What are the Essential (Non-Obvious)
Albums of the ’80s?

I hail from Generation X while my fifteen-year-old daughter is a member of Generation Y. Yet while our generations are alphabetically close, there is a vast chasm between us musically. She’s grown up in the American Idol-era of Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daugherty, and Carrie Underwood. To her, N’Sync is “old school” which makes the music of my high school years seem positively pre-historic.

Perhaps because of a lack of exposure, she isn’t able to grasp the strange and subtle beauty of ’80s music. So in order to refine her musical sensibilities, I’ll need open her ears. Which raises a question that I will put to the collective wisdom of the blogosphere:

‘What handful of essential but non-obvious albums would you recommend to a teen to persuade them that the 80’s were not a musical wasteland?’

The key element is “non-obvious.” Anything from REM, U2, The Clash, Springsteen, or the soundtracks of any John Hughes movie is automatically disqualified. Be prepared to defend your choices — especially if your selection includes any hair/metal bands.

Also, if you’re your list includes RATT, Culture Club, or Wham!, please close your browser and never, ever visit this blog again.

Here are a handful of my choices:

The Smiths The Queen is Dead & World Won’t Listen — The soundtracks for the lives of future meterosexuals.

The Tubes Outside/Inside — ‘She’s a Beauty’ was the most played song of my junior year though ‘Wild Women of Wongo’ came a close second.

Randy Travis Storms of Life — This debut album marked both the birth of neo-traditional country and the peak of Travis’ career.

A-ha Hunting High and Low — But just the stuff that didn’t make it on the radio (e.g., ‘Sun Always Shines On T.V.’).

The Lost Boys Original Soundtrack — The coolest album of alternative music for alt-wannabes.

Peter Gabriel So — The one with ‘Big Time’ and ‘Sledgehammer’. ‘Nuff said.

Kate Bush The Whole Story – The godmother of Lilith fair-type fem alt-rock.

George Strait Greatest Hits — 50+ albums later, Strait has yet to top this collection from ’86.

Luther Vandross The Best of Luther Vandross — Vandross was Johnny Mathis for Generation-X.

James Ingram It’s Your Night — This one has been in my tape deck (well, CD player now) since 1986. It never gets old.

Steve Taylor I Predict 1990 — The man who saved us from a lifetime of Amy Grant and Petra clones.

Dire Straits Brothers in Arms — Mark Knopfler isn’t a great singer (he sounds like a coherent Bob Dylan) but this album makes the cut solely because of “Your Latest Trick.”

Garth Brooks Garth Brooks — Difficult as it is to imagine now, Brooks was once a great artist. Sadly, he peaked with his debut album (indeed, peaked with his first single–Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)–his greatest song).

Honorable mentions:

Crowded House Crowded House

Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent d’Arby

White Heart Greatest Hits

Sade Stronger Than Pride

Duran Duran Rio

Level 42 World Machine

Squeeze Singles 45’s and Under

Add your list on your blog or in the comments and I’ll include the best entries to this post.

Published by

Joe Carter

Joe Carter founded Evangelical Outpost in 2005. He is the web editor for First Things and an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. A fifteen-year Marine Corps veteran, he previously served as the managing editor for the online magazine Culture11 and The East Texas Tribune. Joe has also served as the Director of Research and Rapid Response for the Mike Huckabee for President campaign and as a director of communications for both the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity and Family Research Council. He is the co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicaton.

  • http://pagels.teamexpansion.org/sqjtaipei sqjtaipei

    I was going to mention I Predict 1990 so was happy to see it already there…
    Here’s some more off the top of my head… some I liked then, but don’t now… some I do now but didn’t then… so don’t conclude too much about me by this list. Also… most of these were truly popular albums… so maybe they are either obvious or otherwise not what you are looking for. Either way… I had fun reading your list and thinking of albums to add to the discussion…
    REO Speedwagon – The Hits (includes several songs from the 70s)
    Chicago – Chicago 17
    Lionel Richie – Can’t Slow Down*
    AC/DC – For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)**
    Def Leppard – Pyromania
    Bryan Adams – Reckless
    Prince – Purple Rain
    Midnight Oil – Diesel and Dust
    The Police – Synchronicity
    The 77s – The 77s
    Run-D.M.C. – Raising Hell
    INXS – Kick
    Phil Collins – No Jacket Required
    *David Cook sang “Hello” on American Idol so this might be a good album to start with?
    **some would say that Back in Black was better and led to the success of this album… they are probably not wrong, IMO… but a case could be made either way. I chose this album because the title song absolutely rocks… but so does much of Back in Black. However… I’m not sure we want our daughters paying *any* attention to these guys anyway…

