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Different from other collections... this one is heavy on Cliff
on 31 July 2013
Although I am a self-confessed '80s Compilation' addict, this particular collection of tunes very nearly saw me break that addiction, simply on the grounds that I was fairly certain I was totally unfamiliar with almost half of them. Ah, but they're devious, these compilation compilers, aren't they? They've only gone and put 'It Ain't What You Do It's The Way That You Do It' on the first disc of this box-set, that's all. Bananarama! I can resist most temptations, but certainly not them. Had I heard of half of the other 100 songs? No, I was still fairly certain that I hadn't. But, under those circumstances... who cares?
The term 'Chartbusters' when used in relation to the 100 songs contained within these five discs is an interesting one, in that it doesn't really seem to mean anything. The enclosed little booklet is very spartan in its content, and gives no hint as to whereabouts in the charts (and, indeed WHICH charts) these 100 songs managed to reach. A cynical soul might start to question whether the word itself has simply been plucked from the ether in order to provide yet another 80s compilation; And, in this case, one which seems to be giving an airing to more than a few songs that, to my knowledge, haven't made it onto any previous compilations of a similar vintage. I mean, two tracks by Kenny Rogers and another three from Cliff Richard? This is clearly not your average 80s collection.
The quality of the recordings is good and there are enough well-known songs sprinkled around to entice you in. Quite a large number of the tracks have apparently been remastered, although I think so much time has passed since I last heard most of the originals that I really couldn't hear anything different.
I bought this while I was on the Isle of Wight over the weekend and driving around gave me the ideal opportunity to play the five discs all the way through without becoming too beguiled by Sara, Keren and Siobhan and never actually getting any further than CD1, Track 3. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, of the songs I could have sworn I had never actually heard before, there were actually very few that I didn't recognise. That is not to say that I am now a better person for having heard them again thirty odd years later, but it is nice to know that my memory still works reasonably well. In some cases I would not be the slightest bit bothered if I didn't hear the song again for at least another thirty years (I'm not picking on Cliff and Kenny specifically here, although I've a feeling it might look like it) but those songs are very much in the minority. My main beef with Cliff and Kenny's music is that it always seemed to be their tracks that were playing loudly through my car windows whenever I happened to pass a particularly attractive lady pedestrian. Had I wanted to stop and strike up a conversation with these ladies, I can't help feeling that most of that conversation would have involved me completely disowning this box-set. But maybe I'm just shallow?
There are very few 'classics' here. There aren't that many tracks (excluding the one by Bananarama, obviously) that require an immediate repeat play at louder volume. This is not the sort of collection that would serve as any sort of introduction to popular 80s music. On the plus side though, that does mean that Nena and her '99 Red Balloons' are nowhere to be found. It's nice to find an 80s compilation of any description that doesn't have her on it. But that does mean that this collection is probably only for the real hard-core 80s music fans.