Various Artists

Superchart 83, Vol. 2

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Following on the heels of its pink-clad big brother, Superchart 83, Vol. 1, this yellow-suited twin rounded out a remarkable set. Both LPs were given free with the purchase of the other, and the resulting 30 Brit hits were a budget-beating way to hear the best and the rest from the top of the charts. Superchart 83, Vol. 2 picks up where its sibling left off, rushed to pressing so fast that six of the album's 16 tracks were still rising in the charts. With the reggae masters Eddy Grant and Bob Marley & the Wailers kicking things off with "I Don't Want to Dance" and "Buffalo Soldier," respectively (probably the most worn grooves on the LP), it's up to good time ska wacksters Bad Manners to lower the tone with a suitably off-kilter take on the classic (?) "Can Can." This inclusion of this song is a bit of a cheat, though, as it reached its peak position all the way back in June 1981. Elsewhere, Tom Robinson's ever-popular "War Baby" rubs shoulders with crooner Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out," while the new wave contingent is markedly present, of course, with Depeche Mode's "Love in Itself," the Alarm's yobby, anthemic "68 Guns" battle cry, and Nick Heyward's endearingly out of step "Blue Hat for a Blue Day." Throw in jazz master Herbie Hancock's synth experiment "Rockit" and Musical Youth's very, very oddly reggae-fied "Never Gonna Give You Up," and the atmosphere is right for some kind of party. Riding the nostalgia train is easier on CD, of course, but this neon reminder of just how the decade spun is a nifty conversation piece at the very least. If you can find it, display it proudly, ye battle-scarred warriors of the tasteless decade!