I’m here to talk about music. While I’d like to think of myself as a child of the eighties, what this also entails is that I was a socially retarded young adult of the nineties. Between the age’s of 10 and 14 is the era in which I cobbled together what is for the most part still my opinion regarding what constitutes as great music.
The key factor that sets this era apart from all others was that I got my first record player, that’s right RECORD player, It’s from this era that my love of vinyl originates. After quickly getting bored with my own paltry collection of the time I quickly moved on to raiding my parents record collections. It was here I found some of what are still my favourite albums, Deep Purple’s Made in Japan, Led Zeppelin II and Houses of the Holy, Jailbreak by Thin Lizzy and, lest we forget 12 Gold Bars by Status Quo.
I’m not here today to give more praise to any of these albums, today I want to talk to you about the other Vinyl that had a profound influence on me, I’m here to talk about Now That’s What I Call Music 26.
This year is the 25th anniversary of the Now series of compilation albums, started as a joint venture between publishers EMI and Universal in 1983 the series has gone on to sell over 100 million copies world wide and currently stands at volume 71.
God forbid, I’m in no way here to suggest that any of the Now series had the same effect on the music industry as Led Zeppelin II did, but to me Now 26 had a lasting effect that many other critically acclaimed albums haven’t.
Now 26 is responsible for a phenomenon which anyone who’s been with me in a pub with a jukebox will no doubt have witnessed first hand, the eclectic mix. The secret to any good eclectic mix of music is to make the changes as aggressive and constant as possible so that eventually the bumps start to resemble level road. By trying to shoe-horn four months of music into forty tracks the editors of Now 26 have created an album which lurches across tracks from artist as diverse as Frankie Goes to Hollywood, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Belinda Carlisle, Radiohead and Meatloaf, and that’s just one disc of a two disc album. The lunacy becomes so profound that it starts to resemble genius.
While the Now series is far from perfect (Robbie Williams is the most prolific contributor to the series with 29 entries.) I wish them well and hope they long continue allowing young listeners to hear a wide range of musical styles before finally settling on one to call their own.
Now 26 was released at the end of 1993 and marks what I now know to be my last few months in the musical wilderness, February of the following year Green Day released Dookie and the rest, as they say is history.