Various Artists

Guitar Heroes: Rock of the '80s

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A better title for this would have been Guitar Rock and Hair Metal of the '80s. This set doesn't focus on guitarists so much as it does on guitar rock from the aforementioned time period. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, as it was a time when playing the electric guitar in what was then mainstream rock was taken to another technical level after the innovations in the 1970s by Eddie Van Halen. That said, this is a party record, and that becomes obvious from the cover alone. The hits and some near-misses are here on this two-disc, 34-cut collection. The opener tells you all you need to know, with Quiet Riot's sublime -- and almost too reverent -- cover of Slade's working-class rock anthem "Cum on Feel the Noize." The gear shift after this is rather sudden, with Bow Wow Wow's Bo Diddley rip "I Want Candy," but it still works for the sheer joy of the tune. And so it goes, with Ratt, Poison, Great White, Stray Cats, Motörhead's "Overkill," L.A. Guns, Bullet Boys, Warrant, Faster Pussycat, the Damned's "Smash It Up" (both parts), Cinderella, Britny Fox, Berlin, the Adicts, Jetboy, and Winger. The surprises are the Adicts, A Flock of Seagulls, Fee Waybill from the Tubes, and cockney punkers Blitz. This is a mixed bag, and stirred very well. Shake it up and pour it out.

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