Ah, the “forgotten Eighties”…..remember them?
Having exhausted every permutation of the same reheated batch of ’80s hits (Relax, Tainted Love, Don’t You Want Me, etc), and bunged them out in an ever-diminishing, ever-more-depressing array of cliched, ’80s-themed artwork and titles, the marketing bods at Now That’s What I Call A Sorry Excuse For A Reissue Brand alighted on a new wheeze; hey, what about those tracks from the 1980s that have slipped through the reissue cracks in recent years, and fallen from the public’s collective consciousness even though at the time some of them were quite popular indeed?
Thus, NOW! 100 Hits The Forgotten 80s was born. Except, of course, these so-called forgotten gems apparently include Wonderful Life, Perfect, The Land Of Make Believe, Kiss Me…and Living On The Ceiling. In my best Richard Butler voice…..”honestly”. Oh, and Running In The bloody Family. Yes, the #6 title track from an album which went multi-platinum and was inescapable during the whole of 1987.
Well obviously, something had to be done!
A Pop Fan’s Dream – compilation expert and NOW! historian par excellence – got there first, creating his own brilliant 100-track selection which he posted online as a mixtape soon after. Many of his choices were exactly the kind of lost classics that the original concept suggested to me. Rising to the challenge, I then set about creating my own version.
And here it is. One disc at a time.
A JAMBOREE OF SURPRISES: THE FORGOTTEN EIGHTIES [CD1]
- Forgotten Town The Christians 5:11
- Shake The Disease Depeche Mode 4:50
- S.O.S. ABC 4:49
- Skin Trade [Radio Cut] Duran Duran 4:28
- Love Blonde [7″ Mix] Kim Wilde 3:35
- Heart Of Gold Johnny Hates Jazz 3:21
- I Refuse ’88 [O.S.T. Mix] Hue & Cry 3:39
- Family Man Roachford 3:49
- What’s The Colour Of Money Hollywood Beyond 3:28
- Im Nin’ Alu Ofra Haza 3:23
- Le Serenissima (Theme from Venice in Peril) Rondo Veneziano 2:19
- Of Course I’m Lying Yello 3:54
- Hey Matthew Karel Fialka 3:31
- A Walk In The Park Nick Straker Band 3:54
- The Rattler Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie 4:03
- The Motive Then Jerico 6:31
- This Is Me Climie Fisher 3:50
- I Hear Talk Bucks Fizz 4:45
- Love Lies Lost Helen Terry 3:26
- The Honeythief Hipsway 3:11
Getting started was half the battle; with a whole decade of music to choose from, iTunes playlists became my friend. First, a longlist with 125 or so potential tracks that might (sometimes loosely) fit the criteria, and a few acts with more than one candidate.
Once I’d come up with Forgotten Town as the opening salvo (well, you would wouldn’t you?), that gave me an idea of what type of songs could possibly follow. There are a few thematic links from track to track (Skin Trade – Love Blonde – Heart Of Gold, for example) while occasionally a song will be a riposte or reaction to what went immediately before (either lyrically, such as I Refuse, or sonically such as Im Nin Alu).
If it all sounds rather premeditated, it actually wasn’t. Most of the track sequencing was done “live”, off the cuff, as the music played. Usually one track would set off an idea in my mind that a particular song from the longlist would be the perfect one to cue up next. Or I’d attempt to be a smart-arse by putting three songs beginning with “The” in a row, until it was clear that the third of them (The Honeythief) fitted best at the very end.
So, how genuinely forgotten are these 20 singles? And how many of them were pretty successful in the first place, and hardly obscure?
Three made the UK Top 10 (although the version of A Walk In The Park I’ve used is the lesser-spotted 1987 remix). Four others reached the UK Top 20. Skin Trade has a reputation for being one of the great should-have-been-a-smash Duran Duran singles, while there are several smaller Top 40 entries by classic or high-profile 80s acts (ABC, Depeche Mode, Bucks Fizz, Yello).
It’s worth remembering (sorry) that in order to become forgotten, a single (and/or artist) had to have some sort of commercial profile at the time, hence the absence of anything truly out-there.
More to follow…
Another excellent piece.
And you’re quite right, of course. Those tracks on the NOW release are by no means obscure or “forgotten”. If one purchased it in the hope of discovering some genuinely mislaid or unknown musical nuggets then really you’re going to be disappointed, as it’s just…more of the same pre-packaged oh-look-there’s-a-Rubiks-Cube entirely expected stuff.