What was on the first Now That’s What I Call Music album?

28 November 2023, 13:04 | Updated: 28 November 2023, 13:18

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The classic compilation series was released 40 years ago this week. But what was on the very first LP, back in 1983? Let’s drop the needle on side 1, track 1 and find out…

Radio X

By Radio X

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Now That's What I Call Music! was the brainchild of executives at Virgin Records and EMI, who joined forces to create a unique compilation of the biggest hits of the year on their respective labels. The name came from a 1920s advert for bacon (honest!) that hang behind Virgin MD Simon Draper's desk. This explains why a pig appeared in early TV ads, voiced by the legendary actor Brian Glover.

The first Now That's What I Call Music album was released on Monday 28th November 1983. Whereas previous compilations had either a limited scope (a few hits from one label and some filler), or tacky cover versions, Now 1 (as it came to be known) was full of quality tunes and envious labels CBS and WEA nicked the idea by producing their own "Hits" series not long after.

Incredibly, the Now! series is still going 40 years later, with Now 116 arriving in November 2023. To mark the occasion, Radio X turns back the clock four decades to take a look at which tracks were included on the very first edition...


  1. Phil Collins - You Can’t Hurry Love

    The drummer with Genesis finally makes the transition to pop superstar with this cover of the Supremes’ Motown classic. The video showcases his acting talents. Sort of.

    Phil Collins - You Can't Hurry Love [Official Music Video]

  2. Duran Duran - Is There Something I Should Know

    Duran entered the halls of pop superstardom this year and the video was suitably grandiose (and expensive).

    Duran Duran - Is There Something I Should Know? (Official Music Video_

  3. UB40 - Red Red Wine

    The Brummie reggae outfit put aside their hard—edged political tunes for some more mainstream tracks. They covered this song thinking it was a Jamaican classic. Turned out it was originally done by crooner Neil Diamond. Oops.

    UB40 - Red Red Wine

  4. Limahl - Only For Love

    The former frontman with flavour-of-1983 Kajagoogoo went solo with indecent haste, but we genuinely don’t remember this one, just the Never-Ending Story theme tune. Do you like his jumper and braces combo?

    Limahl - Only For Love (1983)

  5. Heaven 17 - Temptation

    After splitting from The Human League in 1981, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh concocted this studio project, which had some excellent hits. This is the best known and is still a banger.

    Heaven 17 - Temptation

  6. KC And The Sunshine Band - Give It Up

    Harry Wayne Casey (aka KC himself) leads the band with this poptastic hit which took them from their R&B and disco roots to Number 1 in the UK charts.

    KC & The Sunshine Band - Give It Up • TopPop

  7. Malcolm McLaren - Double Dutch

    Always on the lookout for the next big thing, former Sex Pistols manager McLaren teamed up with a New York skipping team and powered this tune with some authentic South African sounds and hip hop scratching. Skipping was suddenly dead fashionable in the UK for about three weeks.

    Malcolm Mclaren Presents Double Dutch.wmv

  8. Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse Of The Heart

    The Welsh power-balladeer teams up with Meat Loaf’s producer Jim Steinman for this epic piece of 80s nonsense. Video filmed in the home of gothic drama, Virginia Water in Surrey.

    Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse of the Heart (Video)




  1. Culture Club - Karma Chameleon

    With this Number 1 hit, Boy George made the leap from clubland wannabe to pop legend. Please do not swim in the river.

    Culture Club - Karma Chameleon

  2. Men Without Hats - Safety Dance

    Obscure - but excellent - Canadian synthpop ditty. You won’t be able to get it out of your head for days, now. Video looks like a clip from The Hobbit.

    Men Without Hats - Safety Dance (HD 720p)

  3. Kajagoogoo - Too Shy

    See Limahl on side 1. Hailing from Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire this piece of blue-eyed soul made the top of the charts, but pin-up frontman Limahl left barely six months later. That’s showbiz. Imagine dancing to this in a club in Romford on a Friday night.

    Kajagoogoo - Too Shy (Official Music Video)

  4. Mike Oldfield - Moonlight Shadow

    Young Mike didn’t really follow up the huge success of 1973’s Tubular Bells, but he made a return to the charts with this folk ditty. It’s now best known for being the theme tune to “Dave Angel: Eco Warrior” on The Fast Show.

