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Rhino Box Surveys Fertile ’80s Underground
The fertile alternative and college scenes of the 1980s that fueled the commercial modern rock explosion of the following decade are the basis for Rhino’s latest comprehensive musical survey. Due Oct. 5, “Left of the Dial: Dispatches From the ’80s Underground” boasts 82 tracks spread across four discs from a diverse cast of U.K., Australian and American artists.
The collection is impressive and educational in its sheer depth and diversity. Punks (Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, Bad Brains) share space with the Paisley Underground (Prefab Sprout, Dream Syndicate), electronic popsters of “Madchester” (New Order, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses), miserable romantics (the Smiths, the Cure), beautiful noisemakers (Pixies, Sonic Youth, Ministry, Mission Of Burma), jokers (Camper Van Beethoven, the Dead Milkmen) and a new generation of rock poets (the Replacements, X, Kate Bush).
But while the styles and genres are widely dissimilar, commonality is found in the impression each act made on the era’s cutting-edge music fans. The success of “Left of the Dial” (named after a Replacements song about college radio) comes in identifying, in most cases, the precise song from which those careers sprouted and took root.
Many of the included acts went on to become familiar, even household names. Obviously falling into that category are R.E.M. (“Radio Free Europe”), the Red Hot Chili Peppers (“Hollywood (Africa)”) and the Pretenders (“Message of Love”).
Other examples are more nebulous, such as the Sugarcubes (“Birthday”), which featured pre-artistÈ Bjˆrk on vocals. Or Killing Joke (“Wardance”), whose Youth became an in-demand producer (Crowded House, the Verve, Dido).
Some songs found on “Left of the Dial” represent massive hits or artistic peaks the acts never again rivaled. Examples include the Church’s “Under the Milky Way,” a smash pop single that proved to be an unmatchable albatross for the Australian group; or Suicidal Tendencies’ epic skate punk ode to the frustration of misunderstanding, “Institutionalized,” which predated a chase of thrash metal glory that delivered the group to a different audience.
While a handful of cuts might seem obscure to any but the most knowledgeable, many — Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” Jane’s Addiction’s “Jane Says,” Black Flag’s “Rise Above,” among them — stand firm as the epoch of an influential musical revolution.
Augmenting the music on “Left of the Dial” — which carries a suggested list price of $64.98 — are liner notes by music critic Karen Schoemer (Newsweek, The New York Times), interviews with SST Records founder/Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn and Twin/Tone Records co-founder Peter Jesperson. Also featured are personal essays by Factory Records co-founder Tony Wilson and Dream Syndicate member/Down There Records founder Steve Wynn.
Here is the full “Left of the Dial: Dispatches From the ’80s Underground” track list:
Disc one
“Radio Free Europe,” R.E.M. (Athens, Ga.)
“Going Underground,” the Jam (Woking, England)
“A Forest,” the Cure (Crawley, England)
“Holiday in Cambodia,” Dead Kennedys (San Francisco)
“I’m in Love With a German Film Star,” Passions (London)
“I Will Dare,” the Replacements (Minneapolis)
“That’s When I Reach for My Revolver,” Mission Of Burma (Boston)
“Johnny Hit and Run Pauline,” X (Los Angeles)
“Just Like Honey,” the Jesus And Mary Chain (Glasgow, Scotland)
“Black Celebration,” Depeche Mode (Basildon, England)
“Tell Me When It’s Over,” the Dream Syndicate (Los Angeles)
“Hollywood (Africa),” the Red Hot Chili Peppers (Los Angeles)
“Temptation,” New Order (Manchester, England)
“Ghosts,” Japan (London)
“A Song From Under the Floorboards,” Magazine (Manchester, England)
“Oblivious,” Aztec Camera (Glasgow, Scotland)
“Don’t Want To Know if You Are Lonely,” H¸sker D¸ (St. Paul, Minn.)
“Rise Above,” Black Flag (Hermosa Beach, Calif.)
“Back in Flesh,” Wall Of Voodoo (Los Angeles)
“Cattle and Cane,” the Go-Betweens (Brisbane, Australia)
Disc two:
“Message of Love,” the Pretenders (London)
“Vienna,” Ultravox (London)
“Freak Scene,” Dinosaur Jr. (Amherst, Mass.)
