By the end of 1982, I was a seasoned college sophomore and active member of my fraternity, though neither qualify as lines on my resume for this. You see, instead of running cross country, indoor track and outdoor track for the possibility of HALF of a scholarship, I took the route of working in a dormitory for some cash. During my freshman year, I mopped and polished the cafeteria floors, which was very interesting since you never knew what the idiots would do with their food. Perhaps, the biggest pastime seemed to be the launching of butter pads to see if they would stick to the ceiling. By the end of the week, those butter pads would melt and the paper would litter the floor, which meant I had to spend an hour every other Friday sweeping that crap up before spending another five hours polishing the floor in a futile attempt to keep the cafeteria clean.
As a sophomore, I moved up to a job in the dishroom, loading the trays of dirty dishes, glasses and silverware into the dishwasher. Now, there were five students in that line, with two scraping the plates into food disposals, the dish loader, the dish unloader and a person who took care of the silverware. Since we were only seen by the other students when they brought their trays back, we were free to do stupid things. Most notably, we were known to sing “American Pie” at least every other day. All it took was one of us to start the song, then we’d all take off. Our dishroom drove most of the women who worked in the cafeteria as their jobs crazy. However, there were a couple of them who loved our antics. The best part of working back there was you had the ability to hit on girls and invite them to parties. That’s why my roommate and I could have some major dorm room parties, since we both worked in that dishroom.
Then, the following year, my roommate and I moved onto the frontline, which was dangerous on so many levels. First, he and I had the same job but on two different lines. So, we competed to see who could successfully take the largest stack of trays out to the beginning of the line in the cafeteria. Now to successfully navigate the course, you have to first back the stack which was on a cart up out of the dishroom. Then you had on 180-degree turn to make, two 90-degree turns AND go through a door that pushed outward. Finally, you have to push that cart into place by backing it in. At any point, your stack could come tumbling down.
Well, needless to say, we dumped many a cart. And, when that happened, one whole side of the cafeteria would stand up and applaud. But, if you could get a tall stack that was six feet or higher out there, the applause could be deafening, hence the whole reason for the competition in the first place. I think we both got stacks eight-feet high out to the line successfully. But, any higher, and the trays would go flying everywhere.
Now, my roommate was a huge flirt. He flirted with every female in the place, including the older women who worked there. He was smooth, because he would sing a slow song, for example “Sexual Healing,” walk up to a college lady working with us in the cafeteria, and twirl her to begin slow dancing with her, while students were waiting in line for their food.
So, what does this have to do with the music of 1982? Absolutely nothing. Remember, my mind just goes off into tangents unrelated to any topic often. Simply, you gotta learn to enjoy the ride, if you can. Let’s wrap up 1982.
The Alan Parsons Project – Eye in the Sky (1982). First off, Alan Parsons has worked on some noteworthy albums during his illustrious career and an engineer and producer, most notably The Beatles’ Abbey Road and The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. Then, with his band, he created the great album Tales of Mystery and Imagination: Edgar Allan Poe. But, in 1982, he created one of the all-time greats in Eye in the Sky. Plus, where would the Nineties Chicago Bulls have been without their pre-game starting lineup introductions featuring the Project’s instrumental “Sirius”? Plus, the band’s biggest hit ever was the title song. Listen to the album and pick out the Pink Floyd influences.
The Clash – Combat Rock (1982). This album ended up being the epithet of a great band that could have become what U2 ended up being. This album only hinted at what directions this great band was heading, as Mick Jones was diving head first into hip hop culture, the rhythm section of bassist Paul Simonon and drummer Topper Headon were becoming one of rock’s finest and no one compared to frontman Joe Strummer this side of Freddie Mercury. You could hear it all coming together, but it just wasn’t to be. Headon got lost in smack. Jones got kicked out of the band for some stupid reason or another. And Strummer and Simonon were convinced by their egotistical manager to return to their punk roots after they had outgrown a past moment. This album truly only hints at what the band could have done. What a shame!
The English Beat – Special Beat Service (1982). The Beat started as yet another ska band from the UK, peers of The Specials and Madness. But, the creative minds of the band were evolving far beyond their ska beginnings. And, this album reflects that growth and tension that eventually fractured the band into two successful bands by the names of General Public and Fine Young Cannibals. To my ears, this album is where No Doubt picked up and ran with the sound, which was a great place to start. This is a very underrated album.
The Human League – Dare (1982). The ambitions of The Human League were high as the band went into the studio to record this landmark album. Their intention was to create a synthpop album that played like a rock album. And, the band succeeded in spades. This is a synthesizer album that has all the mood changes of a classic rock album. Plus, the album contains the enduring new wave hit song “Don’t You Want Me.”
The Jam – The Gift (1982). I know that Jam fans in the UK will argue with me on this one, but I love a good argument. It had leaked out that this album was going to be the band’s swansong, so expectations were high. And when the hype gets unreasonably big, then everyone is ready to tear apart the product. I just recently listened to the album for the first time in a decade, and you know what? It’s not as bad as critics think. Actually, it’s a damn good album with some surprising soul flourishes that now makes sense in Weller’s need to transition to The Style Council. To me, this album might just be the perfect Mod record.
The Psychedelic Furs – Forever Now (1982). The Furs were definitely influenced by Bowie and Roxy as much as they were by punk. And, using the production of the great Todd Rundgren only helped the band hone their influences into something truly unique and interesting. In retrospect, I think the band considers this album to be their finest in their terrific catalog. Plus, their hit single, “Love My Way,” was so different and more compelling than 95% of what was on radio at the time that it clearly stood out. Well done boys!
The Time – What Time Is It? (1982). The Time is the best, tightest funk band of the Eighties. If Prince were playing Dr. Frankenstein, then The Time represented his monster that he could no longer really control after this album, though try he did. The first album only hinted at what this band could do, but touring only strengthened this lineup. And, this album was the outcome. Once again, it is a shame that Prince’s ego clashed so violently with that of the band, in particular Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Morris Day. I am serious about this, The Time deserves its place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame! Hell, I haven’t even mentioned the talent of the others in the original lineup, drummer Jellybean Johnson, guitar wizard Jesse Johnson, keyboardist Monte Moir and, of course, valet Jerome Benton.
Toto – Toto IV (1982). This is Yacht Rock at its best. Toto was a band consisting of some of the biggest session players from LA. These guys had played on sessions for everyone, including Steely Dan and Michael Jackson. And, this album was the band’s big coming out party. “Rosanna” was a big hit, but everyone knows “Africa” now. The album is loaded with many great songs.
Wall of Voodoo – Call of the West (1982). You all know this band. Ever heard the song “Mexican Radio”? Now that I have your attention, go find this slightly obscure album. This band crawled out of the LA punk scene with a very Captain Beefheart-influenced sound set within some pop structure. It made for some very compelling music that landed the band an opening slot on Devo’s 1983 tour.
X – Under a Black Sun (1982). Oh, man, what a great band X was! Unfortunately, the masses never caught on with them. Back in the Sixties, I think X would have been huge, just as they would have been in the Nineties. The simply were a band out of step with the times. This album represents their last one on the legendary independent label Slash. After this one, their sound got diluted a bit.
Yaz – Upstairs at Eric’s (1982). After penning Depeche Mode’s first hit song, “Just Can’t Get Enough,” keyboardist Vince Clarke struck out on his own. He teamed up with powerhouse vocalist Alison Moyet, and together they created this landmark synthpop record. Their big hits were “Only You” and “Don’t Go,” two tasty synthpop hits. My big question is this: Is the band’s name Yaz or Yazoo? Half the world knew them as Yaz and the other half as Yazoo. Was the difference really do to potential confusion of the band’s name Yaz with the nickname of Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski? I really don’t know the answer to this mess. No matter if the duo was Yaz or Yazoo, this album is awesome.
Next up, one of my personal favorite years, 1983. Until next time, peace.