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 I: The Influence of Both Reggae and Satan
Press play on the image below to hear this selection of songs in this exact order.
This entire website began as a mix CD for a friend's 30th birthday. He requested that I make him a 30-disc mix CD with the best songs of every year from 1980-present. Being as I wanted this to be a special mix, the best songs of 1980, I did extensive research and thoroughly examined numerous sources. Before the project was completed, however, I moved from Asheville, NC to Milwaukee, WI. I did not want the project to go to waste, so I wrote about it on the website. During this initial process though, I actually wrote about the music. (The year I did after this was 1985, which was initially for my then girlfriend for the year she was born; but we broke up and rather than write song descriptions, I wrote a bunch of little snippets depicting how people would react to the song; and that's when the format of the rest of the site officially began- this 1980 list was the first installment though).
As I was compiling the classics I consider all-time favorites, gathering "new" material from 1980 in which I had never heard, and refreshing myself with songs that I had not listened to in ages, I was also keeping up with new music. There was a struggle differentiating what was brand new and what was a 1980 release. I found a lot of these songs from 1980 freaked out ordinary people more than the modern music that was supposedly on today's cutting edge. Sadly, the state of current mainstream radio is so bad, I found myself liking a lot of songs I used to hate.
1980 was a significantly better year than 2010, even though 2010 should have been similar for a variety of reasons. There seemed to be more creativity back then and a willingness to experiment- and too many douchy people in existence today trying to be as ordinary as possible in order to be a star on reality TV. Meanwhile, back in 2010 I was hoping for radical change or a new music revolution; it never happened.
Not saying all was good, however, for much of the trite that is popular today can be traced back to 1980. Furthermore, nearly every great band that previously existed put out an album in 1980, but many of those failed to live up to their previous standards. Love it or hate it, the music of 1980 marked the biggest change. Compare all these songs to what was being played in 1975; compare today's music (now 2012) with the music of 2007...it's not even close the amount of radical change that took place in that short of a time.
INTRODUCTION. James Chance & The Contortions
"King Heroin" 7:55
Live Aux Bain Douches: Paris 1980
New York, NY
General rule of thumb is that live versions do not count because technically they weren't officially recorded that year. There are a few exceptions and this being one of them. This no-wave classic is the perfect introduction, and I did not wish to begin the countdown with a guilty pleasure that I am ashamed to admit that I like. If I would have started things off with my actual #200, a significant portion of the population would have simply laughed, disregarded the entire website, and went to view shit like Pitchfork. Furthermore, I can relate to this song because even though I was very young in 1980, I had already done time at county for heroin use.
"Turn Me Loose" 5:14
Calgary, AB, Canada
Guess how huge of a Loverboy fan I am? Answer, not hardly. In fact, I struggled to decide whether or not I should even confess that I like this song, muchless ride around in my car with the first minute and a half cranked all the way up. Big reason why I felt two intro songs were needed, and, a nice example of how a song that was once perceived as douchy now sounds significantly better than most of the garbage on current AOR formats, i.e., Nickelback.
199. Dark Day
"Uninvited Guests" 2:29
New York, NY
This band I had never heard of until recently, and I have to credit Piero Scaruffi for including this on his brilliant best albums of 1980 list for the discovery. The album on whole has one flaw for every song has this same synth-line. However, for one song, this is brilliant dark wave that has inspired many of today's artists such as Liars and Matthew Dear...though some are probably unaware of this.
198. Aksaq Maboul
"Geistige Nacht" 5:20
Un Peu De L'Ame Des Bandits
OK, this I can understand not being played in public places. Not that there is any foul language or anything (it's instrumental), it's simply that good ol' challenging experimental music that has this effect on overly normal people. Roughly 12% of the population will actually enjoy this. A higher percentage may appreciate it. I like it towards the end when it tones down a bit. Features former Henry Cow guitarist Fred Frith, who also put out a solo album this year.
197. Black Uhuru
"Push Push" 4:10
One of the great reggae songs, one of only two to make this countdown. Must say though: do love the band's name and image. Some people take reggae seriously, and I can hear reggae fans cussing at me already for this only being at #197... they anticipate with rage what is going to follow up their all-time favorite album.
