Nearly all of the Best Albums of (whatever year) lists exclude compilations; not mine. As stated previously, if an album showed a release date of 1984, it was eligible. Doesn't mean I bought it in 1984 or even listened to it in 1984. It is exactly like it says up there in the title, these are My Favorite Albums from 1984. Here are ten more of them!
Rewind was the first Rolling Stones CD I ever bought but I didn't pick it up until 1986 just before my friends bought me my first CD player for Christmas 1986. I had picked up the album on vinyl shortly after it was released in the Summer of 1984, wrapping up my whirlwind journey through Rolling Stones compilations: Through The Past, Darkly; More Hot Rocks; Made In The Shade; Hot Rocks; Big Hits and Sucking In The Seventies. After buying Undercover in 1983, I wanted to go backward through the Stones discography and those compilations were the fastest and cheapest way to sample their entire oeuvre. I didn't own that Rewind CD very long; it was sold off in the Purge of 1987-1988 but I still have my vinyl copy. And the answer to the yet-to-be-asked trivia question "What was the first thing you ever bought on eBay?" is CD copies of Made In The Shade and Rewind.
When I first started compiling this list, this album was set to be in the lower quadrant, the bottom 25 solely based on one song I really liked - "You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)". Then I listened to the album. Twice. And here it sits way up at number 39. Jackson had made a habit of hopping from genre to genre since going Beat Crazy on his third album. After forays into big band swing (Jumpin' Jive), "cosmoPOPlitan" (Night And Day), and a soundtrack album (Mike's Murder), Jackson got a little jazzed out on his seventh album, Body and Soul in 1984. Upon further listening, the album has more than a few stylistic similarities to Night And Day - salsa tracks, piano ballads, and danceable tracks. More so that any other album I've said this about thus far, Body and Soul is going to be getting more airtime here at The Hideaway. It's an album I can walk to, chill to, cook to, groove to and even listen to while monsoon season wraps up. Good stuff.
The band General Public sound like a smoothed out, popped up version of English Beat precisely because the two voices of the latter group fronted the former group but the group also had a few ringers among its Ranking Roger(s), including former members of The Specials and The Clash. Though it had been released at the beginning of the year, ...All The Rage was still a favored party album for a few months when I began in college in the Fall of 1984 and could be heard blasting from dorm room windows and frat houses while strolling the campus after dark or on weekends. (I remember hearing the Synchronicity album from the year before quite a lot on campus in Fall of 1984 as well.) The powers that be, namely my supervisor during overnight stocking shifts at Target tried their best to get me to dislike this album by playing it over the store's PA system incessantly; sometimes up to ten times in an eight-hour shift. But I liked it then and I like it now.
I loved Madonna's built for the dance-floor first album but unlike the rest of the human race, the follow-up Like A Virgin has never been a favorite album of mine. Her bid for the pop charts and confessed ambition of world domination were turn-offs but album tracks "Angel" and "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" (a Rose Royce cover!) remain heavily played favorites around here. I will give the Material Girl points for not looking too blonde on the album cover and for taking the Beastie Boys out as her opening act on tour behind the album in 1985. I almost got to go though I was later disappointed to learn that the Beasties were not the first choice for the coveted opening act position - the Fat Boys were. And then Run-D.M.C. were offered up but lost the gig because they wanted too much money and so the Beastie Boys slid into the spot.
"Scuttle Buttin'" kicks off Stevie Ray Vaughan's sophomore album with a bang and then he immediately cools things down with the album's title track. And the album gets better and better until the final two tracks, which come as a letdown for this listener. One of the unspoken benefits of dating my future wife was getting to know her family who in my case included a locally-famous blues musician, a world-touring self-taught bassist who names James Jamerson and Jaco Pastorious as his two biggest influences and idols. The guy and I bonded over my love of music and he turned me on to more than a few artists and albums I would not have heard otherwise. We also bonded over mutual love of acts like The Meters, The Doobie Brothers, Tower Of Power, and Stevie Ray Vaughan though I should point out that being a career performing and recording sideman, this guy always gave credit to Stevie's band, Double Trouble; so it never was just Stevie Ray Vaughan - it is always Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.
|click on album title to listen|
|Billboard Year End||Rolling Stone Year End|
|40||Rewind (1971–1984)||The Rolling Stones||86|
|39||Body and Soul||Joe Jackson||20||66||37|
|38||...All The Rage||General Public||26||59||91|
|37||Like a Virgin||Madonna||1||3||2|
|36||Couldn't Stand the Weather||Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble||31||33|
I remember cleaning out the fryers one particular night at work trying not to burn myself on the oil or the heating elements while enjoying the store's best radio-listening position with the radio just three feet from my head. It was after 10pm and the DJ on KLPX just said something like "this one was just delivered today" or "fresh out of the mailbox" and then that keyboard came in, then the band joined in and that first chorus. Co-workers shouted from the lobby and slicer area to turn the volume up and the manager got up from her desk and walked over and turned it up. While the song "Runaway" no longer has that first-listen rush of dopamine, I still enjoy listening to it. There was a guy at work who spent his hard-earned minimum-wage fast-food paychecks on cassette tapes; he had them piled up in the passenger seat and floorboard. About two weeks after that night, he showed up with Bon Jovi and I heard the whole album for the first time, falling for another tune whose lyrics resonated with me: "She Don't Know Me", which turned out to be a cover. I was fortunate enough to see Bon Jovi in concert as both an opener and a headliner and I've said it before but I feel it bears repeating: those concerts had the most attractive women I have ever seen at any of the concerts I have attended. It was just unfair.
