Somehow I Found Some '80s Albums That Still Sound Good

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Benjamin Leatherman
These guys are bigger '80s fans than Steve Wiley.
A few months ago, I took 80's music to task in a little ditty called High School Music: A Reunion from Hell.

Of course, I took some shit from some of my friends and classmates, so I promised them I'd try to look at the positive side to the eighties down the road. That moment has arrived.

Like the moment a chemistry test arrives.

Hey, I promised, so stay tuned as I try to find some musical needles in a decade long haystack.

See also:
- Record Store Geek: Five Reasons CDs are Better Than Vinyl
- Record Store Geek: Seven Reasons Vinyl is Better Than CD.

The Best of the Worst

Here's my original premise: In my opinion, overall, the '80s were the worst decade of music since rock and roll was born. Most of it didn't sound good then, and it doesn't sound good now.

This little "research project" hasn't done a lot to change that opinion.

All jocular harassment aside, I figured I'd easily find a bunch of '80s albums that still hold up (meaning that I still listen to them today).

I gotta tell you, even being a smart-ass '80s basher, it was harder than I thought it would be. Of the more than 1,500 albums I've ripped, it was amazing how few were '80s albums. I'd scroll through, looking for possible candidates. When I'd see one, I'd check the dates, and time after time I'd end up muttering one of two things:

"Damn, 1979 again," or...

"Oops, early '90s again."

After scrolling and listing for an hour, I was able to find 21 albums that fit the bill. I've divided them into four random categories (with a brief set-up for each) for your scrutinizing pleasure.

(Yes, I realize half of you little shits weren't born until the eighties, but stay with me and you just might pick up a good recommendation.)

Start with Four Popular Records

I started by scanning the decade's Billboard charts. I immediately found that two great albums had topped the album charts in 1980, and I was thinking, "Maybe I'm was too tough on the '80s."

Turns out one of the two (Pink Floyd's The Wall) was released in 1979, and I wasn't being too tough at all. The best-selling titles got really bad, really quick. Next thing you know, I'm at 1990, and I've only got four total that I've listened to in the past few years.

That's right, only FOUR. For the entire fucking decade. I guess we are talking about agreeing with the '80s mainstream, so that sounds about right.

1. U2 - Joshua Tree (1987)
In the eighties you couldn't avoid the hits like you can now, and excessive radio/MTV play would inevitably cause me to hate them early in the album's lifespan. I hated Joshua Tree's hits from the beginning. Sap City. Luckily, Boner and the boys put all three of them up front, so I can start on track four and have a great time with rest of the album. (Note: Achtung Baby is better, so is War, but neither went to number one.)

2. Queen - The Game (1980)
I listen to The Game more than my other four Queen albums (all from the 70's) combined. I always skip "Another One Bites the Dust" (although it is the only song I know that features my name), but I really enjoy the rest. Both sides. Brian and Freddie's interplay on "Dragon Attack" still blows my hair back.

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7 comments
clashblog
clashblog

Sandinista! by The Clash ('80) or Ocean Rain by Echo & The Bunnymen ('84)...or any Smiths albums

Stereolab
Stereolab

Skylarking by XTC (1986). Best album of the 80s.

unmutual
unmutual

I love 80s music. The Beat's 'Special Beat Service' is still one of my favorites of all time. The Specials and Madness also put out fine music during the decade. Why you neglected the whole 2Tone genre is beyond my comprehension. Also maybe the Cure and REM should have beeen considered as contenders..

james8394
james8394

The Blasters by The Blasters & Back in the High Life by Steve Winwood....Two 80"s collections I never get tired of. 

BigBob
BigBob

Failure.  The 80s had tons of good music that stands the test of time.  More so than other decades even.  You're looking strictly at pop music though, so there you go.  What decade has pop music that does stand the test of time? 

boingo
boingo

Sweet call-out of Riot's Fire Down Under....one of my favorite albums of all time (all of those years I came into your store and chatted music, I didn't know you had a soft spot for Riot).  And also kudos to putting MSG in the mix, although I'd choose Assault Attack.

Of course, for a metal-head, the '80s were nirvana (lower-case)....so your general thesis is flawed. :)

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