Rhino Records, the label that chronicled the '70s in a seemingly endless series of Have a Nice Day CDs, has been nailing down the '80s for the past couple of years, now. The label has already released a string of '80s compilations, from the 15-volume Just Can't Get Enough — New Wave Hits of the '80s series to the four-volume Youth Gone Wild metal hits collections. But now it's unveiled "the coolest thing ever" (at least, that's what my sister-in-law, Bev, said when she opened the cover and saw the day-glo CDs on their flip-flop plastic holders).
If you want to re-experience the pop music culture of the '80s, Like, Omigod! The '80s Pop Culture Box (Totally) is a pretty "cool" set – 142 songs, covering the spectrum of the radio hits of that decade. To my mind, the set's wide musical net — including the funk of The Gap Band, alongside the alternative cool of Oingo Boingo — is both its strength and its weakness. If you were a "New Waver" in the '80s, you'll probably enjoy listening to a disc that includes Devo's "Whip It," The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star" and The Vapors' "Turning Japanese."
With those tastes, however, you may not want to hear Air Supply's "Lost in Love," Dolly Parton's "9 to 5" or Christopher Cross' "Sailing," which appear side by side with those New Wave hits on Disc I of the set. But virtually anyone could boil down these seven discs into an "ultimate" '80s collection to suit their own tastes. Among the dozens of hits on this box are Billy Idol's "Dancing With Myself," Tom Tom Club's "Genius of Love," Quarterflash's "Harden My Heart," Rick James' "Super Freak," Frank Zappa's "Valley Girl," Men at Work's "Down Under," Bow Wow Wow's "I Want Candy," Buckner & Garcia's novelty hit "Pac-Man Fever," Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun," The Romantics' "Talking in Your Sleep," Yes' "Owner of a Lonely Heart," Styx's "Mr. Roboto," a-ha's "Take on Me," Los Lobos' "La Bamba," Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy," and more.
Other artists include Peter Townshend, Blondie, Donnie Iris, The Cars, Billy Squier, Duran Duran, ABC, Soft Cell, Stray Cats, The Thompson Twins, The Human League, Haircut 100, Golden Earing, Bonnie Tyler, Toto, Taco, the Greg Kihn Band, Eurythmics, The Fixx, Big Country, Culture Club, The Cure, General Public, Ray Parker Jr., Kenny Loggins, Sheila E., Animotion, Jan Hammer, Dead or Alive, Mr. Mister, The Escape Club, OMD, Bangles, and more.
The box is filled out by an impressive, full-color, 94-page booklet with photos of the artists, historical notes on the decade and descriptions about the box's songs and chart positions.
The soundtrack to Dana Carvey's The Master of Disguise is out on Columbia/Sony Music Soundtrax. The disc includes a healthy dose of urban soul, opening with Lil Fizz from B2k performing "M.A.S.T.E.R. Part 2," and Destiny's Child's "Happy Face." Val C updates the Katrina & The Waves' classic "Walking on Sunshine," and bubblegum popster Vitamin C offers the chirpy title track in "Master of Disguise." The disc also includes Miami Sound Machine's classic "Conga" hit, and songs from Solange Knowles, Devin Vasquez, Strong, and The Hardhedz.
Want to turn your basement or back yard into a techno club? Pick up X-Press 2's new 10-song CD Muzikizum (which spells the same thing backward and forward). Opening with the trance-dance title track, the disc continues through a series of mind-numbing, beat-heavy tracks that include sporadic vocal samples, and, on "Lazy," a guest vocal appearance by former Talking Head David Byrne.
This isn't the sort of disc you really "listen" to — lyrics are minimal — it's more like techno wallpaper — cool cycling beats and throbbing basslines that play in the background while you talk and dance with friends. Just add dry ice and your basement can sound and feel like a downtown club.