Top 49 Music Albums of the 1980s by Repo (2021)

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'80:10 This Is The Way. Step Inside.

[Martin] made it sound like somebody strangling a cat, and to my mind, absolutely killed the song. I was so annoyed with him and went in and gave him a piece of my mind but he just turned around and told me to fuck off. – Peter Hook, bassist for Joy Division on Martin Hammet’s production on "Atrocity Exhibition"

The Setting: Unfathomable pain. Ian was dead. Hung in his kitchen on the eve of their American tour. Bernard, Peter & Stephan are left bereft wondering how they could have missed the signs. Searching for answers that would never arrive. Two months later the album Closer is released.

The Listen: And somehow it was captured. All that inner pain. I do not know how it was captured. Like some kind of ghost. But it was. The Beatles may have a sang a great tune about weeping guitars, but, by God, Bernard’s guitar wept and wailed to the high heavens. Like a strangled cat. Like barbwire. The drums haunt & stalk. Circling around the procession like a slow brooding tempest threatening rain. Meanwhile Ian had no more tears to shed. His tears and blood had long since drained away. Pooled at his feet and reflecting back at him until he saw no way forward.

The Verdict. More a crypt than an album, Ian continues to live in its epically darkened grooves. Providing comfort that he also knows and shares our pain. Forever.

Rating: Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil
[First added to this chart: 06/05/2021]
Year of Release:
1980
Appears in:
Rank Score:
20,603
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'80:6 The Beat Goes On
aka Play that Funky Music White Boys & Girl

The Setting: After More Songs... and Fear of Music, The Talking Heads were the leaders of the Art Punk school in the States (sorry, Pere Ubu). Questioned by know one. Respected by everyone. Perhaps most surprising was how funky and groovy this bunch of seemingly over-caffeinated, over-educated nice white kids could be. So good that they won the highly prized Eno treatment regimen a third time running.

The Listen: It’s just hard not to be floored. It’s tight. Funky. A fine metal being coiled and compressed. Tightened. Tension rising as you dance at the building’s edge. So close you feel you’re going fall. But, everything is measured just so. You know you’re safe. They went to architecture school after all. They know a thing or two about crafting their buildings from songs. And Eno was never one to completely lose control. He loved bolting down a cracking fail safe.

Verdict: Even better than my beloved Seventeen Seconds, Remains In Light deserves what it got - the highly coveted Critic’s Pet Award of 1980. Fresh and vibrant and meticulous and funky. Fripp’s guitar exploding in Fripponacci loops of color. Eno melting everything in the deep fryer he calls a production board. A Masterpiece.

Rating: Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil
[First added to this chart: 05/10/2021]
Year of Release:
1980
Appears in:
Rank Score:
35,285
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'80:1 I’m Running to What’s Nothing!
Again & Again & AGAIN! (What’s wrong with me! Brick wall Laughing )

Setting: There was no way to expect this. Not in 1980. Three Imaginary Boys was a brilliant and massively creative album in the realm of punk. Not only that, but clearly they could write songs. Boys Don’t Cry, Killing an Arab and 10:15 Saturday Night are all massive punk singles. So if you were paying attention, you knew they had the potential to be players. Robert Smith had other ideas. And ripped up yesterday and started anew. He conjured an atmosphere that at the time was only rivaled by Joy Division (who just may get a shout out here soon. What do you think? Think )

The Listen: This album still blows my mind this many years later. The minor keys. The world building. One of those albums that brings me to literal tears because it's so brilliant. The Cure would make other great albums. But, this was the initial unveiling of Robert Smith's Extended Universe. And I'd say it's better than Iron Man! Twisted Evil

Verdict: There is no way in hell that this isn't making the cut! A no brainer.

