Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Annual Eighties Compilations

Like most of my vintage I grew up on 1980s pop compilations, and you can pick them up pretty easily in charity shops nowadays on both LP and cassette. Doubtless the latter graces all manner of low-fi synthesist-hypnagogues shelves and car glove compartments, but I opt for the vinyl. I found some beauties yesterday in the Moonee Ponds Arthritus Foundation Op Shop: 1980 The Summer and 1985 Comes Alive - $1 a piece.
The former demonstrates that they hadn't quite nailed the rhyming title theme yet, and the track selection is more slapdash, with MOR folk-rock alongside what-would-become the established synth-pop norm, and plenty of utter bilge: John Farnham's 'Help' chief among these. Worth mentioning for non-antipodeans oblivious to his unique brand of grandma-appealing dross. Youtube features dozens of clips of Farnsey performing this, which I thought bizarre, until I recalled seeing dozens of performances myself on telly, usually on Hey Hey It's Saturday:

But the hits hit hard. Diana Ross's 'Upside Down' is surely among the grooviest tracks ever made, and I'd bought more than one Best Of searching for it in vain, settling for early greats like 'Reflections' and 'Love Child'. Here she is in 1980 with doppelganger Michael Jackson:

Good but inferior version by Carol Cool, from Soul Jazz's Hustle! Reggae Disco comp:

Also features Korgi's easy one-hit favourite 'Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime', this clip a slightly warped video take:

Popularised for modern types by The Field:

'Let's Get Serious' by 'lesser' Jackson Jermaine:

By 1985 the genre of annual pop compilations was firmly established and 1985 Comes Alive is among the finest examples. Synth pop was pop music's lingua franca, and artists were adept at injecting real emotional weight into three minute throwaway ditties. I picked it up for Murray Head's 'One Night in Bangkok' (discussed below), rightly critiqued by Floatinghead for it's Middle Eastern fetish(?!), and what's with all the chess references??? I've clearly not paid attention to all the lyrics, perhaps there's a story there? But each time I'm sucked in by those eerie synth shudders and I'm overtaken with weird eighties pop bliss.

The same confused euphoria is derived from these babies:

Didn't realise this featured Moroder, but after watching the film again last week it's obvious:

Th rest is more humdrum - Huey Lewis, Tina Turner, Pat Benatar, U2 for fuck's sake, the nadir being this big-downunder comedy blip from Cuban-born Jewish Romanian George Smilovici:

I also bought the 12" single for Rick Astley's 'Never Gonna Give You Up' which features the instrumental version on the flip. Many claim to hate this song but 39 million youtube views say otherwise. Right after paying for it I entered Moonee Ponds Shopping Mall and what was to come on the muzak channel but...

Am I alone in succumbing to delusions of solipsism when coincidences of this nature take place?

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