2011/10/19

NC17 165 Best Traxxx of 1980

1980: The Year of Radical Change
Part 1: The Influence of Both Reggae and Satan
Part 2: The Biggest Change in History
Part 3: Metalheads, Sissies, and Stoners Unite
Part 4: Factory Records, Ralph Records, and the Jennifer Triolo Disturbance
Part 5: Citation Needed
Part 6: A Brief Taste of the Future
Part 7: The Different Types of Douches
Part 8: The Standouts: As Selected by Harold the Alien

Part II: The Biggest Change in History


Press play on the image below to hear this selection of songs in this exact order.



In 1980, many of these artists were considered innovated just a few short years ago; some of these would go on to define the decade, but had not quite hit their peak yet.

175. Devo
"Girl U Want" 2:58
Freedom of Choice
Kent, OH

Sometimes an album will have a hit that gets too popular, for all the wrong reasons. The result is douchy people claiming to be a fan when all they know is just that one song, and it supercedes the rest of the album. Whip It isn't that bad of a song, but seriously, the whip cream and the fans who know (and love) only that one Devo song maybe have to go. Girl U Want, however, leads off an otherwise great album full of very good punk/new wave songs. Cutting edge two years ago.

174. The B-52's
"Private Idaho" 3:35
Wild Planet
Athens, GA

Then, somewhat similar to Devo (in sound also) these cats have had a previous excellent hit, and a horrible song that may have altered the now-perception of this particular record. In 1979, they had the super excellent, one of a kind, original badass Rock Lobster and Planet Claire. Then about 10 years later they went on to record one of the top 10 worst songs in history- Love Shack. So, 82% of the people familiar with both Rock Lobster and Love Shack doesn't know what to think. But again, change in the year...had changed the world barely a year ago.

173. New Musik
"On Islands" 4:25
From A to B
London, England

Good starting point for those wanting to trace the family tree of bands like Coldplay, Doves, Trembling Blue Stars, etc. They sound like early versions of all them, but infused with 1980 new age.

172. Human Sexual Response
"Dolls" 5:03
Fig. 15
Boston, MA

This is my favorite song off an album that features a song called Butt Fuck and another with a heavily repeated chorus I Wanna Be Jackie Onasis. Jackie O is a great song, but the lyrics aren't exactly something I can relate with. In 1980, particularly following Cheech & Chong's Up in Smoke, it became a fad& for punk music to have crazy lyrics. If your in to that, then you should love this album.

171. Gary Numan
"The Joy Circuit" 5:13
Telekon
London, England

Yea, I have this album- and several other Gary Numan albums. And guess what my favorite Gary Numan song is? Cars!!! Cars was in my top 10 for 1979- last year in accordance with this- and still earns repeated spins. This is good, very good, but it lacks the oomph of Cars. If Cars is all you know, your perception of this song depends on how much you like Cars. If you've never heard Cars, I'd say you pretty much need to take a bath now.

170. D.O.A.
"The Prisoner" 1:57
Something Better Change
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Back in '77, this was the hot sound. A lousy three years later, it was yesterday's news. It's all some 30 in the past now. D.O.A. wasn't exactly cream of the crop back then, and the fact that something did change is why this record was unavailable for so long...but, society has digressed in many ways. This style of music still defines punk and remains essential. Conventional punks will rank this higher than me.

169. The Suburbs
"Hobnobbin' With the Executives" 1:54
In Combo
Minneapolis, MN

This is fast, punk-paced, new-wave rock. It's in the similar mold as D.O.A., but not quite as punk, but brings something else to the table.

168. Madness
"Solid Gone" 2:20
Absolutely
London, England

These are the same cats that would eventually score a major hit with Our House. Back in 1980, they were heavily reggae influenced and borderline ska. They may have stayed that way for all I know, but I never checked out any of their other stuff because I hate that song. Solid Gone is so much better; and pretty badass actually.

167. The Cravats
"Gordon" 3:27
In Toytown
Redditch, England

Slightly similar to Madness, but far more noisier and more punk, Solid Gone and Gordon belong next to each other. Unlike Madness, The Cravats never had any hits nor any mainstream success, possibly due to the fact they are more harsh than Madness; but that same reason is why I have The Cravats ranked higher. This is a rare obscurity and I have to credit somebody known only to me as abstrusegoose for even hearing them.

