Various Artists

Anthems: Electronic '80s, Vol. 2

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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien

Following the success of their first Anthems: Electronic 80s compilation, the Ministry of Sound label returns with another collection incorporating the best synth pop, New Romantic, and indie dance tunes of the colorful and inventive decade. Alongside number ones from the Human League, Kraftwerk, and the Communards, there are iconic tracks from Spandau Ballet, Eurythmics, and Duran Duran, one-hit wonders (Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes," New Musik's "Living by Numbers"), and less familiar material from the likes of Devo, Laid Back, and Re-Flex. Highlights from the first disc include Talk Talk's gloriously atmospheric "It's My Life," Scritti Politti's reggae-fused "The Word Girl" and Frankie Goes to Hollywood's anthemic "Welcome to the Pleasuredome." Erasure's infectious hi-NRG pop classic "A Little Respect," Altered Images' impossibly uplifting "I Could Be Happy" and the Communards' chart-topping cover version of "Don't Leave Me This Way" provide the standouts for Disc Two, while Simple Minds' Brat Pack staple "Don't You Forget About Me," Stock, Aitken and Waterman's finest moment, Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)," and New Order's brooding, bass-heavy "True Faith" are the choice cuts from the third disc. However, as the first compilation gathered many of the decade's biggest electro hits, this second volume seems to struggle to fill its 60 tracks. Indeed, it's hard to see quite how the likes of Billy Idol's "White Wedding" and the Stranglers' "Golden Brown" fit into the genre, which makes the lack of Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode, arguably two of the biggest synth pop groups of the '80s, even more puzzling. But even though it suffers from occasional padding, Anthems: Electronic '80s, Vol. 2 is still a consistently enjoyable retrospective of one of the most influential and innovative musical eras.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 The Human League 03:58 Amazon
2 Eurythmics 03:35 Amazon
3 Kraftwerk 03:40 Amazon
4 Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark 03:31 Amazon
5 Yazoo 03:10 Amazon
6 Talk Talk 03:52 Amazon
7 Duran Duran 03:27 Amazon
8 Spandau Ballet 03:38 Amazon
9 Japan 04:29 Amazon
10 Scritti Politti 04:23 Amazon
11 Heaven 17 04:17 Amazon
12 The Stranglers 03:27 Amazon
13 Simple Minds 03:58 Amazon
14 Midge Ure 04:01 Amazon
15 Propaganda 04:55 Amazon
16 John Foxx 03:36 Amazon
17 Ryuichi Sakamoto / David Sylvian 04:38 Amazon
18 Gary Numan 04:45 Amazon
19 Tangerine Dream 03:51 Amazon
20 Frankie Goes to Hollywood 03:41 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Frankie Goes to Hollywood 03:57 Amazon
2 Spandau Ballet 03:53 Amazon
3 Howard Jones 03:59 Amazon
4 Erasure 03:27 Amazon
5 Altered Images 03:31 Amazon
6 The Communards 04:49 Amazon
7 Living in a Box 03:03 Amazon
8 Go West 04:10 Amazon
9 Re-Flex 03:46 Amazon
10 Thompson Twins 04:45 Amazon
11 Thomas Dolby 03:42 Amazon
12 The Human League 03:56 Amazon
13 China Crisis 04:18 Amazon
14 New Musik 03:25 Amazon
15 Scritti Politti 03:34 Amazon
16 Heaven 17 03:40 Amazon
17 Sparks 03:30 Amazon
18 Ultravox 04:05 Amazon
19 The Art of Noise 03:57 Amazon
20 Yazoo 04:30 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 David Bowie 04:07 Amazon
2 Simple Minds 04:20 Amazon
3 Duran Duran 03:24 Amazon
4 Wham! 05:03 Amazon
5 Talking Heads 03:38 Amazon
6 Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark 03:44 Amazon
7 Dead or Alive 03:15 Amazon
8 Freeez 03:49 Amazon
9 Blondie 03:47 Amazon
10 Billy Idol 04:12 Amazon
11 Devo 03:04 Amazon
12 A Flock of Seagulls 03:40 Amazon
13 New Order 05:52 Amazon
14 Electronic 04:13 Amazon
15 Laid Back 03:55 Amazon
16 Prefab Sprout 03:46 Amazon
17 Japan 03:43 Amazon
18 Kim Carnes 03:43 Amazon
19 David Bowie / Pat Metheny Group 03:49 Amazon
20 Roxy Music 04:15 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick