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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Top 10 Albums Of The 80s

The Top 10 Albums Of The 80s

The Top 10 Albums Of The 80s: 11. Laurie Anderson - Big Science

11. Laurie Anderson - Big Science (1982)

Experimental Art Pop
Spotify


By description, Big Science could easily be dismissed as yet another album which gratifies itself into a pompous snooze-fest by punching way above its weight. It pushes the avant-garde pop-guard as far forward as it can, attacking the ‘conventional’ in hopes of camouflaging itself as some futuristic visionary, attempting to reinvent the wheel by throwing all the intellect and creativity Anderson can assemble into a 45 minute time frame. However, when surrendering to these synthy soundscapes and spoken words encompassing one apocalyptic mechanical world, it isn’t quite as bombastic as one may have initially assumed, rather freed from the shackles of unnecessary artiness by a minimalist apathy, like a friendly robot who has no interest in showing-off but merely wants to play, amused by your primitive shell and curious as to what makes your species tick. Nothing demonstrates this extroversion/indifference paradox better than the choice of instruments used, at times employing electronics you’ve never heard of (the farfisa organ, or the Oberheim OB-Xa, for examples) and at other times utilising tools you can already play (hand claps, bottles beaten with sticks, etc), which together depict the perfect image of the progressive computerised nature of the 80s, no matter how overlooked and misunderstood that may be.

Selected Accolades:
#44 in Slant Magazine's list the Best Albums of the 1980s.



10. Talking Heads - Remain in Light (1980)

New Wave Post-Punk
Spotify


The oft-uncelebrated hero of music’s most inventive periods is Brian Eno, his name suppressed in the linear notes of such masterpieces as Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy, and the three most important albums of Talking Head’s career. Which brings us to the time Remain in Light rolled around and our producer/co-writer had just about reached toppling point, initially unenthusiastic to stamp his label on yet another one of the band’s offerings. However, upon hearing the demos, he immediately changed his mind, enthralled by the more communal direction which no longer gravitated around Byrne’s awkward instability, but rather looped African grooves and unconventional funk values with a style no one had ever heard before (or even since, now that we mention it). So he joined their ranks once again, and I can only imagine how grateful Mr Eno still is for that decision, because (while Talking Heads were already notorious for their adventurous magic and improvisational introspective lyrical content) Remain in Light grew to become their magnum opus, defying time and age and defining experimental art-punk for generations to come. Unfortunately, Brian stayed true to his original threat eventually, leaving this as the final Eno/Heads collaboration, and the band quickly fell from their pedestal of glory shortly afterwards :(

Selected Accolades:
#27 in Q's list the 40 Best Albums of the 80s.
#11 in NME's list The 50 Greatest Albums Of The '80s.
#6 in Slant’s list the Best Albums of the 1980s.
#4 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list The Best Albums of the Decade.
#2 in Pitchfork Media's list the Top 100 Albums Of The 1980s.
#129 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
#88 in VH1’s list the 100 Greatest Albums.
#68 in NME's list the Greatest Albums Of All Time.
#43 in The Guardian's survey of the 100 Best Albums Ever.



The Top 10 Albums Of The 80s: 09. Prince and The Revolution - Purple Rain
I OWN THIS ALREADY :)

09. Prince and The Revolution - Purple Rain (1984)

Pop Rock Synth Funk

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life. But do not fear if you discover yourself lost and directionless, for we can all find guidance from the ardent gospels screamed at us from the most elevated of altars, spurting out the mouth of our divine androgynous preacher, Prince himself. Praised be his name! Now watch as the front row break into fevers, the unholy spirit colourfully laminating their panicked visions with one hand, and pestering their loins with the other, a cheeky sermon designed to deliver the soul from evil by kindling a previously suppressed sexuality, ensuring we find God within these new intriguing feelings one way or another. To clarify: this is the best Church ever! As well as the frequently cited ‘best Prince ever’, a rare example of when a soundtrack has eclipsed its partner film so severely that many listeners aren’t even aware of the movie anyway, a unique feat achieved by pretty much doing everything, including the layers upon layers of distinct instrumentation smearing together an interminable array of popular 80s genres until pop threatens to erupt love all over itself. And that turns me on.
Please Note: I wrote this review whilst listening to said album on the morning of April 21st, unbeknownst to me perhaps the very moment Prince died. One very eerie (and painfully heartbreaking) coincidence. Rest in Peace, you legend.

