Living in the past

As someone who was a teenager during the 80s, I was tickled to read that the original Now That’s What I Call Music compilation has been recently rereleased on CD for the first time, to coincide with the 25th anniversary of its initial release.

Here’s the full track listing:

Disc 1
1. Phil Collins – You Can’t Hurry Love
2. Duran Duran – Is There Something I Should Know
3. UB40 – Red Red Wine
4. Limahl – Only For Love
5. Heaven 17 – Temptation
6. K.C. & The Sunshine Band – Give It Up
7. Malcolm McClaren – Double Dutch
8. Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse Of The Heart
9. Culture Club – Karma Chameleon
10. Men Without Hats – The Safety Dance
11. Kajagoogoo – Too Shy
12. Mike Oldfield – Moonlight Shadow
13. Men At Work – Down Under
14. Rock Steady Crew – Hey You (Rock Steady Crew)
15. Rod Stewart – Baby Jane
16. Paul Young – Wherever I Lay My Hat

Disc 2
1. New Edition – Candy Girl
2. Kajagoogoo – Big Apple
3. Tina Turner – Let’s Stay Together
4. Human League – Fascination
5. Howard Jones – New Song
6. UB40 – Please Don’t Make Me Cry
7. Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack – Tonight I Celebrate My Love
8. Tracey Ullman – They Don’t Know
9. Will Powers – Kissing With Confidence
10. Genesis – That’s All
11. The Cure – The Love Cats
12. Simple Minds – Waterfront
13. Madness – The Sun And The Rain
14. Culture Club – Victims

Now That’s What I Call A Trip Down Memory Lane. Somewhat worryingly, I’ve seen four of the above artists perform live. You can work out for yourselves which ones they are, though. To paraphrase the old Fun Boy Three song: my lips are sealed.

I guess it all makes sense. In recent years, while the parent series has successfully continued, repackaged Now compilations have tapped into a generation’s nostalgia for the decade which gave us New Romanticism, Dallas, Joan Collins’ shoulder pads and, er, David van Day (even the best of times has its darker moments).

I’ve previously commented on the current penchant for TV and film remakes, which has given us everything from the sublime Battlestar Galactica to the ridiculous Knight Rider. Elsewhere, we’ve had 80s reunion tours aplenty (it’s a bit disturbing to realise that the pop idols of yesterday age in exactly the same way you do), and comebacks from the likes of Take That and the Spice Girls. The Pet Shop Boys were given the Outstanding Contribution to Music Award at last week’s Brits. (‘West End Girls’ is – gulp! – 24 years old this year.) And I noticed a well-known high street fashion retailer has launched a range of T-shirts based on classic properties such as Danger Mouse (yes, of course I bought one).

Is nostalgia a healthy thing, allowing us to relive the happy times of our childhood? Or is it something we use as an excuse to ignore the growing feeling that, as we get inexorably older – and schoolkids and university students appear seemingly younger – we become increasingly out of step with contemporary culture? For while I still listen to modern pop music, am up to speed with Facebook, MySpace, Bebo and Twitter, and generally make an effort to keep up to date with popular culture, that’s just the point: it’s an effort.

Deep down, there are some aspects of today’s culture that I just don’t get, and I occasionally catch myself thinking that things were so much better when I was a kid. I’ll resist it for as long as I can, but I fear the end result is inevitable: as the father of a small boy, one day he will come to realise his dad is just plain uncool.

That will be a sad day. Still, at least I’ll have all my old Now albums to listen to in my dotage …