3/10/17

My Favorite Debut Albums - The Class of 1980

While conversing with the Notorious S.R.K. the other day, the topic of Debut Albums released in the Eighties came up. I'm not claiming that I owned these records in 1980 - I may not even have heard them in 1980 - but over the years each of these albums have become favorites of mine for myriad reasons and I've decided to share them. And, according to my three minutes of research, all were released in 1980.
So much more than the infamous "Video Killed the Radio Star" single and music video, The Age Of Plastic is an enjoyable listen through and through. For the record, "Video Killed The Radio Star" was not only the first video aired on MTV, it was also the 142nd video played on the fledgling channel. And not one but both of those airings were followed by this particular video:
I have my good friend Robert Rottet to thank for showing up at the school bus stop one day in the Fall of 1980 with the Def Leppard triangular logo on his guitar case, sparking a conversation which led to a revelatory album listening session later that week at his house where I first heard not only On Through The Night but AC/DC's Back In Black and Pat Benatar's Crimes Of Passion. My musical tastes would never be the same.
I'm pretty sure I heard "Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)" on the radio in the Spring of 1981, nearly a year after the Bad Reputation album had been released though I have no memories of hearing the title track on the airwaves until after the success of "I Love Rock N' Roll". While I have mixed feelings about the provenance of "Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)", Jett's kick-ass gender-reversed performance conjures nothing but pleasant memories for me - it was a damn near perfect song for me as a horny, nearly fifteen-year-old boy.
A disco-rock hybrid, "Turn Me Loose" has always been best heard on an high-powered car audio system, pushed to the edge, so it gets a lot of plays in The Blueberry. It is my favorite Loverboy album and the whole thing gets played regularly on extended road trips. The riff in "Little Girl" reminds me of Devo's "Girl U Want", also from 1980.
I feel I discovered New Musik much later than I should have but quickly made up for lost time by enjoying just about everything they ever released. I probably would have enjoyed them had I heard them back in 1980 but they weren't getting any play on WLS that I recall. Their US label - Epic - tried a couple of different ways to break them here: first in 1980, as part of the Nu Disk series of ten-inch EPs with Straight Lines and then with the 1981 compilation album Sanctuary, comprised of tracks from their first two albums (From A To B and Anywhere). They would only manage a third album, 1982's Warp, before breaking up. Highly recommended. The video below is a clip from UK's Top Of The Pops, which I have been making my way through binge-style with six episodes at a time from 1980 through 1982.
"Brass In Pocket" was a great tune but it gave precious little indication what awaited us on Pretenders and while I enjoy listening to the album through and through, the closing track "Mystery Track" is the album's defining moment for me. Record buyers in the UK preferred "Brass In Pocket", sending it to Number One and this Top Of The Pops appearance:
Like the Def Leppard album featured earlier, I can remember exactly when I first heard Rockpile's Seconds Of Pleasure. Well, not the whole album but the two songs they performed on Fridays on December 19, 1980. At the time, I had no idea that Rockpile was something of a "supergroup" and thought their live performance was a bit too rough for my super cool fourteen-year-old ears. Flash-forward a month, to January 17, 1981, when one of the greatest episodes of American Bandstand aired, featuring Rockpile miming to "Teacher, Teacher" and The Kings miming their Top 10 WLS hit "Switchin' To Glide". I bought both Seconds Of Pleasure and The Kings Are Here shortly after witnessing that goodness and the former was my introduction to the works of Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds. Well, maybe not, but I don't think I made the connection between "Cruel To Be Kind" Nick Lowe and Rockpile Nick Lowe until some time later, though, in the crystal-clear clarity of hindsight, you can see the band in the video for "Cruel To Be Kind". Plus "Cruel To Be Kind" and "Teacher, Teacher" sound a lot alike to my ears.
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That concludes my short list of Favorite Debut Albums - The Class of 1980. I would love to hear your own picks so hit me up in the Comments below. I've penciled in The 1981 Edition for a mid-April appearance.

3 comments:

  1. Good list.

    "Do You Wanna Touch Me" was released as a single (and the Bad Reputation album given a second push) after the success of I Love Rock & Roll. I still have the single, which came in a picture sleeve. Bad Reputation was (and remains) a scary-good album.

    My first copy of the Pretenders' debut was on a cassette a friend made for me. On the other side was Warren Zevon's Excitable Boy. Kinda appropriate, in a way.

    The Rockpile album is excellent; and the LP came with an EP that was even better - Nick and Dave singing Everly Bros. songs. (I believe they're now the bonus songs on the CD.)

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    1. Prompted by your comment and a nagging feeling of incompleteness on my part, I did some further research post post and discovered that the Joan Jett track debuted on the very first Billboard Top Tracks chart on March 21, 1981, where it appeared at number 55 on the 60 position chart.

      The majority of those sixty tracks were getting airplay on my new favorite station of the time, KLPX, including the track way up at number 6 on that initial chart: "Turn Me Loose" by Lover Boy (sic).

      After hearing and really liking "Brass In Pocket", my circuitous route to the Pretenders first album began when I bought their Extended Play for the rocking track "Message Of Love", which sat at number 22 on the chart mentioned above. Then I worked my way backwards to the debut album and discovered "Mystery Achievement".

      Now that you mention it, Zevon's Excitable Boy does kind of pair nicely with Pretenders. I seem to recall you could almost squeeze the first two Pretenders albums on one TDK SA90 but ultimately both albums ended up being cut off right near the end.

      My copy of Seconds Of Pleasure did indeed come with that sweet seven-inch EP of Everly Brothers covers and sure enough, those tracks were appended to the CD release of the album though the most recent CD issue from 2004 has an additional three tracks, all recorded live. I also neglected to mention the Nick Lowe/Pretenders connection in my post.

      Was hoping you would share some of your own Favorite Debut Albums from 1980 but you're probably saving such a list for a post of your own.

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    2. Nah, my top three would be Joan, the Pretenders and Rockpile. Loved and played them all to death, though (like most) I didn't get Bad Rep until after I Love Rock 'n' Roll.

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