8/9/16

My 100 Favorite Albums from 1984: 90-81

Ten down, ninety more to go! Welcome to Day Two of My 100 Favorite Albums from 1984. Last time out, I confessed I got a little sloppy while editing my list. My gaffes did not end there I assure you. Please direct your attention to the 1984 graphic above - in contains all the album titles and artists of this Hideaway 100 and some appear more than once. But if you look closely, you'll find three albums and their corresponding artists that appear in the graphic that no longer appear in the countdown. Oopsies! I can't speak for you guys but I'm more interested in the albums and artists actually on the list than those that aren't, so let's make like a deodorant and roll on, shall we?
Roger Hodgson wrote, produced, directed, recorded, engineered, catered, valeted, birthed, created, conceived, constructed and otherwise played each & every single instrument (on most of the songs) on In The Eye Of The Storm, his first solo album after leaving Supertramp on good terms. The first single was the album's lead-off track, the epic "Had A Dream (Sleeping With The Enemy)" which lasts 8:30 on the album. It is a highly energetic track that has me bouncing and bopping at my desk as I try to type this and it sounds great via headphones, or from the Klipsch speakers on my desk or at loud volume in the Blueberry. The rest of the album is a damn fine listen as well though no particular songs stand out like "Had A Dream" and just listening to and writing about it makes me want to move In The Eye Of The Storm all the way up until the Top 20. Very curious to hear what others think about this one. The record-buying public was not too impressed with the album as it only peaked at number 46 while the single missed the Top 40 as well, peaking at number 48 though the program directors at AOR stations liked it enough to make it number 5 on the Top Rock Tracks chart dated December 1, 1984, behind these four tracks from four other albums that will appear later in our countdown:

#4 "We Belong" - Pat Benatar
#3 "Valotte" - Julian Lennon
#2 "The Boys Of Summer" - Don Henley
#1 "Run To You" - Bryan Adams

New Edition knocked me out with their updated squeaky Jackson 5 harmonies and electro-inspired beats & grooves of "Candy Girl" in 1983 and it was pure dumb luck when I found their self-titled second album one night at the record store while looking for something else. Dropping the needle on the album when I got home I immediately fell in love with the first two tracks on the album. They turned out to be the first two of four singles that would be released and I would stick around for one more full-length studio album (All For Love) before following Bobby Brown off on his second solo album Don't Be Cruel in 1988 (as well as the de rigueur remix album that followed in 1989) and then Bell Biv DeVoe with their Poison album in 1990 followed by a remix album in 1991.
Unlike his little brother Michael, Jermaine Jackson had been hit or miss on his three solo albums from 1980-1982. The title track from 1980's Let's Get Serious represents both Jermaine and songwriter Stevie Wonder at the height of their creative powers. Then on his very next album in 1981, Jermaine slips in his attempt to cover Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" before bouncing back with his finest and final album for Motown, Let Me Tickle Your Fancy and it's quirky title track. Then came this, his first album for Arista and his first release since Michael's Thriller and the reunion with his brothers that was Victory, just a few months prior. To his credit, Jermaine featured his brothers on a couple of the album's tracks as well as a twenty-year-old unknown Whitney Houston, who was in the midst of recording her debut album at the time. Unfortunately, there is also a straight-faced track called "Escape From The Planet Of The Ant Men" (which comes off like a brilliant Wayne Brady parody on Whose Line Is It Anyway) and a track with Pia Zadora that my lady really likes for some reason. I like the singles "Dynamite" and "Do What You Do."
I never was an R.E.M. fan per se - I like more than some of their songs and pretty much none of their albums all of the way through. But my friends have been persistent and insistent through the years that I would like them more and more upon each successive listen so I kept after it. While listening to records that came out in 1984 for this project, I listened to Reckoning late one night and then immediately played it again. Blame it on the rain, the late hour or my aged palette but I liked it, I really liked it. To be fair, that first listen was at low volume and the second was at slightly louder volume through my Grado SR-80e open back headphones. I'm sure this one is going to continue to grow on me though I wouldn't have given it the time of day back in 1984 because it was a critics darling.
I was, however, a Devo fan but the dorky, ripe-for-graffiti album cover was a turn-off and I had not heard any tracks from it so I resisted buying Shout until hearing "Here To Go" one night at Loco Records. (Which was weird because I bought plenty of records without hearing one single track. That cover must be a bigger detriment than I thought.) At home, I dubbed it onto a TDK SA90 blank and filled the tape's other side with a dozen or so of my favorite older Devo tracks though I ended up adding the "Here To Go" remix from the twelve-inch single to the Shout side of the tape sometime later. Other favorite songs from the album were the title track and the Hendrix cover that closed the album.

