8/1/13

'80s Compilation Week: LIVING IN OBLIVION [1993-1995]



Volume One [64:27]
release date: March 22, 1993
Compilation: Bruce Harris, Dan Loggins, Vincent M. Vero
Mastering:  Chris Herles (January 1993)
Liner Notes: Ira Robbins (January 1993)

EMI's Living In Oblivion: The 80's Greatest Hits series was launched with Living In Oblivion, Volume 1 (above) on both cassette and compact disc formats.  With a beefy 18-19 tracks per disc - accomplished by mostly using single or radio edits rather than album cuts or extended remixes - they were an incredible value.  While there are not a lot of rarities or exclusives to be found within the series, there are some, and as Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine notes, each disc contains "not only classic new wave cuts, but also several MTV hits from the mid-'80s and radio hits from the end of the decade."  HERC appreciates the diverse track selection on each disc; this first disc is top-loaded with more of his favorites.  Other things gleaned from the thoroughly researched liner notes and credits: the number of songs that originally appeared on EPs or mini albums; the number of tracks that never charted and/or were not released in the USA and the fact that a couple of songs actually predate the stated 80's time frame, though they fit right in the mix.

Volume Two [74:37]
release date: September 7, 1993
Compilation: Bruce Harris, Dan Loggins, Vincent M. Vero
Mastering:  Larry Walsh (July 1993)
Liner Notes: Bruce Harris (1993)

The second installment the series came out nearly six months after the first one had.  Living In Oblivion, Volume 2 featured one more track (19 vs 18) than Volume 1 had and ran more than a full ten minutes longer than it's immediate predecessor.  There are no songs from the Seventies this time around.  A tiny ad promising "more great great 80's music" from the Living In Oblivion series "Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4 and the video!" appeared in the CD booklet.  The video never materialized.

Volume Three [72:25]
release date: March 22, 1994
Compilation: Bruce Harris, Dan Loggins, Vincent M. Vero
Mastering:  Larry Walsh (January 1994)
Liner Notes: Bruce Harris (January 1994)

The freaky illustrated face cover art, with the mouth forming the "O" in the title, continued on the one year anniversary of the first volume in the series with the release of Living In Oblivion, Volume 3.  The unhurried pace of release was perhaps the result of vault hunting for master tapes and obtaining permission to release them.  "What Do All The People Know" by The Monroes, the final track of this disc's nineteen, is one of the the great lost hits of the Eighties stories, with the band's record label (Alfa) folding as the song was rising on the charts, leaving it stalled just inside the Top 60.  Unavailable for a decade (at least according to the liner notes), the track was welcomed back by fans who had been fortunate enough to hear it the first time around and newly discovered by both power-pop and new wave aficionados.  Apparently not a fan, Mr. Erlewine said the song one of "too many bad songs from second-rate acts" that made this "the weakest volume in the series." 


This ad appeared in Volume 3's CD booklet.  Sadly, Volume 6 never came to fruition.  The ad was reprinted in Volume 4 and Volume 5 as well.

Volume Four [76:15]
release date: October 4, 1994
Compilation: Vincent M. Vero
Mastering:  Larry Walsh (July 1994)
Liner Notes: Bruce Harris (August 1994)

Living In Oblivion, Volume 4 appeared nearly six months after Volume 3 and was the longest playing disc in the series thus far despite the weakest overall track list yet.

Volume Five [77:20]
release date: April 4, 1995
Compilation: Vincent M. Vero
Mastering:  Kevin Boutote (February 1995)
Liner Notes: Bruce Harris (February 1995)

Coming two years after the series had begun, Living In Oblivion, Volume 5, would prove to be both the final volume in the series as well as the longest playing.  The album also holds the distinction of having the most "single remixes" in the series and having the least amount of tracks available in Spotify - HERC used twelve Local Files from his CD rip to round out his playlist which means we only get seven tracks to listen to.  Total bummer.

YouTube user Poltr1 speculated what a Volume 6 in the series would be like and even began an aborted 5 song video playlist for a Volume 7.  HERC came up with Dancing In Oblivion: The 80's Greatest 12" Hits (below). 

3 comments:

  1. I don't have any of these compilations, but I own most of the tracks elsewhere (I really don't need two copies of Shiny Shiny). I'm digging the Dancing In Oblivion playlist, though. Kudos.

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  2. Thanks for coming by, Mark.

    As you'll see in upcoming posts (or may have already found through personal experience), there is a lot of repetition among tracks on all of the various Eighties compilations. That's when informed decisions become critical: Who mastered the disc? Is it the single edit or album version? Or is it the extended version and if so, which extended version?

    As the article "The 50 Best 12" Singles of the 1980s" in the new issue of Classic Pop makes abundantly clear, several songs have two, three or even more 12" versions and not all of them are worth owning.

    But sometimes as music fans and collectors, we purchase an entire high-dollar, multi-disc import collection solely for one track.

    Mercifully, "Shiny Shiny" only appears twice in my library;)

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  3. Herc, I had a couple from this set as well. I got it mostly for those two or three different tracks that were not on my Rhino New Wave Hits of the 80's set.

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