Kent Messenger Maidstone
Now that’s what I call a lot of compilations
THERE can be few more alarming signs that we are living in a future imagined in the 1980s than the revelation (to me, at least) that the Now That’s What I Call Music! compilation series is now up to volume 84. Like most music fans, I probably lost count well before it even entered double figures. The same thing happened with the various sequels to the Police Academy films. The eye-watering landmark for the Now! series was celebrated in a TV documentary at the weekend, which combined the memories of those who appeared on the first volume in 1983 (Heaven 17; Limahl from Kajagoogoo) with the historically vital recollections of cast members from The Only Way is Essex, now a compulsory component of any “factual” show on ITV. I just hope they never decide to remake The World At War (“that Hitler bloke – what was he on about!?”) It was interesting to learn that Now! has sold more albums in its lifetime than the Beatles, although to be fair to the Beatles, they have made fewer than 84 albums, despite the best efforts of those involved in the never-ending re-issue of their back catalogue. Before the likes of Now! emerged in the mid1980s, we were reminded how the market for hit single compilations was dominated by the Top of the Pops series – nothing to do with the TV programme, but a series of hastily knocked-up cover versions packaged in a sleeve designed to appeal to teenage boys, usually featuring something like a woman in a bikini holding a poodle. As someone who was adept at home taping (or “killing music”, as it was branded at the time), I never quite felt the need to buy a Now! compilation. Anyone who did would no doubt have enjoyed superior sound quality but would never have felt the satisfaction of a well-executed edit when Tommy Vance’s voice intruded at the end of a song.