All Music Guide recently posted their retrospective on the music of 1980. The further back these retrospectives go, the more albums that I missed or just never got around to purchasing are brought to my attention (I don’t own The River, for the love of Mike!). You may find some music to explore in the article as well, so read the whole thing, definitely including the comments.
Classic or Near-classic
The Clash – London Calling. Technically released at the tail end of 1979, but generally considered an ’80s album. There are more classics on this album than most albums have songs. A strong contender for greatest album ever made.
Joy Division – Closer. A perfectly realized masterpiece.
Blue Angel – Blue Angel. It’s easy to understand why this album landed Cyndi Lauper a solo contract. It’s not easy to understand why so few people have heard this terrific album. I plan a write-up on this in the near future.
Prince – Dirty Mind. Worst cover art in history, but a great album that includes the masterful “When You Were Mine,” later covered memorably by Cyndi Lauper. Plus, dude nails his sister! How fucked up is that?
Gang of Four – Entertainment! Technically 1979, but Rolling Stone had it in its top albums of the ’80s, so I’m guessing it didn’t come to the Colonies until then.
X – Los Angeles. Fucked-up rockabilly that sounds like nothing before or since (except for a couple other X albums).
AC/DC – Back in Black. Yes, I’m sick of it, too, but are you going tell me it doesn’t belong here? Are you going to tell Angus?
The Feelies – Crazy Rhythms. Would someone please get this record back in print?
Public Image Ltd. – Metal Box/Second Edition. Again, I think 1979, but again, I think it was releases Stateside in 1980 as it was, again, in Rolling Stone‘s best of the 80s list.
Pretty Damned Great
Dire Straits – Making Movies. Just short of classic, with some classic songs. “Skateaway” gives me goosebumps.
Barbra Streisand – Guilty. The album has only her name on it, but that’s Barry Gibb standing next to her on the cover, and it’s just as much his album–he wrote it, produced it, duets on three songs, and (with his brothers) sings backup throughout. The gorgeous “Woman in Love” is just one of the expertly-crafted pop songs that fill this album.
Motörhead – Ace of Spades. The thundering title classic would be enough to get this album remembered, but it’s got a lot more where that one came from.
Teena Marie – Irons in the Fire. She has never gotten the respect she deserves as critics have mostly ignored the oddity of a white singer who sold a large percentage of her records to a black audience. On her third album, she asserts herself by writing and producing the whole thing for the first, but not last, time.
Warren Zevon – Stand in the Fire. Including a live album in the above sections didn’t seem quite right, but this rowdy set needed to be mentioned somewhere.
The Clash – Sandinista! This three-record mess has too much great material to leave out entirely.
The Cure – Boys Don’t Cry. I haven’t heard it in ages, but I know a lot of the songs by heart.
David Bowie – Scary Monsters. My copy was stolen and I haven’t replaced it yet. I recall loving a lot of it, being iffy on some. I’d like to hear it again before ranking it properly.
Below the fold!
A 1980 YouTube mixtape including some of the above. Just for you! ♥♥♥!
Best Albums of 1980 Mixtape (YouTube playlist). Click here to play the whole thing. You can play the songs individually below.
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The Feelies – “The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness”
The Clash – “Hateful”
Gang of Four – “5.45”
Joy Division – “Colony”
Teena Marie – “I Need Your Lovin'”
Dire Straits – “Romeo and Juliet”
Barbra Streisand – “Woman in Love”
Motörhead – “Jailbait”
Warren Zevon – “Jeannie Needs a Shooter” [live]
David Bowie – “Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)”
The Cure – “Grinding Halt” (Alternate version, but closest I could find. Rocks, though.)
And yes, I think I may actually be the first person in the history of whatever to make a mix that transitions from Barbra Streisand to Motörhead. I know I’m the first person to do it non-ironically. Deal with it, you candy-asses.