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An 80s compilation with a purpose...
on 21 August 2014
I am completely addicted to buying 80s compilations, so the presence of interlopers to the decade like Chesney Hawkes (get back to the 90s, man - and tell 10CC et al to sod off back to the 70s while you're about it!) would never have dissuaded me from purchasing this. Quite apart from which, I'd already been seduced by the blurb that accompanies this particular item: something about this being a 3CD collection featuring 'a decade of classic pop hits from some of the most talented acts and REWIND PERFORMERS PAST AND PRESENT (NB: my emphasis) all laced with nothing but pure nostalgia'.
This 45-track collection then, has evidently been put together to showcase the work of those noble 80s artists who now do the rounds of the summer 80s revivals and festivals, as well as giving (yet?) another airing to some classic numbers from, mostly, that decade whose singers are a little bit too shy / too busy / too famous / not famous enough / not broke enough yet to get themselves along to such things and thereby bring pleasure to us ageing masses.
I only caught one 80s concert myself this year, in Scarborough, although it was not a 'Rewind' one. Jason Donovan, Rick Astley, Sonia and Bananarama were all there and, on that basis, this collection does provide a handy way to relive the energy of that evening. Only I (oh, and now you - sleep well, won't you...) will ever know just how close I came to flashing my man boobs at Sara and Keren, so giddy with excitement was I by the time they sang 'Venus'. That's the sort of 'I-felt-so-good-I-nearly-traumatised-several-thousand-revellers-for life' energy that a product like this can really help a listener tap in to.
No? Oh well, that must just be me then.
'Happy Talk' is probably my favourite track on here, purely because it is such a relative rarity. I also love Chas & Dave's 'Ain't No Pleasing You': you can imagine the compilers of each and every one of these 80s compilations singing that song to themselves - and to their prospective audiences - while trying to find that happy medium between 'exciting and popular' and 'over-familiar and predictable'.
There are, I will concede, an awful lot of songs on here that can be found on practically any other 80s compilation. Why do I find myself looking at you in particular, 'It's Raining Men'? That song is like the Peter Andre of the 1980s pop world - it is totally shameless and could pop up virtually anywhere. Then again, we must truly be thankful for whatever small mercies saw fit to leave Nena and her 99 inflatables soundly by the wayside.
But, not too many compilations come right out and state their intentions in quite the way this one does. It's not trying to unearth any rare 80s diamonds. It's not claiming to be an 'Ultimate' or a 'Definitive' or a 'Complete' - any 3-disc set that claims to be any of those things is, in my experience, lying through its little retro teeth anyway. It is attempting to take the shortest possible route back to the sort of 80s music that most of us would instantly be familiar with. These are tried and tested songs that will have you dancing round the house or rummaging through the contents of your loft in search of your 'Smash Hits Sticker Album: 1986' like nobody's business.
This collection, most definitely, has its flaws. Well, one flaw really - that, somewhat gung-ho, approach of trying to smuggle perfectly respectable songs from other decades in here without any real reason. If you're going to hang your product's hat on 'The 80s', you really do need to give that awesome decade some respect.
To counter that though, the sound quality is excellent. And, while this is nothing like a 'definitive' compilation of 80s tunes , in fairness, it never claimed to be such a thing in the first place. It is, however, a unique little compilation that does tap into that 80s nostalgic energy very, very nicely indeed.