Selected Accolades:
Becoming the sixth best-selling soundtrack of all time, at over 22 million copies shipped.
Deemed the Best Soundtrack of All Time by Vanity Fair.
#18 in VH1's list the Greatest Rock and Roll Albums of All Time.
#2 in Slant Magazine's list the Best Albums of the 1980s.
#2 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list the Greatest Albums of 1980s.
Deemed the Best Album of the Past 25 Years by Entertainment Weekly.
#76 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
#15 in Time's list the Greatest Albums of the All Time.
#2 in Entertainment Weekly’s list the 100 Greatest Albums Ever.
Won two Grammy Awards in 1985, as well as an Album of the Year nomination.
Included in the National Recording Registry (2012).



08. Joy Division - Closer (1980)

Post-Punk
Spotify


The story of Joy Division is so legendary that it almost reads like a tragic work of fiction written by an author who grew bored halfway through. Two uneasy albums were released in the space of two years, and in between their fruition, frontman Ian Curtis had already hung himself to death at the delicate age of 23. His reasons for the self-inflicted passing were a terrible combination of uncontrollable epilepsy (which at times caused embarrassing fits in front of large audiences), and a crippling depression that is well documented throughout Joy Division’s brief discography. His gloomy hopelessness and tortured pain left him weak, mumbling his black soul all over the slow gothic textures and claustrophobic production which, in hindsight, could not be considered anything but a forlorn sob for help. But while both their debut and swansong suffered by a comparable amount of troubled loneliness, and while the previous Unknown Pleasures did define the entire post-punk genre, it was the aptly named Closer which perfected the scene, as well as striking with an additional potency; the recently deceased stinging the fresh wounds inside of our guts. Oh, Ian. So sorry to see you go.

Selected Accolades:
#72 in NME’s list The 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.
#10 in Pitchfork Media’s list The Best Albums of the 1980s.
#8 in Q’s list The 40 Best Albums of the 1980s.
#7 in Slant Magazine’s list The Best Albums of the 1980s.
#157 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.



The Top 10 Albums Of The 80s: 07. Paul Simon - Graceland
I OWN THIS ALREADY :)

07. Paul Simon - Graceland (1986)

Worldbeat Pop Rock
Spotify


In a decade known for its artificially programmed audio, it’s refreshing when the roots of Mother Earth are dug up to produce an album which has maintained its relevance throughout forever. However, while much can be said about Graceland's content (including some of the best lyrics ever fused to tape), the backstory (and consequences) almost overshadow the music within. It started when Simon found himself captivated by the soulful arrangements and rhythms of the African land, and promptly set off to South Africa to refine his own sound towards that direction, weaving the intricate black spirit into his white arty-smartiness, collaborating with the locals to capture the severe yet upbeat vibes of the township, and connecting their culture to the big budget production of the west. Which seems friendly enough, but in reality was one controversial move, primarily due to South Africa’s apartheid regime at the time. He was accused of exploiting the country’s craft, taking advantage of resident musicians, and even plagiarising some of their compositions. A ban from South Africa loomed and Simon was blacklisted from the United Nations for a while, but in hindsight, he did help to globally popularise the traditional style and push some financially advantageous interest their way, so maybe all is forgiven by now? I hope so.

Selected Accolades:
#85 in Pitchfork Media's list Top 100 Favorite Records of the 1980s.
#39 in Q Magazine's list The 80 Best Records of the 80s.
#19 in Slant Magazine's list Best Albums of the 1980s.
#56 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list The Best Albums of the Last Twenty Years.
#84 in Channel 4’s survey The 100 Greatest Albums of All Time.
#81 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
#69 in The Guardian's list The 100 Best Albums Ever.
#26 in USA Today's list Top 40 Albums of All Time.
#4 in Entertainment Weekly's list The 100 Greatest CDs of All Time.
Won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1987.
Included in the National Recording Registry (2007).



