Sunday, December 15, 2013

Top 10 Albums of 1980

This Top 10 list is fraught with conflict and confusion. The two acknowledged masterpieces that I've literally never owned, and which would be fundamentally dishonest to include: Joy Division's Closer and Talking Heads' Remain in Light. A few albums that I have owned (and enjoyed) in the past, but could never ever ever really be considered Top 10 material - & certainly not here: Rush's Permanent Waves, Steely Dan's Gaucho, Genesis' Duke... Yikes!

I could have easily picked a couple of metal classics: AC/DC's Back in Black and Judas Priest's British Steel - but instead went with hardcore, because that’s where my heart lies.

Except for, y'know...

#10 Peter Gabriel (a.k.a. "3" - a.k.a. "Melt")

"No Self Control" from Peter Gabriel (1980)
"Not One of Us" from Peter Gabriel (1980)

Genre - Futuro Off-World Synth-Artpop
Official -
Location - Chobham, Surrey

Review - Mark Prindle
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

Look at me, rejecting Genesis (#7, 1973) while honoring their former lead weirdo (#8 Top 40, 1982), with Phil Collins and John freaking Giblin in tow. Kate Bush sings on sillysong "Games Without Frontiers," Paul Weller of The Jam (see #9) guitars on "And Through the Wire." With the recent death of Nelson Mandela, let's also take the chance to remember Stephen Biko. Anyway, I've only ever owned this one on cassette tape, so my recent listening has been limited to such access.

Full album!

#9 Sound Affects - The Jam
+ the "Going Underground / Dreams of Children" single

"That's Entertainment" from Sound Affects (1980)
"Going Underground" from the 7" single (1980)

Genre - Post-punk Mod-pop
Official -
Location - Woking, Surrey

Review - Prindle
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

Tops of The Jam, both album-wise & popular single-wise. Great band that merged Britpunk, the '60s mod thing, rock & roll, and increasingly Northern Soul and R&B. This middle period was a real good balance between the extremes. The album includes especially Beatlesque hit "Start!" (plus lotsa deep cuts) - and the single had the B-side hit "Dreams of Children." Super-Rickenbacker action! (Album playlist here.)

#8 Underwater Moonlight - The Soft Boys

"I Wanna Destroy You" from Underwater Moonlight (1980)
"Queen of Eyes" from Underwater Moonlight (1980)

Genre - New Weird Britain Pubnk-Rock
Wikipedia - The_Soft_Boys
Location - Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Review - Scott Floman
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

This is all getting pretty British, eh? Like Robyn Hitchcock (#10 Live, 2011) next-level stuff. People mostly seem to gravitate towards threateningly jittery "Insanely Jealous," but the sunnier "Positive Vibrations" is another way to go (regardless of sarcasm/irony).

Original LP stream. Also: it doesn't technically count, but the fantastic 1981 single "Only the Stones Remain" (and a lot besides) are included as bonus tracks on the Matador re-release edition. Yup!

#7 Group Sex - Circle Jerks
Jealous Again EP - Black Flag

"World Up My Ass" from Group Sex (1980)
"White Minority" from Jealous Again EP (1980)

Genre - U.S. Hardcore Punk
Official/Myspace -
Location - Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Review - Prindle on Jerks, ... on Flag
Download (CJ) - Amazon, iTunes
Download (BF) - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase (CJ) - Amazon / (BF) - Amazon

U.S.A. Maybe you didn't grow up on American Hardcore - I did. These two were in-disp-... de-spin... CORE! To be fair & honest, I got into Jealous Again as part of CDG's cassette tape of First Four Years (1983) - awesome. And you can really party along to either or both, like a session. FYI - the average song length on these two albums is 1 minute 9 seconds - awesome!!

Group Sex full album. Jealous Again full EP.

#6 Ace of Spades - Motörhead

"Ace of Spades" from Ace of Spades (1980)
"Shoot You in the Back" from Ace of Spades (1980)

Genre - Müh Music
Official -
Location - London, England, U.K.

Review - Prindle
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazön

Okay, look, the title track is like indisputably one of the greatest rock songs of all time, mang. So it's a huge part of why this one's here. But the whole album is really strong - just don't expect a dozen at that exactly same high level.

O yeah, I was bummed that Motörhead cancelled their Houston set at the recent package tour - only went to see them, and found out once we got there. But fortunately, I did see them at WrestleMania X-Seven (2001), and I'm still really glad that I got to see Ween cover "Ace of Spades" in Tulsa, Okla., of all places. Super-Rickenbacker action!