    Mike Oldfield - Moonlight Shadow ft. Maggie Reilly

  5. Men At Work - Down Under

    Huge, huge international hit for this Australian band - but it went sour when the publishers of the old classroom song “Kookaburra” took legal action, claiming the flute riff was similar to their melody. Great video.

    Men At Work - Down Under (Video)

  6. The Rock Steady Crew - (Hey You) The Rock Steady Crew

    The most “1983” hit on Now 1, this is hip-hop and the breakdance craze in all its innocent glory. Let’s body pop! Watch my lino!

    (Hey You) The Rock Steady Crew

  7. Rod Stewart - Baby Jane

    Like a lot of old rockers, Rod The Mod enjoyed a resurgence as one of the Old Guard in the 1980s (see: Elton John, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney). This is a respectable hit, but the cheesy video leaves a lot to be desired.

    Rod Stewart - "Baby Jane" (Official Music Video)

  8. Paul Young - Wherever I Lay My Hat

    1983’s vocal superstar scored big with this Marvin Gaye cover. He then went on to cover Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division, which was a bit unexpected.

    Paul Young - Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)




  1. New Edition - Candy Girl

    An adolescent Bobby Brown starred in this R&B kids’ group, which also spawned 90s crooners Bell, Biv AND DeVoe and Ralph Tresvant. The Jackson who?

    Candy Girl official video New Edition 1983

  2. Kajagoogoo - Big Apple

    We really don’t need another Kajagoogoo track, but here we are. Limahl has been sacked and Nick Beggs steps into the frontman role.

    Kajagoogoo - Big Apple (Official Music Video)

  3. Tina Turner - Let’s Stay Together

    After spending the latter half of the 70s in the wilderness, Tina reinvented herself as a superstar in the 80s, with this Al Green cover being a highlight. She would thank Heaven 17's Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh (see above) for having faith in her.

    Tina Turner - Lets Stay Together (Official Music Video)

  4. The Human League - (Keep Feeling) Fascination

    The League lost a bit of momentum following the massive success of their 1981 album Dare and this was something of a stopgap single. Synthpop purists were horrified by the appearance in this video of an actual guitar. Ugh!

    The Human League - Fascination

  5. Howard Jones - New Song

    Synth solo star that shot up the charts in ’83. He was accompanied by a mime artist called Jed who “threw off his mental chains” as the lyrics suggested. Howard, people want to get home, stop blocking the exits!

    Howard Jones - New Song

  6. UB40 - Please Don’t Make Me Cry

    Another track from the ’40, this got to Number 10 in the charts.

    UB40 - Please Don't Make Me Cry

  7. Peabo Bryson And Roberta Flack - Tonight I Celebrate My Love

    We can only speculate how many people were conceived to the sounds of this slushy ballad in the summer of 1983. Wow.

    Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack Tonight I Celebrate My Love


  1. Tracey Ullman - They Don’t Know

    Between being a comedian on the BBC and becoming a TV star in the US and launching The Simpsons, Ullman had a brief career as a pop star. This hit was written by the much-loved Kirsty MacColl.

    Tracey Ullman - They Don't Know

  2. Will Powers - Kissing With Confidence

    Weird, weird hit from artist Lynn Goldsmith who uses a harmoniser to make her sound like the male relationship guru "Will Powers" on this guide to love and self-help. At least that’s the idea. Nile Rodgers was involved. Of course he was.

    Will Powers - Kissing With Confidence (Official Music Video)

  3. Genesis - That’s All

    Phil Collins kept a successful solo career going at the same time as his main band, and 1982 saw Genesis go full-on pop. This tune seems to sum up his recent divorce, judging by the lyrics.

    Genesis - That's All (Official Music Video)

  4. The Cure - The Love Cats

    They did it! After years of producing gloomy albums and moping about in long raincoats, Robert Smith and co became legitimate pop stars with this student disco classic.

    The Cure - The Lovecats

  5. Simple Minds - Waterfront

    Jim Kerr’s major bid to for his band to become the next U2, but The Breakfast Club was calling.

    Simple Minds - Waterfront

  6. Madness - The Sun And The Rain

    Chirpy and underrated single from the Nutty Boys, a standalone single in October '83.

    Madness - The Sun and the Rain

  7. Culture Club - Victims

    Well, it was George’s year, so let’s leave on a high - literally. The video sees the Boy sat on a crane in what was the most expensive pop promo ever made (that week).

    Culture Club - Victims (Video 1983)