2011/10/19

NC17 Top 125 Songs 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 IV: Factory Records, Ralph Records, and the Jennifer Triolo Disturbance


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



All of these songs should have be in the top 100, but, obviously, the top 100 only has a maximum occupancy of 100. So, the fire marshall had to make some additional room in order to manage these greats. This section consists of songs that are super rare and were never on an album, a few bands who get rated higher by other fans, super rare singles that never made an album, and weird music that I am not allowed to play on a regular basis because my girlfriend yells at me.

There is a difference between blogging for a personal website and writing for a newspaper. Blogging is supposed to imply personal opinions, but I attempt to be as subjective as possible. As I write this though, I listen to all of the songs while I write the descriptions. During the process of this section, my then-girlfriend, Jennifer Triolo, was obviously not happy with the song selection and openly complained about the songs while I was trying to write. Therefore, she had a major impact on what was written here, and her disturbance was initially documented at the time this was originally written (2010). Upon revision, and the fact that Jennifer is no longer in my life, and the fact that this has become a part of a website of increasing popularity (back then, this was simply called Songs of 1980 and stood by itself as its own blog; NC-17 Soundtraxxx wasn't even conceived), I contemplated removing all of those, but I found that some people found domestic disputes amusing...and some people prefer blogs due to the personal content therein.

125. David Bowie
"Fashion"  4:51
Scary Monsters
London, England

Another legend who was a major influence to the drastic change that happened in music. Bowie ranks up there with Lou Reed & Iggy Pop (and has collaborated with both; saxophone on Walk on the Wild Side) in terms of legendary status and is an artist that Harold the alien needs to know about. There's a reason his poster was the only one that remained after The Sex Pistols show in 24 Hour Party People. Bowie is the only artist whom I've seen have two different albums rated #1 for the entire 70's. Unlike your girl Veruca Salt.

124. The Cure
"Three"  2:36
Seventeen Seconds
Crawley, England

For better or worse, The Cure embraced the 80's and people often forget they had some 70's material. When we think of goth music these days, The Cure is one of the first bands to come to mind. However, The Cure has gotten significantly popular and it is not uncommon to hear The Cure out in clubs or even clothing stores. The reason is that The Cure has primarily employed more pop aspects than typical goth. This song, however, has far less of these danceable attributes than typical Cure; which is why it made the list. The world has become too typical, unfortunately, but 1980 was supposed to be a period when conventional norms were drastically re-evaluated.

123. Prince
"Do it all Night"  3:43
Dirty Mind
Minneapolis, MN

It's doubtful that more than a handful of people in 1980 predicted that Prince would go on to massive stardom almost immediately following this album. Although this record went gold, and had a couple hits that charted on the dance/R&B charts, Prince was nowhere near the icon status accompanied withPurple Rain status in 1980. However, Prince not yet at his peak is still worthy and deserves occasional rotations, especially if you are burnt out on 1999.

122. Pete Townsend
"Let My Love Open the Door"  4:58
Empty Glass
London, England

Continuing the list of influential recording artists to release an album in 1980...though The Who didn't put out a record, it's most prominent member did. Pete Townsend scored a hit with this excellent track that ranks up there with even the best Who songs. The Sex Pistols cite The Who as a primary influence, Joy Division cites The Sex Pistols, A Certain Ration cites Joy Division. On that note, A Certain Ratio was influenced by Pete Townsend.

121. Bob Marley & The Wailers
"Coming In From the Cold"  4:32
Uprising
Nine Mile, Jamaica (1945)-Miami, FL (1981)

Presenting, the best of reggae. Even though reggae is nowhere near my preferred form of music, I have utmost respect for Bob Marley and everything he stood for; politically, we are on the same side. Occasionally, such as with this wonderful tune, Bob Marley can put together a track that epitomizes sheer brilliance. Unfortunately, 1980 would be the last full year Mr. Marley would grace the Earth, and was killed the following year in Miami. Even today, there is much speculation and controversy surrounding the causes of his death.