Grade: Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil (Stealing this from Mercury! Because I like it! That's how art works, people! lol)
[First added to this chart: 05/03/2021]
Year of Release:
1980
Appears in:
Rank Score:
3,241
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'80:16 Waka Waka Waka (Amen Amen Amen)

Through Jesus Christ our Lord
By the grace of Almighty Lord
Through Jesus Christ our Lord
By the grace of Almighty Lord
In Spiritus Christus…
Allah Wakubar Mohammed Salamalekum...

Waka, waka, waka! (Coffin for Head of State)

The Setting: Fed up with Fela pointing a bright light on their hypocrisy and corruption, Nigeria’s military government was hell bent on teaching Fela a lesson. A thousand soldiers descended. Left right. Left right. They marched. Raping women as they went. Left right. Left right. They attacked. Left right. Left right. His mother was thown from a window out onto the street below. Left right. Left right. “Them killed my Momma!” That’s my Momma that you killed! She’s the only mother of Nigeria!” Fela cried on his 1979 heartbreaking and epic single “Unknown Soldier.” Few songs made you feel a man’s (and a country’s!) pain more thoroughly. And Fela was just getting started.

Listen: Wake up! This is a man who’s been wronged. A man who lost his mother. Due to the very state that was supposed to protect him. Sound familiar? What we have here in the United States is not unique. The powerful hurt the powerless. How do we fix this? More police? Less police? It does not matter, brothers & sisters. Those are human answers. And human answers will not fix this problem. The last four years have proved that. But, there is a way. Fela knows this. A path to peace. The spiritual path. Through Jesus. Through Mohammed. Amen.

Verdict: A psalm as much as it is a song, Fela’s eulogy to his mother ascends beyond the human world to the spiritual world beyond. And that’s where all true answers lie. As moving an EP as you will ever hear, it deserves to be known as one of Fela’s essential works.

Rating: Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil
[First added to this chart: 07/05/2021]
Year of Release:
1980
Appears in:
Rank Score:
147
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('80: 7) 15 Minutes
Aka Transitions

So after Michael and Erica left, I’d take off the Joni Mitchell and put on Uriah Heap and Deep Purple, ya know, just anything loud and abrasive. Gregg actually didn’t have any choice because I was the guy behind the counter– but I liked Greg. I liked talking to him. You know, it was cool hanging out with him … so that’s how we came together. That’s where the seeds of Black Flag were planted, in that record store in Hermosa Beach. - Keith Morris on forming Black Flag
The Setting: Hermosa Beach 1978. Greg Ginn waiting for his sister to come back from a quick cop & feel. Keith Morris and him bond over their mutual hatred of California Rock and love of Uriah Heap at a record store. And Black Flag is born. Their first EP Nervous Breakdown essentially creates Hardcore Punk. Can we all agree that’s the most logical ground zero of consequence? (If you have an alternative staring point, LET ME KNOW!) Keith & Ginn, being total opposites, lasted a year or so together before “creative differences” started to be thrown about. So Keith bolted, with ample amounts of coke and grass to get some "fresh air," and formed Circle Jerks with Greg Hetson of later Bad Religion fame.

The Listen: 15 minutes. That’s all it took. 14 songs in 15 minutes. And Orange County Hardcore had its first classic album.

Verdict: Duh. R u even paying attention? All these years later. And STILL all those seamless transitions between songs kill me. And it wasn't by accident as later rehearsal tapes proved. Professional Hardcore Savants!

Rating: Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil
[First added to this chart: 05/21/2021]
Year of Release:
1980
Appears in:
Rank Score:
197
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’80:2 Tears For Remembrance. Tears for Joy.

Setting: It didn’t take very long. Maiden were just that much better than everybody else. And it was bloody obvious right from the beginning, my friends. 1980 was the year that the New Wave Of British Metal (NWOBHM) took the metal world by storm. It boasted seminal releases from Angel Witch, Diamond Head, Saxon (x2!), Judas Priest and Motorhead. (That's a shitload of important albums! I almost feel that one of these SIX ( Twisted Evil ) albums just has to make the list too. Don’t you?! Think ) But the best of them all, even at this stage, was Maiden with this almost unbelievably confident and assured debut.

