The days of the straightforward compilation album are seemingly over. The past four years have seen a stream of records adding symphonic arrangements to the hits of Roy Orbison, the Beach Boys, Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley, whose 2015 anthology If I Can Dream started the trend.
Take That marked their 30th anniversary last November with Odyssey, a bumper package featuring guest singers and new versions of their biggest hits, while dance DJ Pete Tong has overseen the successful Classic House and Ibiza Classics releases.
The latest to ride the wave of orchestral reinvention is Trevor Horn. A former session musician, Horn, 69, was the voice behind The Buggles’ 1979 hit Video Killed The Radio Star and briefly sang and played bass in prog-rock band Yes.
But he is most renowned as a producer: his work with ABC and Frankie Goes To Hollywood saw him dubbed ‘the man who invented the Eighties’.
Those skills are prominent again on Trevor Horn Reimagines The 80s, a period piece featuring stellar singers and a 56-piece orchestra. It’s patchy, but the Durham-born producer’s sensitivity lends a level of artistry often missing from these compendiums.
He turns to some artists he has worked with before. Horn helped Seal to three Grammy awards with Kiss From A Rose in 1996, and the pair dovetail with effortless ease on Bowie’s Ashes To Ashes. A reunion with Simple Minds on Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms is similarly convincing.
A collaboration with Robbie Williams is less successful — a bombastic take on the Tears For Fears hit Everybody Wants To Rule The World tramples all over the dreamy, electronic glide of the original. Tony Hadley is no less showy on What’s Love Got To Do With It, but at least the Tina Turner song suits his instincts.