  • http://elusivewapiti.blogspot.com Elusive Wapiti

    I second the nominations for Duran Duran – Rio, Level 42, and Def Leppard – Pyromania, Bryan Adams, and INXS.
    Here are some others that should make the list:
    Camouflage – Voices and Images
    Depeche Mode – Music for the Masses
    New Order – 1987
    Guns and Roses – Appetite for Destruction
    Genesis – Invisible Touch
    Rush – Hold Your Fire
    Of these, Depeche Mode is prolly the best

  • Dale

    Anything by Dire Straits.
    Stevie Ray Vaughan – Couldn’t Stand the Weather is my favorite.

  • http://freechristianresources.org David at FreeChristianResources

    The Smiths and The Lost Biys were great.
    And the tail end of The Jam (not sure that they made on impact on the US).
    Aaaaah, memories!

  • Matt

    Weezer – The Blue Album – When this came out my senior year of high school I fully embraced my own nerdness. Thank you Weezer for helping me to realize that nerds can be cool too!

  • http://boundedirrationality.blogspot.com econ grad stud

    I’d offer up:
    Genesis- Duke
    Phil Collins- Face Value
    Rush- Exit…Stage Left

  • ucfengr

    The problem with any kind of “non obvious” list is that it is going to include a lot of painfully obvious choices, like Peter Gabriel’s So, for example. “So” had half a dozen top 10 hits in 1986, how can it not be an obvious choice? And Garth Brooks, he definitely belongs with U2 and REM in the “non obvious” category. I would also add anything by the Police, with the possible exception of “Outlandos d’Amour” and “Regatta de Blanc”. I know those albums where recorded in the late 70’s but their influence didn’t become apparent until the 80’s.
    Anyway, here is my list of “non obvious” albums (artist–album):
    1. Peter Gabriel–Peter Gabriel 3 (aka Melt)—No list of the 1980’s can be complete without a mention of South African apartheid, “Biko” checks that block.
    2. The Bangles–Different Light: Man those chicks could rock
    3. Beastie Boys–License to Ill: You Gotta Fight, For Your Right, To Party, nuff said.
    4. Bus Boys–Minimum Wage: Black guys who could rock, who knew?
    5. Fishbone–Fishbone: No list of the 1980’s can be complete without a mention of the Cold War, “Party At Ground Zero” checks that block.
    6. Bauhaus–Bela Lugosi’s Dead: These are the guys we have to thank for all those pretentious Goths, though I’ll give Peter Murphy a pass for “Cuts You Up”; one of my favorite 1980’s songs.
    7. The Cars–Candy-O
    8. Devo–Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo?: I know this album came out in 1978, but it really presaged the 1980’s post-punk movement, so I would include it. Plus, their “Satisfaction” interpretation (more than a cover) is almost as good as the original.
    9. KennyG–Duotone: The reason every major market has a “Smooth Jazz” station.
    10. Herbie Hancock–Future Shock: “Rockit”; plus Hancock played with Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Any list of influential music would be incomplete without a mention of Hancock, Davis, and Coltrane. This way I get to include all three in one listing.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    What about Sinatra? Mills Brothers? The Tymes?
    The last good jazz was Hurricane Smith. ;-)

  • ucfengr

    A couple of honorable mentions to add:
    The Pretenders–Learning to Crawl: What Gen-Y’er wouldn’t be shocked to learn that s socially conscious, liberal post-punk band provided the soundtrack to the Rush Limbaugh Show.
    Stray Cats–Built For Speed: Instrumental in the 1980’s Rockabilly Revival.
    Michelle Shocked–Short, Sharp, Shocked: I just loved this album and her follow up “Arkansas Traveler” (Captain Swing, not so much).

