My 100 Favorite Albums from 1984: 100-91

You just had to know this was coming, right? I mean I've been dropping not too subtle hints via posts about 1984 for weeks and now the time has come for another Hideaway 100! This time out we're doing Albums from 1984. Compiled list of albums from the Vinyl Wall that came out in 1984 (I had to look a few up, so what) then added CDs from the 1984 folder in CLZ Music app and then topped it off with a few from my digital library and came up with 288 albums. Dropped the albums I couldn't recall a single song from without peeking at the tracklist, then began weeding out the one-good-song-only albums until I arrived at a list of exactly 100 albums. Proceeded to design graphics for the event and then started writing the little blurbs for each album. Found I had no number 77 album - somehow, I had erroneously skipped from 76 directly to 78 so I resorted the numbers correctly and created space for the number 100 album, trying to remember the last five albums I had cut and in no time at all, I was back on track. Let's do this!
If the music had a name when I first heard it, I was unaware of it. It just sounded fresh and different and I liked it a whole lot, investing a significant portion of my hard-earned cash buying singles and albums from the genre I came to know as "electro". Although there were most assuredly other songs at or near the birth of electro, these are the ones that stand out in my mind after all this time - all are from 1982-1983: Soulsonic Force's "Planet Rock"Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five's "Scorpio"Nashim's "Al-Naafyish (The Soul)"Jonzun Crew's "Space Cowboy"Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" and Newcleus's "Jam On Revenge"Then came "Jam On It" which was "Jam On Revenge" turnt up. Bordering on rap novelty which I had proven susceptible to in the past (and the future), I bought the vinyl album once I saw it but I maybe played the album only a couple of times - it's all variations on the one theme and it gets tiresome after the second time around - before scoring the twelve-inch single of "Jam On It" which, in the near-perfect vision of hindsight, would probably have been all I needed.
Like millions of other fans, I was through with KISS once they came out from behind the makeup. The music had been going downhill after Dynasty in 1979 (I like that album a lot) and I was old enough to see Unmasked for the publicity ploy it was in 1980 and then it became Gene and Paul's band; a business and old news. But then came the surprising "I Love It Loud" in 1982, the nonsensical but who cares "Lick It Up" in 1983 and the positively rocking "Heaven's On Fire" in 1984. (And finally "Tears Are Falling" in 1985 but let's not get ahead of ourselves.) Fortunately for me, people I knew who had never liked the band or its music suddenly became KISS converts and bought the albums, letting me borrow them for quick dubbing sessions. I do not remember ever buying this album but there it sits on the Vinyl Wall. Pretty sure it was donated as part of one of the few collections I inherited as my friends and family got out of the vinyl biz. It might have even been part of Dad's collection.
My wife, nearly three years before she became my wife, absolutely loved this album and it is she who brought the album into the marriage. All the blame rests on her sweet shoulders. Or does it? Maybe I was not entirely blameless as I bought both the twelve-inch singles for "Strut" and the Prince-penned "Sugar Walls" though I will say both songs have not survived the past thirty-two years all that well. Were there any other songs on A Private Heaven other than "Strut" or "Sugar Walls"? If I have to listen to Sheena Easton sing a song, I hereby request the song either be "9 To 5 (Morning Train)" or "Morning Train (Nine to Five)" to avoid confusion with the Dolly Parton hit "9 to 5" or the beautiful Bond theme "For Your Eyes Only" or the sexy, sassy duet with Prince "U Got The Look". Please. 
This album spent a good three years in my collection before being unceremoniously cast off for a few shekels in the purge of 1987. Though I was a big Eurythmics fan then and now, I did not like 1984 then but it has grown on me since I reacquired it last year and I think it will continue to grow on me like some sort of slow-growing musical virus. Never cared for the classic novel or the movie (or any dystopian books or movies for that matter - my vision of the future remains happy and bright) that this album was the soundtrack of but I've only seen the Director's Cut of the film and it is the one without this music; not that it would have made much difference except maybe you know as a distraction from what was happening on screen.
it's a cute, romantic cover, a color version of a photo from the same session that yielded the previous album's black and white cover art as well but 1984's Milk and Honey was weaksauce compared to Lennon's Double Fantasy, which in all fairness had been completed and ready to market before his untimely death. Which makes this album Lennon leftovers and oh no too many Yoko tracks but you know what? I came to really like two of the album's singles "Nobody Told Me" and "I'm Stepping Out" so here it is, inside the Hideaway 100

click on album title to listen
Billboard Peak
Billboard Year EndRolling Stone Year End
100Jam On RevengeNewcleus74
98A Private HeavenSheena Easton1556
971984 (For the Love of Big Brother)Eurythmics93
96Milk and HoneyJohn Lennon & Yoko Ono1191

