I don’t know if Taylor Swift has a Dirty Computer or Karuki Zaamen Kuri no Hana in her, but it feels like she’s tip-toeing in that direction. I doubt she’d ever go fully weird because her branding is too big to fail.
Judy Tenuta, Buy This, Pigs!
I’ve known about Judy Tenuta since high school, but my media consumption somehow managed never to cross paths with her stand-up. YouTube has since rectified that, and upon hearing the news of her passing, I felt compelled to seek out her comedy debut album, which has so far never been reissued on CD or fully digitized on a streaming platform.
Huey Lewis and the News, Picture This
Sports is the 800-pound gorilla in the Huey Lewis and the News oeuvre, but Picture This is no slouch either. I rather thank it’s been unfairly overshadowed by its immediate descendant.
Hajime Chitose, Shima Kyora Umui
It’s taken me 20 years to purchase an actual physical copy of this album. Hajime’s major label career has mostly ignored these earlier youthful recordings, but they’re super informative on her singing style, let alone how well she adapted it to a pop setting.
Royal Wood, What Tomorrow Brings
Wood calls this album the first he’s didn’t abandon, paraphrasing the quote: “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” It definitely shows. He makes some slight but adventurous tweaks to his sound, incorporating more synths and drum machines without losing his folk crooner vibe.
Miami Sound Machine, Primitive Love
The singles from this album were ubiquitous at the time, which dissuaded both my brother and me from staking claim on it. Enough time has passed to reveal those singles to be incredibly durable and fitting well with the album on the whole.
The Dismemberment Plan, Emergency & I
You kinda need to have this album if you remotely like Changes.
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.
I posted on Facebook that I owned some Huey Lewis and the News albums, and the reaction from my friends was surprise. How did a discriminating listener such as myself end up with perhaps some of the most milquetoast music from 1980s? (Those exact words weren’t used.)
I was honest — these purchases were purely hormone-driven. Huey Lewis was a sex symbol at the height of the News’ fame, and I wasn’t immune to his corn-fed good looks.
But what cinched the matter for me was the video for “I Want a New Drug.” It opens with Huey wearing nothing but his skivvies.
No, he doesn’t have the physique of similarly clad guys on Grindr or Scruff. In fact, far from it.
But a 12-year-old starting to waken to his attractions wouldn’t make so fine a distinction. He was a barely-dressed handsome man. That was enough.
My household had no cable television, so the fact I managed to see this video at all without the aid of MTV was pretty remarkable. A prime-time afternoon video show aired the clip, which I managed to capture on Betamax. (Yeah, Betamax.)
It was an incredibly rare occurrence for me to be alone in a house where five other people lived, so I couldn’t really give the video the repeat viewings I had wished.
Instead, I had to content myself with gazing at pictures that only hinted as his physique.
And I’ve done far worse than Huey Lewis where hormone-driven purchases are concerned. Nick Lachey? 98 Degrees? Check and check.
It won’t be the last time either. One of my favorite recent discoveries is Royal Wood, whose EP I downloaded based entirely on the cover:
Thankfully, Woods has turned out to be a very good singer-songwriter.