I Love the Eighties: My Top 100 Albums of 1986


1986 was the year when I graduated for the second straight year after my internship. Now, people go on and on these days about how great of an economic recovery that the Eighties experienced, but the reality was that the recovery really did not begin for another two years, as the President most associated with the recovery was leaving office. Why do I bring this up? Well, this was the reality facing my eleven classmates and me upon graduation. For the first time in the history of St. John’s School of Medical Technology, no one from a graduating class was hired as a tech. Luckily, I was the first in our class to be hired, but we had to move to Oxford, Ohio, while the rest of my classmates took up to six months to a year until we were all employed as techs. I actually had three job offers, all of them at little 60-bed hospitals in and around Cincinnati. We chose Oxford for the salary and because Oxford is a cool town.

5.22 the smiths - the queen is dead

Now, in 1986, music began to bounce back a bit from the underwhelming year of 1985. After three straight legendary albums, Athens, Georgia band R.E.M. released their first second masterpiece which was, ironically enough, recorded in Indiana at John Mellencamp’s studio, produced by Mellencamp’s producer Don Gehman. The band’s garage-based background truly came alive on this album. The English version of R.E.M., The Smiths, also released their masterpiece album, The Queen Is Dead. This album was played by college students all over Oxford that year. The other big alternative album of the year was by XTC, who, with the production by Todd Rundgren, conjured up images of the Summer of Love 19 years later, with their loving parody of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album, only with a Gen X cynicism underlying the production sounds on their album Skylarking.

5.22 bon jovi - slippery when wet

A couple of diverse artists had huge commercial breakthroughs. First, the American version of Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, took the advice of a group of Toronto teens as to which songs they recorded should be put on their new album, Slippery When Wet. Then, there was the Jackson family’s youngest member declaring her independence when she followed her newly declared independence by going to Minneapolis for a touch of the Purple Sound as Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis made their reputations as producers with Miss Jackson’s Control album. And, then, in one of the largest surprises since Tina Turner’s great 1984 comeback, one-time Genesis frontman Peter Gabriel finally had his big commercial breakthrough with his album So and his first number one hit single “Sledgehammer.”

5.22 Poison-Look-What-the-Cat-Dragged-In

One other significant breakthrough happened with hair metal gained more commercial inroads as the Cheap Trick tribute band Poison broke through with their first hit song, “Talk Dirty to Me”, and the album from which it came Look What the Cat Dragged In sold in big numbers. This happened while rap music began hitting the Top 10 on both the Album and Singles charts behind Run-DMC and Beastie Boys, marking the beginning of commercial success for the former underground musical sensation rap music.

5.22 run dmc - raising hell

Additionally, as a reaction against the assent of hair metal, popping up from the underground, was another form of heavy metal, known as thrash metal, led by the “Big Four”: Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax, who all released classic albums of the genre, and any other, this year. And, although, Metallica bassist Cliff Burton lost his life in a bus crash in Europe, Metallica was destined for greater heights in the very near future. And, metal proved its commercial appeal with great albums from Iron Maiden and David Lee Roth. Also, the alternative underground was gaining steam behind Hüsker Dü, Bad Religion, Minutemen and Billy Bragg, among many others.

5.22 paul simon - graceland

Finally, apartheid, the evil oppression of the majority blacks in South Africa by the minority population of whites began to unwittingly crack when Paul Simon defied established sanctions by traveling to the banned country so he could record new music with black South African musicians to create his cultural landmark album Graceland. Not only did Simon showcase the talents of these musicians, but he unwittingly led the uprising of the blacks behind Nelson Mandela to peacefully wrestle power away from the minority rule. Truly, this was a beautiful moment in rock history.

5.22 cameo - word up

With that background out of the way, it is time for the countdown. So, let’s get this party started! (Sorry P!nk!)

