Thursday, 2 April 2009

Smash Hits - The 80s

Rhino have just issued ten CDs, one for each year of the Eighties, loosely tied in with the defunct Smash Hits magazine. There are some curious choices on here, the usual compilation ones where you fear that ran out of money and picked some unknown stuff to plug the gaps. However there's enough good stuff across the CDs that you'll be familiar with to make it worth purchasing some.

1980 - This is one of my favourites, featuring plenty from the alternative cannon. There's The Beat (Mirror In The Bathroom), Joy Division (Love Will Tear Us Apart), Echo & The Bunnymen (Rescue), Jona Lewie (You'll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties) and Bad Manners (Lip Up Fatty).

1981 – Showing a bit of repetition from the previous year it features all the above apart from Jona Lewie, if you count the fact that Joy Division have now become New Order. Unfortunately it’s inferior tracks that appear, although this CD has the sublime Is Vic There? by Department S and Laurie Anderson’s O Superman.

1982 – Curiously enough The Bunnymen (Back Of Love), Bad Manners and New Order (Temptation) are back for 1982. Although there’s a lot of eighties fluff on this one, note that Dollar are also here for their third appearance, it does have Belle Stars doing The Clapping Song although not much else to recommend it.

1983 – Well, The Bunnymen and New Order are back, but then you couldn’t miss out the latter’s Blue Monday. Bananarama’s Cruel Summer, The Beat’s Can’t Get Used To Losing You and The Bluebells' Cath are other reasons you might want it. Add to that eighties classics by Yes, Howard Jones and Men Without Hats and it’s a fine memento.

1984 – It’s getting too predictable now that certain bands will make an appearance. Nice to see Aztec Camera’s All I Need Is Everything on this one though as well as Bronski Beat and ZZ Top.

1985 – What? No New Order?! The Bunnymen are here though, so don’t worry! Some interesting but great choices here, in the form of Dream Academy’s Life In A Northern Town, Red Box’s Lean On Me and Strawberry Switchblade’s Since Yesterday. Throw in A-ha’s classic Take On Me and you’ve got a pretty good set.

1986 – This is mainly made up of well know bands lesser hits, but is saved from complete uselessness by Jesus And Mary Chain (Some Candy Talking), Fuzzbox (Love Is The Slug) and yes! New Order with Shellshock.

1987 – After a year without the Bunnymen they’re back as their career entered a slide. The Mary Chain with April Skies, A-ha’s The Living Daylights and New Order’s True Faith are the best of slim pickings, but you do get The Pogues and The Dubliners doing The Irish Rover.

1988 – Aside from the usual suspects, the only thing of note is D Mob’s We Call It Acieed. The insistence on using the same bands over and over is more than a little annoying, especially when one of them is Dollar.

1989 – To end the decade it’s business as usual, Bananarama and Debbie Gibson clocking up a few appearances. It does have the Beloved’s The Sun Rising and Happy Mondays’ Step On, but I remember 1989 being a much better year than this.

All these CDs are out now on Rhino

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