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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1981

[Go Gos - Beauty and the Beat]

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.

If there were a year I was least interested in music, it would be 1981. And it was a remarkable turn of events, because I had amassed quite a 7-inch collection the year before.

  1. Duran Duran, Duran Duran
  2. Lou Harrison, Three Pieces for Gamelan with Soloists / String Quartet Set
  3. Eurythmics, In the Garden
  4. U2, October
  5. The Police, Ghost in the Machine
  6. ABBA, The Visitors
  7. Black Flag, Damaged
  8. Brian Eno and David Byrne, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
  9. Bucker and Garcia, Pac-Man Fever
  10. Rick Springfield, Working Class Dog

Other favorites from the year:

  • Go-Go’s, Beauty and the Beat
  • Gang of Four, Solid Gold
  • Grace Jones, Nightclubbing

1981 marked the start of my fascination with the classic video games of the era. I would also take an interest in computers and programming. My parents actively discouraged me from pursuing either interest, but it would not stop me from sneaking away to the arcade when we went to the local malls.

That didn’t mean I was totally unaware of music. Of the titles on this list, I would have listened to the Police, ABBA, Rick Springfield, the Go-Go’s and Buckner and Garcia. And I would have definitely seen Grace Jones in the press.

If there was one album I really wanted to get at the time, it would have been Pac-Man Fever by Buckner and Garcia, mostly for the maze patterns on the inner sleeve that would have help you to win the game.

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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: 1984

[Thompson Twins - Into the Gap]

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.

And now we enter some new territory. I didn’t start collecting music in earnest till 1985, and I wouldn’t start exploring catalog music till 2005. Raiding thrift shops has allowed me to fill in a lot of history, which is why were expanding the range of this retrospective to as far back as 1978. Today, we start with 1984.

  1. Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George
  2. The Replacements, Let It Be
  3. Soundtrack, Amadeus
  4. Andersson / Rice / Ulvaeus, Chess
  5. Art of Noise, Who’s Afraid of? … the Art of Noise!
  6. Madonna, Like a Virgin
  7. Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain
  8. Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA
  9. Arvo Pärt, Tabula Rasa
  10. Thompson Twins, Into the Gap

Other favorites from the year:

  • Guadalcanal Diary, Walking in the Shadows of the Big Man
  • Nena, 99 Luftballons
  • Eurythmics, 1984 (For the Love of Big Brother)
  • Sade, Diamond Life

I was much more into arcade video games — the classic era of Pac-Man and Galaga — than music in 1984. The only album I owned from that time is 99 Luftballons. Everything else I would discover later.

My 12-year-old self would not have known what to make of the Replacements or Arvo Pärt. He would have scoffed and wretched over the idea that Madonna or Prince could rank on such a list. They were his brother’s albums, after all.

He certainly did not have the sophistication or patience for two LPs of Mozart, although he might have really liked watching Amadeus.

And he would have definitely protested the inclusion of Bruce Springsteen on the list, all the while gazing lustily after the cover of Born in the USA.

He would have totally understood the Thompson Twins, though.

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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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Purchase log, 2018-11-20

[Hajime Chitose - Hajime Uta]

I catalog my music purchases on Collectorz and Discogs, but they don’t give me a sense of change over time. So I’m noting them here weekly as well.

New releases

CD
  • Hajime Chitose, Hajime Uta ~Hajime Chitose Amami Shimauta-shuu~
  • Midnight Oil, Armistice Day: Live at the Domain, Sydney

Catalog

CD
  • ABC, Absolutely
  • Brooklyn Rider, Spontaneous Symbols
  • Dead Can Dance, Spleen and Ideal
  • Franz Josef Hadyn, String Quartets, Op. 20 “Sun”, 1-3 (Kodály Quartet)
  • Franz Josef Hadyn, String Quartets, Op. 20 “Sun”, 4-6 (Kodály Quartet)
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor, F# A# ∞
  • Scissor Sisters, Ta-Dah
  • The Notwist, Neon Golden
  • The Rustavi Choir, Georgian Voices
Vinyl
  • Olivia Newton-John, Physical
  • Renée Fleming, Dark Hope
  • The Pointer Sisters, Break Out

Reissues

CD
  • Art of Noise, In No Sense? Nonsense! (Deluxe Edition)
  • Fastball, All the Pain Money Can Buy (Deluxe Edition)
Vinyl
  • Eurythmics, Peace
  • Fastball, All the Pain Money Can Buy (Deluxe Edition)

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Looking ahead: March-April 2018

[Tracey Thorn - Record]

The release calendar is thinning out for me, which isn’t to say it’s not picking up.

