This is the 2nd volume of a fantastic 15 volume set released in the mid-'90s by the always wonderful Rhino Records. I usually think of New Wave music as happy and upbeat, but at least half the songs on this volume are moody and dark. It's got Joy Division on it, if that tells you anything. Songs on this volume are from the years 1979-1981.
- Pop Muzik - M: this highly synthesized song almost sounds like a novelty song now. This single went to #1 in November 1979, knocking Herb Alpert's Rise out of the top spot, which says a lot about where top 40 music was at the time.
- Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick - Ian Dury & The Blockheads: Dury's rough, monotone voice and a screeching saxophone almost ruin this song, but the strange disco groove won't be denied.
- Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division: This post-punk group could make the most upbeat tempo into a depressing song. I'm amazed the wife of Ian Curtis could listen to his music and not think her husband was suicidal.
- What Does Sex Mean To Me? - Human Sexual Response: Not a bad art-school song, but the singer's quirky voice probably ensured that the group would never make it big. The world didn't need another art-school collegiate band with a quirky singer - we already had Talking Heads.
- My Mistake - The Kingbees: a good neo-rockabilly song in the style of Dave Edmunds/Rockpile. This should have been a bigger hit.
- The Funky Western Civilization - Tonio K.: Was unfamiliar with this song until I heard it on this CD. It's a 3 chord rock song complete with backing sax. It's a well-written song sung poorly. Not surprisingly, Tonio had his greatest success writing music for other performers.
- You Won't Be Happy - The Beat: skinny tie rock à la The Knack or The Plimsouls. Not really my thing, but good for what it is.
- I Don't Like Mondays - The Boomtown Rats: One of two Boomtown Rats' songs I've ever heard (the other is Up All Night). Bob Geldof is a better humanitarian than a songwriter.
- I Got You - Split Enz: Best song on the compilation. This song should have been more popular here. It's the kind of song that wasn't popular when it was released but now radio stations play it during "Retro '80s Weekends". The lead singer went on to have bigger success with Crowded House.
- Danger - The Motels: To me, this band is hit-or-miss. This is a miss. They later produced better music. That said, I love Martha Davis' voice.
- Echo Beach - Martha & The Muffins: Canadian attempt at New Wave music. 'Nuff said.
- Whip It - Devo: No explanation necessary. Pass me my Energy Dome, please.
- Vienna - Ultravox: I can't explain this moody techno-ballad, you'd have to hear it. Even then, you might not like it, but it appealed to the wannabe-artiste persona I was trying to cultivate in high school. I had this LP back in the '80s.
- So Long - Fischer-Z: Never heard of it. And for good reason.
- Away From Home - Klark Kent: Kent (a.k.a. Police drummer Stewart Copeland) put out a few singles before the Police hit it big. They sound like Stewart's contributions to Police albums.
- Turning Japanese - The Vapors: a song about, er, let's say self-gratification. A one-hit wonder classic. At least the compilation doesn't end on a solemn note.