In an attempt to compile the best-sounding "hit" versions of US 1980s hits, I've done a lot of comparisons among CDs. Many of the best-sounding tracks come from four '80s pop compilations put out by Razor & Tie and mastered by our host, Steve Hoffman. These four compilations are especially useful for grabbing the most amount of US-chart-topping, great-sounding pop, all in one place, with no duplication among the collections. I'm listing the tracks for these four collections below. A smiley face indicates that this is the best-sounding "hit" version of the song that I could find, out of all the CDs in my rather large '80s-music collection. I rated them based primarily on compression (if it's compressed/maximized/squashed, it's not worth hearing), levels (avoid clipping where possible) and EQ. Tape hiss isn't much of an issue for '80s tracks. The first three I've listed (Awesome '80s, Forever '80s and Totally '80s) are the absolute best-sounding US-'80s-hits compilations I've ever encountered. The fourth one (Back To The '80s) isn't quite on par with the first three, being a little loud (and clipping in places) and having an EQ that's a little high in the midrange. Starting around 1984, it became more common for the 45s to have different mixes and/or edits than the LP, so I've described those in notes that follow each track, where applicable. I ran null tests on a lot of these, and the notation of "digitally exactly x.x dB louder or quieter than..." indicates that two versions, with a level change between them, can cancel each other out down to dithering noise. The notation of "different EQ" means that the samples line up, but the two versions can't cancel each other exactly, even with a change in levels. Enjoy! Awesome '80s - Razor & Tie OPCD-4551 (1994) Disc 1 1. Another One Bites The Dust - Queen 3:36 2. Love Shack - B-52's 4:18 45 version 3. Maneater - Daryl Hall And John Oates 4:32 4. Come On Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners 4:03 Note Time-Life's Modern Rock 1982-1983 (1999) is digitally exactly 1.5 dB quieter than Rhino's Just Can't Get Enough Vol. 8 (1994); both have fiddle intro missing from the Awesome '80s version 5. Venus - Bananarama 3:39 :10 shorter than the 45 or LP 6. Down Under - Men At Work 3:43 7. Relax - Frankie Goes To Hollywood 3:56 8. Whip It - Devo 2:40 9. Do You Really Want To Hurt Me - Culture Club 4:24 10. Maniac - Michael Sembello 4:06 11. Let's Dance - David Bowie 4:09 45 version; Note: Compared to Rykodisc's Bowie The Singles 1969-1993 (1993), Cema's Rock On 1983 (1996) is digitally exactly 0.1 dB quieter, and Time-Life's Sounds Of The Eighties 1982-1983 (1995) is digitally exactly 0.4 dB quieter 12. Tainted Love - Soft Cell 2:40 This track sounds just fine, but I prefer the 4:13 medley of Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go, found on The Best Of CMJ 1979-1989 Disc 2 (1989). 13. Mickey - Toni Basil 3:27 45 version faded :11 early 14. Talking In Your Sleep - Romantics 3:55 15. My Prerogative - Bobby Brown 3:31 This sounds quite muffled compared to the full LP version found on some other CDs. If you want this short edit, I haven't found any decent-sounding sources for it, but you can recreate it easily with the following steps: Start with Rock The First Vol. 1 (1992), edit out the 32 beats from 3:22.2-3:39.6, and add a 24-beat sinusoidal fade from 3:16-3:29. 