He has posted more classic K-Tel albums from the Seventies and Eighties to YouTube - complete with all the clicks and pops some of you may remember - than any other uploader but hidden in plain sight among those sentimental posts are Brandon Hixson's original K-Tel inspired compilations. Brandon has dubbed these albums, uploaded from CD-Rs unearthed from his personal archives, The Best Albums K-Tel Never Made and he was kind enough to send The K-Tel Kollection an advance notice, including hi-res cover art, of the latest wave a few weeks back. We'll be featuring these unique albums a few at a time, in somewhat chronological order, sharing the original YouTube links so you can show Brandon some support as well as exclusive Spotify recreations of each album just for fun.
No offense to any of the previous years we've featured here while running down The Best Albums K-Tel Never Made but 1982 is the single greatest year in pop music history for us here at The K-Tel Kollection. Not to be confused with the similarly-named Australian compilation, Hit Wave '82 gets things going for the year. The pacing and sequencing are just a little off for our tastes and there are a few songs we'd never include on any mix but the other eleven tracks are so, so sweet. It is worth noting that Hit Wave '82 contains our most favorite songs from, respectively, Hixson's all-time favorite group Quarterflash, Huey Lewis y Los News, the newly enshrined Hall of Famers known as Journey and the lovely Olivia Newton-John.
While it isn't expressly labeled or titled as such, we couldn't help but put Neon Nights in with the Class of '82. There's only one song we'd skip which is saying a whole lot of any album or playlist anywhere. The entirety of Side Two just might be the best side, either One or Two, from The Best Albums That K-Tel Never Made but we've still got a few more to evaluate so best not get ahead of ourselves with such definitive praise. We will state unequivocally that the sequencing of "I Ran" then "Words" then "Abracadabra" is just about as good as it gets.
Like Hit Wave '82 up above and Radio Daze '82 down below, Night Waves '82 first appeared on Brandon's YouTube channel back in September 2016, when both Daze and Waves were originally featured HERE in a post we recently updated. Now bearing new artwork and a slightly revised tracklist, the latest version of Night Waves '82 features a pair of tracks from the soundtrack to Fast Times At Ridgemont High as well as the title song from the Night Shift soundtrack. Our favorite track on the album is Eye To Eye's "Nice Girls" though we're also partial to "What About Me?" by Moving Pictures, which appeared only on the earlier incarnation of Night Waves '82.
We love love love most of the songs found on Radio '82 and if this album just featured those ten tracks, it would get our vote as The Best Album K-Tel Never Made. Among those favorite tunes are the relentlessly rhythmic "Steppin' Out", the bouncy new wave disco of "Young Turks" and the makes-me-smile-every-time-I-hear-it "Our Lips Are Sealed". Our softer side is also well represented by the gentle lilt of "Trouble", the chilled out "Cool Night" and the contrasting beauty of "Leather And Lace".
As we mentioned earlier, Radio Daze '82 first appeared back in 2016 and we gushed about it in a comment, earning a reply from Brandon. His four-song run of "I Know What Boys Like", "What Do All The People Know", "Kids In America" and "Hurts So Good" is top notch. We were blasting Radio Daze '82 out by the pool last week and, with all due respect to the immensely talented Jeffrey Osborne, it was disappointing to hear his "I Really Don't Need No Light" after those four songs. So while we honor Brandon's original curation here, his efforts inspired us to combine all of our favorites from the five 1982 albums featured today into one playlist.
The next chapter in The Best Albums K-Tel Never Made will cover 1983.