Various - Top of the Pops: The 80s
I don't think you'll need me to tell you that this CD is one you'll stick on the shelf and pull out once every year for an impromptu party. Sure, those who grew up in the '80s and general fans of the decade might want to check it out but surely they'll own the majority of these songs anyway? Whatever the case, Calvin Harris has apparently helped make the decade more acceptable than ever, and these three discs give a satisfactory overview of the musical output. The general consensus is lactose intolerant folk should steer well clear.
Disc 1 opens, surprisingly, with two of the better singles from the era: the always credible boy/girl electro of The Human League's Don't You Want Me and the dandyish charm of Adam & the Ants' Stand and Deliver. This first disc focuses on the earlier years, with contributions from artists who found their fame in the '70s (Blondie, David Bowie) and emerging figures who would reach iconic levels of fame (Roxy Music, Madness and Boy George of Culture Club).
There are undoubtedly some historic songs here but Disc 1's smattering of cheese, courtesy of Bucks Fizz and Kim Wilde, is merely the tip of the mound of Stilton. The usual suspects are relied upon for Disc 2; this has to be one of countless compilations where Wham, Duran Duran, Billy Ocean and Katrina & the Waves share disc space. There's a distinct 'girl power' vibe, proving the Spice Girls' message was pretty redundant, with disco floorfillers from Diana Ross and The Pointer Sisters ageing slightly better than the comically overdone Total Eclipse of the Heart from Bonnie Tyler.
Wacko Jacko opens Disc 3, and I wonder if hearing The Way You Make Me Feel makes the eighties generation nostalgic for a time when pop stars weren't entirely insane. This is the worst offender of all three CDs, featuring the second of two (yes, that's two!) Phil Collins hits and 'highlights' from the Stock/Aitken/Waterman canon - we'll forgive Kylie because she can get away with anything, but Rick Astley? I am gonna give you up actually, mate.
No surprises then but this is a cheap alternative if you can't afford a Friday night down Reflex. It's also heartening to see a project that, along with those Christmas specials that keep Fearne Cotton employed, keeps the memory of TOTP alive. Although the exclusion of Madonna is a misstep (I'm guessing the rights to Holiday were a tad expensive), this package also strengthens the lifespan of the most familiar songs from the decade, from classic material to the downright criminal. Only being born in '86, I'm personally waiting for the horrors of the '90s compilation...