  • http://www.flashpointfiles.blogspot.com sarah flashing

    I never remember album names, but I was 12 in 1984 wo I think that qualifies me to add to this list. The Police, Bon Jovi, and Van Halen were fun. The 80s were also full of the one-hit wonders like Dexi’s Midnight Runners (Com’On Eileen) and Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam (All Cried Out).whether or not everyone agrees on the quality of albums/songs listed, 80s music from a musical-technicalperapective was logically coherent.

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com/ ChrisB

    You need some Pink Floyd. Unfortunately their best albums were in the 70s, but Momentary Lapse of Reason’s good (though I’d rather you just hook her up with Dark Side of the Moon).

  • Coop

    1. Pixies — Doolittle. It’s a great album, featuring “Monkey Gone to Heaven.” They’ve got a couple other good albums as well. Pixies’ influence on the next decade of alt music can hardly be denied.
    2. Depeche Mode — Music for the Masses. I agree with one of the earlier commentators. This one holds up great. “Never Let Me Down Again” still sounds terrific. Back then they did a great b-side cover of “Route 66″ but that didn’t make the album.
    3. The Cure — The Head on the Door & Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss, Me. Tracks like “In Between Days”, “A Night Like This” and “Just Like Heaven” are alternative classics. Those albums are two of Fat Bob’s best.
    4. New Order — Substance (1987). This collection contains a ton of gems, and the band has enjoyed a resurgence over the last few years thanks to a couple indie films featuring New Order’s precursor “Joy Division.” “Ceremony” is fantastic. “Blue Monday” and “True Faith” are 80s mainstays.
    5. Midnight Oil — Diesel and Dust. “The Dead Heart” and “Put Down that Weapon” are solid tracks. But “Beds are Burning” is the best song on the album, and IMHO one of the best tunes from the decade. Peter Garrett was a unique front man and those Aussies had a good sound going.
    Technically, I’m Generation XY (aka Cold War Kid), so I’m in my own generational subset. I didn’t embrace the entirety of the 80s, nor am I at home with the American Idol-esque stuff of more recent times. We grew up right as butt rock and heavy metal was on its way out, and grunge rock stormed onto the scene. (Never giving shoegazer rock or technoid stuff much of a chance.) At the same time, urban R&B landed and old school rap was traded for gangsta rap. It makes for an interesting point of observation, though it doesn’t make me the best advocate of 80s music.

  • Coop

    6. Beastie Boys — License to Ill. How did I forget that one???

  • Matt from Alaska

    I also am horrible at album names, but you have to have some Oingo Boingo in there. I was never a big The Cure fan, but they should probably be included. I second Depeche Mode and the 77’s. Dead Artist Syndrome, anything from the Daniel Amos/Swirling Eddies/DA whatever Terry Scott Taylors band is calling itself this week group.
    And while I wouldn’t let anyone I know listen to these albums now, what would the 80’s be without the rise of patently offensive music exemplified by 2 Live Crew, NWA, et al.

  • John

    John Cougar Mellencamp – Scarecrow

  • http://www.takeyourvitaminz.blogspot.com Zach Nielsen

    Dude – the Lost Boys soundtrack is unreal good. So takes me back to 5th grade.

  • Stuart Buck

    Milli Vanilli (only their first album).

  • ucfengr

    Too many to recall in one post; how about:
    Wall of Voodoo–Call of the West: “I wish I was in Tijuana, eating barbecued iguana” is one of the best song lines ever.
    Oingo Boingo–Oingo Boingo (EP)

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Since it’s only 80’s I’d have to leave out “Entertainment!” by Gang of Four.
    But I could still include “Songs of the Free.”

    Who owns what you do?
    Who owns what you use?
    This land is your land
    This land is my land
    Right now to touch flesh is real
    Let us think only of the instant
    There was something that I can’t remember
    Did you say “I’ve had enough”?
    We are in a happy state
    It all comes to those who wait
    While others plot the fate of nations
    We spent the afternoons in an embrace

    Powerful lyrics pointing home the simple truth: people are seriously distracted.