16. Freeze-Frame - J. Geils Band 3:57 17. Rhythm Of The Night - DeBarge 3:50 Runs at 116.7 BPM; some other CDs run slower at 115.1 BPM 18. We Built This City - Starship 4:55 19. Let's Hear It For The Boy - Deniece Williams 4:20 20. Don't Worry Be Happy - Bobby McFerrin 3:49 Note: Now 1988 (1993) is digitally exactly 0.383 dB quieter than Now Music 13 (1988); Time-Life's Cinemax Movie Hits Of The 80's is different EQ from Sounds Of The Eighties 1988 (1995); Cema's Rock On 1988 (1996) is digitally exactly 0.5 dB louder than Rock The First Vol. 6 (1992) and both are LP version Disc 2 1. We Got The Beat - Go-Go's 2:31 Note: Time-Life's Gold And Platinum Volume 4 1980-1984 (1997) is digitally identical to I.R.S. Go-Go's Greatest (1990) 2. Straight Up - Paula Abdul 4:10 3. Der Kommissar - After The Fire 4:08 45 version 4. Shake It Up - Cars 3:34 5. Love Is A Battlefield - Pat Benatar 4:10 45 version; Note: Cema's Rock On 1983 (1996) is digitally exactly 1.6 dB quieter than Chrysalis's Best Shots (1989), which is LP version 6. Working For The Weekend - Loverboy 3:42 7. Shout - Tears For Fears 4:06 45 version; Note: Time-Life's Modern Rock Dance (1999) is digitally exactly 3.5 dB quieter than Priority's Rock Of The 80's Vol. 4 (1993); both are too loud and clip; much better mastered LP version is on Pop & Wave Vol. 2 (1992) 8. I Feel For You - Chaka Khan 4:06 45 version 9. Rosanna - Toto 4:00 45 version 10. Stand Back - Stevie Nicks 4:48 probably the best-sounding version of original mix, but sounds like mud compared to the remix on Modern's Timespace (1991) 11. Walk This Way - Run-D.M.C. 3:42 45 version 12. Need You Tonight - INXS 3:03 Note: Time-Life CDs Modern Rock Late '80s (2000), Gold And Platinum Volume 5 1985-1988 (1997), and Sounds Of The Eighties 1986-1989 (1997) all appear to be based on Greatest Hits, and opening downbeat of "Devil Inside" is clearly heard! 13. One Thing Leads To Another - Fixx 3:15 Runs at 137.5 BPM; some other CDs run slower at 136.7 BPM. Note: Cema's Rock On 1983 (1996) is digitally exactly 1.9 dB quieter than Time-Life's Sounds Of The Eighties 1983 (1994); note that the only CD I found that has the four synth stab intro is Rhino's Just Can't Get Enough Vol. 11 (1995) 14. Just A Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody - David Lee Roth 4:19 45 version 15. You Keep Me Hangin' On - Kim Wilde 4:15 16. Heat Of The Moment - Asia 3:49 Note: Is digitally exactly 1.2 dB quieter than Time-Life's Guitar Rock The Early '80s (1994) 17. The Warrior - Scandal featuring Patty Smyth 3:52 Note: Time-Life's Guitar Rock The Heavy '80s (1995) is digitally exactly 1.9 dB louder than Rock The First Vol. 4 (1992) 18. Keep Your Hands To Yourself - Georgia Satellites 3:25 19. C'est La Vie - Robbie Nevil 3:26 45 version; Note: Cema's Rock On 1986 (1996) is digitally exactly 0.1 dB quieter than Rock The First Vol. 1 (1992) 20. I Want To Know What Love Is - Foreigner 5:00 Forever '80s - Razor & Tie A2-25069 (1994) Disc 1 1. One On One - Daryl Hall And John Oates 3:59 LP version faded :22 early (?) 2. Africa - Toto 4:58 LP version 3. I Get Weak - Belinda Carlisle 4:52 LP version; I prefer the 45 version on Time-Life's Sounds Of The Eighties 1988 (1995). 4. Just Once - Quincy Jones Featuring James Ingram 4:32 5. Her Town Too - James Taylor And J. D. Souther 4:27 6. Everytime You Go Away - Paul Young 4:27 This track sounds fine, but I prefer the true 45 version, which doesn't have echo on the drum track and appears on a promo series called The A-List. 7. Voices Carry - til Tuesday 4:21 This is the best-sounding version of the LP mix. I prefer the 45 mix, which sounds best on Time-Life's Body Talk Heart And Soul (1998), which is digitally exactly 2 dB quieter than Rhino's Just Can't Get Enough Vol. 14 (1995). 8. I Can Dream About You - Dan Hartman 4:10 9. Nite And Day - Al B. Sure! 3:51 45 version? 