U2: Under A Blood Red Sky
Before they hit the stratosphere with ‘Unforgettable Fire’ this little EP and it’s corresponding video introduced a lot of America to U2. The Red Rocks concert footage was an early MTV staple. This album was made up of various concerts, but the Red Rocks concert was released on VHS, and to be honest, I taped the soundtrack from the video onto cassette and liked it better than the official album. There were more songs and felt more like a true concert. The cassette has since died, but still have the VHS tape and of course on CD.
Men Without Hats: Rhythm Of Youth
You can dance if you want to, but then you will miss the rest of this New Wave classic. These songs are all over the place, shifting from style to style, but it works. I got the LP in 1983 after my 2 cassettes started to go bad. ‘I Like’ and ‘Antartica’ are some of the best tunes, but the whole album is more than the sum of its parts. Finally re-released after being out of print for years.
A Flock Of Seagulls: Listen
Oh, the hair….. After a great self-titled LP, I thought they could not do better, but they sure came pretty close. Wall to wall synths in a New Wave package, ‘Listen’ is a synth pop classic. ‘Transfer Affection’ is a fantastic song, long intro, funky bass, out in space guitars, it has it all.
A friend of mine had this cassette he was playing at the beach. It was still the middle of summer ’83, and before ‘Holiday’ had hit. This was just great pop, not a great voice here, but some fun tunes, and a dance energy. Ran out and got this ‘Madonna’ album the next day. Of course little did we know the juggernaut that was being launched. Still my favorite of hers. My friend Rick’s pressing had a 4:48 version of ‘Burning Up’, had more percussion, still look at the label anytime I run across it at some thrift store, never have found that pressing or that version [and no, it is not the version on the 12 inch single].
[Update: 2-14-2016] Doing some blog cleaning and updating. The longer ‘Burning Up’ track was on some early pressings of “Madonna”, and somewhere along the line finally got a copy of it downloaded, but not the original LP from which it came.
Discogs.com notes about the original release: First East coast pressing, pressed by Capitol Records Winchester, with 4:48 version of “Burning Up”. East coast reissue with 3:41 version of “Burning Up” can be found here…etc. from: Discogs
Elvis Costello and the Attractions: Punch The Clock
God I love this record. Yes, he swerved from New Wave to Pop, but boy what a collision. EC fans like to dismiss Punch as too pop, but really it isn’t. The songs, the words, the horns, and just some fantastic tunes create something much more that just ‘pop’. “Everyday I Write The Book” does not even come close to the best song on the album. This LP is just plain fun from start to finish.
Yazoo: Upstairs at Eric’s
Yes, it came out in 1982, but I did not get it until December of that year…. I read about this album in a magazine [Rolling Stone maybe?] and was intrigued. Tracked down a copy at some record store, had a white ‘Yaz’ sticker on it, and it was covering the ‘Yazoo’ name [due to a band of the same name in America, they went as ‘Yaz’ here] so I have a US Sire Records pressing of the Yazoo album. Whoo 🙂
Seriously, this is what turned me on to synth/electronic music. Yes, the later ‘You and Me Both’ is a more traditional album, but I sill like the sound experiments of ‘I Before E Except After C’ and ‘In My Room’ from Upstairs. And what is not to like about the album art? I swear I spent hours studying it, noticing little details here and there. And frankly ‘Midnight’ is one of the best songs ever [only surpassed by the live version they released a few years ago].
Update [2-14-2016]: Cleaning up the blog, updating links. So, reading this post, I remember when I listened to this album for the first time. It in fact was not my intro to synthpop. I had “Dare” by the Human League several months earlier, plus the extended 12 inch single dance mix of “Don’t You Want Me” which was basically a dub remix, but anyway… still a fav album, but had to give the HL LP its due as my first… – jim
Depeche Mode: Construction Time Again
The fall of 1983, and to be honest, bought it for the cool record art. Still my favorite DM album, can listen to the entire LP, and like every song. Of course ‘Everything Counts’ is the track everyone knows, but ‘More Than A Party’ , ‘Pipeline’ and ‘Love, In Itself’ are my favorites.
The Police: Synchronicity
I know, it has been played to death, but every once in a while ‘Every Breath You Take” comes on the radio, and I actually listen to it, and realize this was one great album. This is one of those LPs that you can play from start to end every time [bypassing ‘Mother’, never could get into that song]. This really was the pinnacle of the Police, and still bummed they did not do one more LP, you just know it would have been great. Having got the box set ‘Message In A Box’ of all of the Police tracks, surprised how many great tracks they produced, and what a great band they were.