I remember seeing Guadalcanal Diary albums filed in a section of Jelly’s Books and Music reserved for “modern rock”, the precursor of “alternative rock” that would distinguish itself from “classic rock”. I wouldn’t explore the band’s albums till nearly 30 years later. Of their four albums released in the ’80s, 2 x 4 is one of the two essentials, the other being Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man.
Perfume Genius, No Shape
I’ve stayed away from Perfume Genius because the 30-second samples I’d hear of various tracks made me conclude I’d be bored at full-length. No Shape garnered a lot of favorable press in 2018, and the thrift store price point convinced me to jump in. I’m glad I did.
Robert Palmer, Secrets
You should own this album for “Doctor, Doctor” alone, but like the rest of Palmer’s early output, this album is reliably funky.
SUPER JUNKY MONKEY, AIETOH
SUPER JUNKY MONKEY albums can get intense for their length, so this four-track EP is the perfect encapsulation of the band. I grabbed this release from the Evil Sharing Networks in the early 2000s and pined for the day I could afford to order it from overseas. Nearly 20 years later, I would get it on Amazon Marketplace for under $5.
Toto IV gets most of the accolades, and while Hydra didn’t capture the mind share of its predecessor, it has some solid tracks, including one of my favorite Toto singlse, “99.”
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.
Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George
The Replacements, Let It Be
Andersson / Rice / Ulvaeus, Chess
Art of Noise, Who’s Afraid of? … the Art of Noise!
Madonna, Like a Virgin
Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain
Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA
Arvo Pärt, Tabula Rasa
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.