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VINE VOICEon 11 January 2011
TREVOR HORN is one of only a small handful of record producers who shouldn't feel awkward at being described as a genius. With a legacy in sound creation that has stretched beyond a generation - but which defined one decade in particular, the 80s - he has been responsible for a significant number of brilliantly executed songs; unforgettable in the way that so many other comparible, but lesser, efforts weren't.

There are songs on this excellent 2cd collection that do to some extent, although not entirely, rely on a person's musical tastes. For example, DOLLAR were not exactly high on my appreciation index in 1981-2 but I can still honestly say that their 'sound', under Horn's auspices, was a considerable leap ahead of the typical fodder of the day. And any man who could make a SPANDAU BALLET song (the idiotically coined 'Instinction') attractive enough for this reviewer to purchase in 1981 must have had at least one toe, or lobe, dipped firmly in the cosmic talent pool. Yes, taste does play a part.

But what about the songs that transcend such things and are simply classics in their own right? It's true you have to start off with a good piece of music, but Horn was a trained musician himself and worked very hard to refine his 'craft' over a number of years (in fact, one of his former writing partners, the criminally underrated BRUCE WOOLLEY, has some fascinating insights of the early days in the sleevenotes to his excellent 1979 Camera Club album re-issue, see review).

VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR is, of course, the one we've all heard before which bears many of the trademark techniques (wide, spatial soundscape, heavy synthesizers, multi-tracked vocals) he would would later develop and augment, most noticeably in the brilliant RELAX by FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD. But what really stands out is the quality, the sheer class of the finished article. Not to mention the strings; Horn knew how to perfectly integrate an orchestra into the mix, creating in the process some beautifully striking effects, as featured on songs by ABC, PROPAGANDA, PET SHOP BOYS and others.

THE BEST (of the best of)

ALL OF MY HEART by ABC (1982)
DAS TESTAMENT DES Dr MABUSE by PROPAGANDA (1984)
SLAVE TO THE RHYTHM by GRACE JONES (1985)
CRAZY by SEAL (1990)
OWNER OF A LONELY HEART by YES (1983)
ALL THE THINGS SHE SAID by (who?) tATu (2003)
RELAX by (who else?) FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD (1983)
LIVING IN THE PLASTIC AGE by BUGGLES (1980)

One song sadly missing from these tracklistings - which would have been conspicuous by its absense, had anyone actually heard it - is SAVE US by PHILIP JAP. It (along with classic first album by German electo-synth outfit PROPAGANDA, see review) shows Horn at his most pure in style, with everything he does best thrown into sharp relief. Perhaps we may get to hear Philip Jap on another future compilation. Whatever the case, here for all to see or, rather, hear is pretty much the essential Trevor Horn, former Buggle and, yes, genius 'Record Producer'. Yet how archaic that title sounds now. Conversely, his legacy has resulted in many priceless artefacts.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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on 30 March 2013
An excellent compilation, gathering all the classic Horn productions in one place for the first time. The accompanying booklet is invaluable too, chronicling TH's memories and views on each track. His signature style emerged bombastically from the speakers, but what strikes you as you hear them all again is the sense of humour and lack of pretension. He was our Phil Spector - minus, thankfully, the hair and guns!
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on 13 July 2011
For me, Trevor Horn is synonymous with perfection and this is sheer perfection. All the tracks have that stamp of class written all over them. He is not a one-trick pony - he knows how to turn out classics, as Grave Jones's "Slave To The Rhythm" demonstrates. I absolutely adore it, together with the Art Of Noise tracks, particularly "Il Pleure" and "Moments In Love", which are just gorgeous.

We all know about his relationship with Frankie goes To Hollywood and the Art Of Noise There is also the odd surprise - I didn't know he had produced Propaganda, Dollar and tATu until I bought this compilation.

There's not a duff track on this compilation, although I understand there are other people more in the know who will say that there are one or two other tracks which are conspicuous by their absence. I have no such qualms. The two Buggles albums were always very special and the two tracks here (only two, when there could have been more!) are just fabulous.

I have just one tiny grip. The Shane McGowan track, "You're The One" very heavily feature Maire Brennan (of Clannad) and I would have liked have seen her get some kind of mention in the notes. She has a wonderful voice and is the antidote to Shane McGowan's gravelly voice. If that's all I have to worry about, then I'm a very happy man.

It's a brilliant compilation - and a thoroughly deserved bit of recognition.
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on 17 May 2009
Despite being mainly synonymous with Frankie Goes to Hollywood's mega-hits, TH's production runs through the Eighties like writing through a stick of rock. From Pet Shop Boys to Spandau Ballet; from Buggles (his own vanity project) to Simple Minds; Horn's big sounds and bigger spectacles are well showcased on this double album. There are a few misses - Leann Rimes for one - but that aside this is an upbeat and uplifting collection of pop classics. Long live the Horn.
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on 15 October 2015
To match the "Slaves to the Rhythm" concert (already reviewed here), Trevor Horn released a double-CD set, more or less respecting the frame of the concert - with contributions by The Buggles, Pet Shop Boys, Seal, Grace Jones, Yes, ABC, Dollar, Tatu, Art of Noise, Popaganda and Frankie goes to Hollywood - in the original studio recordings corresponding more or less to the songs played at the concert.
Clearly some of the pop played here is fantastic - although it cannot replace the sheer excitement of the 2004 Wembley Arena concert.
Also, as one of the reviewers put it, some of the choices in the CD set are a tad bizarre: Tracks by the Frames and Spandau Ballet are not the best of their authors, therefore dampening some of the enthusiasm.
So put your hands on the concert's DVD first!
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on 10 June 2005
We all know how clever Trevor Horn is, the production quality on the FGTH and ABC singles still sounds lush and full, admittedly with quality raw material. History will also be very kind to Propaganda and this is their plane crash song (every group has one, the one they should probably have died or disbanded after recording - a career high).
Mere words are inadequate to describe the beauty that is "Give me back my heart" by Dollar. The world is divided into people who see this and the emotionally barren.
Slave to the Rhythm is Grace Jones and is almost perfect for that.
Lisa Stansfield, Godley and Creme and The Pet Shop Boys have done better work elsewhere and Shane MacGowan has rarely done worse work elsewhere
The Seal stuff is OK if a bit bland, Art of Noise were always worth a listen. Even taTu has a certain sheen that only TH can give music. The CD is not without issues though. Belfast Child is terrible and Mandela Day not a lot better, they sound fine but without raw materials even the greatest artist will struggle. Not sure why the Frames track is on here, are they mates Trevor? and the Lee Ann Rimes song is as terrible as the film it came from (how can this be on here when Videotheque is missing?)
Instinction will always be a Spandau Ballet song.
Those gripes aside 20 high quality songs and a lot of filler still looks like a decent deal and the highpoints are very high indeed.
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on 30 October 2016
love the big production sound of the tracks
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on 29 November 2004
A STUNNING collection of fantastic songs - most of them very big hits - which was criminally under-promoted on its release. Take a look at the track list - then you'll see what I mean!
(NOTE: My copy does not feature Belle & Sebastian, despite a mention in other reviews...!?)
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on 17 December 2015
It stopped working
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on 9 October 2014
fantastic album
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