FORGOTTEN MUSIC #96: LIVING IN OBLIVION: THE 80s GREATEST HITS (5-CD SET)


This 5-CD set dates from 1994. For starters, I found many of the songs on these collections obscure. For every “She Blinded Me With Science” there’s a “Shiny Shiny.” Plenty of oddities! And even for “name” artists like Debbie Harry, the songs chosen are…strange. I found these CDs at a Salvation Army Thrift store priced at 49 cents each. Given the blend of hits vs. “obscure” songs (aka, misses) I’d say these CDs were priced about right. Do you remember some of these songs? Any favorites here? GRADE: B
Track Listing Volume 1
1. Too Shy – Kajagoogoo
2. Always Something There to Remind Me – Naked Eyes
3. Talk Talk – Talk Talk (Remix, remix)
4. Kids in America – Kim Wilde
5. Turning Japanese – The Vapors
6. Politics of Dancing, The – Re-Flex
7. 19 – Paul Hardcastle
8. Homicide – 999
9. Romanticide – Combo Audio
10. Guilty – Classix Nouveaux
11. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself) – The Stranglers
12. 2-4-6-8 Motorway – Tom Robinson Band
13. C30, C60, C90, Go! – Bow Wow Wow
14. (She’s) Sexy + 17 – Stray Cats
15. She Blinded Me with Science – Thomas Dolby
16. Chant No. 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On) – Spandau Ballet
17. I Eat Cannibals, Pt. 1 – Toto Coelo
18. Shiny Shiny – Haysi Fantayzee
Track Listing Volume 2
1. Mickey – Toni Basil
2. Get It on (Bang a Gong) – The Power Station
3. Lay Your Hands on Me – Thompson Twins
4. Let Me Go – Heaven 17
5. Love Plus One – Haircut 100
6. Heart and Soul – T’Pau
7. Just Got Lucky – JoBoxers
8. It Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It) – Fun Boy Three & Bananarama
9. Jam Was Moving, The – Debbie Harry
10. Love Missile F1-11 – Sigue Sigue Sputnik
11. 88 Lines About 44 Women – The Nails
12. Only the Lonely – The Motels
13. Living in a Box – Living in a Box
14. Walking on Sunshine – Katrina & the Waves
15. Running up That Hill – Kate Bush
16. Church of the Poison Mind – Culture Club
17. Destination Unknown – Missing Persons
18. Never Ending Story – Limahl
19. Mickey – Toni Basil (Spanish version)
Track Listing Volume 3
1. (Keep Feeling) Fascination – Human League
2. Perfect Way – Scritti Politti
3. Cruel Summer – Bananarama
4. Life in a Northern Town – The Dream Academy
5. Election Day – Arcadia
6. Shattered Dreams – Johnny Hates Jazz
7. Sunglasses at Night – Corey Hart
8. Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades, The – Timbuk 3
9. Make a Circuit With Me – The Polecats
10. Rock This Town – Stray Cats
11. Sidewalk Talk – Jellybean
12. It’s My Life – Talk Talk
13. (I Just) Died in Your Arms – Cutting Crew
14. Hanging on a Heart Attack – Device
15. Poison Arrow – ABC
16. Aeiou Sometimes Y – Ebn Ozn
17. Are You Sure – So
18. Way You Are, The – Tears for Fears (previously unreleased)
19. What Do All the People Know – The Monroes
Track Listing Volume 4
1. Dance Hall Days – Wang Chung
2. One Thing Leads to Another – The Fixx
3. True – Spandau Ballet
4. Come on Eileen – Dexys Midnight Runners
5. Digging Your Scene – The Blow Monkeys
6. Sister of Mercy – Thompson Twins
7. Under the Milky Way – The Church
8. Lean on Me – Red Box
9. Since Yesterday – Strawberry Switchblade
10. You Don’t Know – Scarlett & Black
11. Some People – Belouis Some
12. Shock – The Motels (Single Remix)
13. Belly of the Whale – Burning Sensations
14. Tenderness – General Public
15. Get Out of London – Intaferon
16. Go! – Tones on Tail
17. Slang Teacher – Wide Boy Awake
18. Lawnchairs – Our Daughters Wedding
19. Mexican Radio – Wall of Voodoo
Track Listing Volume 5
1. Major Tom (Coming Home) – Peter Schilling
2. Hyperactive – Thomas Dolby
3. Promises, Promises – Naked Eyes
4. Promise, The – When in Rome
5. Vienna – Ultravox
6. Enola Gay – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
7. King in a Catholic Style (Wake up) – China Crisis
8. Steady – Jules Shear
9. Our Lips Are Sealed – Fun Boy Three
10. Pleasure and Pain – The Divinyls
11. Birds Fly, (Whisper to Scream) – Icicle Works
12. Honeythief, The – Hipsway
13. Souvenir – Rubber Rodeo
14. I Wanna Be a Cowboy – Boys Don’t Cry
15. Captain of Her Heart, The – Double
16. When Your Heart Is Weak – Cock Robin
17. Love Changes (Everything) – Climie Fisher
18. More Than Physical – Bananarama (single remix)
19. Vanity Kills – ABC (USA single remix)
20. We Close Our Eyes – Go West .

