Only Dance 1980-1984 follows the pattern of JCI's Only series, offering a seemingly random collection of 20 hits from a given genre or style for a period of five years. These songs weren't necessarily the biggest hits of these five years, although there are a number of classics and smashes here. It may be hard to deduce exactly why these songs were chosen -- especially since the compilers apparently define "dance" as anything you could conceivably dance to -- but the end results are nevertheless quite entertaining. All of the songs are featured in their original hit versions, not remakes, which isn't always the case with midline collections. Furthermore, there a few cuts that aren't easy to find on other collections or even greatest-hits albums, which means it's interesting to collectors as well as casual fans. Most importantly, each volume captures the feeling of the era, even if it's missing several big hits, and that's what makes the series a nice introductory overview for curious listeners. Among the highlights on It's Only Dance 1980-1984 are Rick James' "Super Freak," Blondie's "Rapture," the Go-Go's' "We Got the Beat," the Stray Cats' "Rock This Town," the Gap Band's "You Dropped a Bomb on Me," Herbie Hancock's "Rockit," Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House," the Pretenders' "Back on the Chain Gang," Toni Basil's "Mickey," the Fixx's "One Thing Leads to Another," Hall & Oates' "You Make My Dreams," Sheena Easton's "Strut," Laura Branigan's "Self Control," KC & the Sunshine Band's "Please Don't Go," and Shannon's wonderful "Let the Music Play."
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine