42, Eurythmics and Simple Minds were powering on, whilst new acts such as Fine Young Cannibals and The Communards were emerging and looking forwards to their own future decade success.Dance music was certainly evolving and while the DJs in Chicago were beginning to plug in their 808s, the dancefloor hits of NOW6 had a distinctive Europop feel, thanks to the Tarzan inspired Baltimora, Mai Tai and Maria Vidal’s evergreen body rocking workout. Elsewhere, three fifths of Duran Duran were looking for your votes (mark x next to Arcadia for that particular side project), some 80s alternative greats were still providing memorable hits and Paul Hardcastle was switching his focus from Vietnam to The Great Train Robbery with the help of Bob Hoskins and Laurence Olivier. Yes, it was indeed the 80s!And of course, we can’t revisit this compilation without mentioning THAT first Deal with God. Stranger Things indeed!Join Complete Control PR Madam and Popmaster champion Polly Birkbeck as we head back to Now, That’s What I Call Music 6 and the rest of autumn 1985.And if all of this wasn’t enough, discover Polly’s first musical glam and punk loves, which bands she followed around the country in ‘85 (do fans still even do this outwith TikTok?), what was the best year for pop and why she doesn’t really want to talk about Live Aid.As the tagline on the album instructed us, Feel The Quality indeed!
7/5/2022

NOW 14 - Spring ‘89: Andrew Harrison

Season 3, Ep. 6
Welcome to the end of the eighties! Pop’s greatest (it was, wasn’t it?) decade was getting ready to pack away it’s shoulder pads, leg warmers and Rubik’s cubes (not being too stereotypical are we?) and was heading at breakneck speed towards the nineties, and the latest edition of the Now series absolutely represented the change ahead!Well, sort of.As ever the democratic forces behind the UK charts (e.g. the record buying public and more likely the producers of wonderful ‘One’ FM) had different ideas of how Spring 1989 was going to be remembered by pop pundits 33 years in the future, on something called a ‘podcast’. Behold, Back to Now listeners, it’s NOW 14!So, yes the ‘future’ was represented thanks to Detroit’s pop dancefloor duo Inner City, Mark Moore’s fun packed technicolor beats with S-Xpress (we’ve dropped the ‘E’, of course!) and the awesome arrival of Neneh Cherry heralding a new stance for the 90s, right now!However, as always, this was only part of the story (would we have it any other way?)In this volume we find the Fine Young Cannibals and INXS swallowing up the global charts only slightly disguised as Prince, Sam Brown and Erasure both commanding us to STOP (only one with an exclamation mark though!), Ver Quo and Ver Minds being, er, Ver Quo and Ver Minds and a smattering of 80s stars dangerously teetering on the edge of ‘the dumper’.And our guest for this end of decade excursion back to volume 14? Well, it's only editor of Q (twice!), Mixmag (twice!), Select and Word (associate!) and now podmaster supremo Andrew Harrison! Huzzah!Andrew has also interviewed Madonna, Morrissey (went to his house in LA), Bono (in a fountain) and Stephen Fry (in a bad mood) as well as inventing the phrase "landfill indie". Congratulations, Mr Harrison, you’ve passed the audition!Join Andrew as we learn about his first music passions (it’s a bit glam and involves jumping off a table), being a student in Leeds (quite a lot of nights out, sometimes with footballers) and of course explore the delights of this wonderful (sometimes) compilation. Along the way, discover which acts would have been in the 3” CD single cheaply box (well we all liked a rummage, didn’t we?), what was (possibly) written on a stickie note on Pete Waterman’s shaving mirror, how Q picked their album review adjectives (‘lacklustre!’) and which 1989 acts Andrew will go back and manage when he perfects his time machine. And also discover why Living in a Box, Hue and Cry (again) and Michael Ball will probably not be returning our calls.
6/9/2022

