My 100 Favorite Albums from 1984: 60-51

It's finally Friday here at The Hideaway and today we finish up with the final ten albums of the bottom half of My 100 Favorite Albums from 1984. WARNING! The first album featured below has a pretty sad memory attached to it so if you're having a really good day or just not looking to be brought down straight off the bat, please skip down to the next album's cover image and start reading there. The sad entry isn't going anywhere and maybe someday you can circle back around to it. Ready! Set! Go!
This album would be a lot higher on the list were it not forever attached to an awful, sad memory: On the night we were to attend a Thompson Twins concert on tour for this album, my girlfriend's grandmother died. It was the saddest I had ever seen her up until that time and understandably so but it was truly heartbreaking. How could someone so breathtakingly beautiful, who made me so happy be so sad? I don't recall if we ended up going or not - the tickets are not among the 60 odd that exist here in the Archives. Though some would argue that the following album Here's To Future Days is the superior album, my allegiance lies with Into The Gap and its collection of well-crafted pop. Were it not for the associated tarnished memory, it most certainly would rate much higher. I asked my wife if she remembered the concert or that day and mercifully she said she did not though she recalls the funeral a few days later as they had Mass at the small church and then walked two miles to the forest where cemetery was in a long procession where the men dug the grave then lowered her Grandmother's simple wooden casket into its final resting place and everyone took turns throwing dirt in until the hole was filled and then they walked back down to the church.
Man oh man, I really love Talk Talk's 1982 hit "Talk Talk" but I didn't really care too much for the other three songs on the EP. Or the other five songs that were on The Party's Over album that hadn't been on that EP. I bought It's My Life a couple years later in the hopes that another rocker like "Talk Talk" would be included but there was none. Somehow in two short years, the band had taken a stylistic turn and I did not care for it. It took a few years but I eventually came around and now consider the band's brief studio discography (five albums) to be prime listening material though they never did release another "Talk Talk" and most people only know the title track of this album because No Doubt covered it twenty years later.
If you don't consider Neil Giraldo essential to Pat Benatar's success, its gonna be hard for us to be friends. Together they charted a hard-rocking course right across the early Eighties from 1979's dynamic debut In The Heat Of The Night through 1983's Get Nervous. Then came a lame live album as an excuse to introduce two new studio tracks and this, 1984's Tropico; the album where Neil and wife Pat decided to expand their sound beyond their proven, winning formula of rock hard and have petite Pat belt her little heart out. There is some interesting sound to be heard on this album but only a couple of songs stick with me and they have stuck with me hard. I know I am in the minority but "We Belong" is a tinkly tonic of wilted rock that makes me feel better and the playful, stuttering "Ooh Ooh Song" reminds of the playful, retro tunes from Tracey Ullman's debut album on Stiff Records the year before.
The extent of my Slade knowledge in 1984, prior to this album, was one song, "Merry Christmas Everybody", a Christmas chestnut that continues to pay handsome royalties annually for these glam-rock geezers. Make that two songs if you count Quiet Riot's cover of Slade's "Cum On Feel The Noize" which I loved though I had yet to hear the original yet back then. In early 1984, maybe the beginning of February, I first heard "Run Runaway" and fell in love with the drum machine duel that kicked off the song. The woman I was dating at the time was two years older; a sophomore in college to my high school senior and she had a white 1974 Pontiac Firebird Esprit with white leather interior. It was an immaculate looking car and she had wisely invested in an upgraded sound system including an Alpine cassette deck and speakers. She preferred listening to Madonna's first album but on the days she let me drive her car, after dropping her and her little sister off at the University, I would pop in a 30 minute cassette of nothing but Slade's "Run Runaway" (three times per side) which I had dubbed off a twelve-inch promo single I picked up at Al Bum's, which happened to be right across the street from where I dropped the girls off. Then I would cruise the entire not-quite-a-mile to my high school parking lot, usually just as the drum machine intro ended and the song began in earnest. One day much later, I flipped that single over and discovered "My Oh My" and then the album came out with the two songs back to back. Firebird Girl (not her real name) broke up with me shortly thereafter. But the story doesn't end there: I still see her every week as she is my sister-in-law because I ended up dating and marrying that other girl (her little sister) I used to drop off at the U. After the Firebird, she bought a brand new sweet black Honda Prelude upon graduating from nursing school in 1986. Then she bought a vintage, restored 1965 Mustang a few years later. Nowadays, she drives a 2010 white Range Rover Sport and yes, she keeps it immaculately clean. Next time she asks me to drive the Range, I'm streaming "Run Runaway" just to keep the circle unbroken.
Deep Purple are legends, the third band in a hard rocking trinity that includes fellow Rock and Roll Hall Of Famers Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. They had been around since the Sixties and could have retired after 1972's "Smoke On The Water" became one of, if not THE most single recognized guitar riff of all time. (They were also a prime inspiration for Spinal Tap.) A splintered shadow of the band broke up in 1976 and Deep Purple didn't reunite until 1984 when all the members who had played on "Smoke On The Water" got back together for the first time in eleven years. The resulting Perfect Strangers album sounding like vintage rockin' DP while fitting right in with the hard rock/AOR scene circa 1984. The title track is a Zepplin-ish drone along the lines of "Kashmir", with Jon Lord's mighty organ leading the way, while some people still don't get the epic length dirty joke that is "Knocking At Your Back Door" (hint: the title is your first clue.) I naively loved both songs very much but have ignored the rest of the album which is why it's sitting down here at 56 and not higher up in the countdown.