120. Daryl Hall
"Survive"  6:42
Sacred Songs
Philadelphia, PA

Some people were absolutely livid. Macabre images of distraught people slamming breakable objects on the floor, violently pushing all the stuff off their desks, and then screaming with rage: "where the fuck was John Oates!" Truth be known, nobody knew where the fuck John Oates was, this was 1980 and shit wasn't going down as usual. Daryl Hall, however, had been hanging with experimental prog-punks King Crimson, appeared on a Robert Fripp album, and hanging with that crowd- the wrong crowd as some would suggest. Many of them play on this album, and are featured on this song.

119. Paul McCartney
"Front Parlour"  3:32
McCartney II
Liverpool, England

McCartney II remains one of the most mixed reviewed albums in history. II saw McCartney coming back to his old experimental self after disbanding Wings, embracing new-wave with synth riffing, and once again, playing every single instrument on the album. I guess some people were fuming pissed because there weren't any Silly Love Songs here. Although often criticized as a lyricist, McCartney is superbly talented as a musician and many consider him the #1 bass player in history- (huge reason is because he is left-handed and left-handed people are notorious for being smart, genius, beautiful, and serial killers). That said, selecting an instrumental is appropriate.

118. Martha & The Muffins
"Indecision"  4:24
Metro Music
Toronto, ON, Canada

Less than 4% of the population has heard this song. Around 59% of the people ages 17-40 has heard The Strokes. Of those, 44% consider Is This It one of the best albums of the 2000's. 21% of the indie bands that followed, somewhat ripped off The Strokes. There is a guitar line in this song that clearly defines the sound of The Strokes, Shout Out Louds, etc. If you love The Strokes, you should at least like this rare treat that pre-dates Is This It by 21 years. And if you are the type who does not like The Strokes because you think they have ripped-off obvious artists, then check this out as well, so that way you can cite another source. The Strokes are great.

117. Cabaret Voltaire
"This is Entertainment"  6:01
Voice of America
Sheffield, England

Cabaret Voltaire is hailed as pioneers of the goth/industrial hybrid. For 1980, this blend of electronic rhythms, analong noise bursts, and darkwave vocal structures was both freaky and original for its time. Even though Cabaret Voltaire, some 30 years later, gets occasional spins in hip dance clubs, its still considered freaky and weird by most. In fact, 96.2% of people who called in and voted on the last American Idol episode refer to people who listen to this as "creeps." Reality TV is sign of how society digressed. Cabaret Voltaire remained obscure and too unsettling while the world embraced the lamest acts possible; white people voted somebody off American Idol recently just for wearing eyeliner, insinuating America was not ready for that. ???

116. The Soft Boys
"I Got the Hots"  4:28
Underwater Moonlight
Cambridge, England

The best album cover of the list! With a catchy chorus that frequently repeats, in a unique manner, "I got the hots for you", this is the ideal song to compile on a mix CD and give to your boss. There have also been reports of people singing this song in line about the person standing in front of them; although this feeling of attraction vanishes completely the moment the person standing in line turns around revealing his/her front side.

115. The Associates
"Amused as Always"  4:21
The Affectionate Punch
Dundee, Scotland

1980 has to hold the record for songs with the best bass lines. The guilty party for this particular bass line is the sorely underrated Alan Rankine, who also played every single other instrument on the album. The band's other member is Billy Mackenzie who provided all the vocals and was known for his multiple octaves. Sadly, Mackenzie committed suicide in 1997, but afterwards, The Associates discography was re-released.

114. Crispy Ambulance
"Four Minutes From the Frontline"  4:23
From the Cradle to the Grave Single
Manchester, England

Some recurring themes to deal with here. Another rare single that was never on an official album; the killer bass riff is here also. Crispy Ambulance was on Factory Records, the label canonized in the film 24 Hour Party People. Factory Records featured a number of bands based out of Manchester, most notably Joy Division. Some of these bands have been criticized for being Joy Division knock-offs. But like Joy Division, Crispy Ambulance was in attendance of that now famous Sex Pistols show in Manchester so its difficult to validate that allegation. Besides, 20+ years since, bands such as Interpol have received critical praise for replicating the Joy Division sound.