The Listen: Again, the most startling aspect on hearing this again is their maturity and confidence. Almost impossible to believe that this is their debut. Like The Cure, they create an atmosphere that is unrivaled. “Remember Tomorrow” and “Strange World” being the most obvious examples.

Verdict: This is bloody simple ain’t it! Throw it on the pyre, boys and be down with it. We got ourselves another keeper!

Rating: Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil
[First added to this chart: 05/03/2021]
Year of Release:
1980
Appears in:
Rank Score:
1,835
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'80:9 Heatlemania
Aka What If

Then we played like 10 of our own songs and people didn’t know the difference. We all just looked at each other, and go, ‘[Forget] this, we’re gonna do our own songs. I think this is gonna work.’” - Ken Deans, drummer of The Heats

The Setting: It all started at a school dance. They were just going to play some basic rock covers. BUT, they got that itch... "What if?", they thought. So they played one original. And then another. And the teens couldn’t get enough. After a cover story in the local rag, Heatlemania unofficially broke out across Seattle and The Heaters, as they were then called, became the hottest band in town.

But, “We [weren’t] punk enough for the punk crowd, and we [weren’t] pop enough for the Top 40 crowd,” states drummer Ken Deans. Not able to score a major recording contract they were stuck as a regional wonder kind. And a different "What If?" emerged. “What if” they had been based in LA, New York, or London? Could they have competed with the big boys?

The Listen: You had better believe it! These boys could play. Simply one of the best power pop albums of the 80s, this is a true and blue lost classic. If you dig early Beatles, The Posies, and The Figgs, you may just fall in love all over again.

The Verdict. Don’t you just love hidden gems? Sure it’s a little dusty, but give it a spit & shine and a chance, and this little record will make you dance!

Rating: Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil
[First added to this chart: 05/31/2021]
Year of Release:
1980
Appears in:
Rank Score:
24
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'80:8 Pop Forward

The Setting: After leaving The Supremes in the late 60s, Diana Ross simply owned the 70s with an extremely successful & prolific solo career riding the trends of 70s R&B, funk and disco. In many ways she was the living breathing embodiment of all those 70s empowerment anthems that ruled the radio waves. So it really shouldn’t have been a surprise that after releasing yet another GREAT R&B/disco album with The Boss in 1979, that she set her sights on a complete reinvention of her sound. Disco was getting stale. So she drafted Chic’s A Team of Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards and along with a crucial heavy hand at the mixing board by Russ Terrana completely updated her sound leaving many of her most ardent fans a bit flabbergasted.

The Listen: Oh but it did it ever work. One of the most successful reinventions of any R&B/Pop artist ever, Diana marks the end of disco and the start of 80s Pop. Diana proved to be the sassy survivor she sang so much about in the 70s. Along with Prince’s Dirty Mind, Diana serves as the template for 80s Pop that was about to take over the world with Michael Jackson and Madonna.

The Verdict: One of the best Pop albums of the 80s. Period. Every song on here is solid, addicting and will have you singing along in no time flat.

Rating: Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil
[First added to this chart: 05/27/2021]
Year of Release:
1980
Appears in:
Rank Score:
452
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'80:13 Finders Keepers

I think I lost it
Let me know if you come across it
Let me know if I let it fall
Along a back road somewhere (I Lost It)

The Setting: Daughter of a professor, poet and Delta Blues fanatic, Lucinda had the advantage of an atypical musical and literary education. As her family bounced from college town to town throughout the South and even as far asunder as Mexico City, Lucinda soaked up the rich musical traditions of each place. So it’s no wonder that her albums offer up a potent amalgamation of Country, Blues and Folk. She took her father’s rather scholarly approach to her first album – Ramblin'. An earnest and rootsy debut of country blues covers. Emboldened by that successful exercise, Lucinda took to pen & paper to craft her own batch of down home country folk tunes on Happy Woman Blues. “Promising!” critics declared. BUT, the critic would always add, certainly no match for her later works. The critical consensus to date could best be summed up with: An interesting “youthful” exercise before “finding her voice” on her 90s classics. So why am I bothering with this album you may ask?

