In his notes for this passionately compiled box, producer Gary Stewart writes, "the diversity from the late-70s punk/new wave scene turned into a full-blown, variety-fueled, genre-busting orgy in the '80s...The music became, in the best sense of the words, more complex, more literate, a bit more serious, and as a result, made astrong impact on mainsteam rock culture." From funk punk to revisionist roots rock to hard-core to smart-ass clever pop-and every musical nook and cranny in-between-Left of the Dial presents many of the '80s' most important tracks. Savor the far more influential flip side of the "Where's the Beef?" decade's musical output!
As a sequel to 2004's similarly packaged Rhino box No Thanks! The '70s Punk Rebellion
, this four-disc set tackles the punk/indie/modern rock of the 80s with equal panache. Subtitled "Dispatches from the 80s Underground," these 82 non-chronological tracks play like a great college station from the later part of the decade. Encompassing a dizzyingly diverse musical palate, styles range from the artsy Southern twang of R.E.M.
, to the sugary pop of Aztec Camera
, the blistering hardcore of Black Flag
, the ghostly techno of Japan
and the chilly, noir dance floor attack of New Order
. And that's just on disc one.
Sure, there are some omissions, but the box does a remarkable job balancing more popular acts such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Cure and Echo & the Bunnymenwith cult faves like Green On Red and obscurities from the Lyres and the Three O'Clock . Even those who were radio fanatics during these years will likely find tracks they aren't familiar with, along with getting a flashback rush from those they are. A colorful 64 page book provides track-by-track background information as well as a handful of essays about the decade that approach the music from different perspectives. There are no public service announcements or aspiring DJ's to interrupt the flow and the remastered sound brings the music to life with crispness low powered FM radio could never rival. --Hal Horowitz