  • macht

    Rush – Moving Pictures and Hold Your Fire
    The Police – Synchronicity
    Talking Heads – Remain in the Light
    AC/DC – Back in Black
    The Clash – London Calling (Released Jan. 1980 in the U.S.)
    U2 – The Joshua Tree
    David Bowie – Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)

  • macht

    I suppose some of those are obvious.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    “logically coherent” ?
    Who in their right mind judges music that way?
    BTW, I though you were 14 in 84? ;-)

  • Todd

    Tears for Fears- Songs from the Big Chair. Great songwriting and extraordinary singing. Really seems to capture the 80s for me.
    Red Hot Chili Peppers- Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Alterna rock/rap/metal. Gets in your ears and stays. Also has some great ballads.

  • Mel

    “Your Latest Trick” is one of my all-time favorite songs, just ahead of “In the Gallery” from the first Dire Straits album. Mark Knopfler is a great composer, although as you say, not a fantastic singer. But Dire Straits was definitely some of the very best music of the 80s.

  • phasespace

    Oh my! It would seem that ucfenger and I have similar musical tastes.
    I would opt for Oingo Boingo’s Good For You Soul rather than the EP though. I never liked the way the mix sounded on the EP.
    I would also add Crocodiles or Ocean Rain by Echo and the Bunneymen as worthy additions.

  • http://southernappeal.org Feddie

    The Cure’s “head on the door,” which is hands down one of the decade’s best albums.

  • http://aspadvice.com/blogs/elandes Eric Landes

    I’ve got a few I need to add:
    Chris Isaac “Heart Shaped World”
    B-52’s Whammy! (That’s just some good clean fun!)
    The Untouchables “Wild Child”
    The English Beat “I just can’t stop it” (I believe first digital recording of pop album?)
    Adam and the Ants “Kings of the Wild Frontier”.
    Romeo Void “I might like you better…” Just that song. (Don’t play this for your daughter!)
    Just to name a few.
    Fun topic!

  • http://aspadvice.com/blogs/elandes Eric Landes

    I forgot that Romeo Void is Never Say Never. All comments appy though And I forgot to add The Hoodoo Gurus “Stoneage Romeo”.

  • AJ

    U2 – The Joshua Tree
    Genesis – Invisible Touch
    Bryan Adams – Reckless
    Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA
    All the tracks on Dire Straits’ “Brothers in Arms” are awesome.

  • http://www.hickorywithepc.org/Pastor/pastorblog/pastorblog.php Ed Eubanks

    Nice meme. Here’s my list:

    • The Connells, Fun & Games
    • Indigo Girls, Indigo Girls
    • Van Halen, 1984
    • Amy Grant, Lead Me On
    • Peter Gabriel, So
    • Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms
    • Paul Simon, Graceland
    • U2, The Joshua Tree
    • The Police, Every Breath You Take: The Singles
    • Asia, Asia

    I comment on my choices here.

  • brandon

    Dire Straights’ Brothers in Arms makes it for “Why Worry.” It is the best and only example of music box trance.
    I could agree more on the A-ha selection; I don’t know why The Sun Always Shines on TV didn’t make it big on the radio. I’d like to take the song sarcastically (Like Aqua’s Barbie Girl), but given the other songs on the album I don’t know if that’s possible.
    What about Keith Green, “So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt”? Great culmination of early Christian pop. He was the Mozart of Christian pop music, let me put it that way.

  • http://www.americanmethod.com Doug B

    Off the top of my head:
    Richard & Linda Thompson – Shoot Out the Lights
    Marshall Crenshaw – Marshall Crenshaw
    The Psychedelic Furs – Mirror Moves
    The Ramones – Subterranean Jungle
    Steve Earle – Guitar Town
    Toni Child – Union
    Suzanne Vega – Solitude Standing
    The Smithereens – Especially for You
    ZZ Top – El Loco
    Judas Priest – Screaming for Vengeance
    10,000 Maniacs – In My Tribe
    Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense
    Kudos to ucfengr for beating me to Wall of Voodoo!

