I love music trivia and I also have a fondness for the ‘NOW’ compilation albums, so this book was a treat. Packed full of images, facts and fun, it tracks the history of the series from the very first album (on double vinyl and cassette in 1983) to the ninety-ninth instalment last year. The book was published by Trapeze in 2018; at the time of writing, two more albums have been released since then, so the series is still going strong and consistently tops the UK charts.
This book was ideal to dip into in odd moments when I needed to read something (for example, while having a cup of tea or waiting for visitors to arrive). Each double page spread features a music artist who has contributed a significant number of tracks to the albums, with extra facts about the first and most recent ‘NOW’ albums they appeared on. We’re going in chronological order, from Phil Collins (‘NOW 1’) to Sam Smith (‘NOW 99’) but there are many cross-references and leaps in time between albums.
What I found most interesting about this book were the links between the artists and songs, through cover versions, sampling, writer and producer credits, chart positions and odd coincidences. They show that the world of popular music is a vast and complex web of relationships spanning the decades, centuries even. Moreover, as someone who hasn’t followed the charts since circa 2005, it was useful to catch up with chart-topping music released since then, much of which features on ‘NOW’ albums.
My only issue with this book is the number of typos and little errors. For example, Brian Potter once appears as ‘Brain’, Beenie Man is mistakenly called ‘Beenie Boy’ and sometimes music genres are capitalised, sometimes not. Those are just the ones I remember. I suppose there was a lot of information to keep track of, but still it could’ve done with more rigorous fact-checking and proofreading.