Top 100 80s pop picks.

I grew up in the eighties. From the 2-tone Ska revival to the Madchester rave thingy, I lived the whole hideous 3652 days of it. Not that it makes me a genius or nothing, you know, managing not to drop dead for ten whole years. Plenty of people can do that trick six or seven times a lifetime… even longer if there’s a reason to.

Yes, it was this grim...

One aspect of the decade that impacted me more than the music (which was mostly lousy) was the politics. 4 million unemployed, the welfare state dismantled, vast swathes of the country turned into no-go areas and industrial wastelands. The one bright spark was that things were getting better elsewhere: military dictatorships collapsing in South America, Charter 88 and Solidarity leading the charge for change and hope. 

So here are my fave songs of the period. You will notice a lack of dance music, electro-soul and only a token New Romantic in the 100. I’ve also kept away from the best-selling bands of the era: Madonna, Michael Jackson, Queen, Prince, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Wham! and U2. That’s because I hate them. The 1980s taught me to hate the popular. My distaste for popular tunes is also inexplicably vehement. Two bars of Blue Monday by New Order or anything by Five-Star and I turn into a gibbering eejit (No change there then). So, enjoy my pop-picks, pop-pickers.

1) Jesus & Mary Chain – Just Like Honey

Inventors of ‘shambling’ and fashion gurus for indie-kids everywhere. Dress in black, shave the back and sides off a bubble perm so it flops forward into your eyes, wear a long, baggy coat and Dr Martins boots, sell bootleg cassette tapes in the street for your Enterprise Allowance money (it’s what we had instead of jobs back then). God, nostalgia is depressing.

2) Motorhead – The Ace of Spades

Proper rock anthem, played by the hardest group ever. Lemmy plays a 7ft. guitar made from pig-iron and screams about snake-eyes watching you. Lovely stuff. And don’t forget the joker

3) World Domination Enterprises – Asbestos Lead Asbestos

Saw them live at the Dog Club in Wood Green circa 1985. Just a bloke with a keyboard on a supermarket trolley screaming about asbestos. Brilliant. Dog Club was a mid 80s hippy hang out where you could go and see bands, fire-eaters, people dressed as nuns coming out of a hearse. Bands I saw there? Nick Cave, The Cardiacs, Ozric Tentacles, Thee Katatonix, Out Vile Jelly probably.. great days, great club.

4) Electrica Dharma – Força Dharma

Catalan nationalism in Jazz/folk stylings. My family is from Barcelona province, so Cat-Nat is our default setting. Pretty good band, these, noodling around the bars and clubs of Barcelona for the local hepcats. Coool.

5) Fun Boy Three – Our Lips Are Sealed

Best all-round pop-song of the decade by far. Haunting and brooding and lovely. Good message too. Shut up and don’t feed the media shitstorm. Modern celebs should listen and learn.

6) Green on Red – Time Ain’t Nothing

American folk with a lick of lyrical leftwingery. Awesome live, they rock n’ roll while remaining conscious of their musical and labour history. Cowboy music for those who know that 25% of actual cowboys were anarchists. After a day on the trail they would relax reading Proudhon and Kropotkin rather than the bible. Yee haw!

7) Jethro Tull – Broadsword

Sends shivers down my spine. I doubt Vikings or Picts ever made music like this, but it’s certainly evocative stuff (Not that I know anything about the society being evoked, other than my stack of fantasy novels.). Ian Anderson has a fine voice, and his band always tickle my fancy.

8) Juan Luis Guerra – Ojala Que Llueva Cafe

From the Dominican Republic, the first hit by Guerra’s fab band. Popularizing the Caribbean dance music of Merengue, he became a huge Latin star. The song is a plea for coffee (and food) to rain on the famished poor. Very affecting. The chorus usually gets my tears flowing.

9) Rockdrigo Gonzalez – Los Intelectuales

My first trip to Mexico in 1990 opened up my eyes in many ways. One of the most pleasant to listen to, is Rockdrigo’s music. He was a pioneer singer-songwriter in the Bob Dylan mould and he composed a number of classic songs. He died in the 1984 earthquake and his music was distributed in cassettes (he never had a record contract in his lifetime). Even most Mexicans don’t know about him. Takes me back to those days of tequila and lime juice. Chingada, man.

10) Sisters of Mercy – Nine While Nine

Yeah, I was a goth. Back when I had hair and thought I was getting close to some semblance of cool. It never happened, so I started listening to obscure 60s music and hanging out with Glam-rockers (perhaps the most uncool of the 80s revivalists) never looked back since. So, from Leeds, that fine goth city, a bit of SoM. Mr Eldritch’s vocalising is, as always, highly melodramatic. Lipstick on tha’ window pane, mate? Try Windolene.

