Greatest Hits of the 80's [1999 Disky]

Like the box sets devoted to the 1960s and 1970s released by Dutch label Disky, Greatest Hits of the 80's is a massive collection that should have qualifications applied to its all-encompassing title. First, Disky licenses primarily from EMI, so its hits are largely restricted to that major label's vaults. (This is not as great a limitation as it might appear, since it includes artists like Talking Heads, who are not on EMI labels in the U.S.) Second, the collection has a distinctly European orientation, so its application to the nostalgic American listener is limited. Of the 144 tracks, 129 reached the British charts, with 120 of those making the Top 40, 99 the Top Ten, and 22 going to number one. The comparable American statistics are roughly halved: 68 chart entries, of which 54 made the Top 40 and 38 the Top Ten, with 14 chart-toppers. And 12 of the tracks, by such performers as Sandra and Gazebo (each of whom gets two selections), scored only in continental Europe, missing both the U.S. and U.K. charts. The bulk of the tracks are pop/rock recordings by the videogenic post-new wave acts of the early '80s, most of them British: Culture Club, Duran Duran, and Ultravox get four selections each; there are three songs each by Blondie, Eddy Grant, Hot Chocolate, Billy Idol, Kajagoogoo, Spandau Ballet, and Kim Wilde; and among those with two tracks each are Thomas Dolby, Samantha Fox, and Billy Ocean. So, if you were living in, say, Amsterdam in the 1980s, there will be much here that you will recognize. But the box was selling for only about $50 through U.S. mail-order firms in the early 2000s, and, at that price, even American '80s enthusiasts might want to delve into its mixture of the familiar and the exotic. ~ William Ruhlmann

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