166. Wall of Voodoo
"The Passenger" 4:07
Wall of Voodoo EP
Los Angeles, CA

Wall of Voodoo is one of those bands it seems everybody has heard of, but never really listened to. Though remotely popular, its rare to hear this band out someplace and they rarely come up in discussion. They're pretty good, and you can now say you've heard at least one song...off their debut EP at that, which is similar to owning a Bobby Grich rookie card.

165. The Police
"Don't Stand So Close to Me" 3:58
Zenyatta Mondatta
London, England

This song was a hit and the band went on to score one of the biggest hits of the entire decade (Every Breath You Take), though that song sucks now. Before writing the theme song every over-obsessive stalker could relate to, Sting & Co. were delving into much more meaningful subject material, such as teacher/student sexual relations. When this came out and I was 8, I could totally relate. Ditto for being a stalker also.

164. Space Art
"Jaures" 5:07
Playback
Paris, France

Space Art is a band, and not to be confused with actual space art. They are heavily influenced by Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream, and Kraftwerk. While they are all instrumental and have some ambient qualilties, their music also has rhythm to it. Furthermore, on this album, all of those attributes have been run through the 1980 ringer. All of their material has been recently re-issued and easily available now.

163. Lipps Inc.
"Funkytown" 7:51
Mouth to Mouth
Minneapolis, MN

It was a hit, and remains a good song...especially the opening first couple of minutes, but one has to wonder what would have happened had this came out in 1976. This was a bit too late for 1980. In fact, it did not even originally make the list because I assumed it came out in the 70's. On the other hand, even though the world was prepared to disposed of this style of music for the new decade, that shows that a quality bass riff can withstand anything. Therefore, if you have some important documents lingering around the house, keep them in a bass riff rather than a fireproof safe.

162. The Brothers Johnson
"Stomp" 6:24
Light Up the Night
Los Angeles, CA

Another song I always assumed was a 70's (there's two more in this set). While I prefer their instrumentals the best, even their more pop oriented material still features terrific musicianship. It will be a test ten years from now to see what will prove more relevant; this sound that is superior than what would define the rest of the decade-but it was a little bit behind in the times, or what was actually considered in touch with the changing times.

161. Forgotten Rebels
"You're a Rebel Too" 2:32
In Love With the System
Hamilton, ON, Canada

Late 70's punk is the best, but in 1980 it was time to take a new direction. Forgotten Rebels play the quality sound that was introduced in the late '70's. Even though they are good at what they do (good enough to make the list and earn quality ratings), they did, however fall into a pattern of norms and seemed to try a bit too hard to be punk. Coming in at 161 would be a major achievement for a band like Loverboy, and I would have to explain why I ranked them so high; then talented punk bands, I feel I have to justify why I ranked them so low. Loverboy made all kinds of money-these dudes are probably broke.

160. Stiff Little Fingers
"Tin Soldiers" 4:47
Nobody's Heroes
Belfast, Northern Ireland

Thank goodness that we're not having to deal with old hippy shit anymore. Stiff Little Fingers was misrepresented in the movie High Fidelilty- though one of my all-time favorite movies. Another 70's punk band who stayed true to its sound as the rest of the world evolved into what is now called "post-punk". Reminder: Stiff Little Fingers had only been out for 2 years when this came out; when they debuted, they were considered "weirdos"...unlike Green Day who were somewhat considered "punk rock for children whose parents wouldn't allow them listen to The Stooges."

159. Bush Tetras
"Snakes Crawl" 3:37
Too Many Creeps
New York, NY

It's back! Shit! Fuck! More of this damn no-wave! My girlfriend hates this shit! And so do I! All that listen to this crap is a bunch of yay-hoos, nutjobs, faggots, & freaks. Furthermore, who the fuck are these people? This wasn't ever on a proper album. A lousy EP? Ranking 159? Where the FUCK is Billy Joel?

158. Lizzy Mercier Descloux
"Funky Stuff" 4:09
Mambo Nassau
Paris, France (1956)-Saint-Florent, France (2004)

This is the direction disco and dance music could have gone in, but did not. A huge reason why it did not, perhaps because it is French, and some people are prejudice against the French. On the other hand, some people are extremely attracted to the French and devote hours of their lives just wishing a French person would come over and talk to them. Some people associate French with being beautiful, elegant, and suave on the dance floor-being French means being cool. Then, people who aren't French try act like they are French. The French are the 2nd most mimicked and rank 2nd as well for the group who people are must prejudice towards-black ranking #1 for both lists. It is what it is, and there is no explanation for any of this.

