In a way, it’s the perennial ‘muso’ question: what was your first album? Say it’s Boyzone, and you’re scoffed at. Inheriting your older brother’s Neil Young album, on the other hand, gains you instant cool points.

Well, mine was neither (although I have absolutely no shame in revealing that my first gig was Take That at the Point Depot in 1994), but for years, I actually could not remember what my first-ever album was. I remember vividly remember going into town to buy my first singles on tape and CD, though.

My first tape bought with my own money (let’s sweep that D:Ream cassette under the carpet where it belongs, ahem) was this, purchased in Golden Discs on North Earl Street for £2.49. I distinctly remember Ray D’Arcy plugging it on The Den, too. What a weird cover. I was really disappointed that it came in a new-fangled cardboard slipcase instead of a hinged plastic one. That’s not what my first tape was meant to look like! I still played the shit out of it, though.

My first CD single was this, bought in Virgin Megastore on Aston Quay. Bahahahaha!

But it was only recently that the penny dropped and I realised what the first album that I could ever call my own was:

OK, so a compilation as a first album is a bit of a cop-out, but talking to a friend recently about Now! compilations (which are still going, and are still big sellers at Christmas) made me realise how much of an impact it had on my twelve-year-old brain. The tracklisting:


  1. Spice Girls : “Say You’ll Be There
  2. George Michael : “Fastlove” (Forthright Edit)
  3. Peter André : “Flava”
  4. East 17 featuring Gabrielle : “If You Ever
  5. Deep Blue Something : “Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  6. Pet Shop Boys : “Se a vida é (That’s the way life is)
  7. Babybird : “You’re Gorgeous
  8. The Beautiful South : “Rotterdam
  9. Dodgy : “If You’re Thinking of Me”
  10. Crowded House : “Don’t Dream It’s Over
  11. The Bluetones : “Marblehead Johnson
  12. Ocean Colour Scene : “The Riverboat Song
  13. Sheryl Crow : “If It Makes You Happy
  14. Garbage feat. Tricky: “Milk
  15. Neneh Cherry : “Woman”
  16. Lighthouse Family : “Goodbye Heartbreak
  17. Pulp : “Something Changed
  18. Cast : “Flying”
  19. Suede : “Beautiful Ones
  20. Belinda Carlisle : “Always Breaking My Heart

Disc two

  1. Dina Carroll : “Escaping”
  2. Boyzone : “Words
  3. Eternal : “Someday”
  4. Backstreet Boys : “I’ll Never Break Your Heart
  5. Damage : “Love II Love”
  6. Clock : “Oh What A Night
  7. Louise : “Undivided Love”
  8. Ant and Dec : “When I Fall in Love”
  9. 911 : “Don’t Make Me Wait”
  10. Strike : “My Love Is for Real”
  11. Faithless : “Insomnia
  12. BBE : “Seven Days and One Week”
  13. Stretch ‘n’ Vern : “I’m Alive”
  14. Healy and Amos : “Stamp!”
  15. Livin’ Joy : “Follow The Rules”
  16. Wildchild : “Jump to My Beat”
  17. Underworld : “Pearl’s Girl
  18. Space : “Neighbourhood
  19. Björk : “Possibly Maybe
  20. Shed Seven : “Chasing Rainbows”

Mostly awful (Shed Seven? Dina Carroll?!) but with a few gems studded in-between.

But even more influential on my still-squidgy child brain than Now! 35 was Now! 23, which my sister got for Christmas in 1992:

  1. Tasmin Archer : “Sleeping Satellite
  2. Jon Secada : “Just Another Day
  3. Charles & Eddie : “Would I Lie To You?
  4. Was (Not Was) : “Shake Your Head
  5. Bob MarleyThe Wailers : “Iron Lion Zion
  6. Go West : “Faithful”
  7. George Michael : “Too Funky
  8. Arrested Development : “People Everyday
  9. Simply Red : “For Your Babies”
  10. Erma Franklin : “(Take A Little) Piece Of My Heart
  11. Brian May : “Too Much Love Will Kill You
  12. Simple Minds : “Alive and Kicking
  13. John Lee Hooker : “Boom Boom
  14. Billy Ray Cyrus : “Achy Breaky Heart
  15. Little Angels : “Too Much Too Young”
  16. Richard Marx : “Take This Heart
  17. Genesis : “Jesus He Knows Me
  18. INXS : “Baby Don’t Cry
  19. Crowded House : “It’s Only Natural

Disc two

  1. Erasure : “Who Needs Love Like That” (Hamburg Mix)
  2. The Shamen : “Ebeneezer Goode
  3. Rage : “Run to You”
  4. Bizarre Inc feat. Angie Brown : “I’m Gonna Get You”
  5. Heaven 17 : “Temptation
  6. East 17 : “House of Love
  7. The Farm : “Don’t You Want Me
  8. Undercover : “Never Let Her Slip Away
  9. Doctor Spin : “Tetris
  10. Ambassadors of Funk and MC Mario : “Supermarioland
  11. Roxette : “How Do You Do!
  12. ABBA : “Dancing Queen
  13. Björn Again : “A Little Respect
  14. Vanessa Paradis : “Be My Baby
  15. Betty Boo : “Let Me Take You There
  16. Sophie B. Hawkins : “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover
  17. Peter Gabriel : “Digging in the Dirt
  18. Enya : “Book of Days
  19. Roy Orbisonk.d. lang : “Crying
  20. Freddie MercuryMontserrat Caballé : “Barcelona

I still remember most of the words to these songs. It’s amazing how even looking at the crap cover can bring me back to playing it on her equally crap radio/cassette player, every square inch of its surface covered in stickers that came free with Smash Hits! and Big magazines. I can even remember the smell of the bedroom that we shared. Was it hearing Roy Orbison, Erma Franklin and John Lee Hooker as an 8-year-old that set me up for a lifetime of music loving? Or was it Billy Ray Cyrus‘s ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ that did it?

Nostalgia is mad.

Now! compilations aren’t what they used to be, but receiving music as a Christmas present as a kid certainly served me well.

Buy music for the little people in your life!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

4 responses to this post.

  1. Ace of Base! Wooo! (still have a soft spot)

    First cassette I can ever remember buying… hmmm… I don’t remember the first one I ever bought with my own money, but I do know the first one I ever received as a gift that wasn’t “kid” songs was Belinda Carlisle, Heaven on Earth. Oh yes.

    First CD I ever bought with my own money was Garbage’s 1st album when I was 13. So that’s not so bad. I was late to the CD game though. Dinorific even then: “I HAVE PERFECTLY GOOD CASSETTES!!!”


  2. First gig was Pretenders at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach in 1999. I grew up in Montana and didn’t really like pop-country music, so my options for gigs around home were severely limited.


  3. Posted by Mr.Savage on December 23, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Hmmm – the Sign by Ace of Base? that’s from ’93 – i might have sold it to you cause i worked there for a good while!

    I do have Now no. 9 on record still too – Bon Jovi,Genesis, and er.. Berlin

    1st gig was The Wonderstuff in the S.F.X. in ’89 – with their original bass player – The Bass Thing

    Sweet memories


  4. Posted by Lauren on December 24, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Sara – All very respectable choices! I remember getting a Robbie Williams album for my birthday when I was about 13, and for ages I mistakenly thought that was my first album. But I do think that the first CD album I might have bought with my own money was…. ahem….. *coughWhiteLaddercough*

    Mr. Savage – Remember you saying that before about Golden Discs, but unfortunately my amazing photographic memory doesn’t stretch to what the staff members looked like :) Now 9? You’re showing your.. er… maturity there now ;)


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