  • brandon

    dude, almost forgot, The Proclaimers “Sunshine of Leith” for the songs Teardrops and My Old Friend the Blues and, yes, 500 Miles.

  • http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog Michael Patton

    Come on! Where is the Unforgettable Fire and Joshua Tree…surely Joshua Tree!!!

  • ucfengr

    Come on! Where is the Unforgettable Fire and Joshua Tree…surely Joshua Tree!!!
    They would fall under the category of “obvious” selections, wouldn’t, they? Read the post; non-obvious choices only. No U2, no R.E.M., no Springsteen, no John Hughes movie soundtracks (Pretty in Pink, for example).

  • Anna K

    Agree re so many mentioned here, esp New Order, the Smiths, the English Beat, Michelle Shocked, Chris Isaac, the Smithereens; did not see any mentions of General Public, and sorry if I’m repeating something earlier, but I would add:
    The BoDeans — Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams
    Sinead O’Connor — The Lion and the Cobra

  • http://honest2blog.blogspot.com Baus

    Mine are late-ish 80’s because I was born in ’73 and didn’t start listening to music until I was 12.
    These are both non-obvious (to most), but totally essential (for GenX folkies, anyway):
    1. Suzanne Vega, self-titled 1985 or Solitude Standing 1987
    2. Tracy Chapman, self-titled 1988
    Thank you for the Crowded House honorable mention!
    [Macht, I think The Police, and U2 should be obvious. Let’s hope so. ]

  • ML

    Metallica-Master of Puppets

  • James

    Here’s a great one:
    Guadalcanal Diary “Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man” The Trail of Tears is a classic and the rocker version of Kumbaya is epic. That they had alt rock cred in the early 80s and were Christian made it even sweeter.

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com Odgie

    The Smithereens – “Especially For You”
    Crunchy, post-punk power pop
    Anything by Marshall Crenshaw during that era
    The fact that Crenshaw was not one of the top selling artists of the ’80s is a travesty
    The Blasters – “The Blasters”
    Rockabilly at its latter-day finest
    X – “Wild Gift”
    Punk (and rockabilly) at their finest
    John Hiatt – “Slow Turning”
    A batch of greatest songs from one of rock’s greatest songwriters
    Tears For Fears – “Songs from the Big Chair”
    “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Shout” justify this one
    Travelling Wilburys – “Volume One”
    A bunch of great musicians having a great time
    Danny Gatton – “Unfinished Business”
    The world’s greatest unknown guitarist

  • http://tomgrey.motime.com Tom Grey

    I can hardly believe you left off the, almost-too-obvious band Generation X, where Billy Idol started and which first sang:
    Dancing with myself.
    (Which wasn’t the song playing when I broke my nose almost slam-dancing, but had been on before).
    Yeah, starting in 1976 — so a couple other albums:
    Never Mind the Bollocks … here’s the Sex Pistols!
    Talking Heads ’77 (fa fa fa fa far better)
    Blondie: Auto American (I don’t like the overplayed Tide is High, but Rapture was a genuine Pop-Rap song.) Earlier Dreaming was fantastic for dancing.
    Cyndi Lauper: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
    Surprised, but glad, that ucfenger didn’t get all of these; his taste is shared by me; with Eric Landes.
    Where are the Rap tunes? (not my favorite, at all, but important)
    Grandmaster Flash: White Lines (this one is still strong)
    Perhaps Prince: Purple Rain belongs (but also not a big favorite of mine; unlike most of the rest here and even above).
    The Specials and Madness added important black-white Ska punk-reaggae sort of nutty sound.
    Ministry (before they turned heavy metal): You’ve got to work for love; and Halloween
    Berlin: Sex (I’m a virgin, I’m a Man, I’m a whore, I’m a Man …)
    And, um, what about Maddonna? Just because she’s still popping, Holiday is still fun.
    Which leads to
    Eurythmics and Sweet Dreams (not the video!)
    And, finally, Soft Cell.
    Maybe not Tainted Love, or Say Goodbye, but certainly Sex Dwarf.
    Oh yeah, the 80’s, the replacement of vinyl albums with CDs — leading to tracks being everything, who cares about the album?
    Did anybody even buy a record after 1989?

