Modern Heroes (TV Records, 1982)

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Review
Flash Tracks, Endless Love, Party Fever, Disco Mania: all released by TV Records during 1982. As compilations go, they’re average at best and lack the thrill of rivals K-Tel and Ronco. However there was one exception: Modern Heroes which arrived in the shops during September ’82. For many, it’s inextricably linked to K-Tel’s Modern Dance, which perfectly captured the new romantic wave of late 1981. In my class, a cassette version was quickly copied and would prove to be an enduring listen through the rest of the decade.

Five artists make the crossover – Japan, Fashion, The Cure, Human League, Simple Minds and there’s no second chance. So that meant 15 others, a total of 10 tracks per side. The usual caveats re edits apply. Duran Duran launch with the exotic Hungry Like The Wolf, a key building block on Rio, their most fully-realised vision. Yazoo’s Don’t Go is followed by Japan’s Cantonese Boy. Icy, yet brimming with a tinge of human warmth. Plus fractured rhythms steadied by Karn’s fretless bass. Elsewhere Fashion’s Love Shadow captures their ever-changing funk moods at their most powerful with Gina X on angry backing vocal duty. A slice of pornography; The Cure’s intense Hanging Garden, faded tragically early.

The circle remains unbroken on Talk Talk’s superb Today, one of the era’s freshest tunes. And flying the flag for 4AD are Modern English with the gorgeous I Melt With You. A fond memory from Valley Girl; the future is open wide. Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms – Some People Think It’s Fun To Entertain: the first LP from China Crisis with lead single African And White popping up here. Life is just a fever. This season’s obscure alternative is Strange Arrangement’s Don’t Run Away From Here. Seems to have been recorded for this compilation. Closing the first side are Bow Wow Wow and the relentless I Want Candy.

Side 2 starts with a B-side; the Human League’s hypnotic Hard Times. Cut down to 3:07 and just as good as Love Action. Bamboo Houses – a total masterpiece – saw Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and David Sylvian get together again. Sakamoto had played keyboards on 1980’s Taking Islands In Africa. Meanwhile Depeche Mode go all thoughtful on the somewhat ominious Leave In Silence. New Gold Dream: Simple Minds’ swirling Promised You A Miracle eases into Thomas Dolby’s austere Wind Power. Mind-blowing electronics creating groove, mood and atmosphere. Switch off the mind. . .

A Flock Of Seagulls drop Space Age Love Song, all terms of endearment alomg with a few glorious hooks. A big hit at US proms. Remember Toto Coelo? Founder member Nancy Nova’s goes solo on the likeable Made In Japan, but falls short of the top 75. Masks and red death: time for Bauhaus and the sinister gothic glam of Spirit. A wonderful surprise next, Mick Karn’s melancholic Sensitive, perfect listening for heartbroken teenagers. Yes, I turned to it in 1987 when I thought the world was ending. Modern Heroes draws to a close with a nifty instrumental jam from Pig Bag, The Big Bean. Party out of bounds.

Favourite tracks
Modern English – I Melt With You

David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto – Bamboo Houses

Mick Karn – Sensitive

Lest we forget
Strange Arrangement – Don’t Run Away From Here

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7 Responses to Modern Heroes (TV Records, 1982)

  1. cosmo says:

    This seems like a “Modern Dance Vol. 2/’82”. (Although the Human League track is a B-side from the previous year.)

    I’ll raise you:
    Fashion – Love Shadow

    Talk Talk (a band more succesful in mainland Europe than in their homeland) – Today

    China Crisis – African & White

    (The best single Depeche Mode released that year was Leave in Silence, but since you mentioned it elsewhere here, I won’t.)

    Simple Minds – Promised You a Miracle (And with this the career of one of the decadce’s defining bands kicked off in earnest.)

    • nlgbbbblth says:

      It really has a great selection, doesn’t it? There’s a bit of crossover between this and next week’s compilation so Love Shadow will get the “favourite tracks” inclusion then.

      • cosmo says:

        Yep, both this and Modern Dance have cracking playlists. And unlike similar-themed compilations made in the CD era (i.e. over the past 25 years*), these actually benefitted from being made actually when these songs were being recorded and released.

        *Shit, has time flown THAT far that we now talk like that relating to 1990 onwards? 😛

        • nlgbbbblth says:

          The big benefit of contemporary (as in at the time) compilations is that the obscurities – which would always have their few weeks in the spotlight – get included. Retrospective ones rarely work.

  2. andynoax says:

    Another one that I’ve never seen either at the time or in charity shops since!

    I’d jump at the chance to have it if I ever do see it based on this track listing – some classics, plus those always interesting obscurities..

  3. Pingback: Chart Attack (Telstar, 1982) | A Pop Fan's Dream

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