Full album, yesss!

#5 Red Exposure - Chrome

"New Age" from Red Exposure (1980)
"Electric Chair" from Red Exposure (1980)

Genre - Weirdo Nü-Rave
Official(???) -
Location - San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Review - Prindle
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazone

Not every tune completely drops the hammer, but even some of the noisescapes are pretty cool. And hell, I just really dig Chrome so much. Whenever I talk about "weirdo music," Chrome might be the true originator of what I'm talking about - people trying to make good art / good music, but just too weird to not make it 20x more interesting than intended.

Full album of Chrome.

#4 Snockgrass - Michael Hurley

"Tia Marie" from Snockgrass (1980)
"I’m Getting Ready to Go" from Snockgrass (1980)

Genre - Mountain-Folk Old/Weird Americana
Official -
Location - Vermont? (maybe?)

Review - Robert Christgau
Download - Amazon
Purchase - Amazon

Man, do these tunes get stuck in my head. Hurley's down-real folk hits home, in a way that your mileage may vary - but this one is seriously most excellent. Check it: "O My Stars." Not that I can't imagine ol' Michael doing old-timey covers, but I would have totally believed that both "I Heard the Voice of a Porkchop" (the story) and "You Gonna Look Like A Monkey" were Hurley originals. Nope!

The CD edition includes a couple o' bonus tracks: an alt. take of Have Moicy! (1976) tune "Sweet Lucy," and "Grapefruit Juice Blues."

Finding songs from this one was extremely difficult, but the worst offense was a lack of "Automatic Slim & The Fatboys" (the story). So I made that 'video' - click it!!

#3 Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables - Dead Kennedys

"Holiday in Cambodia" from Fresh Fruit ... (1980)
"California Über Alles" from ... for Rotting Vegetables (1980)

Genre - Left-wing Socio-political Surf-punk
Official -
Location - San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Review - Prindle
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

OK, for real, this was a transformative album for the 15-year-old me. I bought the import (red notch) CD at, I'm sure, the Town & Country Mall. For better or worse, a LOT of what I am today can be laid at the feet of DK's. While maybe not technically quite as good as Frankenchrist (1985), this is kinda ground zero for... me. "What big business wants, big business gets, it wants a war." Seriously.

Full album, punk!

#2 I Think Of Demons ("The Evil One") - Roky Erickson

The Evil One
"Two Headed Dog" from The Evil One (1980)
"Bloody Hammer" from The Evil One (1980)

Genre - Real Horrorshow
Official -
Location - Austin, TX, Texas

Review - Pitchfork
Download - iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

I wanted to... tried to... but unfortunately, this had to come up second. What the Dead Kennedys were to 15-year-old me, Roky Erickson was to 17-year-old me. And The Evil One was pretty much the same as Fresh Fruit - a whole new world to inhabit. Roky's like basically one of my favorite people of all time in the whole world (unlike, say, Jello). He's been there all the way since the #1 Record of 1966 through the #4 Live Show of 2012.

There are so many interpretations of this album, but I suggest this YouTube playlist for my ideal.

#1 Sandinista!/Black Market Clash - The Clash

"Police On My Back" from Sandinista! (1980)
"Pressure Drop" from Black Market Clash (1980)

Genre - English Dub-Punk
Official -
Location - London, England, U.K.

Review - Prindle
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon

Holy crap! What a massive dump of simply everything. All those complaints about Sandinista! being just too much are completely ludicrous. I did a little analysis, and there's at least a 5-to-1 quality-to-filler ratio (on a triple-album for the price of one). And the good stuff is really, really good. I completely love this: "Something About England." It's a deep, deep, deep dive. There's almost literally always something next. O yeah, BMC is a bunch of early-Clash singles & non-album cuts - y'think that might be good? It is... very good.

So much of this list is my adolescence / high school, but fortunately I discovered the more obscure Clash after that period. Sandinista! would not have fit into my HS listening habits the way their self-titled debut (the US-version cassette) did so seamlessly. They're the last of my top-tier discographies left to be written - but have only appeared in annual lists for the #9 & #11 Top 40 hits of 1982.

Uhhh, try this - and good luck with Black Market Clash! There's some mid-'90s re-super-sized version that came out later. But y'know, whatever...

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