Category 1980s

Don Henley Album Reviews

Don Henley emerged as the primary lead singer of the Eagles. He was nicknamed “Golden Throat”, and fronted their breakthrough hit ‘Best of My Love’ and their signature song ‘Hotel California’. When the Eagles split acrimoniously in 1980, Henley went…

I’m Your Man by Wham!

Every New Zealand #1 single… 6 I’m Your Man Topped the NZ chart: from 16 February 1986 for 1 week Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael met at Bushey Meads School. They formed a ska band with school friends, before paring…

Music Quiz: 3 Flops, 1 Act: 1980s

Congratulations to Rich Kamerman, who schooled the rest of us on famous drummers. Although Deke also scored a credible 27 out of 30. This week, your challenge is to identify an act by three songs that failed to make the…

Peter Gabriel 2 Scratch

Peter Gabriel: Albums Ranked from Worst to Best

It’s unusual for a solo artist’s work to overshadow their work with their previous band. But there’s a strong argument that Gabriel’s solo catalogue eclipses the progressive rock albums that he made with Genesis in the 1970s. Leaving Genesis after…

10 Best Kraftwerk Songs

Musicians used synthesizers before Kraftwerk. Karlheinz Stockhausen experimented with them in the 1950s, while Switched-On Bach reached the top ten in 1968. Synths popped up on 1960s rock records by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, while Stevie Wonder also…

Paul Kelly Album Reviews

While Paul Kelly’s never broken big outside of Australia, he’s a beloved songwriter in his own country. He’s a member of the Order of Australia. His 1987 song ‘To The Door’ was included in the APRA list of Top 30…

10 Best Nic Jones Songs

Nic Jones emerged in the fertile folk scene of the late 1960s. While contemporaries like Richard Thompson, Sandy Denny, and John Martyn ventured into pop and rock music, Jones remained stubbornly traditional. His first two albums, 1970’s Ballads & Songs…

My Bloody Valentine Album Reviews

Introduction Kevin Shields and drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig met in a karate competition in Dublin in 1979. They formed punk rock band the Complex with Liam Ó Maonlaí, but Maonlaí left to form Hothouse Flowers. Their classic lineup took a…

Robyn Hitchcock Album Reviews

The son of novelist Raymond Hitchcock, Robyn Hitchcock has enjoyed an acclaimed career as an eccentric alt-rock and folk artist. He started his career with the new wave band The Soft Boys, best known for their 1980 album Underwater Moonlight.…

The Cars Album Reviews

Boston quintet The Cars were arguably the quintessential New Wave band. They combined the back-to-basics approach of new wave, forward-thinking synthesiser textures, and bright power pop melodies. It’s not difficult to see influences from art-rockers David Bowie and Roxy Music…

Victoria by The Dance Exponents

They’re barely known outside New Zealand, but The Dance Exponents were reliable hitmakers in the 1980s. They kept enjoying success through the 1990s after they shortened their name to The Exponents. They weren’t edgy or pretentious, a pop/rock guitar band…

10 Best Pop-Era Genesis Songs

Genesis formed in the 1960s, when Peter Gabriel, Tony Bank, and Mike Rutherford met at Charterhouse School. By 1971, they’d found their classic quintet of vocalist Peter Gabriel, drummer Phil Collins, keyboardist Tony Banks, bassist Mike Rutherford, and guitarist Steve…

Sweetest Thing by U2: Great B-Sides

Irish rock band U2 peaked with their 1987 album The Joshua Tree. Their fifth record, it combined Bono’s fervour with a sweeping sound from The Edge’s effect-laden guitar and atmospheric production from Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. It’s also the…

the-smiths-the-queen-is-dead

The Smiths Album Reviews

The unlikely pairing of socially awkward Steven Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr, extroverted and four years Morrissey’s junior, formed the nucleus of The Smiths, whose witty and stripped-down music was an influential force throughout their brief existence. Inspired by punk (according…

Pet Shop Boys Album Reviews

Introduction Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe met in a Chelsea hi-fi shop in 1981. Both were interested in disco and electronic music and formed a duo, based on a shared love of the singles ‘Souvenir’ by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the…

Yellow Magic Orchestra Album Reviews

The grandson of a Titanic survivor, Haruomi Hosono was the bassist for the Japanese band Happy End. During a jam session with Happy End, Hosono took a double-sized hit on a joint. The joint was tainted and triggered panic attacks.…

Sign of Love by Aimee Mann

Aimee Mann scored her only hit single with her first attempt. She fronted Boston new wave band ‘Til Tuesday, whose debut single ‘Voices Carry’ reached #8 on the Billboard charts. Despite the immediate success of ‘Voices Carry’, it took a…

Marillion Album Reviews

Neo-prog band Marillion took their name from JRR Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. They played their first show in London in 1978 – an all-instrumental lineup from which only drummer Mick Pointer was still around when they released their debut album in 1983.…

R.E.M. Lifes Rich Pageant

R.E.M. Album Reviews

R.E.M. emerged in the wake of punk from Athens, Georgia, and started their career as an insular Indie band, with cryptic albums that enjoyed a cult following. But gradually they beefed up their sound, experienced airplay, signed up to a…

Prefab Sprout Album Reviews

Formed around the songwriting talents of Durham’s Paddy McAloon, Prefab Sprout enjoyed some commercial success in the 1980s and early 1990s, but have been relegated to the status of cult band ever since. It’s a shame, as McAloon is a…

Pixies Trompe Le Monde

Pixies Album Reviews

New Zealand is a lovely country, with lots of sheep and mountains, and it’s a good idea to come and visit us if you ever have the chance. Charles Thompson, however, made the right decision in 1986, when he opted…