  • Bakatya

    George Benson-George Benson Collection

  • ucfengr

    Surprised, but glad, that ucfenger didn’t get all of these; his taste is shared by me; with Eric Landes.
    There really is a lot of late 70’s music that should be included in the list. All of Elvis Costello’s best stuff was from the 1978-1980. The late 70’s would have also given us The Ramones and the Patti Smith Group (one of the best covers of “Gloria” ever). I am with you on The Specials and Madness, I would have added The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones and The English Beat too. I also thought of adding Grandmaster Flash and Kurtis Blow, as well. One I missed was The Waitresses; “I Know What Boys Like” and “Christmas Wrapping” are 80’s classics.

  • everyones a critic

    Only one mention of Van Halen…shameful. Their decade long plus feud with Rush was high entertainment and Eddie redefined what it meant to play guitar.
    Don’t think I’ve seen the Hooters brought up. Could be one or two hit wonders, but they were all over the airwaves for a while.
    And how about Night Ranger? Who else declared, YOU CAN STILL ROCK IN AMERICA! And of course, Secret of My Success (kind of fit with the 80’s greed theme).
    Too many memories…

  • Matthew from Alaska

    ucfengr’s list reminded me of a couple I’d left off. They Might Be Giants, or are they obvious? The B-52’s (again, obvious?) and one of my favorite inappropriate duos, Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper.

  • http://aspadvice.com/blogs/elandes Eric Landes

    Awesome pick on Guadalcanal Diary James. I didn’t realize those guys were Christian, awesome. Love Watutsi Rodeo.

  • ucfengr

    and one of my favorite inappropriate duos, Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper.
    Can’t include them without including The Dead Milkmen.

  • http://dimlylit.org Ron Nelson

    I’ll throw in my lot with ucfengr, Eric Landes, et al. and then I’ll try to add a couple of my own…
    John Prine
    -Bruised Orange – 1978
    -Aimless Love – 1984
    Tom Waits
    – Rain Dogs
    Indigo Girls
    – Indigo Girls
    – Strange Fire was good too.
    Dead Milkmen
    – Death Rides a Pale Cow
    Uncle Tupelo
    – No Depression (can’t remember if it makes the cut or not, 89 or 90)
    The Choir
    – Shades of Grey

  • http://www.fully-completely.blogspot.com Tony

    The Tragically Hip, Up to Here(Canada’s best kept secret)
    Van Halen, 1984
    Bryan Adams, Reckless
    The Replacements, Pleased to Meet Me
    Def Leppard, Pyromania
    Michael Jackson, Thriller
    The Smithereens, Especially for You
    The Police, Synchronicity
    Living Colour, Vivid

  • http://www.alienman.blogspot.com Brad Williams

    What, no Beastie Boys? I mean, I wouldn’t want my daughter fighting for her right to party, but still, who didn’t own Licensed to Ill. Perhaps I am being obvious.

  • Rob

    King Crimson–Discipline
    Thomas Dolby–Golden Age of the Wireless
    Bunny Wailer–Rock ‘n’ Groove

  • Micrguy

    Here are a few albums that still hold up pretty well after 20+ years.
    London Calling – The Clash: first punk album to incorporate various musical styles, years ahead of it’s time.
    X – Los Angeles: one of the best debut albums anywhere, people forget that Ray Manzarik from the Doors produced and played on the album.
    The Knitters: the album that really started the whole alt-county genre, this group was basically X and Dave Alvin from The Blasters.
    Husker Du – Warehouse, Songs and Stories: I believe that they were the first American punk band to get signed to a major label. Listen to this and you will see who influenced the Pixies, Nirvana and many more.
    Replacements – Let It Be: You get pop, punk, indie and even a Kiss cover song thrown onto one album.
    I’ve seen a couple of people mention Oingo Boingo and even though I was a huge fan back in the 80’s, their albums just don’t hold up very well over time. Don’t know what it is about bands that went overboard with a synthesizer in the 80’s but it dated the music rather quickly.

