Left of the Dial: My Top 200 Favorite ’80s College Rock Songs

7.26 stone roses
The Stone Roses

The phrase “Left of the Dial” comes from the 1985 Replacements song title from their brilliant album Tim. The the first time, a band was paying homage to the college radio stations who were playing their music. And, where on the FM bandwidth would one find most college stations? On the left side of the “dial”, to which you would turn the dial to the range between 88 to 93 kilowatts to hear these stations. Now, with digital signals we use preset buttons to lock in on a radio station’s signal, that is if you listen to terrestrial radio at all anymore. Before those preset buttons, you had a dial to help you lock in on a station’s signal, thus the reason for the song’s title.

7.26 slicing up eyeballs

Now, my primary source for information about ’80s College Rock can be found on the fantastic website called Slicing Up Eyeballs. The site is a cornucopia of information on this music, which was the next step beyond New Wave and Punk music. And, in addition to my own music collection, I would like to refer you to four box sets that have been quite helpful in this endeavor. Yesterday, I referred to the first one, Left of the Dial. The other three are Children of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the Second Psychedelic Era, 1976–1995; Like Omigod! The ’80s Pop Culture Box and A Life Less Lived: The Gothic Box. All three sets are loaded with songs found on this list and many that probably should have been.

7.26 children of nuggets
Children of Nuggets
7.26 like omigod box set
Like Omigod!
7.26 a life less lived
A Life Less Lived

Now that we are in 2017, we can more look back at this vast history of rock & roll music and see that this music had to happen. Ground zero can be found in the music of a little-known band from the late Sixties called the Velvet Underground, who had a singer/songwriter by the name of Lou Reed. Their albums initial did not sell well, but legend claims that everyone that did purchase the album all started bands, which, when combined with the UK’s glam rock scene and the USA’s bubblegum music fixation gave way to punk and new wave. Then, as the darkness of Reaganomics began to take on toll on Gen X, they turned inward with college rock. Eventually, college rock morphed into the Alternative Nation of the Nineties, including grunge, Britpop, alt-country (or Americana), power pop, funk-rock and nu-metal. Then, at the dawn of the 21st Century, the alternative scene gave way to the indie scene, since the record companies started dying off in the digital age.

So, today, let’s kick back and enjoy the next 35 songs in My Top 200 80s College Rock Songs, specifically #96-130.

96. Dinosaur Jr. – “Freak Scene” (1988)

97. The Cure – “Why Can’t I Be You” (1987)

98. Lone Justice – “Ways to Be Wicked” (1985)

99. The Replacements – “Left of the Dial” (1985)

100. Roxy Music – “More Than This” (1982)

101. Violent Femmes – “Add It Up” (1983)

102. Big Audio Dynamite – “The Bottom Line” (1985)

103. Godley & Crème – “Cry” (1985)

104. Meat Puppets – “Lake of Fire” (1984)

105. The Godfathers – “Birth, School, Work, Death” (1988)

106. Talk Talk – “It’s My Life” (1984)

107. New Order – “Blue Monday” (1983)

108. Mudhoney – “Touch Me I’m Sick” (1988)

109. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Higher Ground” (1989)

110. Lloyd Cole & the Commotions – “Perfect Skin” (1984)

111. Los Lobos – “How Will the Wolf Survive?” (1984)

112. Gene Loves Jezebel – “Gorgeous” (1987)

113. Midnight Oil – “Beds Are Burning” (1988)

114. The Clash – “Go Straight to Hell” (1982)

115. The Cure – “Let’s Go to Bed” (1982)

116. The Fixx – “Are We Ourselves” (1984)

117. X – “Johnny Hit and Run Paulene” (1980)

118. Ministry – “Stigmata” (1988)

119. Bob Mould – “Wishing Well” (1989)

120. Dream Academy – “Life in a Northern Town” (1985)

121. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – “Enola Gray” (1981)

122. Talking Heads – “Road to Nowhere” (1985)

123. The Pogues – “If I Should Fall from Grace with God” (1987)

124. The Dukes of Stratosphear – “Vanishing Girl” (1987)

125. DEVO – “Working in a Coalmine” (1981)

126. Julian Cope – “The World Shut Your Mouth” (1984)

127. Gang of Four – “I Love a Man in Uniform” (1982)

128. Killing Joke – “Wardrobe” (1981)

129. R.E.M. – “Can’t Get There from Here” (1985)

130. Grace Jones – “Private Life” (1980)

We are now in the Top 100. Hold on since we have 95 more songs to go!

Author: ifmyalbumscouldtalk

I am just a long-time music fan who used to be a high school science teacher and a varsity coach of several high school athletic teams. Before that, I worked as a medical technologist at three hospitals in their labs, mainly as a microbiologist. I am retired/disabled (Failed Back Surgery Syndrome), and this is my attempt to remain a human. Additionally, I am a serious vinyl aficionado, with a CD addiction and a love of reading about rock history. Finally, I am a fan of Prince, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, R.E.M., Hall & Oates, Springsteen, Paul Weller & his bands and Power Pop music.

One thought on “Left of the Dial: My Top 200 Favorite ’80s College Rock Songs”

  1. Slicing Up Eyeballs was lots of fun when they were crowdsourcing lists of albums and songs for particular years and I voted each and every time but I’ve never been one for ranking the songs of a particular artist like they’ve been doing since the site returned from a two-year hiatus earlier this year. But I know ranking your favorite songs by your favorite artists is a pretty big deal for you so you must be totally digging it.

    Keller’s Top 200 College Rock of the 80s Songs: 130-96

    Liked by 1 person

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