Pure '80s: #1s

Various Artists

Hip-O Records, 2006

REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/27/2006

With nostalgia for the music of the 1980s showing no signs of abating, it should come as no surprise that record companies continue to release countless CD compilations of that decade’s enduring hits.

One of the latest is a collection of 18 hits that all reached number one on the Billboard singles chart, called Pure ‘80s #1s. Obviously, considering just how many hits there are to choose from, picking the ones to fill a single disc can be quite a challenge. To their credit, Hip-O Records tries to span the whole decade and also included songs of different styles. But this approach doesn’t always work, and it becomes an issue here as well.

While I personally could have done without the inclusion of songs like “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds or “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, since they seem to be included on every 80’s hit CD that exists, I can’t deny that not only are they great songs, but two of the quintessential anthems of the decade. For a record label to omit tracks like these would be at their own peril.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Survivor’s dated, cheeseball classic from the Rocky III film, “Eye Of The Tiger,” opens the album with a rocking start, followed up by the sophisticated pop classic “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” by 70s progressive rock stalwarts Yes, a song which finally brought them mainstream commercial success long after their creative peak.

Other welcome appearances include the excellent and quirky new wave hit “Down Under” by Men At Work, the late decade falsetto-fest of Fine Young Cannibal’s “She Drives Me Crazy,” and the hyper dance rhythms of Michael Sembello’s “Maniac” from Flashdance, a movie widely eclipsed by its own soundtrack.

The disc does, however, suffer from a lengthy dead spot in the middle, where a number of insipidly dull, corporate soft rock songs bring the party to a crashing halt. The first of these, a sentimental, heavily-70s sounding piano ballad by Christopher Cross is pretty enough, but it’s followed by “The Living Years” by Mike + The Mechanics, which aside from a decent chorus doesn’t have anything to offer, and it is then that we reach the nadir of the disc, Bad English’s “When I See You Smile.” What a truly abysmal piece of polished commercial crap, which should surprise no one seeing how it originated from the undisputed queen of tacky corporate schlock, Diane Warren. I don’t care if it made it to number one, I highly doubt that anyone remembers this song, and it would be wise to not encourage that. Strangely enough though, this song doesn’t really sound dated at all -- if I heard it on the radio today I wouldn’t believe that it’s almost 20 years old.

I’m also annoyed that my nemesis, the Godawful “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club, made the cut here. It always sounded like a throwaway meant for a Saturday morning show geared towards pre-school kids. Just a terrible song that I wish I could avoid for the rest of my life, but I doubt I’ll be able to pull that off. The album also closes with a whimper, Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long (All Night),” a track devoid of any inspired melodies that just happily ambles along in its mediocrity.

All in all, I suppose Pure ‘80s #1s is a decent enough compilation that will likely make a lot of people happy, but I can’t really recommend it. Given that there are literally hundreds of similar collections available, you can probably easily find one with the best songs and none of the awful tunes found here.

Rating: C

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2006 Roland Fratzl and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Hip-O Records, and is used for informational purposes only.