I bet the metal fans hate this album. Since I’m more of a post-rock / shoegazer fan, I find it brilliant. Also, gutsy. It takes bravery to risk change that alienates a portion of your fan base.
I sold this album when cash got short, but “Foolish” is one of those songs that just pop into my head for no reason. So on a recent trip to the thrift shop, I welcomed this album back in my collection and discovered how well it’s held up since its release. Yeah, it’s a bit long — as albums of the CD era are wont to do — but the best bits overshadow the filler.
Gang of Four, 77-81
This sprawling boxed set of Gang of Four’s first two albums contains a full live album, an EP of singles and a cassette tape of early demos.
I bought the vinyl version back in March, but I also wanted to pick up the CD boxed set as well. The packaging is stark but beautiful. My only objection is the digital downloads that accompany the CD set. The sides of the digitized cassette are not broken down by track. But I have to admit, that is punk as fuck.
Jam and Lewis, Volume 1
Yeah, it’s about damn time Jam and Lewis took top billing. There are singers of whom I probably would never have heard if they hadn’t worked with Jam and Lewis.
Cyndi Lauper, True Colors
Similar to ZZ Top’s Afterburner, True Colors followed an immensely popular album, and while its predecessor had more hits, this album is the better collection of songs. Despite incredibly corporate covers of the title tracks in subsequent years, the original has some daring arrangement choices, particularly the fake ending with just percussion, an underrated technique in pop production.
Jeff Mangum, Live at Jittery Joe’s
If you are a fan of On Avery Island or In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, there is little you’ll find objectionable on this solo live album.
Camper Van Beethoven / Cracker, The Virgin Years
The compilation was only made available as a promo, but it’s one that ought to get an official release. As the title indicates, it compiles tracks from two Camper Van Beethoven albums and two Cracker albums, all released by Virgin in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
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.
Eurythmics, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
Clannad, Magical Ring
U2, Live Under a Blood Red Sky
David Bowie, Let’s Dance
Duran Duran, Seven and the Ragged Tiger
Huey Lewis and the News, Sports
The Police, Synchronicity
10,000 Maniacs, Secrets of the I Ching
The Waitresses, Bruiseology
Other favorites from the year:
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.