Various Artists: Heard it on the Radio, Volume 7

Idiosyncratic collection of ‘70s and ‘80s obscurities

A better title might have been “I Swear I Heard it on the Radio,” given that the obscurities gathered here are the province of local scenes, in-the-know college radio DJ’s, late-night MTV viewers (or those clued in to HBO’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 hadn’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 “Prettiest Girl” from the Boston-based power-pop/punk Neighborhoods, are rarely anthologized collectors’ items whose musical brilliance far outstripped their labels’ reach.

The selections mix synth-pop, prog-pop and power-rock. The set includes two Hollies covers (“On a Carousel” from Raleigh, NC’s Glass Moon, and “Pay You Back with Interest” from Canada’s Gary O), a take on the Spinners “I’ll Be Around” from the Los Angeles-based What Is This, and a pop-rock cover of the Supremes’ “Stop! In the Name of Love” by former Stories front man, Ian Lloyd. Several of the collection’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 Adams’ “Lonely Nights,” 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 anthologizer’s musical memory. In addition to the early ‘80s synth- and prog-rock, the set list stretches back to Fanny’s 1974 glam rock “I’ve Had It” and Alvin Lee and Myron LeFevre’s 1973 country-folk version of George Harrison’s “So Sad (No Love of His Own).” 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 ‘80s pop tunes. [©2012 hyperbolium dot com]

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