27 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN MUSIC #96: LIVING IN OBLIVION: THE 80s GREATEST HITS (5-CD SET)

  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    Hate to say it but I know 90% of these. The selection seems geared to artists more popular in the U.K. like Fun Boy Three, Heaven 17, etc. Probably due to licensing some of the more popular acts that would seem to fit in here are absent, such as Roxy Music, The Cure, New Order, Public Image Ltd. This is also more representative of the new wave, synthesizer . pop side of rock. A few favorites here are 88 Lines about 44 Women, Mexican Radio, Talk Talk, It’s My Life, Turning Japanese, Vienna and Tenderness. A couple I have completely forgotten about like Lawn Chair. And how can it be a hit if it was previously unreleased (Tears For Fears)?

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      Steve, you know a lot more of this music than I do. I’d estimate about 50% of these songs were new to me. Your theory about the music costs affecting licensing persuaded me.

      Reply
  2. Michael Padgett

    This is some pretty obscure stuff, at least to me. Just five are familiar, and I only got that high by assuming that “Only the Lonely” by the Motels is a cover of the old Roy Orbison song, which it probably isn’t. Steve’s explanation is probably correct, but I’d have thought I was more familiar with UK music than my paltry total indicates.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      Michael, I heard a lot of UK music on Canadian radio stations back in the 1980s (we live on a Border of Canada and the USA), but not a lot of these songs.

      Reply
  3. Deb

    I’m with Steve: I know the majority of these songs; but, then again, I was a real alterna-girl (music-wise) in the 1980s. I could wax lyrical and nostalgic about a lot of these, but “88 Lines About 44 Women“ is probably my favorite—and not just because there are couplets for both a Deborah and a Debbie; and also not because the background music sorta sounds a bit like Chad & Jeremy’s “A Summer Song.”

    And Michael—The Motels’ “Only The Lonely” is not a cover of the Orbison song…but it’s also very melancholy, so perhaps it’s an homage. They also had a song called “Suddenly Last Summer,” so they were good at pilfering titles. My favorite song by them is “Mission of Mercy.”

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      Deb, as a Chad & Jeremy fan from the 1960s I agree with your characterization of “88 Lines About 44 Women.” It’s one of my favorites on this CD set, too.

      Reply
      1. Deb

        Thanks—I‘ve been up all night, “prepping.” Ugh! Lilly is taking me there in about 30 minutes. Then I presume I’ll be incommunicado first the rest of the day.

  4. Jeff Meyerson

    No, Michael, not the same song. And I don’t know a single one of the “hits” that Steve cited. I have to agree, this is a very bizarre collection. The ones I would consider to be “hits” (not talking about what I like) are “Only the Lonely” and “Walking on Sunshine” (which I do like) and “Come on Eileen,” off the top of my head. And :”She Blinded Me With Science,” of course, plus the Toni Basil “Mickey,” which certainly ran 24/7 on the early MTV.

