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The Thursday Throwback Track - Episode 188: Chart Action 83 & Clear To Sunrise

Welcome to WEEK 188 of 4T! (Video Episode #14) Various Artists – Chart Action 83 (1983)

I love greatest hits collections. There are four kinds I particularly love:

1. A retrospective that spans the life of a band to date, and shows their evolution.

2. The hits of an artist I’m not interested in enough to listen to their whole catalog.

3. A genre collection, especially of one I haven’t dived into for realz.

4. A time capsule of a certain era or year.

Chart Action 83 is a perfect example of #4. Way back before playlists, K-Tel (and other companies, but c’mon seriously, K-Tel is the MASTER) would release annual collections of hits from that year. I ate these up! What’s interesting there is that, because songs have to be licensed to be released, the hits K-Tel chose couldn’t be just the top ten on the charts. So the collections ended up being both representative and eclectic. Which is a huge reason why I loved these collections so much.

Of the 14 songs on Chart Action 83, only FOUR were in the top 20. Some, like Peter Gabriel’s “Shock the Monkey”, weren’t even in the top 100! So what K-Tel ended up with was something that both radio (post Clear Channel) and the vast majority of playlists (Spotify et al.) RARELY DO, which is an actually diverse playlist that doesn’t rely simply on sales/spins/streams. It’s like, both by default and I believe choice, K-Tel was getting all artistic.

What’s also cool is, if you look up the list of albums K-Tel released during its heyday – roughly 1973-1984, they got creative & funky with their album titles. Music Explosion, Night Flight, Hit Machine, Right On, Pure Gold, Dimensions. There are a lot of ultra-fun & creative companies & people out there to this day, but that sense of just throwing shit on the wall and having real fun with it barely exists in the current music industry, the biggest companies of any kind, or on the most trafficked sites online.

On some level, the “best” of anyone’s work is subjective. But it’s also driven by what worked in the world – what was a hit or what was artistically acclaimed. I don’t believe you have to be rich & famous to have greatest hits. So right before I founded the band REC, I collected my own greatest hits from my NICK era (see last week), songs that were popular with my fans and/or that I thought came closest to how I heard them in my head. Here’s that collection:

Clear To Sunrise – Nick’s Good Stuff 1995-2005 -

Who are some artists whose greatest hits you totally played over & over? Which songs from Chart Action 83 do you love? Which songs from my collection do you like the best? Discuss dammit!

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