06. Michael Jackson - Thriller (1982)

Contemporary R&B Pop
Spotify


There is a reasonable argument that Michael Jackson is the greatest entertainer that ever moonwalked our earth. His contagious songwriting, his unreasonable dance moves, his restless face, and his alleged kiddy-fiddling habits developed into an enigma, one where the very mention of his name demanded attention so severely that the pop crown has been permanently glued to his head without any threat ever since. However, all customary sentiments aside, his sound has suffered from being perhaps a bit too 80s. Even on Thriller (his most iconic achievement) the synthy grooves have fermented slightly like a cheese with an overdue sell-by date, owed in part to the countless amount of times we’ve been exposed these songs—which isn’t its fault, really. But even these feeble gripes cannot detract from the facts: Thriller is a phenomenon. It is immediately recognised by every household in the world as a staple of our culture, as well as the most substantial commercial juggernaut that has ever been committed to music. And this was intentional, invoked by a man who was so deludedly arrogant that he thought he could create the best record ever made, yet so aggressively determined and naturally educated that he actually succeeded somehow? It’s beyond an album, basically.

Selected Accolades:
Sold one million copies worldwide per week at its peak.
The best-selling album of all time, with an estimated 65-70 million copies shipped.
7 of the 10 songs were Billboard Top 10 singles.
Won a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards in 1984, including Album of the Year.
#20 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
#11 in National Association of Recording Merchandisers’ list the Definitive 200 Albums of All Time.
Deemed the Best Album of the 1980s by Slant Magazine.
Deemed the Best Album Released Since 1981 by a collection of critics from MTV Base and VH1.
Deemed the Best Album of All Time by an MTV Generation poll.
Inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Included in the National Recording Registry (2008).



05. Slayer - Reign in Blood (1986)

Thrash Metal
Spotify


There was no shortage of heavy music in the 80s, as the metal gods had finally reached the depths of viciousness they were always destined to sink to, but this album will forever stand as the rock-bottom as to what the outbreak was capable of. It charged in at 220bpm with the cleanest production any metal album had been burdened with at the time, invading the genre with a bloodthirst so ferociously focused and intensely aggressive that no other record even had the foresight to put up any defences. Everything the scene had a reputation for was under sudden attack, Reign in Blood leading a violent rampage and ultimately tearing out the other side victorious after ceaselessly massacring and then abandoning every other band as one obscenely bloody landscape, decorated by mutilated chunks of faces and fingers and hair—all within a mere 29 minutes. It was over. We had been conquered by the finer details of Satan worship and the insanity of human experiments conducted at the Auschwitz concentration camp, and now it was simply too late. The new Kings had arrived, and we bowed down to what is still considered by many (including me) to be the greatest metal album of all time.

Selected Accolades:
Deemed “The Heaviest Album of all Time” by Kerrang!
#27 in Kerrang!’s list the 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time.
Deemed the Best Metal Album of the Last 20 Years by Metal Hammer.
#67 in Spin Magazine’s list 100 Greatest Albums, 1985–2005.
#7 in IGN’s list the Top 25 Most Influential Metal Albums.



The Top 10 Albums Of The 80s: 04. Pixies - Doolittle
I OWN THIS ALREADY :)

04. Pixies - Doolittle (1989)

Alternative Indie Rock
Spotify


What makes Doolittle such an exhilarating album, is that it sounds like a crazy person. The contradictions are endless: the clean production and catchy commercialism battle the dirty noise and raw punk rock essence; the easy-stick listenable pop principles antagonise the genuine staying-power which comes from an incurable case of unorthodox neurosis; the dark surrealism and biblical discomfort argues with the mischievous whimsy and light hearted sense of humour; and the masculine aggressions wrestle the maternal lovings for the spotlight; all the while the lunatic yearns for your affection yet keeps biting your hand when you get too close. The very dynamics of this record are at war, the loud vs. the soft fighting until everything is dead, which is exactly what happens. Everything dies, in one very quick journey of such unbroken perfection that the whole game was never the same again. This is because the Pixies' sound was ripped to ribbons by everyone with a guitar shortly after, and while we pray that they rest in peace (ignoring subpar reunions), not even Nirvana can deny that the 90s alternative scene actually started right here. Please pass the tiara.

Selected Accolades:
#36 in Spin Magazine’s list the 100 Greatest Albums, 1985–2005.
#34 in Slant Magazine’s list the Best Albums of the 1980s.
#4 in Pitchfork Media’s list the Top 100 Albums of the 1980s.
#226 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
#2 in NME’s writer poll of the 100 Best Albums.



