1. RUSH: "SIGNALS"
As I debated as to what should be my number one favorite album of 1982, I actually found myself battling over numbers 2 and 3. It wasn't until quite some time into my research, and finally listening to "Signals", that I realized that without a shadow of a doubt, this album by Rush has been, and will continue to be, my favorite album of 1982. It has everything I love in music. A concept. Talented musicianship. Melodic songwriting. Great lyrics.
It is tough for me to decide which of Rush's albums are my favorite... at least between "Moving Pictures" and "Signals". These two albums were the pinnacle of their career, in my opinion. The trio from Toronto had settled in to a quirky hybrid that bridged the classic Rock sound of the 70's, Progressive Rock, and lastly (but not least) the rising New Wave sounds. Classic Rush..... classic Rock.
2. ABC: "THE LEXICON OF LOVE"
The Lexicon of Love. It's something that has plagued mankind since Adam knew Eve (in the non-biblical sense.) It unfortunately took 1982 years A.D. before ABC could try and make some sense of it. Did they succeed? No... it's impossible. However, what they DID succeed at is creating one of the most memorable albums of my lifetime. Most people know this album for the hits, "Poison Arrow" and "The Look of Love", however one really needs to sit down and listen to this album from start to finish to truly realize and appreciate it's scope. Produced by the legendary Trevor Horn, this album took the talent of a few young lads from Sheffield, England and turned them into the definition of suave and, if I may steal the term from the album, debonaire.
3. ROXY MUSIC: "AVALON"
In deciding which album ranked higher, ABC or Roxy Music, I had a very difficult time. First off, I had to give points to Roxy Music, because without their influence, ABC wouldn't even exist. Bryan Ferry and Co. were the "fashion" movement of the early 80's. Martin Fry (of ABC) seemed to emulate everything that Bryan Ferry was, on stage. That being said, it was ABC that I first fell in love with... and, even to this day, find to be the most satisfying listen for me, at least from start to finish. There are moments of Avalon that outshine those of Lexicon, but as a complete package, I hesitantly give ABC the higher spot.
It should also be pointed out, if for no other reason than something to put in your "gee whiz file", that this album was the first CD that I ever purchased.
4. TALK TALK: "THE PARTY'S OVER"
Talk Talk....... where do I begin? I guess I should point out that Talk Talk is (currently) my second favorite band of all time. With the possible exception of this album, they continuously forged new territory in the world of music, never playing by any rules. This album, on the other hand, was fairly Pop oriented... had catchy Pop hooks... and didn't push any extremes. That being said, it is AMAZING.
For the better part of my music listening life, I have dwelt mainly on the melodic elements of music, and often the voice delivering the words. I have dwelt very little on the lyrical content of the music that I listen to. For me to be overwhelmed by an album (at least, until about 2008) it needed to have great production, catchy hooks and a voice that I can connect with. However, in 1984, when I really began giving this album some serious listens, I was moved nearly to tears by the lyrical content of one song in particular. That song is, "Have You Heard the News?", where singer Mark Hollis sings from the perspective of someone who has hit and killed somebody in an auto/pedestrian accident. The lyrics were so poignant and the song was so somber that for years I asked myself if he had, in fact, killed somebody. Mark's lyrics continued to get deeper and darker over the years, and he has often said that they aren't necessarily autobiographical, but they are so stirring that it always makes one wonder.
5. DONALD FAGEN: "THE NIGHTFLY"
I suppose that, after seeing Mr. Fagen's former (and current) band's album, "GAUCHO", topping my Top 10 of 1980, it isn't any surprise to see his solo debut, 1982's "NIGHTFLY" sitting in a fairly comfortable position. Many people think that this solo debut not only continued on the legacy of Steely Dan but, in many ways, exceeded that of Steely Dan. There are two albums from the 1980's that are full of nostalgic memories of the two decades prior to my birth. This is the first. It delves into the paranoia of Kennedy-era nuclear scares, the innocence of the late 50's being turned upside down by the crap going on in the world, all while being carried by some extremely catchy, well produced music (courtesy of Dan producer, Gary Katz). It should also be pointed out that (if my information is accurate) Donald Fagen's "THE NIGHTFLY" was the first digitally recorded album......ever. That "Gee-Whiz File" that I mentioned previously? Yeah... stow that little nugget away in the file... it may entertain some family members at your next gathering.
