Priority Records gets credit for compiling and releasing the first Eighties-themed compilation series with Rock of the 80's in 1991. Before they had even issued a Volume 2 in that series, Priority launched another Eighties compilation series called The 80's Greatest Rock Hits with five volumes in 1992. They were budget-priced compilations with nine songs per disc. The songs on each disc were very loosely based on a theme. The theme of The 80's Greatest Rock Hits Volume One was Passion & Power. Among the tracks are a Sammy Hagar power rocker ("There's Only One Way To Rock") and eight soft rock songs of passion.
Leather & Lace was the theme of The 80's Greatest Rock Hits Volume 2 and it featured all female performers. Providing the "Leather" were rockin' hits from Joan Jett, The Go-Go's and Scandal while Tina Turner, Pat Benatar, Kim Carnes and Laura Branigan brought the "Lace".
The words Arena Rock, the theme of The 80's Greatest Rock Hits Volume 3, conjures up visions of Journey, REO Speedwagon and Foreigner for HERC. None of those bands are on this disc though it does have songs from solid rockers Styx, Boston, and Rush. Questionable choices include Starship, Survivor, and Arcadia.
[There is a variant of this CD/cassette that does feature Journey's "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" instead of the Pat Travers track.]
The fourth disc in the series features Wayne's World-inspired color scheme and theme; Party On
Wayne Garth is the theme this time around and somehow Wham!'s "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" snuck into the lineup. The 80's Greatest Rock Hits Volume 4 kicks off with the high-energy shout and stomp of "What I Like About You" by The Romantics then goes to the blues-rock side with tracks from George Thorogood and David Lindley before kicking it back up a notch or two with successive tracks from Billy Squier, Todd Rundgren, Stray Cats and J. Geils Band. Then the bottom drops out.
Lesser wattage power ballads power The 80's Greatest Rock Hits Volume 5. The theme for the fifth disc in the series is From The Heart and all nine songs are favorites of MRS. HERC so it should come as no surprise this is the only disc in the series that HERC still owns. At the time of purchase back in 1992, it was an easy way to keep from buying entire CDs by Alias and Sheriff for just one song each. If they would have had throat-shredders like Firehouse's "Love Of A Lifetime" and Steelheart's "I'll Never Let You Go" on here, it would have been catnip for those hair metal babes.
HERC has no idea what Agony & Ecstasy has to do with the songs on The 80's Greatest Rock Hits Volume 6; as near as he can tell, they are songs about being in love and breaking up which pretty much covers 95% of all songs ever, doesn't it? Vol. 6 was the first of four discs in the series released at different intervals in 1993. Oddly, both John Waite's "Missing You" and Eric Carmen's "Make Me Lose Control" make their second appearance here after their inclusion on Vol. 1.
The 80's Greatest Rock Hits Volume 7 has Light & Easy as its theme and features soft rockers from the Eighties by Rupert Holmes, Air Supply, and Christopher Cross among others. Not wanting to miss the mellow party, Little River Band, Robbie Dupree and Juice Newton also contribute some smooth songs. By HERC's count, this is the fourth out of the first seven discs which lean towards rock's softer side. And what in tarnation does the woodgrain on the cover have to do with Light & Easy?
After featuring just three non-Caucasian acts total on the first seven volumes in the series, The 80's Greatest Rock Hits Volume 8 tip the scales of racial inequality among performers in the series by featuring no less than five or six songs by artists with darker complexions. Did you catch that "or"? Turns out there are two versions of Vol. 8 and they are both themed Dance Party; the difference lies in the included songs. The version pictured above does not feature Jody Watley's "Real Love" or The Information Society's "Walking Away" while the version below does not contain Cyndi Lauper's "I Drove All Night" and Lisa Lisa's "Head To Toe" (sorry Cult Jam but HERC was all about the Lisa Lisa back in the day.) HERC's diligent research wasn't able to determine which disc came first but collectors take note - there is another disc to shop for. (To keep matters simple all eleven tracks between the two discs are featured in the playlist above.)
With HERC's universal rock scale running from 0 to 11, The 80's Greatest Rock Hits Volume 9 Rock Hard themed disc is a limp 4. Only songs from Whitesnake, Tesla, Cinderella and Scorpions truly rawk. While the other bands on the disc are not bad, their contributions simply aren't up to the first four acts mentioned. At least it wasn't another soft rock disc, right?
The 80's Greatest Rock Hits Volume 10 was the first of the final six discs in the series, all six of which were released in 1994. Resurrecting the Dance theme from Vol. 8, Vol. 10 featured the theme Dance All Night. The 12" version of "Buffalo Stance" is an all-time HERC favorite.
Teen Idols is the theme of The 80's Greatest Rock Hits Volume 11 but in reality, this disc is just another slow jams disc with three verifiable teen artists. Songs from Michael Damien and Boys Club are not available via Spotify so the playlist above has only the seven tracks HERC could find on the streaming service. If the disc has a high point, it is the inclusion of yet another Lisa Lisa track. Watching the video, she looks like a beefier, squattier, scarier Paula Abdul, no? Why is she so obsessed with HERC?
At least eight of the artists fit the label Singers/Songwriters, the theme for The 80's Greatest Rock Hits Volume 12. The lone singer? Linda Ronstadt, who has written songs but is best known as an interpreter of the work of other people. She brings a female perspective to the Little Anthony & the Imperials classic "Hurt So Bad", truly making it her own and that tasty, scathing guitar solo from Danny Kortchmar truly pushes the song to another level.
The seventh disc in the series to feature soft rock, The 80's Greatest Rock Hits Volume 13 is fittingly themed Soft Sounds though it does feature one danceable number in Billy Ocean's "Loverboy". The extended version of the song is all galloping guitar, soaring synths and chunky drum machines with those stuttering cries of "l-l-lover" piercing the mix. Highly favored by your boy HERC. With Vol. 13, The 80's Greatest Rock Hits series comes to an end. Did it live up to its name? Like other Priority discs, the series doesn't feature the best sound with reported clipping on more than a few songs though HERC hasn't noticed it on his lone disc from the series.