Various Artists

Alternative Eighties

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Thanks to the never-ending cycle of nostalgia and the enduring effect of '80s synth pop, new wave, and post-punk of the then-current crop of bands, a second wave of '80s-themed compilations began making the rounds in the early 2000s. Though the second wave wasn't nearly as vast as the first -- after extensive multi-volume compilations like Kick Up the Eighties, Just Can't Get Enough, and Living in Oblivion, there was much less to exploit -- it overturned a few ignored nuggets from the fertile era that spawned post-punk, synth pop, and new wave. Alternative '80s, released by Sony TV in the U.K., was one of those packages, a fine double-disc set basing itself on relatively left-field U.K. chart hits of the early '80s (along with a couple from the latter half, like the Sugarcubes' "Birthday"). Longtime favorites from Echo & the Bunnymen ("The Killing Moon"), Elvis Costello & the Attractions ("Everyday I Write the Book"), and New Order ("Blue Monday") are included, as are less familiar singles from Associates ("Party Fears Two"), Fiction Factory ("Feels Like Heaven"), and the Assembly ("Never Never"). Tubeway Army's "Are Friends Electric" is the most apropos selection here. The same year of this compilation's release witnessed the Sugababes hitting the charts with their cover of Adina Howard's "Freak Like Me," which used a beefed-up version of the Tubeway Army original as its instrumental backing. There isn't a be-all-end-all '80s compilation on the market, and this is no exception. However, since it goes for the price of a single disc, it's a good way to plug some gaps.

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