'80s Compilation Week 2: 12"/80s

release date: 5/13/2002
[tracks] runtime: [13] 77:42
average track length: 5:58
current price range: $4-$44

"The early-'80s revival that took place roughly 20 years later sent many a catalog department scurrying to corners of their vaults that had long since gone mothballed and cobwebbed, as an era seen by many as transparent, disposable, and fleeting received a second life through quasi-scenes like electroclash and the enduring influence of popular bands like the Human League (who were still thriving at the time of this disc's release) and just plain weird bands like Devo. Put together by the U.K. wing of Universal in 2002, The Sound of the Crowd was one of the better retrospectives released to take advantage of the trend, basing itself on extended mixes of songs that teeter back and forth between the blurred line that separates arty post-punk and chart-friendly new wave."  Andy Kellman, allmusic

The Sound Of The Crowd disc paved the way for the 12"/80s series HERC is featuring in today's post.  Each set of three discs is packed with anywhere from 33-36 twelve-inch mixes.  The set is lauded for the inclusion of rare and hard to find mixes while at the same time criticized for using vinyl transfers at times and MANY errors in track metadata including the labelling of album versions as extended and discrepancies between outer cover art and inlay cards as well as the discs themselves.  Compiler Dorian Wathen addresses these issues on the liner notes of the third volume in the series 12"/80s/Pop:
"I should also point out that we do make every effort to locate the original 12" mixes of as many of the tracks as possible. This was quite tricky on the first volumes, as these tracks had lain dormant and unloved in dusty music libraries, and a few mistakes were made as incorrect versions were occasionally used and incorrectly marked up, only to be discovered too late...now as more and more of these 12" versions are coming onto the market on compilations and reissues etc, it has become a little easier to locate the various 12" versions, which is a great thing for all of us. We may have made an error or two even so (but we do try not to!)... and am also doubly sure you'll point this out and correct us on an internet review site or two... we thank you for this..."   Dorian Wathen

release date: 3/8/2005
[tracks] runtime: [36] 3:40:22
average track length: 6:07
current price range: $16-$170
"12"/80's is one of those collections that-- due to concept, packaging, and a goodly portion of its contents-- I want to grace with a much higher rating. (he gave it a 6.2 - ed.) But I can't deny one thing: There's a Simply Red song on this box set. If you meet a beautiful boy with a unibrow, you can shave it, but it's always going to grow back. Likewise, you can skip tracks here, but Mick Hucknall, the unibrow of pop, returns every time you replay it."  Jess Harvell, Pitchfork

release date: 7/12/2005
[tracks] runtime: [35] 3:44:48
average track length: 6:25
current price range: $16-$215
"It would be easy to dismiss this set by looking at the track listing and rolling your eyes with dreadful memories, but for anyone willing to give it a listen, there will be many moments of joy."  Carl, gullbuy.com

release date: 1/15/2006
[tracks] runtime: [35] 3:28:07
average track length: 5:56
current price range: $16-$2,004(!)

"With this latest volume in the 12"/80s series, there are only a couple of real rarities I'd been hunting for on CD. We also get many tracks that have made it to CD before, as well, as early fades, bad vinyl transfers, versions that are NOT the 12" versions, and even a bad modern remix."  Daniel W. Kelly, amazon

release date: 3/14/2006
[tracks] runtime: [34] 3:54:25
average track length: 6:53
current price range: $16-$80

NOTES: For the first time in the 12"/80s series, each of the three discs in this set is broken down by genre: Disc One is POP, Disc Two is CLUB and Disc 3 is SOUL & FUNK.  

release date: 9/24/2007
[tracks] runtime: [35] 3:33:17
average track length: 6:05
current price range: $44-$104

NOTES: This set is basically 3 discs of what was termed SOUL & FUNK on the last disc of the previous collection.

release date: 1/28/2008
[tracks] runtime: [35] 3:21:42
average track length: 5:45
current price range: $16-$101

NOTES: More so than any other set in the series, this one features mostly album cuts rather than 12" singles.

release date: 9/14/2009
[tracks] runtime: [33] 3:47:01
average track length: 6:52
current price range: $18-$2,004[!]
This CD primer of some of the more essential breaks and extended versions of favorite songs from the UK was created in the UK, which goes to show the lack of real deep breaks or extended cuts from the "other side of the pond", but at least whoever it was that created it had a passion to put together a wonderful collection nevertheless.  John J. Martinez, amazon

release date: 7/1/2010
[tracks] runtime: [33] 3:45:57
average track length: 6:50
current price range: $25-$204

NOTES: Classics is essentially a "greatest hits album" of 12"/80s with thirty tracks having appeared on previous discs in the series.

release date: 8/15/2011
[tracks] runtime: [35] 3:52:15
average track length: 6:38
current price range: $18-$2,004[!]

"This three-CD set celebrates the alternative side of popular music in the 1980s, covering a trio of broad genres: new wave, goth and indie. The usual suspects are rounded up, and the songs selected are – as the title so accurately conveys – 12" mixes. So the listener gets over seven minutes of Simple Minds’ "Up on the Catwalk", almost a full 10 minutes of Propaganda’s "P: Machinery", and lengthy versions of Frankie’s "Welcome to the Pleasuredome" and Talk Talk’s "Living in Another World".  Mike Driver, BBC

release date: 9/2/2013
[tracks] runtime: [33] ?:??:??
average track length: ?:??
current price range: $20 [presale]

NOTES: As of the date of posting this, 12"/80s/Club Classics hasn't been released yet but the track listing is posted online so HERC took a stab at a Spotify playlist for it.  HERC found out about the upcoming release while reading Issue Six of Classic Pop where it was given a 4 record/disc review; a "Buy" rating according to the magazine's posted scale.

In 1983, HERC picked up a Sharp VZ-2000 (just like the one above and on the cover of 12"/80s) off of layaway after paying most of four full-time paychecks towards it.  It rode around secure in the backseat of his '64 Bug as his primary mobile and home stereo system for many years and after replacing both needles and the turntable belt twice as well as making hundreds of mixtapes, he put it up on a shelf shortly after he and MRS. HERC exchanged vows in 1987.  The VZ-2000 still sits there, wrapped protectively, silently awaiting it's triumphant return.  HERC had hoped to incorporate it into the newly redesigned Audio Archives but alas it was just too big and MRS. HERC would not permit the demolition of an entire wall.

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