Chart Blasters ’81 (K-Tel, 1981)

Chart Blasters '81

Chart Blasters '81 r.jpg

Another brick in the wall: Chart Blasters ’81 saw K-Tel dispensing with the space themes and designs, instead relying on the way of exploding fist for its front cover. The chart hits of 1981’s first quarter are documented here; a time when the headlines were grabbed by the capture of the Yorkshire Ripper, the tragic fire in The Stardust and Bobby Sands commencing his hunger strike. Elsewhere the ZX81 was launched, a 1K wonder with a dodgy 16K RAM pack. So can I interest anybody in Perilous Swamp or Sorcerers’ Island?

The record starts with more than a hint of sadness. Roxy Music’s show-stopping cover of Jealous Guy went all the way to the top on a sea of emotion just three months after John Lennon’s death. The kind folks at K-Tel fade this one early – 3:41 to be precise. Cheers then. Next comes The Look’s I Am The Beat is a new wave gem, a less grumpy version of The Jam. And hot on the heels, a pair of rockabilly groovers: Coast To Coast’s memorable take on (Do) The Hucklebuck while the evergreen Matchbox serve up Babes In The Wood.

Four From Toyah EP was the band’s sixth UK single. A chart breakthrough with the new line up. The enigmatic It’s A Mystery was the lead track and was one of the year’s most memorable Top Of The Pops appearances. Meanwhile Phil Collins made his first solo single, the hypnotic In The Air Tonight which was a massive hit on MTV when it launched the following August. Separation anxiety. The track features an amazing drum fill. His debut LP, the intriguing art rock meets MOR ballads – Face Value – followed shortly.

These compilations always turn up hidden gems, tracks that have been subsequently lost in the mists of time. A prime example is Susan Fassbender’s melodic Twilight Café. Highly recommended for dog walking. There’s an excellent and comprehensive piece about Susan Fassbender here. Things take a heavy turn with Slade’s rock juggernaut We’ll Bring The House Down which in turn leads into the frantic Please Don’t Touch, credited to Motorhead and Girlschool. Eskimo Nell gets namechecked. Side 1 ends with the ugly sound of Joe Dolce and the ghastly Shaddup You Face. This means nothing to me.

Side 2 leads with a reissue. Adam and The Ants’ debut single, the jazzy Young Parisians was released before Christmas 1980 and cashed in on the success of Dog Eat Dog and Ant Music. Elsewhere Landscape’s pulsating synth-heavy Einstein A Go-Go is beautifully sequenced with the expansive I’m In Love With A German Film Star (The Passions). The spiky sound of XTC’s Sgt. Rock follows, edgy but fits in perfectly. And the fifth home run is Just A Feeling, yet another Bad Manners hit and one with a killer sax sound. Sweat dance.

Brit funk to the max: get down to Beggar and Co’s wonderful (Somebody) Help Me Out. Check out Disco Daze / Disco Nites for more. Ever lovable, Kelly Marie pulls out a plum on Hot Love complete with insane bagpipe solo halfway through. On Stiff, it’s Dave Stewart and Colin Blunstone’s lush take on What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted? This gives way to terrace tearaway noise of Dancing With Myself, Generation X’s most enduring legacy. Last up is an old folk number, The Oldest Swinger In Town as sung by Fred Wedlock.

Favourite tracks
The Look – I Am The Beat

The Passions – I’m In Love With A German Film Star

Kelly Marie – Hot Love

Lest we forget
Susan Fassbender – Twilight Café


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4 Responses to Chart Blasters ’81 (K-Tel, 1981)

  1. Feel the Quality says:

    I’m wondering if you will review a certain compilation album that it seemed everyone over here owned or had heard: All Aboard. It was marketed as songs for kids but it was heavy on comedy songs like Right Said Fred, The Laughing Policeman and My Brother. I think it came out maybe a year or two earlier than your current review period but it was re-issued a couple of times.

  2. nlgbbbblth says:

    There’s also a great clip of Twilight Café on Swap Shop.

  3. Pingback: Now That’s What I Call Music 1981: The Millennium Series (EMI / Virgin / Universal, 1999) | A Pop Fan's Dream

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