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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1983

[Duran Duran - Seven and the Ragged Tiger]

A decade ago, I wrote a series of entries ranking my favorite albums from 1985 to 2004. My collection has expanded greatly since then, particularly in the last five years. So I wanted to see what has changed in 10 years.

The 1983 Favorite Edition list is not terribly cosmopolitan. And why should it? I would have been 11 years old at the time, and pre-teens, even precocious ones, aren’t renowned for sophistication.

  1. Eurythmics, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
  2. Clannad, Magical Ring
  3. U2, Live Under a Blood Red Sky
  4. David Bowie, Let’s Dance
  5. Duran Duran, Seven and the Ragged Tiger
  6. R.E.M., Murmur
  7. Huey Lewis and the News, Sports
  8. The Police, Synchronicity
  9. 10,000 Maniacs, Secrets of the I Ching
  10. The Waitresses, Bruiseology

Other favorites from the year:

  • Toto, IV
  • Culture Club, Colour By Numbers
  • Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes
  • Cyndi Lauper, She’s So Unusual
  • The Pointer Sisters, Break Out

MTV was the big driver of music in this era, but I wouldn’t have known it because my parents refused to subscribe to cable. The household wouldn’t welcome cable TV till well after I had moved out after college … in 1997.

So my exposure to music in 1983 was limited to American Bandstand and Solid Gold. For a short while, a syndicated TV show called Prime Time Videos aired on broadcast affiliates, but it would not last.

I was still heavily into Pac-Man, even though my parents refused to welcome a game console or computer into the house. It’s a wonder how I’ve made computer programming my career.

So if this list seems particularly safe, it’s a reflection of the limited avenues of consumption. It’s probably why I have such a voracious appetite now.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1985

[The Outfield - Play Deep]

A decade ago, I wrote a series of entries ranking my favorite albums from 1985 to 2004. My collection has expanded greatly since then, particularly in the last five years. So I wanted to see what has changed in 10 years.

This list is the last of the original years covered in my previous survey. The Favorite 10 hasn’t changed, but the extended list has gotten longer.

  1. Tears for Fears, Songs from the Big Chair
  2. Sting, The Dream of the Blue Turtles
  3. Arcadia, So Red the Rose
  4. ABC, How to Be a Zillionaire!
  5. 10,000 Manaics, The Wishing Chair
  6. Clannad, Macalla
  7. Kate Bush, Hounds of Love
  8. Soundtrack, Macross Song Collection
  9. Midnight Oil, Red Sails in the Sunset
  10. Andrew Lloyd Webber, Requiem

Other favorites from the year::

  • Camper Van Beethoven, Telephone Free Landslide Victory
  • Eurythmics, Be Yourself Tonight
  • Hiroshima, Another Place
  • The Pogues, Rum Sodomy and the Lash
  • Simple Minds, Once Upon a Time
  • Sade, Promise
  • Hüsker Dü, New Day Rising
  • The Replacements, Tim
  • The Outfield, Play Deep
  • INXS, Listen Like Thieves
  • Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force
  • The Power Station, The Power Station
  • The Family, The Family
  • Prince and the Revolution, Around the World in a Day

Younger Me would approve of most of this list.

He would have gasped at the inclusion of Prince, considering the Sibling Rivalry Collection Race was at its height, and this kind of intrusion would be accompanied by a drubbing.

And he would groaned at the inclusion of The Outfield. Older Me would then advise him to wait 20 years before a real appreciation could begin.

I capped this survey at 1985 because my collection before that year wasn’t extensive enough for much punditry. Weekly visits to thrift shops in the last three years have allowed me to fill in enough gaps to keep going till 1978.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1987

[Sonic Youth - Sister]

A decade ago, I wrote a series of entries ranking my favorite albums from 1985 to 2004. My collection has expanded greatly since then, particularly in the last five years. So I wanted to see what has changed in 10 years.

I go on and on about how much I love 1987 that I should just shut up and let the list speak for itself. Unsurprisingly, the Favorite 10 hasn’t changed, saved one correction.

