Tag: 1980

Devo – Freedom of Choice

ARTIST: Devo                                       DevoFreedomofChoice

TITLE: Freedom of Choice



SINGLES: Whip It (#14 US, #8 Dance, #51 UK), Freedom of Choice (#103 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Girl U Want, Gates of Steel

LINEUP: Mark Motherspaugh, Gerald V. Casale, Bob Motherspaugh, Bob Casale, Alan Myers

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The ‘breakthrough’ thanks to a fluky single, but it was a decent album.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Regrouping after a disappointing second album, Devo moved toward a synth pop sound while keeping guitars for flourishes and fills. The heavy lifting was on keyboards and synths.

Starting off strong with “Girl U Want”, the album announced Devo as a vanguard of synth music in the 80’s. “Whip It”, a fluky hit (catchy as heck, and the meaning zoomed past everyone almost). The closest song to the old sound is the title track, a martial call to individualism and a condemnation of complacency. Normal Devo stuff, as it were.

The album has some filler, but there’s no stunning lows or head scrathers as on their last album. The high points, though (including “Gates of Steel” and “Mr. B’s Ballroom” along with the other cuts listed above) raise up the grade.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Gates of Steel” was co-written with two friends from the Akron music scene.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Live versions and demos..

 GRADE A-: There’s some real Devo gold here, as it were!

Adam & the Ants – Kings of the Wild Frontier

ARTIST: Adam & the Ants            220px-Adam&theAntsKingsoftheWildFrontier

TITLE: Kings of the Wild Frontier



SINGLES: Kings of the Wild Frontier (#19 Dance, #2 UK), Dog Eat Dog (#19 Dance, #15 Mainstream, #4 UK), Antmusic (#19 Dance, #14 Mainstream, #2 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Physical (You’re So) (US Version)

LINEUP: Adam Ant, Marco Pirroni, Kevin Mooney, Chris Hughes (Merrick), Terry Lee Miall

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A swaggering, brazen, spirited record where things come together for Adam Ant and his Ants like lightning in a bottle.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Malcolm McLaren stole the Ants and the “Burundi Beat” for Bow Wow Wow, but Adam Ant joined up with Marco Pirroni, found other Ants (including two drummers), and released an outstanding group of tracks expounding on his “Antmusic” philosophy (whatever that was).

There are swipes at the press, braggadocio about the band, tributes to Native Americans, pirates, and spaghetti westerns, and a couple tracks that could be themes to horror movies (especially “Ants Invasion”).

Any one within earshot of this album in the early 80’s was drawn to it. When MTV came on board, Adam Ant was one of the early stars because of his visual sense and themes as much as his music. It’s a unique album by a unique band for a unique time.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Released in 1980, this was the best selling album in the UK in 1981.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. In the US, the vinyl dropped a cut and added two B-sides (including the sublime “Physical (You’re So)”. The cassette and CD originally had the great B-side “Beat My Guest” and the next single “Stand and Deliver”. The deluxe CD drops those two, adds another B-side, an outtake, and a live show and restores the missing UK track. Whew.

 GRADE: A+: The early 80’s wouldn’t be the same without this record.

Van Halen – Women and Children First

ARTIST: Van Halen                 220px-Van_Halen_-_Women_and_Children_First

TITLE: Women and Children First



SINGLES: And the Cradle Will Rock… (#55 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Everybody Wants Some!!

LINEUP: David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony. Nicolette Larson sings backup on “Could This Be Magic?”

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Their songwriting has improved, but it still seems too short .

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s eight listed tracks, though one is an intro, and another (“Fools”) has a long intro as well. The songs, though, are almost as good as their debut album – with no covers and somewhat enhanced sonic range.

Eddie Van Halen’s electric piano adds depth to “And the Cradle Will Rock…” There’s some good work in incorporating acoustic guitars into their repertoire on the second side, and while many of the tracks are party songs, at least one sounds like they’re kickin’ it on the back porch and it doesn’t sound half bad.

Still, it just seems too short. I think leaving them waiting for more is a great idea, but I really want more, especially since some of my favorite Van Halen deep cuts are on this one.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “In a Simple Rhyme” ends with a track called “Growth”, which was faded out until this album was released on CD. It was a way to start a jam or a medley into other songs on tour. Also, almost every live clip of “Romeo’s Delight” has Roth forgetting the second verse.


GRADE: B+: Savant David Lee Roth said “Everybody Wants Some!!” but I want more than this album gave me.

