After looking all over for any CD with "Feels Like Heaven" by Fiction Factory, I finally found Flashback Cafe vol. 1. It's the only one still in print, hard to believe for a compilation disc from 1994. Man, this came my way at just the right time, with summer starting. Aside from the track I was after, it's also got "Life in a Northern Town," "Shattered Dreams," "Under the Milky Way," "Don't Dream It's Over," and 10 others that fit well with the theme in the post's title.
You should buy the entire album Starfish that "Under the Milky Way" is on, but the rest you could probably do with just these hits. I haven't heard the whole album that "Life in a Northern Town" is from, but I wasn't blown away by the ones that "Don't Dream It's Over" and "Shattered Dreams" are from. Enjoying so many hard-to-find songs on a single disc makes this one a real treat.
In general, it seems like the best compilations based around a time period come fairly shortly afterward, when the audience would still remember a lot of the richness of what was in the air. So they'll put out one just filled with MONSTER BALLADS, another one with new wave tracks, another still with heartland rock hits, and so on. The more recent '80s compilations try to boil down an entire decade to a dozen or so songs, which doesn't really do it justice, just like how their cover art invariably shows a chick in neon or a Rubik's cube. Those that stick to just one or two years can do a decent job, though.
I wonder if that's true for other genres -- were the best anthologies of Romantic poetry published around 1840? Sure we can find the complete works of the big-time winners, but what about the one-hit wonders of the era? They probably didn't survive so well over time, and we might be entirely unaware of them. Going on a search to unearth them from the piles of pages in the library wouldn't be for snob bragging rights -- "I only read the more obscure, lesser known Romantics" -- but for the sheer excitement of digging up something wonderful that you didn't even suspect would be there.
If you've found a compilation like this, no matter what medium or genre, please comment and clue the rest of us in.