  1. U2, The Joshua Tree
  2. Sting, … Nothing Like the Sun
  3. 10,000 Maniacs, In My Tribe
  4. Sinéad O’Connor, The Lion and the Cobra
  5. Bulgarian State TV & Radio Women’s Choir, Le Mystère de Voix Bulgares
  6. John Adams, The Chairman Dances
  7. Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Phantom of the Opera
  8. Wendy & Lisa, Wendy & Lisa
  9. Guns N’ Roses, Appetite for Destruction
  10. R.E.M., Document

Other favorites from the year:

  • Kronos Quartet, White Man Sleeps
  • Depeche Mode, Music for the Masses
  • Dolly Parton / Linda Ronstadt / Emmylou Harris, Trio
  • The Art of Noise, In No Sense? Nonsense!
  • Swing Out Sister, It’s Better to Travel
  • Hiroshima, Go
  • The Smiths, Strangeways, Here We Come
  • Eurythmics, Savage
  • INXS, Kick
  • Sonic Youth, Sister
  • The Dukes of the Stratosphear, Psonic Psunspot
  • Dead Can Dance, Within the Realm of a Dying Sun
  • Icehouse, Man of Colours
  • In Tua Nua, Vaudeville
  • Johnny Hates Jazz, Turn Back the Clock

I originally listed the cast recording of Into the Woods in the Favorite 10, but I discovered it was actually released in 1988.

The extended list is shorter than the one for 1988, but I’ve actually added fewer titles from 1987 since the original list was compiled. I think I also like these albums more intensely because I had discovered them at the time, and they’ve made a lasting impression.

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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1997

[Janet Jackson - The Velvet Rope]

A decade ago, I wrote a series of entries ranking my favorite albums from 1985 to 2004. My collection has expanded greatly since then, particularly in the last five years. So I wanted to see what has changed in 10 years.

1998 and 1999 were probably the most productive years of the ’90s. 1997 slightly less so. That said, there isn’t much change from the original list, a few shuffles aside.

  1. Cocco, Bougainvillia
  2. Duran Duran, Medazzaland
  3. The Old ’97s, Too Far to Care
  4. Björk, Homogeneic
  5. 10,000 Maniacs, Love Among the Ruins
  6. Soundtrack, The Simpsons: Songs in the Key of Springfield
  7. Molotov, ¿Dónde Jugarán las Niñas?
  8. Bill Frisell, Nashville
  9. Pizzicato Five, Happy End of the World
  10. Prodigy, Fat of the Land

Other favorites from the year:

  • Janet Jackson, The Velvet Rope
  • China Digs, Looking for George …
  • John Taylor, Feelings are Good and Other Lies
  • Jack Ingram, Livin’ and Dyin’
  • Kronos Quartet, Early Music (Lachrymæ Antiquæ)
  • 8 1/2 Souvenirs, Souvonica
  • Sleater-Kinney, Dig Me Out
  • Missy Elliott, Supa Dupa Fly
  • David Bowie, Earthling

I wouldn’t rediscover The Velvet Rope till 2014. I disliked its predecessor, janet., but I was also disappointed Janet didn’t switch up her theme. I’ve come to realize The Velvet Rope was the album I wished janet. would have been.

Earthling is the very first album by David Bowie I’ve ever owned. I actually liked it at the time, but I didn’t love it. So it got cut during a collection purge. My recent deep dive into the his work made me revisit Earthling, and as unlikely as an EDM Bowie album might sound, he makes it work.

Sleater-Kinney and Missy Eliott are retroactive additions to the list. I didn’t explore their works until recently.

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Looking ahead: May-July 2016

[The Killers - Hot Fuss]

It’s nearly half way through the year, and the Favorite Edition 2016 list is pretty sparse. Every new release I’ve bought this year is on the list because I don’t have enough to fill the list out. So I’m pretty much watching out for vinyl reissues.

Anohni, Hopelessness, May 6

I miss Anohni (a.k.a. Antony Hegerty). I only ever seem to encounter him on Björk albums any more.

Vinyl

10,000 Maniacs, Our Time in Eden, May 3

This album was released on vinyl in Europe back in 1992. I nearly bought a used copy of it. I already have the first three Maniacs albums on vinyl, which I originally bought in the ’80s. In My Tribe also gets reissued the same day.

Enya, The Memory of Trees, May 6

The Memory of Trees makes its first appearance on vinyl with this reissue, which also sees the return of Watermark and Shepherd Moons.

The Killers, Hot Fuss, June 17

Have you seen the resale value of the original vinyl release of this album? We’re talking triple digits.

Sonic Youth, Murray Street, June 17

Amazon originally listed April 22 as a release date, but now it’s changed to June 17.

LeAnn Rimes, Blue, July 8

People were awed by how much the teenaged LeAnn Rimes sounded like Patsy Cline at the time this album was released. I remember playing it on the stereo at the student newspaper office in college. For some reason, we were all really into it.

Duran Duran, Duran Duran (The Wedding Album), Sept. 23

I still haven’t seen much corroboration for this reissue. I don’t even think the band knows it’s being planned. Amazon originally listed Feb. 12 as a release date, but it came and went without a single copy in sight. I would be a lot more anxious for this reissue, but I dropped a pretty penny for a used copy of a Korean issue.