Loverboy – Loverboy

ARTIST: Loverboy                            LoverboyLB

TITLE: Loverboy



SINGLES: Turn Me Loose (#35, #6 Mainstream), Lady of the 80’s, The Kid Is Hot Tonight (#55, #42 Mainstream)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Deep tracks aren’t a strong suit of Loverboy

LINEUP: Mike Reno, Paul Dean, Doug Johnson, Scott Smith, Matt Frenette

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Mainstream Canadian rockers debut makes some waves, and positions them for an MTV career.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I mean, it’s Loverboy. Nostalgia for Generation X and 80’s kids, and fodder for arenas and classic rock radio.

Their debut started out strong, with the two biggest hits, and then, well, went straight to filler land. Which means songs with half-hearted hooks, lazy lyrics, 80’s synthesizers, and some showing off but always keeping it safe. Which is probably what you’d expect.

It’s not horrible by any stretch, and the filler doesn’t make you want to get up and change the station. But it’s not great art by any stretch. And I don’t think anyone will ever release a track named “Prissy Prissy” now.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Their first gig was supporting Kiss in Calgary in 1979.


GRADE: C+:  Not really as bad as I originally thought, but the records just blah after the hits. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting that much anyway.

Huey Lewis and the News – Huey Lewis and the News

ARTIST: Huey Lewis and the News         Huey_Lewis_&_the_News_-_Huey_Lewis_&_the_News

TITLE: Huey Lewis and the News



SINGLES: Some of My Lies Are True (Sooner or Later), Now Here’s You

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Trouble in Paradise

LINEUP: Huey Lewis, Chris Hayes, Johnny Colla, Mario Cipollina, Bill Gibson, Sean Hopper

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Unremarkable first album from the 80’s icon.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sometimes debut albums shape a band’s career. And sometimes a band’s first album is ignored, even if it establishes their sound and style. The latter is the case with Huey Lewis and the News.

There’s nothing odd, weird, or out of place here when comparing this record to the rest of their output. They had a couple of songs that could have been hits if they broke right, and a couple of other tracks that would have sounded fine on Sports or something like that. But this was only successful in that they got more gigs on the West Coast and lived to make a second album.

The issue is consistency – they are pretty tight and their later-famous harmonies are here, too. The songs, though – it’s no wonder their next record had help from the outside.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Huey Lewis and Sean Hopper were in Clover, who went to the UK in the 70’s, and, without Lewis, backed Elvis Costello early in his career. Lewis played harmonica with Thin Lizzy live.


GRADE: C+: I’m not exiling this, but sub-par Huey Lewis & the News is sub-par.


ARTIST: INXS                                    220px-Inxs



CHART ACTION: #164 (when it was released in 1984 here)

SINGLES: Just Keep Walking


LINEUP: Michael Hutchence, Kirk Pengilly, Garry Gary Beers, Andrew Farriss, Jon Farriss, Tim Farriss

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Young Australian band records a derivative, yet pleasant, new wave record.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s nothing absolutely horrible about the INXS debut album. Michael Hutchence already had the vocal charisma that would make him famous, and the band plays synth based new wave (with saxophone highlights) competently.

There’s nothing fresh or original here, either. You’ve kind of heard songs like this before, especially if you were of the era. The songs aren’t terrible either, but definitely show that the young band didn’t quite know how to keep the good ideas away from the bad.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Their debut single, “Simple Simon”, isn’t included.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: The US version is missing “Unloved One”, the closing track of the album. Meh.

GRADE: B–: I don’t know how much I’d play this, but I don’t think I’ll get rid of it, either.

Ultravox – Vienna

ARTIST: Ultravox                 Ultravox_-_Vienna

TITLE: Vienna



SINGLES: Sleepwalk (#29 UK), Passing Strangers (#57 UK), Vienna (#2 UK), All Stood Still (#8 UK)


LINEUP: Warren Cann, Chris Cross, Billy Currie, Midge Ure

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A reconstituted Ultravox goes towards electronics, and discovers the winning sound.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After practically disbanding when erstwhile leader John Foxx, Midge Ure joined up with three of the Ultravox quintet and formed practically a new band, since they remade their sound and style.

Going for a cool, European, electronic vibe in the manner of Gary Numan, and coupling that with the alien-sounding guitar of Ure and violin of Billy Currie, Ultravox’ Vienna struck the right mood in image, style, and sound.

Even though the sound is mostly electronic, drummer Warren Cann’s use of electronic percussion and programming (he came up with the signature percussion sounds in the title track) were unique.

The whole album came together, with the kick-off instrumental setting the mood for the entire record. This set the tone for the 80’s New Romantic movement in the UK.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Drummer Cann was the creepy vocal in “Mr. X”, and they also did a German version called “Herr X” (of course). Also, the US switched around the order in the first side, and it messed with the flow.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, B-sides and remixes abount

GRADE: A: A landmark album for the UK scene.

Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard of Ozz

ARTIST: Ozzy Osbourne                       220px-Blizzard_of_ozz

TITLE: Blizzard of Ozz



SINGLES: Crazy Train (#106 US, #9 Mainstream, #49 UK), Mr. Crowley (#46 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I Don’t Know, Suicide Solution

LINEUP: Ozzy Osbourne, Randy Rhoads, Bob Daisley, Lee Kerslake, Don Airey

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut solo album from Black Sabbath front man is more energetic and lively than anything he sang with his old group since 1975.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Somehow, after several years in a creative stupor thanks to drugs and…well…drugs, Ozzy Osbourne got it together after being fired from Black Sabbath for good (well, kinda for good with all the reunions and all) and created his best known solo work with his best known song.

A lot of the credit goes to Ozzy’s band. They were spitting hot fire behind Ozzy, especially guitar hot-shot Randy Rhoads (having escaped Quiet Riot). Ozzy and the band put together several memorable hooks and riffs, and constructed some memorable songs.

Don’t kid yourself, it’s not a perfect record. There are a couple of clunkers (ballads, feh). But this put Ozzy on the map – ironically at the same time his old band was also going through a creative renaissance.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There was a lot of drama behind the scenes with the original producer being fired, songwriting credits not being equitable, and the band name itself, which was supposed to be a band named Blizzard of Ozz.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, the 2002 reissue should be avoided because Sharon Osbourne basically had the bass and drum parts re-recorded to spite Daisley and Kerslake. The recent re-issue restores to original.

GRADE: B+: Most cuts are pretty good to great, but as for my ears, Ozzy and ballads don’t mix.

The Police – Zenyatta Mondatta

ARTIST: The Police                            Police-album-zenyattamondatta

TITLE:  Zenyatta Mondatta



SINGLES: Don’t Stand So Close to Me (#10 US, #1 UK), De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da (#10 US, #5 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Driven to Tears, Man in a Suitcase

LINEUP: Sting, Andy Summers, Stewart Copeland

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Police truly breakthrough in the US with their most consistent album yet.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Unlike the first two Police albums, it seemed that every track here was thoughtfully written and crafted, and not something used to just fill out time. This included the two instrumentals, which did show the versatility of the band, and “Shadows in the Rain”, which is more of an excursion in dub than anything else.

The deep cuts reveal a lot about the band. The reggae influence was greater, as well as the political (with “Driven to Tears and the segue into “When the World Is Running Down…” plus “Bombs Away”). Even with Sting’s impressive bass work, the star on this album is Andy Summers, whose guitar lines tend to float above the fray and add a texture and style that was missing on some previous cuts.

What I don’t like is the structure of the album. The first side is definitely strong, but at the expense of side two which I think they could have shifted an instrumental with “Bombs Away” so that side doesn’t have two instrumentals and the dub excursion.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Behind My Camel”, Andy Summers’ instrumental, won a Grammy. Sting didn’t play on it.


GRADE: A-:  Almost an “A” album, but for sequencing issues. It’s a quibble but I’m allowed.


Squeeze – Argybargy

ARTIST: Squeeze           220px-argybargy

TITLE:  Argybargy



SINGLES: Another Nail in My Heart (#17 UK), If I Didn’t Love You, Pulling Mussels (From the Shell) (#44), Farfisa Beat

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Squeeze fans can sing along to the whole thing.

LINEUP: Chris Difford, Glenn Tillbrook, Jools Holland, Gilson Lavis, John Bentley

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Masterful, tuneful, playful album that put Squeeze at the top of the New Wave movement in the UK and garnered them notice in the US.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Squeeze followed up their breakout album in the UK with one of the best albums of the era. Their songwriting and sound moved forward, throwing in a lot of their influences and becoming quite eclectic while maintain a signature sound.

The patented octave harmonies of Difford and Tillbrook are prevalent during many of the choruses of the songs, lending familiarity, but they change it up with allowing Difford’s growl to take the lead during some pieces of those choruses and bridges. The combo of Jools Holland’s keyboards, Tillbrook’s guitar, and newcomer John Bentley’s bass add a solid touch that is versatile enough to span several idioms.

The stars of the show are the songs. All 11 tracks are strong, even the ‘novelty’ types such as “Farfisa Beat” and Holland’s showcase “Wrong Side of the Moon”.  They’re tuneful, wry, and challenging, and each one has a distinct style while keeping the sound of Squeeze. That’s a tough trick to pull off, and Squeeze does it here.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Holland left soon after the album release to start his solo and television career.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with b-sides, demos, and a live concert.

GRADE: A+:  From tracks 1-11, even on the ‘filler’ as it were, this is a testament to great songwriting and tuneful pop arrangements and melodies.