113. Section 25
"You're on Your Own"  4:12
Illuminus Illumina (Rarities 1978-1982)
Blackpool, England

This song, which also contains yet another fabulous bass riff, was never released as a single nor ever on an album; Section 25 was on Factory Records as well. Furthermore, I don't even think the band even has any recollection of recording this song because its not even listed on their official website, I had to go here to confirm it was even 1980. Should Section 25 ever read this, they would probably be addled with bafflement when they see this song made it so high on the list; and then sit around and wonder when the hell they recorded this damn thing; being as they are still active, maybe they re-familiarize themselves with their best song and perform it as the most well-known featured encore for their next show.

112. Carambolage
"City-Großmarkt"  3:47
Carambolage
Berlin, Germany

An extremely rare band, they are not listed on allmusic nor wikipedia. I hate to be this person, but admittedly, I checked them out right away because I immiediately fell in love with the woman in the middle. Musically, they are great as well, further enhanicing my love for this woman, and I have no problem rating her the hottest person on this list, and possibly in the history of the universe. They are from Berlin, and they're closest comparisons would be Ludus, Nina Hagen, and The Slits...RateYourMusic categorizes it as Neue Deutsche Welle. Challenging listening, not recommended for beginners or fans of Madonna, Michael Bolton, or Journey.

111. Family Fodder
"Monkey"  6:19
Monkey Banana Kitchen
London, England

Another record label of notable relevance was Ralph Records, owned and operated by the band The Residents. This particular release was not on Ralph Records, but Family Fodder has some similarities to bands on that label such as Renaldo and The Loaf. Though rare and considered extremely bizarre by some, Family Fodder has made its share of best of the year lists and essential for those now interested in Animal Collective. Like Carambolage, Family Fodder is not easy listening and may cause a disturbance. (As I was writing this, I played the song a second time in a row. My girlfriend, Jennifer Triolo, grew extremely irate, asked with a harsh nasty tone: "Are you playing this song again?"... then sharply declared "could you not! It's bad enough I had to listen to it once!" No wonder I'm so attracted to the woman from Carambolage.)(Revision note: the aforementioned Jennifer Triolo is no longer my girlfriend, but I, sadly, still have not hooked up with the woman from Carambolage. There has been some speculation that Jennifer dumped me because of this song.)

110. Steely Dan
"Gaucho"  5:33
Gaucho
Los Angeles, CA

In a recent survey in which 749,316 random people were asked "who is THE definitive goth band?"; not a single one of them answered Steely Dan. Of those, however, 64.8% stated they did like the band. Of all the concerts I've seen, Steely Dan has been the only one in which the audience was almost half black and half white. Hey Nineteen is the big hit off this record, but the title track makes this cut for it's wonderful saxophone melody. A must for casual fans who cite Peg as their favorite Steely Dan hit for it's clarinet melody.

109. Lemon Kittens
"Pain Topics"  4:27
We Buy a Hammer For Daddy
Reading, England

It's just a matter of time before Jennifer Triolo starts bitching about this too. So much for all those notes about what I was planning to write. This is different, very different, and best suited for adventurous ears- like mine. And if you're like my girlfriend, this super wonderful, way ahead of the curve song, will make you want to down an entire bottle of Advil just before beating the living shit out of whoever made you suffer from exposure to this.

108. The J. Giels Band
"Love Stinks"  3:40
Love Stinks
Boston, MA

Love Stinks is a song that 83% of the population claims to be able to relate to, and suggest this is the one song that defines he/she as a person. Truth be known, many of them are in love with that deep-toned baritone chant of the anthem "Love Stinks!" However, because they are in love with a portion of the song, and in love with the song itself, that, well, stinks. A recent survey conducted in front of the deodorant aisle at Target indicated that roughly 13% of those who rate this song an 8 or better actually do stink and received a complimentary travel-size bottle of deodorant.

