'80s Compilation Week: CLASSIC ALTERNATIVES [1994-1995, 2000]

By now, it's like totally obvious that more than a few collections of Eighties New Wave music have been issued, with the earliest ones arriving in 1992-1993. [We've has already covered Oglio's Richard Blade's Flashback Favorites and Rhino's Just Can't Get Enough]  Today, HERC is diving into yet another collection: Toronto-based SPG Music's Classic Alternatives series.  The collection pictured at the top of this post will be discussed later after HERC breaks down the entire series for us. For the first three volumes, each disc included 12 tracks and more than 70 minutes of music.
SPG Music Ltd. is (was?) a dance music-oriented label specializing in house music and in 1994, they gathered together a dozen mostly extended or remixed Eighties non-house dance tracks and put them out as Classic Alternatives, Volume 1.  Here's a rundown of the substitutions (via Spotify or Local Files) HERC used to compile the digital re-creation of the CD:

01)  substituted "Coliseum Club Mix"
02)  substituted original album version
04)  Local File from Richard Blade's Flashback Favorites Vol. 4
05)  Local File from Richard Blade's Flashback Favorites (aka Vol. 1)
06)  substituted original album version
08)  substituted "Extended Version"
10)  Local File from Richard Blade's Flashback Favorites Vol. 6
11)  did not find
12)  substituted "Remix"

Classic Alternatives, Volume 2 followed in December 1994 and was HERC's introduction to the series.  This disc posed less of a challenge to recreate with all but three of the tracks easily matched.

07)  substituted original album version
10)  substituted original album version
12)  substituted original album version

Released in 1995, Classic Alternatives, Volume 3 featured more rarely anthologized songs than the preceding volumes.  It also has a decidedly non-dance tune in the middle of the mix at track 7 though the song is a beauty, eh?

03)  substituted "Remix"
05)  did not find
06)  substituted even longer "Special Remix"
08)  Local File from Richard Blade's Flashback Favorites (aka Vol. 1)
09)  substituted "Extended US Mix" for original album version
10)  substituted even longer "Advanced Mix"
11)  substituted single version

After a five year break, Classic Alternatives 4 - 80's Retro Hits (12" Extended Rare Mixes) appeared on store shelves in 2000 as a three-disc set, with each disc having ten tracks.  The third disc in the set is definitely HERC's favorite of the entire series as it opens with a musical murderer's row of five fave songs from Art Of Noise, Yaz(oo), Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Soft Cell, and OMD.

CD One
02)  substituted "Club Mix"
05)  did not find

CD Two
01)  did not find
03)  did not find
04)  substituted "Mixe Plural"
05)  substituted original album version
09)  substituted original album version
10)  Local File from Richard Blade's Flashback Favorites Vol. 6

CD Three
05)  substituted original album version
08)  substituted " '89 Extended Mix"
10)  Local File form Hit That Perfect Beat! Vol. 2

In keeping with the rebranding of Classic Alternatives 4, SPG also reissued the first three volumes in a box set (above) in 2000 that reflected the series' new focus of 12" Extended Rare Mixes with a complimentary contrasting color scheme. The individual discs retained their original cover art although their barcodes were replaced with a message: "PART OF BOX-SET SPG 1905"
Then in 2003, almost ten years after Volume One was first released, SPG went back to the well one final time and issued all six discs as a single boxed set simply titled Classic Alternatives (cover art at top of the post; rear cover above).

One of the known issues with the Classics Alternatives series is that some songs are not from original master tapes but rather mastered from vinyl singles - you can hear clicking and popping. For some collectors, this is a deal-breaker but not for HERC; he has heard worse vinyl transfers. Another issue is that after doing a fairly accurate job of notating which remixes were included across the first three volumes, there is no indication of which versions were used on Classic Alternatives 4 or the all-inclusive Classic Alternatives boxed set from 2003.

The Classic Alternatives series is a lesser-known compilation series which can be had relatively cheap and easy compared to some of its more well-known brethren. The multiple reissues insured there were more copies in the marketplace. The track selection throughout the series with the emphasis on 12" extended mixes is a cut above other collections as well making it a welcome addition to any '80s Dance or New Wave music fan's library.


  1. Love the extended mix. I have over half of the extended mixes on other compilations, but that's not keeping me from eyeballin' that 12" Extended Rare Mixes volume. I quick search finds it OOP and $34. Hmmm....

  2. I know you're down with OOP!