The album collection in chronological order from when it was bought. Revisited one at the time.
The Dream Syndicate | The Days Of Wine And Roses | Closer 1982 |
I vividly remember buying this LP – the French pressing – on my first ever record fair, early in 1988. I was well aware of The Dream Syndicate at the time, going back to Out of the Grey that I’d bought on cassette a couple years before. I adore all of Syndicate’s albums, but I always find myself returning to this here baby. The Days Of Wine and Roses must’ve been an anomaly in 1982, way ahead and out of tune with the sign of the times it marks the return of GUITARS in American rock. This is a tour de force of loud, noisy, abrasive, distorted, tickling guitars, cool Velvet vibes and an almost free jazzy approach to the songs. They are all awesome, from creepy beasts like “Halloween” (oh, when those guitars kick in) and “When You Smile” to full force freak outs (the kosmisch title track, “Definitely Clean”) and instant college rock anthems (“Tell Me When It’s Over”). In short, this is a cornerstone in 80’s American guitar rock that set a standard hardly anyone has managed to achieve ever after. Stories and words are here and gone, but this album hasn’t faded at all.
Wall of Voodoo | The Ugly Americans In Australia | I.R.S. 1988 |
I’d been drawn to the stoic super-American voice of Stan Ridgeway for some years when the Wall Of Voodoo live album hit the shelves in 1988. I guess it felt like a quite unnecessary purchase back then, I haven’t given it too many spins, and this live LP doesn’t really reveal new magic 30 years down the road. But, there are some great explorations of sci-fi new wave gone country here, horseback space travel style. “Far Side Of Crazy” and “Mexican Radio” are obvious favorites, and the version of “Ring Of Fire” is pretty dope. Never saw them live, but I believe this LP captures the band in prime shape – and the sound quality is not too bad either. However, when I feel like listening to WoV I rather pick up one of their awesome studio albums. Think I’ll do just that right now.
The Sex Pistols | Never Mind The Bollocks | Virgin 1977 |
One of remarkably few albums in my LP collection bought on its historical merits rather than being new and fresh. As a matter of fact Never Mind the Bollocks was only 10 years old then, comparable to buying a 2008 album today, but back in those days this was an old school dinosaur from a whole other time. Never a huge fan of British punk in general, and finding Johnny Rotten’s voice mostly annoying, I have to acknowledge the band’s unquestionable qualities and their nose for efficient songwriting. No fillers here, just pure punk catchy as hell. No need to go in depth on its historical significance, just one of those albums you need to know I guess. Glad I turned on as a kid, even though I rarely listen to it.
Giant Sand | Storm | Demon 1988 |
Storm was my introduction to the wondrous world of Howe Gelb and his Giant Sand, and what has now turned out to be a 30 year long relationship. Giant Sand have always been all over the map, difficult to pigeonhole, unmistakable unpredictable and remarkably recognizable. I’m so thankful for stumbling down their desert rabbit hole, and it all started with Storm. It obviously holds a special place in my heart. The songs range from Neil Young style environmental concern, a cover of The Band’s “The Weight”, straight out honky tonk, ragged country rock (“Town Without Pity”), country gospel (“The Replacement”) and dusty piano ballads (my personal fave “Was Is a Big Word”) – on Storm Howe Gelb started to shape a signature style of songwriting unmatched by anyone.
Hasil Adkins | He Said | Ace/Big Beat 1985|
Wild, wayward and hell-bent, the one man band of Hasil Adkins exploded like a bomb in the ears of this here kid, proving rock n’ roll was something wilder and primitive, more untamed and way out there than your parents Elvis albums. This is the raw sound of a one man rebellion against conformity and boredom. “She Said” being the classic tune here, I also tuned into the even more awkward and freaky “We Got a Date.” They just don’t make em like Hasil anymore.
Rave-Ups | Town + Country | Fun Stuff/Demon 1985 |
Americana was not a frequently used term in 1985, but plenty of bands played boots ‘n roll before Uncle Tupelo et al pushed the direction further into the mainstream and new directions. Among those pioneering acts in the early to mid 80s we find Hollywood via Pittsburgh quartet Rave-Ups, sparkling with equal parts pleasant college rock fervor and neo-country twang – town and country if you like. Frontman Jimmer Podrasky sang with nasal country sincerity, sometimes with a rockabilly yelp, and Sneaky Pete Kleinow lays down some mighty fine pedal steel here too. “Radio” was the big favorite back then, and this haunting night tune is still the highlight amongst a number of other fine cuts – “Positively Lost Me” being the most famous. The back cover reminds us of a time when urban cowboys actually were pretty in pink.
AC/DC | Back in Black | Atlantic 1980 |
My record collection is scarcely populated with hard rock or metal albums, but the ones I bought are actually not too bad. Back in Black is by all means a classic, the title track, “Hells Bells” and “You Shook Me All Night Long” are eternal anthems in the Aussie rockers – or anyone’s – catalog. Tight production provided by Mutt Lang and Brian Johnson passed the test and immediately proved he could fill the shoes of Bon Scott adds even more power to this album. But I can’t say I ever played this a whole lot in 1988 and I haven’t listened to it too much as the years went by either. My loss, I guess.
Violent Femmes | Violent Femmes | Slash/London 1983 |
A little girl glances through a darkened window, barefoot and with a white summer dress on, resembling a 19th century painting. What’s in there, in the dark, that we don’t see? The innocent child catches a glimpse into the adult world, as confessed by a college kid, a world of deception and debauchery, religious shame and sexual confusion, love, lies and lust. Many have done this before and after, but none as compelling as Gordon Gano and his Violent Femmes on their debut album. The Milwaukee trio played punk rock with folk instruments, or folk songs with a punk attitude perhaps, singing their hearts out from any street corner. One thing is that the songs are super catchy, the lyrics really makes this a standout album. I memorized each and every one, these stories all became the soundtrack to my youth. Every time I listen to this album I’m 16 again, kissing off in the air, chasing that good feeling, trying to wipe away the shades from those windows and get a glimpse of the secrets in there.
Concrete Blonde | Concrete Blonde | I.R.S. 1986 |
“Still in Hollywood” was the big favorite back in the days, and it’s still the standout track from Concrete Blonde’s debut album. Hailing from the same buzzing LA scene that included bands like Wall Of Voodoo, X, Jane’s Addiction and The Gun Club, the blondes certainly had a punk edge to their sound, softened with a rock approach in the vein of The Pretenders and Heart. Johnette Napolitano is unquestionably the star, with her recognizable strong voice and cool attitude. Concrete Blonde made better albums later on in their career, but I still get a kick out of this one. It’s true.
Iron Maiden | Live After Death | EMI 1985 |
Superior technical skills, theatrical gimmicks, and over the top performance are just some of Iron Maiden’s characteristics – and they all come out to play on their 1985 live album. The Churchill intro followed by “Aces High” sets the standard for an album that leaves no room for any fillers. Live After Death captures the band in its prime. Classic cover art too, as always. Can’t wait for the kids to discover this, cause after all, Iron Maiden speaks to the inner child in all of us.