Today is Day 6 of the countdown of my Top 100 New Wave Albums, specifically numbers 41 through 50. Yes, that means we are moving downhill in this two-week countdown of one of my favorite eras AND genres of rock music. And, yes, I realize that I have many emotions of a simpler time tied in with this music as the heighten senses of a teen/twenty-something will put with their favorite songs of an era. And, my thing happens to be with this music. Many of these songs are associated with some extremely emotional moments in my life that I could never share. Yet, those memories are what intensifies our reactions to music. And, that’s a beautiful thing.
So, enough of my waxing poetic, let’s start the countdown before I get lost on Memory Lane again. That stupid street doesn’t always have a road map.
50. Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes (1983). I spent the Summer of ’83 in Southeastern Wisconsin working at a resort. That was a crazy summer of work, partying, great music and my introduction to the music of Violent Femmes. Never had I heard a band who played acoustic instruments rock so hard. There is a reason we remember “Blister in the Sun” and “Add It Up” to this day.
49. Pet Shop Boys – Please (1986). The Pet Shop Boys were a late entry into the synth pop sweepstakes, but they may have outlasted all of their genre competitors by making their synthesizers rock as hard as guitars and filling their music with more pop hooks that a fisherman’s tackle box.
48. The Vapors – New Clear Days (1980). Most of my friends thought that The Vapors’ lone hit, “Turning Japanese”, was a novelty hit. But, this album is stuffed full of more great pop songs than the Bay City Rollers’ Greatest Hits album. Let that one sink in.
47. The Psychedelic Furs – Forever Now (1982). The band whose music always seemed to end up in John Hughes’ movies had a great run of albums in the early Eighties with this Todd Rundgren-produced album being the bands most focused effort. “Love My Way” was the big hit on this one.
46. Boomtown Rats – The Fine Art of Surfacing (1979). In late 1979 or early 1980, I saw the Rats on American Bandstand, lip syncing the UK megahit “I Don’t Like Mondays”. I immediately drove to Sun Records to place an order for a copy of this album. What I discovered was this album was filled with fine music of great diversity, from the rocking “Someone’s Looking at You” to the quirky “Wind Chill Factor (Minus Zero)” to the baroque “I Don’t Like Mondays”, the Rats were at their creative peak. Unfortunately, the album fell on the deaf ears of radio programmers.
45. The [English] Beat – Special Beat Service (1982). The Beat created this sophisticated version of ska, and it caught on with the public behind such hits as “I Confess” and “Save It for Later”. Just a great album, simply put.
44. Gary Numan – The Pleasure Principle (1979). If it wasn’t for this album, Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails might have sounded different. Numan mined synth pop’s icy, detached side for great effect of isolation. Plus, everyone loved the hit “Cars”.
43. Pretenders – Pretenders (1980). The debut album by Pretenders remains the band’s best and most focused album of their illustrious career. How things might have been different if guitarist James Honeyman-Scott and bassist Pete Farndon hadn’t OD’ed within a year of each other. This album shows what might have been.
42. Roxy Music – Avalon (1982). Next to David Bowie, Roxy Music just may be the second most important artist to New Wave artists everywhere. And, although Roxy began as a glam rock group, they too evolve with the times so much so that by the release of Avalon, they were now New Wave artists. Few could have made this success change.
41. ABC – The Lexicon of Love (1982). The youth of the late-Seventies and early-Eighties were in love with Motown music. So, it was very little surprise when a New Wave band from the UK called ABC repackaged the sound and shipped it back to us in the States. And, we ate this stuff up! Thanks should go to the band for helping us rediscover that Motown sound. The success of this album paved the way for the mega-success of The Big Chill soundtrack that was stuffed full of Motown hits.
Now, we are ready for the Top 40! Hold onto your pants. Be back tomorrow.