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Nine Underrated Albums That Defined The 1980s

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Kate Bush The Dreaming image
EMI Records

The 1980s. A decade that was musically dominated by synth-pop. The decade had so much more to offer, though. Here are seven underrated albums that defined the 1980s.

9. Nirvana – Bleach (1989)

It wasn’t the success of its monster follow-up Nevermind, but Bleach is Nirvana at its most raw. Although it came at the end of the decade, it wasn’t the start of grunge. The genre had been around for a couple of years, growing around Seattle and Washington. There were a few alt-rock bands around in the 80s, but Nirvana brought the decade to a close with a real bang. The opener ‘Blew’ sets the scene with its unpolished scratchiness. But ‘Negative Creep’ really shows the world what Nirvana are about. Its fusion of punk and sludge metal makes you want to jump into the nearest mosh pit. It may not be their best-known work, but it should be.

8. The Go-Betweens – 16 Lovers Lane (1988)

The Australian indie-rockers formed in the late seventies, but this album dropped in 1988. It was the band’s sixth studio album, and the last one to feature the original line-up. If you’re not familiar with the band then you’re in for a treat. Their unique brand of melody-laden indie is beautiful. This album isn’t perhaps their most well-known, but it’s their most commercially accessible. Rammed full of sun-kissed melancholy, it’s the perfect anecdote to 80s decadence. Great songs combined with intelligent lyrics make for a special listen.

7. Kate Bush – The Dreaming (1982)

By 1982, Kate Bush had already released three albums. Although this offering wasn’t as successful as her previous efforts, it was creatively superb. It also kicked off her more experimental side. Which would be the precursor to her 1985 album Hounds of Love. Tracks like Sat in Your Lap and the title track are brilliant pieces of music, but critics were unsure. This led to poor sales and a low chart position, but it should not be overlooked.

6. Faster Pussycat – Faster Pussycat (1987)

Glam Rock gets a bit of a bad rap sometimes. This is mostly because of the questionable fashion and over-the-top cheesy songs. But Faster Pussycat shouldn’t be overlooked when dipping in for a bit of sleaze. Motley Crue and Poison may have been more successful, but this debut is up there with the best. Cathouse, for example, is the ultimate anthem for driving down the sunset strip with your roof down. Don’t forget Babylon either. It’s a slice of rap-rock that’s up there with the best from the 80s.

5. Badlands – Badlands (1989)

Another band enters our chart with their self-titled debut. Badlands were formed in the mid-80s by former Ozzy guitarist Jake E Lee. It also featured ex-members of Black Sabbath. Despite their supergroup status, album sales didn’t match expectations. The band also disbanded after the untimely death of singer Ray Gillen in 1993. It’s a shame they don’t get more recognition. Lee’s guitar work is sparkling, and Gillen’s vocals are astounding. Every track on the album is a belter, and it winds up the decade with crisp-sounding anthems aplenty.

4. Girlschool – Demolition (1980)

Riding on the waves of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Girlschool arrived with the debut album Demolition in 1980. It only peaked at number 28 in the UK charts, but they certainly made a statement. Opening track Demolition Boys sets the scene. Its punchy riff and punk energy tell you what they are about. The band went on to have greater success in later years, but don’t underestimate this debut. A solid album that showcases a band that know what they want. And you’re not standing in their way.

3. Arthur Russell – World of Echo (1986)

Arthur Russell may not be a name that you recognise, but I strongly suggest you search this album out. The American cellist and composer did many collaborations over his career, but this was entirely his own composition. It may take a few listens to get, but the melding of genres is genius. Tracks like Being It and See Through are haunting and ethereal. It’s a definite departure from the commercial side of 80s music. But it fuses together so many elements from the decade that it deserves your ears.

2. The Blue Nile – A Walk Across the Rooftops (1984)

This debut release from Glaswegian pop-rock experimentalists came out in 1984. Notoriously secretive, they’ve only released four albums from this debut through to the mid-2000s. A Walk Across the Rooftops is quite a work of art. There are pop and synth elements, but also some rockier parts. There are obviously comparisons to David Bowie and various pop bands from the decade, but these guys are special. They have their own unique sound that is beautiful and all-encompassing. What is also surprising is that this album was recorded on an extremely tight budget. You’d never have known.

1. This Kind of Punishment – A Beard of Bees (1984)

New Zealand isn’t an obvious place that comes to mind when you’re thinking about bands. Especially not post-punk. The 80s were awash with post-punk, but nothing was as pleasing as this. The duo of Peter and Graeme Jefferies create a melting pot of gothic overtones with more upbeat guitar tracks. The result is a little confusing on first listen, but it doesn’t take long for the genius to come through. The Horrible Tango will stick in your head for days. And closer An Open Denial is full of ghostly tingles. This is post-punk for the thinking person.


That’s our list of nine underrated albums that defined the 1980s did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below.


Check out seven underrated rock albums that defined the 1990s HERE.