196. Iron Maiden
"Stranger World" 5:49
Maiden fan and reggae fan are so incompatible, yet they are the two fans who spend the least amount of time in the shower. Whatever, just making this list gives you credibility. Once upon a time, Maiden album covers efined great art. This thing here later became the infamous "Eddie". I wonder why a movie was never made about Eddie- with Ernest, Going to Camp, With Eddie.
"Let Me Put My Love Into You" 4:17
Back in Black
The biggest selling album of 1980! Unfortunately, as of 2012, I am burnt out on most of this album and this is the only song I care to listen to from it anymore. So much for this being a list based on record sales. Some people have this and Iron Maiden #1 and 2. What's especially odd, in 1980 so many bands made radical changes; Bon Scott died in February of 1980 and this sounds almost exactly like 79's Highway to Hell. Some have criticized the band for sounding too familiar, but props to AC/DC for getting a record out a mere 5 months after losing their frontman; these days, that would set a band back at least 3 years.
194. The Romantics
"Til I See You Again" 3:50
Though their outfits and the hit song off this record (Like About You) didn't exactly pave the way for the future, the lesser known Til I See You Again has held up nicely. This should have been a hit.
193. Television Personalities
"Look Back in Anger" 2:39
Don't the Kids Just Love It
This could be the theme song for reflecting back to 30 years ago.
192. Gordon Lightfoot
"Ghosts of Cape Horn" 4:10
Dream Street Rose
Toronto, ON, Canada
To the 80's dance party, Gordon Lightfoot had no business even setting foot in the 80's. You know, though, some people do hate the sound of Sheena Easton, Pat Benetar, etc. For some of those, Gordon Lightfoot will never die! And they write on bathroom walls: GORDON LIGHTFOOT FUCKING RULZ!!!
Let's face it, sex sells, and sometimes, just music by itself provides sexual gratification. Such is the case with French-pop icon Lio. However, this affect probably only occurs on American males, and its probably best if the world didn't know what activities were taking place while listening to this. She did go on to release an album with this cover. At the time of this release, however, she may have not been 18 years old (she was born in 1962); girls celebrate become of legal age differently than guys.
190. The Zantees
"Blonde Bombshell" 3:31
Out For Kicks
New York, NY
Rock and roll fans who aren't fond of modern day AC/DC, and those who refuse to even regard Journey as rock music, prefer this stripped sound for their rock and roll fixation. This is definitive garage rock the way it's been played for years. Also, this has no resemblance to the 80's. Coincidentally, fans of AC/DC will also love this.
189. Psychotik Tanks
"Security Idiots" 2:05
Security Idiots Single
Here's a rare find. It's difficult to fathom how rare singles such as this got any recognition whatsoever before the invention of the internet; especially considering this was when mainstream radio went corporate and had no interest in experimenting with any rock music that wasn't polished or sounded like Journey. Good punk/new-wave with a ripping bass riff and catchy/satirical/political lyrics. Meanwhile, Journey has pretty much ruined the world.
"Melvin's Tune" 2:43
New York, NY
And just who the fuck is Melvin, you ask? Truthfully, I don't know. As with every other genre so far, in 1980 funk changed too, for elements of smooth jazz and prog rock were incorporated. On slight occasion, but not always, depending on the mood, this band can rock a dancefloor. Um, some hippies started liking this too...never a good thing.
187. The Beat
"Rough Rider" 4:53
I Just Can't Stop It
As promised, the reggae influence is back! We just never thought that it would return so soon, just like your spouse while you were doing something you weren't supposed to be doing. And this went on to influence Vampire Weekend.
186. Jah Wobble
"Something Profound" 6:07
In some circles, this is considered reggae. In all circles, this is 1980. Perhaps this is the direction reggae was intended for the 80's. Perhaps in many circles reggae was spinning in circles. How many circles can you find on this album cover?
"Biggest Part of Me" 4:12
Los Angeles, CA
Commonly considered one of the earliest roots of screaming thrashing hardcore with heavy Satanic influences. Although the album cover would indicate otherwise, that statement is not entirely 100%. Perhaps the wimpiest song to make the list, but I have to question: why does Satan have domain in the music world over love making a wish come true? Just admit it, this is a good song. This album cover gave white people hope that a nice fro is possible.
184. Grace Jones
"A Rolling Stone" 3:32
Spanish Town, Jamaica/New York, NY
Should a fight break out, Grace Jones would destroy all members of Ambrosia at the same time. Seriously. After recording a few great numbers, took her tough-girl image into action movies like Conan the Destroyer.