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Vinyl find: 10,000 Maniacs, Secrets of the I Ching

[10,000 Maniacs - Secrets of the I Ching]

At the height of my craze for 10,000 Maniacs — circa 1988-1990 — I learned about the band’s pre-major label releases, Human Conflict Number Five and Secrets of the I Ching. All the interviews the band held up to that point pretty much indicated finding copies of these albums would be nigh impossible.

Elektra Records reissued both releases as Hope Chest: The Fredonia Recordings in 1990. Back then, I had this perception that a band’s first albums retroactively represented how they sounded before they signed to a label. Hope Chest corrected that notion pretty quickly.

The jangly folk-rock that marked the Maniacs sound was in a nebulous state on these early recordings. Rob Buck did some pretty experimental stuff with his guitar before settling on his recognizable style of playing. Merchant, still a teen at the time, had none of the confidence that emerged on The Wishing Chair and In My Tribe.

Hope Chest wasn’t impressive. The band sounded deflated, and reviews of the compilation hinted that Elektra meddled needlessly in remixing the material. When Rhino released the career retrospective, Campfire Songs, most of the early recordings were taken from Hope Chest and not The Wishing Chair. I found that disappointing.

Fast forward 25 years, and during one of my record shop visits, I found a vinyl copy of Secrets of the I Ching.

The reviews were right.

The Hope Chest remix drained the punchiness of Secrets of the I Ching. Merchant’s reticence comes across as more demure, and the post-punk vibe in band’s playing come through in greater detail. Hope Chest smoothed these rough edges much to their detriment.

Now that I’ve heard what Hope Chest originally sounded like, I’m a lot more curious about Human Conflict Number Five.

I doubt the clock can be turned back on a future archival release — if there is one — but these early mixes deserve a wider audience. The tougher sound on Secrets of the I Ching makes far more sense as a precursor to The Wishing Chair than Hope Chest had indicated.

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Looking ahead, April-July 2015

[Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free]

Part of me still misses ICE Magazine, the publication dedicated to reporting on new releases and reissues. Super Deluxe Edition has done a good job recapturing the kind of reporting that went into ICE. I’ve adjusted to using Pause and Play for tracking new releases, but sometimes, I get more relevant information from the personalization features on Discogs.

ICE launched in the early ’90s to track compact disc releases. It ended publication just as the download market ate into CD sales. If a similar publication were to launch today, it would probably report on which artists have made their content exclusive on which streaming service. And vinyl. Talk about turnabout being fair play.

10,000 Maniacs, Twice Told Tales, April 28

This latest incarnation of 10,000 Maniacs brings Mary Ramsey back into the fold and welcomes a guitarist who also doubles on vocals. For this album, the Maniacs reach for the roots, covering the traditional music that has informed their sound.

Roomful of Teeth, Render, April 28

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I had the temerity to stick with my composition studies in college. It might have sounded like the stuff happening in Brooklyn with the likes of Roomful of Teeth, So Percussion and Alarm Will Sound.

Takaakira Goto, Classical Punk and Echoes Under Beauty, May 5

Taka wrote this album around the time MONO started getting orchestral. I’ve enjoyed the rougher sound of Rays of Darkness too much to want to go back in time.

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, The Traveling Kind, May 12

Brian Ahrens didn’t produce this second duet album, but Harris and Crowell wanted The Traveling Kind to reflect where they are as artists now. It’s hard not to have high expectations.

Deebs/Jarrell Perry, Shift, May 19

A lot of attention will focus on the second album by Frank Ocean, but for my money, Jarrell Perry does a far more adventurous job pushing the edges of R&B.

Faith No More, Sol Invictus, May 19

Yeah, yeah, insert grumbling about Jim Martin’s lack of involvement here. I’m still curious.

NOW Ensemble, Dreamfall, May 26

See above about labelmates Roomful of Teeth.

Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free, July 17

Damn, Jason Isbell is looking mighty fine on that cover photo. I couldn’t get enough of Southeastern, so I’ve spent the last few months devouring his 2011 album Here We Rest. Now a new set is just going to keep this jones going.

Frank Ocean, Boys Don’t Cry, July 2015

Hey, Frank, could you convince Universal Music to put out a decent vinyl issue of channel ORANGE as well? Thanks.

Duran Duran, TBD, September 2015

Not since Colin Thurston has Duran Duran worked with the same producer twice. Mark Ronson brought out not just the vintage sound of Duran Duran but also the unmistakable essence of a Duran Duran song. Here’s hoping the latter gets retained if the former evolves.

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