Various: Modern Dance UK LP 
- Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark: Joan Of Arc
- Japan: Quiet Life
- The Human League: Love Action
- Heaven 17: Penthouse + Pavement
- Depeche Mode: New Life
- Simple Minds: Sweat In Bullet
- John Foxx – Europe After The Rain
- The Cure: Charlotte Sometimes
- Gary Numan: She’s Got Claws
- Visage: Fade To Grey
- Landscape: Einstein A Go-Go
- Fashion: Move On
- Japan: Visions Of China
- The News: A World Without Love
- Simple Minds: Love Song
- Heaven 17: Play To Win
- Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark: Enola Gay
- The Human League: Open Your Heart
The other day, Version Crazy, one of the blogs I follow posted a rundown on the Virgin Records compilation “Machines” and that got me thinking about the ultimate New Wave compilation that I ever ran across. In fact, it’s even better than a New Wave comp, since it’s a specifically New Romantic compilation, and noting that “Machines” was a Virgin effort, this one is packed to the gills with Virgin-released material. The thing that makes it indisputably cool is that it bears the normally ignominious K-Tel imprint!
It was one day while browsing the import cutout bins [yes, import cutout bins – let that phrase sink in…] at Record Mart that my friend Tom first came upon “Modern Dance.” He held it up in disbelief as we scanned the cover, thick with many of our favorite bands, yet still possessed of a K-Tel logo! Tom ended up buying it because ultimately, he owned less of the material on it but also, let’s face it… it’s so heavily salted with genius that how can one not support K-Tel’s most amazing comp ever?
I think we happened across this album some time in early ’82, judging by the contents. For example, there are two Human League singles from “Dare” but neither of them are the monster “Don’t You Want Me,” which was the fourth single pulled from that album that ended up being the Christmas #1 chart winner for 1981. “Europe After The Rain” was released in August of 1981. I bought it at the time of entering college as a freshman. That suggests to me that this album was compiled no later than Fall of ’81 for the Christmas market for that year in advance of “Don’t You Want Me’s” meteoric rise. That would give it enough time for unsold cut out copies to make their way to the cheapie bins at Record Mart in Orlando, Florida several months later.
Check out that lineup of material. Is there another album that captures the energy of the sacred year of 1981 any better than this? Okay, so it’s missing Ultravox, but still…!! It’s got John Foxx instead! And you’ve got to love the cheesy rip-off of the iconic first Visage album cover. Those dancers in profile in the background are a dead giveaway, as is the heavily retouched cover photo. You can almost detect the whiff of the imminent arrival of Patrick Nagel onto the rock scene with the “Rio” album!
The thing that strikes me, looking at this 30 years later, is how bulletproof the song selection is. The singles that make this up are all best of breed that paint an electric picture of the 1981 UK pop scene, which revolved around the New Romantic movement. Synthesizers and fashion shaken into a potent cocktail of effete poise. The single band that probably didn’t belong here, stylistically, was The Cure, but even so, one has to admit that “Charlotte Sometimes” fits into this lineup like fingers into a fingerless, fishnet glove [with black nails]. Every one of these songs has resided in my Record Cell since day one… with one glaring exception.
Who in the world were The News? Is their cut a remake of the Peter & Gordon sixties hit? The Magic 8-Ball of Music says “no.” Has anyone out there ever heard of this band or heard this record? If so, can you elucidate, please? That’s what the comment field is best for! Maybe I should spring for a copy of it so I can re-create this fine compilation as a REVO edition? In the mean time, let us praise K-Tel for getting this album so very right. The only other attempt they made that comes close is perhaps grist for another post, one day soon!
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