Various Artists – Now That’s What I Call New Wave 80’s (review)

Various Artists – Now That’s What I Call New Wave 80’s (Universal / Sony) review

Remember when MTV actually played videos?

Now That’s What I Call New Wave 80’s transports us back to a time when the synthesizer was the lead instrument, crazy haircuts meant everything, and the stranger your video was, the better. The disc brings together 18 songs from the glory days of music videos, with some surprises as well.

The disc kicks off with the first hit from Aussie’s INXS, “The One Thing” – and who could forget their video, full of food-laden debauchery, complete with a cat walking all over things. Billy Idol, the master of the sneer, chimes in with “Rebel Yell” (and man, did he have some cool hair!).

The set is a nice mix of well-known classics with some lesser-known nuggets thrown in for good measure. So, you get arena anthems like “What I Like About You” by the Romantics, and “We Got the Beat” by the Go Go’s, rubbing shoulders with tracks like “Desperate But Not Serious” by Adam Ant and “Lies” by the Thompson Twins.

There’s a couple of bands that started in the New Wave movement, but had even bigger success later on – R.E.M. and The Cure, are represented by “The One I Love” and “Just Like Heaven,” respectively. “Private Idaho” by the B-52’s, and “Mad World” by Tears for Fears are interesting choices. Then there’s the theme from the Molly Ringwald vehicle Pretty in Pink – “If You Leave,” by Orchestra Manoeuvres in the Dark.”

A couple of songs that just sound fabulous in this setting – Echo & the Bunnymen’s insistent “Lips Like Sugar,” and the Psychedelic Furs’ eerie “Love My Way” both haven’t been too burned out by radio and jump out of the speakers.

The set closes with the still-fantastic sounding “Don’t You Want Me” by Human League – very few songs dominated by keyboards still sound as fresh.

Relieve the glory days of the Rubik’s Cube and jam to Now That’s What I Call New Wave 80’s. —Tony Peters