Reviews and Suggestions

I don’t like compilations, but…

80shits2_thumbnail Title: 80’s Hits Stripped

Artist: Various (but you know them all)

Genre: Acoustic 80’s Hits

Label: Sidewinder Records

Available at: Tower Records, amazon,

I usually pass on compilation cd’s; leaving them for the half-hearted fans unwilling to part with the dough to buy entire albums, besides, I swore I’d never voluntarily listen to some of these songs again. Pop radio and shows like Solid Gold had pimped some of them to the point of total disgust. But since I had the opportunity to go to the release party for 80’s Hits Stripped and relive some blasts from the pasts, I was inclined to try out the whole album…I’m glad I spent the 10 bucks and now, it’s on my iPod. Some of the artists are icons of the age that brought us techno music, drum machines and asymmetrical hair-do’s, but stripped down, I was pleasantly surprised at what 20 plus years and the bare honesty of an acoustic version did for some of these songs.

Of the 15 tracks, some were previously recorded at concerts or for other projects (“Down Under”-Colin Hay of Men at Work, “Rebel Yell”-Billy Idol) and some were new recordings for this album (“Only the Lonely”-The Motels, “She Blinded me with Science”-Thomas Dolby, “Jessie’s Girl”-Rick Springfield) There’s an introduction by Terri Nunn of Berlin quoting her band mate, John Crawford, that pretty much nails it “…if a song doesn’t sound good acoustically, throw it out. No amount of production would ever make it a good song” and in fact the nakedness of the acoustic guitars and minimalist vocals did some of these songs good by removing their cliché sound and even doing the lyrics some justice because a) they are actually discernable and b) without all the electronica, screaming guitars and vocal dubs your brain might actually be free to ponder them.

Highlights: “The Metro”-Berlin, I can feel the anxiety even acoustically; “Our Lips Are Sealed”-Jane Wiedlin of the Go Go’s, her song, finally sung by her; “The Stoke”-Billy Squire, totally refreshed in blues arrangement, you might not recognize it at first and Sidewinder records list of thank-you’s-the laughs and memories it evoked alone was almost worth the $10.