Various Artists - NOW: Yearbook 1981 - (Special Edition 4CD Album)


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Various Artists - NOW: Yearbook 1981 - (Special Edition 4CD Album)

NOW Music is proud to present the newest addition to the ‘Yearbook’ series: NOW – Yearbook 1981. 4 CDs of 85 tracks that defined the charts in 1981. This special edition CD is housed in ‘hard-back book’ packaging, including a 28-page booklet with a summary of the year, a track-by-track guide, a quiz, and original singles artwork, and as a standard 4-CD package.

Kicking off with legendary No. 1s from Queen and David Bowie (‘Under Pressure’), The Police (‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic’), and The Specials (‘Ghost Town’), disc 1 is packed with classics that represent the influx of new artists that dominated the year, and would set the pop and fashion agenda for the next few years… with songs which sound as fresh and vital today as they did in 1981, from Ultravox, Visage, Duran Duran, Japan, the No. 1 ‘Tainted Love’ from Soft Cell, and the year’s biggest selling single (and Xmas No. 1) ‘Don’t You Want Me’ from The Human League. Adam & The Ants make three appearances on this Yearbook and actually had 5 huge hits this year, Toyah and Kim Wilde made huge chart debuts with ‘It’s A Mystery’ and ‘Kids In America’, and chart regulars Blondie, ABBA and Olivia Newton-John enjoyed continued success with massive singles. Shakin’ Stevens had two No. 1’s (both present here), and Madness produced a classic cover of ‘It Must Be Love’. Disc One closes with two more No. 1’s from soul legends Smokey Robinson with ‘Being With You’ and Michael Jackson, who enjoyed his first UK No. 1 with ‘One Day In Your Life’ a re-discovered track from his Motown recordings.

Disc 2 opens with ‘Imagine’ – a No. 1 nearly 10 years after it was first released, in the wake of John Lennon’s tragic death at the end of 1980. Huge ballads from Roxy Music, Pretenders, and REO Speedwagon are featured along-side the biggest selling track of the year in the U.S. from Kim Carnes with ‘Bette Davis Eyes’. Rock is well represented by Status Quo, Rainbow, The Who, Electric Light Orchestra, and the great collaboration ‘Please Don’t Touch’ between Motorhead and Girlschool. Dance music was a huge presence on the charts of 1981 as a new ‘80’s disco’ sound emerged and included hits featured here from Freeez, Imagination, Hi-Gloss, Yarbrough & Peoples, and Tom Tom Club, as well as continued smashes for established dance artists Earth, Wind & Fire, Odyssey and a big hit for 60s legends, Four Tops.

Yearbooks are all about celebrating the mix of chart hits there were in the year – and Disc 3 presents a sublime mix of ballads, pure pop, rock n roll revivalism, party floor-fillers, and easy listening. John Lennon once again leads the disc with his No. 1 ‘Woman’ taken from his most recent album with Yoko Ono ‘Double Fantasy’. ABBA’s ‘One Of Us’, Randy Crawford’s ‘Rainy Night In Georgia’ and the superstar partnership of Diana Ross and Lionel Richie on ‘Endless Love’ are all defining love songs – and led by ‘Stand And Deliver’ by Adam & The Ants begins a run of pure-pop classics from Kiki Dee, Cliff Richard, Dollar, and No. 1’s from Aneka with ‘Japanese Boy’ and 1981’s Eurovision winners Bucks Fizz with ‘Making Your Mind Up’. Rock n roll enjoyed a revival and Shakin’ Stevens’ ‘This Ole House’ topped the chart, with Stray Cats and Coast To Coast also enjoying big hits. Bad Manners’ take on ‘Can Can’ was a party classic, as were hits from Modern Romance and The Look. Easy listening pop also enjoyed a great year, Kate Robbins & Beyond had a big hit with ‘More Than In Love’, Elaine Paige had a smash with ‘Memory’ from the musical ‘Cats’ and Julio Iglesias had a No. 1 with ‘Begin The Beguine (Volver A Empezar)’.

The final disc in this collection features more new artists who saw their first chart success in 1981 including Haircut 100, ABC, Altered Images, Landscape, The Teardrop Explodes, Fun Boy Three, and U2 who made their debut with ‘Fire’, plus more artists who continued to build their chart careers, including The Jam, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Siouxsie And The Banshees, UB40, Gary Numan, Squeeze and closing with Elvis Costello & The Attractions with ‘Good Year For The Roses’.

