Not to sound too cocky but I fully expect today's feature on K-Tel's Rock 80 to be one of the most wildly popular posts ever on the K-Tel Kollection. I'd been buying K-Tel albums for four years by 1980 and Rock 80 quickly became my favorite of the bunch. If you search for Rock 80 on the interwebs, you will come across dozens of similar stories - more so than any previously featured album here on the Kollection, Rock 80 holds the Number One spot in people's hearts. If this is your first time hearing about Rock 80, you are in luck as I have rounded up three different ways for you to listen to the album in addition to my Spotify streaming re-creation playlist which was one of the first three playlists I ever made on Spotify after I first logged on.
Ten of the album's fourteen songs are copyrighted 1979 while the remaining four bear a 1980 copyright date. Dates do not matter here as this a solid album top to bottom with only two iffy songs on side two for me: the offerings from Ramones and Cheap Trick. (The version of "I Want You To Want Me" is not the beloved live At Budokan one but rather the lame studio version from In Color.) Still, Rock 80 got hundreds of plays and I now own three copies of it on vinyl and I am always looking for more. Rock 80 was also a main inspiration for one of my most played mixtapes.
For me personally, Rock 80 dovetails with the end of 8th grade and the spectacular Summer after, followed by the start of freshman year of high school in the fall. I went from being a proud Bulldog to an even prouder and certainly hornier Golden Eagle. More than half of the acts on Rock 80 appeared on American Bandstand or The Midnight Special in 1979 and 1980 performing songs found on the album. When I bought Rock 80, I already had 45s of six songs on the album which was a pretty good indicator of how much I liked the music on the album. Despite all the nostalgic love and the familiar songs on the album, I do not expect Rock 80 to fare well on the K-Tel Scale as it lacks crossover appeal and I think a few of the songs missed the Top 40.
ROCK 80 
|Billboard Top 40s|
|Brass In Pocket (I'm Special)||Pretenders||14||13||4|
|Driver's Seat||Sniff n the Tears||15||15||21|
|Cruel To Be Kind||Nick Lowe||12||36||12||15|
|Is She Really Going Out With Him||Joe Jackson||21||21||8|
|Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?||Ramones|
|My Sharona||The Knack||1||1||1|
|I Want You To Want Me||Cheap Trick|
|Hold On||Ian Gomm||18||10||25|
|One Way Or Another||Blondie||24||22||31|
|We Live For Love||Pat Benatar||27||28|
Wouldn't you just know it? The two songs I like the least on Rock 80 were the two that missed the Top 40 altogether. Eight Top 20s, four Top 10s and three #1s yet only three Top 40 crossovers. Rock 80 is another one of those albums where the K-Tel Scale, built primarily to measure Top 40 hits and multi-chart crossovers, fails to do the album justice.
As was SOP for K-Tel releases of 1980, Rock 80 was also available on cassette and 8-track, the latter of which of course had a tweaked playing order as seen above. The artwork is pretty cool, fiber optic looking. Wonder how much it would cost to get a neon recreation of that logo? Collectors note that this album fetches slightly higher prices than it's K-tel brethren because of it's popularity. On average, you can expect to pay more than $3 for a very good copy which are plentiful and upwards of $10 for a Near Mint specimen which are becoming increasingly scarce.
The Canadian edition of Rock 80 (above) features slightly different cover art with the artists names listed in bigger, horizontal fonts. Track wise, it only has two songs in common with it's cousin from down south and instead of a measly seven songs per side, the Canadians packed eight songs a side. As for the K-Tel Scale, let's just say this version of Rock 80 scored less than 7.00 on the scale and leave it at that.
The Great White Northern branch of K-Tel International carried on with the Rock '(insert last two digits of year here) banner for three more years (1981-1983 or '81-'83) though no such albums were ever released down in the States. All three are superior to the Canadian Rock 80 and highly recommended though as you might have guessed, I am partial to Rock '82 with Rock '83 right behind it.