10. Total Eclipse Of The Heart - Bonnie Tyler 5:28 Note: You can recreate the DJ edit with an edit at 0:46, reducing the total track time to 4:47 11. Slow Hand - Pointer Sisters 3:52 12. The Lady In Red - Chris DeBurgh 4:16 13. At This Moment - Billy Vera And The Beaters 4:17 14. Shake You Down - Gregory Abbott 4:05 Note: Time-Life's Body Talk Forever Yours (1996) is digitally identical to Time-Life's Sounds Of The Eighties The Late '80s Take Two (1996) 15. Self Control - Laura Branigan 4:04 16. Carrie - Europe 4:33 17. Suddenly - Billy Ocean 3:51 18. Eternal Flame - Bangles 3:55 Disc 2 1. I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near) - Michael McDonald 3:41 2. Cherish - Kool And The Gang 4:19 I prefer the 45 version, which sounds best on Time-Life's Body Talk Together Forever (1996). 3. When I See You Smile - Bad English 4:17 This sounds quite muffled. There is a much more open-sounding version on Time-Life's Guitar Rock Power Ballads (1999). 4. Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do) - Christopher Cross 3:54 5. Always - Atlantic Starr 4:00 45 version 6. True - Spandau Ballet 5:35 45 version 7. Angel Of The Morning - Juice Newton 4:09 LP length 8. Right Here Waiting - Richard Marx 4:24 9. Tonight I Celebrate My Love - Peabo Bryson And Roberta Flack 3:30 10. Can't Fight This Feeling - REO Speedwagon 4:49 11. All I Need - Jack Wagner 3:30 12. Baby Come To Me - Patti Austin with James Ingram 3:35 13. You're A Friend Of Mine - Clarence Clemons and Jackson Browne 4:51 LP version; can recreate 45 version easily, which has edits at 3:52 and 3:58 14. I'll Always Love You - Taylor Dayne 4:31 LP length; is digitally identical to Time-Life's Body Talk Forever Love (2001); note that Time-Life's Body Talk Just For You (1996) is different EQ from Cosmopolitan Volume 2 (1992) 15. 65 Love Affair - Paul Davis 3:54 LP pitch and length 16. Baby I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley (Free Baby) - Will To Power 4:08 17. Heaven - Warrant 3:58 LP version; I prefer the 45 version, which is a different mix, found on Time-Life's Guitar Rock Power Ballads (1999). 18. Never Gonna Let You Go - Sergio Mendes 4:15 is digitally exactly 1.206 dB louder than Time-Life's Body Talk Together Forever (1996) Totally '80s - Razor & Tie/Warner Special Products OPCD-4544 (1993) Disc 1 1. Take On Me - aha 3:50 Note: Cema's Rock On 1985 (1996) is digitally exactly 1.5 dB louder than both Time-Life's Sounds Of The Eighties 1985 (1994) and Time-Life's Modern Rock Mid-'80s (2000) 2. Hot Hot Hot - Buster Poindexter and His Banshees of Blue 3:50 3. Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run) - Billy Ocean 3:44 45 version; levels on this track can be raised 3 dB without clipping 4. Walk Like An Egyptian - Bangles 3:25 Note: Time-Life's Sounds Of The Eighties Everything '80s (2002) and Time-Life's Sounds Of The Eighties 1986-1987 (1995) are both digitally exactly 3.5 dB louder than Time-Life's Modern Rock 1986-1987 (1999) 5. Who Can It Be Now? - Men At Work 3:23 6. Addicted To Love - Robert Palmer 3:57 This version, like most versions on CD, has a shorter intro than the commercial 45, but is otherwise the same as the commercial 45. This different edit has a missed beat at 0:03, is missing the keyboard chords so that the only intro instrument is drums, and has the "hoo" at 0:07. After "hoo", the rest of this edit is the same as the commercial 45 version. The true 45 can be found on Rhino's Like Omigod box. My version of choice uses the intro from the Like Omigod box with the level dropped by 6 dB, grafted onto this version, with the edit at 0:09. 