Running a distant third to Ozzy Osbourne and Iron Maiden as the most favored heavy metal group in the halls of Tucson High were Judas Priest. They were my first concert back in November 1982 and I love their Screaming For Vengeance album. The follow-up Defenders Of The Faith was released on our first day back after Christmas Vacation 1983 and at our school's third annual Air Guitar Championships that Spring, two songs from the album were performed: frantic album opener "Freewheel Burning" and the ferociously pounding "Love Bites", which made number 3 on the PMRC's list of filthy songs. Defenders offered more of the same from Screaming - shorter, uptempo metal anthems with stadium-ready shout-along choruses. The album turned out to be one of those rare albums of any genre; it has more songs I like than those I don't. My second Priest concert was up in Phoenix in May 1984, about a month before graduation with Great White opening. As far as imagery and icons go, I've always preferred Doug Johnson's techno-beasts The Hellion and Metallian from Preist's Screaming For Vengeance and Defenders Of The Faith albums, respectively.
In my most recent unscientific friends and family text poll, the results were clearly unanimous: Heartbeat City seems to be everyone's favorite Cars album. Everyone except me and maybe you that is. I'm a Shake It Up guy though some days find me leaning towards their masterful debut. Heartbeat City married the Cars precise studio-honed sound to the arena-rock-ready production stylings of "Mutt" Lange and the result was sheer pop perfection, with five top 40 singles including one of my favorite twelve-inch remixes ("Hello Again") and the official theme song of the alien ants of Braindead ("You Might Think"). A recent spin through the album brought familiarity with all but one song: "Looking For Love". My favorite thing about the album was the cover artwork by Peter Phillips, a 1972 piece entitled Art-O-Matic Loop di Loop with a flip-flop wearing gymnast and a sweet Plymouth Duster vying for our attention. We saw the band on their Heartbeat City Tour in September 1984 at the same venue we had seen Judas Priest four months prior: Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which was the largest venue in the Phoenix Metropolitan area at that time with 15,800 seats outside of Arizona State's Sun Devil Stadium (30,000) and the ASU Activity Center (14,000). The Cars had Wang Chung as their opening act and the concert was really enjoyable: the sound was amazing (a rarity for the aging venue), the crowd was well-behaved (which used to be the norm, not the exception) and the setlist was filled with favorites from their catalog.
Though the album sounds incredibly dated these days, Klymaxx's Meeting In The Ladies Room was hot stuff back in the day. An all girl R&B band with attitude and groove to spare, they had three huge hits with the album's title track, "The Men All Pause" and the ballad "I Miss You". Listening to the album takes me back. The electronic drums are a bit much now but they were all the rage in 1983-1986; I blame no one but myself for still enjoying these songs through the years. These were state of the chart club jams; sassy, brassy and built for the dance floor. And that ballad was the finest kind, a break up to make up song.
My favorite metal acts in 1984 were AC/DC, Judas Priest, and Scorpions. The latter's 1982 album Blackout was still garnering major radio airplay in my neck of the woods in no small part to our unofficial state anthem "Arizona". Then came "Rock You Like A Hurricane", the first single off Love At First Sting. It was a pounding, anthemic sexually suggestive song that was immediately popular. Then the second single "Still Loving You" hit the airwaves, a power ballad that made the ladies swoon. I bought the album the day before we went to the show in early April 1984 and we listened to it as we drove down to the venue. In a moment that eerily paralleled a scene from the just released film This Is Spinal Tap, the band members in Scorpions were launched up onto the stage in giant pneumatic tubes, kicking the doors open and launching into song. Except one guy, I forget who, couldn't kick his door open and a roadie ran out and opened it quickly. This album pales in comparison to Blackout for this fan but it succeeded in getting the female of the species to purchase a metal album, making it the band's most successful selling album. Until Whitesnake's 1987 album, it was the only metal album most girls I knew owned unless you count Def Leppard as metal. In September 1985, Scorpions headlined a day of metal at Compton Terrace as part of the tour behind their World Wide Live album and the pneumatic tubes were absent from their set. I have always enjoyed "Rock You Like A Hurricane" despite the typical metal misogyny lyrics and it is the sole reason the album is way up here at number 31 but I've always thought the bass on the track was fairly non-existent. I feel it was greatly improved on the recent remastering by Audio Fidelity but am curious if anyone else thought the track should have sounded heavier from the git-go?