46 episodes

Celebrating all things related to the variously compiled world of pop.
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Back to NOW‪!‬ Pop Rambler

    • Music
    • 5.0 • 40 Ratings

Celebrating all things related to the variously compiled world of pop.
Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    NOW 69 - Spring '08: Justin Lewis

    NOW 69 - Spring '08: Justin Lewis

    It was the wise prophet and occasional flower impersonator Peter Gabriel that said, 
    ‘I don’t remember, I don’t recall,
    I have no memory of anything at all.’
    Do you remember 2008?
    Yes, it's only (!) 16 years ago, so I’ve no doubt you still have packets in the kitchen cupboard that are older, but do you also remember how the pop landscape of 2008 was mapping out? 
    Indeed, what on earth was going on in your life eight years into the 21st century?
    You see, this writer (it’s, me IAIN!) has quite a glitchy view back of his shoulder to this year. Life had thrown a few curveballs (listen in, it’s kinda revealed) meaning that pop memory has become patchy. Perhaps for you, dear listeners, 2008 is similarly harder to initially grasp hold of. 
    Fear not! The world’s finest compilation series (as always) is on hand to jog memories, restart downloads an piece together for us what was selling, streaming, rising and falling up and down the hit parade that we call “The Charts’. 
    It’s NOW, That’s What I Call Music 69!
    And crikey, what a mix we had!
    Torchsongs, soul songs, Neo-soul songs, Soul-dance songs, Northern soul songs! Songs that weren’t soul soul songs but would like to be!
    Big pop statements from Britney, Robyn, Girls Aloud!
    Slightly smaller pop statements from Shane Ward and Leon Jackson!
    We also had some huge ghosts of pop pasts resurfacing thanks to the likes of Rihanna, Duffy, Kylie and others. And some iconic artists that would stay with us through some era defining tracks. Because sometimes pop is the only thing that helps us when things aren’t OK (but will be OK). 
    Our special guest for this episode is author of the frankly wonderful Don't Stop the Music - A Year of Pop History, One Day at a Time, and lifetime pop fan Justin Lewis.
    AND, if all of this wasn’t enough (and don’t forget Basshunter is in there too), find out where Joe Fagin fits in, who the Kajagoogoo of NOW69 is, which group may (or may not) have their own day time quiz show, how Justin grew up with Tom and Annie on Radio One and grew back in love with music in 2008 through some of these songs, and also which tracks deserve 10 out of 10. And of course, why pop is still so important for making sense of the world around us, in any decade!
    All of this, and I’ve managed not to say anything negative about Scouting for Girls!
    Oh no, wait…

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    • 1 hr 12 min
    NOW 116 - Autumn '23: David Quantick