Do As Infinity, ALIVE, Feb. 28

It’s been so long since I’ve paid attention to Do As Infinity that I almost didn’t recognize Owatari Ryo without the spiky blonde highlights. I still have a soft spot for this band. I don’t know why.

Tracey Thorn, Record, March 2

We’ve had two Ben Watt albums, so it’s high time for Tracey Thorn to offer a third post-EBTG disc. Also, is she a fan of the Art of Noise? Because that cover looks familiar.

[Art of Noise - In Visible Silence LP inner sleeve]

ART-SCHOOL, In Colors, March 7

I fell off the ART-SCHOOL bandwagon when it became apparent the years have eroded Kinoshita Riki’s voice.

THE BACK HORN, Joukei Dorobou, March 7

I shouldn’t be surprised THE BACK HORN has been around 20 years when Cocco celebrated the 20th anniversary of her debut. Utada Hikaru and Shiina Ringo are only a year away from theirs.

Perfume, “Mugen Mirai”, March 14

The last two singles weren’t terribly impressive. Have we reached peak Perfume? I’m probably one of the few people who liked COSMIC EXPLORER.

ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, BEST HIT AKG 2, March 28
ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, BEST HIT AKG Official Bootleg “HONE”, March 28
ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, BEST HIT AKG Official Bootleg “IMO”, March 28

This second volume of greatest hits from ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION covers the albums from Landmark to Sol-Fa 2016. The official bootlegs bring together tracks compiled by Goto Masafumi on playlists published on the AKG blog. I think I’m covered.

Kylie Minogue, Golden, April 6

What little press I’ve encountered about this album made a big deal of the fact it was recorded in Nashville. I can’t say Nashville strikes me as diverse a music scene as Austin or Seattle, but the city has a music infrastructure that can absolutely accommodate Kylie.

Royal Wood, Ever After Farewell, April 6 (Canada)

Royal Wood also recorded his new album in Nashville, but his style of music is a natural fit for the city. I’m just hoping I don’t have to wait another year for an international release.

Vinyl

Annie Lennox, Diva, March 2

I’m ambivalent about this album, and yet I’m pretty sure I’m going to pick it up on release day. That is the draw of Annie Lennox’s voice.

Art of Noise, In Visible Silence (Deluxe Edition), March 2

I do not need to buy another copy of this album on vinyl.
I do not need to buy another copy of this album on vinyl.
I do not need to buy another copy of this album on vinyl.

Nakamori Akina, NEW AKINA Etrangér, May 2
Nakamori Akina, Fushigi, July 4
Nakamori Akina, CRUISE, July 4
Nakamori Akina, Cross My Palm, July 4

These vinyl reissues were announced last year, then summarily canceled. I’m most interested in Fushigi and CRUISE, but I get the impression I could save cash seeking out second-hand copies. I did find NEW AKINA Etrangér at Everyday Music, though.

Eurythmics, Peace, Oct. 28

Eurythmics vinyl reissues are scheduled throughout the year, but I snatched up original pressings the first time around. Peace, however, is the 1999 reunion album that has never been issued on vinyl.

 

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45 Albums for 45 Years: A Birthday Retrospective (1980s)

[The Art of Noise - In Visible Silence]

In 1987, I turned 15 years old, an age when music discovery exerted its strongest pull. The same Spotify analysis that charted music tastes over time claims most teen-agers highly identify with popular titles. Had the same study been done when I was a teen, I probably would have been an outlier point.

Kronos Quartet, Black Angels

The first Kronos Quartet album I purchased was Winter Was Hard, and it was something of a Reader’s Digest for modern classical music. Then Black Angels followed, and it exploded my perception of what music could be.

John Zorn, Naked City

I was a pissed-off teen for a lot of reasons, most of them mundane. But it gave me drive to find music that would alienate everyone around me, and the howls of Yamantaka Eye and John Zorn fit the bill nicely.

In Tua Nua, The Long Acre

This album introduced me to the idea that popularity is not the same thing as merit. I couldn’t find a filler track anywhere on this album, and the confrontational “The Innocent and the Honest Ones” mirrored my own dissatisfaction with being raised in a monotheistic culture. It should have been a hit, but mostly, you’ll find it in the 99 cent bins.

