Yes, for the next couple of months we're going way way back. Back to the days when the Now albums were new enough that they needed to assert that the tracks were by the original artists (luckily they weren't still claiming that on Now 34) and to underline this with pictures of those artists on the front and rear; for the penultimate time, as it turned out, with Lionel Richie's dodgy tache on the front of Now 4 seemingly putting paid to the idea thereafter. Our porcine friend, so familiar from the early advertising, only lasted one more volume, bowing out on Now 5 - DANISH BACON FACTORIES are thanked on the back cover here for his presence.
Now 3 starts with one of the definitive tracks of the early 1980s from arguably the biggest band of the time (and certainly the biggest band of the time on EMI, which was handy for licensing). Duran Duran are among the handful of acts claiming a hat-trick of appearances with this album, and are promoted to opening track for the first time. Fans of trivia will be interested to note that it's the second consecutive opener to involve somebody called Roger Taylor, both as writer and performer.
So successful that an entire chain of retro nightclubs is now named after it, 'The Reflex' was Duran Duran's second and last single to top the UK chart but their first to do so in the US, pretty good going for the third single off an already successful album. The secret weapon is of course a single-specific remix by Nile Rodgers, meaning all the fans would buy it again and that the track was more appealing to the casual buyer as well. Certainly, the repeated vocals pastiching hip-hop scratching couldn't be more of their time and it's strange to think that there was ever a time when it would be considered modern. They, and the admittedly quite good bassline, lend the track some semblance of dancefloor credibility as Simon Le Bon wails on about something he thinks is very deep and philosophical, although by the time he's complaining on the second verse that "they won't slow down the roundabout" he sounds more like a petulant small child. I actually was a small child in 1984 and even I thought some of this why-y-y-y-y stuff was a little bit silly, but that seems typical of Duran's desire to have it both ways, to claim the teenyboppers' pocket money and to think of themselves as serious artists. The combination of po-facedness and inanity often seems to ruin the fun.
Also appearing on: 1, 4, 5, 8, 13, 24, 25, 31 Available on:Pure Gold
An entirely unofficial track-by-track examination of highlights and lowlights from the Now That's What I Call Music compilations. And if that doesn't sound like a challenge, you're obviously not an old curmudgeon like me.