    NOW 116 - Autumn '23: David Quantick

    It's November 2023, and the world's most successful compilation series is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Five decades of compiling the latest hits, the occasional miss, but always the songs that soundtracked our lives. Always there, always democratically and expertly sequencing the music that the UK buying (downloading/streaming/swiping) public were grooving to, laughing to, dancing along with, or crying about (add in your own band or artists here).
    What else is still with us from 1983? And still having such an impact?
    Breakfast Time? Well, certainly not Frank Bough.
    The Ford Sierra? Taxi!
    £1 coins? Down the back of the sofa.
    Kajagoogoo? Hush hush, as they say. (One for the older listeners)
    So, as our friends at NOW rightly celebrate the past through a stunning array of special albums and even see podcasters pop up across several TV programmes waxing lyrically about the famous compilation series (well, no-one else will talk about it, will they?) the numbered series that started it all in November 1983 continued to do exactly what it set out to do; bring together the songs of NOW.
    Perhaps no longer just the Top Chart Hits, that tag line that emblazoned the front cover of earlier volumes, but now taking into account the various ways we actually DO consume music in the third decade of the 21st century.
    NOW 116 - The Best of the Best.
    47 tracks. Tik Tok stars, Film soundtrack anthems, legendary decade surviving artists. Pop, rock, dance, soul.
    All present and correct, all breathlessly exciting, all taking that snapshot in time of pop culture. And as we know, an invaluable window into the soundtrack of our lives.
    Where, indeed, Agnetha, do we go from here?
    To understand the past and the future, we always need to be in the NOW. (Take a note of that line, its a good one: Ed)
    And joining me to make sense of this dazzling volume of the world famous compilation series is award winning writer, journalist and NOW fan David Quantick.
    David explains why he wanted to get in 'at the deep end' and why he thinks that NOW116 highlights that pop is in a fine healthy state in. We explore what actually is a 'hit' in 2023/24, why short songs are always an indication of great songs, why NOW continues to keep getting it right and how the compilation series is Top Of The Pops in exile.
    Along the way, discover who David describes as 'the Dr. Who of Pop', who are 'The Strokes for Queen fans (or was that the other way around)' and what a bad AI version of George Michael may look (and sound) like. We also revisit why Pop continues to Eat Itself (yes, David came up with that one!), why the female artists are leaving the boys behind, who the 'ASDA Madonna' is and who the real Madonna is.
    And did Chris Lowe really offer Tracey Chapman a lift in 1988?
    We really do (watch what I do here) Paint The Town Red!
    Jump in, buckle up and remind yourself why pop is still very, very important.

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    • 57 min
    NOW 29 - Autumn ‘94: Anna Doble

    NOW 29 - Autumn ‘94: Anna Doble

    Confidence, they say, is a preference for the habitual voyeur of what is known as…
    …1994, darlings! 
    And of course, as perceived wisdom now dutifully dictates, we were all completely mad for it, lemon hooch in hand, union jacks draped around our football tops, waving two fingers to those damn yanks. Go home!
    Except, of course, the truth couldn’t be further away from the, er truth. Whilst it definitely maybe was 1994, there was so much more than just cigarettes (and alcohol). And we were all the better for it, pop kids!
    Our favourite compilation series was not only celebrating nearly turning 30, it was also sporting a new slimline 2CD cover - swanky, and soooo nineties! Goodbye fat boxes, this decade of NOW was neater, fitter and certainly in full swing.
    So, what could you expect from this sparkly, starshaped selection of 38 Top Chart Hits?
    Pure, glistening pop from the likes of Michelle Gayle and Sophie B Hawkins!
    Boyband phoar-dom (is this a word?) from the top flight teams of FC Take That and East 17 United!
    Swoonsome songstress Lia Loeb positively not missing the knocks of Ethan Hawke (reality will bite)!
    And huge slices of europop at every provincial nightclub turn! Another Saturday (rhythm of the) Night folks! Mine’s a Pernod and blackcurrant and chip butty!
    And of course we had a selection of those most poppy sounds of the Brit persuasion, courtesy of blur (no capital!) and Oasis. Swagger, confidence and NOW on the money as always. 
    All of this and much, much more awaits - including SPARKS! Yes, actual Russell and Ron Mael on a NOW album!
    Join Anna Doble - broadcaster, journalist and author of ‘Connection is a Song: Coming Up and Coming Out Through the Music of the 90s’ - as we head down some fascinating rabbit holes and unearth not just a year of memories, but a whole decade of emotional and personal stories, interwoven by the power of music. And as always, NOW serves as the perfect snapshot of pop bringing it all back home.
    AND we pose some of 1994 biggest questions:
    When did Britpop actually begin?
    Which band followed Anna around Leeds on a bus? (well, not actually)
    Is 2wo Third3 the first ever case sensitive password?
    Are Shampoo the centre of the pop universe?
    Ultimate KAOS - why?
    Join us for NOW29 - it’s SO GOOD and INCREDIBLE! (Enough puns - Ed)

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    • 1 hr 19 min
    NOW 25 - Summer '93: Niall McMurray

