My Favorite Albums 1980-85

1980-85 were my teen years, and music was IMPORTANT, especially cause i was in a band (Mental Ward, and before that The Sniperz - egads!).   After spending far too much time on this, I present a bunch of my favorites (in some kind of rough order).  Some I loved then (the top 10 at least and many beyond that), some I have come to love since then.  And past the 150 mark, I may not have listened to the whole album (yet).  

FAVORITE ALBUMS 1980-85

 

  1. XTC - English Settlement (1982) / Black Sea (1980) / Mummer (1983) / The Big Express (1984)

  2. THE CLASH - Sandanista (1980) / Combat Rock (1982)

  3. SPLIT ENZ - Time And Tide (1982)

  4. TRANSLATOR - Heartbeats and Triggers (1982)

  5. GANG OF FOUR - Another Day / Another Dollar (1982)

  6. TALKING HEADS - Remain In Light (1980)

  7. SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES - Juju (1981)

  8. ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN - Ocean Rain (1984)

  9. PRINCE - Purple Rain (1984)

  10. DANCE CRAZE (VARIOUS ARTISTS) (1981)

An amazing look at the 2 Tone ska explosion in England, which was an unusually racially-mixed movement of bands who amped up Jamaican ska with some punk energy.  This is the soundtrack to the film.

  1. KATE BUSH - Hounds of Love (1985)

  2. URGH! A MUSIC WAR (VARIOUS ARTISTS) (1982)

A glorious cross-section of some of the better new music of the era, all recorded live for the film of the same name.  Mixing some well-known (The Police, XTC, DEVO, Echo & The Bunnymen, Gang of Four, X, Steel Pulse) with some more obscure gems (Skafish, Athletico Spizz 80, Pere Ubu, John Otway), this was a smorgasborg of 27 artists for new music fans in the early 80’s.  

  1. SPECIALS - More (1980)

  2. DEAD KENNEDYS - Plastic Surgery Disasters (1982)

  3. ARVO PART - Tabula Rasa (1984)

  4. GREG BROWN- One Night (1981)

  5. U2 - War (1983) / The Unforgettable Fire (1984)

  6. STEVE TIBBETS - Northern Song (1982)

  7. THE JAM - The Gift (1982)

  8. THOMAS DOLBY - The Golden Age of the Wireless (1982)

  9. RITES OF SPRING - Rites Of Spring (1985)

  10. HUSKER DU - Zen Arcade (1984)

  11. MINUTEMEN - Double Nickels On The Dime (1984)

  12. SONIC YOUTH - Bad Moon Rising (1985)

  13. MISSION OF BURMA - Vs. (1982)

  14. THE WHO - It’s Hard (1982)

  15. MANUEL GOTTSCHING - E2-E4 (1981)

One of the earliest examples of what became EDM, and still better than most of what has come since

  1. X - More Fun In The New World (1983)

  2. ITURI PYGMIES - Polyphony of the Deep Rainforest (1983)

I love the entrancing and complex vocal interplay of all “pygmy” music.  This one “documents a song-and-dance ceremony by a group of Pygmies in Mambasa, Zaire in 1983. Mambasa is a town at the entry to the Ituri Rain Forest, where Pygmies continued to live off of the land and feed themselves by hunting with bows and spears.”  It’s a field recording, no frills - often acappela, sometimes accompanied by the likembe thumb piano.   

  1. DEVO - Freedom Of Choice (1980)

  2. ADAM AND THE ANTS - Kings Of The Wild Frontier (1980)

  3. KING CRIMSON - Discipline (1981)

  4. ELVIS COSTELLO - Trust (1981)

  5. PHILIP AABERG - High Plains (1985)

  6. PLUGZ - Better Luck (1981)

A tragically forgotten LA band that morphed into the much inferior Cruzados.  Raw and joyous rock with a punk edge.  

