Do You Remember 1981?: Albums Celebrating Their 30th Anniversaries
by Rob O'Connor in List Of The Day
Here is the list of albums from 1981 whose titles don't seem so bad. You might remember a few weeks back when I listed those others from 1981 in a classic blog that people around the world simply won't stop talking about.
So here are all the fine, fine albums that were also released in 1981: a year that is now long ago. Enough that the Rush album listed is up for a 30th Anniversary Edition in perfect sync with this column.
25) Rush - Moving Pictures: From the front cover where people are literally moving pictures to the actual songs on the album -- "Tom Sawyer," "Limelight," "YYZ" - Rush get the most of their Canadian citizenship by returning Mark Twain to where he belongs: in a rock tune. If that last sentence didn't make any sense to you, Welcome to the Wacky World of Rock Criticism! You're going to love it here!
24) Motorhead - No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith: What? WHAT? WHAT!!!! Nope. Still can't hear you. Motorhead are visiting.
23) The Gun Club - The Fire of Love: There are people who love cult artists. Myself included. Jeffrey Lee Pierce, the leader of The Gun Club, is one of those people who is admired far beyond his recording output. But then it is better to record a couple of albums everyone remembers than twenty that no one can tell apart. Me? I keep forgetting everything.
22) The Cure - Faith: Since I'm here in the U.S., I came across this album as ...Happily Ever After, which compiled both Seventeen Seconds and Faith into a double album, meaning I can never remember what's on which record. But I see looking it up that it has "All Cats Are Grey," which is one of the greatest songs I've ever listening to while staring into the abyss.
21) Black Flag - Damaged: Am I the only one who thinks Black Flag got really lousy after this album?
20) Various Artists - Urgh! A Music War: The Album: Various Artists is one of my favorite bands because they are more versatile than the average group. This is the soundtrack to the album that came out in 1982, which was only 29 years ago, so it's much more recent than this album.
19) X - Wild Gift: This is the last X album I truly loved. From here, bits and pieces. My friends say I have a negative view of reality, but I think it's pretty dead on. But maybe because I'm the one stuck inside this head of mine. Anybody wanna trade?
18) Brian Eno & David Byrne - My Life in the Bush of Ghosts: These days this album probably sounds pretty much like many others. But it didn't back in 1981. Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno hadn't even had ten years of "official service" in the rock music community when this album came out and Byrne was even newer. It's as if time moved slower back in the 1970s and people got more done.
17) Blue Oyster Cult - Fire of Unknown Origin: Any album that has a song with the line "Time to play B-sides" is one that is essential even if you never listen to the rest of the album.
16) The Birthday Party - Prayers on Fire: Hard to believe there was a time when Nick Cave didn't have three hundred solo albums to his name and critics weren't yet falling all over one another to announce their love for his work. No, I'm not going to claim Cave's career was all downhill after this album. But what a great place to kick off his newly renamed band!
15) The Cramps - Psychedelic Jungle: I will never complain about a band that covers "Green Fuz," "Goo Goo Muck" and "Green Door" and then writes "Don't Eat Stuff Off the Sidewalk" and "Can't Find My Mind." How could I?
14) Robyn Hitchcock - Black Snake Diamond Role: It's hard to believe there was a time when there weren't 400 Robyn Hitchcock solo albums to choose from.
13) The Psychedelic Furs - Talk Talk Talk: It's really odd when you realize the running order of an album in the band's native country has a completely different running order than the one you grew up with.
12) Public Image Ltd. - The Flowers of Romance: This is the last truly interesting Public Image Ltd. album. After this, it's hit and miss. Wasn't this guy - John Lydon - supposed to turn the music world upside down? You may wish to stick with Can. Better consistency.
11) The Go-Go's - Beauty and the Beat: Once upon a time pop groups were rather charming and didn't come fully nurtured from the Mickey Mouse Club or any other evil farm system.
10) Throbbing Gristle - Mission of Dead Souls: A recording of their "final" performance in 1981. Except, like everyone else, they eventually reunited. Can anyone actually tell when these guys are good and when they're slightly off?
9) The Police - Ghost in the Machine: The Police were a better band than all the Sting jokes out there would imply. However, for a band that has so many huge hits, they also have plenty of weird obscurities that must have annoyed teenagers who just wanted to rock.
8) Foreigner - 4: While this is the album where the band becomes noticeably "worse," it does have "Juke Box Hero," a song so ridiculously primal that I've often imagined singer Lou Gramm throwing up between choruses. Is it just me?
7) The Moody Blues - Long Distance Voyager: When this album came out, I remember watching Casey Kasem on his TV show where he counted down the hits of the week. What is truly weird is that I have no memory of the hits, "Gemini Dream" or "The Voice." I also did not buy the album. I was going to ask my old pal Zoraxx Astrea to explain the appeal of this band, since it was "his band" in high school; however, I don't believe that his reply would conform to the wholesome standards of this fine, upstanding and morally conscious blog.
6) Yoko Ono - Season of Glass: Released just six months after the assassination of John Lennon, Season of Glass is the ultimate "rapid response" collection. It was Ono's highest charting solo album to date, as people were finally discovering that maybe she wasn't the devil they once thought her to be. Of course, in light of where popular music has gone in recent decades, Ono is now an acclaimed visionary. The world is funny this way.
5) Funkadelic - The Electric Spanking of War Babies: With a title that good, who cares what the rest of the album sounds like? You can create your own version in your mind. But, yeah, the real thing is real good if you need my deep, professional insights.
4) Neil Young - Re*Ac* Tor: "You were born to rock. You'll never be an opera star" may be one of the greatest lines in all of rock ‘n' roll. It's an album everyone should own on 8-track.
3) Joe Walsh - There Goes the Neighborhood: It's kind of sad that Joe Walsh will be best remembered for being a member of the Eagles and not The James Gang!
2) Marianne Faithfull - Dangerous Acquaintances: Broken English got all the credit, but Faithfull's subsequent albums were every bit as endearing. I met her once and shook her hand. She was much smaller a person, physically, than I ever imagined. Psychically, she's a giant!
1) Loverboy - Get Lucky: The greatest album of 1981? Nope.