“This one came our way in 1979 (c/o London Calling, arguably the greatest album of any and all time), but it never had more currency for me than the summer of 1984. We dropped a lot of LSD that summer, in our mid-twenties by then. Old enough to know better, of course, or maybe just go further, higher, deeper through the absurdities of the ever corroding western world whose edges and holes and voids we felt compelled to explore. This meant going public with acid in our veins, taking it to malls, video arcades, strip joints, crowded downtown streets, fair grounds, everywhere, every weird and ugly thing. Getting lost in the supermarket, we called it.” (Philip Random)
“Fad Gadget’s Ad Nauseum is 1984 in a nutshell. A bitter gagging bile finally coalescing as full-on meltdown into noise … and yet it’s fun and artful, musical even. And it will forever remind me of old friend Carl who never failed to be in ownership of a rusting boat of a car (always GM product), which he’d recklessly plow through traffic, the music cranked loud, his hatred of all other drivers voiced even louder. Yet he never hit anything … until that one time he side-swiped a fire truck, and he was drunk. That didn’t go over well. In fact, I’m guessing it all sounded like the end of Ad Nauseum.”
“As the story goes, David Bowie’s first post-Ziggy Stardust album was supposed to be a musical adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984, but he couldn’t secure the rights, so it morphed into Diamond Dogs which was its own weird, extreme thing with a few explicitly 1984 songs included in the mix, including the climactic Big Brother, which manages to get quite epic before things get deeply off kilter with the Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family. Which is not just some b-grade horror stuff. It’s real. I’ve heard that infernal family, while deep inside the wrong kind of acid trip, the ‘I’m Dead’ kind, the kind you just want to end, but it goes on for millions of years, with all these wraithlike forms howling at you forever, because you’re dead, you died, this is what comes next. Which I suppose is relevant to 1984. What it feels like to get stomped in the face with a boot. Forever. Great music though.” (Philip Random)
Prince Rogers Nelson wasn’t the only son of a king doing cool, smart, fun things with funk in the mid-1980s as Prince Charles‘ More Money aptly points out (with solid props to The City Beat Band). An anthem for any time, any place. Because we all always need more money, even f***ing billionaires, or so it seems. And seriously, where’s the smart, up to date cover version of More Money? The song’s just screaming for it. Punk rock, campfire folk, straight up country, hell even a polka. The world is waiting.
“Though I was aware of the fabulous strangeness of George Clinton and Funkadelic and/or Parliament as far back as 1976 (having caught him/them on TV one late and lonely teenage night), I never really dove in until You Shouldn’t Nuf Bit Fish crossed my path in 1984. It was just so utterly what I needed — completely concerned with the apocalyptic mess that we, the species, were very much IN as the 1980s stumbled toward their midpoint, all our nuclear fishin’ fuelling the cold war arms race, the Doomsday Clock ticking every closer to midnight … with the old man in Washington DC whose finger was on the trigger slipping into dementia. No better time for a funk that was spaced way out, and resolutely strange.” (Philip Random)
Track one, side one of the first Guadalcanal Diary album is pumped up, countrified fun. Philip Random is pretty sure it’s about a movie he saw as a little kid. “Something to do with American cowboys going to the Congo (or wherever), killing natives, other fun stuff. By which I mean, horrific. Which unfortunately was pretty standard in my early days of TV watching (the 1960s). White men killing non-white men, served up as rousing adventure. Anyway. Great song from a highly overlooked jangle-pop outfit.” (Philip Random)
It’s 1984 and proto-goth underlords Bauhaus have broken up, but guitar guy Daniel Ash still has some shadows to explore with bassist (and former Bauhaus roadie) Glenn Campling, an outfit they’re calling Tones on Tail. And it all comes good (if weird) with Pop, an album that that goes all kinds of cool places that music of the moment generally doesn’t. In the case of Real Life, that means acoustic, expansive, dynamic – the right kind of psychedelic.
“Any history of 1980s rock-pop-whatever that does not give Laurie Anderson her own chapter is wrong, and that accounts for most of them. Mister Heartbreak was her second proper album and it started strong with Sharkey’s Day, which I’m guessing is some kind of reference to the Burt Reynolds movie Sharky’s Machine that I never saw. But he was a cop and no doubt macho with corruption involved, and darkness all around. Temper of the times. Or maybe Sharkey’s Day has nothing to do with any of that. Maybe Ms. Anderson just saw the poster at some point, and something about it spoke to her – Burt Reynolds and his moustache and gun riding high at the box office, and everything that had to say about a culture. Where do you go from there?” (Philip Random)
The Violent Femmes‘ debut album tends to get most of the hype, but the follow up Hallowed Ground is better. It goes deeper, rocks harder, bites more fiercely, covers more ground. And it kicks off with Country Death Song, a murder ballad that gets all the more harrowing when you realize that Gordon Gano was still in high school when he wrote it. The opposite of a feel-good unless you just can’t enough of that those toe tapping backwoods American myths and legends and brutal truths.