You’re going to see a trend, darlings, and it may not mesh with your own personal opinion — I really didn’t like the cheery happy cocaine-fuelled synthpop of the 1980s. So you’re not going to see a lot of Dexy’s Midnight Runners or Duran Duran or Pet Shop Boys — if that’s your thing, good on you, but this is my list. I encourage you to share your favourites — I have no problems with a difference of opinion. I do have standards, though, so when the time comes, if New Kids On the Block is your thing… well, why are you even reading this? Don’t you have Babysitters Club books to catch up on?
Oh, and in case this is the first post you’re reading — I’m picking albums that I own — albums that I still listen to in their entirety — so sure, there are probably a lot of songs from this era that I love, those one-hit-wonders or “Hey, who knew The Bangles had a good tune in them?” but I’m talking about entire albums.
John Cougar – American Fool
Two words — Jack & Diane. (The ampersand doesn’t count darlings.) Yes, it’s middle of the road rock and roll cliche, but it’s the definitive middle of the road rock and roll cliche, and surely something must be said for that. (And don’t fucking tell me you’re not humming along)
The Cure – Pornography
MY favourite Cure album. They were NEVER this bleak again — there are moments of this album that are downright terrifying. Maybe this is due to the fact that the band was pretty much constantly on LSD among other things while recording.
Take “The Figurehead” for example, with it’s refrain that “I’ll never be clean again.” Creeptacular.
The Clash – Combat Rock
When I was in grade 12, I was in a band, and we played “Should I Stay or Should I Go” at a school talent show. It’s pretty hard to fuck up this song.
Joe Jackson – Night and Day
This was my very first exposure to Joe Jackson — even before “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” I saw this on an old Saturday Night Live re-run and was hooked. Then I went back and found everything he’d ever done!
Peter Gabriel – Security
This is the Peter Gabriel album I listen to the most. Like I said before, I can’t say whether this or III is my favourite, but there you go. San Jacinto is so brilliant and cinematic.
Bauhaus – The Sky’s Gone Out
One of the best GOTH albums ever — also contains the amazing cover of Brian Eno’s Third Uncle.
Honourable mention, because I suspect if I don’t mention it, I’m going to get shit, but Michael Jackson’s Thriller came out this year as well.
Here’s my confession – I was never a Michael Jackson fan. I never had a red leather V jacket, I never bought a single one of his albums. I laughed at people who jumped on and off his bandwagon — people seemed to enjoy hating MJ as much as they enjoyed loving him.
Here’s what I have to say, and it’s just my opinion — Quincy Jones MADE Michael Jackson (no, not out of spare parts — that would come later). If there’s any genius to MJ’s music, it’s the man in the studio. (I could actually, in retrospect, say the same about Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois in respect to U2’s rise, starting with The Unforgettable Fire.)