183. Bill Bruford
"Joe Frazier" 4:46
Gradually Going Tornado
In the drummer's circle, Bill Bruford is almost as prominent of a figure as Jimi Hendrix is in the guitarists. Easily one of the top few greatest drummers of all time, see also Yes (not the Yes on this list though) & King Crimson.
"Towers of London" 4:39
A slight hit, though they may have gained more popularity for their name begins with the letter X, and people who know this won't have to drink when playing that particular drinking game. XTC does receive moderate critical acclaim and a moderate fanbase-though not rabid in either. A definite ally, brought some pop slickness to new-wave world, which generally spells doom, but sophistication pulled it off effectively here.
181. Leo Sayer
"More Than I Can Say" 3:01
Living in a Fantasy
This is proving to be a difficult confession. If this this song were playing at the same time I was watching gay porn videos, and somebody of prominence suddenly walked in, I would hastily shut off this song before the porn video. I am certain there were numerous of people who purchased this Leo Sayer and the aforementioned Ambrosia on the same day. More than likely, those people had eggs thrown at their homes. It would utmost embarrassing to have been pulled over by the police and getting busted with Leo Sayer and Ambrosia albums in the car.
180. Harry Nilsson/Shelley Duvall
"He's Large" 4:18
New York, NY (1941)-Agoura Hills (1994)
Uh, yea, so, like, I kinda thought Popeye was pretty good movie. Speaking of guilty pleasures, on a scale of 1 to 10, Popeye the movie scores a solid 8.5 or a 9. And to be perfectly honest, I struggled deciding which song I wanted to use, because there are so many good ones. He's Mean is tied for the best song here. I Yam What I Yam from the demos is good too. Nice to see Nilsson back in good form again. $50 says if you were sitting at a bar and Popeye came on, you'd watch it.
179. Status Quo
"Coming and Going" 6:21
Status Quo, apparently did not just suddenly disappear after Pictures of Matchstick Men, which is one of the better known songs of the psychedelic era. In 1980 they released, not only this album, but also a compilation album that featured a song nearly as good as that classic called Down Down. which was originally slated to be in the top 50 for I thought that was their 1980 release (it's actually 1975)- meaning they changed, stayed good, and stupid America (me included) didn't notice. This track is also good, though suffers some of those 1980 effects, but has great harmonica.
178. Blue Öyster Cult
"Black Blade" 6:40
Stony Brook, NY
Again, not the greatest material by the band, but way better rock music than Journey or REO Speedwagon. These guys earned primo top 25 slots in several lists of the 70's, including #1 for 1974. Elite guitar playing as well.
177. Electric Light Orchestra
"All Over the World" 4:01
Lots of strange things happened in 1980, among them E.L.O. collaborating with Olivia Newton John. This song is good, a few other decent ones on the album, some of the Olivia Newton John sang ones I could live without...this movie wasn't that great to say the least. However I never developed a crush for Jeff Lynne- though I was madly in love with Olivia Newton John to the extreme I would masturbate to various scenes in Grease; that should make everybody happy. They were another perennial top 20 in the 70's.
"Machine Messiah" 10:28
Back in theoe days, bands put out an album every year...and it didn't even matter who was even in the band. Only guitarist Steve Howe and bassist Chris Squire of the classic lineup play on this, and this was their only record without vocalist John Anderson- who knows where he was. Allmusic referred to this song as "doom-laden", not exactly how they referred to some of their previous stuff. No, not Starship Trooper by any stretch (I won't argue with this person's assessment of "greatest guitar solo ever" by the way), but still very good with excellent instrumentation abilities. The 70's seemed like so long ago. However, in 1980, it was simply last year. Records that were released in the early part of the year, the 70's were but a few months ago.
BONUS TRACK: The Spinners
"Cupid/I've Loved You For a Long Time" 3:56
This list features lots of rarities, 25-30 hit songs that charted on Billboard, and two #1's. Though this is one of the biggest hits, peaked at #4, I didn't count it because it was a cover of a song that had already been in hit. In order to make the regular list, had to be an original- or at least radically different. Also, and sadly, great soul was coming to end as the 70's ended. Even though this song is performed exceptionally well, it still feels as if its the end of an era...an era that produced 5 star songs such as They Just Can't Stop It.
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