  • http://kevinjmiller.blogspot.com/ Kevin

    Since you included a Christian album or two I’ll toss in several others:
    “Sunday’s Child” & “The Wind and the Wheat” Phil Keaggy
    “Never Say Die” Petra
    “The Seeds of Change” Kerry Livgren
    Both these guys had most of their best in the late 70’s, but these are IMNSHO their best of the 80’s:
    “White Blossoms From Black Roots” Larry Norman
    “Return to Paradise” Randy Stonehill
    And finally two I’ve not listened much to but are supposedly key works for the Christian genera:
    “To Hell With The Devil” Stryper
    “Alarma Chronicles” Daniel Amos

  • Jamie – wishing she was still in Alaska

    Great suggestions so far
    How about
    YAZ – Upstairs at Eric’s.
    Fine Young Cannibals. – Fine Young Cannibals
    Squeeze – Singles
    OMD – Crush
    Roxy Music – Avalon
    Michelle Shocked – Short Sharp Shocked and Captain Swing.
    Lyle Lovett and his Large Band
    More mainstream pop but a huge hit album
    Bonnie Raitt – Nick of time.
    I’m sure there’s more, but others have either already said them, or I haven’t been able to sift through the years to pull them out.
    Fun Stuff! Thanks for the chance to reminisce!

  • Brody

    Is “Appetite For Destruction” by Guns N Roses too obvi? It is one of the ultimate hard rock albums of all time.
    Is Metallica too hard for your daughter’s ears? “Master of Puppets” and “And Justice For All” are towers of riffage.
    And Elvis Costello…you could start a love affair with that dude’s wordplay. “Imperial Bedroom” “King of America” “Trust”…that guy was on a roll for a while.
    And if she likes all that pop crap, it is difficult to see how she wouldn’t like old Madonna songs.
    And I second the Kate Bush. That woman was a genius, definitely set the stage for my all time favorite chick singer Bjork.

  • http://www.dailyduck.blogspot.com Robert Duquette

    Roxy Music, “Avalon”
    David Bowie, “Lets Dance”
    Eurythmics, “Sweet Dreams”

  • everyones a critic

    I believe Steely Dan and Brian Fagan would have had several albums that would qualify in this time frame.
    As for Christian music, Degarmo & Key were big, and Long Distance Runner live was outstanding.

  • http://www.takeanumberplease.blogspot.com Bonnie

    Paul Simon – Graceland
    Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense
    Peter Gabriel – So, Peter Gabriel III and IV
    Sting – Dream of the Blue Turtles, Nothing Like the Sun
    The Police – (everything)
    RUSH – (everything)
    YES – 90125, Big Generator
    U2 – Under a Blood Red Sky, The Unforgettable Fire
    Steely Dan – Gaucho
    Men at Work – Business as Usual, Cargo
    Level 42 – World Machine
    Asia – Asia
    Eurythmics – Touch, Be Yourself Tonight
    David Bowie – Let’s Dance
    Tears for Fears – Songs From the Big Chair

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com/intellectuelle Bonnie

    Oh yeah,
    Styx — Paradise Theater
    Earth, Wind, and Fire — Best of EWF
    (other funk, or funk-disco stuff, can’t think of specifics right now)
    Chicago — everything

  • von

    No rap?
    Public Enemy – It takes a nation of millions to hold us back & Fear of a Black Planet. Essential. Farakhan references have become a bit dated, however.
    NWA — Straight outta Compton. Essential. Just put “Express Yourself” on repeat if you don’t want to handle the rest.
    No punk?
    Fugazi — 13 Songs (technically a 1990, but consists of two 1989 albums) & Repeater. The first half of 13 Songs (through “Suggestion”) is itself a great album.
    Screeching Weasel — My Brain Hurts. California pop-surf punk with overeducated lyrics. Pretty good.
    I second G&R’s appetite for destruction.

  • Ron

    U2-War & Under A Blood Red Sky
    The Clash-London Calling
    The Police- Ghost in the Machine
    Van Halen-1984
    INXS-The Swing
    Midnight Oil-Deisel and Dust
    The Call-Reconciled

  • http://ultrapastor.blogspot.com Mark Swanson

    I can only think of a few albums I still listen to regularly from the 80s:
    Steve Earle: Guitar Town (already nominated)
    Cowboy Junkies: The Trinity Sessions
    Miles Davis: Tutu
    Bob Dylan had some clunkers in the 80s (though even his clunkers had a few great songs each) but Infidels (produced by Mark Knopfler) remains the most underrated Dylan album and the most underrated 80s album of all time.

