I Love the Eighties: My Top 40 Albums of 1981


Back in May 1981, I was graduating from high school, preparing for my last three months of living at home before arriving at the Ball State campus, and facing the world as a young adult. Personally, I was ready to leave my little community of family, friends and a whole stifling world of people in the hopes of becoming part of some sort of educational-based intellectualism. Unfortunately, outside of my classes, I left college disappointed by the experience. Sure, I chose my alma mater for three reasons: (1) the science department was every bit as good as Indiana or Purdue’s for the life sciences, (2) I was going to be a “preferred walk-on” on the Cross Country and indoor and outdoor Track teams, and (3) the size was big enough to be “lost in” while small enough to gain some valuable leadership experiences. Well, reasons 1 and 3 remain great, while number 2 was just plain stupid. I should have known that I was no longer in love with running, at least in the way to be success at the collegiate level.

5.16 Billy_Squier_-_Don't_Say_No

Yet, I was leaving high school as an academic underachiever, who had a firm grasp of scientific concepts, grammatical and writing skills and a knowledge base in history/government/economics/political science that may have exceeded a majority of my peers, mainly because I was constantly reading all kinds of material, from Karl Marx to Ayn Rand, from the Bible to the Qur’an. This is not an attempt to brag, but to give you a bit of my background. During my two-year confirmation coursework in my Lutheran church, I became enamored with Matthew 25:31-46, in which Jesus directs Christians to care for those who have less, since you never know when that person you are aiding could be God, Himself. First off, I am a terrible hypocrite when it comes to living these verses out-load; yet, I do try, especially during my teaching career. It was when I read that section of the Bible back in the seventh grade, I thought if you were to extrapolate those verses into the political realm, then the liberal political view, with all of its faults, would be the most Godlike. So, sorry fellow Hoosiers, I am a liberal. I know most of you believe that makes me dumb, Godless, and the like. And, I understand that my educational background seems to make me out to living in some ivory tower that I have never seen, even figuratively. Oh, and I will not change my beliefs.

But, one area in which college did not disappoint was in the development of my love of music. Slowly, I found some like-minded musical souls with whom I shared our love. I also got involved with a group of young men who encouraged me to become a member of their college bowl team as a pop music specialist. So, not only was I added to this team for my scientific background but because of my prodigious knowledge in popular music. Thus, this blog would have never existed without that group of seniors who noticed something in me. My career in the college bowl was short-lived when I got involved with an intramural basketball team, which I needed as an outlet.

5.16 Rick_James_-_Street_Songs

Now, 1981 was a pretty good year for music. By 1981, punk rock had evolved into new wave, hardcore (like Black Flag, Hüsker Dü and the Dead Kennedys), goth (Bauhaus, the early Cure and Siouxsie & the Banshees) and new wave (Devo, The B-52’s and all the popular forms of a left field type of pop music). The synthesizer was the instrument of choice of the early Eighties and was being incorporated by all forms of music, including even by heavy metal and southern rock artists. Although my Top 40 was diverse, the use of the synthesizer was prevalent. Yet, it was the music that shone through, not the synthesizers.

So, let’s dive back into 1981. Sure, the songs were all about “Celebration,” “Looking for Love,” and “Physical.” Yet, it was the albums in which had the real music. So, here is my Top 40 Albums of 1981.

5.16 tom petty - hard promises

  1. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Hard Promises
  2. Brian Eno and David Byrne – My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
  3. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Private Eyes
  4. Rush – Moving Pictures
  5. The Police – Ghost in the Machine
  6. Squeeze – East Side Story
  7. The J. Geils Band – Freeze-Frame
  8. Tom Tom Club – Tom Tom Club
  9. Phil Collins – Face Value
  10. Stevie Nicks – Bella Donna
  11. Rick James – Street Songs
  12. Prince – Controversy
  13. The Rolling Stones – Tattoo You
  14. Electric Light Orchestra – Time
  15. Billy Squier – Don’t Say No
  16. Genesis – Abacab
  17. The Moody Blues – Long Distance Voyager
  18. Journey – Escape
  19. Lindsey Buckingham – Law and Order
  20. Duran Duran – Duran Duran
  21. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – Trust
  22. Foreigner – 4
  23. The Human League – Dare!
  24. Loverboy – Get Lucky
  25. Billy Joel – Songs from the Attic
  26. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll
  27. Rickie Lee Jones – Pirates
  28. Triumph – Allied Forces
  29. The Go-Go’s – Beauty and the Beat
  30. Dan Fogelberg – An Innocent Man
  31. Devo – New Traditionalists
  32. Hanoi Rocks – Bangkok Shocks Saigon Shakes Hanoi Rocks
  33. The Cars – Shake It Up
  34. Debbie Harry – Koo Koo
  35. AC/DC – For Those About to Rock We Salute You
  36. Pretenders – Pretenders II
  37. Pat Benatar – Precious Time
  38. Rick Springfield – Working Class Dog
  39. Saga – Worlds Apart
  40. Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band – Nine Tonight

5.16 eno & byrne - my life in the bush of ghosts5.16 stevie nicks - bella donna

And, that’s 1981 to me these days, not so much my political views which I continue to hold on to. I’d much rather discuss rock & roll, science (especially microbiology), and the arts, but I do have strong political views that are not based on emotion but on a pragmatically studied views gained from The Bible, Qur’an and political studies. Let’s go rock and roll!

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.

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