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TOPIC: The 1980s

The 1980s 11 months 3 weeks ago #87

  • shaq316
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1. Skateaway (1980) by Dire Straits


Making movies in her head, the skater takes her music with her, a la Walkman radio - the precursor to the generation that tunes in with private tracks and tunes out of society for a while.

2. Vital Signs (1981) by Rush

OK, I confess I had to work in Rush somehow. But truly, this song has a lot of 80s context - Reggae styles, synthesizers and other signs that the old-school progressive rock era was fading (see Pink Floyd and Yes entries from the 80s to confirm this). Great song, great album, great band.

3. Town Called Malice (1982) by The Jam

In Thatcher’s UK, there was a lot of social unrest owing to poverty and unemployment, similar to what was occurring in the USA under Reagan.

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4. Synchronicity II (1983) by The Police

It tells the story of the frustrated worker/father/husband/son whose life is driving him to some as yet undefined act that hides like a monster in a lake.

5. How Soon is Now (1984) by The Smiths

Sometimes cited as THE song of the 80s, it pointedly tells the story of a sad social outcast who feels alone.

6. Rain on the Scarecrow (1985) by John Mellancamp

Coming from a family of farmers, this song expresses a lot of the sadness with the loss of the traditional family farm (in favor of agribusiness) that my forebears felt.

7. Don’t Dream It’s Over (1986) by Crowded House

A bit of nostalgia and maybe not of the same type as the others but important enough as a song and album it couldn’t be left off the list, particularly for the year I graduated high school and started university.

8. The Dead Heart (1987) by Midnight Oil

Diesel and Dust gave recognition to the notion that anglo nations fail to respect the aboriginal peoples they conquered and in some cases destroyed. Australia, USA, Canada - we all treated the native peoples poorly.

9. Orange Crush (1988) by R.E.M.

Everyone in the US who was born in the 60s probably has someone in their family or close friends that was touched by the Vietnam War. This album also signaled the beginning of the Warner Bros. R.E.M. (and the end of the IRS version).

10. Fight the Power (1989) by Public Enemy

Talk about societal discontent writ large. Growing up white and working/middle class, it is hard to adequately understand the anger and distrust expressed herein but Public Enemy makes the point boldly and with clearly. Rap like this raised political discourse to high art and it seems somehow unfair to call this and the gangsta variety both by the same moniker. I see them as distinct art forms though both based in a similar disdain for a system that is not fair and rules that are no

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