  1. HAROLD BUDD AND BRIAN ENO - The Pearl (1984)

  2. COMSAT ANGELS - Land (1983)

  3. SQUIRRELBAIT - Squirrelbait (1985)

  4. PETER GABRIEL - Security (1982)

  5. PRETENDERS - II (1981)

  6. KELS KOCH - Kochin (1984?)

Never heard of this one?  No surprise, since it was an extremely limited cassette-only release by my friend, who happened to be an amazing songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist, way back in high school!  Now in The Million Sellers by the way.  

  1. THE POLICE - Ghost In The Machine (1981)

  2. THIS HEAT - Deceit (1981)

  3. SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK  - Good News (1981)

  4. PAUL MCCARTNEY - MCCARTNEY II (1980)

  5. REM - Murmur (1983)

  6. PSYCHEDELIC FURS - Talk Talk Talk (1981)

  7. SQUEEZE - East Side Story (1981)

  8. SMITHS - Hatful Of Hollow (1984)

  9. THE CURE - The Top (1984)

Some of their most aggressive and edgy material, along with the catchy pop leanings which would come to dominate in later years.  

  1. JOE JACKSON - Beat Crazy (1980)

  2. KLARK KENT - Music Madness from the Kinetic Kid (1980)

  3. BRIAN ENO - Ambient 4:  On Land (1982)

  4. WALL OF VOODOO - Call Of The West (1982)

  5. BRUCE COCKBURN - Stealing Fire (1984)

  6. PSYCHIC TV - Dreams Less Sweet (1983)

  7. JAMES BLOOD ULMER - Odyssey (1983)

  8. JANE SIBERRY - No Borders Here (1984)

  9. TERRY RILEY & THE KRONOS QUARTET - Cadenza on the Night Plain (1984)

  10. BOB MARLEY - Uprising (1980)

  11. SWINGERS - Counting the Beat (1981)

  12. OINGO BOINGO - Good For Your Soul (1983)

  13. DON CHERRY & ED BLACKWELL - El Corazon (1982)

  14. DUKES OF STRATOSPHERE - 25 O’Clock (1985)

  15. THE DICKIES - Stukas Over Disneyland (1983)

  16. ANDY SUMMERS & ROBERT FRIPP - I Advance Masked (1982)

  17. HAIRCUT 100 - Pelican West (1982)

  18. NICK HEYWARD - North of a Miracle (1983)

  19. RAIN PARADE - Emergency Third Rail Power Trip (1983)

  20. THE EX - History Is What’s Happening (1982)

  21. BIG BLACK - Bulldozer (1983)

  22. THE BIRTHDAY PARTY - Prayers On Fire (1981)

  23. MEAT PUPPETS - Meat Puppets II (1982)

  24. VIOLENT FEMMES - Hallowed Ground (1984)

  25. REPLACEMENTS - Let It Be (1984)

  26. RAT MUSIC FOR RAT PEOPLE (VARIOUS ARTISTS) (1982)

(Mostly) live recordings of many of the west coast’s finest punk of the early 80’s (DK’s, DOA, Flipper, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, T.S.O.L., Dils, Avengers) plus Bad Brains from the East!

  1. BIG BOYS - Lullabies Help The Brain Grow (1983)

  2. BAD BRAINS - Rock For Light (1983)

  3. BAD RELIGION - How Could Hell Be Any Worse? (1981)

  4. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - Born in the U.S.A. (1984)

  5. BLACK FLAG - Damaged (1981)

  6. MX-80 SOUND - Out Of The Tunnel (1980)

  7. PROLETARIAT - Soma Holiday (1983)

  8. CAPTAIN BEEFHEART - Ice Cream For Crow (1982)

  9. RUSH - Signals (1982)

  10. FRANCIS BEBEY - African Moonlight (1984)

Bebey was one of the more experimental African artists of his time, combining influences in ways rarely heard before.  From Cameroon, he also lived in the U.S., France, and Ghana.  

