1. STEELY DAN: "GAUCHO"
The album that tops my Top 10 of 1980 is the classic album by Donald Fagen, Walter Becker and Co. This was the last album that the duo recorded before going their separate ways, until reuniting back in the 1990's. This album features some of their tastiest work, including "Hey, Nineteen", "Babylon Sisters", and the counter-culture classic, "Time Out of Mind". Steely Dan always finds their way to the top of my lists because of their impeccable detail in writing, performing and recording, thanks to producer Gary Katz, who has a reputation of taking up to a year in the studio, perfecting each and every sound.
2. RUSH: PERMANENT WAVES
What is it that I love about this album? Hurricane carnage? A woman flashing her panties? The fact that the names of each of the band members are cleverly placed in the artwork? No... it's simply the incredible collection of timeless songs. Although people are most familiar with the hit, "THE SPIRIT OF RADIO", it's probably one of my least favorite songs on the album. "Entre Nous", anyone? Yeah... I thought so.
3. CHEAP TRICK: "ALL SHOOK UP"
Many people may scoff about Cheap Trick continually placing high on my lists, but I have no apologies. Especially if you haven't actually listened to the albums. The early work of Cheap Trick has influenced countless musicians to entertain the masses, ever since Kurt Cobain helped change the face of music, back in the early 90's.
This particular album was produced by legendary Beatles' producer, Sir George Martin. Cheap Trick had often been compared to The Beatles in the fact their music was definitely influenced by The Fab Four, with sounds that were both melodic and easy to absorb, yet with depth that made it more than just Pop fluff. Because of those comparisons, it was no surprise when George Martin was asked to handle production. I still have a vivid memory of the day that I initially purchased this cassette tape, back in February, 1980. Perhaps it was the fact that I picked up the Sports Illustrated "swimsuit issue" the same day. Perhaps....
4. THE B-52's: "WILD PLANET"
If you asked me what B-52's album I liked most, the answer would be clear cut. It would be their sophomore effort, "WILD PLANET". I actually cite this album for inspiring my migration from a fan of Heavy Metal to the New Waver boy of West Valley City. I initially got a cassette copy of this album through the Columbia House record club. I was immediately sucked in by the quirkiness of their music, and took to broadcasting it to as many people as I possibly could... including my fellow Kennedy Jr. High Marching Band friends, on our way to Nephi, Utah, where we would be marching in a parade. If you weren't fortunate enough to hear this blaring out of my single speaker JC Penney AM/FM/Cassette radio, you may have heard me blasting it as I walked home from school. Armed with my pseudo "boom box" and my single lens New Wave wrap around glasses (complete with a singular prism lens), I would boldly let people know that I wasn't like the rest of them. And I think it worked.
5. THE CLASH: "SANDINISTA!"
Apart from LONDON CALLING, this is probably my next favorite album by The Clash. A bold adventure, this was initially released as a 3 LP set, which is nearly unheard of. Not only was it 3 records of original material, but this album explored the musical spectrum. It featured nearly ever musical style of the day. Rock, Punk, Dub, Reggae, Jazz and....yes....even a touch of Classical. Well, if you consider a young boy singing their "labor" anthem, "Career Opportunities", accompanied by a harpsichord. Truth be told, I will turn to this album before any other Clash albums... it is THAT fresh.
6. KATE BUSH: "NEVER FOR EVER"
Of all the early Kate Bush albums, I think this is the one that I most deeply connected with. I love it through and through... not to mention there is a bat on the front cover... and THAT goes a long way with a guy like me.
7. THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT: "THE TURN OF A FRIENDLY CARD"
I also remember buying this cassette tape. Not the exact day, but it seems to me like it was a Springtime purchase. And, I do recall buying it the same day that I purchased Pat Benatar's "CRIMES OF PASSION", which although a fine, fine album (including a cover of a Kate Bush song, which goes a long way with a guy like me), it didn't make the list. One thing that has become a pattern of sorts with me, the biggest hit on the album is one of my least favorite songs. In this case, it is the song "TIME", which was just beaten to death. However, that being said, when we talk about the concept piece (based off of the title, "Turn of a Friendly Card" that occupied the entirety of side two, it pushes this album into the Top 10 of 1980.
8. THE POLICE: "ZENYATTA MONDATTA"
Another cassette that ended up in my collection, courtesy of a friend of mine, Zenyatta Mondatta was the epitome of Police music. Featuring such hits as "Da Do Do Do, Da Da Da Da" and "Don't Stand So Close To Me", this album is a fantastic listen from start to finish. You know... I just realized I say that far too often when compiling my Top 10 lists. I apologize.
9. AC/DC: "BACK IN BLACK"
Where to start with this one?!? Back in Black.... the soundtrack of my adolescence. One may ask why it isn't further up the list, and there are a number of reasons. First, AC/DC are not what I would consider the bastions of creativity. That being said, I LOVE their music up to, and including, Back in Black. I even liked "For Those About To Rock...", but don't hold it nearly as close to my heart as this album.
This album was in the works when their original vocalist, Bon Scott, died after a night of intense drinking. Completed with new vocalist, Brian Johnson, this album catapulted AC/DC into the mainstream. Truth be told, this album was my first exposure to the group.... and I'm sure that could be said for many my age. Produced by legendary Rock producer, Robert John "Mutt" Lange, this album had everything I have ever loved in music. Catchy riffs, melody and pure power.
10. REO SPEEDWAGON: "HI INFIDELITY"
Ahhhh.... Hi InFidelity. This album was probably the single most important album of my 1980-1981. I remember countless hours, listening to this cassette out in the living room, headphones cranked up, tennis racket in hand, as I tried to emulate the guitar stylings of Gary Richrath as best I could. I almost feel like this album should be higher on my list, but I had to take into account how my love for the band waned (severely) after their 1984 album that featured the dismal, "I Can't Fight This Feeling", which to this day just turns my stomach. I should have realized that, with the success of "Keep on Loving You", that these guys were going to settle into a career of "power ballads". It happened to some of the best talent of the late 1970's and early '80's. That being said, I can still put this album on and it STILL sends me right back to the innocence of youth... even with it's less-than-innocent subject matter. I settled for a solid 10, based off of my lifelong appreciation for the album, but taking into account the deeper artistic merits of some of the higher ranked albums.
11. QUEEN: "THE GAME"
12. PRETENDERS: "PRETENDERS"
13. DEAD KENNEDYS: "FRESH FRUIT FOR ROTTING VEGETABLES"
14. DEVO: "FREEDOM OF CHOICE"
15. PETER GABRIEL: "(MELT)"
16. U2: "BOY"
17. ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN: "CROCODILES"
18. THE CURE: "SEVENTEEN SECONDS"
19. THE FEELIES: "THE FEELIES"
20. JOE JACKSON: "BEAT CRAZY"