739. the card cheat

“Second of two in a row from London Calling, the greatest rock and roll album ever (arguably). Released at the very end of the 1970s, that at least makes it the first indispensably great rock and roll album of the 1980s, maybe the last. Commercial radio, of course, only played two tracks but all four sides were nigh on brilliant – the power and rage of full-on punk tempered only enough to allow everything else to burst on through. With The Card Cheat, that meant widescreen rock all brassed up and gunning for the promised land, which is again miles beyond anything Bruce Springsteen could have hoped for at the time, who I’m only mentioning here because his 1980 double album The River had no problem getting played all over the radio.  And it was at least two sides too long.” (Philip Random)

Clash-cardcheat

757. Sister Europe

“Maybe I’d would’ve liked them more if they hadn’t call themselves the Psychedelic Furs. Or as a friend once put it – too much fur, not enough psychedelic. But that doesn’t apply to the first album, which was cool and dark and working more edges than any normal reality could offer. And a rare sound that was in 1980, the new decade dawning with all of its overblown and over-shiny colours and sounds and whatever else. In fact, you can do a pretty good job of tracking all that by just lining up the first three Psychedelic Furs album covers in chronological order. Not bad. Just not getting better.” (Philip Random)

PsycheFurs-1980

 

 

780. Premonition

Premonition was the first Simple Minds track I ever heard, and it came via mixtape – the follow up to an argument I’d had with a friend about so-called New Wave music.  Simplistic and annoying (my opinion) versus the cool sound of the future (his opinion). I was wrong. The proof was on that tape, Premonition sealing the deal with its big, dark groove. So much so that I was quick to grab the album, embrace the future, even if Simple Minds themselves would eventually come to truly, unironically earn their name, but that took at least five or six albums, so who’s really complaining?” (Philip Random)

simpleMINDS-1980

808. Bass Culture

Skull rattling dub poetry c/o Linton Kwesi Johnson makes it clear that reggae music is mostly about the bass, the way it makes a body (and thus a whole culture) move. The drums, they just keep things rock steady.  The guitars, keyboards, horns etc – they’re just along for the ride. It’s the bass that’s going places, and sometimes the poetry, “like a righteous harm, giving off wild like madness.”

LKJ-bassCULTURE

 

836. wardance

Killing Joke were mixing metal with repetitive beats with their own unique apocalyptic take on life-the-universe-everything long before it was a thing, and to solid, intense effect as Wardance makes abundantly clear. “It’s a 1980 track but I didn’t hear it until 1982, with the Falklands War in full weird roar far, far away. An apparently civilized nation going enthusiastically to war for a more or less random chunk of rock in the remote South Atlantic. It had to be a joke, definitely a joke. And it would kill almost a thousand people before it was done.” (Philip Random)

killingjoke-1980

892. fantastic voyage

In which the alien aka David Jones aka David Bowie comes clean and reveals he’s really human after all. “I remember hearing this a lot in 1980 – memories of Ronald Raygun running hard for the White House, the hostage thing ongoing in Iran, a clash of civilizations apparently … the realization of how utterly doomed and damned we all were if couldn’t find a common humanity beneath all our bullshit gods and politics. The supreme challenge of learning to live with someone else’s mental and spiritual health issues. Same as it ever was.” (Philip Random)

bowie-1979-corpse

900. stereotypes

The Specials were one of many so-called Two-Tone outfits to come out of England at the end of the 1970s. But come their second album, it was pretty clear they wanted to do more than just party hard, with Stereotypes (particularly the dubbed out second part) a solid example of people having wigged out fun in a recording studio. Marijuana may have been involved.

specials-1980

902. the light pours out of me

“My first impression upon seeing a photo of Magazine front man Howard DeVoto was that he looked pretty much like I’d expected. Not what you’d call a conventional leading man. Which made sense given the unconventional manner in which he snarled out his venomous tales of torn up romance and confusion. And yet he was telling the truth, and thus the light just poured out of him. It poured out of the whole Correct Use of Soap album (or perhaps you knew it as The Alternative Use of Soap — a few different tracks, a few different mixes, same fired up, angst-driven post-punk or new wave, or whatever).” (Philip Random)

magazine-1980

912. Vegetable Man

In which the Soft Boys take a strong swipe at original Pink Floyd front man Syd Barrett’s last at least half-lucid moment (lucid enough to realize he was losing it, turning lysergically from man to vegetable). “No, it’s not up to the original. How could it be? But this list is limited to stuff I actually own, and no way am I going to pay a hundred plus bucks for a 7-inch single, what with children starving in Texas and all. Also worth noting, Underwater Moonlight, the whole Soft Boys album in question, is well worth the trouble.” (Philip Random)

softboys