VA – Left of the Dial: Dispatches from the ’80s Underground (4CD Box Set) (2004) [FLAC]

VA – Left of the Dial: Dispatches from the ’80s Underground (4CD Box Set) (2004) [FLAC]
flac – lossless | 2.09 GB | Alternative Rock

Alternative rock of the 1980s was such a large and diverse scene that any box set documenting the genre is bound to be the cause of debate as to what is and isn’t included, even a four-CD, 82-track production such as this one. Despite the inevitable exclusions, Left of the Dial: Dispatches from the ’80s Underground does a decent job of collecting representative cuts from all spectrums of the style, even if it does tilt toward the more mainstream of such acts. Of course, artists like R.E.M., the Cure, Aztec Camera, the Pretenders, Ultravox, Lone Justice, the Smithereens, Concrete Blonde, Echo & the Bunnymen, and the Church (all sampled on this box) were “mainstream” only by the standards of the more left-leaning college radio programmers; by the measurements of the actual mainstream, they were still pretty “alternative,” even “underground” in some cases. And the set doesn’t neglect the edgier side of ’80s underground rock, with tracks by the Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, Throbbing Gristle, the Minutemen, Black Flag, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Gun Club, the Butthole Surfers, the Raincoats, and Beat Happening as well. Between the poles are numerous slices of music of different shades of anti-mainstreamdom, from the paisley underground (the Three O’Clock, the Rain Parade, the Dream Syndicate) and an iconoclastic singer/songwriter (Billy Bragg) to British guitar-grounded sounds (the Jesus and Mary Chain, the Stone Roses, XTC), goth (Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus), folk-punk (the Violent Femmes), retro-garage (the Lyres), ska (the English Beat), and even punk novelty (the Dead Milkmen).

Naturally, there’s room for argument about some of the choices: Prefab Sprout’s alt-rock credentials are certainly specious, for instance, and the roll call of missing notables includes the Fall, Shonen Knife, the Chills, Romeo Void, the Television Personalities, the Wipers, the Mekons, and many others. There are few real surprises or underexposed gems: the Passions’ 1981 single “I’m in Love With a German Film Star” is about the only item by a group that hasn’t been canonized in the ’80s alternative rock pantheon, though actually that song was a British hit. On the other hand, the astute and eclectic programming makes for a better listen than other attempts that have been made to compile ’80s alternative rock. It’s sort of like listening to an actual ’80s college radio station, but one that’s more listenable than any college radio stations actually were, both because of the catholic stylistic assortment and the selection of some of these artists’ very best songs. If you did listen to this sort of music devotedly back in the ’80s, in fact, much of this will be like revisiting familiar hits and standards, even if few of them actually made the charts as actual hits (and then usually in the U.K.): R.E.M.’s “Radio Free Europe,” the Dead Kennedys’ “Holiday in Cambodia,” the Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Just Like Honey,” Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” the Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun,” XTC’s “Senses Working Overtime,” the Sugarcubes’ “Birthday,” Faith No More’s “We Care a Lot,” the Church’s “Under the Milky Way,” Siouxsie & the Banshees’ “Christine,” Gun Club’s “Sex Beat,” and Suicidal Tendencies’ “Institutionalized,” for instance, all fall into that category. And if you didn’t experience the music directly during the era, this box set still gives you a pretty good idea of what was going on, and what paths to travel down for further investigation.

Track Listing:

Disc: 1

1. Radio Free Europe – R.E.M.
2. Going Underground – The Jam
3. A Forest – The Cure
4. Holiday in Cambodia – Dead Kennedys
5. I’m In Love With A German Film Star – Passions
6. I Will Dare – The Replacements
7. That’s When I Reach For My Revolver – Mission Of Burma
8. Johny Hit And Run Paulene – X
9. Just Like Honey – The Jesus And Mary Chain
10. Black Celebration – Depeche Mode
11. Tell Me When It’s Over – The Dream Syndicate
12. Hollywood (Africa) – The Red Hot Chili Peppers
13. Temptation – New Order
14. Ghosts – Japan
15. A Song From Under The Floorboards – Magazine
16. Oblivious – Aztec Camera
17. Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely – Husker Du
18. Rise Above – Black Flag
19. Back In Flesh – Wall Of Voodoo
20. Cattle And Cane – The Go-Betweens

Disc: 2

1. Message Of Love – The Pretenders
2. Vienna – Ultravox
3. Freak Scene – Dinosaur Jr.
4. The Charming Man – The Smiths
5. Stigmata – Ministry
6. Ways To Be Wicked – Lone Justice
7. Wardance – Killing Joke
8. Enola Gay – Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
9. Mirror In The Bathroom – The English Beat
10. Fairytale In The Supermarket – The Raincoats
11. Behind The Wall Of Sleep – The Smithereens
12. Political Song For Michael Jackson To Sing – Minutemen
13. Punk Rock Girl – The Dead Milkmen
14. Still In Hollywood – Concrete Blonde
15. Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
16. Blister In The Sun – Violent Femmes
17. Lake Of Fire – Meat Puppets
18. Amplifier – The DB’s
19. When Love Breaks Down – Prefab Sprout
20. Goo Goo Muck – The Cramps
21. This Corrosion – Sisters Of Mercy
22. Senses Working Overtime – XTC

Disc: 3

1. The Cutter – Echo & The Bunnymen
2. Pay To Cum! – Bad Brains
3. Birthday – The Sugarcubes
4. Madonna Of The Wasps – Robyn Hitchcock ‘n’ The Egyptians
5. We Care A Lot – Faith No More
6. Teen Age Riot – Sonic Youth
7. To Hell With Poverty – Gang Of Four
8. Fa Ce-La – The Feelies
9. Ana Ng – They Might Be Giants
10. Swamp Thing – The Chameleons UK
11. The Mercy Seat – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
12. I Look Around – The Rain Parade
13. All That Money Wants – Psychedelic Furs
14. Under The Milky Way – The Church
15. Rise – Public Image Ltd.
16. Kundalini Express – Love And Rockets
17. Gravity Talks – Green On Red
18. Adrenalin – Throbbing Gristle
19. She Bangs The Drums – The Stone Roses

Disc: 4

1. Monkey Gone To Heaven – Pixies
2. Uncertain Smile (Original 7 Inch Version) – The The
3. Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Bauhaus
4. Christine – Siouxsie And The Banshees
5. Straight Edge – Minor Threat
6. I Want To Help You Ann – The Lyres
7. Our Secret – Beat Happening
8. Jane Says – Jane’s Addiction
9. World Shut Your Mouth – Julian Cope
10. Running Up That Hill – Kate Bush
11. Sex Beat – Gun Club
12. Take The Skinheads Bowling – Camper Van Beethoven
13. Institutionalized – Suicidal Tendencies
14. Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops – Cocteau Twins
15. 24 Hour Party People – Happy Mondays
16. I Want You Back – Hoodoo Gurus
17. Suburban Home – Descendents
18. A Pair Of Brown Eyes – The Pogues
19. Jet Fighter – The Three O’Clock
20. Moving To Florida – Butthole Surfers
21. A New England – Billy Bragg

Album artwork and rip logs are included. Enjoy!!