Title: Ministry of Sound presents … Electronic Anthems of the 80s
Tell me more: The 1980s seem to be associated with, more than anything, outrageous hairstyles. Phil Oakey’s hair was on one side of his head, the frontman of A Flock of Seagulls had a two pointy bits on the temples, and Boy George appeared to have put some bread and nuts on his barnet and let the birds get at it before any Top of the Pops appearance. Oakey appears three times on this triple album, with the obligatory Love Action (I Believe in Love), the pre-dancing girls Human League’s Being Boiled and a solo outing with Giorgio Moroder (which means it wasn’t really a solo outing but you know what I mean). And yes, the Seagulls are also here, possibly having dropped one on Boy George beforehand.
The Lowdown: If this was typical of a record label suit’s selection it would be littered with Spandau Ballet and Ultravox, and while those buggers get a tokenistic inclusion, this is surprisingly top-heavy with electronic music that was, in it’s own way, the antithesis of the style over substance New Romantic movement – New Order’s Blue Monday, OMD, Japan, Simple Minds, Devo, M/A/R/R/S, Bronski Beat, Talk Talk, Joy Division, Propaganda, and It’s Immaterial, who bear absolute nothing in common with any of the above. Simple Minds produced one of the most startling albums of the decade, New Gold Dream, from which the rousing title track is on disk two. This was peak Minds, the experimentation having been channelled into pop, a fusion of funk, electro and glam-rock. It’s easy to dismiss the decade but without it we wouldn’t have Tubeway Army’s colossus Cars (actually released in 1979), Blondie’s rap-rock Rapture and the Pet Shop Boys’ West End Girls. Nowadays we have electronica being recorded from the almost good (Robbie Williams) to the great (Kasabian, Ladytron, Disasterradio) and all of them will have been influenced in some way by the originators, such as Kraftwerk but it was these people who made electronica accessible.
Anything else? Alas, you can’t have any 80s compilation without the brats at the back attempting to spoil it for everyone, but there is the skip feature for the Thompson Twins, Soft Cell, Kim Wilde, Go West (more MOR than electronica), Paul Hardcastle and Johnny Hates Jazz (?!). Whatever possessed them?