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.
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.
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