    NOW 25 - Summer '93: Niall McMurray

    Pop. The way that we process everything.
    So, it's the summer of 1993. According to meteorological 'experts', the UK experienced its lowest maximum temperatures since 1972. Only 4 days were officially classified as 'HOT'.
    Well, I would argue, pop fans, that is UNLESS you had a swingorilliant copy of NOW, That's What I Call Music 25!
    (We'll take this quite frankly, cheesy line out in the edit - Ed.)
    Yes, indeed, the blue sky and wistful clouds that adorned the glorious cover of the latest variously compiled snapshot of pop invited us into a summer spectacular of hits, Hits, HITS! Some of them even reaching as high as No69!
    Actually, there were plenty of chart topping sounds. George and Queen were raising the (non roof) of Wem-ber-lee, Ace of Base were confusing us all about wanting babies (possibly), Gabrielle was setting chart records and certainly not mentioning fast cars and Freddie Mercury was rewizzled and jigging away. And outwith these HUGE No1s we had Tina Turner getting a leg up from Lulu, Sade not getting a leg up from Lulu, Louche Lou and Michie One channeling Lulu. Yes, the variety was indeed...(enough! Ed)
    (Turns page)
    Big IMPORTANT 90s acts such as REM (stuck in traffic), New Order (stuck in Baywatch), Duran Duran (stuck in, well, being bloody brilliant).
    Big DANCE choons from Sybil, Robin S (not that one) and 2 Unlimited (diminishing returns ahoy!) were keeping the frugging youngsters (and those on revolving dancefloors on boats!) moving.
    And Dannii and Kim were having a right old 70s revival karaoke style ding dong. Oo-er!
    Oh, and the campaign to completely rediscover the utter brilliance of the No42 AMAZEBALL that is 'Somewhere' by Efua starts RIGHT HERE.
    Join Scots pop superfan, Foyle's Bookstore's very own Niall McMurray (he's been waiting in reception) as he revisits an eventful and personal summer soundtrack; songs, music and memories that (in his own words) take him back to 'the year he will write a book about'.
    Along the way discover the power of provincial (and often quite terrifying) Scottish night clubs, how music always sounds better in a Fiat Panda, the song that Niall most hates in the whole world, the allure of a sinister pop flute, which NOW25 pop star is immortalised as a cardboard cut out in Iain's attic.
    And try to work out why it's impossible to remember the 90s when D:Ream are about!
    Oh, and of course, why Linda Perry, Joey Lawrence and Richard Darbyshire (and, quite frankly a few others) absolutely won't be returning our calls.
    (PS - the wonderful quote at the start - that's oor Niall X)

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    • 1 hr 16 min
    NOW 24 - Spring ‘93: Sam Lidicott

    NOW 24 - Spring ‘93: Sam Lidicott

    Welcome to Spring 1993.
    And, I’m sure you’ll all agree, there was only one phrase on everyone’s lips.
    I lick-he boom, boom down.
    (Checks notes)
    Anyway, more of that later.
    The legendary NOW compilation series has reached its twenty-fourth volume and is now standing proud as the finest collection of chart hits around.
    HITS who?
    And as the fourth year of that craziest of decades ‘The Nineties’ got underway, 37 of the finest top hits were vying for your pop attention. AND what a year it was shaping up to be!
    The Bluebells were back from NOW3, promoting the cheeriest of car branded divorce!
    Hue and Cry were back from NOW10, still not working for you No More (at No 25!)
    Sister Sledge were back from the 70s, sure and as pure as the day is discotastic!
    Ultravox were still finding no meaning in anything!
    Lulu was, er, just back!
    (Get to the NINETIES! - Ed.)
    Yes, what a kaleidoscope of pop 1993 was pop kids! And OF COURSE there were plenty of tracks that signalled the decade was well and truly underway.
    The dancefloor was burning up thanks to Sub Sub, Robin S and er, 2 Unlimited. 
    Reggae was waving its flag with Shaggy, Snow and Shabba Ranks. 
    The boybands were exploding into our living rooms with Take That covering Barry Manilow in a garage and East 17 stuck in a Swimming Pool at TOTP. 
    And Duran Duran were quietly making THE comeback of the decade with something that certainly wasn’t ordinary AT ALL.
    All of this before we mention some fabulous pop moments from the likes of World Party, The Beloved and Lenny Kravitz!
    It was enough to make Radio One ‘legend’ DLT flip out live on air! No, really.
    Join music journalist and blogger Sam Lidicott as we revisit these tracks and much more as we head back to NOW24. 
    We explore why so many brilliant female vocalists were heading up the charts, which band Iain had breakfast with in 1993, and why NOW24 has not one but two exclusive bragging rights across the WHOLE series. 
    Oh yes, there really were (wait for it) No Limits!
    And without too many spoilers, find out why Ugly Kid Joe and (sorry Mick) Simply Red probably wont be returning our calls.

