Living in the Eighties, Part Two
by Kristine England
And so we come to Part Two of my far from exhaustive, yet representative list of my picks of music from the 80s.
This band is so underrated. I’ve seen them live several times over the course of a few decades. Crazy Rhythms is simply one of the best of the early 80s NYC-area post-punk/pop albums and a perennial favorite of mine.
I just love Peter Zaremba. The sheer joy of watching this video (and hopefully making it too) is beyond words. Purveyors of American garage rock of the highest caliber, this is simply an incredible band. I would really like to download Hexbreaker (released only as an LP) since it’s one of my favorite records from the decade, but the sites that have downloads seem sketchy. Who the hell owns the IRS catalog? Reissue this!
"Right Side of a Good Thing"
Another band with political leanings, the Jam were a mod revival/punk band with a signature sound. Led by singer/songwriter/guitarist Paul Weller, the group was formed in 1972 and continued into the 80s. “A Town Called Malice” from 1982’s The Gift was a huge success. Then Weller shocked the music world by pulling the plug, eventually going solo and forming other groups like the Style Council.
"Town Called Malice"
The Jazz Butcher
A Scandal in Bohemia
The Jazz Butcher founder Pat Fish was a true original. The band had a rotating cast of characters, and the biggest character was Fish himself. Clever, witty songs with impeccable guitar-laden pop (the good kind of pop) over the course of 40 plus years will be an enduring legacy for the troubadour we lost in 2021.
"I Need Meat"
For a band that only existed for four years, Joy Division’s legacy is rather extraordinary. An early incarnation known as Warsaw, heavily influenced by Wire and the Velvet Underground, grew into a group that created its own signature sound and mythos (largely due to the song's gloomy ovettones and Ian Curtis’ suicide -- a unique voice gone far too soon).
Well, obviously “Eighties” provided the title for this piece, and I have always loved everything about this song. The guitar sound is killer, and Jaz’s vocals are angry, powerful, and right on the money.
King Crimson / The League of Gentlemen
The League of Gentlemen
Crimson might not immediately come to mind as an 80s band since its original incarnation dates back to 1968, and the group released much of its defining music during the 70s. But my favorite King Crimson album (Discipline) and Robert Fripp’s League of Gentlemen were both released in 1981 and both will always be in heavy rotation in my world.
The Psychedelic Furs
Talk Talk Talk
I played the shit out of the first three Psych Furs records (which I acquired one after the other in two short weeks because I REALLY liked them). “All of This and Nothing” was my favorite song for many years. I finally saw them live last year, and they didn’t disappoint.
"All of This and Nothing"
Chrissie Hynde was the coolest. She fled the midwest (Akron, OH) for London and worked at NME. She sang, played guitar, and was a part of the London punk scene. Living the Dream! Forming the Pretenders with James Honeyman-Scott (lead guitar, Pete Farndon, and Martin Chambers, she was an important role model for Gen X girls who wanted to rock along with the boys.
"Bad Boys Get Spanked"
I can’t really do an 80s list without including the Smiths. Music fans tend to fall into different camps with this band. Love the band, hate Morrissey but love Johnny Marr and various stops in between. There is so much incredible guitar work from Marr and plenty of great lyrics from Morrissey from back in the day. There’s a lot more to this band than “How Soon is Now” for the uninitiated.
"What Difference Does It Make?"