Content tagged '80s'
Upstairs at Eric's (Album of the Day)
Between stints with Depeche Mode and Erasure, keyboardist Vince Clarke teamed with soulful singer Alison Moyet to form Yazoo. The British synth-poppers (known as Yaz in the U.S.) quickly became dancefloor favorites with such songs as “Don't Go,” which got plenty of airtime on the then-new MTV. It's the lead-off track to the duo's 1982 debut UPSTAIRS AT ERIC'S, which also includes the U.K. hit “Only You” and such distinctive recordings as “Bad Connection” and “Winter Kills.” Produced by Eric Radcliffe (whose studio inspired the title), the album rose to the No.2 spot on the U.K. album chart and was one of the first to successfully combine electronica and R&B, influencing such hitmakers as Deee-Lite and the Pet Shop Boys. Vince Clarke celebrates a birthday today, and in his honor, we'll spend a little time UPSTAIRS AT ERIC'S.
Images And Words (Album of the Day)
Few bands fused prog rock and heavy metal more brilliantly than Dream Theater, and IMAGES AND WORDS just might be their masterpiece. The Boston quintet's first album for Atco was also their first with James LaBrie at the microphone, and his wide-ranging tenor meshes perfectly with the Berklee-trained instrumentalists playing behind him. From MTV favorite “Pull Me Under” to epics like “Metropolis - Part I: 'The Miracle and the Sleeper'” and “Learning to Live,” these songs are intricate and ambitious without ever losing the listener. Released 25 years ago today, the Gold-certified IMAGES AND WORDS remains Dream Theater's most commercially successful set, and a true progressive metal landmark.
Madonna (Album of the Day)
Released this month in 1983, Madonna's self-titled Sire Records debut brought dance music out of the doghouse to which it had been consigned since the last days of disco. Cut with remixer/producer Jellybean Benitez, the collection reflects the sounds of New York's trendiest clubs, with the latest synthesizers and drum machines prominent in the mix, though there are plenty of old-school hooks in these songs - “Holiday” and Top 10 singles “Borderline” and “Lucky Star” would've been hits in any era. Add in the singer's girlish appeal (and tireless work ethic), and the set's 10 million worldwide sales become inevitable. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly named MADONNA one of the ten best albums of the previous quarter-century, and even a cursory listen makes the point tough to argue.
The Envoy (Album of the Day)
Warren Zevon's final album for Elektra Records, THE ENVOY, delivered another dose of the edgy intelligence and sardonic humor that were the singer-songwriter's trademarks. Recorded with such top session players as guitarist Waddy Wachtel and bassist Leland Sklar, along with famous friends including Lindsey Buckingham, Don Henley and Graham Nash, the performances are as sharp as the lyrics on these nine originals. Drug dealers (“Charlie's Medicine”), shuttle diplomats (the title track) and Elvis Presley (“Jesus Mentioned”) are among the many fascinating characters - and perhaps stand-ins for personal demons - peopling the 1982 collection. THE ENVOY was released 35 years ago this month, and it's an excellent reminder of how much Warren Zevon's distinctive voice is missed these days.
Ain't Love Grand (Deluxe) (Album of the Day)
Released 32 years ago this month, AIN'T LOVE GRAND is as sarcastic a title as you're likely to find in the X discography - released just after singer-songwriters Exene and John Doe got divorced, the Elektra collection is filled with emotional turmoil. The set proved transitional in other ways, too, being the final studio album with original guitarist Billy Zoom. And after four albums produced by Ray Manzarek, the quartet brought '80s metal specialist Michael Wagener behind the boards for these sessions. For all the changes, the songwriting remains as brilliant as ever, with highlights including “What's Wrong With Me,” “My Goodness” and minor hit “Burning House Of Love” (which earned the group an appearance on TV's American Bandstand). The Deluxe Edition of AIN'T LOVE GRAND adds four bonus tracks, including demo and extended versions of album cuts and a cover of The Replacements' “I Will Dare.”
