A better title might have been â€œI Swear I Heard it on the Radio,â€ given that the obscurities gathered here are the province of local scenes, in-the-know college radio DJâ€™s, late-night MTV viewers (or those clued in to HBOâ€™s Video Jukebox) and crate diggers. They constitute the maddeningly ephemeral song fragments in a million memories of low-charting singles, turntable hits that failed to crack the charts, and locally distributed singles that hadnâ€™t the promotional muscle to gain national consensus. Most of the charting hits here only made the middle of the Top 100, and others, like the brilliant â€œPrettiest Girlâ€ from the Boston-based power-pop/punk Neighborhoods, are rarely anthologized collectorsâ€™ items whose musical brilliance far outstripped their labelsâ€™ reach.
The selections mix synth-pop, prog-pop and power-rock. The set includes two Hollies covers (â€œOn a Carouselâ€ from Raleigh, NCâ€™s Glass Moon, and â€œPay You Back with Interestâ€ from Canadaâ€™s Gary O), a take on the Spinners â€œIâ€™ll Be Aroundâ€ from the Los Angeles-based What Is This, and a pop-rock cover of the Supremesâ€™ â€œStop! In the Name of Loveâ€ by former Stories front man, Ian Lloyd. Several of the collectionâ€™s hit makers, including Walter Egan, Jim Capaldi (of Traffic) and Greg Lake (of Emerson, Lake & Palmer) are represented by minor singles that only brushed the bottom half of the Top 20, and Lloyd delivers a pre-Bryan-Adams-hit version of Adamsâ€™ â€œLonely Nights,â€ with Adams and his songwriting partner Jim Vallance providing the backing.
This is a wonderfully idiosyncratic collection that seems to tour the darkest reaches of its anthologizerâ€™s musical memory. In addition to the early â€˜80s synth- and prog-rock, the set list stretches back to Fannyâ€™s 1974 glam rock â€œIâ€™ve Had Itâ€ and Alvin Lee and Myron LeFevreâ€™s 1973 country-folk version of George Harrisonâ€™s â€œSo Sad (No Love of His Own).â€ Listeners are bound to find at least one long-lost favorite among the rarities collected here, with the indie-released Neighborhoods single (previously available digitally only on the out-of-print 12 Classic 45s) being the freshest fish-out-of-water amongst the â€˜80s pop tunes. [Â©2012 hyperbolium dot com]