Now That's What I Call Music - The Three from 1984

The first volume in the UK hit singles compilation Now That's What I Call Music was released in late 1983. (I originally wrote about the album HERE.) It topped the UK Albums charts for five non-consecutive weeks (bowing down to number 2 for a week for Paul Young's No Parlez) and went on to spend 50 weeks in the Top 100, staying almost long enough to be joined by the next three volumes in the series, all released in 1984.
Released in March 1984, Now That's What I Call Music 2 debuted on the chart for the week ending April 7 at number 3, behind Human's Lib and Can't Slow Down, before rising up and taking Number One for five consecutive weeks. Unlike the first volume in the series which featured eleven chart-toppers, NOW 2 only featured four Number One Singles among its thirty tracks. Though no one, in particular, was credited for compiling the first album, NOW 2 (and all future NOWs up to NOW 81) were compiled by Ashley Abram and his company Box Music so he deserves the credit and the scorn for the track selections.
Like the first volume, NOW 2 was released as a double vinyl or cassette album as well as a collection of twenty-one music videos on VHS. Only seventeen of the songs charted on Billboard's Hot 100, with nearly half of those rising into the Top 10. There were a couple things lost in translation between the UK and US charts however: Nena's "99 Luftballoons" in its original German language version was the predominantly popular charted version in the US while the English language "99 Red Balloons" version charted in the UK and Paul McCartney's "Pipes Of Peace" was a Number One single on UK charts while in the US, it was the flipside "So Bad" that charted.
TitleArtistUK Official Chart Co.US Hot 100
1984Radio Ga GaQueen5:43216
VHS1984Wouldn't It Be GoodNik Kershaw4:28446
VHS1983Hold Me NowThompson Twins4:3843
VHS1984Get Out of Your Lazy BedMatt Bianco3:2415-
VHS1984More, More, MoreCarmel3:0823-
1984Michael CaineMadness3:3911-
VHS1983Only YouThe Flying Pickets3:211-
198399 Red BalloonsNena3:5112
1983Girls Just Wanna Have FunCyndi Lauper3:3122
1984My Guy's Mad at MeTracey Ullman3:0123-
1983Break My StrideMatthew Wilder2:5845
1984Breakin' Down (Sugar Samba)Julia & Company3:0915-
1983That's Livin' AlrightJoe Fagin3:043-
1983I Gave You My Heart (Didn't I)Hot Chocolate3:3913-
VHS1983Bird of ParadiseSnowy White4:216-
1983RelaxFrankie Goes to Hollywood3:55110
1984Here Comes the Rain AgainEurythmics5:0184
VHS1983What Is Love?Howard Jones3:40233
1984What Difference Does It Make?The Smiths3:4812-
1983(Feels Like) HeavenFiction Factory3:306-
VHS1983The Politics of DancingRe-Flex3:172824
VHS1984Hyperactive!Thomas Dolby4:151762
VHS1984Wishful ThinkingChina Crisis4:129-
1983Modern LoveDavid Bowie3:59214
1984It's a MiracleCulture Club3:24413
1983Undercover of the NightThe Rolling Stones4:33119
VHS1984WonderlandBig Country3:56886
1984Run RunawaySlade3:44720
VHS1984New Moon on MondayDuran Duran4:16910
1983Pipes of PeacePaul McCartney3:541-

