A Brave New World

Let’s end the year, or start the new year, with a post on the music of the 1980’s, shall we?

I truly believe that the ‘80’s, musically anyway, was the bravest decade. The 50’s was ground zero, the ‘60’s was psychedelic, the ‘70’s was the genesis of hard rock, punk and power pop, the ‘80’s was a culmination of everything. The doors flew open in a way never before seen with bands reared on all the above genres experimenting like mad scientists and more often than creating something special. Frankenstein’s monster and his bastard children were let loose and created all sorts of havoc with the boomer generation during the ‘greed is good’ decade.

Marketing was key, MTV was key, image was key, but beyond all that the music was key, as it always had been and always would be. There was such an influx of new music that there had to be some crap, and the ‘80’s had plenty of that. Take it from someone who lived it. But there was more cream than crap. The old guard was summarily ousted, and while a few tried to keep up with the kids most, if not all failed; in the case of some, embarrassingly so.

Bands like The Cure, Gang Of Four, New Order, OMD, The Smiths, Orange Juice, Pet Shop Boys, The Fall, Depeche Mode, Squeeze, all the fine folks over at ZTT, Jesus and Mary Chain, The Replacements, The Clash, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson and the Two-Tone movement reigned supreme. There were many others, most didn’t survive into the ‘90’s. They made their mark and got out, or were ousted, by the next batch of performers. The bands of this era were so damn creative it was scary. All of it, pretty much, was lumped in together as “New Wave”, for no other reason than folks couldn’t keep up with the massive amount of new sub-genres of rock these new bands were coming up with. Plus, it was easier to categorize them all together, for marketing purposes and to make things more exciting and palatable for the general music buying public.

Yes, the decade produced Flock Of Seagulls, Mister Mister (or, is that Mr. Mister?), RATT and all the other glam hair metal bands, and was the birth decade of the “boy band”. I think these bands are what folks are talking about when they deride this decade as being superficial and generally shit. But there was so much more, so very much more to like.

Here’s a list of my favorite albums from the 1980’s, in no particular order:

 The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead
The The, Soul Mining
Tears For Fears, The Hurting
ABC, The Lexicon Of Love
Art Of Noise, Who’s Afraid Of?
Bauhaus, Mask
Big Audio Dynamite, The Globe
Blue Peter, Radio Silence
Camper Van Beethoven, Telephone Free Landslide Victory
The Specials, The Specials
Elvis Costello, Armed Forces (and many others)
Joe Jackson, Night And Day (and Jumpin’ Jive!)
The Cars, Candy O
China Crisis, Working With Fire And Steel
The Cure, Head On The Door (I like it better than Disintegration)
David Bowie, Scary Monsters
Depeche Mode, Some Great Reward
XTC, Skylarking (and many others)
Orange Juice, Rip It Up
English Beat, I Just Can’t Stop It!
Gang Of Four, Entertainment
The Fixx, Reach The Beach (come on, you know you like it!)
The Lilac Time, The Lilac Time
Hoodoo Gurus, Mars Needs Guitars
The Jazz Butcher, A Scandal In Bohemia
Lloyd Cole, Rattlesnakes
Love And Rockets, Express
Men Without Hats, Rhythm Of Youth (I will fight anyone who disagrees)
New Order, Power, Corruption And Lies (and many more)
OMD, Architecture And Morality
Police, Zenyatta Mondatta
Prefab Sprout, Steve McQueen
Psychedelic Furs, Talk Talk Talk
Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Flaunt It!
Simple Minds, New Gold Dream
Sisters Of Mercy, Floodland
The Stranglers, Feline
Style Council, Singular Adventures Of
Talk Talk, The Colour Of Spring
Tears For Fears, The Hurting
Teenage Head, Frantic City
Thomas Dolby, The Flat Earth
Yello, Stella