In the second part of our seven-part series, we'll be listening to and rating the next three volumes in Time-Life's Modern Rock series, and what a disparate bunch they are: 1986-1987, Dance and The '70s.
As the Modern Rock series continues onward through the Eighties, rather than follow the music that had been consistently placing on Billboard's Top Rock Chart (and beginning in 1988, the Modern Rock Chart), the compilers seem to have maintained a strange, unyielding allegiance to Billboard's Hot 100 chart. Which is a shame because new wave expert Ira Robbins was brought in to do the liner notes for Modern Rock: 1986-1987 while Warner Special Products appears again in the manufacturing role. And I've confirmed that Dennis Drake has mastered all twenty-one volumes of Modern Rock. While I like the majority of these tracks, I would have included them on Time-Life's more mainstream hit-oriented Sounds Of The Eighties series rather than the Modern Rock series. There is one track on here that I wouldn't include on any compilation, mixtape or playlist: the novelty dance track "I Wanna Be A Cowboy" by Boys Don't Cry. As an Eighties hits-packed compilation album, Modern Rock: 1986-1987 easily rates a solid
but as part of the Modern Rock series, it represents a missed opportunity so I give it
Arion Berger returns to handle liner notes for Modern Rock: Dance while Sony Music Special Products steps up in a manufacturing role for the first time in the series. The excitement I felt when this disc arrived in the mail was palpable as I was expecting more than a few extended remixes of the listed tracks including the divisive Soft Cell medley. Disappointment set in as I listened though I should have expected the usual album versions which are exactly what we have here. I would like to single out that Soft Cell track though as it is listed as the medley on the artwork and in the discography that makes up the second half of the fourteen-page booklet though Arion gets it right in her liner notes by referring to the song correctly as simply "Tainted Love". Gotta give the set credit for including my preferred German-language version of the Nena song though. Least favorite track? Cyndi Lauper's "She Bop". It's just a better all-around listen for me without that one. Had Modern Rock: Dance included even a few extended versions - and there is definitely space on the disc to accommodate them as each disc clocks in at under sixty minutes - it would easily be a 😎😎😎😎😎yet that Soft Cell gaffe is hard to overlook so my gut reaction is to knock it down to😎😎😎but a further listen restored the score to
Vintage remixes of songs from
Modern Rock: Dance:
Modern Rock: Dance:
If your copy of Modern Rock: Dance looks like the one on the left, please be patient as we will be featuring it in a future post. There are two different commercials for Modern Rock: Dance on YouTube (here and here) that advertise slightly different track listings than the one I have. (Or the one with the orange cover.) In the first spot, thirty-two songs are listed and in the second spot, the CD below is offered up as bonus third disc.
Making it two albums in a row, Arion Berger contributed liner notes to Modern Rock: The '70s while Warner Special Products handled the disc manufacturing which may not mean much to many of you but I always check compilations to see which label was responsible for the manufacturing. It just matters to me. Remember how I was grousing about the direction the Modern Rock series was heading when discussing the Modern Rock: 1986-1987 album above? Modern Rock: The '70s is a fine specimen of what I was talking about: a collection of influential songs representing (in this instance, the birth of) modern rock that, for the most part, was off the mainstream radar. I can't find a weak track in the bunch. If anything, I'd replace the crossover songs, the songs that made the Hot 100, in an effort to give Modern Rock: The '70s even more gravitas.
Join us next time as we listen to and rate the next three volumes of Modern Rock, as pictured below.