Various Artists - Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Hits of the 80's, Vol. 1

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The first installment of Rhino's massive 15-volume series, Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Hits of the 80's, Vol. 1 fires an appropriate opening salvo, setting the pace for the rest of the volumes. Opening with Plastic Bertrand's incomparable, propulsive rocker "Ca Plane Pour Moi," the disc reels through big hits, cult and critical favorites, MTV hits, regional favorites, and sheer novelties. This doesn't result in the most consistent of listens, but it sure helps paint new wave as far more than a couple of bands in skinny ties -- it shows that it was the last great singles era, since there's an abundance of sounds, styles, attitude, and silliness, just like any great time for singles. By piling them all together, Rhino might have sacrificed a little listenability, but that's OK, since it results in a great archival piece that captures the feeling of the era, even if it misses heavy hitters like Elvis Costello, the Police, and the Clash. It's the best of both worlds -- a historical piece that remains fun, and Vol. 1 is one of the best of 'em all. There are a few missteps -- the covers of "Dirty Water" and "I'm a Believer" by the Inmates and Tin Huey, respectively, are static, but the worst item is D-Day's ugly "Too Young to Date," a supposedly comic number about a teenage girl pursued by guys who "don't want to marry/(they) just want to bust my cherry"; it's tastelessly vulgar even for those with a taste for the tasteless, especially since it sounds like it's sung by a 50-year old divorcee. But there is an abundance of great songs here: There's Normal's creepy robotic "Warm Leatherette," Blondie's undeniable "One Way or Another," Graham Parker's greatest single, "Local Girls," Nick Lowe's big hit, "Cruel to Be Kind," Flash & the Pan's wonderful novelty "Hey, St. Peter," the Knack's "My Sharona," the Flying Lizards' cold reading of "Money (That's What I Want)," the Buggles' infamous "Video Killed the Radio Star," and Tim Curry's "I Do the Rock," his best song outside of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. All date from the late '70s/early '80s, when new wave was just getting off the ground, so there's a nice blend of pop classicists and stiff robotic synths, which is what mainstream post-punk was all about anyway. A terrific start to a peerless series. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

1) Ca Plane Pour Moi - Plastic Bertrand
2) Warm Leatherette - The Normal
3) One Way or Another - Blondie
4) Hey, St. Peter - Flash and the Pan
5) Cruel to Be Kind - Nick Lowe
6) Too Young to Date - D-Day
7) Local Girls - Graham Parker
8) Rock & Roll High School - Ramones
9) My Sharona - The Knack
10) Girls Talk - Dave Edmunds
11) Video Killed the Radio Star - Buggles
12) I Do the Rock - Tim Curry
13) Dirty Water - Inmates
14) I'm a Believer - Tin Huey
15) Gidget Goes to Hell - Suburban Lawns
16) Money (That's What I Want) - The Flying Lizards

Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Hits of the 80's, Vol. 1
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Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Hits of the 80's, Vol. 1 | Various Artists