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.
9 Bands You Forgot Played Themselves In Movies
There are more bands than you think that played themselves on the big screen. Here are nine bands you might’ve forgotten appeared in movies.
1. Alice Cooper – Wayne’s World (1992)
Being a teenager in the nineties was great for many reasons. Two of those being the release of the Wayne’s World movies. The genius that is Mike Myers created one of the best music-based films of all time. Plus, he convinced one of the greatest rock musicians of all time to be in it. If you’re not a geek like me, you may have forgotten that Alice Cooper was featured in the film. It had the iconic scene of Wayne and Garth meeting, Alice, backstage on bent knees. We’re not worthy, indeed. Alice himself pulls off the diva Rockstar brilliantly, even though he’s a genuine, down-to-earth guy who plays a lot of golf.
2. Primus – Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)
Let’s try and erase the recent Bill & Ted movie from our memory and head back to 1991 for their bogus journey. They come from the future to kill the non-robot versions of themselves and ruin their performance at a Battle of the Bands competition. What’s cool is the band who are playing before them. Californian alt-metal kings Primus. Although the clip is only short, they play themselves and sound as you would expect. Epic.
3. Fall Out Boy – Sex Drive (2008)
You’d be forgiven for forgetting about this one. The teen sex comedy from 2008 is forgettable and won’t really appeal to anyone apart from its teen target audience. If you can sit through all the cringe-inducing moments, you will spot pop-rockers Fall Out Boy. They are performing in a barn in front of some drunk Amish teenagers. There’s a reason for that, but I won’t bore you with it here. What is good, is the soundtrack of the film. As well as Fall Out Boy, it features Airbourne, AC/DC and weirdly, Kenny Loggins.
4. Twisted Sister – Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Paul Reuben’s character Pee Wee Herman made his big-screen outing in 1985. The children’s show star had a scene where he is being chased through a studio parking lot. Unbeknown to him, glam rockers Twisted Sister are recording a music video on a car. Lead singer Dee Snider is always up for a laugh, so it’s no surprise they’re featured. The clip is brilliant. Pee Wee’s prop-laden bike is just about to crash into Twisted Sister and the look on Dee’s face is genius. Go check out the clip.
5. David Bowie – Zoolander (2001)
Who can forget the brilliant Zoolander? Starring Ben Stiller as the dippy model, it’s one of the funniest comedies ever made. One of the best scenes of the film is the walk-off. This involved Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson’s characters doing a catwalk-off. Of sorts. Can you remember who refereed it? The legend himself, David Bowie. It’s not the first time Bowie was in a movie – remember Labyrinth? But this time, he plays himself. And does it with all the cool swagger you would expect.
6. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Clueless (1995)
I can’t say that I was a massive fan of this teen comedy at the time. The plot revolves around Alicia Silverstone’s character giving her friend a makeover. The premise doesn’t sound like it lends itself to a cool band cameo. You’d be wrong, though. There’s a scene where the lead characters go watch a gig. The band that are playing are The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The Boston ska-punk legends are only on stage for a moment, but it’s a slick clip. It certainly brings the film up a level on the cool stakes.
7. Daft Punk – Tron: Legacy (2010)
This sequel to the original sci-fi classic is a cracking movie. The visuals and effects are stunning, as is the atmosphere of the film. The music to the film is also rather special. A futuristic and dystopian movie could only have one act doing the score, and that’s Daft Punk. It works a treat. The music is intertwined into the movie and becomes a part of it. The delicious electronica is the perfect complement to the visuals. The French electronic masters also have a cameo at the end of the movie. They’re spinning the decks in a blink-and-you-miss-it scene.
8. Aerosmith – Wayne’s World (1993)
We’ve already had an appearance from the first film further up our list, and the second doesn’t disappoint either. The plot revolves around Wayne and Garth putting on their own music festival. Book them and they will come, is the advice given. And they certainly did. The headline band for the festival were none other than Aerosmith themselves. They do a sterling effort on stage as performers. And Steven Tyler also shows that he can handle his own on the acting front too.
9. Reel Big Fish – BASEketball (1998)
Trey Parker and Matt Stone star in this bizarre and hilarious sports comedy. Written by the king of spoof David Zucker, it’s become a cult classic. The soundtrack heavily features ska-punkers Reel Big Fish. They do a brilliant rendition of A-HA’s Take on Me, which they also perform in the movie. The band are the entertainment at the stadium where Parker and Stone are competing. You can tell by the footage that the band are clearly enjoying themselves. They add a touch more fun to an already hugely funny film.
That’s our list of nine bands who played themselves in movies. Did we miss any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out our list of actors in bands HERE.
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