Album review

Various : The Very Best Of The Tube
Universal Music TV

Various : The Very Best Of The TubeBetween 1982 and 1987 Channel 4 played host to probably the best music show British TV has ever spawned. The Americans had America's Top Ten. Why so smug? Read on . . .
    The Tube wasn't necessarily always great TV - in fact sometimes it could be a real chore - but the sheer eclecticism of live acts (you remember them don't you?) meant that it was an unparalleled way of broadening your tastes, and of discovering new acts. The Smiths, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Twisted Sister . . . all got breaks on The Tube. It wasn't always great, because The Tube took chances, and when you take chances you don't always come out a winner.

So what sets The Very Best Of The Tube apart from all the other 80s compilations clogging up the shelves? Well, despite the fact that these are the regular studio versions, presumably the choice of songs has been limited to those that were actually performed on the show. As such, this double disc package skates a perilous path around the obvious. No Tainted Love, no Everybody Wants To Rule The World, no Come On Eileen. You get the picture?
    What we do have is unusual choices from the well-known; Siouxsie & The Banshees covering Iggy's The Passenger, The Human League's The Lebanon, Yazoo's Situation and Paul Young's I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down mixed in with some of the best hard-to-find-gems; Then Jerico's Big Area, The Rainmakers' Let My People Go-Go and The Assembly's Never Never.
    The sequencing is unusually considered - The Cure into Siouxie into The Mission into Iggy Pop, or Psychedelic Furs into Meatloaf into Robert Palmer into Terence Trent D'Arby - virtually every track fits comfortably with its neighbours, and the cheese - Simply Red, Wham - is sprinkled very thinly, and in this context works a treat.

There's great music here obviously, there's tragedy - Tube presenter Paula Yates is no longer with us, and INXS' Michael Hutchence, Big Country's Stuart Adamson and Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott all went before their time - and there's the memory of some of the most challenging music TV we've aver had. Listening to these two CDs feels like watching The Tube again. Surely that was the point? Go buy . . .

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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