  1. THE CHURCH - The Church (1982)

  2. THE INDESTRUCTIBLE BEAT OF SOWETO (VARIOUS ARTISTS) (1985)

Bringing South African music to the world’s attention, this is a great sampler of 12 groups playing different styles which all retain a joyous delivery. This music formed the basis of Paul Simon’s Graceland a year later.  

  1. JOAN ARMATRADING - Walk Under Ladders (1981)

  2. FELA KUTI - Army Arrangement (1985)

  3. GEORGE CLINTON - Computer Games (1982)

  4. SACCHARINE TRUST - Worldbroken (1985)

  5. STEVIE WONDER - Hotter Than July (1980)

  6. MASSACRE - Killing Time (1980)

  7. J GEILS BAND - Freeze Frame (1981)

  8. NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS - The Firstborn Is Dead (1985)

  9. PETE TOWNSHEND - Empty Glass (1980)

  10. AU PAIRS - Playing With A Different Sex (1981)

  11. TOM WAITS - Swordfishtrombones (1983)

  12. VAN MORRISON - Common One (1980)

  13. DAVID BOWIE - Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) (1980)

  14. THE FALL - This Nation’s Saving Grace (1985)

  15. STEVE REICH - Tehillim (1981)

Another variation on Reich’s hypnotic pulse, here with strong vocal parts

  1. 100 FLOWERS - 100 Flowers (1983)

  2. CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN - Telephone Free Landslide Victory (1985)

  3. BUTTHOLE SURFERS - Butthole Surfers (1983)

The first and perhaps most potent blast from the acid-trip punk contingent.  

  1. TIME ZONE - World Destruction (1984)

Ok, i know it’s really a single but since it’s one of the finest songs of the early 80’s I had to get it on here somehow.  Afrikka Bambaata teams up with Johnny Lydon for a whoppin’ good tune

  1. POGUES - Run, Sodomy, and the Lash (1985)

  2. KATE WOLF - Give Yourself To Love (1983)

The sweetest of folksingers.  Music for a cozy singalong by the fire with friends.

  1. THE UNKNOWNS - The Unknowns (1982)

Haunting songs with a retro-rockabilly meets new wave feel.  Little known LA band that i discovered on New Wave Theatre.  A bit like the Cramps without the campy element.   “City of Angels” and “The Streets” are classics.  

  1. PERE UBU - The Art Of Walking (1980)

  2. DEUTER - Silence Is the Answer (1980)

  3. WILL ACKERMAN - Passage (1981)

  4. PHAROAH SANDERS - Journey to the One (1980)

Though certainly not as compelling as his early 70’s albums, which are amongst my favorites of all-time (esp. “Live at the East,”  “Elevation,”  “Black Unity”), this is an enjoyable album of fairly smooth jazz with a little bit of his legendary fire in the mix, as well as some sublime beauty.

  1. GENESIS - Abacab (1981)

  2. ENGLISH BEAT - Special Beat Service (1983)

  3. DAVID BYRNE & BRIAN ENO - My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (1981)

  4. SAVAGE REPUBLIC - Ceremonial (1985)

  5. JOY DIVISION - Closer (1980)

  6. ROBERT FRIPP - God Save The Queen / Under Heavy Manners (1980)

  7. FLIPPER - Gone Fishin’ (1984)

  8. SIMPLE MINDS - New Gold Dream (81/82/83/84) (1982)

  9. E.W. WAINWRIGHT, JR. - African Roots of Jazz (1981)

A communal, spiritual vibe runs throughout these heavily rhythmic pieces, often with a group choir chiming in.   Latin-jazz influence, as much as African.  

