100 Hits: The Best Eighties Album, by various artists
As this is my second collection from this particular series, it was easier to appreciate what this series brought to the table. It is all too easy in a compilation to quibble about what songs were included and what songs were neglected. As was the case with the seventies, there are a great many artists who were very popular in the eighties whose work is completely neglected–there are no Michael Jackson songs here (though there is one from the Jackson 5), no solo Beatles or solo Eagles work here (though one of the Rolling Stones has a solo track). Likewise, there are plenty of songs here that were not a hit under any definition, and somehow the obscure Altered Images got two songs in this collection despite not having any songs hit the Hot 100 at all, with the same being the case for Five Star who had a few minor hits but nothing that even hit the top 40. In retrospect, this particular collection does a better job at showing the eighties from the point of view of the UK charts, and while that is not my own perspective it does make for very interesting comparisons between the two music scenes and that is worthwhile.
This compilation of 80’s tracks is five cds long with 20 songs on each album. There is a mix of familiar songs with songs that will be more unfamiliar to American listeners. None of the albums show a particular theme, although there is a marked tendency to pick relatively obscure songs from well-known acts. So alongside songs like Belinda Carlise’s “Heaven Is A Place On Earth,” which begins the compilation, we have Meatloaf and Cher with a powerful duet on “Dead Ringer For Love.” We get “New Song” and “What Is Love?” from Howard Jones as well as “Pretty In Pink” from The Psychadelic Furs, and even “The Time Warp 2” from Damian. A lot of post-disco ends up here, from KC & The Sunshine Band’s “Give It Up,” and we even get an almost-instrumental that reminds one fondly of Axel F in Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit.” If you like Adam Ant, Alexander O’Neal, Kim Wilde, and Dolly Parton (here with “Islands In The Stream” and the excellent “9 To 5”), you will find a lot to enjoy here in the mix of big hits and more obscure numbers that may not have stood the test of time as well as others.
For the American listener, and I will assume that most of my readers will fit this bill, an album like this is good for reminding one of some of the biggest hits of the eighties that were successful on both sides of the Atlantic as well as providing plenty of quirky songs that one does not know and that one may not ever seek out. I do not think for example, that many of these songs are ones I would deliberately seek out but a few of them were certainly enjoyable listen to. Among the oddball and quirky songs, for example, that I had not heard, Donna Summer’s post-disco work with “Dinner With Gerswhin” was an excellent one, and Nick Heyward’s “Blue Hat For A Blue Day” was quite nice as well, and Paul Young’s Love Of The Common People is one that I will have to seek out a lot more. It is clear that silly and kitchy music and dance music is a lot more popular on the UK side of the charts than in the United States, but if this tracklist is not what what I would have made, it is easy to enjoy nonetheless. And given the modest price of the five discs, it does not take much to find enough to justify its place in a collection.