The Top 10 Albums Of The 80s: 03. David Bowie - Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
I OWN THIS ALREADY :)

03. David Bowie - Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) (1980)

Art Pop Rock
Spotify


By this point, Bowie’s career had already built an immoveable reputation for dabbling in almost every genre the musical spectrum had to offer, including commercial chart toppers and alienating experimental wankeries, with all the meat between. And it is this very disorientated meandering which set Scary Monsters as the epicenter of the man’s extensive catalogue: no overly-arty complications, yet no conventional friendliness either, rather a summary of the man’s collected infinite knowledge, erected as one crooked poppy rock record that didn’t try to be anything it wasn’t, existing as the most consistent and ‘Bowie’ Bowie record he ever made. But that is not to say this classic doesn't have it’s own peculiar character, because, by God, it does. It’s a threatening nightmare, aggressive and ugly, yet with a comical edge, urgently stabbing at a masterpiece with all the exertion its arms could gather, and ultimately violating the mark with the precision of a trained expert, because, obviously, he was. Unfortunately, this too became its curse, commonly considered David’s final significant piece of work and the go-to comparison milestone which haunted his career for the rest of his life (especially because 80s Bowie kinda sucked after this). But no matter! It’s my favourite anyway.

Selected Accolades:
#30 in Q Magazine’s list the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.
#93 in Pitchfork Media’s list the Top 100 Albums of the 1980s.
#27 in Slant Magazine’s list the Best Albums of the 1980s.



The Top 10 Albums Of The 80s: 02. Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation
I OWN THIS ALREADY :)

02. Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation (1988)

Alternative Noise Rock
Spotify


Daydream Nation could be argued as evidence towards the idea that planets shake hands occasionally. Its timing was immaculate and stuck immediately like a safety pin holding the band’s entire catalogue together, working as a transitional piece of where Sonic Youth were no longer who they were before, and yet not quite who they were to become. The jammy waffling and unnecessary feedback they were known for, was traded in favour for a tighter noise, a focus on a more captivating style of songwriting, and a certain melodic delicacy stubbornly repressed beneath all the rowdy filth. On the other side, however, the uninitiated agonised at its length, over an hour of clamour with the production as muddy as all hell, the band’s final rebellious testament against the 80s studio polish before they ‘sold out’ and went major themselves. Yet what nobody could have predicted, was that this noise would prove to be exactly what the decade was craving, the most logical next step, breaking the avant-rock scene out from the underground and prophetically predicting the whole untidy 90s grunge movement before anyone could even say ‘nevermind’. Which is a taste worth acquiring, you must trust me.

Selected Accolades:
#11 in Guitarist’s list the 101 Essential Guitar Albums.
#9 in Spin’s list the 100 Alternative Albums.
#45 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list the 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s.
#30 in Q’s list the 80 Best Records of the 80s.
#30 in Slant Magazine’s list the Best Albums of the 1980s.
#13 in Spin Magazine’s list the 100 Greatest Albums from 1985 to 2010.
Deemed the Greatest Album of the 1980s by Pitchfork Media.
#329 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Included in the National Recording Registry (2006).



The Top 10 Albums Of The 80s: 01. The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
I OWN THIS ALREADY :)

01. The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead (1986)

Indie Jangle Pop
Spotify


Apologies to Rourke and Joyce, but they should be used to this by now: The holy spirit which manifested itself through the entity known as ‘The Smiths’ was a sole and direct consequence of the artistic romance between Marr and Morrissey. And as every magazine since has agreed, The Queen is Dead was where their musical jizz climaxed and consolidated into a concoction which grew a life of its own, ultimately ruining everything for everyone else forever. Just listen to Marr, at his most bouncy and effervescent, his distinguished jangly guitar riffs so instantaneously recognisable that he is irrefutably the true hero behind the stylistic innovation. And now listen to Morrissey, at his most hilariously sarcastic, drearily whining or condescendingly preaching some poetic one-liner or the other, delivered with such a disinterested contempt that you don’t know whether to laugh or cry or never talk to anyone again. Which is why I consider this to be the best indie album ever created—certainly the most influential—and a perfect record from one of history’s only perfect bands, with a perfect four album career swiftly followed by the perfect dissolution, complete with bitter court cases, media name-calling, and decades of unfulfilled reunion rumours.

Selected Accolades:
#16 in Slant Magazine’s list of the Best Albums of the 1980s.
#3 in Q Magazine's list of the 40 Best Albums of the '80s.
#2 in NME’s list of the Greatest British Albums of All Time.
#216 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Deemed the Greatest Record of All Time according to NME.



But wait, there's more!

The Top 10 Albums Of The 70s
The Top 10 Albums Of The 90s



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