Sunday, October 31, 2010

Colossal Youth

My final 1980 album is Colossal Youth by the Young Marble Giants

I go back and forth with this album, but there's still nothing that sounds like it, even thirty years later! Next month brings another year.

Black Sea

Happy Halloween! Just two more 1980 albums to go.
Here's the first one by XTC.

I wrote about Black Sea last year during XTC month.
Needless to say, it's a good 'un!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Deface The Music

Another 1980 album by Utopia. Or was it from 1965?

I think this album was intended as a joke, but I love it unironically,
just like the Rutles album.

New Clear Days

The Vapors with one of the better adaptations of the oriental Riff.

The Vapors get tagged as one hit wonders (because they had one it), but their debut album is pretty solid all the way through. And their second album is even better.

Definitely a band that should get more self love (ha!).

Friday, October 29, 2010

Stories For Boys

This 1980 U2 clip is most notable for John McKenna's over the top intro: "a band for the future, the 80s or 90s, who knows?"

There are a bunch of u-tubes of early U2, and they had many different influences before they found their signature bombastic "U2 sound". This song from 1978 sounds like a punk Bay City Rollers and they sound like Bowie in this one from 1979. I think they were a lot more interesting before they became famous.


le groupe est le Teardrop Explodes et la chanson est "Reward"

"Reward" and its B-side "Suffocate" weren't on the original Kilimanjaro album, but were added after "Reward" became a hit.

The reissued version has this sleeve with photo of zebras near Mt. Kilimanjaro instead of the original band photo because two people in that photo had left the band.

Maybe it was a Notorious Byrd Brothers homage?

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Next from 1980 is Squeeze's Argybargy. Here's the first track.

My first Squeeze album was Singles - 45's and Under, so I didn't discover their albums until later. I still think the compilation is the best first purchase, but Argybargy is their strongest original album, with my two favorite songs ("Pulling Mussels" and "Another Nail In My Heart") kicking it off.

I just spotted a "new" Squeeze album called Spot The Difference, which has re-recorded versions of all their early hits in precise alphabetical order. It seems kind of pointless to me, but has something to do with licensing revenue. I'm not buying it, but hope it makes them lots of money.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Only The Stones Remain

I'm skipping Underwater Moonlight because I've already blogged about that album (many times!), and the only Soft Boys performance footage on youtube is a song that wasn't released until 1981.

This is a great clip and Underwater Moonlight is a great album, that just got reissued with 30 bonus tracks. A Can Of Bees was also just reissued. No sign of Invisible Hits or Portland Arms or Two Halves. Yep-roc should reissue that box set.

True Colours

Continuing 1980 with this classic by Split Enz.

I've posted this (live on Fridays) clip before, because it's one of my favorite live performances on youtube. I feel like chicken tonight!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Permanent Waves

This is "The Spirit Of Radio".

From the wikipedia article: "This was the first song of the 1980s, since Permanent Waves was released on January 1st, 1980, and 'Spirit Of Radio' was the first track on the album". (eyeroll) whatever.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What I Like About You

Speaking of three minute songs from 1980, here's one of the better ones by the Romantics.

From the handclaps at the start to the harmonica break during the middle, this song sounds like a classic Kinks song from 1965. And their debut album has ten more songs just like it, including a cover of an actual 1965 Kinks song ("She's Got Everything"). Every song is three chords, three minutes, with simple singalong lyrics.

And a classic album cover. It's like "How much more red could their leather suits get?" And the answer is "none". None more red.

180 Seconds Of Pleasure

More 1980, with Rockpile rocking on "Fridays"

This song was co-written by Kenny Pickett and Eddie Phillips of the Creation, but I don't know if they ever recorded it. The album also has a Difford/Tillbrook song ("Wrong Again") that Squeeze never released, unless it was a b-side or something.

Seconds Of Pleasure got a lot of indifferent reviews when it came out, but there really isn't a bad song on the entire album.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hearts In Her Eyes

John Wicks & Paul Collins, performing a song from the second Records' album, Crashes, another lost classic from 1980 CE.

This song was written for the Searchers, who had a minor hit with it, but the original version by the Records encapsulates everything I love about pop music into two and a half minutes: Jingle jangle verse chorus bridge verse chorus fade.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

End Of The Century

"This is rock & roll radio. Come on let's rock & roll with the Ramones!"

End Of The Century was the last major album produced by Phil Spector, and it's unfairly remembered as the album where the Ramones lost their "edge" and aimed for the mainstream. It stands up pretty well.