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    • 1 hr 11 min
    The Back to Now Review - 2023

    The Back to Now Review - 2023

    Welcome, one and all, to the 3rd annual Back to NOW review! 
    As is now tradition, this end of year episode of the variously compiled podcast provides us with a festive opportunity to glance back over our shoulders at the pop landscape of yet another 12 months.
    Let’s celebrate a dazzling year of NOW compilations that in 2023 have included something for everyone - fabulous yearbooks scanning four decades, love songs, Eurovision, dance, alternative, hi NRG, 12” annuals, and of the course the ubiquitous, iconic numbered series - across a sparkling selection of CDs and vinyl that we love so much.
    But wait! 
    This year we have a bigger celebration than normal, as we say Happy 40th to NOW! Yes, a hastily approximated 14,600 days since EMI and Virgin records robbed those Raiders of the Pop Charts of their ‘buy one get one free’ title to claim the undisputed crown of compilations - and the rest, as Richard Branson would expect us to say, is pop history! 
    So, join us as we indulge in our BIGGEST episode yet featuring pop rambles, self-referential blether, teary-eyed nostalgia, a few surprise guests - and general celebratory stuff and nonsense galore.
    And fear not, our seasonal panel of angelic upstarts have all stepped back from the Christmas shopping and bitching about festive TV ads to be here just for you!
    The Golden Mark Wood!
    The Frankenscens-ical Ian Wade!
    And the Myrrh-raculous Johnny Kalifornia!
    And what can we expect from our guests, I hear you cry?
    Without unwrapping the presents too much, discover who Johnny is getting to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him on New Year’s Eve, which track Mark came around to after his knee operation (THIS is what the kids want!) and why Ian is stuck between ‘Dystopia and Hazell Dean’. 
    Yes, it’s THAT kind of party!
    And everyone is welcome. X

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    • 1 hr 32 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
40 Ratings

40 Ratings

Marvindodgers ,


This is an essential listen for any fans of pop music and compilation albums in general. Ian is a perfect host and is so clearly a huge music fan (as shown by his impressive showing on Popmaster TV). The choice of guests is pretty much spot on and always throw themselves into the task of dissecting a particular Now album with huge gusto and enthusiasm.
I look forward to every episode whether it’s from my beloved 80s heyday or later on, with huge anticipation. Long may it continue going Back to Now.

cactusflowertower ,

Something Good

Crazy about this podcast. Iain is a charming and unassuming presenter (a rare thing) and really knows his hit parades! The conversations are an awesome mix of the personal and the musical. Very funny, nostalgic and informative. Keep the episodes coming!

Jedibreakfast ,

My favourite podcast

My friend used to talk about reaching a flow state whilst flicking through records in HMV so much so that they’d need to know where the nearest public toilets were located. Similarly I’ve found this podcast has become the closest thing to catnip for me. All my favourite nerdy music writer personalities on here including Sian Pattenden, Pete Paphides, Andrew Harrison, Jude Rogers.
I’m not sure who Iain the presenter is but I want to know what he’s planning for his next pop related project because he is my new favourite person.

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