The 100th Now That’s What I Call Music compilation is released on Friday.
From the first one in 1983 they have all been bestsellers and for many they were a cheaper alternative to buying lots of individual singles, even if you had to put up with some tracks you did not like!
Jonathan Isaby has every album in the series. Here he explains how they have formed the soundtrack to his life.
When I was given an old 1950s transistor radio by my grandmother in the summer of 1986, at the age of eight, I tuned it to Radio 1 and immediately got into the pop music of the day.
With artists like Bananarama, Duran Duran and Five Star in their heyday, I was hooked.
And by the time I got a brand new (if highly unsophisticated) radio/cassette player for my tenth birthday in December 1987, I knew I wanted to start creating a music library of my own.
Like most kids of the time, I would try to tape songs off the radio, but was always frustrated by the DJs’ ramblings over the beginning and end of tracks, so there was only one thing for it – buy the music for myself.
And I immediately realised that the most economical way to ensure I had all the latest chart hits was to save up my pocket money and snap them up via a compilation album, of which the Now That’s What I Call Music series was already the market leader.
Now 10, released in time for Christmas 1987, was the first one that I bought brand new – featuring the likes of China In Your Hand by T’Pau, Love In The First Degree by Bananarama and Alone by Heart.
And come Easter 1988, Now 11 hit the shelves, enabling me to add tracks like I Should Be So Lucky by Kylie Minogue and the Pet Shop Boys’ brilliant cover of Always On My Mind to my collection.
And just in time for the school summer holidays, I’d purchased Now 12, including such gems as Mary’s Prayer by Danny Wilson and I Think We’re Alone Now by Tiffany.
You get the picture. A habit had formed and from then on I eagerly anticipated the thrice-yearly releases of the latest Now album so that I could keep the collection up to date.
And today, aged 40, I will be purchasing my copy of the historic Now 100 to keep the collection complete.
And complete it is, because there was a point quite a few years ago now that I concluded that I had to get those first few volumes that I was missing – for which eBay came to the rescue.
The Now albums are – quite literally – the soundtrack to my life. I’m quite a nostalgic person and I can pluck any one at random and immediately be transported back to a particular time.
The albums provide a brilliant snapshot of the music I was enjoying at any given moment: Now 28 takes me back to the summer of 1994 after I did my GCSEs and was about to go into sixth form.
Now 34 was what I was listening to during my first term at university in 1996 with tracks like the Spice Girls’ debut single Wannabe and Wonderwall by Oasis.
Now 67 was released around the time I met my now wife in 2007 and brings back fond memories (she tolerates the collection by the way).
I remain a big 80s music fan so the earlier ones are my favourites – but keeping the collection compete means I’m still in touch with today’s charts – and who doesn’t appreciate the talents of Coldplay or Lady Gaga?
I’ve never really thought about what I’ve spent on them, but with only three albums a year it’s a very affordable way of keeping an up-to-date music library.
And while some may have suggested in the age of digital downloads that compilations put together by others are an outdated concept, the ongoing chart success of the Now albums speaks for itself.
Here’s to the next hundred!