REDUX: Record Review – Various Artists – Retro Active 2


July 25, 2010

Various Artists: Retro Active 2 – Rare + Remixed CAN CD [2004]

  1. Human League – Human (Extended Version)
  2. A-Ha – The Sun Always Shines On T.V. (Extended Version)
  3. Tears For Fears –Shout (Dub Mix)
  4. Blancmange – Don’t Tell Me (Dance Remix)
  5. Howard Jones – Look Mama (Megamamamix)
  6. Figures On A Beach – No Stars (Unreleased Club Mix)
  7. OMD – So In Love (Brand New Extended Mix)
  8. Fuzzbox – International Rescue (The Orgasmatron Mix)
  9. Q Lazzarus – Goodbye Horses (Extended Version)
  10. Dream Academy – The Love Parade (12″ Mix)
  11. Alphaville – Jet Set (Jellybean Mix)
  12. 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.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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9 Responses to REDUX: Record Review – Various Artists – Retro Active 2

  1. tim says:

    The Human League track is one of the worst singles of the 1980’s and is unredeemable in any way,shape or form. At the time I was aghast that it was as popular as it was and to this day don’t get it. Hey don’t feel bad for cheating on me, I cheated on you, too. We’re all good now.

    Next on Maurey…..


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – Wow. Do you know, I’ve always been so appalled musically by this thing that I never once paid a lick of attention to the lyrics. Jam + Lewis should have been above that. The Time were kind of witty, but this isn’t. And worse, it killed The Human League dead in the water for a decade.


  2. tim says:

    ….forgot to add, I think that Nick Cave would rightly classify “Human” as a hate song masquerading as a love song.


  3. Rob C says:

    Unless I somehow overlooked it, you forgot to mention arguably the best track on this comp…the glorious, absolutely ace Figures On A Beach club classic, No Stars! This is one of these jump for joy, puts a smile on your face everytime track that brings back memories of the good times when there were no worries – the high school days! Growing up in Southern California, KROQ (and to a degree, whenever I could get a clear signal, 91X) was king but it was club nights that tracks like this really grabbed you. For years this track was hard to find until Wounded Bird resurrected their debut longplayer, Standing On Ceremony, on CD for the first time in 2008. The album is a patchy affair and suffers from the one great song syndrome that would become a fixture on 90s alt-rock CDs, but it’s this one track (and it’s brilliant remix) that never fails to deliver the goods.

    The band would log some more college rock/club hits post- No Stars including Accidentally 4th Street (Gloria) and their cover of Bachman-Turner-Overdrive’s You Aint’ Seen Nothing Yet to close out the 80s and that would be all…another band shuffled into the archives of 80s obscurity. But we’ll always have No Stars.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Rob C – Welcome to the comments [belatedly]. The preponderance of snow days contributed to me not being able to have the hands-on lunch hour at work to devote to the blog, but your comment has prompted the latest posting, so it was not in vain!


  4. JT says:

    Odd synchronicity that Rob posted about FOAB within 24 hours of me sending the Monk a CD of their stuff!


  5. chris ewen says:

    JT – Chris Ewen from FOAB here. I saw the post about the CD of the MetroAmerica stuff on the Post Punk Munk blog…how would I go about getting a copy of that?


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Chris Ewen – Welcome to the comments. A celebrity! I have a naked disc that needs a little touch of REVO. JT is an recording engineer and he’s worked his restoration magic on a clean copy of the cassette he had, but I’m a graphic designer. Together, we can work this out. I’ll be happy to set you up with an archival disc that also looks halfway decent.


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