6. XTC: "ENGLISH SETTLEMENT"
What can I say about the eccentricities of this trio from England? Probably not enough. XTC were anything but stereotypical when it came to their approach of music. After initially trying to tour in their early years, they spent their career in the studio. Singer Andy Partridge suffered from such extreme stage fright and anxiety that they were never able to tour. Being that the live side of any musical artist is one of their best methods of exposing and, subsequently, selling one's music, it is truly a testament of the talent of these lads that they could not only be considered one of the most talented "alternative" acts of the 80's, but one of the most consistent bands of that generation.
"English Settlement" was my first exposure to this talented lot, thanks to my high school girlfriend, Susan. She moved to Utah from the cultural Mecca of Lodi, California and proceeded to turn my musical world upside down. Utah had a blossoming "Modern Music" market, thanks to radio stations such as "Super 107" and KCGL, but Susan knew people that we had never heard of. XTC? Blancmange? Burning Sensations? Who were these bands? Soon enough, each and every one of them would surface as fairly prominent acts in the early to mid-80's, but Susan (and her tastes in music) seemed light years ahead of what I had been exposed to. That being said, this album STILL remains just as fresh... just as original... as it did back in the early 80's. It features music of many genres.... Folk, Ska, Punk, British Invasion early 60's Rock.... it had it all.
7. HAIRCUT 100: "PELICAN WEST"
One of the soundtracks of my adolescence, Haircut 100's "PELICAN WEST" was the epitome of fun. My first exposure was the song "Boy Meets Girl (Favourite Shirts)" which featured the quirky lads in a bowling alley. I love this album from start to finish. I love everything about it... except, truth be told, I have never pondered the lyrics... I can't tell you if they are good or...well... sucky. The horns, on the other hand? FANTASTIC!
8. SIMPLE MINDS: "NEW GOLD DREAM"
Although Jim Kerr and his band of Scottish laddies had been around for several years, this was the breakthrough album on many levels. Where their earlier work had not replicated, but had elements of the raw sounds of Punk, this album took on a brand new, completely polished approach. Produced by one of my favorite producers of the time, Peter Walsh, this album boasted such hits as "Promised You a Miracle" and the title cut, "New Gold Dream". My LP record of this is one of the crown jewels of my vinyl collection, as it is a beautiful purple and gold clear, marble vinyl. Stunning to the eye... equally so to the ear.
9. DEPECHE MODE: "A BROKEN FRAME"
Depeche Mode's second album, "A BROKEN FRAME", probably remains their least appreciated... and one of my favorites. Recorded after the departure of Vince Clark (who reportedly left during a cigarette break, after introducing his new song "Only You" to the boys, only to have them scoff at it.... with the song going on to be a huge hit for Vince's new act, Yazoo) and composed entirely by Martin L. Gore, this was definitely a transitional phase for Depeche Mode. I first purchased this album when I was in Hawaii with my high school choir. I made it a point to try and purchase a "souvenir" cassette whenever I went on a trip. This was my Hawaiian souvenir. Do I find this album to be great from start to finish? No, absolutely not. Truth be told, my least favorite songs on this album were the ones that were released as hits. However, tracks like "My Secret Garden", "Leave in Silence" and "The Sun and the Rainfall" (probably my all time favorite Depeche Mode track) more than make up for it.
Also, while we are busting out little nuggets of trivia for your "Gee Whiz File", I would like to point out that the cover photograph of this album was featured on (if I recall correctly) LIFE magazine's "best photographs of the 20th Century" issue, at the turn of the century. It was photographed by Brian Griffin and conceived by legendary album artwork mastermind, Martyn Atkins.
10. INXS: "SHABOOH SHOOBAH"
I still remember how I felt the first time I saw the video for the hit song, "Don't Change". The video featuring the boys of INXS in an empty warehouse (or airplane hanger, I am not sure), belting out four minutes of blissful energy... with no exaggeration, I was smitten. I immediately ran out and purchased the 7" 45 of the song. I just put the LP on, a few days ago. It was my first listen of the record in probably 15 years, and I STILL found it an incredible listen. Solid writing, solid musicianship, and let us not forget one of the most charismatic singers in the history of popular music. All said and done, even though not an album in heavy rotation in my music library, it is STILL one of the finest offerings of 1982.
11. TOTO: "IV"
12. ASIA: "ASIA"
13. MARSHALL CRENSHAW: "MARSHALL CRENSHAW"
14. DEVO: "OH NO, IT'S DEVO"
15. ULTRAVOX: "QUARTET"
16. RANK & FILE: "SUNDOWN"
17. JOE JACKSON: "NIGHT AND DAY"
18. THE CLASH: "COMBAT ROCK"
19. THE ENGLISH BEAT: "SPECIAL BEAT SERVICE"
20. YAZOO (a.k.a. YAZ): "UPSTAIRS AT ERICS"