My Life In Music, Part Two - The '80s
...because it beats the hell out of talking about baseball today.
This is a continuation of my Friday musical odyssey spanning 1973-2000 (see below or click here).
1980: These early 80's years were a little tough for me, seeing as how I am a fan of neither punk nor new wave. So I'll start off the 1980's with the kick-ass soundtrack to the Blues Brothers. A fine film, to be sure, but a great collection of R&B numbers give this soundtrack the top slot.
Bonus observation: I hate Illinois Nazis.
1981: Have to go with the Police's terrific Ghost in the Machine record. The're one of the coolest bands ever created, and this is the album where I think they moved beyond just amp-ed up reggae and into more sophisticated, keyboard-based stuff. The first three tracks (Spirits, Every Little Thing, and Invisible Sun) are just devastating. Devastating.
Bonus observation: Man, remember when Sting was actually hip?
1982: No contest here. Bruce Springsteen's stark, stripped-down "Nebraska" is among my favorite albums of all time. The lyrics to "My Father's House" and "State Trooper" still make my hair stand on end.
Bonus observation: Apparently this was just intended to be a demo tape, but Bruce went ahead and just released it as is, with just voice, guitar and harmonica. To hell with over-production!
1983: I was strongly tempted to go with the Police's "Synchronicity" here, but how can I possibly overlook Def Leppard's "Pyromania"? I think this was right around the same time I started piano lessons, and I actually asked my teacher if I could learn "Rock of Ages." Can't remember if that ever came to fruition.
Bonus observation: Shit...it's kinda hard to look at that album cover now, isn't it?
1984: Stevie Ray Vaughan, "Couldn't Stand the Weather." It may not even be his best album, but it's a damned good one and I couldn't let this decade go by without acknowledging the man who's came the closest to Jimi Hendrix as anyone possibly could. R.I.P.
Bonus observation: You want to see some guitar playing? Check out this video from his performance at El Mocambo from 1983. Oh. My. God.
1985: Dire Straits, "Brothers in Arms." Not a huge Dire Straits fan, but I remember I had this baby on casette tape in junior high. A great effort whose sales undoubtedly benefitted from the non-stop MTV exposure of "Money for Nothing."
Bonus observation: Check out the video for "Walk of Life," featuring baseball bloopers. In retrospect, what the hell was that all about?
1986: The Mets were winning the World Series, and yours truly was digging Paul Simon's superb "Graceland" album. Highlights include anything involving Ladysmith Black Mumbazo.
Bonus observation: Graceland, Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee, I'm goin' to Graceland.
1987: Unlike the vast majority of my Gen-X brethren, I am going pass over that ode to misogyny and homophobia also known as "Appetite for Destruction" in favor of U2's exquisite "The Joshua Tree." Clearly the crown jewel of the year.
Bonus observation: I have never actually owned a copy of this album. Go figure.
1988: The Traveling Wilburys, "Vol. I." Gosh, I loved this album. Haven't heard it in many a year, but I need to seek it out again.
Bonus observation: Where else are you gonna hear Bob Dylan and Tom Petty singing a chorus in unison? Coolness factor: Off the charts.
1989: Ah hah, here we have our first rap/hip-hop entry. You can keep your Public Enemy and your Tribe Called Quest. For my money, any discussion of the best rap album of the 1980's begins and ends with the Beastie Boys' "Paul's Boutique." Hilarious lyrics, great rhymes, and a pu-pu platter of samples that gets crazier every time you listen to it. I defy anyone to put on "Shake Your Rump," and then NOT immediately listen to "Johnny Rayall," "Egg Man," "High Plains Drifter" and "The Sounds of Science" all in a row. It's physically impossible.
Bonus observation: Here is a tremendous website that dissects each and every sample you hear on the whole record. Incredible.
Stay tuned for the final installment!