In 1981, K-Tel released a seminal vinyl compilation album called Modern Dance. For those of us who remember K-Tel, this probably comes as a bit of a surprise; ‘K-Tel’ and ‘seminal’ in the same sentence? For those who don’t remember K-Tel, think Now That’s What I Call Music, only much, much tackier. They made cheap compilation records, cramming as many songs onto the discs as they could, often editing the songs down to make them fit, meaning that you got more songs, but because the grooves were closer together, you got sound quality that was, well, not wonderful. When I bought Modern Dance soon after it came out, I soon realised that its track listing was well night perfect; acts like the Human League (one of my favourite bands at the time), Heaven 17, Depeche Mode (those of you who think of them as this dark, brooding, gothy stadium band will be bemused by the tinkly bonk pop of their very first hit New Life here!), Visage, OMD and Japan, alongside more established acts like Simple Minds, Gary Numan and The Cure, but all of them part of that early 80s New Romantic electronicky sound. It was a great record, a snapshot of its time, and I listened to it so much on my record player and my cassette Walkman that I still suffer from Next Song Syndrome because of it, expecting New Life to start at the end of Penthouse & Pavement, Einstein A Go Go to come in after Fade To Grey and Open Your Heart to follow Enola Gay.
So I’ve done my best to recreate it here, trying to ensure the versions I’ve used are the ones that were on the record, and that the cueing and segueing is authentic (no beatmatching here, the BPMs jump about all over the place!) though because I no longer have the original album, it’s my unreliable memory that guides it all! One song, World Without Love by The News, is missing; I haven’t been able to track down a copy of it. But it was by far the weakest song on the album, and one I always used to skip past anyway!
At the time, I thought the cover was cool; a nearly Susan Sulley and an even more nearly Phil Oakey (both out of the Human League), all New Romanticked up, with a Blitz Kids style blurred club outline behind. Now, 32 years later, it couldn’t be much naffer.
I’m dedicating this podcast to my mate, Kate, who loves this music, and who has been my bezzy friend for 30+ years.