Various Artists


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In 1986, the British music weekly NME issued a cassette dubbed C-86, which included a number of bands -- the Wedding Present, Primal Scream and the Pastels among them -- influenced in equal measure by the jangly guitar pop of the Smiths, the three-chord naïveté of the Ramones and the nostalgic sweetness of the girl group era. Also dubbed "anorak pop" and "shambling" by trainspotters, C-86 quickly emerged as a cause célèbre within the hype-fueled Britsh press, and though the music's moment in the spotlight proved short-lived, it influenced hordes of upcoming bands on both sides of the Atlantic who absorbed the scene's key lessons of simplicity and honesty to stunning effect. While the two-disc compilation CD86 fails to reprise the original C-86 cassette in its entirely, this is nevertheless a vital and far-reaching overview of a singular moment in time when boy-girl harmonies, lovelorn lyrics and infectious melodies were again paragons of hip -- and unlike so many other flavors-of-the-month, the 48 songs here still sound fresh, even timeless in their unaffected and unadorned brilliance. Highlights include the Dentists' "I Had an Excellent Dream," the Sea Urchins' "Pristine Christine" and Talulah Gosh's "Talulah Gosh."

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