“This Charming Man,” the Smiths (Manchester, England)
“Stigmata,” Ministry (Chicago)
“Ways To Be Wicked,” Lone Justice (Los Angeles)
“Wardance,” Killing Joke (Notting Hill, England)
“Enola Gay,” Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (Liverpool)
“Mirror in the Bathroom,” the English Beat (Birmingham, England)
“Fairytale in the Supermarket,” the Raincoats (London)
“Behind the Wall of Sleep,” the Smithereens (Carteret, N.J.)
“Political Song for Michael Jackson To Sing,” Minutemen (San Pedro, Calif.)
“Punk Rock Girl,” the Dead Milkmen (Philadelphia)
“Still in Hollywood,” Concrete Blonde (Los Angeles)
“Love Will Tear Us Apart,” Joy Division (Manchester, England)
“Blister in the Sun,” Violent Femmes (Milwaukee)
“Lake of Fire,” Meat Puppets (Tucson, Ariz.)
“Amplifier,” the dB’s (Winston-Salem, N.C.)
“When Love Breaks Down,” Prefab Sprout (Newcastle, England)
“Goo Goo Muck,” the Cramps (New York)
“This Corrosion,” Sisters Of Mercy (Leeds, England)
“Senses Working Overtime,” XTC (Swindon, England)
Disc three:
“The Cutter,” Echo & The Bunnymen (Liverpool)
“Pay To Cum!” Bad Brains (Washington, D.C.)
“Birthday,” the Sugarcubes (Reykjavik)
“Madonna of the Wasps,” Robyn Hitchcock ‘n’ the Egyptians (London)
“We Care a Lot,” Faith No More (San Francisco)
“Teenage Riot,” Sonic Youth (New York)
“To Hell With Poverty,” Gang Of Four (Leeds, England)
“Fa CÈ-La,” the Feelies (Hoboken, N.J.)
“Ana Ng,” They Might Be Giants (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
“Swamp Thing,” the Chameleons UK (Middleton, England)
“The Mercy Seat,” Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (London)
“I Look Around,” the Rain Parade (Los Angeles)
“All That Money Wants,” Psychedelic Furs (London)
“Under the Milky Way,” the Church (Sydney)
“Rise,” Public Image Ltd. (London)
“Kundalini Express,” Love And Rockets (London)
“Gravity Talks,” Green On Red (Los Angeles)
“Adrenalin,” Throbbing Gristle (Manchester, England)
“She Bangs the Drums,” the Stone Roses (Manchester, England)
Disc four:
“Monkey Gone to Heaven,” Pixies (Boston)
“Uncertain Smile,” (original 7″ version),” the The (Swadlincote, England)
“Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” Bauhaus (Northampton, England)
“Christine,” Siouxsie And The Banshees (Bromley, England)
“Straight Edge,” Minor Threat (Washington, D.C.)
“I Want To Help You Ann,” the Lyres (Boston)
“Our Secret,” Beat Happening (Olympia, Wash.)
“Jane Says,” Jane’s Addiction (Los Angeles)
“World Shut Your Mouth,” Julian Cope (Liverpool)
“Running up That Hill,” Kate Bush (Bexleyheath, England)
“Sex Beat,” Gun Club (Los Angeles)
“Take the Skinheads Bowling,” Camper Van Beethoven (Santa Cruz, Calif.)
“Institutionalized,” Suicidal Tendencies (Venice, Calif.)
“Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops,” Cocteau Twins (Grangemouth, Scotland)
“24 Hour Party People,” Happy Mondays (Manchester, England)
“I Want You Back,” Hoodoo Gurus (Sydney)
“Suburban Home,” Descendents (Los Angeles)
“A Pair of Brown Eyes,” the Pogues (Kings Cross, Ireland)
“Jet Fighter,” the Three O’Clock (Los Angeles)
“Moving To Florida,” Butthole Surfers (San Antonio, Texas)
“A New England,” Billy Bragg (Barking, England)