Top 40 – A Retrospective – 1981

You know how sometimes you just have a bad day? Or a bad week? Or a bad… you get the picture. Well, darlings, 1981 seems to have been a bad year for music, as I looked back, I could only find a small handful of albums that I loved from that year.

Nevertheless, here are some snippets.

Elvis Costello – Trust

Apparently, this is some of his earliest songwriting, finally making its way to his fifth in a series of perfect albums. It would get a little spotty during the mid-eighties until he made a strong comeback in the ’90s.

I’m going to give you the opening track, Clubland, whose lyric “The long arm of the law slides up the outskirts of town…” always makes me feel inadequate as a writer.

Phil Collins – Face Value

Okay, okay… so, Phil Collins may have become something of Adult Contemporary, and I’m not saying I’m a Phil Collins fan, so get off my back. But this first solo album has the classic “In The Air Tonight” which I discovered, like everyone else, in that Miami Vice episode.

Plus, he does a halfway decent cover of Tomorrow Never Knows as the album’s closer.

David Byrne/Eno – My Life in the Bush of Ghosts

One for the weird category. I love it — using found footage and sound samples to create audio collages — but not one for fans of simple pop music, for sure.

King Crimson – Discipline

THE RETURN OF KING CRIMSON!!!!!!!!! And what a line up — Bill Bruford back on drums, the incomparable Tony Levin on bass and Stick, Fripp, of course, and Adrian Belew — one of the most inventive guitarists of all time, whose work includes touring with Talking Heads, David Bowie, and Frank Zappa.

I’ve decided to share two tracks — one incredibly intense one – Frame by Frame – and then a beautiful, subdued one that’s almost a love song — Matte Kudasai.


8 responses to “Top 40 – A Retrospective – 1981

  1. I remember 1981 as being a great year–great pop from the Police, the GoGos, Duran Duran, The Human League, and some some alternative stuff including The Cure, Siouxsie, Echo & The Bunnymen, and New Order. X’s Wild Gift and a fantastic Replacements album–I’m sure there were a bunch of others. There are always some gems in even the biggest gravel pile–in this case, the tribal drum dance mohawk jailbat band BowWowWow’s masterfully titled “See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join your band, Yeah! City all over Go Ape Crazy!” Now that’s an album title!

    • I was picking my absolute favourites — The Cure’s Faith and Seventeen Seconds will always be eclipsed, in my mind, by Pornography. The Police’s Ghost in the Machine has never been a favourite of mine as an overall album, even though it has some good tracks on it.

  2. You’re clearly not a Stones lover — and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I’d throw in Tattoo You here. Holding up almost as well as Exile to these ears.

  3. I read Keyboard magazine through most of the second half of the 80s and when an artist was asked the most influential album of all time it was almost always My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Still a great album, but now I hear the cynicism against religion more than the cool effects that I heard back then. And how can you call a year bad when it had the release of King Crimson’s Discipline? 😉

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