NOW 35 - Autumn ‘96: Neil Kulkarni

Season 3, Ep. 5
Welcome to Autumn 1996. Royal divorce, Mad Cow disease, Take That helplines, TFI Friday. But it wasn’t all bad news, oh no – the pop charts were continuing to dazzle and amaze the CD buying public! Indeed, if we weren’t snapping up those hits on £5 CD singles (both one and two, to complete the set) we were most definitely picking up a copy of the latest volume of everyone’s favourite compilation series, NOW35. And what delights across the forty tracks would you find? Girl Power taking over the world with that (not actually) difficult second single, George Michael looking for love in all sorts of place, Boybands (some on the way in, some heading further eastwards!) And enough dance anthems to fill any bedroom disco or sparkling nightclub.And a fair smattering of, what the music press were still most definitely describing, as the all conquering, crowd pleasing, flag waving, two-fingered swagger Britpop. But was a change on the horizon as the year of Euro 96, Knebworth and a plethora of Union Jacks moved towards its conclusion? Was the retrograde triumphalism sliding towards its own runout groove? And if so, were the clues to the Next Big Thing to be found on this album? As the team at NOW always successfully managed to do in their gloriously curated way, most definitely!Back to Now guest Neil Kulkarni has been writing about pop since 1994, starting out at the weekly Melody Maker before moving on to a host of magazines, newspapers and websites as well as lecturing in music journalism and releasing music with his band The Moonbears.Amongst hits and headlines from Spice Girls, Pulp, Neneh Cherry, Underworld and others, we also explore the huge influence that r’n’b was having on the popworld, find out how to wind-up indie fans (it involves 2 unlimited), discover the bands that music journalists can’t admit to not liking (doesn’t involve 2 unlimited) and be amazed at the connection between a solar eclipse, Lynx Africa and a James Bond baddie (yes really).And find out why pretty much every ‘indie’ guitar act on NOW35 won’t be returning our calls.
4/12/2022

NOW 23 - Autumn '92: Zoë Howe

Season 3, Ep. 4
It's Autumn 1992! Damn, Would I Lie To You?What an interesting time for the UK singles charts. Is it fair to say the decade was at some sort of apex point? Well, the tracklist for November’s NOW, That’s What I Call Music 23 album was certainly not giving us a clear a view of what the next big thing was going to be. Or was it?Whilst the start of the 90s had exploded with a colourful wave (or should that be rave?) of indie & dance, and very soon Britpop would take a steely and sneering guitar grip across the nation, 1992 almost seemed to be in a fascinating holding pattern. Not exactly the annus horribilus that some were calling it, and as always the NOW team were on hand to serve up a suitably compiled snapshot of musical delights (and Billy Ray Cyrus) for us to feast upon.Tasmin Archer, Sophie B Hawkins and Betty Boo led the way for some great female fronted pop moments, Arrested Development were providing an RnB laidback groove for the 90s, the Freddie Mercury tribute concert was still impacting across the charts and The Shamen were being, naughty, naughty, very naughty.But there was also a fair degree of retro feel to this edition of NOW. Was it the 80s (Simple Minds), 70s (ABBA) or 60s (Vanessa Paradis!)? TV advert songs - which brand of jeans were you buying? And don’t even mention waistcoats! Just too funky for me...But even when things don’t seem to be happening, there’s always something happening. And there’s no doubt that the 90s had plenty of excitement waiting around the corner!Joining me for this episode is author, visual artist and sometime musician Zoë Howe.Zoe has produced acclaimed biographies including The Slits, the Jesus & Mary Chain, Wilko Johnson, Stevie Nicks, Florence + The Machine, Lee Brilleaux and Poly Styrene and in 2021 was part of the team behind the award-winning documentary Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché.  She has made radio programmes for Absolute Radio, Resonance FM and currently presents the Rock ’n’ Roll Witch show on Soho Radio. Zoë’s forthcoming book Witchful Thinking (a handbook for the modern Wise Woman) is to be published by Llewellyn in May 2022. And later this year will also see her revision of the book The Art of Punk released, and the launch of The Jam 1982, a collaboration with The Jam’s Rick Buckler.