Sight + Sound: '80s
With the glut of '80s compilations on the market it's a wonder there's room for any more of these things. It seems that every imaginable angle has been explored (girl groups, new wave, British, American, Top 40, dance) and yet, they still come. Time/Life-EMI's Sight & Sound: the 80s manages to rise above the fray (if just a little bit) by doing a couple of things right. Trying to encapsulate a decade's worth of music on one CD is an impossible feat for any compilation to tackle but Sight & Sound does a better job than most. The song selections are predictable, but there's enough of a spread between, say, Blondie's "Call Me" and Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell" to make for a convincing (if short) overview of the MTV decade. The included DVD also covers a decent spread of visual material, with Culture Club's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" sharing disc space with J. Geils' "Centerfold." In a smart move by Time/Life-EMI, there's no overlap between the CD offerings and the videos (although some of the artists are represented twice) and, on the whole, the collection is a pretty good overview of the look and feel of the decade -- despite it being so short. The main saving grace for this collection is the insightful liner-note essay by Grammy nominated music critic Billy Altman. It goes a long way in validating the selections and convincingly explains how each artist made their mark on that eclectic and manic era. There are hundreds of other '80s compilations out there but very few show cause for themselves as well as this one does.