7. Karma Chameleon - Culture Club 4:14 8. Jump (For My Love) - Pointer Sisters 4:00 45 version 9. Wild Thing - Tone-Loc 4:25 Note: Time-Life's Sounds Of The Eighties 1988-1989 (1995) is digitally exactly 1.2 dB louder than Sandstone's Rock The First Vol. 6 (1992) 10. Everybody Have Fun Tonight - Wang Chung 4:17 This is the 45 edit, which is digitally identical after 0:38 to Time-Life's Sounds Of The Eighties 1986 (1994) and both slow down dramatically at end of the track due to some kind of tape drag effect; LP version on Time-Life's Modern Rock Mid-'80s (2000) is digitally exactly 3.5 dB quieter than Priority's Rock Of The 80's Vol. 4 (1993) and both are too loud and clip; my 45 version of choice is a homemade edit of Simitar's The Number One's: Party Time (1998) with an edit at 3:09 11. Walking On Sunshine - Katrina And The Waves 4:00 This track is maximized/compressed/squashed! So is the version on Time Life's Sounds of the Eighties 1985 (1994), which is digitally exactly 0.4 dB quieter than Time-Life's Modern Rock 1984-1985 (1999). I prefer the un-maximized version on EMI's Living In Oblivion Vol. 2 (1993). 12. Jessie's Girl - Rick Springfield 3:14 13. The Heat Is On - Glenn Frey 3:46 14. Wild Wild West - Escape Club 4:02 45 version; runs at 140.4 BPM; Note: Time-Life's Modern Rock 1988-1989 (1999) is different EQ from Priority's Rock Of The 80's Vol. 4 (1993) and both are LP version and 139.2 BPM and loud/maximized; there is another mix on CD of unknown origin at 137.1 BPM - Time-Life's Sounds Of The Eighties 1988 (1995) is digitally identical to Time-Life's Sounds Of The Eighties Everything '80s (2002) and is 0.66 dB louder than Retro Lunchbox Squeeze The Cheeze (1997) 15. Heaven Is A Place On Earth - Belinda Carlisle 4:06 Note: Time-Life's Sounds Of The Eighties Everything '80s (2002) is digitally exactly 0.972 dB quieter than both Time-Life's Sounds Of The Eighties 1987 (1995) and Cema's Rock On 1987 (1996); all three of these are too loud and clip 16. She Works Hard For The Money - Donna Summer 4:11 45 version; runs at 137.6 BPM; some other CDs run slower at 136.2 BPM 17. Always Something There To Remind Me - Naked Eyes 3:41 has drums over the intro, just like all other US releases of this song on CD 18. Too Shy - Kajagoogoo 3:41 LP version 19. Missing You - John Waite 4:04 45 version; levels on this track can be raised 3 dB without clipping 20. Sexual Healing - Marvin Gaye 3:58 Is digitally exactly 0.4 dB louder than Time-Life's Sounds Of The Eighties 1982-1983 (1995) Disc 2 1. What I Like About You - Romantics 2:58 This CD lops off the first 0.06 seconds of the opening note! Bad! I prefer the version on Cosmopolitan Vol. 9 (1994). 2. Centerfold - J. Geils Band 3:39 3. She Blinded Me With Science - Thomas Dolby 3:42 4. Rock This Town - Stray Cats 3:26 LP version; This song only exists in MONO! How cool is that? Is digitally exactly 0.9 dB quieter than Time-Life's Guitar Rock The Early '80s (1994) 5. Electric Avenue - Eddy Grant 3:51 6. 99 Luftballons - Nena 3:55 German lyrics 7. Waiting For A Girl Like You - Foreigner 4:35 45 version 8. Gloria - Laura Branigan 3:52 DJ 45 version 9. Everybody Wants To Rule The World - Tears For Fears 4:14 I prefer the version on Columbia Germany's Pop & Wave Vol. 1 (1992), which is digitally 2.0/1.6 dB louder in L/R before 1:12 and 1.4/1.0dB louder in L/R after 1:12 than original Songs From The Big Chair CD. 10. (I Just) Died In Your Arms - Cutting Crew 4:37 Note: Time-Life's Sounds Of The Eighties 1987 (1995) is digitally exactly 2 dB louder than Time-Life's Body Talk Once In A Lifetime (1997), 2.5 dB louder than Time-Life's Modern Rock 1986-1987 (1999) and 3 dB louder than Time-Life's Body Talk Hearts On Fire (2000) - all are terribly compressed/maximized/clip; Living In Oblivion Vol. 3 (1994) is digitally identical to both Mystic Music presents Cool Rock (1995) and Retro Lunchbox Gooey Love Songs (1997) and is same version but slightly different EQ as Now That's What I Call Music '86 (1986); the samples line up on all of the above in a null test; Priority's Rock Of The 80's Vol. 3 (1992) clips horribly as well 11. 