This is the first blog post in a new series that I will do for the blog looking at some of my favorite albums from different decades, genres, periods of music, etc. At the same time, I will attempt to pick albums which often get overlooked in the best of the decade lists, or best of all time lists, I guess just because some of my favorites will be all too obvious from each period, or theme I focus on.
Post One: The 1980’s
Yeah so I was born in the 80’s, the late-80’s if you must know and I am proud of it. And, although many people are quick to turn their noses up at the decade for its fashion, and for its politics, there was some great music produced and indeed some great albums.
So here are some of my favorites from the decade
The Clash – Sandinista – 1980
This album is an eclectic mix of all different styles, from hip-hop to new wave to reggae to dub. It has everything, and amazingly is a triple album, something that is quite ambitious for most music acts, let alone a punk band. The Clash was at their very best during this period both musically and stylistically and this album catches this fact in a big way.
Key tracks – Hitsville UK, Lose This Skin, The Magnificent Seven.
The Jam – Sound Affects – 1980
This is pop art set to music and is also the moment where The Jam came full circle musically. There are funk influences emerging on this album, with Off the Wall a definite influence, while the Beatles homage is still there. This is The Jam’s Revolver, with Weller’s lyrics also exploring more the state of British society as Thatcher settled into no.9.
Key tracks – Pretty Green, Set The House Ablaze, Start.
Queen – Hot Space – 1982
This album has been panned by everyone, while the surviving members of Queen paint it as being a blip on their radar and a “Freddie creation” mainly. It is this universal hatred of an album that explores disco, funk and new wave which makes me like it even more. In comparison to some of Queen’s other 80’s releases which to me are quite dull in places, this album stacks up and is definitely of its time. Hot Space also happens to be the one genuine Queen album you can really dance to. To be fair, I have never quite understood why it is so hated as an album.
Key tracks – Staying Power, Back Chat, Cool Cat.
Dexys Midnight Runners – Searching for the Young Soul Rebels – 1982
Soul had begun to go out of fashion by the 80’s and in the States, it was meshing into modern R&B with mixed results. Here though, the Dexys produce a raw sounding, proper soul record complete with a full horn section and some thumping rhythms.
Key tracks – Burn it Down, The Teams That Meet in Caffs, Seven Days Too Long.
Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense – 1984
This is the soundtrack to the great film from 1984, you know the one where David Byrne moves around the stage in an oversized suit? The music is good too, in fact, I have always though Talking Heads music was so well suited to being played live and this album shows that. It is a pity they are no longer around today, as even now I am sure they would sell out arenas all over the world.
Key tracks – Girlfriend Is Better, Life During Wartime, Once in a Lifetime.
The Smiths – The Queen is Dead – 1986
Many people just think of The Smith as a singles band. But, in fact, they released some stunning albums and this one is their best. Lyrically and musically it is perfect, with Morrissey’s lyrical genius dotted throughout, while Marr’s guitar is as jangly as ever. An indie classic if ever there was one.
Key tracks – Frankly Mr. Shankly, Big Mouth Strikes Again, There Is a Light That Never Goes Out.
Gipsy Kings – Gipsy Kings – 1987
These guys were part of the so-called world music explosion which began in the 80s. They play a style of Spanish rumba flamenco music of which during some stages of the album there are six Spanish guitars being played at once. An outstanding album to entertain too, to drink too, well… to do anything too. These guys brought Flamenco to the western masses and they did in style and indeed with passion.
Key tracks – Bamboleo, Bem, Bem Maria, Djobi Djoba.
The Pogues – If I Should Fall from Grace with God – 1988
This is Celtic punk/folk at its raw best. McGowan is one of the most underrated songwriters of all time, while the instrumental talents of his fellow Pogues are undeniable and it shows on this fantastic album. This folk punk album was well ahead before its time and proceeded the various folk revivals which followed in its wake.
Key tracks – Turkish Song of the Damned, Lullaby of London, Fiesta.
New Order – Technique – 1989
This is synth pop/dance-pop at its finest and New Order were pretty good at it. These songs on their own are good pop songs both melody-wise and lyrically, but when you add in the synths and the funky beats they also become perfect dance tracks. Part of a blueprint which would prove successful for future dance and house acts, and as an album helped contribute to the creation of entirely new genres within the dance scene. A great 80’s album, as the sun set on the decade.
Key tracks – All the Way, Love Less, Guilty Partner.