    Others I know:

    Kids in America
    Always Something There to Remind Me (a BurtBachrach/Hal David song originally done by Dionne Warwick)
    Get It On (Bang a Gong) was a big hit for T. Rex. I’ve never heard the Power Station remake.
    Rock This Town – we saw Stray Cats in concert about five or six years ago
    Our Lips Are Sealed – only the Go Gos original

    So about 10, average of 2 per CD.

    I await Deb’s take.

    Reply
      1. Jeff Meyerson

        Well, sort of true. T. Rex reached #10 in the U.S., the Palmer/Power Station version #9. But the original was a huge hit in Britain, #1 for six weeks. The other only was #22.

      1. Steve Oerkfitz

        Although I know a lot of these I own very few-Kate Bush, The Stranglers, The Church, General Public. Most of my favorite bands that started at this time are not represented here-The Cure, REM, U2 .

  5. Steve Lewis

    I didn’t do a count but I am surprised by how many of these I know. You must be a fan of this type of music, George, hits or not, to have bought these when you saw them, but if not you have my address.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      Steve, I confess always fall prey to inexpensive pricing when it comes to buying music CDs in thrift stores. It makes the risk that the disc is damaged affordable. And, if I listen to the CD and don’t like the music, I can simply re-donate it back to the thrift store or donate it to our local Library Book Sale. I listen to music every day.

      Reply
  6. Deb

    I think you got a good deal for 49-cents a pop, George. Some of my other favorites here:

    “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush. Lovely, ethereal song. Bush’s best, imho.

    “Promises, Promises” by Naked Eyes. NOT the Bacharach-David song, but certainly one with the strangest video: at the end, the duo from Naked Eyes are in a jail cell, presumably for the joint murder of their shared girlfriend. Yeah—the eighties were weird.

    “I Wanna Be A Cowboy” by Boys Don’t Cry. Horribly politically-incorrect with stereotypical takes on Indians (Indigenous people) and Indians (from India)…and yet there’s something about the screaming guitars, flat Australian (?) accents, and breathy Olivia Newton John wannabe female singer that makes it incredibly catchy.

    “We Close Our Eyes” by Go West. Primo jock rock.

    “Poison Arrow” by ABC. New Wave melodrama. “I thought you loved me, but I can see you don’t care.” “I care enough to know I could never love you!”

    “Life in a Northern Town” by Dream Academy. Winter of 1963 in England. One of the coldest on record. I was there and can relate. I really prefer Dream Academy’s “Love Parade,” but this song’s good too.

    /Here endeth the lesson.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      Deb, I share your fondness for Kate Bush. Love “Running Up That Hill”! The prep for your procedure is the worst part of the experience (I’ve had five of them over the years). Once they start giving you the Happy Drugs, things improve. A Lot.

      Reply
  7. George Kelley

    Rick, I think most of the songs on these 5 CDs would be categorized as “Alternative.” I listened to some jazz, blues, and classical during the 1980s, too. I remember converting over the CDs and selling most of my vinyl albums.

    Reply
    1. Steve Oerkfitz

      Actually this is more pop than Alternative. At this time the term Alternative would have just started coming in with bands like Sonic Youth and the Pixies. Bands with a much harder edge.

      Reply
  8. Jeff Meyerson

    In the ’80s I was listening to doo wop and other oldies from the ’50s and ’60s for the most part.

    I still am.

    And keep off my lawn.

    Reply
  9. wolf

    I have to admit that I don’t know anything about more than 90% of the artists here and almost no title rings a bell.
    In the 80s I still listened to 60s/70 music – just a few exceptions like my all time favourite Steve Winwood who wrote and sang (and played most of the instruments too …) on Arc of a Diver, Talking back to the Night and after moving to the USA Back in the High Life. His most famous hit from those days is probably “Higher Love” – yes, that song was covered by the late great Whitney Houston which we still miss very much …

    Reply

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