100 Hits begins with some songs that might be termed new romantic, then shifts into non-romantic synth pop, then sophisti-pop, and then, suddenly, it looks more like a compilation more accurately classified as "'80s pop, alternative, and mainstream." Like the other sets in the 100 Hits series from the U.K.'s EMI-funded Demon label, 100 Hits: The New Romantics features 20 songs on each one of its five discs and provides a big chunk of music for a small price. This is ideal for hoarders who care more about obtaining a wide swath of songs on a budget than focused track lists with nice packaging. Most of the tracks were, indeed, hits, new romantic or not. Duran Duran's "Planet Earth," Japan's "Ghosts," the Human League's "Sound of the Crowd," and Thomas Dolby's "Hyperactive!" are among the highlights.
For many decades, African-American churches have worried about losing their best singers to secular music. And inevitably, many of them will, in fact, explore secular music instead of devoting 100 percent of their time to gospel. Al Smith is a perfect example. The obscure singer's roots were gospel, but he favored a jazz-influenced approach to blues and soul when he recorded two albums for Prestige/Bluesville: Hear My Blues in 1959 and Midnight Special in 1960. Recorded at Rudy Van Gelder's famous New Jersey studio, Midnight Special finds Smith backed by a rock-solid quintet that consists of King Curtis on tenor sax, Robert Banks on organ, Jimmy Lee Robinson on electric guitar, Leonard Gaskin on acoustic bass, and Bobby Donaldson on drums.