5.22 1.rem - lifes rich paegent

5.22 3.xtc - skylarking

  1. R.E.M. – Lifes Rich Pageant
  2. Prince & the Revolution – Parade
  3. XTC – Skylarking
  4. Peter Gabriel – So
  5. Paul Simon – Graceland
  6. The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead
  7. Run-D.M.C. – Raising Hell
  8. Beastie Boys – Licensed to Ill
  9. Game Theory – Big Shot Chronicles
  10. Janet Jackson – Control
  11. Metallica – Master of Puppets
  12. Hüsker Dü – Candy Apple Grey
  13. World Party – Private Revolution
  14. Pet Shop Boys – Please
  15. Talking Heads – True Stories
  16. Bruce Springsteen – Live/1975-1985
  17. Slayer – Reign in Blood
  18. Crowded House – Crowded House
  19. Depeche Mode – Black Celebration
  20. Queen – A Kind of Magic
  21. Robert Cray Band – Strong Persuader
  22. Wham! – Music from the Edge of Heaven
  23. David & David – Boomtown
  24. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – Blood & Chocolate
  25. The Style Council – Home & Abroad
  26. New Order – Brotherhood
  27. The Housemartins – London 0 Hull 4
  28. Various Artists – C86
  29. Anita Baker – Rapture
  30. Joe Jackson – Big World
  31. Talk Talk – The Colour of Spring
  32. Van Halen – 5150
  33. Bangles – Different Light
  34. The Human League – Crash
  35. Billy Idol – Whiplash Smile
  36. Madonna – True Blue
  37. Georgia Satellites – Georgia Satellites
  38. The The – Infected
  39. David Lee Roth – Eat ‘Em and Smile
  40. Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet
  41. Cameo – Word Up!
  42. Iggy Pop – Blah Blah Blah
  43. Belinda Carlisle – Belinda
  44. Bruce Hornsby & the Range – The Way It Is
  45. Lionel Richie – Dancing on the Ceiling
  46. Eddie Money – Can’t Hold Back
  47. Public Image Ltd. – Album
  48. Boston – Third Stage
  49. Billy Joel – The Bridge
  50. Cyndi Lauper – True Colors
  51. Genesis – Invisible Touch
  52. Huey Lewis & the News – Fore!
  53. Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band – Like a Rock
  54. Journey – Raised on Radio
  55. The Costello Show (aka Elvis Costello) – King of America
  56. Poison – Look What the Cat Dragged In
  57. James Brown – In the Jungle Groove
  58. The Fabulous Thunderbirds – Tuff Enuff
  59. Cinderella – Night Songs
  60. The B-52’s – Bouncing Off the Satellites
  61. Pretenders – Get Close
  62. The BoDeans – Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams
  63. Dwight Yoakam – Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.
  64. Patti LaBelle – The Winner in You
  65. Billy Ocean – Love Zone
  66. Steve Winwood – Back in the High Life
  67. Europe – The Final Countdown
  68. Tina Turner – Break Every Rule
  69. Doug E. Fresh – Oh, My God!
  70. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Your Funeral…My Trial
  71. Megadeth – Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying?
  72. Big Audio Dynamite – 10, Upping St.
  73. Aretha Franklin – Aretha
  74. Luther Vandross – Give Me the Reason
  75. Steve Earle – Guitar Town
  76. Billy Bragg – Talking with the Taxman About Poetry
  77. Bad Brains – I Against I
  78. Communards – Communards
  79. The Go-Betweens – Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express
  80. Jackson Browne – Lives in the Balance
  81. Duran Duran – Notorious
  82. Various Artists – Top Gun OST
  83. They Might Be Giants – They Might Be Giants
  84. Stryper – To Hell with the Devil
  85. Violent Femmes – The Blind Leading the Naked
  86. Electric Light Orchestra – Balance of Power
  87. Ozzy Osbourne – The Ultimate Sin
  88. Van Morrison – No Guru, No Method, No Teacher
  89. Kool Moe Dee – Kool Moe Dee
  90. Freddie Jackson – Just like the First Time
  91. Concrete Blonde – Concrete Blonde
  92. Whodini – Back in Black
  93. Salt-n-Pepa – Hot, Cool & Vicious
  94. Big Black – Atomizer
  95. Throwing Muses – Throwing Muses
  96. Iron Maiden – Somewhere in Time
  97. Sonic Youth – Evol
  98. Love & Rockets – Express
  99. Siouxsie & the Banshees – Tinderbox
  100. New Kids on the Block – New Kids on the Block

5.22 metallica - master of puppets5.22 queen - a kind of magic

5.22 whodini - back in black5.22 Top_gun_(album)

And, that’s a wrap on another year of this great decade called the Eighties. We have just three more to go as we head into a big holiday weekend. I hope you all will check in the upcoming days as I wrap up the music of the great Eighties. Cheers all!

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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