Gary lists favorite albums of the 80s

By Gary Schlueter

“Why don’t you, Dave and Emmett come up with fifteen of your personal favorite albums from the 80s,” she said. After the initial avalanche of possibilities, I realized the only reasonable numbering format would have to be chronological.

John Lennon, “(Just Like) Starting Over”: Lennon’s 1980 tombstone; an effort that marked a new begining for Lennono Records and the family in general. It is a fresh and lively album from a man so often associated with a dark and dirty lifestyle.

George Winston, 1980, “Autumn (piano solos)”: A portion of a series by Winston, this seasonal collection can really only be enjoyed by firelight. This is a journey down a path no personal map should be without.

Elvis Costello, “Imperial Bedroom”: This 1982 release is Costello’s most enjoyable and diverse album to date. The jacket cover sets the mood early with the 1942 painting “Snakecharmer and Reclining Octopus,” by Sal Forlenza.

The Church, 1983, “Seance”: From the air-filled ballad of “Fly,” through the straight-talking guitar tune “One Day,” to the synthesized rocker “Electric Lash,” The Church lay their British-sounding vocals over a near perfect musical production.

Replacements, “Let it Be”: The first song on this album, “I Will Dare,” leads off with a swinging guitar and a prominent rhythm section that makes it difficult to stay still. The second side of this 1984 release contains the song, “Gary’s Got a Boner”; a personal triumph of sorts.

R.E.M., “Fables of the Reconstruction”: Released in 1985, this is one of R.E.M.‘s lesser known albums because of its dark and trance-like sound. R.E.M. has always liked the idea of working with studio musicians, and here they employed a large and talented string ensemble.

The Feelies, “The Good Earth” 1986: This album never stops moving with dual acoustic guitars and a solid percussionist. I suggest becoming aquainted with the Feelies through their recordings. While performing live, they tend to become a little overbearing.

XTC, “Skylarking”: Released in 1986, this album begins with chirping crickets, singing birds, a droning recorder and the lyrics, “Drowning here in Summer’s cauldron.” Its soothing mood is never lost in this Todd Rundgren production.

Robyn Hitchcock, “I Often Dream of Trains” 1987: Hitchcock directs his razor-sharp guitar at life in the 80s with all its backward philosophies. “Uncorrected Personality Traits” discusses the haphazard way some parents tend to pamper their children and the negative effects it has. His lyrics can draw blood from anyone with an understanding of them.

Enya, “Water Mark”: With this 1988 release on Geffen records, Enya reveals her Irish homeland with a bit of American influence. These songs, a few sung in Gaelic, hammer out near-satanic cult marches and touch upon American Pop with a contagious effect.

Lou Reed, “New York” 1989: With “Dirty BLVD.,” “Busload of Faith,” and “Sick of You,” Lou becomes dangerously close to becoming a parody of himself. He succeeds, though, in making this album raw, mean, and very, very New York.

Chick Corea, “Akoustic Band” 1989: Corea, well-known for his progressive, synthesized style of Jazz, keeps clear of the electrical outlet with his latest effort. This bare-boned, three-piece group salutes Jazz greats on side one and reveals four original pieces on side two. Jazz lovers take note.

Neil Young, “Freedom” 1989: This album’s been a long time coming from Young, 1/4 of one of the world’s most thought-provoking bands. This production proves Young and his guitar needed no period of reaquaintance.

David Byrne, “Rei Momo” 1989: Byrne and 15 other musicians belt out this album of Brazilian music with syncopation-minded brilliance. These multiple musicians, mostly of the percussion persuasion, create a solid sound that is never in danger of being overcrowded or stomping out Byrne’s very recognizeable bi-lingual vocals.

Very observant. I’ve listed only 14 of my favorite albums from this past decade instead of the assigned 15. While compiling this article I figured I shouldn’t be so bold as to offer our readers a complete or definitive list. The last spot is yours. But please, leave Bruce “The Employee” Springsteen by the wayside.

It’s the least I can do to expand your Christmas list.