Now That's What I Call Music III debuted at Number One on the charts for the week ending August 11 and spent the next seven weeks at the top spot as well. In addition to being the first NOW to enter the charts at the top, NOW III was the first of only two volumes in the numerical series to feature Roman numerals. The amount of Number One Singles on NOW III matched its title - just three among the thirty tracks and like its two predecessors in the series, NOW III was available in three formats: 2LP, 2CA and VHS. Unlike the first volume which was issued on CD in 2009, neither NOW 2 or NOW III have ever been issued on compact disc.
Only a dozen singles from NOW III made the Hot 100 in the US but five of them were Number Ones. A peculiarity on the UK charts is the rise from seemingly out of nowhere of older songs. Often the songs are used in a commercial (advert) or television show. NOW III features three such "oldies": Sister Sledge's groovealicious "Thinking Of You", Bob Marley's "One Love/People Get Ready" (released in advance of the Legend compilation) and The Weather Girls with their joyous "It's Raining Men". One of the great things about the NOW compilations that further set them apart from those classic K-Tel compilations was the inclusion of full-length versions of the songs, whether they were album versions or single edits.
TitleArtistUK Official Chart Co.US Hot 100
 adv1984The ReflexDuran Duran4:1911
1983I Won't Let the Sun Go Down on MeNik Kershaw3:192-
1979Thinking of YouSister Sledge4:2011-
VHS1984LocomotionOrchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark3:195-
1984Dancing with Tears in My EyesUltravox3:353-
1984Pearl in the ShellHoward Jones3:507-
1984Don't Tell MeBlancmange3:288-
VHS1984Against All OddsPhil Collins3:2921
1984Two TribesFrankie Goes to Hollywood3:24143
1983White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel4:257-
1984Nelson MandelaSpecial A.K.A.4:119-
1984Love WarsWomack & Womack4:0014-
1984You're The Best ThingThe Style Council4:235-
1984One Love/People Get ReadyBob Marley and the Wailers2:495-
1984Smalltown BoyBronski Beat5:00348
1984I Want to Break FreeQueen4:14345
1984Time After TimeCyndi Lauper4:0131
1984Love ResurrectionAlison Moyet3:491082
1984Young at HeartThe Bluebells3:178-
1984Robert De Niro's Waiting...Bananarama3:32395
1984Dr. MabusePropaganda4:5727-
VHS1984What's Love Got to Do with ItTina Turner3:4931
VHS1984When You're Young and in LoveThe Flying Pickets3:217-
1984Wake Me Up Before You Go-GoWham!3:4911
VHS1984You Take Me UpThe Thompson Twins4:27244
1982It's Raining MenThe Weather Girls3:31246
VHS1984Dance Me Up3:3125-
1984SusannaThe Art Company4:4712-
VHS1984One Better DayMadness4:0117-
VHS1984Red GuitarDavid Sylvian4:4217-
The VHS editions of the NOW albums are a different animal altogether. As you can tell by the charts above and below, not all songs from the NOW albums made the video collections and indeed videos from previous albums sometimes appeared on the compilations as well as music videos for songs that were never included on any NOW music albums. For hardcore collectors, the NOW music video collections were released in small numbers - often with different playlists - in Japan on LaserDisc (above) making them both unique and rare but they are not the most valuable and sought after NOW collectible; that honor belongs to a particular format of NOW 4.
Now That's What I Call Music 4 debuted in the runner-up position on the chart for the week ending December 8, 1983, and would stay there throughout the Holiday selling season - a total of six weeks - behind the first challenger to the NOW series chart dominance from rival labels, Sony and WEA, who had formed a partnership to issue The HITS Album. Labels EMI and Virgin were behind the NOW compilations though the albums featured songs from other labels as well, including Sony and WEA. Though the album would be the only NOW compilation thus far in the 93 volume history of the series not to reach Number One on the Albums or Compilations chart, it was the highest selling NOW volume issued in 1984 despite featuring a lone Number One Single in Lionel Richie's "Hello". (The Compilations chart was created in 1989 expressly for the hit-packed chart-dominating multi-artist compilations like NOW, The HITS Albums and K-Tel's own Hungry For Hits, among others.)

A 1984 series high eighteen tracks from NOW 4 also charted on the Hot 100 in the US, including three Number Ones. The one "oldie" on NOW 4 was actually recorded in 1973 but rush-released by Motown in 1984 to capitalize on the artist's unprecedented worldwide success following the release of his sixth solo studio album in 1982, an album that would become the biggest selling album the world has ever known - Michael Jackson's instantly forgettable "Farewell My Summer Love" was that chart anomaly.
TitleArtistUK Official Chart Co.US Hot 100
1984No More Lonely NightsPaul McCartney4:2026
VHS1984Together in Electric DreamsGiorgio Moroder with Philip Oakey3:473-
1984Why?Bronski Beat3:556-
VHS1984Never Ending StoryLimahl3:27417
VHS1984Warning SignNick Heyward3:5525-
VHS1984Missing YouJohn Waite3:5991
1973Farewell My Summer LoveMichael Jackson3:37738
1984HelloLionel Richie4:0511
VHS1984The War SongCulture Club3:55217
1984PassengersElton John3:185-
VHS1984Too Late For GoodbyesJulian Lennon3:2765
1984Shout To The Top!The Style Council3:177-
1984Doctor! Doctor!Thompson Twins4:22311
1984Sunset NowHeaven 173:3624-
1984Respect YourselfKane Gang3:5521-
VHS1984Private DancerTina Turner3:58267
VHS1984It's A Hard LifeQueen4:04672
1984The WandererStatus Quo3:267-
1984East of EdenBig Country4:2717-
1984Pride (In The Name Of Love)U23:43333
VHS1984Listen To Your FatherFeargal Sharkey3:1023-
VHS1984Tesla GirlsO.M.D.3:2821-
VHS1984The Second TimeKim Wilde3:3829-
VHS1984Human RacingNik Kershaw4:2019-
VHS1984GhostbustersRay Parker Jr.4:0021
VHS1984If It Happens AgainUB403:399-
1984Jump (For My Love)Pointer Sisters3:5663
1984Hot WaterLevel 423:331887
1984Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)Eurythmics3:54481
1984Somebody's Watching MeRockwell3:4062
VHS1984Madam ButterflyMalcolm McLaren6:2013-
1984Gotta Get You Home TonightEugene Wilde3:291883
NOW 4 was available on 2LP, 2CA, VHS, Japanese LaserDisc and for the first time thus far in the brief history of the series, compact disc. The single disc featured fifteen songs compared to the vinyl and tape formats which featured thirty tracks. While ten of the disc's songs were heard on the NOW 4 analog versions, the CD included four tracks from NOW III and closed with Queen's "Radio Ga Ga" from NOW 2. For undisclosed reasons, there would be no further NOW numerical CDs until NOW 8 two years later in late 1986 which contained seventeen of the album's thirty-two tracks. NOW 9 would also be a single disc but NOW 10 in late 1987 was released as a double CD bearing the same tracklist as its counterparts. (Both NOW 8 and 9 CDs are also highly collectible. All future volumes in the core numerical NOW series after 10 have been double CDs.) The NOW 4 CD ranks not only as the most valuable Now That's What I Call Music collectible but its top price thus far of more than $500 makes it one of the most valuable CDs period.

Two recommended sites for further research:

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