It was a watershed year for pop with new British artists emerging from the ashes of punk and disco by way of the New Romantic movement, and Disc 4 also includes second tracks on this collection from Duran Duran and The Human League alongside Spandau Ballet who would all go on to achieve huge success worldwide in the following few years.



  1. Queen & David Bowie - Under Pressure
  2. The Police - Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
  3. The Specials - Ghost Town
  4. Ultravox – Vienna
  5. Visage - Fade To Grey
  6. The Human League - Don't You Want Me
  7. Duran Duran - Planet Earth
  8. Soft Cell - Tainted Love
  9. Japan - Quiet Life
  10. Kim Wilde – Kids In America
  11. Toyah – It’s A Mystery
  12. Adam & The Ants - Prince Charming
  13. Blondie - Rapture
  14. ABBA - Lay All Your Love On Me
  15. Olivia Newton-John - Physical
  16. Stars On 45 - Stars On 45
  17. Shakin' Stevens - Green Door
  18. Madness - It Must Be Love
  19. Smokey Robinson - Being With You
  20. Michael Jackson - One Day In Your Life


  1. John Lennon - Imagine
  2. Roxy Music - Jealous Guy
  3. Pretenders - I Go To Sleep
  4. Kim Carnes - Bette Davis Eyes
  5. REO Speedwagon - Keep On Loving You
  6. Electric Light Orchestra - Hold On Tight
  7. The Who - You Better You Bet
  8. Rainbow - I Surrender
  9. Status Quo - Something 'Bout You Baby I Like
  10. Motorhead, Girlschool - Please Don’t Touch
  11. Hazel O'Connor - Will You?
  12. Tom Tom Club - Wordy Rappinghood
  13. Yarbrough & Peoples - Don't Stop The Music
  14. Imagination - Body Talk
  15. Hi-Gloss - You’ll Never Know
  16. Freeez - Southern Freeez
  17. Odyssey - Going Back To My Roots
  18. Earth, Wind & Fire - Let's Groove
  19. The Whispers - It’s A Love Thing
  20. Four Tops - When She Was My Girl
  21. Champaign - How 'Bout Us


  1. John Lennon - Woman
  2. ABBA - One Of Us
  3. Lionel Richie & Diana Ross - Endless Love (From "The Endless Love" Soundtrack)
  4. Randy Crawford - Rainy Night In Georgia
  5. Sheena Easton - For Your Eyes Only
  6. Adam & The Ants - Stand And Deliver
  7. Godley & Creme - Under Your Thumb
  8. Kiki Dee - Star
  9. Cliff Richard - Wired For Sound
  10. Dollar - Hand Held In Black And White
  11. Aneka - Japanese Boy
  12. Bucks Fizz - Making Your Mind Up
  13. Shakin' Stevens - This Ole House
  14. Coast To Coast - (Do) The Hucklebuck
  15. Stray Cats - Rock This Town
  16. Bad Manners - Can Can
  17. Modern Romance - Everybody Salsa
  18. The Look - I Am The Beat
  19. The Nolans - Attention To Me
  20. Julio Iglesias - Begin The Beguine (Volver A Empezar)
  21. Kate Robbins & Beyond - More Than In Love
  22. Elaine Paige - Memory (From 'Cats')


  1. Adam & The Ants - Antmusic
  2. Altered Images - Happy Birthday
  3. Duran Duran - Girls On Film
  4. The Human League - Love Action (I Believe In Love)
  5. Spandau Ballet - Chant No. 1 (I Don't Need This Pressure On)
  6. Haircut 100 - Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)
  7. ABC - Tears Are Not Enough
  8. Landscape - Einstein A Go-Go
  9. Phil Lynott - Yellow Pearl
  10. Gary Numan - She’s Got Claws
  11. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Souvenir
  12. The Passions - I'm In Love With A German Film Star
  13. The Jam - That's Entertainment
  14. U2 - Fire
  15. Siouxsie And The Banshees - Spellbound
  16. The Teardrop Explodes - Reward
  17. Tenpole Tudor - Swords Of A Thousand Men
  18. Department S - Is Vic There?
  19. UB40 - One In Ten
  20. Fun Boy Three - The Lunatics (Have Taken Over The Asylum)
  21. Squeeze - Labelled With Love
  22. Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Good Year For The Roses

Format: Special Edition 4CD Album
Barcode: 194399459522
Catalogue Number: CDYBXNOW81
Label: Universal Music
Release Date: Friday, 20th May 2022

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