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VA - Left Of The Dial - Dispatches From The '80s Underground (2004) (4CD Box Set)

VA - Left Of The Dial - Dispatches From The '80s Underground (2004) (4CD Box Set)

VA - Left Of The Dial - Dispatches From The '80s Underground (2004) (4CD Box Set)
Genre: Rock | Label: Warner-Rhino | 4CD | MP3 320 kbps | 707 MB

As a sequel to 2004's similarly packaged Rhino box No Thanks!: The '70s Punk Rebellion, this four-disc set tackles the punk/indie/modern rock of the 80s with equal panache. Subtitled "Dispatches from the 80s Underground", these 82 non-chronological tracks play like a great college station from the later part of the decade...
The Eighties compilation is a dicey operation - many sounds danced about in glorious contrast, and one person's nirvana is the next person's nightmare. LEFT OF THE DIAL focuses on the college radio of the era (the music that truly fostered the alternative boom of the next decade), and paints a deliriously diverse picture of an underground bursting at its seams to break through. Alongside early classics from the Replacements, Depeche Mode, and R.E.M. (and the compilation gleefully steers away from the obvious) are minor classics from Magazine and Hoodoo Gurus. And the prismatic four-disc set runs the gamut from hardcore (Minor Threat, Bad Brains) to pure pop (XTC, They Might Be Giants, the Smiths) to capture the spectral flow of the decade behind the decade...
Alternative rock of the 1980s was such a large and diverse scene that any box set documenting the genre is bound to be the cause of debate as to what is and isn't included, even a four-CD, 82-track production such as this one. Despite the inevitable exclusions, Left of the Dial: Dispatches from the '80s Underground does a decent job of collecting representative cuts from all spectrums of the style, even if it does tilt toward the more mainstream of such acts. Of course, artists like R.E.M., the Cure, Aztec Camera, the Pretenders, Ultravox, Lone Justice, the Smithereens, Concrete Blonde, Echo & the Bunnymen, and the Church (all sampled on this box) were "mainstream" only by the standards of the more left-leaning college radio programmers; by the measurements of the actual mainstream, they were still pretty "alternative", even "underground" in some cases. And the set doesn't neglect the edgier side of '80s underground rock, with tracks by the Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, Throbbing Gristle, the Minutemen, Black Flag, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Gun Club, the Butthole Surfers, the Raincoats, and Beat Happening as well. Between the poles are numerous slices of music of different shades of anti-mainstreamdom, from the paisley underground (the Three O'Clock, the Rain Parade, the Dream Syndicate) and an iconoclastic singer/songwriter (Billy Bragg) to British guitar-grounded sounds (the Jesus and Mary Chain, the Stone Roses, XTC), goth (Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus), folk-punk (the Violent Femmes), retro-garage (the Lyres), ska (the English Beat), and even punk novelty (the Dead Milkmen).
Naturally, there's room for argument about some of the choices: Prefab Sprout's alt-rock credentials are certainly specious, for instance, and the roll call of missing notables includes the Fall, Shonen Knife, the Chills, Romeo Void, the Television Personalities, the Wipers, the Mekons, and many others. There are few real surprises or underexposed gems: the Passions' 1981 single "I'm in Love With a German Film Star" is about the only item by a group that hasn't been canonized in the '80s alternative rock pantheon, though actually that song was a British hit. On the other hand, the astute and eclectic programming makes for a better listen than other attempts that have been made to compile '80s alternative rock. It's sort of like listening to an actual '80s college radio station, but one that's more listenable than any college radio stations actually were, both because of the catholic stylistic assortment and the selection of some of these artists' very best songs. If you did listen to this sort of music devotedly back in the '80s, in fact, much of this will be like revisiting familiar hits and standards, even if few of them actually made the charts as actual hits (and then usually in the U.K.): R.E.M.'s "Radio Free Europe", the Dead Kennedys' "Holiday in Cambodia", the Jesus and Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey", Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart", the Violent Femmes' "Blister in the Sun", XTC's "Senses Working Overtime", the Sugarcubes' "Birthday", Faith No More's "We Care a Lot", the Church's "Under the Milky Way," Siouxsie & the Banshees' "Christine", Gun Club's "Sex Beat", and Suicidal Tendencies' "Institutionalized", for instance, all fall into that category. And if you didn't experience the music directly during the era, this box set still gives you a pretty good idea of what was going on, and what paths to travel down for further investigation.

