Various Artists

A Kick Up the Eighties, Vol. 8: Shout to the Top

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The U.K.-based Old Gold label's A Kick Up the Eighties series offers a wide range of '80s pop spread across ten volumes. Generally speaking, the series tends to favor the first half of the decade over the latter, and none of the discs follows a particular theme like many of these deals tend to. Rather, each installment adheres to a certain randomness without making huge stylistic leaps. If you simply must have that one song that you can't find anywhere else, odds are good there will be more than just the one song for you to enjoy. And if you're simply an obsessive collector of '80s compilations, this series works as a decent U.K. counterpart to Rhino's Just Can't Get Enough series, as there isn't a great deal of overlap between the two. Ranging from the sophisticated post-Roxy Music/proto-new romantic pop of Japan's "Quiet Life" to the irresistible sugary pop rush of the Darling Buds' "Hit the Ground," the eighth volume of the series covers a good deal of ground while avoiding obvious picks. The most instantly recognizable song here is Altered Images' "Happy Birthday," a song far too infectious and just plain brilliant to be shunted off as a novelty tune (if you were to replace the words "happy" and "birthday" with two other words, whatever possible novelty status would be dashed). Iggy Pop's "Real Wild Child" and Adam Ant's "Dog Eat Dog" continue the unabashed fun, making this volume one of the most immediately enjoyable of the series. Selections from the Blow Monkeys, the Colourfield, Men at Work, and the Thompson Twins round things out.

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