1980 was also the year of the greatest rock & roll movie ever!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Crazy Little Thing

Continuing 1980 with some killer Queen.

It's always nice to have a Q entry in your alphabetical playlist!

I like about a dozen Queen songs, but can't listen to any of their albums (even the greatest hits ones) from start to finish. I can't even listen to a playlist of the twelve songs I like, because even though I like them in isolation, I grow weary hearing them all in sequence.

But I never grow tired of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love".

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tattooed Love Boys

What can I say about the Pretenders' debut album? It kicks!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Falling And Laughing

Continuing 1980 with the debut single by Orange Juice,
(the first release on Postcard Records).

Orange Juice were another band, like the Monochrome Set, that I rediscovered in the internet era. When Franz Ferdinand hit in the early 2000s, everyone kept comparing them to the Gang Of Four, but I thought they sounded more (exactly) like Orange Juice. Alex Kapranos even acknowledged the influence that Edwyn Collins & OJ had on FF.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

B.I.D. Spells Bid

Next up from 1980, The Monochrome Set

My first exposure to the Set was hearing the Sneetches cover "He's Frank", and the first CD I bought by them was the compilation Tomorrow Will Be Too Long: The Best Of The Monochrome Set.

I was surprised the compilation didn't have "He's Frank", but it turned out to be a repackaging of their first two albums (Strange Boutiques and Love Zombies, both from 1980). A little misleading, but still a great combination with 22 of the best songs from that year.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Next from 1980, Baggy trousers are the first sign of Madness.

Friday, October 15, 2010

But The Little Girls Understand

Next up from 1980, the long forgotten second album by The Knack.

This album suffered because it came out just a few months after their debut and sounds almost exactly like it. This song ("Baby Talks Dirty") essentially is "My Sharona", and would've sounded fresh and exciting if that song didn't exist, but unfortunately it did.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Love Will Tear Us Apart

Joy Division

I looked for a copy of this song for about five years before I finally found one! It was in semi-regular rotation on our student station during the early 80s, and was one of my favorite songs, but it wasn't on either Joy Division album, and I couldn't find copies of the single (even in the UK), so I ended up recording it off the air.

That was my copy of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" until I bought it on a Peel Sessions ep in 1987 then on the Substance compilation in 1988. Spending five years to find a copy of a song doesn't really register when you can find anything in five minutes on the internet, but it gives you a tremendous feeling of accomplishment when you finally have your own copy of something you've been seeking for so long.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Penguin Eggs

My next album from 1980 is Nic Jones' Penguin Eggs

One of the best folk albums of the modern era, with some of the greatest guitar arrangements ever, of any genre. People who haven't heard this album should try to hear it. Here's the first track, which was covered by Bob Dylan in 1992.

John Wesley Harding also covered a few songs from this album, and others by Nic Jones on the album Trad Arr Jones, even though he did his own arrangements that owed very little to Nic Jones. There are only three or four people in the world who can play guitar like Nic!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sound Affects

Bringing my 1980 back to the Brits, with Sound Affects by The Jam.

This is my favorite Jam album even though I didn't hear the whole thing until the CD era. I discovered the band via "Town Called Malice" and bought The Gift and the live album Dig The New Breed, but never backtracked to earlier albums.

I later picked up the Snap! compilation, which had a stripped-down demo version of "That's Entertainment", which was the one song I kept playing over and over. The original Jam albums were hard to find in the U.S. until they were reissued on CD, when I was dismayed to find out that the Sound Affects version sounded different than the Snap! one.

The Jam are a difficult band to collect, because they had a number of singles that weren't on albums, singles with different b-sides in different countries, and compilations with different versions of the same songs, but Sound Affects is the one Jam album I can play all the way through.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Go To Heaven

One of my first thoughts when going through my 1980 albums was wondering if I owned any records from that year by American artists. This album by the Grateful Dead is one of the few.

First things first. That album cover is hideous! I suspect it was a joke -- Arista wanted the Dead to be "more commercial", so they decided to go all in and dress in white disco leisure suits.

The music itself isn't the least bit disco, but does sound like they were aiming for mainstream radio play. Most Deadheads hate this album, but it's really not that bad. And I like "Alabama Getaway".

This German TV performance is like a microcosm of the Grateful Dead during the 80s. After the big introduction, they spend two minutes tuning up, and Jerry's mic drops out when he starts singing, but eventually they fount their groove and start rocking.

