Thursday, April 1, 2010

Revisiting My Favorite Albums of The 1980s

Hey, it's that time of year again. Every year (starting--and probably ending--in 2010) I've kicked off Spring by revisiting my favorite albums of the decade lists. As I did before, I'll count down my favorites from the '90s then the '80s then the '70s then the '60s then, finally and counterintuitively, the '00s. Why? you ask. Because not only are my tastes constantly changing a little--I'm getting more or less mature (not sure which), more or less knowledgeable, etc.--but also I'm always hearing new (old) music.

The lists will be presented in one serving (a.k.a. post) and counted down from #90 to #1. When compared to the original lists, albums that are completely new to the lists will be listed in blue. Albums that have moved up ten or more spots will be in green, and albums that have moved down ten or more will be in red. I will choose to write blurbs about random albums that are listed in these colored fonts. The write-ups will be in grey. It will be awesome. Hopefully. It might be confusing.

This part--Part 2--counts down my 90 favorite albums from the 1980s. Starting on the heels of punk and disco, the '80s gave us a lot of unique and wonderful music. While the music from 1980 to 1989 is generally best remembered as shimmering, sunny, and corny, there was plenty that was anything but. Sure, there was plenty of new wave and synth-pop--some of which was great, much of which was terrible--but the '80s also saw the birth post-punk, noise rock, indie rock, and more; the foundation of hip-hop being laid; and the creation and death of no wave and other various punk and new wave related genres. Plus, Prince came to power in the '80s. Though we now recall John Hughes and Michael Jackson as the paragons of the '80s (not that they don't deserve it), there were a lot of people of equal artistic stature. If you want to compare this list with the original, see: here, here, here.

Anyways, here's the new list:

90. R.E.M.--Murmur
89. Tears For Fears--Songs From The Big Chair
88. Ministry--The Land Of Rape And Honey
87. The Stone Roses--The Stone Roses
86. Galaxie 500--Today
85. The Birthday Party--Prayers On Fire
84. Rapeman--Two Nuns And A Pack Mule
83. Arthur Russell--World Of Echo
82. Public Enemy--Yo! Bum Rush The Show
81. Talk Talk--The Colour Of Spring
These albums got the short end of the stick because of all the new additions. Rest assured, though, each one of these is still very good.

80. Crass--Penis Envy
79. Skeleton Crew--Learn To Talk
78. Modern English--After The Snow
77. The Smiths--Strangeways, Here We Come
I've begun to appreciate The Smiths more and more. I had always enjoyed the lyrics, but I was never super impressed by the music. I'm now impressed by the music. (The Queen Is Dead also moved up a bit as you'll see if you scroll down a touch more.)
76. The Gun Club--The Las Vegas Story
75. Ultramagnetic MC's--Critical Beatdown
74. The Misfits--Walk Among Us
73. Gang Of Four--Songs Of The Free
72. The Cure--The Head On The Door
71. Big Black--Atomizer

70. Leonard Cohen--I'm Your Man
69. Boogie Down Productions--Criminal Minded
68. The Gun Club--Miami
67. Nurse With Wound--Homotopy To Marie
66. The Cure--Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
65. Husker Du--New Day Rising
Again we see a chunk of red, and again it's due to new additions to the list.
64. The Pogues--Rum, Sodomy & The Lash
63. Glenn Branca--The Ascension
62. New Order--Brotherhood
61. Michael Jackson--Thriller

60. Dexy's Midnight Runners--Searching For The Young Soul Rebels
59. ESG--Come Away With ESG
58. Spacemen 3--Playing With Fire
57. New Order--Movement
56. Meat Puppets--Meat Puppets II
55. The Feelies--The Good Earth
54. King Crimson--Discipline
53. The Soft Boys--Underwater Moonlight
52. New Order--Low-Life
Low-Life, a later addition to my New Order collection, further proves why they're not only the '80s most consistent group, but also one of my favorite bands.
51. Adam & The Ants--Kings Of The Wild Frontier

50. David Bowie--Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
49. Bad Brains--Bad Brains
48. Beat Happening--Jamboree
47. Mission Of Burma--Vs.
46. The Human League--Dare
45. Gang Of Four--Solid Gold
I want to adore Solid Gold like I do Entertainment!, but I just can't. It's an excellent album for sure, but it's next to nothing compared to its predecessor. It's too thick, I think. But know that it's still certainly worth your time.
44. John Zorn--Naked City
43. Young Marble Giants--Colossal Youth
42. New Order--Technique
41. Talking Heads--Stop Making Sense

