80 must-own albums for '80s fans, part 1: ABC to Dire Straits
I put together a list that's obviously heavy on the genres that made the decade unique: pop, New Wave, heavy metal and rap. Missing are albums by country, jazz and blues performers, which I believe were not part of what makes the '80s music scene unique.
Though I considered more than 200 albums for the list, in trimming them down to just 80 entries, I followed a few rules. No band has more than a single album on the list. That was tough with acts like Prince, Depeche Mode and U2. No soundtracks were considered. No live albums were considered. No greatest-hits CDs are included.
Today's list: I own (or owned) 14 of the 20 albums on the list today. My fave of the bunch? Asia! One that I'm in no rush to buy: Brothers in Arms.
I'd like to thank the dozens of Stuck in the '80s fans who helped nominate the albums you'll see listed (20 at a time, alphabetically by band name) over the next four days. Any omissions or mistakes are my own.
80 ALBUMS FOR '80s FANS - PART 1:
ABC: THE LEXICON OF LOVE (1982): Trevor Horn lends his help producing a concept album about heartbreak and the never-ending search for love. [Listen to our Martin Fry interview]
AC/DC: BACK IN BLACK (1980): Brian Johnson's debut was also a tribute to the late Bon Scott. [Listen to our Brian Johnson interview]
ADAM AND THE ANTS: PRINCE CHARMING (1981): The last album released before Stuart Leslie Goddard would simply become Adam Ant.
ASIA: ASIA (1982): Not a bad song on the album. The debut by the British prog-rock band narrowly defeats Alpha for this list. [Listen to our Carl Palmer interview]
B-52s: COSMIC THING (1989): The hit-filled album was a comeback for the band after the death of guitarist Ricky Wilson in 1985.
THE BEASTIE BOYS: LICENSE TO ILL (1986): The first rap album to top the Billboard 200 chart.
BILLY IDOL: REBEL YELL (1983): The title song might be the weakest cut on the album, that's how good it is.
BON JOVI: SLIPPERY WHEN WET (1986): You Give Love A Bad Name, Livin' on a Prayer and Wanted Dead or Alive form the foundation of one of the most popular albums of the decade. [Listen to our Bon Jovi podcast]
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: BORN IN THE USA (1984): The best-selling album of 1985 in the United States, producing seven Top 10 singles.
BRYAN ADAMS: RECKLESS (1984): Six singles made the top 15, a feat that had been accomplished previously only by Michael Jackson's Thriller.
THE CARS: HEARTBEAT CITY (1984): Five top 40 singles and a video --Hello Again -- directed by Andy Warhol. [Listen to our Cars podcast]
THE CLASH: COMBAT ROCK (1982): The last album to feature the Clash's classic lineup. Best known for Rock the Casbah, my favorite tune remains Straight To Hell.
CULTURE CLUB: COLOUR BY NUMBERS (1983): Boy George and Co.'s second album is ranked No. 96 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Albums of the '80s.
THE CURE: HEAD ON THE DOOR (1985): With Six Different Ways, Close to Me and In Between Days, it feels like a greatest-hits album. [Listen to our Cure podcast]
CYNDI LAUPER: SHE'S SO UNUSUAL (1983): More moxy than music, the videos from this album would set the town for MTV's early years.
DAVID BOWIE: LET'S DANCE (1983): His best work was decades beforehand, but this album still had plenty of hits for the '80s, including China Girl, the title track and Modern Love.
DEF LEPPARD: PYROMANIA (1983): Their breakthrough album with producer Mutt Lange. The video for Photograph made sleeveless shirts with the British flag a modern fashion statement.
DEPECHE MODE: SOME GREAT REWARD (1984): Hard to pick just one Depeche Mode album. This one nudges out Speak & Spell thanks to the S&M anthem Master & Servant. [Listen to our very old Depeche Mode podcast]
DEVO: FREEDOM OF CHOICE (1980): Contains Devo's most well-known song, Whip It, though I prefer Girl U Want.
DIRE STRAITS: BROTHERS IN ARMS (1985): "Money for nothing and chicks for free..." The band's best-selling album, and one of the top 10 best-selling albums in UK music history.
Tomorrow: Duran Duran to Men at Work.