The ’80’s (Like Jesus) Is Just Alright

Take a look at any compilation CD from the 1980’s and you’ll surmise (quickly) that the decade was full of superficial, synthesizer and drum machine riddled, sugar coated drivel. And you’d be right.

But you would also be very, very wrong. Because like any decade, musically speaking, there were 2 sides to the story. Here’s a typical Time-Life sampler of ‘popular’ ‘80’s hits:

 Do You Really Want To Hurt Me (Culture Club)

One Thing Leads To Another (The Fixx)

If You Leave (OMD)

Tainted Love (Soft Cell)

Come On Eileen (Dexy’s Midnight Runners)

Faith (George Michael)

Every Breath You Take (The Police)

You Spin Me ‘Round (Like A Record) (Dead Or Alive)

Head Over Heels (Tears For Fears)

Rebel Yell (Billy Idol)

I Ran (Flock Of Seagulls)

I Want Candy (Bow Wow Wow)

Working For The Weekend (Loverboy)

I Melt With You (Modern English)

Down Under (Men At Work)

Safety Dance (Men Without Hats)

Heat Of The Moment (ASIA)

Cars (Gary Numan)

(Don’t You) Forget About Me (Simple Minds)

She Drives Me Crazy (Fine Young Cannibals)

Whip It (DEVO)

Celebration (Kool and the Gang)

Take On Me (A HA)

During their time, at the dawn of MTV, these songs were played to death. Some (definitely not all) don’t deserve their fate here on this list. Some came from albums that were in all reality quite fine records. But, overall, the above list is cheese personified. Guilty pleasures to some, of course, cheese to all others.

It wasn’t all about parachute pants, you know. There was an alternate reality; a reality where the weird, the experimental and the ultimately influential lived and thrived. This alternate musical reality is where I lived, although I don’t remember thinking of it like that back then when I was living it. It was simply my reality. My mix tape from the ‘80’s would be much different. That’s not to say its better, and I know it sounds impossibly arrogant to insinuate that I was far above everyone else when it came to music (I wasn’t), it’s just different. In my opinion it was more artistic and had more staying power than some of the ‘hits’ of the day. This is stuff I still listen to, for better or for worse. I could do the same list for the ‘60’s, ‘70’s and the ‘90’s, and maybe I will…later. But today it’s all about the ‘80’s. So, without further adieu…my ‘80’s mix tape. I won’t try and add anything I learned about later to the list just to make it seem more ‘cool’ than it is. No, this is warts and all. The tape I would have made back in the day. Nothing more. I wish I could say I discovered the Pixies during the ‘80’s, but I didn’t until the early ‘90’s, as an example. However, that’s not to say I left a couple of the more embarrassing one’s off…


I Love You (Yello)

Holiday In Cambodia (Dead Kennedy’s)

Your Silent Face (New Order)

Human Fly (The Cramps)

Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio? (Ramones)

I Love a Man In A Uniform (Gang Of Four)

Charlie Don’t Surf (The Clash)

Left To My Own Devices (Pet Shop Boys)

Transmission (Joy Division)

The Queen Is Dead (The Smiths)

Annie Get Your Gun (Squeeze)

Dum Dum Girl (Talk Talk)

The Band Played Waltzing Matilda (The Pogues)

This Must Be The Place (Talking Heads)

The Model (Big Black)

Moments In Love (Art Of Noise)

Enola Gay (OMD)

Stigmata (Ministry)

Moving To Florida (Butthole Surfers)

This Corrosion (Sisters Of Mercy)


The Walk (The Cure)

Steppin’ Out (Joe Jackson)

Fools Gold (Stone Roses)

Can u Dig It? (Pop Will Eat Itself)

Piece Of Sky (Wonder Stuff)

Dog Eat Dog (Adam and the Ants)

Add It Up (Violent Femmes)

Rise Above (Black Flag)

Click Click (The Beat)

Ghost Town (The Specials)

One Step Beyond (Madness)

Making Plans For Nigel (XTC)

President Gas (Psychedelic Furs)

Red Barchetta (Rush)

I Travel (Simple Minds)

The Birth Of The True (Aztec Camera)

Pump Up The Volume (MARRS )

Rip It Up (Orange Juice)

Southern Mark Smith (The Jazz Butcher)

Avalon (Roxy Music)

That’s Entertainment (The Jam)