1981: 20 Original Chart Hits continues British label A Time to Remember's look at the hits of the decade. This edition shows the full flowering of new wave, as well over half the tracks here are new wave classics and tracks by classic new wave groups. Blondie's "Rapture," the Specials' "Ghost Town," and Thomas Dolby's "Europa and the Pirate Twins" are the classic tracks; the groups are represented by Dexy's Midnight Runners ("Plan B"), Ultravox ("All Stood Still"), the Motels ("Days Are OK"), and Kate Bush ("Sat in Your Lap"), among others. The tracks that aren't new wave are often influenced by the new wave sound, like Kim Wilde's amazingly hooky "Kids in America," Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes," and Gary "U.S." Bonds' "This Little Girl." The only song that has no affinity for the modern sound of 1981 is Juice Newton's wonderful cover of "Angel of the Morning." This is one of the best entries in the series; highly listenable and never obvious, it works very well as a document of the year.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra