July 25, 2010
Various Artists: Retro Active 2 – Rare + Remixed CAN CD 
- Human League – Human (Extended Version)
- A-Ha – The Sun Always Shines On T.V. (Extended Version)
- Tears For Fears –Shout (Dub Mix)
- Blancmange – Don’t Tell Me (Dance Remix)
- Howard Jones – Look Mama (Megamamamix)
- Figures On A Beach – No Stars (Unreleased Club Mix)
- OMD – So In Love (Brand New Extended Mix)
- Fuzzbox – International Rescue (The Orgasmatron Mix)
- Q Lazzarus – Goodbye Horses (Extended Version)
- Dream Academy – The Love Parade (12″ Mix)
- Alphaville – Jet Set (Jellybean Mix)
- Yaz – State Farm (Madhouse Mix)
I got this because of two tracks that I have on 12″ by groups that I collect: OMD and Fuzzbox. It’s nice to have these on CD and helpful to me. Truthfully, neither band was outputting the type of material that made me a fan of them, but I have the collector’s disease and it was that dark time in the mid-80s when groups that had started out in the post-punk era were coming unmoored 7 years later. Actually sinking, in the case of the Human League! This is a whole blogpost – or maybe a series, so don’t let me forget this. Others that were just getting started at that time (Howard Jones, a-ha) were decidedly lesser propositions to the sort of music I was grooving on a few years earlier.
I’d never heard the Human League version here, and frankly, I’d have preferred that it had stayed that way. The “Crash” album represented an absolute nadir for a group with many ups and downs. Just seeing the video on MTV was bad enough. The a-ha track is one of their best that I already had on a Japanese collection but fans without the deep pockets to get that now will no doubt be thrilled by the track included here.
The inclusion of the Tears For Fears dub mix shows attention to detail. The same track is now part of the 2xCD remaster that came out 3 years ago, but at the time of this CD (8 years ago) it was a rare cut that still existed only on vinyl. That said, I find it a tiresome track in any of its incarnations. The Blancmange track is a nice remix of one of my favorite songs by them, and it’s also on the 2xCD remaster of “Mange Tout.”
I have never liked Howard Jones and his almost 10 minute remix has two things going for it to counter the length: 1) it’s a track I had never heard before in any form and 2) the length is largely instrumental. HoJo fans – throw a party. I don’t think this cut surfaced on CD anywhere else. The rest of us? Well, at least they didn’t include “New Song.”
I’ve had the “Married To The Mob” soundtrack on CD since it was released so I was not pining for “Goodbye Horses.” The extended version here is just that; an old-fashioned 6:30 extension of a 4:00 cut. I’d never heard the Dream Academy extended version and it’s also of the same mold as the Q. Lazzarus track. The Alphaville track is pretty enjoyable and that’s great, because the final cut is a 1991 ringer – an early example of the dreaded “modern remix” trend where the already awful “State Farm” by Yaz(oo) is made even worse by “updating” it. When it came out in 1983, this track was so bad it put me off buying their second album which followed it at the time. By 1991 it sounded even worse, after they were done with it.
If a few of these groups are your faves, this CD won’t kill you to buy it. But the aural cheese-whiz® that was the sound of the mid-80s is steeped deep within these cuts. To listen to this music is to hear the sounds of musicians giving up on the adventure of the post-punk era and grabbing for the brass ring in a sad way.
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