We had the synths, we had the hair, we had the Shakin’ Stevens. I mean, it was the gold standard of culture.
Debaser – Pixies (1989)
Fun fact, I thought that 1979’s Rapper’s Delight was 1980 — imagine my shock and disappointment in myself. However, it ain’t all bad because now this iconic landmark of alt rock can get an award. I was very close to putting a Maiden song here as my winner, as that is my traditional pick. However, in spirit of Debaser, I figured I’d debase my own expectations. The jangly guitars, you know ’em, that signature bassline, you know it — Black Francis’ screams have etched their way into my heart.
The Number of the Beast – Iron Maiden (1982) – The closest to my pick, this rapid-fire blast of heavy metal, adrenaline-injected with Bruce’s screams and ‘Arris’ charging bassline.
I Feel For You – Chaka Khan (1984) – Possibly the greatest dance track of all time, the songwriting (IT’S PRINCE, MAN) is funky and full of zest, Chaka’s singing is immaculate, and they made harmonicas good — like what??
Bring The Noise – Public Enemy (1987) – A party track for protest, Bring The Noise is nothing but massive beats and high-caliber rhymes, Chuck D is a weapon of mass destruction.
Epic – Faith No More (1989) – Epic — a fitting title when you’ve got power chords like these. Mike Patton will always be a great frontman (even if he nicked a couple of moves (not sorry)), bouncing off the muddy bass and floaty synths like an effigy of burning Adderall.
Faith No More – Epic (1989)
This song is EPIC. Well, you could’ve got that from the title. But really, it is. It’s literally a punch in the face and it’s funky like if Parliament and the Chili Peppers had a technicoloured baby with ATTITUDE. Mike Patton is on absolute top form, and even if I can see why Anthony Kiedis thought he was being a copycat, he does it flippin’ well. His mad performance gives the song a silly tone at points and an aggressive tone at others, and it works so well with the over-the-top, awesome instrumentals that make the song a shamelessly ridiculous blast to the orifices that just keeps. On. Giving. It’s gotta be one of the greatest songs of all time.
Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast (1982) – Oo, whaddayaknow, this is both mine and Milo’s second favourite. For me it sums up everything that is great about Iron Maiden, the dramatic stadium-filling melodies, Bruce’s soaring vocals and hellish lyrics, grounded by a backbone of well-placed and unbelievably skilled bass work. There’s something that just makes this song the best by the band, it just feels as if everything came together here.
The Cure – One Hundred Years (1982) – Now to feel astronomically depressed, anyone? The brutally morbid and suicidal sound of this song and every single component in it makes it rival the most depressing of Joy Division. But its that brutal, uncompromising atmosphere that makes this song the special thing that it is – it covers my arms in goosebumps.
The Smiths – How Soon is Now? (1985) – This deep-cut from The Smith’s discography is my favourite song of theirs I’ve heard and it’s easily one of my favourites of this decade. Hypnotic and slightly oddball, the meandering guitar feedback and chugging bass carry this song along as Morrissey gets ponderous – and it sounds great.
Chris Isaak – Wicked Game (1989) – A departure from the kinda genres of most every song or album I’ll mention in my picks, I’m attached to this song like few others and its beautiful, thoughtful vocal melody and lyricism makes it one of the greatest love songs of all time, and one that just gets the eyes watering.
One – Metallica (1988)
Hand In Glove – The Smiths (1984)
Potential. You can hear it in the very grooves of this song. Whichever way you get hold of Hand In Glove you can hear in its recording that there is potential swirling around the room they’re recording in.
This is embryonic Smiths. There’s so much juicy stuff oozing into and out of this record. It was recorded on a shoestring, by a bunch of kids who were all enthusiasm and full tilt ambition. Yet the damned thing is so accomplished. https://steveforthedeaf.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/hand-in-glove-the-smiths/
Eiffel Tower High – Hüsker Dü (1986) – Grant Hart, Greg Norton and Bob Mould toiled all the 80’s long making records that were full of mighty music constrained by bad production. By 1985 they’d singed with Warners. Their major label debut Candy Apple Grey is considered a classic record by fans. As it happens, I’m a fan. So it’s also considered a classic by me.
Eiffel Tower High is a sugar rush of a tune. Its lyrics tell the tale of getting lost in the movie while at the cinema. It plays like a punk rock Yellow Rose Of Cairo.
Landslide of Love – Transvision Vamp (1989) – I was a fan of Transvision Vamp. When I was just buying the singles and albums because the peroxide enchantress pictured on the sleeve hand me hanging on her every word I didn’t really appreciate the Pop Art influence. Nor the retro styling and the “Wall Of Sound” pastiche. I didn’t get this was a shallow Blondie does Motown on a budget copyism. I did get the 2000AD references though.
Wendy was cooler than every other pop star out there, she spoke in a real accent and she talked tough. The band got to play vintage guitars, wear DM’s and act like they were The Clash. It was like a Marvel’s What If? comic made a record.
I’ve Been Tired – Pixies (1987) – I’ve Been Tired is the embryonic sound of 90’s alternative rock being born. All of the Pixies’ key ingredients are there on Come On Pilgrim’s record of student union flirtation. One bohemian soul tries to ‘out alternative’ another in a spiralling conversation about fear, desire, politics and Lou Reed.
Black Francis sounds like a toddler on the verge of bursting into tears for most of the song. It’s epic and tense and exciting and fun.
You Got Another Thing Comin’ – Judas Priest (1982) – People tend to look at Judas Priest and decide they know all about them from the image. That is a legitimate defence mechanism to keep the tourists away and to defend the faith of the metal crowd.
So in You’ve Got Another Thing Coming there is a perfect slice of radio friendly genre straddling heavy metal pop music which is unspoiled by repetition or over exposure.
Every Breath You Take – The Police (1983)
Stay tuned for more Best Thangs of All Time!