Play this album next to Janet Jackson’s Control, and you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking they were born in the same era. Sam Sparro evokes the R&B sound of the 80s with such affection it makes me nostalgic for a style of music against which I actively rebelled at the time.
The Damned, Machine Gun Etiquette
I picked this album up at the thrift shop solely on the reputation of providing the name for Japanese garage rock band Thee Michelle Gun Elephant. And I don’t really like Thee Michelle Gun Elephant. But I do like this album quite a lot.
Jay Som, Anak Ko
I heard this album playing at Sonic Boom around the time of its release. I had intended to listen to it in full on a streaming service when I got home. That never happened. Nearly a year later, I snagged a copy at the thrift shop.
Andy Gibb, Shadow Dancing
This album probably came to symbolize what sucked about disco, but I don’t think it’s been given its due credit. There is some fine writing on this album, and its commercial success shouldn’t be a knock against it.
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.
Our retrospective ends at 1978 because my collection starts thinning out at this point. I was 6 years old at the time and just starting to become aware of songs on the radio. Of course, nothing on this list would have appealed to 6-year-old me.
Steve Reich, Music for 18 Musicians
Brian Eno, Ambient 1: Music for Airports
Kate Bush, The Kick Inside
Emmylou Harris, Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town
Blondie, Parallel Lines
Andrew Lloyd Webber, Variations
Andy Gibb, Shadow Dancing
Willie Nelson, Stardust
Kate Bush, Lionheart
The Police, Outlandos d’Amour
Other favorites from the year:
Clannad, In Concert
Rap Reiplinger, Poi Dog
I loved Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”, but when my dad saw her perform on Solid Gold, he hated her on sight. “She looks drugged,” he would complain, so I wasn’t allowed to listen to Blondie. That didn’t stop my brother from picking up the 7-inch singles for “The Tide Is High” and “Rapture.”
I can only imagine what dad would have said if he saw Kate Bush dancing in “Wuthering Heights.”
If any album on this list would have appealed to 6-year-old me, it would be Rap Reiplinger’s Poi Dog. Local radio played Reiplinger’s skits regularly, and I enjoyed hearing “Room Service” over and over again.
I didn’t realize those skits were available on an album. I thought only radio could broadcast them, so it wasn’t until Poi Dog was reissued on CD in 1992 that I could relive that thrill.
Reiplinger forged the Honolulu stand-up comic scene, and it died when he did in 1984. Or maybe it was the humorlessness of the 1980s.