107. Nina Hagen
"Alptraum"  6:12
Unbehagen
Berlin, Germany

Many people read the above description to Carambolage and wondered who in the fuck exactly this Nina Hagen person was; 27% are relieved to finally know what all of that was about and happy the disturbance is officially over. If Nina Hagen came to my door right now, my girlfriend, Jennifer Triolo, would get her ass tossed right out into the street. And as soon as she reads this, I'm sure I will probably get tossed right out into the street. Another uber experimentalist from Germany. Definitely not intended for mainstream audiences, I cannot help but wonder what the world would be like if this was a #1 hit and played at Toys R Us.

(REVISION NOTE: The aforementioned Jennifer Triolo eventually did toss my ass right out into the street. However, sadly, Nina Hagen still has not arrived.)

106. The Teardrop Explodes
"Machsiah"  4:28
Drama
Liverpool, England

The band that introduced Julian Cope to the world. Although he went on to write an extraordinary guidebook to Krautrock, this song is straight-up, relatively lo-fi, not all that punk/not all that pop either, indie pop/college rock. You know the drill. This shit gets so hard to pigeonhole, even if it is relatively basic and straightforward. The best aspect of this song because is the finale where it repeats the same chorus for the entirity of the last minute.

105. The Sound
"I Can't Escape Myself"  3:56
Jeopardy
London, England

This album was never intended to be the soundtrack for the now popular gameshow bearing the same name; nor was this track supposed to be theme song for the recurring loser. Judging from the band name, album cover, and placement in the countdown, see if you can guess what they sound like. A prize of one free drink will be awarded to all participants who answer the description correctly. Call or text somebody in order to claim your prize.

104. The Crawling Chaos
"Berlin"  6:57
Sex Machine Single
Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England

Another single, another black and white album cover, and another rad bass riff. This song should have been a blueprint for the next wave of new-wave/punk/goth/industrial/indie-dance all the above.

103. KSMB
"Bara ett Minne"  4:28
Aktion
Stockholm, Sweden

KSMB is a punk band whose known for fast, loud, raucous punk rock that borders on consideration for hardcore. Hailing from Sweden, they were more than likely the favorite band of The Hives who mimic their style but received more notoriety. However, KSMB, unlike numerous other punk bands of this nature (and often the most valid critique on this sub-sect of the genre as a whole), are not a one-trick pony and have numerous elements in their repertoire. In fact, upon hearing the piano melodies of Bara ett Minne, few people would even guess that they were a punk band. The second best song from this album is FP, which also incorporates other musical styles aside from ripping fast two chord 1:54 punk shredder.

102. Gutura
"Track 2"  6:59
Des êtres au Cerveau Apparent
France

Ultra-rare, and ultra-weird, Gutura incorporates numerous styles in their sound. A significant portion of their sound qualifies as a hold over from the progressive/Krautrock era of the early 70's. However, the only style incorporated from that particular genre is dark psychedelia and the instrumentation. Also, based on the sound, there is no doubt whatsoever this has a modern sound nowhere near entrenched in the 70's period. There are also elements of post-punk and darkwave infused with the psychedelic krautrock. Finally, the edge that puts it in its own category is the screechy female vocalist who provides more of an off-kilter edge than even The Slits, The Raincoats, or Lydia Lunch.


101. Snakefinger
"The Picture Makers vs. Children of the Sea"  9:30
Greener Postures
London, England (1949)-Linz, Austria (1987)

The best thing about 1980...music like this was permitted to exist. Snakefinger had been a guest on The Residents albums before landing on their label, the aforementioned Ralph Records, and recording his own brand of weirdness, such as this classic track. BTW- Snakefinger is an under-rated guitar player. This is what I'm missing in the current lack of music direction, somebody able to do something like this, but modern.




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://www.sicmagazine.net/images/814.jpg
Bottom Image by: common

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