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Favorite Edition Rewind: 1986

[Nakamori Akina - Fushigi]

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.

In 2008, my collection tapered off with releases before 1987. I went so far as to call 1986 an uninteresting year. I’ve since had time to explore the year in greater depth.

  1. The Art of Noise, In Visible Silence
  2. Janet Jackson, Control
  3. Soundtrack, Megazone 23 Song Collection
  4. Paul Simon, Graceland
  5. XTC, Skylarking
  6. The Smiths, The Queen is Dead
  7. Prince & the Revolution, Parade
  8. Nakamori Akina, Fushigi
  9. Duran Duran, Notorious
  10. Club Nouveau, Life, Love and Pain

Other favorites from the year:

  • Anita Baker, Rapture
  • Bananarama, True Confessions
  • Fishbone, In Your Face
  • Run DMC, Raising Hell
  • Peter Gabriel, So
  • John Adams, Harmonielehre
  • Enya, Enya
  • Dwight Yoakam, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc.
  • R.E.M., Lifes Rich Pageant
  • Pet Shop Boys, Please
  • Kronos Quartet, Music of Sculthorpe, Sallinen, Glass, Nancarrow, Hendrix
  • The Human League, Crash

If you told Younger Me that Older Me would like So and Raising Hell, Younger Me would wretch. At the time, Run DMC and Peter Gabriel were so ubiquitous, I felt I would never need to hear “Walk This Way” or “Sledgehamer” for the rest of my life.

One advantage of growing older is no longer caring about looking at all fashionable.

Younger Me would have been puzzled by the inclusion of Dwight Yoakam on the extended list, to which Older Me would have to tell Younger Me to wait 9 years.

Younger Me: Oh, I was wondering whether I should get that Human League album. Is it really that good?
Older Me: Yeah, but I don’t think you’d quite appreciate it at your station in life. Wait a few years.
Younger Me: Really? How many?
Older Me: 30.

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Vinyl find: The Human League, Crash

One of the first songs I learned to play on the piano was “Human” by the Human League, and I learned it out of a sense of survival.

“Human” was all over the radio in 1986, the year I graduated from eighth grade. I have no fond memories of junior high. I missed being placed in the honors class by a few test points, and the classmates with which I was placed didn’t appreciate my presence.

I was never physically harmed, but my social status was pretty obvious — I had none.

I didn’t have an aptitude for sports, and my school had no arts program. If I was going to turn things around in high school, I had to distinguish myself in some way.

So I learned how to play piano, and I learned popular music as a means to ingratiate myself.

It worked.

I knew I wouldn’t have impressed anyone with classical repertoire — not that I had developed sufficient skills to tackle it — but with songs you heard on the radio? I could at least not look too square.

I wasn’t looking to become popular — I was realistic enough to know that would be dead end — but I wanted to make myself a less-appealing target. My band teacher seized on my ability and kept me busy. Before long, people didn’t mess with me because I had a talent.

I never repaid the Human League this change in status by buying their album. I loved “Human”, but other singles from Crash failed to make a dent in the US. So I moved onto other music.

I picked up a vinyl copy of Crash more than 30 years later at the Lifelong Thrift Shop.

At that point in the band’s career, the Human League had difficulty following up some big hits from earlier in the 1980s. At the urging of their label, the band teamed up with Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam, the producers who helped Janet Jackson break through with Control.

The resulting album is more Jam and Lewis than Human League, but it’s a rare instance where American funk rubbed against an English art school aesthetic. It’s actually an appealing convergence that deserves multiple spins on the playback device.

If I had listened to the album at the time of its release, I might have found it likable, but I’m not sure I would have appreciated the meeting of Sheffield and Minneapolis.

Crash is not a well-regarded album, not even by the band. “Great experience,” Phil Oakley said about working with Jam and Lewis,”but it’s not our album.”

I’m not familiar enough with the band’s earlier work to know what qualifies as a “Human League” album, so that probably allows me to have a more forgiving perception of Crash.

It’s an anomaly, for sure, but one that ought to be re-evaluated and maybe appreciated anew.

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Purchase log, 2018-06-19

[NUMBER GIRL - Shibuya ROCKTRANSFORMED Joutai]

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.

Catalog

CD
  • Black Flag, Damaged
  • D’Angelo, Voodoo
  • GLAY, pure soul
  • Joni Mitchell, Blue
  • Joni Mitchell, The Hissing of Summer Lawns
  • The Beatles, Abbey Road
  • The Human League, Crash
Vinyl
  • Joni Mitchell, Blue
  • Joni Mitchell, The Hissing of Summer Lawns
  • Sade, Lovers Rock
  • Sade, Soldier of Love
Blu Ray
  • NUMBER GIRL, Shibuya ROCKTRANSFORMED Joutai
  • NUMBER GIRL, Kirorku Eizou LIVE 1999-2002

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Purchase log, 2018-03-27

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.

Catalog

CDs
  • 808 State, Ex:el
  • Carole King, Tapestry
  • Guadalcanal Diary, Flip-Flop
  • Shudder to Think, Pony Express Record
  • Squeeze, Babylon and On
  • Terence Trent D’arby, Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’arby
Vinyl
  • French Kaiser Frith Thompson, Live, Love, Larf & Loaf
  • The Human League, Crash

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