Culture music

80s albums revisted

Bob Digby, geographer-at-large and serious music buff, responded to a radio DJ twitter appeal for top-three 1980s albums. I decided to give them a listen and to respond on twitter.

What’s your favourite album of the 80s? Our pals at @BBCRadio2 are holding a vote…


Bob’s reply:
Kate Bush ‘Hounds of Love’ followed by Peter Gabriel’s ‘So’; Smiths ‘The Queen is dead’ as a third. All three superb.

The Queen Is Dead by The Smiths, 1986 Spotify link #NowPlaying Top 3 album of the 80s from @bobdigby doesn’t resonate with me. Nice ditties, a few tricksy lyrics. Stand by for # 2.

So (Special Edition) by Peter Gabriel,1986 Spotify link #NowPlaying #2 in @BobDigby‘s best 80s albums. Stands the test of time, I believe. Sledgehammer is peak 80s music video. Live tracks in this edition include the super-charged Biko.

Bob’s reply: I love the simple but beautiful intro to ‘I’m your eyes’ – both the album track / single version but also the extended version on the 12” of ‘Don’t give up’ which is the version he does on stage. It’s in my list of all time great tracks. The album still holds up, I agree.

Hounds Of Love by Kate Bush, 1985 Spotify link #NowPlaying If you follow @bobdigby it should come as no surpise that his # 1 80s album is from this highly individual and creative artiste. Still wonderful after all these years. Thanks for the inspiration, Bob.

Alf (Deluxe Version) by Alison Moyet, 1984 Spotify link #NowPlaying For my # 1 80s albums. Check out more recent stuff, too. Add Diamond Life by Sade, 1984 Spotify link and Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics, 1984. Spotify link Unintentionally, all in the same year!

In the past I have denigrated 1980s music mainly as a reaction to the failure to live up to my teenage years, the 1970s. From this distance, I can see the flaw in the case as the 1980s saw my first decade in the work place. I would argue the case for a body of work from my three choices: Alison Moyet, Sade and Eurthmics/Annie Lennox. I think that substance is important. It also applies to both Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush. Both Bob’s and my choices would probably have differed if we had declared them in 1990. Who knows? Well, Bob probably does as he has an amzing memory.

We could dwell on the huge catalogue that is missing from our selections. Perhaps for another time.

I have written more about favourites here My Music: Shifting Sands. It consists of a series of blogposts and is also compiled into a free PDF for downloading.

Also follow me on Twitter


On reflection, I chose my three albums using the criteria that
a) they were favourites at the time, and
b) I have listened to them over the years, and
c) I still enjoy them today.
It is also interesting to note that both Bob and my selections are British artistes.

The Radio 2 programme listed the top 40 albums and played a track from them in reverse order. This link may have a limited life

I found much of music played irritating and, perhaps, confirmed my prejudice that, as a decade, the decade disappoints.

Bob’s choice of Kate Bush came in at number 11 and The Smiths at 7.

10. ABC – Lexicon Of Love
9. Prince & The Revolution – Purple Rain
8. Paul Simon – Graceland
7. The Smiths – The Queen is Daed
6. The Human League – Dare
5. Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction
4. Michael Jackson – Thriller
3. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
2. Dire Straits – Brothers In Arms
ULTIMATE 80s Album:
U2 – The Joshua Tree

I was late to U2 but after hearing “Rattle and Hum” at my bother-in-laws I bought it on CD and played it continously. I appreciate live recordings. I have “Brothers In Arms” (yes, an early CD purchase) and “Graceland” but wouldn’t go out of my way to listen to them these days. I have a Best of GNR CD which is fun and was for driving. While recognising the skills in writing and performance – and wider influence – of both Prince and Michael Jackson they don’t sustain me. I will not identify the real dislikes of the 80s but there are many.

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