Think back to the early ’90s for a moment. While images of ripped jeans, flannel shirts, grunge music, punk music, and general angst have likely clouded your mind, there’s a good chance you’re probably repressing those terrible informercials for inferior music compilations, like this punk album.
Usually spruiking a two-CD release which features “all of your favourite songs for the low, low price of $19.99”, these ads were so ubiquitous that every kid who stayed home sick from school likely remembered these invading ads highly sought-after episodes of Huey’s Cooking Adventures.
Sure, some will likely agree with the notion that the Pure Moods compilation is one of the most memorable, iconic, and generally popular compilations of the era, but most others will agree that these releases never quite hit the mark.
Check out an ad for the Pure Moods compilation:
However, what do you get when you mix these musical informercials with producers who clearly don’t understand their target market? You get a commercial for a compilation with the blatantly false title of Punk.
While the exact date that this commercial aired is unknown, the fine folks at Westwood Promotions, Inc. recruited two hapless actors to play the role of two stereotypical “punk” kids in order to sell this early ’90s compilation.
As the soulful strains of INXS’ moshpit classic ‘What You Need’ blare over the speakers, the leather-clad punk asks us one burning rhetorical question. “You know what really makes us mad?” he asks to no one in particular. “It’s wasting money on a CD with only one or two good songs.”
While his red-haired companion quickly chimes in by playfully punching him on the arm, the pair start to sing the praises of a hot new compilation called Punk.
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After urging us to listen to what this release features, it all begins to go downhill immediately.
As music by groups like Love And Rockets and Crowded House fills our screens, we begin to realise that Westwood Promotions, Inc. believe that the word “punk” is synonymous with “new wave”.
“This Punk CD has 36 tunes, man, and I’m telling you, they’re all great,” the leather-clad presenter explains, clearly regretting the day he signed on for the job.
Soon, we’re treated to more previews of CBGB anthems, including tracks by Erasure, Huey Lewis And The News, The Human League, Culture Club, Thompson Twins, and of course, the combat boot-wearing, blood-spitting belter that is Toni Basil’s ‘Mickey’.
Yes, all your favourites are here, and it’s all available on a two-CD set for $26.95 (or $21.95 if you’re one of those squares still using a cassette player, get with the times, man!).
Check out the Punk commercial:
Now, look, we’re willing to concede that some of the artists on here – such as the Stray Cats, Devo, Love And Rockets, and Billy Idol – may indeed have some punk roots, the fact remains that producers massively missed the mark on this one.
However, before you start dialling that 1-800 number to get your hands on a copy of Punk, you might want to stop for a second, because as far as we can tell, this compilation was never actually released.
Of course, you’re probably thinking it makes sense that no one would shell out more than $20 for a CD made by people who don’t know their target market, however, this release has actually become something of an oddity within music circles.
As a Redditor discovered back in 2015, Punk appears to have been shelved back in the early ’90s, instead replaced by a much more fittingly-titled release named 80’s Retro instead.
According to a Discogs link for the compilation, it was eventually released in 1997 under a different title, presumably after Westwood Promotions, Inc. fired their marketing team and finally realised who would actually want to buy this CD.
With its new title in mind, the compilation is still rather forgettable, but makes a lot more sense given its new branding. With tracks by A Flock Of Seagulls, The Cars, and Tommy Tutone, it definitely serves as something of a snapshot of the era.
However, special notice also has to be given to the collection of Aussie tracks on the release, with tunes by INXS, Crowded House, Men At Work, and Real Life al scoring a mention as well.
Check out the full tracklist below, and familiarise yourself with another classic infomercial of the era while you’re here.
Check out the Ultimate Love Songs Collection commercial:
Punk ’80s Retro tracklist:
1. ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ – Pat Benatar
2. ‘Who Can It Be Now?’ – Men At Work
3. ‘Voices Carry’ – til Tuesday
4. ‘Our House’ – Madness
5. ‘One Thing Leads To Another’ – The Fixx
6. ‘Rock Lobster’ – The B-52’s
7. ‘What You Need’ – INXS
8. ‘And We Danced’ – Hooters
9. ‘She Blinded Me With Science’ – Thomas Dolby
10. ‘I Want A New Drug’ – Huey Lewis And The News
11. ‘Whip It’ – Devo
12. ‘Talking In Your Sleep’ – Romantics
13. ‘Be Near Me’ – ABC
14. ‘She’s A Beauty’ – The Tubes
15. ‘Human’ – The Human League
16. ‘Send Me An Angel’ – Real Life
17. ‘Harden My Heart’ – Quarterflash
18. ‘Eyes Without A Face’ – Billy Idol
1. ‘Hold Me Now’ – Thompson Twins
2. ‘Stray Cat Strut’ – Stray Cats
3. ‘So Alive’ – Love And Rockets
4. ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ – The Buggles
5. ‘Cruel To Be Kind’ – Nick Lowe
6. ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ – Crowded House
7. ‘Someday, Someway’ – Marshall Crenshaw
8. ‘Jeopardy’ – Greg Kihn Band
9. ‘Karma Chameleon’ – Culture Club
10. ‘My Sharona’ – The Knack
11. ‘867-5309/Jenny’ – Tommy Tutone
12. ‘Chains Of Love’ – Erasure
13. ‘I Ran (So Far Away)’ – A Flock Of Seagulls
14. ‘Wild, Wild West’ – The Escape Club
15. ‘Mickey’ – Toni Basil
16. ‘Precious To Me’ – Phil Seymour
17. ‘You Might Think’ – The Cars
18. ‘Here Comes The Rain Again’ – Eurythmics