I should do a brief introduction here. I’m a total music nerd. I thrive on it, live it, breathe it. Sadly, I can’t create it so I just listen to as much of it as possible. With that in mind, about a year ago I challenged myself to listen to every U.S. #1 Billboard album from 1980 to 2011. I failed, stopping at 2003 when the music got to terrible to bear. Life carried on until last week when I was looking at the UK #1s on Wikipedia. I noticed the music was much more varied and, for lack of a better term, better. So I decided to challenge myself again. Every album that hit #1 in England from 1980-2012. I was then asked if I could do a year by year review on here and I agreed. I previously did reviews for Moon and Nunslaughter and I thought it would be an interesting change of pace for myself and this blog.
So 1980 is an interesting year. The first half features quite a few 70s leftovers while new faces start popping up in the latter half. We start off with a pair of greatest hits, one from Rod Stewart and one from Abba. I’m a Rod Stewart fan, no shame in admitting it, but this hits collection somehow leaves off “Every Picture Tells a Story” which leaves it somewhat lacking. Abba on the other hand is, well, Abba. They’re great with a catchy tune, but after a while it just becomes too much. From there we get our first newcomers in The Pretenders first album. It’s truly a classic, paving the way for female alternative rockers everywhere. Next is a Motown compiliation, full of hits from the glory days of the label. The Shadows follow and they’re a group I wasn’t familiar with. The album is nothing but covers, done instrumental, and they’re actually really well done. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys laid back instrumental music. Johnny Mathis shows up with a forgetable album before we get to my personal favorite Genesis album, “Duke”. This album is a true classic through and through and contains great singles like “Misunderstanding” and “Turn It On Again”.
A trio of somewhat bland albums from Rose Royce, Sky, and Boney M all follow with two of them being greatest hits (Rose Royce and Boney M). However, we now hit a streak of great music from some excellent artists. Paul McCartney’s “McCartney II”, Peter Gabriel’s “Peter Gabriel (Melt)”, Roxy Music’s “Flesh and Blood”, The Rolling Stones “Emotional Rescue”, Queen’s “The Game”, Deep Purple’s “Deepest Purple”, AC/DC “Back in Black”, and Gary Numan’s “Telekon” all in a row. Here is where we see the true difference between the U.S. and U.K. charts; out of all those, only The Stones, Queen, and AC/DC topped the charts in the U.S.. We can see the true diversity of the U.K. chart at this point, with Gary Numan, Roxy Music, and Deep Purple all being represented.
Kate Bush follows that run and it’s a let down. I know she has her fans, but I just don’t get her. Very boring, almost New Age music that doesn’t go anywhere. Thankfully David Bowie and The Police come to the rescue with “Scary Monsters” and “Zenyattà Mondatta” respectfully. Once again, neither of these albums went to #1 in the U.S. although they both had big hits on this side of the pond. An album that did hit #1 on both sides is Barbra Streisand’s “Guilty”, but the less that’s said about that the better. The final #1 of 1980 is Abba’s “Super Trouper” which is a decent enough album, but the truth is that they were a singles band with generally weak albums.
So there we go, 1980 in #1 albums. It’s amazing, at least from an American’s point of view, to see bands and artists like Roxy Music, Deep Purple, and Gary Numan all having albums at the top. It wasn’t the greatest of years, but it did show the transisition from the 70s to the 80s perfectly.
My top three albums for the year:
Genesis – Duke (50/50)
Deep Purple – Deepest Purple (47/50)
The Police – Zenyattà Mondatta (45/50)
List of albums, 1980-1989:
The #1 single of the year: