1983, Day 3: My 1000 Favorite Albums of All-Time

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By the end of this blog entry, I will have listed 511 albums in this list of 1000 LPs. That means there will be 489 albums from 1984 through 2019. It seems unfair, but I do believe the foundations of today’s popular music can be found in the past. It’s like a genealogy tree for a family. You can find bits and pieces from the past that influence how the current generations act. Plus, Eighties music simply ruled!

Anyway, let’s get this thing rolling.

8.13 Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble - Texas Flood

Stevie Ray Vaughan – Texas Flood (1983). SRV burst onto the scene with the hot licks he added to David Bowie’s Let’s Dance album. But, he made even bigger waves by turning down a featured place in Bowie’s touring band that would have given Vaughan major exposure. The sticking point? Stevie wanted to be the opening act to pimp this very able. Bowie, probably fearing being upstaged by this young hotshot blues guitarist or maybe feeling SVR was making the correct career choice, said no. So, SRV went out on his own and the rest is history. Sadly, Stevie Ray Vaughan would be dead, and his blues rock revival that he was single-handedly spearheading went dormant until Gary Clark Jr. finally came along.

8.13 Pointer Sisters - Break Out

The Pointer Sisters – Break Out (1983). You know, The Pointer Sisters just don’t get enough love from history. Initially, this group had four sisters who were combining disco with Forties-styled vocal group. Then, a few years later, sister Bonnie left for a successful solo career, but it was the trio that remained who really tore up the charts. First, they hit with a smoldering cover of a Springsteen cast-off song called “Fire.” After that, the hits began to roll in, until they released this appropriately titled album, and break out they did. The sisters had huge hits, such as the altered vocals, which made them sound like Stevie Wonder, on “Automatic” and the unofficial 1984 Olympics anthem “Jump.”

8.13 The Police - Synchronicity

The Police – Synchronicity (1983). Here’s the commercial peak of The Police, as well as their swansong. Once they conquered the world, they simply imploded. Yet, if you read the lyrics to many of the songs on this album, you can hear impending doom, At the time, you felt the lyrics were about personal relationships, and maybe they were. But, as hindsight can be, maybe they were describing the tensions within the band itself. Either way, it made for great art. While it may not represent their best album, it is their most mature and confident statement of their illustrious career.

8.13 The The - Soul Mining

The The – Soul Mining (1983). Now, we kind of look at this album as a bit pedestrian within the context of this band’s experimental dance/pop/rock catalog. However, back in 1983, let me tell you this was cutting edge new wave being married to dance beats and post-punk rock indifference. And, even though this band is really a studio concoction of Matt Johnson’s genius, I was taken aback by his pop instincts on this album. Of course, later albums would be much more mind-blowing, but the cult status of The The had to begin somewhere and this is the place.

8.13 Tom Waits - Swordfishtrombones

Tom Waits – Swordfishtrombones (1983). After having gone as he could with his latter day version of Hoagy Carmichael shtick, Waits purged his management, label and sound for a more experimental sound that was sparse and eerie. Waits had come under the spell of musician Kurt Weill and vocally began channeling Howlin’ Wolf via Captain Beefheart to create a how new sound. This album represents the change in direction as he left behind the nighttime barflies that dominated his lyrics in the past for a far darker and more surreal set of characters who all challenged what was “normal” in the music of the day. It’s simply haunting and beautiful all at the same time. But, then again, I do have a very dark side despite my love of sunny pop music.

8.13 U2 - War

U2 – War (1983). It was on this album that U2 positioned themselves, unknowingly at the time, to fill the void that The Clash were about to open. The sincerity that rang through the band’s first two albums started to be pointed directly that themselves and their beloved Ireland. This was a band who were not only idealistic but pissed off as well. They took stock of their environment and were pointing their collective fingers at everyone, including themselves. “Two Heart Beats as One” showed the band’s softer pop side. And we all know how righteous and urgent the band sounds on “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “New Year’s Day.” But, the heart of the band generally, and this album specifically, can be found in the song “40,” a musical rendering of Psalms 40. This is a band actually wearing their hearts on their sleeves without any sense of irony during a time of high irony.

8.13 UB40 - Labour of Love

UB40 – Labour of Love (1983). This album of reggae cover songs made a big critical splash at the time. It was actually one of the first reggae albums in my collection. I remember playing this album for people when we were simply sitting around and talking, making fantastic socializing music. Initially, my biggest surprise was discovering that their cover of “Red Red Wine” was actually that song by Neil Diamond that had been reworked Jamaica-style by Tony Tribe, whose version UB40 thought they were covering. However, the biggest surprise for me was that it took FIVE years before “Red Red Wine” took off commercially. I was happy and pissed at the same time. Happy that this great band was finally being discovered but pissed because they had released many terrific albums and songs that got overlooked by the public in the interim. Go figure!

8.13 Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes

Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes (1983). I came home from Wisconsin in August 1983 just singing the praises of this Milwaukee band called the Violent Femmes and their classic eponymous debut album. And, basically, it fell upon deaf ears. I’m not sure why because this acoustic-based punk album was perfect fodder for the disaffected youth of America, especially the males. Today, you heard “Blister in the Sun” everywhere, but back in the day, you couldn’t get a radio station to play the band. My wife hates this album, but she was never the band’s target audience. Let’s just say that a movie like Superbad could have never been made without this album coming first.

8.13 Yes - 90125

Yes – 90125 (1983). So, Asia had hit the big time with a streamlined Prog rock sound the previous year, and Genesis was following a similar path. King Crimson had added new guitarist Adrian Belew of Frank Zappa and Talking Heads’ touring bands, to update their sound. So, instead of fading into the background, Yes made a similar move by bringing in a young fan-turned-guitar whiz in Trevor Rabin who helped the band forge a path with an updated sound along with help from former Buggle and Yes member-turned-producer Trevor Horn. Together, Yes became a major act again by embracing Eighties production techniques and technology and, once again, streamlining their musical meanderings. Believe it or not, this music tweak paid off in spades for Yes.

8.13 ZZ Top - Eliminator

ZZ Top – Eliminator (1983). Are you beginning to catch on to the common thread running through this spate of Seventies bands who found much success once again in the Eighties? It was all about discovering how to incorporate new technologies into their music. Many Prog rock bands were the first to do this and find commercial and financial success. But, it was absolutely mind-blowing and shocking to hear one of the great blues bands ever embracing synthesizers in order to rework the calculus behind their music. And, ZZ Top pull it off in spectacular fashion with this fantastic album of space-age blues.

And, that, my friends, wraps up 1983. Next, we are on to 1984, which becomes the transition year for me personally from unruly, irresponsible man-child to a about-to-graduate-and-become-an-adult man. So, until next time, peace.

For the Second Day, It’s 1983: My 1000 Favorite Albums

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Let’s simply get to the music today.

8.13 John Cougar Mellencamp - Uh-Huh

John Cougar Mellencamp – Uh-Huh (1983). This is when Mellencamp took back his name AND found his sound, kind of a Stones stuck in the middle of America sound. Everything about this album screams Midwest, down to the language and syntax of his lyrics. Today, John is more of a troubadour in the vein of Woody Guthrie or Pete Seeger, but back in 1983, he was the rock & roll hero of Middle America, and specifically Indiana.

8.13 Journey - frontiers

Journey – Frontiers (1983). Journey solidified its hold on America with their AOR sound that incorporated light touches of R&B. Former Babys keyboardist Jonathan Cain really exerts more of an influence on the music than he did on Escape which pushed the band further into the pop realm. As usual, Steve Perry’s unparalleled vocals were the true star here. No matter how many vocalists the band thinks can replace Perry, there is just something missing in them that Perry possesses. For some reason, I can hear the difference, and I’m tone deaf.

8.13 Lionel Richie - Can't Slow Down

Lionel Richie – Can’t Slow Down (1983). There was a moment in time, from around 1977 to 1986, during which Lionel Richie could do no wrong musically. The guy was everywhere, and this album was his most complete solo album. Honestly speaking, I still enjoy his Commodores stuff more, but this album remains a pretty tasty LP. By the way, I remember telling my wife back when we were first dating that “Stuck on You” was about us. And, for some reason, she thought I was making some sort of sophomoric perverted joke when I was being serious. Too funny!

8.13 Madonna - Madonna

Madonna – Madonna (1983). Initially, this album was bought by club-hoppers and aerobics instructors. Then, the mainstream heard it, and the rest is history. No matter how many great albums she would release in the future, none would compare to the earthshaking quality of this album on a college campus.

8.13 Marshall Crenshaw - Field Day

Marshall Crenshaw – Field Day (1983). Okay, I was very skeptical when I heard that Crenshaw hired Steve Lillywhite to produce this album because I felt Lillywhite, who was known for his drum sound on U2’s first couple of albums, would squeeze out Marshall’s pop sensibilities as he almost did to XTC on English Settlement. And, while his emphasis on the muscular drums are still there, Crenshaw’s songs were so good that I don’t think anyone could have ruined them. Still, I wish he had gone with a more sympathetic producer to make this album, such as Mitch Easter and/or Don Dixon who had just produced R.E.M.’s debut album.

8.13 Motley Crue - Shout at the Devil

Mötley Crüe – Shout at the Devil (1983). The times were a-changing quickly. New Wave was cresting at the time, and in its wake was coming a sleazy, glam mix from Sunset Strip that is now called glam metal, or derogatorily hair metal. Perhaps, the best band on the Strip was Mötley Crüe. Their mix of Aerosmith raunch, Kiss theatrics and Van Halen pop metal was perfect for the times. I remember being annoyed by the freshmen down the hall in the dorm blaring “Look That Kill” every day at 1 PM. Still, the album did rock.

8.13 New Order - Power, Corruption & Lies

New Order – Power, Corruption & Lies (1983). From the ashes of Joy Division rising like a Phoenix was New Order. The rest of the band picked up where the former band left off, only emphasizing the electronic pulsing sound of synthesizers, sequencers and drum machines to create the dance sound of the Eighties. And, instead of the self-obsessed lyrics of the now deceased Ian Curtis, New Order ironically went after the power structure of Eighties economics and relationships.

8.13 Quiet Riot - Metal Health

Quiet Riot – Metal Health (1983). Trivia question: What metal act was the first to have a number one album on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart? It was not Sabbath, Deep Purple, Rainbow or solo Ozzy. It was the first Sunset Strip band to hit it big, Quiet Riot. That’s right! These guys hit paydirt on their debut album behind their rockin’ version of Slade’s glam classic “Cum on Feel the Noize.” This was the right album at the right time. Just ask the two idiots who lived next door to me in the dorm who played this album over and over.

8.13 R.E.M. - Murmur

R.E.M. – Murmur (1983). As quietly and nondescript as possible, R.E.M. burst onto the college rock scene to up end the status quo. Hailing from the college town of Athens, Georgia, who also spawned The B-52’s, R.E.M. paid their dues while developing a sound that relied equally upon a reverence for the jangling guitar sound of vintage Byrds and the CBGB sounds of Patti Smith and Television. These guys were obviously talented musicians who spent most of the spare moments in a record store soaking in all the favorite sounds of the clerks. Mix in the art vision of the mumbling lyrics of Michael Stipe, who view his vocals to be just another instrument in the band’s sound, which took the band to a whole other level. This began the whole alternative rock underground scene across the whole. After R.E.M. came through, The Replacements, Hüsker Dü, Camper Van Beethoven and the rest followed.

8.13 Run-DMC - Run-DMC

Run-D.M.C. – Run-D.M.C. (1983). In rap history, there was rap being built upon the foundation of disco and funk. Then, there was rap after Run-D.M.C. built their beats upon rock, specifically metal. And instead of spittin’ rhymes in a laidback manner that went with the flow of the music, Run-D.M.C. came out like lions, their voices roaring trading not just verses, but words AND syllables in a verse in a manner that only punctuated the sparse by emphatic beats. This was the revolution homing in on the now obvious connection between the two extremes of music, rap and metal. And, nothing was the same again.

Stay tuned for the third and final installment of 1983 coming to this blog soon. Peace.

What a Year I Had in 1983, Opening Day: My 1000 Favorite Albums

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Back in my college days, Ball State really only had three big weekends. The first two took place in the fall and the other in the spring. During the fall, you, of course, had Homecoming in October, which could be a crazy weekend. The other fall event was an event sponsored by a fraternity called Watermelon Bust. Finally, the spring event was Bike-A-Thon, a bicycle relay race similar to Indiana University’s Little 500. Of course, there were other activities, but these were the Big 3.

My junior year there was the funnest year of my life. It spanned the years 1983 and 1984, but nothing compared to it for sheer selfish behavior. Upon my return to BSU for that third year, a group of guys asked me to join their Watermelon Bust team. Of course, I had participated with a team my sophomore year and knew what I was getting myself into. You see, this event is simply a reason to party with watermelons. The big event is a team of five people join together to compete in five four-man relay events with watermelons, along with a watermelon-eating contest with your fifth member.

Now, our team consisted of four guys all around six-foot tall, three of us former guards and track runners and the fourth a small forward/football quarterback with our watermelon eating wonder another smaller guy who could eat like no one else his size. The night before the Bust, we stole some dorm sheets, dyed them green and pink, thinking they’d like watermelon togas. Of course, the five of us were taking shots as we did our artwork. The next day, we got each other up at 10 AM for a little “pre-game” drinking to get ready for this thing which was starting at noon. Of course, we had a nice pre-game breakfast of beer over cereal. Not your normal game day meal, but, hell, we were stupid college kids.

So, now that we were warmed up, we put on our togas and headed to the Duck Pond (a retention pond) where there used to be an open area for the Bust. When we got there, we met up with the emcees, a hot new pair of DJs in Indianapolis on the most popular radio station by the names of Bob and Tom. That’s right. Those old guys who still have a coast-to-coast show that still broadcasts from Indy. Anyway, those guys, who were hammered as well, immediately started making fun of our togas, saying we looked like strawberries, which we did. Throughout the day, the verbally hassled us on the mic as they emceed the Bust.

Remember, our team was a bunch of former basketball players, and the relay events were basically basketball skills done with a watermelon: running with the watermelon held between your legs, rolling the watermelon across the ground, pushing the melon with your forehead, etc. Well, after we won the first two events, Bob & Tom began the trash talking about us, continuing the strawberry taunt. When we won the third and fourth relays, Bob says, “And the Strawberry Fairies win again!” And, we embraced the nickname, instead of using our dorm hall name even after they refused to sponsor us.

Now, the championship was in our sights. But, we wanted complete domination. That’s when our watermelon eater, also named Scott, comes running over to us to tell us he won that event too! His secret was to bite big hunks of watermelon, squeeze all the juice out of the bite and swallow, seeds and everything. He said he dominated. Now, we knew we had this thing in the bag.

The last event was to push the watermelon with our heads in relay form. We started with a walk-on track guy Glenn, followed by another former track guy Smitty. The third leg was my roommate and former QB1 Bruce, and I anchored, only because the guys said I had to anchor because I could push the melon with my large nose. I’d like to say it was close, but it wasn’t. But the time I got the melon, we had half-a-straightaway lead. But, since I am such a competitor, I went controlled but fast. When I crossed the finish line, I picked up the watermelon, walked over to where Bob & Tom were, and smashed the watermelon right in front of them. Of course, that delighted the DJs to no end and continued to egg us on. They immediately gave us a melon that had been soaking the entire three hours of the event with vodka in it. It goes without saying that the five Strawberry Fairies tore into it, making an Animal House-like spectacle out of it.

You know what? We won this four-foot tall trophy for being the overall campus champs. No kidding! Of course, now, the damn dorm wanted the trophy to display it forever. And, we refused to give it to the dorm until they met our three demands. First, we wanted our fifty dollar entry fee reimbursed. Next, we wanted our team picture, which I cannot find, displayed with the trophy. Finally, we wanted a guarantee from the Dormitory Advisor that our dorm room parties would not be busted for the rest of the quarter, which meant 10 weeks of hassle-free fun. Quickly, the dorm council said they would met our first two demands but were never going to agree to the third demand.

So, the trophy was passed around our rooms for a week at a time. Since Bruce and I were the only roommates, we had that thing in our room for two straight weeks. That trophy became mostly a coat tree, underwear tree or a clothesline. Finally, after four weeks, the Dorm Council relented, unofficially to our third term. Now, we had our “get out of jail free” card. We each got our 10 bucks back, our official Bob & Tom team picture was put up with the trophy, our double-secret party pass was quietly made known to all and we became folk heroes for a quarter. We were three weeks into the 1983-84 school year and things were looking up for us. Believe it or not, it got better.

So, what were we listening to that year? Here we go!

8.11 Billy Idol - Rebel Yell

Billy Idol – Rebel Yell (1983). If you didn’t listen to Idol back then, you just weren’t cool. Billy married the whole punk attitude and energy with metal riffs and looks, and it was perfect for the time. This was the testosterone-driven party music of the day.

8.11 Culture Club - Colour by Numbers

Culture Club – Colour by Numbers (1983). The first time I saw a Culture Club video, I could not decide if the lead singer was a male or female. Then I stopped worrying about it and just listened to the music. When the band released their sophomore album, they became a force of pop nature. Boy George had the voice of a modern day Smokey Robinson, while the band took their Motown-lite-reggae sound to the top of the charts. Truly, pure pop for now people.

8.11 Cyndi Lauper - She's So Unusual

Cyndi Lauper – She’s So Unusual (1983). When comparing Cyndi and Madonna back in the day, I would have wagered millions of dollars on Cyndi being the long-term success, mainly because she had the better voice. Well, I was wrong, but Cyndi did leave us with this terrific pop/rock album, with the college girl Eighties anthem “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Oh, and she even covered Prince (“When You Were Mine”)!

8.11David Bowie - Let's Dance

David Bowie – Let’s Dance (1983). For the first time, David Bowie wanted to be a commercial success. So, he teamed up with producer Nile Rodgers, discovered a guitar whiz-kid named Stevie Ray Vaughn and brought him on board and recorded some excellent pop/rock songs with a Bowie-bent that sold through the roof. Sure, the album isn’t his best, but, hell, even this was way better than the rest of the crowd it never mattered. One of the albums of the Summer of ’83.

8.11 Def Leppard - Pyromania

Def Leppard – Pyromania (1983). I used to LOVE to make fun of the Leppard and still do, if the truth be told. But, I have to give it to the guys to follow producer Matt Lange’s lead and create some excellent glam metal. If only all the hair metal bands could have been this good. I still don’t know why we needed Bon Jovi when we had the guys.

8.11 Eurythmics - Sweet Dreams (Are_Made_of_This)

Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (1983). Androgyny was everywhere in 1983, but no one turned it upside down like Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics did. This was the first of two excellent albums released by the duo in 1983. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, knows the title song. But, don’t overlook “Love Is a Stranger,” which is more like the band than the former. And, don’t pigeonhole this band as a synthpop band, as you will hear on future albums.

8.11 Eurythmics - Touch

Eurythmics – Touch (1983). The great UK duo of Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox knocked it out of the park with this album. Wow! What tremendous growth the duo displayed as the took the icy sound of Kraftwerk and melded it seamlessly with the Stax/Atlantic soul sound of Annie’s powerhouse vocals. This album is breathtaking in its depth.

8.11 Genesis - Genesis

Genesis – Genesis (1983). Phil Collins continued his winning streak as he assumed more creative control over the former prog rock band. Now, the most commercially successful iteration of the band was not only creating excellent albums but actually having pop hits in the USA. I would argue they were staying true to their prog background by incorporating the sounds of new wave and world music. It was prog for a new generation.

8.11 Huey Lewis and the News - Sports

Huey Lewis & the News – Sports (1983). I am not sure how I feel about these guys. They seem like nice enough fellas, but their music isn’t challenging. But, damn, they play it with conviction. Plus, Huey’s a damn good vocalist. Oh, give them their due, Keller! These guys hit the Springsteen-lite zeitgeist at just the right moment. Wait! Better yet, they were Mellencamp-lite. No matter! They did it well on this album. Plus, “I Need a New Drug” was everywhere on campus.

8.11 Iron Maiden - Piece of Mind

Iron Maiden – Piece of Mind (1983). Everyone’s favorite underground metal band of the moment hit paydirt once again. Now, with a new drummer in Nicko McBrain, Maiden’s rhythm section became much more nimble than before, allowing the band to go in all kinds of time signature directions. This is a much heavier and darker Rush people.

Let’s Finish Off 1982: My 1000 Favorite Albums

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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.

8.5 The Alan Parsons Project - Eye in the Sky

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.

8.5 The Clash - Combat Rock

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!

8.5 The English Beat - Special Beat Service

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.

8.5 The Human League - Dare

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.”

8.5 The Jam - The Gift

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.

8.5 The Psychedelic Furs - Forever Now

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!

8.5 The Time - What Time Is It

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.

8.5 Toto - Toto IV

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.

8.5 Wall of Voodoo - Call of the West

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.

8.5 X - Under the Black Sun

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.

8.5 Yazoo - Upstairs at Eric's

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.

It’s the Second Day of 1982: My 1000 Favorite Albums

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This list of mine keeps changing weekly. Some of the albums I had chosen fell out only to be replaced by better long-players. Needless to say, this list tends to be a breathing document. Plus, I only take the list through 2019, so there are some potential classics from this year that will be left off.

One more thing: during this pandemic, please do me a favor and wear a mask that covers your mouth AND nose. It’s not just protection for you but for your neighbor as well. As you know by now, I have degrees in biology, with an emphasis on microbiology (the closest thing Ball State had for a microbiology degree) and a minor in chemistry. My second degree is in medical technology, which allowed me to work in clinical laboratory environments. And although I did leave that profession behind for teaching, I did not stop learning. If I am to be honest, I chose microbiology over genetics only because microbiology seemed as if I had done the subject before. Maybe I was a microbiologist in a previous life or, as I believe, I was simply wired for it. Whatever the reason, I do know that this virus, while not the Level 5 Armageddon-type of virus, is an extreme health risk. Former students of mine who are now physicians all think this is one scary virus as it actually obliterates your lungs and may cause long-term problems in your immune and cardiovascular systems, in addition to your pulmonary system (of which your nose plays an important part of). So, please wear a mask. Your personal freedoms end when you place at risk the freedoms of others.

Sorry, enough of my sermon upon my soapbox. Let’s do some music from 1982.

8.5 Iron Maiden - The Number of the Beast

Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast (1982). As you all know, I am not a big metalhead, but Maiden is definitely one of the best metal bands in history. There is no denying their musicianship. And, these guys can put on a show, as my older son can attest. But, this album represents their critical and commercial breakthrough. No longer were they just another talented member of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal banner, which was a stupid name. These guys were the real deal, nimbly marrying the speed of punk, Eddie Van Halen/Thin Lizzy-twin guitar attack, pop melodies, Sabbath-like dark lyrics and a touch of Rush prog into the sound of metal for the Eighties.

8.5 Joe Jackson - Night and Day

Joe Jackson – Night and Day (1982). Three years prior, Jackson was following Elvis Costello and others in the angry young man rock category of punk and new wave. He released three excellent albums in this vein. Then, out of the clear blue, Jackson released an album of big band-era songs that showcased the depth of his true talent. That’s why Jackson fans were not shocked by the late night NYC jazz sound of this album. This album was the perfect tonic for the after-party crowd at two or three in the morning. It is simply a mature statement by a very talented artist.

8.5 Marshall Crenshaw - Marshall Crenshaw

Marshall Crenshaw – Marshall Crenshaw (1982). The world was ripe for someone to bring power pop back in a big way. And into that void comes a former member of the travelling show Beatlemania to the rescue. Seriously, I listened to this album all summer and fall of that year. It remains one of my favorite albums of 1982 and all time. This album should have been HUGE, and I still don’t understand why. All the people at the record shops I frequent back in the day were pimping the album. It plays like a greatest hits album. I would rank this album right with The Cars and Boston as the greatest debut albums of my generation.

8.5 Marvin Gaye - Midnight Love

Marvin Gaye – Midnight Love (1982). Unfortunately, as fate played out, this album was Gaye’s last album created during his life. But, he went out on top, both creatively and commercially. This album plays as a more mature view of relationships with the sensuality of Let’s Get It On. And “Sexual Healing” remains a standout song.

8.5 Men at Work - Business as Usual

Men at Work – Business as Usual (1980). The world was primed for this Australian band’s pop take on The Police’s sound. They softened the punk-cum-reggae fury of The Police, added some terrific pop melodies and off-kilter lyrics that proudly showcased their Australian sensibility, and took the sound to the top of the charts. “Who Can It Be Now?” and “Downunder” remain classic Eighties songs, but the rest of the album is outstanding as well. It’s a shame they couldn’t hang on to their momentum.

8.5 Michael Jackson - Thriller

Michael Jackson – Thriller (1982). Everyone knows this album and all the stories behind it. You know, the Moon Walk, the videos, the fact that Columbia Records forced MTV to play his videos which opened the doors for black artists to gain traction on the channel, yadda, yadda, yadda. What remains is a killer album. Back in college, you could not escape the dance songs on this album at parties and clubs. That’s what I focus on these days, not the other crap. As one friend used to say in back then, “Michael was the shit!” That’s right!

8.5 Pete Townshend - All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes

Pete Townshend – All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes (1982). When Townshend released this solo album, he was coming off a big success with his previous solo album Empty Glass. However, Townshend was reeling from alcoholism and the death of Who drummer Keith Moon. The Who was doing new albums and touring, but they were not the same without Moon. So, rather quietly, Townshend released this album. It wasn’t a big seller, but I rather liked it. This was a man in pain, and I found the album rather cathartic. I still love the song “Slit Skirts.” That one does not get enough love these days.

8.5 Prince - 1999

Prince – 1999 (1982). The other monster album from 1982. Record 1 of the double album was required at every party for two years running. And as great as Thriller is, that was just pop when compared to the underground feel of this album. This was the sound of Prince actually ascending to the throne. And, if we are comparing the two, Prince had everything on Jackson since he could play every instrument on his albums. For me, that was case closed.

8.5 Richard & Linda Thompson - Shoot Out the Lights

Richard & Linda Thompson – Shoot Out the Lights (1982). So, Fleetwood Mac made their divorce album a huge hit back in 1977. However, nothing was as raw as this album by British guitar god Richard Thompson and his soon-to-be former wife Linda. This album, while beautifully played and produced, is absolutely heart-wrenching to listen to. At the time, after witnessing the dissolution of my parents’ marriage, this album was simply too much for me. Yet, I still recognized its greatness. As the years have passed, the emotions evoked on this album are still tough to swallow, no matter how exquisite it sounds. Yet, it does stand the test of time.

8.5 Roxy Music - Avalon

Roxy Music – Avalon (1982). In this age of new wave and all the other sounds Roxy had birthed a decade earlier, the band made their sound more ethereal which struck an even deeper chord with listeners my age. If you want to understand the enduring status of this album, watch the Amazon Prime series Red Oaks which is a coming-of-age story set in the mid-Eighties. It is an excellent series, and Avalon plays a role in the lives of a couple of the characters. It is just a fantastic album.

8.5 Stray Cats - Built for Speed

Stray Cats – Built for Speed (1982). As I have stated previously, by the time the Eighties rolled around the rules set by the Boomers were being overturned. So, it stands to reason that in the midst of all of the technology being integrated into music, there would be a band that would go back to the early days of rock and immerse themselves into rockabilly, the forerunner to rock and roll. And, that’s just what the Stray Cats did. They also went to the UK to jump-start their career before riding the MTV wave into stardom here in their homeland. This was a party album just looking for a party. There is nothing like the site of a 6-foot-5-inch, 245-pound defensive lineman going crazy dancing to “Rock This Town.” Nothing.

8.5 Talking Heads - The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads

Talking Heads – The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads (1982). Oh, the critics just love the Talking Heads’ live soundtrack Stop Making Sense, but if you truly want to get a feel of not only the Heads as a live act but also the evolution of the unit according to the increasing complexity of their music, this is the album. I much prefer this album because the performances are less studied and more raw. This album is the live album in which to enjoy the Heads.

And that brings us to the end of Day 2 for 1982. Stay tuned for Day 3. Peace.

Welcome to the First Day of 1982: My 1000 Favorite Albums

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Once the calendar changed to 1982, things changed for me. Early in the year, I now had a quarter and a half of college under my belt, so I was totally immersed in the environment. And, most of the best music was becoming popular as well, especially as MTV’s influence was being felt. Popular music was undergoing a massive shift in demographics, as Generation X became the target audience, much to the chagrin of older Boomers. So, with a new demographic comes a whole new set of musicians to enter the world. And, the message to the older acts was to adapt or get left behind.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that 1982 introduced to us the mega-selling album that would spawn not just a hit or two, but multiple hits. The shortlist for 1982 releases include Thriller, 1999, American Fool, Asia and Business as Usual. Not only that, but 1982 was the year of Prince and his stable of artists, The Time and Vanity 6.

Let’s take a look over the next few days at the albums of 1982.

8.5 ABC - The Lexicon of Love

ABC – The Lexicon of Love (1982). One trend of the early MTV days will be how many artists will repackage the classic Sixties Motown sound for a whole new generation. ABC was one of the first acts to crossover with this updated sound. The band also through in touches of disco and rock to make the whole package fresh. This album is a tour de force, but the band would try to constantly move beyond this sound in the future only to realize this was their wheelhouse. Just watch what follows in their wake over the next couple of years.

8.5 Adam Ant - Friend or Foe

Adam Ant – Friend or Foe (1982). So what’s a man to do when your former manager, Malcolm McLaren of Sex Pistols fame, steals your rhythm section for a new band called Bow Wow Wow? Well, you circle the wagons, write some excellent songs, and bust out on MTV with a little ditty called “Goody Two Shoes.” that’s what.

8.5 Asia - Asia

Asia – Asia (1982). The much-hyped first supergroup of the Eighties actually lived up to the hype. Asia consisted of former members of Yes, King Crimson, Emerson Lake & Palmer and new wavers The Buggles (via Yes), and what the band created was a streamlined version of prog rock. Gone was the instrumental noodlings that the music of the post-punk era was reacting against, and in its place was a watered-down version of Rush’s Moving Pictures. And, it was a very successful move. Unfortunately, the band kind of moved into self-parody on subsequent albums. But for one glorious summer, they represented the sound of the future.

8.5 Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska

Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska (1982). As the Seventies ended, America was left tattered and out of confidence. Society was in the middle of a seismic shift that was going to fundamentally change its landscape. And, when you are The Boss, you recognize it and chronicle it. Therefore, this album reflected this new reality more starkly than ever before, mainly because Springsteen mostly left his E Street Band off the record. Basically, we got his first acoustic-based version of his songs of the underbelly of the American Dream. Finally, someone from the mainstream was drawing the same conclusions as much of the rock underground saw: this new America was using an economic version of Darwin’s natural selection to push the “undesirables” further down. This album actually set the stage for his mega-stardom in a couple of years.

8.5 Daryl Hall & John Oates - H2O

Daryl Hall & John Oates – H2O (1982). By the time this album rolled around, Daryl and John could have released an album of farts and it probably would have sold millions. Fortunately, the duo was still at the top of their game and gave us arguably what might have been their last truly fantastic album. Here, they relied on their band’s outstanding chemistry, terrific songwriting and their standard clean production to create some enduring rock and soul classic songs, such as “Maneater,” “One on One” and “Family Man.”

8.5 Dexys Midnight Runners - Too-Rye-Ay

Dexys Midnight Runners – Too-Rye-Ay (1982). Unfortunately, here in the States, you hear the band name of Dexys Midnight Runners, and a vast majority will think one-hit wonder. That’s right! “Come on Eileen” is that hit song from the album. Unfortunately, that song’s enduring popularity has overshadowed what a fantastic album it comes from. Seriously, leader Kevin Rowland concocted a sound that married American soul with some Celtic folk and mysticism that recalled Van Morrison at his very best a decade ago. Hell, they even had to the audacity to cover Morrison’s “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)” to perfection. Take your damned REO album from that year off your turntable and throw this one on. You will NOT regret it.

8.5 Donald Fagen - The Nightfly

Donald Fagan – The Nightfly (1982). So, by 1982, Steely Dan was on indefinite hiatus. So, Fagan threw together a little solo album that reminded everyone how great Steely Dan was. The difference was that this was a streamlined sound (there is a theme here, isn’t there) and the lyrics were more wistful and less cynical. Whatever the formula changes were made, they were truly magical.

8.5 Duran Duran - Rio

Duran Duran – Rio (1982). The Beatles of the Eighties made quite an album here. This was cutting edge dance pop/rock at the time. And, of course, the little girls understood, as did the boys who were hitting on those girls at the time. But, you know what? This album stills sounds great today. The synths are icy in the right places, the bass pulses with danceable fluidity and the lyrics were definitely post-modern. And, there are just too many hits to list here.

8.5 Elvis Costello & the Attractions - Imperial Bedroom

Elvis Costello & the Attractions – Imperial Bedroom (1982). When I saw Elvis a few years ago, he was playing many of these songs from this album. He was talking about how much anticipation this album faced and even sarcastically called it the “Summer’s Feel-Good Album of 1982.” This album is Elvis’ Blood on the Tracks album, done with the elegance and grace of an English man with a cynical wit, a poisoned pen and a encyclopedic knowledge of music could only do. It’s not the punk sound of half a decade ago, but the fury is still present in the lyrics. You can cut the tension on this album with a knife.

8.5 George Clinton - Computer Games

George Clinton – Computer Games (1982). What happens when drugs make your empire crumble? Well, you start hanging out with younger guys who are in touch with the new technologies of the day, turn them loose in the studio to sample and create loops, and learn how to funk in the cocaine haze of the Eighties. And, what we got was the rebirth of a funkmaster. I still love to blast “Atomic Dog” out of my Escape as much as I did with my Volkswagen Rabbit back in the day.

8.5 Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five - The Message

Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five – The Message (1982). Here we go people! This is the first rap album worthy of inclusion. Hip hop was a singles category until Flash & the Five unleashed this album. Of course, the album is known for the title song, and rightfully so. “The Message” is arguably the most important hip hop song of all-time, but this album is full of great music. This band is so important to rock, not simply hip hop. After this great album, the world got turned on its collective head.

And, that brings us to the end of Day 1 of 1982. Catch ya later! Peace.

And on the Third Day, There Was Still 1981: My 1000 Favorite Albums

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Welcome to the third and final day for 1981. As I write this, I do so with a very heavy heart as my fantastic father-in-law passed away yesterday while in the final stages of renal failure. He was 94, though he lived the last six years with a very broken heart after the love of his life, my mother-in-law, passed away. However, all the mischief we caused is what I will remember the most about him, and how the chaos of seven crazy grandchildren could never get under his skin. And, no matter how many times he was giving me a premium beer to drink, Fall City or Burger is still NOT a premium beer! I’m going to miss you Don! Godspeed my friend!

Now, for something a little different.

7.31 Stevie Nicks - Bella Donna

Stevie Nicks – Bella Donna (1981). From the sound of radio throughout my first two quarters at Ball State, Stevie Nicks was the biggest artist on the planet. If I had just a nickel every time “Edge of Seventeen” was played, I’d have been a millionaire and quit school. And, then there were two other hits from her solo debut in her duet with Don Henley “Leather and Lace,” and her bid to become a member of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers on “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” However, it was the deep cuts like the title track and “After the Glitter Fades” that made this album so deep and hauntingly beautiful. This is what primo Stevie Nicks is all about.

7.31 The Clash - Sandinista!

The Clash – Sandinista! (1981). So, how does a band followup one of rock’s greatest albums, let alone double albums? Well, by making one of the most sprawling, self-absorbed experimental triple albums of all-time. This is definitely Rock’s Most Important Band’s own White Album. You can find all kinds of crap being thrown at the proverbial wall just to see what sticks, making for an album that is at times frustrating, incomplete and thrilling. This album reeks of pills, weed and coke, with a little horse thrown in for good measure, but in a somewhat good way.

7.31 The Go-Go's - Beauty and the Beat

The Go-Go’s – Beauty and the Beat (1981). By 1981, the world was ready for an all-female band who could write their own songs. And, into that void walks a group of five women who took the energy of punk and married it with the pop songs of the Sixties, and their sound took over America. The Go-Go’s were veterans of the LA punk scene yet somehow got marketed as the girls next door, which was contrary to their actual personalities. Still, they had the goods, got noticed as an opening act on The Police’s tour that year and took off to the stratosphere. Unfortunately, their management rushed them into the studio, while success drained them, and they imploded from the outside pressures. Still, their music, and this album specifically, remains the calling card of the band, and they deserve a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame immediately.

7.31 The J. Geils Band - Freeze Frame

The J. Geils Band – Freeze Frame (1981). Finally! In 1981, The J. Geils Band got the big commercial success the band had always seemed destined for but never attained. You could not escape this album on the Ball State campus if you wanted to. It was the perfect party record, sounded great on the radio and was loaded with such memorable songs as the title song, the number one hit “Centerfold,” the party blow out number “Flamethrower” and the drunks’ favorite “Piss on the Wall.” This was the pinnacle for Geils.

7.31 The Police - Ghost in the Machine

The Police – Ghost in the Machine (1981). Although many thought this album was a letdown from Zenyatta Mondatta, I personally wore the damn album out. I just could not get enough of “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.” I saw the band on tour supporting this album with Joan Jett as the opening act. Of course, the band’s performance was outstanding. Yet, somehow, I just knew the band would blow up in a huge way on their next album. Sometimes, I hate it when I’m right, and other times, I bask in it. This will be a time in which I basked.

7.31 The Waitresses - Wasnt Tomorrow Wonderful

The Waitresses – Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful? (1981). That’s right! That band who created the enduring Christmas anthem called “Christmas Wrapping” actually had a very noteworthy album before they released that yuletide tune. This Akron, Ohio band was following the path Devo set with this wonderful album of new wave pop/rock songs. Although these cheeky feminist songs were sang by Patty Donahue, the songs were actually written by guitarist Chris Butler. The band had the perfect lineup to bring Butler’s songs to life. And although The Waitresses are known as a one-hit wonder due to the success of the immortal “I Know What Boys Like,” the band was much deeper than their status would lead one to believe.

7.31 Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Hard Promises

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Hard Promises (1981). This was the album that made me fall in a lifelong Tom Petty fan. When you hear the line, “Oh baby don’t it feel like heaven right now, don’t it feel like something from a dream,” you know this is not just another rocker. Only gods write lines like that. Oh, and I love “A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me),” “A Thing About You” and “Letting Go,” but for my money, the greatest song on this album is the band’s duet with Stevie Nicks called “Insider.” I still wish I had kept my English 101 theme paper I wrote about that song. That was my long-lost masterpiece.

7.31 Tom Tom Club - Tom Tom Club

Tom Tom Club – Tom Tom Club (1981). While David Byrne and Brian Eno were playing with loops and samples and fellow Head Jerry Harrison was off making a Talking Heads-sounding solo album, the husband-wife rhythm section of drummer Chris Frantz and bassist Tina Weymouth took off with Tina’s sisters, the expanded Talking Heads touring musicians and some other hangers-on to the Caribbean. There, the musicians picked up where Remain in Light left off, sprinkled in sounds from the NYC dance clubs and lots of influence from the NYC hip hop community to create a whole new sound that would go on to influence both pop and hip hop well into the 21st century. And, mainly this is due to the lasting effect of their great hit song “Genius of Love.”

7.31 Triumph - Allied Forces

Triumph – Allied Forces (1981). I have often unfairly described Triumph as Rush-lite. Well, the band is Canadian, is a trio and plays a more direct version of prog/hard rock. But, they put everything together for this album, especially the standout song “Magic Power,” which is simply immortal in my book.

7.31 Tubes - The Completion Backward Principle

Tubes – The Completion Backward Principle (1981). What’s a satirical performance art rock band supposed to do in the conservative world of Ronald Reagan. Well, they first team up with a budding producer of some of soft rock’s biggest names in the form of David Foster, dress like a bunch of business corporate raiders and indulge themselves into the world of faceless AOR sounds, leaving behind none of their punk rock attitude. Finally, the band got the airplay they always craved all the while remaining as subversive as ever. The joke was on the listener who thought they were discovering a great new band along the lines of Styx or Loverboy.

7.31 X - Wild Gift

X – Wild Gift (1981). Perhaps the best LA punk band of the era, X hit their stride as a band on their sophomore release. Former Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek produced this album that went further in merging the punk sound and fury with even more standard rock sounds. This remains one of rock’s best second albums, with or without their classic anthem “White Girl.”

And, that, my friends, wraps up 1981. See you next time with the start of 1982 and the MTV Age. Peace.

1981, Day 2: My 1000 Favorite Albums

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Don’t bore us, get to the chorus! Here’s Day 2 of 1981.

7.31 Lindsey Buckingham - Law and Order

Lindsey Buckingham – Law and Order (1981). As if to prove just how the musical rules were being broken in the early Eighties, Lindsey Buckingham followed up Fleetwood Mac’s most ambitious album, Tusk, with his first solo album that was stuffed with odd takes on his wonderful pop/rock vision. Take the lead track “Bwana,” as a example, since it sounds as if Buckingham had joined the Talking Heads during their Remain in Light tour to record this tune. Even with all the oddball production experiments, Lindsey did give us one of his ten best songs with the hit “Trouble.”

7.31 Loverboy - Get Lucky

Loverboy – Get Lucky (1981). I still contend that Bon Jovi stole Loverboy’s hard rock with tasty synthesizer swashes sound. The proof is on here on this album. Sure, the Jovi boys were prettier than the ironically named Loverboy, but these Canadians were innovative for AOR at the time. And, although the band had more hits over the next couple of years, this was their pinnacle.

7.31 Ozzy Osbourne - Blizzard of Ozz

Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard of Ozz (1981). What a dramatic comeback for Ozzy! Just as he was quickly becoming another forgotten coked-out drunk rocker, in swoops Sharon to take over his career which re-established his kingdom of all thing metal. Her stroke of brilliance was teaming Ozz with budding guitar hero Randy Rhoads, an obvious heir to the Eddie Van Halen shred-fest throne. This album was a fresh take on a Halen-influenced metal coupled with Ozzy’s dark lyrics. You’re welcome Iron Maiden!

7.31 Pat Benatar - Precious Time

Pat Benatar – Precious Time (1981). Cases can be rightfully made for the inclusion of either of Benatar’s, or both, first two albums. However, this is when Pat and her partner, and future husband, Neil Giraldo flexed their creative powers on this chart-topping album of tough woman hard rock. I saw Pat, Neil and the band on this tour, and they were very commanding of the stage. This was a gang who was a force not to be reckoned with, least of all that tiny lady with the huge voice at the front of the stage.

7.31 Phil Collins - Face Value

Phil Collins – Face Value (1981). Most of the time, when artists bare their souls, they created some pretty substantial work. That’s what Phil did on his first solo outing, and he reaped the critical and commercial success that had been limited here in the States for his band Genesis. Phil picked the scab off his imploding marriage and created the blueprint his solo and Genesis careers would follow for the rest of the decade. I can sum up this album in four words: “In the Air Tonight.”

7.31 Prince - Controversy

Prince – Controversy (1981). If Prince became a critical darling on 1980’s Dirty Mind, he became a creative force on this album. At the time, we thought Rick James was the punk-funk visionary, when it was Prince all along. The scary part, Prince proved the point when the two were out on tour during 1981. Legend has it that James was pissed that he couldn’t keep up. At the time, I thought this might not age well. But, now, I cannot believe how timely songs like “Annie Christian” and “Controversy” remain. This album just might be the man’s most political statement in his illustrious career.

7.31 Rick James - Street Songs

Rick James – Street Songs (1981). Generally speaking, people were divided into two factions as to who held the long-term vision for the future of black music. While Prince was dipping his funk in new wave toppings, James was bringing a more street-level punk attitude to his funk. In the short run, James was leading the way. This album is his masterpiece, but it causes one to pause and wonder what could have been if the man could have controlled his demons. Regardless, this album remains a crucial step in the blurring of racial lines in music. It’s just a shame that MTV refused to play his great videos back in the early days of the channel.

7.31 Rickie Lee Jones - Pirates

Rickie Lee Jones – Pirates (1981). Two years earlier, this female version of Tom Waits, Rickie Lee Jones, struck platinum behind the left field hit “Chuck E.’s in Love.” All of the promise she displayed on that album came to fruition on Pirates. Her tales of characters traveling the late night club scene are endearing and real. And, quite possibly as the last of the Seventies singer/songwriters, she updated the genre for the Eighties crowd. After this album, however, Jones retreated a bit from the spotlight, shrank her crowds and maintained a fulfilling cult-status career. But, this is her best stuff.

7.31 Rush - Moving Pictures

Rush – Moving Pictures (1981). This is the sound of the world’s greatest cult band taking their place alongside the pantheon of rock greats. This album is the band’s greatest album. The songs, while as innovative as ever before, are tightened to precise standards, allowing Rush to flex their creative muscles within then-current pop constraints. All ready recognized as one of rock’s most talented collection of musicians, Rush proved they were not adverse to incorporating current trends into their sound.

7.31 Soft Cell - Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret

Soft Cell – Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret (1981). First off, this is synthpop actually beginning to sound like a rock album by Pink Floyd. In other words, there’s art being made by this duo. Of course, in typical fashion of the tastes of the budding Gen X, the themes tackled on this album were somewhat controversial, if people actually had paid attention. It’s all about the seedy underworld of sex, as if the Velvet Underground had a gotten a sense of empathy for their subjects. Of course, the cold-hearted remake of the soul hit “Tainted Love” is the big draw on this album.

7.31 Squeeze - East Side Story

Squeeze – East Side Story (1981). Unfortunately, original keyboardist and in-concert focal point Jools Holland left the band. To fill those huge shoes came journeyman musician and singer Paul Carrack, the voice behind the huge 1975 hit “How Long” by Ace. While Difford and Tilbrook continued to gain comparisons to Lennon and McCartney for their songwriting, Carrack contributed the song for which Squeeze might be best known to this day, “Tempted.” The song fit perfectly into this song cycle about troublesome relationships that are wrought with betrayals. And, all those dark lyrics are set to some of the best blue-eyed soul-slash-new wave music this side of Daryl Hall & John Oates.

And, folks, that brings us to the end of Day 2 for 1981. Next time, I will wrap up this great year for music. Peace.

An Appropriate Day to Begin 1981 on My Favorite 1000 Albums List

5.17 Top 1000 Albums_LI

Happy 39th birthday to MTV! No kidding! MTV blasted onto the cable feeds across the country on this date back in 1981. And, for a generation of people, it was the channel that made us a community. MTV is no longer that cultural touchstone since they remove the Music from MTV.

To me, 1981 was a transition year in many ways. Culturally, we were moving into the digital age, which caused much economic stress. Politically, the pendulum was beginning to swing back to the right after reaching its leftward trajectory in the Sixties. And, musically, this was the year BEFORE video actually killed the radio stars. AOR was at its peak, as it will begin its descent toward the oldies circuit. Additionally, the first crest of new wave had left its mark and receded a bit. However, new art forms were coming into focus, with post-punk and synthpop beginning to make inroads, while rap was beginning to take over the urban underground. And, in that underground, the art punks and the hip hop artists were cross-pollinating that will soon bring forth new sounds.

On a personal level, 1981 was the year I transitioned from a high school student to a college student. So, in a way, I was breaking the “bondage” of a town I swore I would leave behind forever to face a new, emerging world. And, like so many of us, I ended up breaking that vow when jobs actually brought us back to that very town a decade later. Funny how karma can be.

So, let’s begin this journey through 1981.

7.31 Billy Squier - Don't Say No

Billy Squier – Don’t Say No (1981). When I first heard Squier’s first hit song “The Stroke” I actually thought Queen has made a pretty cool followup to “Another One Bites the Dust,” even though I was certain that Freddie was NOT the singer. For some reason, Squier hit the zeitgeist of the year with his synthesizer touches on the standard AOR sound. I swear that you could not escape this album being blasted out of dorm rooms on the Ball State campus that year. You know what? It still sounds good today, as I just recently listened to the album for the first time in 30+ years.

7.31 Black Flag - Damaged

Black Flag – Damaged (1981). I met a group of guys in the dorm who turned me onto those great Eighties hardcore bands. Those guys appeared to be some of the scariest guys on campus, but they were really nice, intelligent guys. But, man, did they ever love this album, as well as being some of the first Henry Rollins fans. In all honesty, this Black Flag album spoke to many people my age who were disenchanted with the changes Reagan was bringing to the country. Unfortunately, most people I knew would rather just party and not pay attention to what was happening.

7.31 Brian Eno & David Byrne - My Life in the Bush of Ghosts

Brian Eno & David Byrne – My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (1981). After teaming together to help create three classic Talking Heads albums, this dynamic duo, during a Heads hiatus, took the Remain in Light sound, experimented with loops and samples to create one of the most haunting albums from that time. In lieu of traditional vocals, this pair went around the world to record exotic musicians playing and vocals from alternative sources, such as an exorcism, a reading from the Qur’an (which was removed after requests from those associated with the Islam faith) and radio talk shows. The mixture seems to be against nature, yet somehow worked to perfection.

7.31 Busboys - Minimum Wage Rock & Roll

Bus Boys – Minimum Wage Rock & Roll (1981). Talk about an excellent band that has gotten overlooked over time. Hell, they might have been overlooked in the early Eighties if not for some huge fans in Eddie Murphy and the SNL family. The band opened for Murphy on his Raw tour and found their way on the first Ghostbusters soundtrack. And, their debut album is the perfect stuff for a party, much like the far more popular J. Geils Band. Maybe racism work against them a bit since their sound was not made for R&B radio formats, while white rock radio wouldn’t give this mainly black rock band a place in their format. And what a shame, since they might be one of the great lost bands of the Eighties.

7.31 Dan Fogelberg - The Innocent Age

Dan Fogelberg – The Innocent Age (1981). C’mon people! Give Dan a break! Sure, he did spend a lot of time singing those damn ballads, but his lyrics were poetic and his production impeccable. And, man, the college women loved this album. This is simply Fogelberg at his very best, as this double album really has no filler. Plus, I remain a sucker for “Same Old Lang Syne.”

7.31 Daryl Hall & John Oates - Private Eyes

Daryl Hall & John Oates – Private Eyes (1981). The followup to the duo’s landmark Voices only upped the ante for them. Hall & Oates actually smoothed the rough edges for the production on the songs making them sound state of the art for the early Eighties. And, this mature set gave the band two more number one hits in the title song and the immortal “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do),” which was a huge hit on black radio as well. Now, Daryl and John were able to surf a crest into rock immortality.

7.31 Foreigner - 4

Foreigner – 4 (1981). If there was one album from 1981 that seemed to be handed out to us at our high school graduation, it had to be this one (though Journey and REO had to be close behind). Hell, I even saw the band with opening act Billy Squier in the fall of that year, a concert that simply screams “1981.” Obviously, Foreigner was huge to my age group, but they always had seemed a little pedestrian for my tastes. But, they hit a home run on this album. All I need to say is “Urgent,” “Waiting for a Girl like You” and “Jukebox Hero.” This album would be noteworthy if only for Junior Walker’s sizzling sax solo on “Urgent” or Thomas Dolby’s synthesizers throughout the album, but together? Please.

7.31 Genesis - Abacab

Genesis – Abacab (1981). The trio version of Genesis, the most commercial iteration of the band, started in 1978 with a decent album called And Then There Were Three, followed by 1980’s good Duke. Then, drummer Phil Collins changed everything in the spring of 1981 with his critical and commercial hit Face Value solo LP debut along with that Eighties standard “In the Air Tonight,” and everything changed for the band. So, on this album which was released in the fall of 1981, Genesis combined the influenced of Phil’s new found drum sound (thank you Peter Gabriel) and post-punk sounds to create a compelling new direction for the band. And, here was the big breakthrough that carried the band to new heights in the new decade.

7.31 Joan Jett - I Love Rock 'n' Roll

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll (1981). So, Joan, the former Runaway, went solo the previous year, but no label wanted to sign her with her bubblegum/punk fusion sound. So, she started her own label and flipped the bird at the industry as she rode the commercial success of the title song to number one. Of course, the album followed suit and now Ms. Jett and her band are members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. There’s nothing sweeter than that story.

7.31 Journey - Escape

Journey – Escape (1981). I gotta admit that I was a huge Journey fan at the beginning of 1981. Then, this album hit, and every Tom, Dick and Harry suddenly became Journey fans that I just couldn’t take it any more. Then, it was as if overnight, every radio station was playing a song off this album. Truthfully speaking, Escape IS a great album, but damn! How many times do we really need to hear “Don’t Stop Believing”? Oh well, I had hoped the band would be discovered by more people, but this just got too crazy for me. Still, the album is a fantastic slice of Eighties AOR, and Steve Perry possesses one of the most golden voices of all-time.

7.31 Kraftwerk - Computer World

Kraftwerk – Computer Love (1981). I know that I say this every time Kraftwerk comes up with an album on this list, but, dammit, these guys are way too important to rock music to leave them out of the RRHOF. And, this album did so much to broaden synthpop’s appeal across the board. In 1982, rap will embrace the sound as Afrika Bambaataa samples the band for his landmark hit “Planet Rock.” The band will soldier on with their career, never ruining their reputation while never reaching the heights of their late-Seventies/early-Eighties run.

Day 1 for 1981 is in the books. Stay tuned for Days 2 and 3. Peace.