Now That's What I Call Music CDs

In 1983, the first "Now That's What I Call Music" album single-handedly revived the sagging compilation LP industry. The British collections picked up where the 1970s K-Tel albums left off, with the addition of producer's credits, pictures of each artist, and a short description for each song.

These sold well enough to spawn a few imitators (much like Ronco rode on the coattails of K-Tel), including "The Hits Album" and "Out Now". I noticed that "The Hits Albums" seem to have better licensing arrangements, and could get Michael Jackson, Prince, and Madonna tracks, where "Now" usually couldn't.

That said, there is probably no better documentation of mid-to-late-1980s British pop music than the "Now" albums. Beginning with Volume 8, they became available on CD, and the early CDs have become quite the collectors' items. Because you'll probably never find anyone willing to part with the CDs (myself included), I thought I'd share the artwork from the first 20 volumes of the series. (I have more, but I'm too lazy to scan them in.)

There are also Now Dance collections, but I won't list them here.


LPs

Vol. 1 (Peaked at UK#1, Debut date 10 Dec 1983, 50 weeks on chart)

Tracks from back | Label 1 | Label 2 | Label 3 | Label 4

Vol. 2 (Peaked at UK#1, Debut date 7 Apr 1984, 38 weeks on chart)

Tracks from back | Label 1 | Label 2 | Label 3 | Label 4 | Still available

Vol. 3 (Peaked at UK#1, Debut date 11 Aug 1984, 30 weeks on chart)

Tracks from back | Label 1 | Label 2 | Label 3 | Label 4

Vol. 4 (Peaked at UK#2, Debut date 8 Dec 1984, 43 weeks on chart)

Tracks from back | Mo' tracks | Label 1 | Label 2 | Label 3 | Label 4

Vol. 5 (Peaked at UK#1, Debut date 17 Aug 1985, 21 weeks on chart)

Tracks from back | Label 1 | Label 2 | Label 3 | Label 4

Vol. 6 (Peaked at UK#1, Debut date 7 Dec 1985, 40 weeks on chart)

Tracks from back | Label 1 | Label 2 | Label 3 | Label 4

Vol. 7 (Peaked at UK#1, Debut date 23 Aug 1986, 21 weeks on chart)

Tracks from back | Label 1 | Label 2 | Label 3 | Label 4

All of the paper sleeves for the Now LPs were blank, except for Record 1 of Volume 7, which contained a very nice summary of the artwork and track listings for the previous Now collections. Here is that artwork.

Track listings: 1 | 2a | 2b | 3 | 4a | 4b | 5 | 6a | 6b | Dance | Christmas

Cover art for previous volumes: 1 | 2 | 3

CDs

Now That's What I Call Music '86 (Peaked at UK#65, Debut date 29 Nov 1986, 4 weeks on chart)

Front | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | Back | CD

Vol. 8 (Peaked at UK#1, Debut date 6 Dec 1986, 23 weeks on chart)

Front | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | Back | CD

Vol. 9 (Peaked at UK#1, Debut date 4 Apr 1987, 26 weeks on chart)

Front | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | Back | CD

Now! Smash Hits (Peaked at UK#5, Debut date 3 Oct 1987, 10 weeks on chart)

Front | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Back | CD 1 | CD 2

Smash Hits magazine would later release a yearly series of their own compilations, but their first was this collaboration with the Now people.

Vol. 10 (Peaked at UK#1, Debut date 5 Dec 1987, 21 weeks on chart)

(Pictures scanned by Sam and Laura; see bottom of this page.)

Front | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Back | CD 1 | CD 2

Vol. 11 (Peaked at UK#1, Debut date 2 Apr 1988, 17 weeks on chart)

Pictures of booklet not available. Send them to me!

Front | Back | CD 1 | CD 2

Vol. 12 (Peaked at UK#1, Debut date 23 Jul 1988, 17 weeks on chart)

Pictures not available. Just keep sending me stuff...

Vol. 13 (Peaked at UK#1, Debut date 3 Dec 1988, 21 weeks on chart)

Front | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Back | CD 1 | CD 2

Vol. 14 (Peaked at UK#1, Debut date 1 Apr 1989, 18 weeks on chart)

Pictures not available. You know...

Vol. 15 (Peaked at UK#1, Debut date 26 Aug 1989, 13 weeks on chart)

Front | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Back | CD 1 | CD 2

Vol. 16 (Peaked at UK#1, Debut date 2 Dec 1989, 15 weeks on chart)

Pictures not available.

Vol. 17 (Peaked at UK#1, Debut date 5 May 1990, 15 weeks on chart)

Pictures not available.

Vol. 18 (Peaked at UK#1, Debut date 1 Dec 1990, 18 weeks on chart)

Pictures of booklet not available.

Front | Back | CD 1 | CD 2

Vol. 19 (Peaked at UK#1, Debut date 6 Apr 1991, 16 weeks on chart)

Front | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Back | CD 1 | CD 2

Vol. 20 (Peaked at UK#1, Debut date 30 Nov 1991, 5+ weeks on chart)

Front | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Back | CD 1 | CD 2


In 1993, Now released a set of year-end collections: Now 1983, Now 1984, up to Now 1993. They were 2-CD sets, and they went out of print almost as quickly as they were introduced. (They were replaced by identically named, but different 2-CD sets from 1980 to the late '90s.) I have all of these, but I don't have the energy to scan them all in.

Sam and Laura live in England, and they've done a much fancier version of what I've done here. Check this out!