The Listen: Critics are idiots. Cowardly followers more than ready to stick to the party line. Time and time again I find on my deep dives that the critical consensus is pure bollocks. Sure, Lucinda’s songs would become more glossed out & more fleshed out on coming albums, but personally I love the stripped down, heart barred vibe she dons here like a well worn pair of blue jeans. It has wormed its way into my love torn heart over the last two months. “I Lost It” and “Howlin at Midnight” in particular has resonated with me as I Iinger on the back roads of my love for my girl. Both songs completely capturing how it feels when you lose that special someone. Her songwriting here is as good as it will ever be, my friends. Lucinda wasn’t finding her voice on Happy Woman Blues. She’d already found it.

The Verdict: Happy Woman Blues is secretly one of Lucinda’s best albums. If you like stripped down folk, blues, and country, go comb these back roads and scoop up what those dumbass critics let fall. “You’re not going to find another one to compare.“

The Rating: Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil
[First added to this chart: 06/13/2021]
Year of Release:
1980
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Rank Score:
47
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'80:15 The FUN Factor

The Setting: The Specials were THE definitive band of the second wave of ska. Their debut could almost be considered a greatest hits album for the Two Tone scene. So this is just More of the same, right? Probably just a weak collection of B-sides rushed to market to capitalize on the ska revival, right?

The Listen: I know what you’re thinking. THIS can’t be the FIVE star Specials album. That’s the debut. EVERYONE knows that. That’s what I always assumed too, guys. So I was pretty surprised to see Purplepash pick this. BUT, you know what? It actually works far better as an ALBUM than the debut. The debut feels like a collection of singles whereas this feels cohesive & remarkedly varied. And there’s even MORE genre mashing. The Specials ability to mash up multiple different genres from years past and make it fresh & new & that's right - FUN - is pretty much unparalleled.

The Verdict: A remarkable diversion of an album. Throwing this on creates an instantaneous House Party atmosphere. Like when you were hanging out in your dorm room and that one cool guy down the hall not only had alcohol but new how to make Fuzzy Navels (with Vodka of course!). A total house party classic. I NEED one second-wave ska album on this list to capture the spirit of 1980. This may get knocked off further down the line by The English Beat, but this is certainly a worthy contender for the 1980 ska throne.

Rating: Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil
[First added to this chart: 06/25/2021]
Year of Release:
1980
Appears in:
Rank Score:
352
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Comments:
Total albums: 49. Page 1 of 5

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Top 49 Music Albums of the 1980s composition

Year Albums %


1980 21 43%
1981 5 10%
1982 5 10%
1983 3 6%
1984 6 12%
1985 1 2%
1986 1 2%
1987 4 8%
1988 1 2%
1989 2 4%
Country Albums %


United States 22 45%
United Kingdom 19 39%
Jamaica 4 8%
Senegal 1 2%
Australia 1 2%
Nigeria 1 2%
Japan 1 2%
Live? Albums %
No 47 96%
Yes 2 4%

Top 49 Music Albums of the 1980s chart changes

Biggest fallers
Faller Down 1 from 14th to 15th
Crocodiles
by Echo & The Bunnymen
Faller Down 1 from 15th to 16th
McCartney II
by Paul McCartney
Faller Down 1 from 16th to 17th
Kurtis Blow
by Kurtis Blow

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Best Artists of the 1980s
1. The Smiths
2. Pixies
3. Prince
4. The Cure
5. Talking Heads
6. U2
7. Metallica
8. The Stone Roses
9. R.E.M.
10. Sonic Youth
11. Kate Bush
12. Bruce Springsteen
13. Michael Jackson
14. Tom Waits
15. Joy Division
16. Prince And The Revolution
17. Iron Maiden
18. New Order
19. Rush
20. Talk Talk
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