  • http://tomgrey.motime.com Tom Grey

    I asked my Slovak wife (born 1968). She mentioned Wham! first!
    The Croatian (Yugoslavian) cover had had the earings airbrushed out — she was surprised to see them after 1989 when the Wall came down (she being behind the Iron Curtain before).
    OK, you don’t like George Michael — but he’s more Gen X “essential” than most of the bands I like.
    And even Boy George still gets lots of Karaoke singers, of both sexes. Or did 3 year ago.
    Somebody else got Mojo Nixon! Wait, I’ve got one more …
    Dead Kennedys!: “Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables” with California Uber Alles and Holiday in Cambodia.
    File sharing should be legal; it is not immoral. Using gov’t force to stop sharing is immoral. The reason gov’t force is acceptable to punish real theft, is that after something of yours has been stolen, you have less than you had.

  • Tony P

    Purple Rain – perhaps the best soundtrack of the decade and certainly one of the best albums of all time. Its amazing mix of funk and rock as well as the sacred and profane make it a timeless classic. Everything on this album is as good, if not better, than anything on the radio today.

  • http://thenectarofthegods.blogspot.com veritasmedia

    While I don’t have entire albums to recommend (save Billy Joel – Greatest Hits) the list would be incomplete without Kenny Loggins (Footloose and Danger Zone) and Katrina and the Wave (Walking on Sunshine).

  • http://tomgrey.motime.com Tom Grey

    Billy Joel, yes. But The Stranger was still more 70s, I’d say, altho both Uptown Girl (after dumping one wife) and the fantastic River of Dreams should qualify.
    Laurie Anderson – Big Science … and Performance Art.

  • 02T

    King’s X – Gretchen Goes To Nebraska (seriously, no one has mentioned this yet?)
    Rush – Exit Stage Left (My introduction to Rush)
    Van Halen – 5150 (I love Van Hagar)
    Queensryche – Operation:Mindcrime (One of the great concept albums)
    Dokken – Back For The Attack (George Lynch still shreds)
    Joe Satriani – Surfing With The Alien

  • 02T

    Rush – Presto (“The Pass” is one of the greatest songs ever written)
    Iron Maiden – Powerslave (Actually, I would include anything from Number through Seventh Son, but this has “Aces High.” Plus their three albums in the 2000’s are completely awesome.)

  • GregWold

    Just off the top of my head:
    The Call – Reconciled, Into The Woods (dark, but hopeful), Let The Day Begin (spotty, but title track is a great song about common grace)
    King’s X – Faith Hope, Love & Out of The Silent Planet
    Rush – Moving Pictures, Signals
    Marillion – Misplaced Childhood (Kayleigh, Lavender, Heart Of Lothian)
    Cutting Crew – Broadcast
    Genesis – ABACAB
    Asia – Asia
    Rick Springfield – Rock of Life
    Simple Minds – Once Upon A Time
    Big Country – The Crossing
    Flim & The BB’s – Tricycle (jazz)
    Paul Simon – Graceland
    Peter Gabriel – So
    Scritti Politti – Perfect Way (song)
    Styx – Paradise Theater
    Steve Camp – Fire & Ice
    Whiteheart – Freedom
    Kansas – Vinyl Confessions
    AD – Art of The State, Timeline
    DA – Fearful Symmetry, Darn Floor – Big Bite
    The Swirling Eddies – Let’s Spin
    Anything by Steve Taylor
    The Choir – Shades of Grey
    The Hooters – Nervous Night

  • ucfengr

    I was cleaning up my iTunes library and came across some George Thorogood and the Destroyers. That man can rock and his band is tight. Add “Maverick”, “Bad to the Bone”, and “Born To Be Bad” to any 1980s music list or just add the “30 Years of Rock” compilation to catch all the best stuff.