Various Artists

Just Say New Wave

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One of the more interesting new wave-era compilations, the 1996 budget set Just Say New Wave deserves kudos for what it leaves off (no "Love Plus One"! no "Love My Way"!) as much as for the relative obscurities it highlights. The highlights are a quartet of gems from the roster of San Francisco's estimable 415 Records: Romeo Void's still startling "Never Say Never" in its superior single mix, Wire Train's jangle poppy "Chamber of Hellos," the Red Rockers' simply gorgeous pop treasure "China," and Translator's "Everywhere That I'm Not," which wasn't a hit upon its 1982 release but has become an '80s-weekend radio standard. The other six tracks aren't quite up to that standard, but they're a surprising set of choices. Why put on another iteration of the Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star" when the excellent recasting by the song's co-author Bruce Woolley and his post-Buggles project the Camera Club (featuring Thomas Dolby on keyboards!) is all but unknown in the U.S.? If you've gotta have After the Fire's English-language remake of Falco's "Der Kommissar," why not the extremely rare 12" mix? Besides being a terrific version of the Dusty Springfield classic, the Tourists' "I Only Wanna Be With You" is an enticing peek at Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart's underrated pre-Eurythmics project. "Computer Games" by the Australian cult heroes Mi-Sex is a pioneering piece of early synth pop, while David Johansen's "Funky But Chic" is sultry R&B and the Paul Collins Beat's "Different Kind of Girl" is a skinny-tie power pop gem. That all of them sound of a piece here shows how varied and exciting this musical era really was, and isn't that the point of these compilations?

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