11) Dr & the Medics – Spirit in the Sky

12) Kirsty McColl – There’s a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis

13) The Primitives – Thru the Flowers

14) Twelfth Night – Sequences

15) Love & Rockets – Kundalini Express

16) The Red Guitars – Good Technology

17) The Communards – Don’t Leave Me This Way

18) Zodiac Mindwarp & the Love Reaction – Prime Mover

Saw Zodiac Mindwarp for free at Central London Poly just before they hit the big time.

19) The Playn Jayn – I Love You Like I Love Myself

20) Public Enemy – Fight The Power

21) Bhundu Boys – Hatisi Tose

22) The Shop Assistants – All Day Long

23) Megadeth – Killing Is My Business and Business Is Good

24) Men Without Hats – The Safety Dance

25) Roy Harper – Elizabeth

26) The Ramones – Rock & Roll High School

27) Poison – Look What The Cat Dragged In

28) The Pogues – Streams of Whiskey

29) The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary

30) The Dead Kennedys – Stars & Stripes of Corruption

31) The Men They Couldn’t Hang – The Colours

32) A House – Heart Happy

33) Pop Will Eat Itself – Orgone Accumulator

34) Black Uhuru – Carbine

35) Duran Duran – Careless Memory

36) The Jam – A Town Called Malice

37) Run DMC – My Adidas

38) Half Man Half Biscuit – 99% of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd

39) Fuzzbox – We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use it!

40) Stiff Little Fingers – Back to Front

41) Tears for Fears – Mad World

42) The Pixies – Monkey’s Gone To Heaven

43) Aswad – Dub Fire

44) I Ludicrous – Preposterous Tales

45) The Inspiral Carpets – Move

46) The Beastie Boys – You Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party

47) King Kurt – Destination Zululand

48) The Specials – Ghost Town

49) Baron Rojo – Los Rockeros Van al Infierno

50) Indians in Moscow – Naughty Miranda

51) The Teardrop Explodes – Reward

52) The Macc Lads – Alcohol

53) Jon & Vangelis – I’ll Find My Way Home

54) The Fall – Hit the North

55) Azul y Negro – Me Estoy Volviendo Loco

56) The Stranglers – Golden Brown

57) Hanoi Rocks – Don’t You Ever Leave Me

58) Alpha Blondy – Cocody Rock

59) The Mighty Lemon Drops – Like An Angel

60) Cabaret Voltaire – Sensoria

61) Tom Robinson Band – Power In The Darkness

62) AC/DC – Mistress For Christmas

63) Talk Talk – Such a Shame

64) The Police – Walking On The Moon

65) Laurie Anderson – Oh Superman

66) Aerosmith – Rag Doll

67) Hawkwind – Fahrenheit 451

68) New Model Army – Vengeance

69) Iron Maiden – 22 Acacia Avenue

70) The Pastels – Coming Through

71) The Smiths – Panic

72) Joaquin Sabina – Pacto Entre Caballeros

73) Spear Of Destiny – Never Take Me Alive

74) Los Lobos – El Canelo

75) Marillion – Garden Party

76) Frank Chickens – We Are Ninja

77) The Stone Roses – She Bangs The Drums

78) The Redskins – Unionize

79) Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Gino

80) XTC – Senses Working Overtime

81) The Leather Nun – Jesus Came Driving Along

82) Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Joan of Arc

83) Spitting Image – The Chicken Song

84) The Wonderstuff – Unbearable

85) Sonic Youth – Dirty Boots

86) The Cramps – Bikini Girls With Machine Guns

87) W.A.S.P. – Blind in Texas

88) Buggles – Video Killed The Radio Star

89) Underground Zero – Canes Vanatici

90) Voice of the Beehive – What You Have is Enough

91) The Creatures – Killing Time

92) The Bad Brains – Banned in DC

93) Imagination – Body Talk

94) The Special AKA – Free Nelson Mandela

95) Ozric Tentacles – Sniffing Dog

96) Lou Reed – Dirty Blvd.

97) Chumbawamba – Unilever

98) X-Mal Deutschland – Incubus Succubus

99) Shakin Stevens – This Ole House

100) Sepultura – Inner Self

About floppybootstomp

Lecturer, teacher, writer and traveller all perfectly good nouns aren't they? Do they have anything to do with me? Ask the taxman.

Posted on August 14, 2010, in Music Stuff and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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