click on album title to listen
Billboard Peak
Billboard Year EndRolling Stone Year End
#album titleartist1984198519841985
60Into the GapThompson Twins103719
59It's My LifeTalk Talk42
58TropicoPat Benatar14
57Keep Your Hands Off My Power SupplySlade33
56Perfect StrangersDeep Purple1762

My love of Tony Carey's music has been documented and the man was on a roll in 1983 and 1984, signed as a solo act and as Planet P Project, he released four albums of new music including a double disker and then watched as a fifth, older album joined them on the charts. Carey will also appear later in the countdown but right now we have his tuneful album Some Tough City here at number 55. The album's two singles went Top 40 on the Pop chart and one "The First Day Of Summer" just missed the Top 20 on the Rock chart while the other "A Fine, Fine Day" shot straight to the top for a one week stay at the end of March. The latter track is one of my all-time favorite songs and never fails to bring to mind the good times I had in the Spring and Summer of 1984.
I was in Discount Music (or was it Discount Records?) killing time before picking up my girlfriend when I heard a song played over the store's stereo system I had never heard but instantly liked. I went up to the front counter and asked the guy what was playing. He ducked under the counter, I heard the record stop playing and he reappeared holding a record, holding it out so I could see the label.
He explained that one of his coworkers had taken the album cover home with just the sleeve in it, maybe thinking the record was inside or just because they liked the pictures that adorned the album jacket and inner sleeve. Since then, the record was stored beside the turntable in a clear sleeve and when he couldn't decide what to listen to that morning, he just grabbed the record and threw it on. That album was All Over The Place by The Bangles and the song I heard was "Hero Takes A Fall". I bought a copy of the album that day - down at Zip's because after all that Musicland Discount was sold out. The sound of the band is different than that of the other all-girl band I loved at the time The Go-Go's and its somewhat hard to describe the difference between the two but I'll try: if The Go-Go's are "summer", then on this album at least, The Bangles are "autumn" though they would become more "summer" on subsequent albums.
Kool & the Gang released their first album in 1969 and their second one followed in 1971. Then every year thereafter, the group released and charted with at least one album annually all the way up through 1984's Emergency. I became a Kool fan with 1979's "Ladies Night" which I rambled on about HERE. I like the uptempo singles off Emergency while my lady friends preferred the sappy ballad "Cherish". Those uptempo singles featured the trendy rock guitar flourishes that were all over R&B and rap singles back then as well as outstanding heavy rhythm tracks. The first three songs on the album are top notch, charting on the Pop, R&B and Dance charts.
Billy Squier was on fire after back to back Top 5 albums and nine Top 50 Rock singles across 1981 and 1982. Squier recorded all of that music with Mack producing but the two parted company after Emotions In Motion in 1982 and Squier lined up Robert John "Mutt" Lange as producer of his next album. I remember reading this news in (I think) Circus (or maybe Creem) magazine and I got excited because as of late 1983, my man Mutt had produced a half dozen of my favorite albums up to that point by AC/DC, Foreigner, and Def Leppard. Then the news came down that Lange was out and Jim Steinman was in the producer's chair. I was initially disappointed but began looking forward to what Steinman, who was primarily known as the songwriter of all the songs on Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell, and Squier could come up with together. We got our first taste in June when "Rock Me Tonite" hit the airwaves, going on to become his biggest hit on the Hot 100. I liked it a lot and had no qualms picking up the Signs Of Life album in July. "All Night Long", the first cut on the album, quickly became my favorite though and it began getting airplay as "Rock Me Tonite" logged its second week atop the Rock chart in early August. In late September, I bought a pair of tickets to the Squier show scheduled for October at Compton Terrace. For the life of me, I cannot recall who the opening act - it isn't printed on the ticket stub - was but it was a great show with Squier and the band in top form. I even bought two sweet concert muscle tees at the urging of my girlfriend who declined a wearable souvenir of her own. Steinman brought synths and lots of backing vocals to Squier's established guitar rock sound on the album and the record translated well onto the stage. At the time of recording, Steinman was asked if he was putting his personal stamp on the album and he replied: "whatever 'stamps' you might hear on this record are all Billy's. I'm just licking them before they go on the envelope."
After hearing "New Song" by Howard Jones, I threw off my mental chains and bought the EP in early 1984. Had the unexpected pleasure to see him open for Eurythmics that April at the University of Arizona and then bought his Human's Lib album a couple of weeks after graduation. I enjoyed the positivity of the lyrics and liked how well Howard married them to his music. My favorite song on the album is "Pearl In The Shell" and while I have never bothered to fully crack the coded lyrics they sound positive enough and I often use the song as my "finishing" song, the one that gets me over the finish line while taking walks.

click on album title to listen
Billboard Peak
Billboard Year EndRolling Stone Year End
#album titleartist1984198519841985
55Some Tough CityTony Carey60
54All Over the PlaceThe Bangles80
53EmergencyKool & the Gang131218
52Signs of LifeBilly Squier1180
51Human's LibHoward Jones59
Next time, we'll crack the Top 50!

1 comment:

  1. I am very much enjoying your trip through your fav 1984 albums. All of these remind me of the run I did a few years back on my own blog. Good stuff. Looking forward to the top half!