U2, The Joshua Tree

U2 had to score a number one album in order for radio stations in Hawaii to pay attention. I knew about the band beforehand but hadn’t taken the plunge till I saw the video for “With or Without You.”

Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Phantom of the Opera

Andrew Lloyd Webber gets a lot of flack for his signature hit tunes, but for a young burgeoning composer, his scores are incredibly instructional. I’ve yet to encounter another pop writer who can make a hook out of an atonal melody.

The Art of Noise, In Visible Silence

Before I learned about Kronos Quartet, John Zorn or Andrew Lloyd Webber, I encountered the Art of Noise. I would later learn (Who’s Afraid Of …?) The Art of Noise! had some bonafide songcraft, but its follow-up, In Visible Silence, essentially jettisoned all that.

Arcadia, So Red the Rose

Of the two Duran Duran splinter projects from 1985, Arcadia hews closest to the parent band and engenders the most sentiment from long-time fans.

Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George

Sunday in the Park with George arrived at time in my life when I was just starting to learn about modern classical music. I looked to Lloyd Webber to bridge my interests in classical and pop musics, and I turned to Sondheim to go further into modernism.

Eurythmics, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

I loved Eurythmics singles, but their albums tended to have quite a bit of filler. Sweet Dreams is the deserved obvious choice, but Savage and In the Garden deserve some props.

Duran Duran, Rio

This tops my Desert Island Disc list, so of course, it’s going to be here.

Wendy Carlos, TRON Original Soundtrack

I listened to this soundtrack to death because I loved the computer graphics of the movie. It wasn’t till much later that I discovered how rich Carlos’ harmonic language was. This soundtrack pretty much planted the seed that would be nourished by the Art of Nosie, Kronos Quartet, John Zorn and classical music after 1900.

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Looking ahead: January 2017-March 2017

The moment I announced I’m taking a break, a whole bunch of new releases appear on the schedule. I’d be remiss not to preview them.

Royal Wood, Ghost Light, Jan. 27

Ghost Light was released in Canada back in April 2016, but an international release had to wait till now. The cover for this edition — Wood in silhouette — matches the title, but I prefer the Canadian cover because Wood looks hotter in a t-shirt.

Sleater-Kinney, Live in Paris, Jan. 27

I’m still kicking myself for missing the band’s three-night run in Seattle.

Onitsuka Chihiro, Syndrome, Feb. 1

I haven’t paid much attention to Onitsuka Chihiro since her lackluster cover album FAMOUS MICROPHONE. So it was a surprise to find out she’s on yet another new label, and she released an independent album with a band in 2014.

Deee-Lite, World Clique (Deluxe Edition), March 3

Yeah, it’s about time this album got the reissue treatment.

George Michael, Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1 (Deluxe Edition), March 3

I’ll deal with George Michael’s untimely death in a future entry. I didn’t pick up this album till after I heard the news, and I can understand both the initial underwhelming reception and its subsequent critical acclaim.

Cocco, 20 Shuunen Request Best + Rare Track, March 21

What? I’ve been listening to Cocco for 20 years now?

Vinyl

The Old 97s, Too Far to Care, Jan. 13

When I first started buying up vinyl in 2013, I considered getting the reissue of Too Far to Care. I decided against it because I wanted to track down titles preceding the CD era first. By the time I was ready to get it, all the copies had been snatched up. I snagged a used copy two weeks before I saw Music on Vinyl would reissue the original album without the bonus tracks. *sigh*

MONO, Under the Pipal Tree, Jan. 20

I don’t think MONO really topped this debut album till Hymn to the Immortal Wind.

Madonna, The Immaculate Collection (Colored Vinyl), Jan. 24

Am I really going to drop cash on a compilation where I have most of the tracks on other vinyl releases? Evidently.

Eurythmics, Greatest Hits, Jan. 27

I still have all the Eurythmics albums I bought back in the ’80s. I only had to flesh out my collection with In the Garden and We Too Are One.

Madonna, Confessions on the Dance Floor, Jan. 31

This album was really welcome after a pair of back-to-back disappointments with Music and American Life.

Eluvium, Copia, Feb. 3

I would be so on board with a reissue of An Accidental Memory in Case of Death.

Duran Duran, The Wedding Album, Feb. 10

Let’s see if this release date sticks. I think it’ll have been nearly a year since this reissue popped up on the schedule.

John Zorn, Spy Vs. Spy: Music of Ornette Coleman, March 3

I found an original Nonesuch pressing of this album many months back, but it’s a definite recommendation for anyone who loves Naked City.

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