click on album title to listen
Billboard Peak
Billboard Year EndRolling Stone Year End
#album titleartist1984198519841985
90In the Eye of the StormRoger Hodgson46
89New EditionNew Edition62386
88Jermaine Jackson aka DynamiteJermaine Jackson19
87ReckoningR.E.M.277035
86ShoutDevo83

By all accounts, I should probably be a huge fan of Rush but after a great run of studio albums from 1980-1984, I simply lost interest in their new stuff. It wasn't their fault and I tried to make it up to them by purchasing the double disc Chronicles anthology at full price but it was too little too late and we went our separate ways. Maybe it was because I never went to see them live and believe me I really wanted to but none of my girlfriends ever wanted to go see Geddy, Neil and Alex tear it up - most of them couldn't even say the band's name without making a stink face. KLPX played at least four or five tracks from Grace Under Pressure with "The Body Electric" being the only one I could remember by name but just listening to the album in its entirety gave me that way cool deja vu feeling. Maybe I should include more Rush in my monthly listening? 
Miss Khan does wonders on her cover of the Prince-penned title track and the slow jam "Through The Fire" is as seductive as it needs to be but the rest of the album has not aged well. It sounds very bright in an Eighties way with too many machines charged with making the music - Chaka's cover of Gary Wright's most excellent "Love Is Alive" looks awesome on paper but is burdened by the soul-stealing whirring and whizzing of all the computers in the mix as well as some ill-advised stutter effects, which were a happy accident on the title track but sound forced here. I may sound rightfully down on the album and I am but the song "I Feel For You" pretty much carries the album on its back all the way up to number 84 on this Hideaway 100.
Any Styx fan will you that James "JY" Young and Tommy Shaw were the most rocking guys in the band. (Most will actually say "everyone except Dennis DeYoung.") After the difficulties of the band's Kilroy Was Here tour, Shaw left the group amid both competitive and creative tensions. Though DeYoung beat him to market with a solo album of his own and their label issued the tour memento Caught In The Act, it was Tommy Shaw's Girls With Guns album that I looked forward to the most in 1984. Both the album's title track and the great ballad "Lonely School" remain big favorites to this day. It says something, though I am not sure what, that my future wife bought the DeYoung and live albums while I opted only for Shaw's effort. I do have a shiny new dime for anyone that can adequately explain the lyrics to "Girls With Guns" to me, though. While I really like the song, I just think I would like it more if I understood what the heck he was talking about.
The movie was not that great except for a few amazing breakdancing scenes but the diverse soundtrack has some really good stuff, including several cuts produced by Arthur Baker and the Latin Rascals. Baker even steps up as an artist on the cut "Breaker's Revenge", one of the seven singles released from the nine cut album. There was probably a solid two or three week period in 1984 when I was absolutely obsessed with the Beat Street soundtrack and especially "Breaker's Revenge", which featured samples from other Arthur Baker productions as well as Shannon's "Let The Music Play". I did buy three of the twelve-inch singles from Beat Street ("Frantic Situation", "Beat Street Strut" and "Breaker's Revenge") and made my own extended mix of the soundtrack once I picked up the second volume of music from the film in February 1985. Supposedly a third volume of the film's soundtrack was planned but never realized.
I am not the only person in this house who believes in love at first listen. While we were dating, my wife often bought records after first hearing them in store. Two such records were the imported twelve inch singles for OMD's "Tesla Girls" and "Locomotion" though for whatever reason she never picked up the album they were taken from so I bought Junk Culture for her 19th birthday, shortly after she picked up "Tesla Girls". Ten months later, we saw OMD open for Power Station and watching her dance and sing along with the band remains one of my most treasured memories of her just being her. Thirty-one years later, I bought her the double disc Special Edition of Junk Culture which features the twelve-inch remixes of those two songs above on the second disc. Once again, she is the reason an album appears on this list.

click on album title to listen
Billboard Peak
Billboard Year EndRolling Stone Year End
#album titleartist1984198519841985
85Grace Under PressureRush107363
84I Feel for YouChaka Khan145776
83Girls with GunsTommy Shaw50
82Beat Streetsoundtrack14
81Junk CultureO.M.D.182
Tune in tomorrow for another ten albums!

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