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9 Iconic Jerry Goldsmith Film Scores

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The Objective Standard

Jerry Goldsmith may be a name that is not known to you, but some of the music scores he’s created will be etched into your psyche.

The late composer created some of the most iconic film scores from the past forty years. Here are nine of the best.

1. Planet of The Apes (1968)

The first film in the Planet of the Apes franchise was a trailblazer for many reasons. Not only was the story innovative and philosophical, but it also received praise for its special effects. Another thing that made the film so special, was the musical score. Goldsmith had been writing scores for a while, but this was the one that truly put him on the map. He moved away from traditional melodies and experimented with horns, bowls, and strings. The result was a brooding avant-garde tsunami that hits you, wave after wave. Genius.

2. The Omen (1976)

This horror classic has one of the creepiest soundtracks of all time. The subject matter of the child anti-Christ obviously helps. The score for the film was the benchmark for horror that influenced a slew of films in its wake. Goldsmith employed some frankly terrifying Gregorian chants to make the horror more effective. He also combined the chants with some spine-tingling strings and piano. It all works and makes the hairs on your neck stand up when you hear it. This is one of Goldsmith’s most terrifying, yet brilliant works. He even won an Oscar for it.

3. Poltergeist (1982)

Ignore the terrible remake from a few years ago, the original Poltergeist movie was brilliant. What helped make it brilliant is the score that Goldsmith implemented. It’s a far cry from the creepy atmosphere of The Omen, but more of an unsettling lullaby. On first listen it seems like an uplifting piece of music, but after a while, you realise it’s the opposite. Goldsmith wanted to use the family dynamic as the focus of the music, exploring all the layers. The result is a surprising score that earned him an Oscar nomination, although he didn’t win that one.

4. Alien (1979)

Jerry Goldsmith’s score is almost as famous as Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic itself. It wasn’t all plain sailing though. His final score was cut to bits by Scott and the production team, although the full masterpiece is available now. What he achieves here is the coldness and terror of space, and what lies within it. It’s laden with atmosphere that takes you on a journey that touches all the emotions. There is a smorgasbord of instruments used within the score, but there is one that really stands out. The trumpet solos. They are used to great effect, and you can feel the Xenomorph creeping up behind you.

5. Gremlins (1984)

Arguably one of the greatest movies from the 1980s, Gremlins throws together a collection of genres. You’ve got comedy; horror; slapstick; gore and drama all in one. In keeping with that theme, Jerry Goldsmith created the film’s score to mirror that. In fact, it’s so gloriously over-the-top it wouldn’t be out of place in a funfair. The synth is beautifully erratic. It perfectly emulates the chaotic yet lovable rogue elements of the Gremlins themselves. It’s often thought that comedy scores should not be silly, but this preconception is thrown out of the water. Sit back and enjoy the madness.

6. Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)

Whereas the first Rambo film had a slight intelligent edge to the violence, Rambo II is an unashamedly hammy shoot-‘em-up. Keeping in theme with the film, Goldsmith manages to keep the score suitably exciting. Using his use of electronics to embellish the strings and horns, it makes for a big, brash, and thoroughly enjoyable listen. He manages to capture the exact feel of the film in his music. That’s no mean feat, and he does it to perfection.

7. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

The first of the Star Trek movies kickstarted a film franchise that’s still going to this day. The music of Trek is in my humble opinion, as important as the moral and optimistic themes of the stories. This is purely down to the genius of Jerry Goldsmith. Although visually superb, the film is a bit of a damp squib. The soundtrack, however, is not. It defines what Star Trek is about. The music takes you on a journey through space and exploration. There are mostly brass instruments that make up the score, and it builds to a crescendo that propels straight to the captain’s chair. The score was that good that it was used as the theme to TNG. This is some of Goldsmith’s finest work that defines Star Trek.

8. Basic Instinct (1992)

This Paul Verhoeven naughty thriller is iconic for many reasons. One of them perhaps more famous than others (ahem). Crossed legs aside, the movie itself is probably more famous for that scene than anything else. The musical score though is rather special. Goldsmith himself admitted this was one of his toughest ones to write. He pulled it off though. The music manages to capture Sharon Stone’s character perfectly. The charming beauty with a malevolent underbelly is clear to hear. He handles the contradictions with absolute aplomb and delivers a simply superb musical score.

9. The Mummy (1999)

This action romp may have had some questionable special effects, but the film score was some of Jerry Goldsmith’s finest work. Created towards the end of his career, it’s the last of the great film scores. It has everything from thunderous action and creepy horror. There are even some feel-good romantic elements. It takes you on a roller coaster of emotions but leaves you feeling fully enthralled. Even into his seventies, Jerry Goldsmith created some of his best work. A true icon and legend of film composition.


That’s our list of nine iconic Jerry Goldsmith film scores, did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below.


Check out nine movie soundtracks better than the films HERE.

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