Various Artists

Entertainment Weekly: The Greatest Hits 1980-1984

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This box set simply packages together five previously released compilations, each devoted to one of the first five years of the 1980s. The series, under the auspices of Entertainment Weekly magazine (which did not exist in the '80s), was compiled by the Buddha reissue subsidiary of BMG, but it employs tracks licensed from other labels as well. The title is a misnomer, at least as far as its adjective goes: All the included tracks were hits, reaching at least the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, but these are not the greatest hits of each year or of the period as a whole. Each volume does contain a few of that year's biggest hits among its 12 selections, however, and of the actual 60 greatest hits of 1980-84, 12 are included, among them three of the half-decade's 20 biggest singles, the J. Geils Band's "Centerfold," Blondie's "Call Me," and Daryl Hall & John Oates' "Maneater." Because of budget considerations and licensing restrictions, compilations like this one tend to skip the biggest stars, and that's true here. Only seven of the top 20 singles artists of the period are represented: Hall & Oates, Olivia Newton-John, Rick Springfield, Air Supply, Culture Club, Duran Duran, and Blondie. Meanwhile, tracks like one-hit wonder Nena's "99 Luftballoons," which are on several other '80s collection, are here, too. All of which is to say that, as usual with budget-priced, miscellaneous compilations of old hits, the customer is the best judge of this set's value. Look down the song list, consider the price, and decide whether there are enough of your old favorites to justify the purchase. If so, they are presented here in good sound, probably mixed in with some songs you'd just as soon forget.

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