It was hard not to hear the two singles from Stay Hungry back in 1984. Both "I Wanna Rock" and "We're Not Gonna Take It" were everywhere with their punk metal sound and can still be found today in various commercials, movies, shows and video games. Though I enjoy(ed) the anthemic shouted vocals, the crunching guitars and the martial drums, the decidedly lo-fi sound proved to be detrimental in my wannabe teenage audiophile book. Frontman Dee Snider and his fellow Sisters projected a take no prisoners menacing clown prostitute vibe, with a little bit of fluorescent cannibalistic cave man thrown in because that was what was in the wardrobe closet I guess. May have listened to this album once or twice while at work when someone else took a turn using the radio cassette player that soundtracked our shifts but couldn't begin to even name another song by the band. 
Though the album title would later be more associated with women's intimate wear than Foreigner, the 1984 Agent Provocateur album was the last gasp of a once rocking group of Brits and Americans destined to spend the next four decades singing the songs from their first five albums all around the world. The first single was the power ballad to end all power ballads; the polarizing "I Want To Know What Love Is" and it was followed by the lite rock release of "That Was Yesterday" and there were probably other singles but I tuned out. (Though I was unaware at the time, both songs were available as Extended mixes on twelve-inch singles.) My roommate Doug tagged along with me and the future Missus on Halloween Night 1985 to see Foreigner on tour behind this album and when it came time to sing "I Want To Know What Love Is" the curtain behind the band opened to reveal a gathering of local church choirs maybe a hundred voices strong and as all of us sang along, I remember getting chills down my spine. 
Much like the Sheena Easton album back at number 98, the only reason this album made the countdown is because of my wife. She's always been a big Chicago fan though unlike me, she prefers the band's Eighties output to their far superior Seventies recordings. I am certain she owned this album on vinyl and on cassette simply because she knew I did not care for Chicago 17 and she did not want to ask me to make her a cassette copy. I loathed Chicago 16 until I actually heard the "Get Away" coda tagged onto "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" one day on the radio so now I can say I like one song on the album though in full disclosure I don't think I have heard more than one other song from that album. Off the top of my head, however, I can think of four songs I know from Chicago 17 and all credit for that goes to that little brown-eyed beauty in the other room on a business call.
The banging and clanging of "People Are People" was the primary attraction of this album though the song was simultaneously available on the compilation album of the same name as well as twelve-inch single. Another good song we discovered on Some Great Reward was "Master And Servant" which could also be found on a twelve-inch single but was there ever a Depeche Mode single that didn't come out on twelve-inch? (Maybe but I don't recall any.) The album revealed the next phase in the evolution of the band: darker themed lyrics, more emotive vocals, and new synth sounds. I hadn't listened to the album in at least a dozen or so years until dusting it off for this project and it was just as I remembered it. 
Impresario Malcolm McLaren failed to match the critical acclaim or popularity of 1983's mashing of hip-hop and world music Duck Rock with 1984's Fans, the unthinkable marriage of classic opera and modern-day, synth-based R&B. But I heard the song "Madam Butterfly" with its goofy narration by McLaren himself and it struck a chord. The idea really wasn't that original, was it? The castaways on Gilligan's Island did a similar thing in an effort to impress Hollywood bigwig Harold Hecuba (Phil Silvers) by staging a musical version of Hamlet using the Howell's library of opera and classical recordings in the episode titled "The Producer." Then there was that episode of Fame where the kids were staging a production of Othello that featured the original song "Desdemona." Okay, maybe not the same idea but along the same lines plus any excuse to hear the enthusiastically sung "Desdemona" is fine by me. While I did get the twelve-inch single for "Madam Butterfly" I have yet to pick up the import-only single for "Carmen" though if anyone that can do something about it is reading this, how about a Fans Super Deluxe Edition disc with mixes from both singles included as well as the never before on CD album Swamp Thing? Or a Malcolm McLaren box set? 

click on album title to listen
Billboard Peak
Billboard Year EndRolling Stone Year End
#album titleartist1984198519841985
95Stay HungryTwisted Sister15959632
94Agent ProvocateurForeigner42063
93Chicago 17Chicago462214053
92Some Great RewardDepeche Mode519168
91FansMalcolm McLaren190

Come back tomorrow to see what the next ten albums will be.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, good stuff. Can't go wrong starting with Newcleus.