Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Various Artists: Hang The DJ: Modern Rock 1987

Record companies have been banging out year-in-review compilations for years and years—there's been a particularly outrageous glut of '80s material in the past few of them—but Rhino's new modern-rock sets are actually worth buying. Why? Because they provide an accurate representation of what mainstream college radio sounded like eight or ten years ago. And because Hang the DJ draws from artists on numerous different labels—not just the contents of the vaults of the label doing the compiling. And because most of these songs have aged very, very well: For every novelty pop toss-off (Bananarama's "Venus"), there's a treasure that doesn't get played on every dumb retro-'80s radio show in the country (The Blow Monkeys' enduring "Digging Your Scene"). It's not that the selections here are amazingly inventive: The Smiths, R.E.M., Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Psychedelic Furs, New Order, INXS, Guadalcanal Diary and even Bananarama show up on more than one occasion during these sets. But all three 18-song, 70-minute albums nicely encapsulate what they're supposed to encapsulate, and that's more than most like-minded compilations can accomplish.

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