I’m a sucker for a ‘best albums of the 1980s’ list. Classic Rock magazine have just published their ‘real’ top 100, focusing on under-the-radar records by both well-established and cult artists.
The countdown features a fair few critics’ favourites – Peter Gabriel 3, Lou Reed’s New York, David Bowie’s Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), Talking Heads’ Remain In Light, The Police’s Synchronicity, Roxy Music’s Avalon. No major surprises there.
Then there are the slightly left-field choices that would possibly scrape into my top 100 too (Living Colour’s Vivid, PiL’s Album, Brian Wilson’s self-titled debut, Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell, Genesis’s Duke, Neil Young’s Freedom, Robbie Robertson’s self-titled debut, David Lee Roth’s Skyscraper).
There are the slightly puzzling choices from established artists – Tom Waits’ Frank’s Wild Years, Yes’s Drama, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Uplift Mofo Party Plan, Rolling Stones’ Tattoo You, Van Halen’s Women And Children First, Faith No More’s Introduce Yourself and Aerosmith’s Done With Mirrors.
And then there’s a whole raft of albums by artists I’ve long meant to check out. So I gave them a spin. I didn’t make much headway with Dead Kennedys, Billy Squier, Zodiac Mindwarp, John Mellencamp, Gun, Sea Hags, Green On Red, Queensryche, Georgia Satellites, Enuff Z’Nuff and King’s X, but here’s some stuff that did make an impression – very surprisingly, in most cases:
#86: Steve Perry’s Street Talk (1985)
I’ve always respected the Journey man’s voice but was unaware of his solo career until I heard this super-catchy single (whose video even throws in a bit of ‘Spinal Tap’ self-parody).
#84: Michael Bolton’s Everybody’s Crazy (1985)
The sound of Michael McDonald fronting ZZ Top.
#55: Gary Moore’s Corridors Of Power (1984)
Included for the extraordinary first two minutes: scary chops from a guitar great.
#38: Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut (1983)
You’d be hard pressed to call it a great voice but Waters emotes very effectively on this beautifully-produced, evocative album opener.
#24: Iron Maiden’s Piece Of Mind (1984)
A slinky harmonized riff and absolutely killer guitar solo.
#3: Def Leppard’s High ‘N’ Dry (1981)
One for audiophiles everywhere: producer ‘Mutt’ Lange works his magic again.
I won’t give away the number one…but you can check out the full top 100 albums here.