Hits Hits Hits (Ronco, 1981)

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Review
Hits Hits Hits was Ronco’s final compilation of 1981 and saw them fit 21 tracks onto 64 minutes of vinyl. It’s an immensely satisfying listen that gives us a keen snapshot of the year’s last two months with a few surprises and aural curveballs thrown into the mix.

The proceedings kick off with a standalone single: Madness’ plaintive cover of Labi Siffre’s 1971 soulful cracker It Must Be Love. Complete Madness was a first album for many schoolboys during 1982. Ever so apt now, The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum was Fun Boy Three’s debut 45; an exercise in percussive minimalism and tribal vocals. A swing to more gentle sounds as Elvis Costello goes country on the wistful Good Year For The Roses. Then the Pretenders’ outstanding version of Ray Davies’ I Go To Sleep. The Kinks never released the song but a demo does exist. Check out the reissue of Kinda Kinks.

Get those threads on and hit the clubs. No jean jackets allowed but suppers are served. The Royal Hotel in New Ross saw Imagination’s spacey Flashback burn up the dancefloor. There’s more Brit funk on Linx’s forceful I Can’t Help Myself while the Boys Town Gang channel the spirit of Donald Cammell on the vital X-rated urban grooves of Cruisin’ The Streets. Moving on: Dollar’s synth pop breakthrough Mirror and the Techno Twins’ #70 smash Falling In Love Again or Toyah jamming with Sparks on the set of Cabaret. One more day to go: side 1 concludes with some endearing rock ‘n’ roll from Tenpole Tudor. I remember them playing at a local venue, The Barrowland during the spring of 1982.

Good Morning Universe. The red-haired Wilcox one pops up at the start of side 2. Silly but makes me smile every time. Next is the Christmas #1, the eternally shiny Don’t You Want Me, the first record I wanted to buy with my own money. Dare’s grand finale. Equally huge, Architecture and Morality, also a third LP. OMD wrote two songs about Joan Of Arc; I prefer the first, a ghostly masterpiece. To a lighter mood, Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey, an amusing ditty from Modern Romance before those cool clean heroes Blue Rondo A La Turk and the pumped-up Me And Mr Sanchez – which also comes with more Ays.

Alvin Stardust continues to drop rock bombs. A Wonderful Time Up There has a religious theme. Losing out are Japan as the sublime Visions Of China loses a minute – a unique version which is missing Mick’s dida solo and the second verse. Gathering momentum are Simple Minds on the frantic Sweat In Bullet but again chart success eluded them – #52. Greg Lake’s no-nonsense piledrive Love You Too Much is too brief. Sacrificed for Billy Bremner’s devastatingly evocative Loud Music In Cars. On Stiff Records, nothing to do with Leeds United but oddly like Macca. These driving sounds conclude on Hold Me, a rocking good way of a duet between Maggie Bell and B.A. Robertson. One more time.

Favourite tracks
Imagination – Flashback

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Joan Of Arc

Billy Bremner – Loud Music In Cars

Lest we forget
Techno Twins – Falling In Love Again

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20 Responses to Hits Hits Hits (Ronco, 1981)

  1. Pingback: Action Trax Volumes 1 and 2 (K-Tel, 1982) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  2. paumurp says:

    One of my favourite compilations that I still have from back in the 80s

  3. siouzey says:

    like this compo and still have it.
    I thought Dollar’s “Mirror Mirror” was just really mind blowing! And Thereza sounds fab on that trackn all operatic. On her mirrors lol.. Linx’s “can’t help myself” that’s a cracking tune
    too as is Imagination, The Technos, and The Human league, all the way, a brill comp.

  4. postpunkmonk says:

    The Dollar track was like The Buggles perfected. it changed my world! I’d swear that’s Trevor Horn singing instead David Van Day.

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

  6. Mugwump says:

    Could you confirm the Sweat in Bullet mix is the same as the band’s regular 7″ edit? I vaguely remember it having a different production.