Go To Heaven was their last studio album for eight years, and it was a commercial and critical dud, but they kept touring and selling out large venues without any new material, and their next studio album was a bona fide hit.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Jeux Sans Frontières

Peter Gabriel from his third self-titled album..

This album introduced me to lots of things: gated percussion, early Genesis, Kate Bush, and the life of Stephen Biko. This song sounded strange and ominous when I first heard it (thought the intro was "she's so fuckin ay"), and then I saw the game show "It's a Knockout" which is a British version of a French show called (you guessed it!) "Jeux Sans Frontières" and found out it was literally about people dressing up in costumes and playing silly games.

Global conflict as a game show. The chorus "if looks could kill they probably will" is gramatically incorrect, even if it does rhyme. And the "kissing baboons" lyric in the single scans better than the "piss on the goons" on the album version.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Double Fantasy

I'm doing these 1980 albums in roughly alphabetical order, but jumping the queue today for John Lennon's 70th birthday.

Yoko always encourages fans to celebrate John's life instead of his assassin's by recognizing his birthday instead of his deathday, so today's 1980 album is JL's Double Fantasy.

I got this album for Christmas in 1980, when it was #1 in every country and the songs were all over the radio, and ... I didn't like it. I thought the sound was too slick, John's songs were too sappy, and Yoko's contributions dragged the whole thing down. At that point of my life (age 15), I loved the Beatles and Wings, but the only Lennon album I'd heard was his mid-70s best-of Shaved Fish.

I was expecting a more rock and roll album, but Double Fantasy was adult contemporary for the boomer generation. The album was reissued recently in a "stripped down" version, which sounds (based on youtube clips) like an improvement over the original issue, but I still don't like most of the songs. I've always liked this one though.

Great tune.. Happy Birthday John!

Friday, October 8, 2010


Another 1980 debut by Echo & The Bunnymen

This is one of those albums that was so influential that it's hard to listen thirty years later without hearing everything that came after it. Crocodiles sounds like a pretty standard album nowadays, but the Bunnymen sounded revolutionary back in the early 80s. It was the sound of the future -- now it's the sound of the past.

In the early 2000s, Kelly Stoltz put out a song-by-song cover of Crocodiles and played a few shows as "Crock-o-Dials" where he played the whole album with his band. Last year the Bunnymen played Ocean Rain on tour with an orchestra, which I wasn't that interested in, but I would've payed big bucks to see them play Crocodiles.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Searching For The Young Soul Rebels

A few years ago, I discovered that the first Dexys Midnight Runners album from 1980 is really really good!

This album is like a more energetic, more soulful, and more fully realized version of Get Happy! -- and it came from those "toora-loo-rye-aye" guys. Don't let that song scare you away!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Get Happy!

E.C. & The Attractions doing a commercial for his 1980 LP

Twenty songs on a single album, ten songs on each side, and most of them are good ones. I listened to this today and it's nearly as long as London Calling! (a double album that only has 19 tracks).

I'm also a fan of Ten Bloody Marys, Elvis's 1980 UK B-sides and rarities collection that also has 20 tracks, ten on each side. Almost (but not quite) identical to the U.S. record Taking Liberties, this might be my favorite Costello collection. His B-sides are better than most people's A-sides, sometimes even his own.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

London Calling

The Clash making their U.S. TV debut on "Fridays"

(remember that show?) Part two here.

I'm not the biggest Clash fan but London Calling is a masterpiece.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Blondie en Español

My favorite part of the song is when Debbie says "call me" in various languages ("llamame", "appelle moi"), but even in this Spanish version the chorus is still just "call me".

At least it's not "the man from Mars keeps eating cars"!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Scary Monsters

It's David Bowie, from the 1980 video "Fashion"

This starts a series of 1980 albums by artists that I probably don't like as much as I should, but Scary Monsters truly is the last great Bowie album. Every album for the past thirty years has been his "best album since Scary Monsters", so it's like the line between "good Bowie" and "bad Bowie".

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Rock N Roll Girl

The (American) Beat, not to be confused with the (English) Beat.

The (English) Beat were also okay, but Paul Collins had the name first..

Friday, October 1, 2010

Return To Black

For October, I'm moving the calendar up ten years from 1970 to 1980. First up is the second highest selling album of all time.

I've always been more of a Bon-guy than a Brian-guy, but BIB is an album that's too great to dismiss. If you only own two AC/DC albums (as I do), they should be Highway To Hell and Back In Black.

George Young is one of my rock & roll heroes, but his younger brothers made the right choice in ditching him as a producer. Hey, TGIF!!