  1. MICHAEL JACKSON - Thriller (1982)

  2. BILLY JOEL - Glass Houses (1980)

  3. DICKS - Kill From The Heart (1983)

  4. ADAM ANT - Friend Or Foe (1982)

  5. GEORGE WINSTON - Autumn (1980)

  6. PHILIP GLASS - Koyaanisqatsi (1983)

  7. MEREDITH MONK - Dolmen Music (1981)

  8. NO MEANS NO - You Kill Me (1985)

A taste of greater things to come.  Rhythmically heavy prog-punk grooves, with a maniacal lyrical edge.  Think Birthday Party, Saccharine Trust, Jesus Lizard

  1. UB40 - Signing Off (1980)

  2. KINKS - State of Confusion (1983)

  3. STEVIE NICKS - Bella Donna (1981)

  4. DEXY’S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS - Too-Rye-Ay (1982)

  5. BILLY SQUIER - Don’t Say No (1981)

  6. A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS - A Flock Of Seagulls (1982)

  7. SOFT CELL - Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret (1981)

  8. PAYOLAS - No Stranger To Danger (1982)

  9. VAPORS - New Clear Days (1980)

  10. THE THE - Soul Mining (1983)

  11. BLANCMANGE - Happy Families (1982)

  12. YELLO - You Gotta Say Yes to Another Excess (1983)

  13. HOODOO GURUS - Stoneage Romeos (1984)

  14. GO-GO’S - Beauty and the Beat (1981)

  15. CODE BLUE - Code Blue (1980)

  16. THE CARS - Shake It Up (1981)

  17. RESIDENTS - Commercial Album (1980)

  18. RENALDO AND THE LOAF - Songs For Swinging Larvae (1981)

  19. RICHARD & LINDA THOMPSON - Shoot out the Lights (1982)

  20. LINDA RONSTADT - Mad Love (1982)

  21. JONATHAN RICHMAN - Jonathan Sings! (1983)

  22. JOHN COUGAR MELLENCAMP - Uh-Huh! (1983)

  23. JOHN LENNON & YOKO ONO - Double Fantasy (1980)

  24. DREAM SYNDICATE - Days of Wine & Roses (1982)

  25. THE GORDONS - The Gordons (1981)

Heavy churning throb from New Zealand.  They would later morph into Bailter Space, another fine band.

  1. MAN SIZED ACTION - Five Story Garage (1984)

A Minneapolis band overshadowed by contemporaries like Husker Du and the Replacements, but a pretty damned good mix of melodic punk and post-punk.

  1. MINOR THREAT - Out of Step (1983)

  2. MICHAEL HEDGES - Aerial Boundaries (1984)

  3. THE REIVERS - Translate Slowly (1985)

  4. COCTEAU TWINS - Treasure (1984)

  5. NEIL YOUNG -  Re-ac-tor (1981)

  6. ULTRAVOX - Rage In Eden (1981)

  7. SPARKS - Angst In My Pants (1982)

  8. MAGAZINE - Play (1980)

  9. DESCENDENTS - Milo Goes to College (1982)

  10. DURAN DURAN - Rio (1982)

  11. STRAY CATS - Built for Speed (1982)

  12. SURF PUNKS - My Beach (1980)

  13. JOHN FOGERTY - Centerfield (1985)

  14. JOAN JETT - Bad Reputation (1980)

  15. HUMAN SWITCHBOARD - Who’s Landing in My Hangar? (1981)

  16. GEORGE THOROGOOD & THE DESTROYERS- Bad To The Bone (1982)

  17. CAMBERWELL NOW - Meridian (1983)

From the ashes of This Heat came this group exploring similarly unconventional terrain, but with less of an abrasive edge than This Heat.  This, their first release, is not nearly as potent as later releases, which upped the rhythmic instensity

  1. ROMANTICS - The Romantics (1980)

  2. WATERBOYS - This Is The Sea (1985)

  3. CINDY LAUPER - She’s So Unusual (1983)

  4. SHRIEKBACK - Care (1983)

  5. EURYTHMICS - Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) - 1983

  6. THE CALL - Modern Romans (1983)

  7. ANGRY SAMOANS - Back From Samoa (1982)

  8. ROBYN HITCHCOCK & THE EGYPTIANS - Fegmania! (1985)

  9. SOFT BOYS - Underwater Moonlight (1980)

  10. THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN - The League of Gentlemen (1981)

How could a band containing 2 members from some of my favorite bands (XTC and Gang of Four) have escaped my attention?  Robert Fripp here aims for a “dance band” and gets halfway there ...