867-5309/Jenny - Tommy Tutone 3:46 12. Ghostbusters - Ray Parker, Jr. 4:06 13. Morning Train (Nine To Five) - Sheena Easton 3:21 14. Only In My Dreams - Debbie Gibson 3:55 45 mix 15. Sunglasses At Night - Corey Hart 3:57 45 version; Note that Cema's Rock On 1984 (1996) is digitally exactly 1.3 dB louder than EMI's Living In Oblivion Vol. 3 (1994) 16. All I Need Is A Miracle - Mike And The Mechanics 3:43 45 length 17. St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion) - John Parr 4:11 Note that the first note of the song is cut off on the 45 and LP, and virtually all CD releases, including this one. I know of three CDs that feature the full opening note, all of which are left/right reversed from the others: Time-Life's Sounds Of The Eighties 1985 (1994), Rhino's Like Omigod box, and Rhino's Billboard Top Hits 1985 18. Queen Of Hearts - Juice Newton 3:26 19. Broken Wings - Mr. Mister 4:39 45 version; levels on this track can be raised 3 dB without clipping 20. Keep On Loving You - REO Speedwagon 3:20 Back To The '80s - Razor & Tie DR 7075 (1994) 1. The Look Of Love - ABC 3:32 I prefer the version on Mercury's Absolutely (1990). 2. The Tide Is High - Blondie 3:50 45 version 3. I Ran (So Far Away) - A Flock Of Seagulls 5:05 This is the LP version. I prefer the 45 version on Time-Life's Sounds Of The Eighties 1982 (1994). 4. Upside Down - Diana Ross 3:41 I prefer the version on Motown's Hitsville U.S.A. Volume II (1993) 5. Somebody's Watching Me - Rockwell 3:59 I prefer the version on Time-Life's Solid Gold Soul Mid-'80s (2000), which is a different EQ from Motown's Hitsville U.S.A. Volume II (1993) 6. Hold Me Now - Thompson Twins 4:17 I prefer the version on Time-Life's Body Talk Heart To Heart (1997), which is digitally exactly 1 dB quieter than Rhino's Just Can't Get Enough Vol. 13 (1995); this version also suffers from some type of tape drag and slows down dramatically at the end 7. In A Big Country - Big Country 3:55 45 version 8. Only The Lonely - Motels 3:15 9. Word Up - Cameo 4:20 10. You Belong To The City - Glenn Frey 5:51 11. Fame - Irene Cara 3:49 I prefer the version on Time-Life's Sounds Of The Eighties 1980 (1995). 12. Breakout - Swing Out Sister 3:48 Note: Time-Life's Modern Rock 1986-1987 (1999) is digitally exactly 2.3 dB quieter than Priority's Rock Of The 80's Vol. 10 (1994) 13. Obsession - Animotion 3:55 I prefer the version on Time-Life's Sounds Of The Eighties 1985-1986 (1995). 14. When She Was My Girl - Four Tops 3:23 15. Something About You - Level 42 3:45 I prefer the version on Polydor's Level Best (1989). 16. Rock On - Michael Damian 3:22 17. She's A Bad Mama Jama - Carl Carlton 3:57 45 version 18. Head To Toe - Lisa Lisa And Cult Jam 4:12 This fades to digital silence before coming back with a false ending! If you truncate this at the digital silence, it's the true 45 version and runs 4:02. 19. Jeopardy - Greg Kihn Band 3:48 20. Rock Me Amadeus - Falco 3:12 This is the "American" side of the 45, and plays at the true 45 pitch. The "Canadian" side of the 45 is available on the compilation "More Pure '80s".