“Old men in stripey trousers,
rule the world with plastic smiles”.
West German compilation series Hot And New commenced in 1983 with a 13 track LP of current hits. By the following summer, WEA had released four volumes on vinyl and cassette. The first one to receive a CD release was the fifth one, simply titled Hot And New, which came out in October 1984. It’s a highly sought-after disc nowadays with copies changing hands for anything between €50 and €120. It’s a cool selection of evocative Euro pop which complements both High Life International and High Life International 2.
Laura Branigan’s theatrical and haunting Self Control is the opening track. Written by Giancarlo Bigazzi, Steve Piccolo and Italian singer Raf and was first recorded by the latter in early 1984. Laura’s version first hit #1 in Germany on June 15 1984 while Raf’s original topped the Italian charts a week later. It’s followed by Chicago’s uptempo ballad Stay The Night (taken from Chicago 17) and Peter Schilling’s thought-provoking Terra Titantic. The vast majority of people seem to think that this song actually references the RMS Titanic. In fact, it’s about the Earth and our fragile relationship with same. The 1912 shipping disaster is a mere metaphor. Love those Cold War undertones. Fiction Factory’s understated synth power play Ghost Of Love slots in nicely afterwards.
There’s no mistaking the sound of Jennifer Rush. The confident and driving 25 Lovers was her first hit. Next up are the familiar chords of Wouldn’t It Be Good. Except it isn’t Mr Kershaw, it’s Juliane Werding with a sweetly-performed rendition. Kudos to the compilers as they slot Nik in afterwards – the moody I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me making waves across the continent the second time around.
“It’s probably not immediately obvious but I Won’t Let The Sun is about The Bomb, or rather about people taking responsibility for what they do generally. It’s saying that it probably won’t do much good for one person to shout about these things but I’m going to anyway” (as said to Number 1 magazine).
You’ll notice that a number of these artists would also feature on The Hits Album: Laura Branigan, Chicago, Howard Jones and Alphaville. Sounds Like A Melody is an aptly-titled synth piece from the latter. Plus it’s the hard-to-find 7″ mix. Ecstasy, jealousy and the comedy of love. Then there’s Eddy Grant’s understated yet bouncy Romancing The Stone which wasn’t used in the movie. Great guitar solo. And the eerie 80s masterpiece Send Me An Angel from Real Life. Positive desperation. As seen on Rad and Teen Wolf Too. I can still remember sitting in double seats of The Ritz Cinema lazily watching Jason Bateman.
Pearl In The Shell was Howard Jones fourth single and somewhat less remembered than the others from Human’s Lib. This one also ended up on Now That’s What I Call Music 3. It’s a stormer. On and on and on. Michael Jass was a one hit wonder; the enigmatic Venice And Moonlight is a melancholic gem. Which eases into Sammy Barbot’s wonderful slow-burning Italo groove of Let The Music Play. No connection with Shannon. Finally it’s a kiss-off into the rain; Twisted Sister’s snotty riposte We’re Not Gonna Take It. A crazy, coke-fuelled mini movie that only Dee Snider could pull off.
“Let the music play,
DJ, let it play
Look at my body sway
DJ, let it sway”.
Real Life – Send Me An Angel
Sammy Barbot – Let The Music Play
Lest we forget
Michael Jass – Venice And Moonlight