Track List:

Disc 1:
01. R.E.M. -- Radio Free Europe
02. The Jam -- Going Underground
03. The Cure -- A Forest
04. Dead Kennedys -- Holiday In Cambodia
05. Passions -- I'm In Love With A German Film Star
06. The Replacements -- I Will Dare
07. Mission Of Burma -- That's When I Reach For My Revolver
08. X -- Johny Hit And Run Paulene
09. The Jesus And Mary Chain -- Just Like Honey
10. Depeche Mode -- Black Celebration
11. The Dream Syndicate -- Tell Me When It's Over
12. The Red Hot Chili Peppers -- Hollywood Africa
13. New Order -- Temptation
14. Japan -- Ghosts
15. Magazine -- A Song From Under The Floorboards
16. Aztec Camera -- Oblivious
17. Husker Du -- Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely
18. Black Flag -- Rise Above
19. Wall Of Voodoo -- Back In Flesh
20. The Go Betweens -- Cattle And Cane
Disc 2:
01. The Pretenders -- Message Of Love
02. Ultravox -- Vienna
03. Dinosaur Jr. -- Freak Scene
04. The Smiths -- This Charming Man
05. Ministry -- Stigmata
06. Lone Justice -- Ways To Be Wicked
07. Killing Joke -- Wardance
08. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark -- Enola Gay
09. The English Beat -- Mirror In The Bathroom
10. The Raincoats -- Fairytale In The Supermarket
11. The Smithereens -- Behind The Wall Of Sleep
12. Minutemen -- Political Song For Michael Jackson To Sing
13. The Dead Milkmen -- Punk Rock Girl
14. Concrete Blonde -- Still In Hollywood
15. Joy Division -- Love Will Tear Us Apart
16. Violent Femmes -- Blister In The Sun
17. Meat Puppets -- Lake Of Fire
18. The DB's -- Amplifier
19. Prefab Sprout -- When Love Breaks Down
20. The Cramps -- Goo Goo Muck
21. Sisters Of Mercy -- This Corrosion
22. XTC -- Senses Working Overtime
Disc 3:
01. Echo And The Bunnymen -- The Cutter
02. Bad Brains -- Pay To Cum
03. The Sugarcubes -- Birthday
04. Robyn Hitchcock 'N' The Egyptians -- Madonna Of The Wasps
05. Faith No More -- We Care A Lot
06. Sonic Youth -- Teen Age Riot
07. Gang Of Four -- To Hell With Poverty
08. The Feelies -- Fa Ce-La
09. They Might Be Giants -- Ana Ng
10. The Chameleons UK -- Swamp Thing
11. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds -- The Mercy Seat
12. The Rain Parade -- I Look Around
13. Psychedelic Furs -- All That Money Wants
14. The Church -- Under The Milky Way
15. Public Image Ltd. -- Rise
16. Love And Rockets -- Kundalini Express
17. Green On Red -- Gravity Talks
18. Throbbing Gristle -- Adrenalin
19. The Stone Roses -- She Bangs The Drums
Disc 4:
01. Pixies -- Monkey Gone To Heaven
02. The The -- Uncertain Smile (Original 7-inch version)
03. Bauhaus -- Bela Lugosi's Dead
04. Siouxsie And The Banshees -- Christine
05. Minor Threat -- Straight Edge
06. The Lyres -- I Want To Help You Ann
07. Beat Happening -- Our Secret
08. Jane's Addiction -- Jane Says
09. Julian Cope -- World Shut Your Mouth
10. Kate Bush -- Running Up That Hill
11. Gun Club -- Sex Beat
12. Camper Van Beethoven -- Take The Skinheads Bowling
13. Suicidal Tendencies -- Institutionalized
14. Cocteau Twins -- Pearly Dewdrops Drops
15. Happy Mondays -- 24 Hour Party People
16. Hoodoo Gurus -- I Want You Back
17. Descendents -- Suburban Home
18. The Pogues -- A Pair Of Brown Eyes
19. The Three O'Clock -- Jet Fighter]
20. Butthole Surfers -- Moving To Florida
21. Billy Bragg -- A New England

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