Various Artists

Postpunk Chronicles: Scared to Dance

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Of the three initial entries in Rhino's Postpunk Chronicles, this volume might sound the most dated, but in its own way it's the most enjoyable. Scared to Dance skews toward faster-tempo landmarks of the early-'80s college underground, particularly the prototypes of synth-pop and dance music. You can hear bands trying to figure out where keyboards and dance might fit in the punk aesthetic, especially in Heaven 17's wry "(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang" and Pigbag's jungle instrumental "Papa's Got a Brand New Pigbag." These songs were largely created just before MIDI and sampling improved synthesizers' flexibility, and their joyful innocence is retroactively stunning. Other highlights include Magazine's amazing "The Light Pours Out of Me," Iggy Pop's jagged "New Values," and cuts from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark ("Enola Gay") and Simple Minds ("Life in a Day") before they broke it big thanks to contributions to John Hughes movies.

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