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Hi – the 7″ edit of Sweat In Bullet was remixed by Pete Walsh and runs for 3:00 with the vocal starting at around 0:10. It has a cold ending.
      The version on Hits, Hits, Hits runs for 2:51 has the vocal starting at 0:10 but fades slightly earlier than the 7″. So it’s a slightly truncated version of the single edit.

      The Sons and Fascination mix runs for about 4:30 with Jim Kerr’s voice not heard until the 20 second mark.
      ALSO – check your email.

  7. Martin Davis says:

    Am rather surprised “Don’t you want me” was included here- particularly if it was a candidate for Xmas No1. Remember it being suggested on another blog that the inclusion of Xmas tracks on some of the Now and Hits albums possibly damaged the chances of the tracks getting the No1 spot.

    Slightly off topic but do you know whether “Everybody Salsa” by Modern Romance was ever compiled on a KTel/Ronco compilation?

    All the band’s other main singles seem to have been compiled somewhere but not aware of any containing this one. Thought it would be worth posting that question here as I’m pretty sure Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey was the follow up

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      Hi Martin
      I think nobody expected Don’t You Want Me to hit the top; it was the fourth single from the album. That could be why it’s here.

      Everybody Salsa was not compiled on a K-Tel or Ronco album. It does appear on later albums such as the excellent 100 Dance Hits Of The ’80s (1990) that’s a staple in my DJ box. https://www.discogs.com/Various-100-Dance-Hits-Of-The-Eighties/release/1548352

      • Martin Davis says:

        Thanks for that interesting response I actually headed over to Wikipedia and looked up “Don’t You Want Me”. Aparrantley Philip Oakley was against the release given it was the 4th single from the album and the band were surprised when it was as successful as it became.

        Am aware of a few later compilations that contain “Everybody Salsa” but am not familiar with the compilation you linked to.

        Have just remembered that Ronco did actuslly release a Modern Romance compilation that as far as known contained all their well known hits. Are you familiar with that at all?

  8. Rumpy-Pumpy says:

    When I bought this decades later, it was mainly for Linx, Imagination and (hoo-rah!) Tenpole Tudor. (Cruel fate: surely if Eddie and co were only entitled to one hit,TMBOWTBW should have been the one!)
    But – I wonder which studio svengali was the brains behind Techno Twins and Techno Orchestra – all I remember is that those two acts seemingly existed solely to give the vintage-synth treatment to ancient standards like the Dietrich-associated number here. (Techno Twins will never, ever be mistaken for those other “twins”, the don’t-damage-my-altar variety).
    How strange the middle bits of the charts were in 1981. Blue Rondo – latin-jazz-funkateers who gave birth to the superior Matt Bianco, but are now remembered only as a footnote to the story of a certain Manc band. Billy Bremner – he had access to Elvis C and Nick L, but this self-penned song is hilariously bad. Alvin Stardust covering a gospel-rockabilly thing originally by Pat Boone. Greg Lake covering, adapting, and not redeeming, one of Bob Dylan’s worst toss-offs. And then Bell & Robertson covering a 1920s tune, modelling it on a version by PJ Proby (who should never, ever be mistaken for the other, shame-is-the-shadow-of-love, PJ).

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      The Tenpole Tudor performance in an old ballroom previously used for showbands was the stuff of legend in my hometown. Older lads getting on and drinking smuggled Smithwicks, broken glass everywhere and a riot during Wunderbar.

      That Techno Twins is a true forgotten 80s moment; see it has been a comped a couple of times since. But yes, it was an odd time with all the styles on offer here. I do like the Billy Bremner tune; picked up the 7″ a few years later when I was earning money. I’ve been known to mix up PJ Proby, PF Sloan and PP Arnold.

  9. Martin Davis says:

    I spent the bank holiday weekend assisting at a 1940s themed heritage railway event and got the suprise of my life when an entertainer started singing “Falling In Love Again”.

    Up until this weekend I assumed the Techno Twins wrote it. I had no idea it was a cover of a 1930s/1940s track.

    Do you have any idea whether the Techno Twins ever released any other singles?

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