40. Prince--Dirty Mind
39. Minor Threat--Out Of Step
38. Eric B. & Rakim--Paid In Full
37. Talk Talk--Spirit Of Eden
36. The Cure--Disintegration
35. Modern English--Mesh & Lace
I've enjoyed "Melt With You" for years, but only in the last few months did I realize that Modern English were a brilliant band beyond their one hit. Mesh & Lace and After The Snow are both excellent examples of post-punk/new wave, Mesh & Lace being the superior and much weirder album. This one is full of dark, schizophrenic, very 4AD, very awesome post-punk.
34. De La Soul--3 Feet High And Rising
33. Mission Of Burma--Signals, Calls, and Marches
32. Pixies--Surfer Rosa
31. Public Image Ltd.--Second Edition

30. The Replacements--Let It Be
29. The Fall--Hex Enduction Hour
28. The Gun Club--Fire Of Love
The Gun Club is another group that I've fallen in love with over the last half year or so. After acquiring Miami and Fire of Love, I spent several days listening almost exclusively to Jeffrey Lee Pierce and his chaotic blues-punk. Fire of Love is the group's crowning achievement: it's raw, messy, dirty, and every other adjective used to describe great music.
27. Kraftwerk--Computer World
26. The Smiths--The Queen Is Dead
25. Prince--Purple Rain
24. Big Black--Songs About Fucking
23. Husker Du--Zen Arcade
22. Violent Femmes--Violent Femmes
Violent Femmes have been a favorite of mine for several years, which makes it all the more surprising that I only got their debut album a couple months ago; I had been living off a greatest hits collection of theirs. I knew I'd love it, and, well, Violent Femmes is pretty spectacular.
21. The Fall--This Nation's Saving Grace

20. Galaxie 500--On Fire
19. New Order--Power, Corruption & Lies
18. Beastie Boys--Paul's Boutique
17. This Heat--Deceit
16. Sonic Youth--EVOL
15. Public Enemy--It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
14. Spacemen 3--The Perfect Prescription
13. The Jesus And Mary Chain--Psychocandy
12. Tom Waits--Swordfishtrombones
11. Sonic Youth--Sister

10. The Feelies--Crazy Rhythms
You may have noticed The Good Earth, The Feelies' second album, hanging out in blue up at number fifty-five. Well, The Good Earth is an awesome guitar-y college rock album, but The Feelies' opus is Crazy Rhythms. Thank the Lord that this album was reissued in late 2009 (it had been out of print) because it's full of some of the best musicianship I've ever heard. The dual guitars provide an attack that is both minimal and complex, the Liebzeit-ian drums provide a visceral listening experience. If I'm gushing it's because Crazy Rhythms is one of the most aptly titled albums ever, and it's truly amazing.
9. Minutemen--Double Nickels On The Dime
8. My Bloody Valentine--Isn't Anything
7. Brian Eno & David Byrne--My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts
6. Pixies--Doolittle
5. Joy Division--Closer
4. Talking Heads--Remain In Light
3. Tom Waits--Rain Dogs
2. Prince--Sign 'O' The Times
And you thought Purple Rain was Prince's masterpiece. I feel bad for only getting Sign 'O' The Times in January, but I quickly made up for lost time by listening to it (at least partly) every day from then until the beginning of March. (It's still in the car.) It's his White Album, it's his Trout Mask Replica, it's his--you get the point. It's his crazy, overblown double album, as varied in style and tone as both of the other albums just mentioned. The songs are fun, weird, long, and incredibly unique. He bends pop music about as far as it can go, throwing in all sorts of different structures and textures. He sounds like Sly, he sounds like Clinton, he sounds like Bowie, he sounds like Zappa. But he really just sounds like Prince, and on Sign 'O' The Times, he proves that his own style is one of the best and most unique in the history of popular music.
1. Sonic Youth--Daydream Nation
There's really nothing else quite like Daydream Nation, and I have a feeling it will always be #1.

That's what I think. The new '70s list should be arriving shortly.

No comments:

Post a Comment