  1. MEN AT WORK - Business As Usual (1982)

  2. EINSTURZENDE NEUBATEN - Halber Mensch (1985)

  3. THE DAMNED - The Black Album (1980)

  4. ALTERNATIVE TV - Strange Kicks (1981)

  5. DEAD CAN DANCE - Spleen and Ideal (1985)

  6. BOW WOW WOW - See Jungle! See Jungle!  Go Join Your Gang Yeah, City All Over!  Go Ape Crazy! (1981)

  7. HEART - Bebe Le Strange (1980)

  8. LOS LOBOS - How Will The Wolf Survive? (1984)

  9. B-52’S - Wild Planet (1980)

  10. DIRE STRAITS - Making Movies (1980)

  11. GUN CLUB  - Fire of Love (1981)

  12. BLONDIE - Autoamerican (1980)

  13. SKAFISH - Skafish (1980)

  14. ROBERT WYATT - Nothing Can Stop Us (1982)

  15. STEVE WINWOOD - Arc of a Diver (1980)

  16. DIANA ROSS - Diana (1980)

  17. THE CLEAN - Boodle, Boodle, Boodle (1981)

  18. FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD - Welcome to the Pleasuredome (1984)

  19. YACHTS - Without Radar (1980)

  20. BOOMTOWN RATS - Mondo Bongo (1981)

  21. BATTALION OF SAINTS - The Second Coming (1984)

  22. STRANGLERS - Aural Sculpture (1984)

  23. LOU REED - The Blue Mask (1982)

  24. SLITS - Return of the Giant Slits (1981)

  25. SPANDAU BALLET - Diamond (1982)

  26. ROLLING STONES - Tattoo You (1981)

  27. AC/DC - Back In Black (1980)

  28. ADRIAN BELEW - The Lone Rhino (1982)

  29. CHIC - Real People (1980)

  30. HERBIE HANCOCK & FODAY MUSA SUSO - Village Life (1985)

  31. LAURIE ANDERSON - Big Science (1982)

  32. UNDERTONES - Positive Touch (1981)

  33. DB’S - Stands For Decibels (1981)

  34. BIG COUNTRY - The Crossing (1983)

  35. KISSING THE PINK - Naked (1983)

  36. ROBERT HAZARD - Robert Hazard (1982)

NEW WAVE THEATRE!!

And I must mention the huge impact of the TV Show "New Wave Theatre" - a precious window for those of us stuck in Montana to check out some of the best (and the worst) of new underground music.  It was a bizarre 3-ring circus, with space-age philosophical musings by host Peter Ivers, plus bizarre little skits and fake ads, and the legendary band interviews, where Peter's question was always "What is the meaning of life?".  And the music - so many great bands and artists, some of whom barely got around to releasing any official recordings.  Some of my favorites who appeared during the 3? years (1981-83) of the show:

BLASTERS, X, TOP JIMMY & THE RHYTHM PIGS, CIRCLE JERKS, RED WEDDING, MONITOR, RAYONICS, DEAD KENNEDYS, THE FIBONACCIS, STEPMOTHERS, 45 GRAVE, UXA, PLUGZ, UNKNOWNS, LEGAL WEAPON, THE GENERALS, LEVI DEXTER & THE TRIBE, SNAKEPIT & ZAM, ANGRY SAMOANS, BAD RELIGION, FEAR, ANDY & THE RATTLESNAKES, BRAINIACS, CIPHER