The Second Disc

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Virgin Records Celebrates “40 Years of Disruptions” with New Compilation, Picture Discs

with 4 comments

Virgin 40Virgin Records, one of England’s most iconic labels, turns 40 this year – and they’re celebrating with a new compilation full of hits from their storied existence.

The Virgin label was largely the brainchild of one young businessman named Richard Branson. The London-born Branson began his career selling records by mail order and later opening a shop on Oxford Street. The Virgin label was blessed with early success thanks to a willingness to sign acts that major U.K. labels were keen to dismiss. This netted them a smash hit with their very first release, Mike Oldfield’s captivating instrumental “Tubular Bells,” as well as a place in cultural history as the label who’d ultimately made the strongest commitment to punk band The Sex Pistols, after EMI and A&M each dropped the band. (It was Virgin who’d pressed the commercial version of their No. 2 hit “God Save The Queen” as well as their sole studio album, Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols.)

The decades to come found Virgin succeeding with all sorts of genres: MTV-ready pop/rock (Culture Club, The Human League, The Spice Girls), groundbreaking alt-rock and New Wave (Simple Minds, XTC), multi-generational rock (Genesis and its two most famous frontmen, Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins; The Rolling Stones, for a time) hip-hop and dance (Soul II Soul, Neneh Cherry, Daft Punk, Massive Attack) and more, all the way up to the present (recent critical and commercial hits include tracks by Swedish House Mafia, Emili Sandé and CHVRCHES).

Branson would ultimately sell Virgin to EMI in 1992 to keep other parts of his business empire afloat; the iconoclastic entrepreneur found success in everything from air travel to publishing to music festivals (Europe’s V Festival) to record stores (the late Virgin Megastores) to mobile phones to…well, even more interesting stuff (Branson plans to be aboard the inaugural Virgin Galactic flight – a commercial space trip – this year.) The label continues to exist, now of course under the Universal Music Group family.

Virgin Records: 40 Years of Disruptions plans to honor the label’s indomitable spirit across two discs, along with a bonus EP of current Virgin artists covering some classic tracks, including cuts by John Lennon, Peter Gabriel, Massive Attack and others. The set is in stores today, amid a swath of exhibitions in honor of the label around the U.K. area. The label is also selling a handful of their most beloved titles, including singles and albums, as limited edition vinyl titles (many of which are picture discs). The full list is available at Universal’s Uvinyl page.

As always, you can check out the track list and buy the set after the jump.

Virgin Records: 40 Years of Disruptions (Virgin, 2013)

Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Disc 1

  1. Tubular Bells – Mike Oldfield
  2. God Save The Queen – The Sex Pistols
  3. In the Air Tonight – Phil Collins
  4. Don’t You Want Me – The Human League
  5. Senses Working Overtime – XTC
  6. Buffalo Gals – Malcolm McLaren
  7. Temptation – Heaven 17
  8. Red Red Wine – UB40
  9. Do You Really Want to Hurt Me – Culture Club
  10. Mama – Genesis
  11. Together in Electric Dreams – Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder
  12. Don’t You (Forget About Me) – Simple Minds
  13. I Put a Spell on You – Bryan Ferry
  14. China in Your Hand – T’Pau
  15. Good Life – Inner City
  16. Buffalo Stance – Neneh Cherry
  17. Back to Life (However Do You Want Me) – Soul II Soul feat. Caron Wheeler
  18. Unfinished Sympathy – Massive Attack
  19. Sadeness (Part 1) – Enigma

Disc 2

  1. I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That) – Meat Loaf
  2. Baby Come Back – Pato Banton feat. Ali & Robin Campbell of UB40
  3. Boombastic – Shaggy
  4. Walking Wounded – Everything But the Girl
  5. Wannabe – Spice Girls
  6. Block Rockin’ Beats – The Chemical Brothers
  7. Around the World – Daft Punk
  8. Sexy Boy – Air
  9. Bitter Sweet Symphony – The Verve
  10. Black Horse and the Cherry Tree – KT Tunstall
  11. Fly Away – Lenny Kravitz
  12. Naive – The Kooks
  13. Ghosts – Laura Marling
  14. Ghosts ‘N’ Stuff – Deadmau5 feat. Rob Swire
  15. Titanium – David Guetta feat. Sia
  16. Read All About It – Professor Green feat. Emili Sandé
  17. Don’t You Worry Child – Swedish House Mafia feat. John Martin
  18. Next to Me – Emeli Sandé
  19. Pompeii – Bastille
  20. La La La – Naughty Boy feat. Sam Smith
  21. Gun – CHVRCHES

Disc 3

  1. (I Just) Died in Your Arms – Bastille
  2. Sledgehammer – KT Tunstall
  3. Jealous Guy – Corinne Bailey Rae
  4. Teardrop – The Kooks
  5. We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off – Ella Eyre
  6. Only You – Josh Record

4 Responses

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  1. It should be noted that Virgin’s connection to Peter Gabriel and Genesis, but not Phil Collins’ solo work, was through their acquisition of Charisma in 1983.


    October 21, 2013 at 14:41

  2. Utter tosh. “40 Years Of Disruptions” is an odd title for a compilation which ignores nearly all the interesting and revolutionary material Virgin released, in favor of big (and frequently weak or downright awful) hits. Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells gave the label its financial stability, the Sex Pistols’ God Save The Queen much of its revolution for embracing change . . . but those are the first two songs. To put this in perspective, God Save The Queen was something like the 80th single released by the label, and the third song on this largely-chronological compilation, Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight not only stems from the label’s ninth functioning year, but it steals from one of Virgin’s more illustrious and “disruptive” bands, Public Image Ltd, who aren’t even represented here, despite having one of the strangest hits ever. (By the way, Phil Collins owns up to his debt to PiL, that’s not just my speculation!)

    What’s missing? X-Ray Spex’s Oh Bondage, Up Yours!, which gave birth to an entire genre of music, more or less. Poet & the Roots’ All Wi Doin Is Defendin, which not only did the same, but is included in one of only two Penguin Classics books of poetry issued by a living author (aka Linton Kwesi Johnson.) Captain Beefheart. Kevin Coyne. Robert Wyatt. Any of the label’s groundbreaking early forays into Jamaican reggae. The late-career hit by Can. Magazine. Devo. Flying Lizards. Jah Wobble. Ruts. Sparks. Take your pick!

    Less than 15% of this material can even be traced back to the period when there actually was an aesthetic sense to the label, or anything resembling a curated approach.

    Horrible compilation, and a disservice to what actually made the label special, whether you liked the early hippie-prog, later new wave experimentalism or even the odd-but-hit period which followed that. Most of this material could have been on any label at all.


    October 21, 2013 at 19:24

    • John you echo my thoughts exactly. Back when Virgin celebrated their 21st anniversary they stuck out a collection very similar to this except that the Pistols track was Pretty Vacant. I guess this bunch of crap has been compiled by the same brain dead accountants that did the previous one.
      Want a really good Virgin collection? Then try and track down the double vinyl set Dead On Arrival. Really excellent stuff from around 1978, and pressed on luminous vinyl! you don’t get that with CD…


      October 22, 2013 at 19:41

      • Another Virgin vinyl compilation on 2 LPs, “V”, was issued in 1975 and featured numerous rare tracks that in some cases have never officially been on CD including live tracks from Captain Beefheart and Oldfield’s b-side “Don Alfonso”. At this point, Virgin’s lineup was bursting with art-rock acts.

        William Keats

        October 23, 2013 at 13:43

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