157. Μάνος Χατζιδάκις (Manos Hadjidakis)
"To Xysalifourfouro" 2:13
Εδώ Λιλιπούπολη
Xanthi, Greece (1925)-Athens, Greece (1994)

One major benefit to listening to foreign language singing is that stupid assholes won't come over and try to sing along with it. That is, unless you are Greek. However, music like this, people might talk excessively about how "pretty" it is, and name off every single foreign artist they know...some reason I've never heard of any of them. I think these people make these things up, because I never see them listening to music ever either.

156. Ebba Grön
"Ung and Kåt" 3:07
Staten & Kapitalet / Ung & Kåt
Rågsved, Sweden

Back then, singles were more prominent too. Bands would record a couple good songs, and release them on a 45 (7"). In the age of downloading that is today, I believe many (not all) bands would prosper if they released singles more frequently. I believe the price for a single was about $1.00, similar price it costs to download a song. It's also beneficial in cases like this: Ebba Grön prior album was excellent, and unlike many 70's bands, they would return to greatness next year (1981). This was a trial single to move them into the next era with success.

155. The Human League
"Being Boiled" 4:23
Travelogue
Sheffield, England

Many of the bands in this compilation were not in their prime. Some, such as Iggy Pop had previously released great material but were a bit past their prime. Others were not yet in their prime and would go on to release even better material. Human League falls in the latter and would later go on to create excellent hits like (Keep Feeling)Fascination. Thank every one of your family members this year at Thanksgiving that it only took The Human League a couple years to build off this great track and not go off and make crappy 80's hair metal shit; like Europe's The Final Countdown.

154. Simple Minds
"Twist/Run/Repulsion" 4:40
Empires and Dance
Glasgow, Scotland

It's not entirely that bad of a thing when you eventually write one of the best songs of the entire decade, have your 2nd best as theme for a movie that would become a classic, and as a result the rest of your catologue is somewhat forgotten about. Those who probably only know of Simple Minds from watching The Breakfast Club will probably shit themselves when they find out who sings this. Both of their hits are worthy enough for people to check out the rest of their albums, and this song coming in at #67 (ahead of some heavyweights) should merit at least one quality listen. Right?

153. The Birthday Party
"The Friend Catcher" 4:21
Hee-Haw
Melbourne, Australia

Whereas The Human League went on to have a moderately decent career, The Birthday Party and vocalist Nick Cave would join the ranks of the elite- and even put out a top 10 song for the whole decade; per according to my standards- which is way more meaningful than having a song played on the radio. Originally, the band name was both The Boys Next Door and The Birthday Party and the album was called The Birthday Party, but later re-issued as Hee-Haw solely to The Birthday Party. Safe to say that hadn't found their niche fully yet in 1980. I just chose this album cover because I think this is one of the coolest looking bands in history. Nick Cave is still making great music, currently with Grinderman.

152. Fehlfarben
"Militürk" 5:21
Monarchie und Alltag
Düsseldorf, Germany

Then, there was this happening in 1980. This type of music had, technically been somewhat done before with the No Wave movement in New York City. However, the world still was not prepared for No Wave, and at our current rate, it might never be. I still regard No Wave as some of the most advanced music and would like to see it be the major influence on the next musical revolution. 86% of the Earth's population has never heard one single No Wave song and have no clue what the fuck it even pertains too. Many think its what happens if some creepy asshole waves at you on the street, and you are not supposed to wave back.

151. Fred Frith
"Spring Any Day Now" 3:05
Gravity
Heathfield, England/Oakland, CA
Love it when experimental artists make accessible material. As stated, this was the former guitarist of Henry Cow and also played on Aksaq Maboul, which is the most challenging song so far on this countdown. Fred is best know for his 1974 masterpiece Guitar Solos, which has played a major influence on avant-garde guitarist such as Thurston Moore. This song, however, is a nice, pleasant anytime listen.




NC-17 SXXX SONGS OF 1980: 200-176  175-151  150-126  125-101  100-76  75-51  50-26  25-#1


Top Image by : http://userserve-ak.last.fm/serve/500/2303611/The+Birthday+Party+bp_zigzag_82_1.jpg
Bottom Image by: http://www.reocities.com/soho/5341/mambofc.jpg

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