Classic Compilation – Hot Tracks (1983)

When a compilation album advertises Def Leppard, and Eurythmics on the cover, I’m automatically interested. When I turn that album over, and see Billy Idol is also included, it’s a “shut up and take my money” situation.

The album in question is the 1983 K-tel (who else?) compilation Hot Tracks, and since I found it in the basement of The Archive in Bridgeport, CT, the money I had to fork over for it was a mere $2.

That’s right, just two bucks for 14 songs, the vast majority of which are ‘80s classics.

After looking at the tracklisting (click to enlarge), I have to say I love the international flair of having both “Mr. Roboto,” and “Mexican Radio” on Hot Tracks. It’s like K-tel was saying – we love the ‘80s, but we’re also worldly!

The record sleeve is an unexpected feast for the eyes (again, click to enlarge). A huge advertisement from Xonox for two of their video game cartridges, one for the Atari 2600, and one for ColecoVision, the latter featuring Chuck Norris!

For those wondering why a compilation of ‘80s tunes would include an advertisement from a third-party video game manufacturer, it’s because Xonox was a division of K-tel Software, and, of course, Hot Tracks is a K-tel compilation.

FYI, the video games were apparently not very good.

Thankfully, Hot Tracks is excellent.

Here are eight of my favorites from this Classic Compilation.

Side 1 

Michael Sembello – Maniac


Whether or not you saw Flashdance, if you were alive in the ‘80s you knew all about the steel town girl on a Saturday night lookin’ for the fight of her life.

The production here is pure ‘80s, and pure perfection. It basically compels you to move … preferably like a maniac on the floor.

Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams


“Sweet Dreams” was a song so ahead of its time, from a band so ahead of their time, that it could be released today and still blow everyone’s mind.

Also, the video for “Sweet Dreams” could be re-edited into a truly bonkers commercial for the dairy industry. Got Annie Lennox?

Billy Idol – White Wedding


Billy Idol’s music has aged remarkably well. “White Wedding,” for example, gives the same jot of energy it did 40 years ago, and there isn’t an energy drink company in the world that can claim to have that kind of long-lasting power.

Styx – Mr. Roboto


In 1983 everyone knew the Japanese phrase for “thank you” because of this wonderfully quirky Styx song. Where else but “Mr. Roboto” could you find ‘80s synth pop, robotics, and a quick lesson in Japanese??? They truly don’t make ‘em like this anymore!

Side 2 

The Police – King of Pain


If I’m being completely real here, I’m not a huge fan of The Police. I do like some of their songs, and their hooks are impossible to get out of your head, it’s just that they’re never going to be the first band I choose to listen to. That said, “King of Pain” is undeniable, and a song I will always crank up when it’s on. Since it’s on Hot Tracks, you already know my neighbors are hearing it.

Def Leppard – Rock of Ages


Def Leppard and Mutt Lange were a teaming for the ages … in this case, “Rock of Ages.”

From the now legendary nonsense intro, to the incredible harmonies that set them apart from all the other rock bands from their era, this is one of many Def Leppard songs that are irresistible to any fan of the ‘80s. And yeah, that whole phallic sword thing in the video was totally subtle guys. Totally subtle.

Wall of Voodoo – Mexican Radio


Wall of Voodoo’s “Mexican Radio” is definitely the strangest song on Hot Tracks, but it’s also what made the band one of my favorite one-hit wonders of the decade.

If you can name another Wall of Voodoo song there’s a pretty good chance you were in Wall of Voodoo. That said, doesn’t “Mexican Radio” make you want to hear more from the band? I know if I see any of their albums while digging through used vinyl I’ll be picking them up!

Naked Eyes – Promises Promises


Naked Eyes is probably best known for their cover of “Always There to Remind Me,” but “Promises, Promises” is also fantastic. It’s one of those songs that when it comes on the radio you’re like, “I’d totally forgotten about this song!” and you then proceed to spend the next three and a half minutes enjoying the heck out of it.

I have enjoyed the heck out of listening to Hot Tracks, which will be getting plenty of repeat spins in my home, and that’s a promise I will keep!


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