Marshall Crenshaw Debut Album

Marshall Crenshaw Album Reviews

Detroit’s Marshall Crenshaw doesn’t belong in the conversation of the most important musicians of his generation. Yet he’s a talented craftsman, whose deft guitar pop is likeable and accessible. He’s often compared with Buddy Holly, and his 1982 debut album…

Sting Nothing Like The Sun

Sting Album Reviews

Conventional wisdom suggests that Gordon Sumner surrendered his credibility when he left The Police, letting his pretentiousness overcome him as he dabbled in jazz and saved the rainforests. As a singles artist he couldn’t match the brilliant individual songs like…

Sting Mercury Falling

10 Worst Sting Lyrics

In 2007 Blender named Sting as the worst lyricist in pop music, accusing the former Police frontman of “mountainous pomposity (and) cloying spirituality”. I enjoy much of Sting’s music – The Police had a terrific run of singles and Sting…

10 Best Sam Phillips Songs

There are two prominent Sam Phillips in popular music. This list isn’t about the Sun Records producer who worked with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Rather it’s about the idiosyncratic female singer-songwriter who launched her career in…

Peter Gabriel Us

Peter Gabriel Album Reviews

Leaving Genesis after six albums, at the age of 25, Peter Gabriel’s solo career initially felt like an attempt to distance himself from his former band. It took him a couple of albums to find his feet, but his third…

10 Worst New Order Lyrics

Great music isn’t always synonymous with great lyrics – early Beach Boys records dressed up Mike Love’s mundane teen dramas with genius harmonies and sophisticated chord changes. Yes adorned Jon Anderson’s cosmic nonsense with their amazing instrumental chops. Perhaps the…

The Blue Nile Album Reviews

The three members of The Blue Nile all attended Glasgow University in the late 1970s. Vocalist Paul Buchanan studied medieval history and literature, Robert Bell studied mathematics, and Paul Joseph Moore studied electronics. The three members found their synth-drenched, sophisticated…

New Order Album Reviews

Joy Division‘s lead vocalist Ian Curtis took his own life on the eve of the band’s first US tour. The band rebranded as New Order – taking their name from a newspaper article titled The People’s New Order of Kampuchea.…

Talk Talk Spirit of Eden

Talk Talk Album Reviews

While there’s a natural progression between each of Talk Talk’s five studio albums, the distance between their 1982 synth-pop debut The Party’s Over and 1991’s jazz and ambient-influenced Laughing Stock represents one of the most stunning transformations in popular music;…

Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express The Go-Betweens

10 Best Go-Betweens Songs

Robert Forster and Grant McLennan met at the University of Queensland. Despite McLennan’s lack of musical experience, they formed a band, combining the tunefulness of The Monkees with the edge of The Velvet Underground. Their first album was recorded as…

10,000 Maniacs Album Reviews

10,000 Maniacs have one of the most misleader monikers in popular music. From their name, you’d expect speed metal or punk, but instead, they’re a folk-rock band with socially conscious lyrics and Natalie Merchant’s oddly mannered vocals. The band were…

Lindsey Buckingham Album Reviews

Even if you don’t know him by name, you’ve surely heard Lindsey Buckingham’s work in the pop era of Fleetwood Mac. While Stevie Nicks was the public face of the band, Buckingham was the architect of their sound, the studio…

10 Best Paul Simon Songs

Paul Simon’s songs are part of the American landscape, a thoughtful man documenting his inner dialogue in popular song. From Simon and Garfunkel songs like ‘America’ and ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ to solo songs like ‘American Tune’ and ‘Graceland’, his…

10 Best Hit Songs of the 1980s

My list of the ten worst songs of the 1980s has received thousands of visitors over the last couple of weeks. I’ve received comments accusing me of hating the 1980s, so I thought that I’d set the record straight with…

The Waterboys

Mike Scott was born in Edinburgh, the son of an English teacher. Scott’s interest in literature is clearly visible in his catalogue, but his life was changed when he bought the single ‘Last Night in Soho’ by Dave Dee, Dozy,…

Amy Grant Album Reviews

The Queen of Christian pop music, Amy Grant also enjoyed success as a crossover pop artist in the 1980s and 1990s. Born in Georgia, her family moved to Nashville when she was 7. At 15 she wrote her first song,…

Sting Ten Summoners Tales

10 Best Sting Songs

Sting’s reputation is a little shaky as a solo artist. After leading The Police to the status of the biggest band in the world in 1983, he pursued a high-brow, jazzy direction in his solo career. When I first became…

Dire Straits Album Reviews

Dire Straits were a talented band at the wrong time. They emerged in the punk era in Britain, but front-man Mark Knopfler’s virtuoso finger-picking and Dylan-adjacent lyrics were distinctly un-punk. Knopfler and the other members were pushing 30, and had…

Suzanne Vega Album Reviews

Suzanne Vega was born in Santa Monica, California. At the age of two, she moved to New York City when her mother married Puerto Rican writer Edgardo Vega Yunqué. She wrote poetry and songs in her youth and cites Lou…

Grendel by Marillion: Great B-Sides

Marillion were named after JRR Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, and were formed in 1979. Early Marillion were often compared to the progressive-rock era of Genesis – lead vocalist Fish’s theatricality was similar to Peter Gabriel. The core lineup of guitarist Steve…

Run-DMC

Run-DMC emerged early in the development of recorded hip hop. They helped to transform the genre from an underground movement with a handful of important singles, like Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s ‘The Message’, into big business. They smashed…