Ride The Lightning (Album of the Day)
With their second studio album, lightning struck for Metallica – released on this day in 1984, RIDE THE LIGHTNING would earn the band a label deal with Elektra and set them on the path to heavy metal stardom. Cut in Copenhagen, Denmark with co-producer Flemming Rasmussen, the collection was a major step forward from the quartet's debut; the arrangements display greater harmonic complexity, and James Hetfield's lyrics have broadened in scope to touch upon social issues including the terrors of modern war (“For Whom The Bell Tolls”) and capital punishment (the title track). Metallica's bold sonic experimentation was all the more impressive given that the band's gear had been stolen three weeks before they hit Denmark, and tour commitments gave them less than a month in the studio. Despite these hurdles, RIDE THE LIGHTNING went on to become a thrash metal milestone.
Crocodiles (Album of the Day)
Echo and the Bunnymen's superb debut, CROCODILES, had one foot in the past and one in the future; while listeners could detect the influence of '60s psychedelia and bands like The Doors, the 1980 album was also steeped in the darkness and anguish for which goth and post-punk would soon be known. Its dozen songs were exceptionally strong, and featured the group's first two singles (a rerecorded “Pictures On My Wall” and “Rescue”) and soon-to-be concert staple “Do It Clean” (which had been left off the original U.K. pressing in the mistaken belief that it contained expletives). Ian McCulloch is in fine voice throughout, and Will Sergeant's playing makes him a clear contender for most underrated guitarist of the 1980s. Britain's NME named CROCODILES one of the decade's 50 greatest albums, and we're hard-pressed to disagree...
Break Every Rule (Album of the Day)
BREAK EVERY RULE was the title of Tina Turner's sixth solo album, but it might also have described her approach to music – there weren't a lot of R&B singers successfully submitting videos to MTV two decades into their career. This follow-up to her comeback smash PRIVATE DANCER will please fans of that earlier collection while throwing in a few new curves; trusty hitmakers Graham Lyle and Terry Britten produced half the set while luminaries including Rupert Hine, Bryan Adams and Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler helmed the other (additional famous friends like Steve Winwood and Phil Collins lend instrumental support). The 1986 collection spun off a string of memorable singles - “Typical Male,” “What You Get Is What You See" and “Two People” among them – driving BREAK EVERY RULE to platinum sales status.
PANORAMA (EXPANDED EDITION) (Album of the Day)
The Cars returned in the summer of 1980 with PANORAMA, which became the band's third consecutive platinum album and peaked at #3 on the Billboard album chart. Boasting a darker, more experimental tone than its predecessors, the album became a fan favorite thanks to songs like "Touch And Go," "Up And Down," and "Gimme Some Slack." Now in stores, an Expanded Edition of the Elektra collection builds on the original album's 10 songs with four bonus tracks. They include the B-side "Don't Go To Pieces," as well as unreleased songs like "Shooting For You," and "Be My Baby." With liner notes by writer David Wild including reminisces from Cars keyboardist Greg Hawkes, PANORAMA:EXPANDED EDITION offers the broadest look ever at this New Wave pacesetter.
Learning to Crawl (Expanded & Remastered) (Album of the Day)
The loss of a lead guitarist and a bassist in less than a year would have destroyed many bands, but Pretenders bounced back from tragedy with LEARNING TO CRAWL. The 1984 Sire set includes a magnificent tribute to the late James Honeyman-Scott in “Back On The Chain Gang” (a Top 10 hit), but the bulk of the ten tracks show the band looking forward rather than backward. With producer Chris Thomas returning to the helm, frontwoman Chrissie Hynde came up with some of her best songs, ranging from fiery rockers (“Middle of the Road,” “My City Was Gone”) to tender balladry (Christmastime classic “2000 Miles”), with an ace cover of The Persuaders' “Thin Line Between Love and Hate” to round out the set. More than a triumph over adversity, the platinum-certified LEARNING TO CRAWL stands among the very best Pretenders albums, and today we'll give it another spin in honor of Hynde's birthday.