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Various Artists - NOW 12” 80s: 1981

Various Artists - NOW 12” 80s: 1981

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Various Artists - NOW 12” 80s: 1981

Label: NOW - CDNOW1281 - 0196588270925
Format: 4CD, Album
Country: UK
Released: 20th Oct 2023
Genre: Pop
Style: Pop

Now Music present the next in their latest series - NOW 12” 80s. This instalment is 1981.

 The 12” single was a dynamic and increasingly essential part of the release schedule as the decade progressed. Incorporating extended (sometimes full album) versions, remixes, and re-inventions – they not only gave the dancefloor a longer version, and the listener an alternative take, but also highlighted the artistry of the producer – bringing together all kinds of elements to create new soundscapes woven together with the original track, either vocal or instrumental, to present another reason to be excited on release date.

Across 4 CDs, 46 extended, full-length, or remixed versions reflect a year of seismic change in the Pop Charts and on the dancefloor for the 12” single – the previously dominant genre, Disco, now shared the space with remixes that embraced Pure Pop, New Wave, Rap, Electro, and Synth-driven New Romantic hits that shone a light on the new post-Disco club scene.

Of the 12 artists on Disc 1, 9 of these enjoyed their first Top 20 hit in 1981 and the 12” Single was an essential part of the release, offering a taste of the new club culture… First big Chart hits from Duran Duran, The Human League, and Japan feature alongside Ultravox, Spandau Ballet and Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark continuing the success they found in the previous year… Freeez, Haircut 100 and ABC all produced extended cuts that accentuated their cool dance credentials – and Visage - a focal point of the London club scene – released three hit singles, all of which are included in their 12” version on this collection.

Blondie’s ‘Rapture’, and Tom Tom Club’s ‘Wordy Rappinghood’ were among the first crossover Pop tracks embracing Rap, and the post-Punk New Wave scene introduced new artists including Altered Images, Bow Wow Wow, and Simple Minds. The Specials took ‘Ghost Town’ to #1 just before they split – and one of the decades’ biggest Pop groups, Bananarama, made their debut.

…and Disco certainly wasn’t dead – Huge hits included here from Odyssey, Earth, Wind & Fire, Yarbrough & Peoples, Shalamar, and The Whispers kept the floors filled, while emerging stars including Sharon Redd and Hi-Gloss brought fresh U.S. club mixes, and established superstars utilised the 12” version to underline their dancefloor relevance – including the years’ biggest U.S. hit ‘Physical’ from Olivia Newton-John (not released originally in the UK in its full 12” version).

Pure Pop smashes from Dollar, Ottawan and Modern Romance all enjoyed success with extended 12” versions- and the years’ craze for medley’s including the nearly 12-minute ‘Stars On 45 Volume 2’, and the full version of ‘Hooked On Classics’ are all here as part of the rich Chart story of 1981 – but if a run of tracks serves as a great example of why 1981 was such a pivotal year in the history of Pop and of the 12” single, then the opening of the final disc here really encapsulates this explosion of diversity and creativity, with ‘Fade To Grey’, ‘Tainted Love / Where Did Our Love Go’, ‘Don’t You Want Me’, ‘Girls On Film’ and ‘The Freeze’.

By 1982, many of these artists were established Chart stars and were joined by more emerging stars creating stellar Pop. 1982 would be another rich and defining year in the story of the Singles Charts and one in which the 12” single became an essential and expected format for releases, but that’s for next time…

4 CDs – 46 tracks – an extended celebration of the magic of 1980s Pop.

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