Okay, so obviously I wasn’t alive to witness the true awesomeness of the 80s music firsthand, but i certainly can appreciate the incredible albums that came out of this decade. These albums still continue to be BOPS to this day and will probably continue to live on forever.
Here are some of my favorite albums that came from the 80s:
The Rolling Stones, ‘Tattoo You’
Tattoo You is generally regarded as the Rolling Stones’ last great album. There’s a good reason for that: Much of it was recorded when they were still considered one of the greatest bands on the planet. “Start Me Up” is the first track, and the last of the Rolling Stones’ signature songs. The opening riff is so familiar today that it’s difficult to fathom that it started as a reggae song, a product of the Stones’ obsession with Jamaican music in the mid-’70s. They labored over “Start Me Up” unsuccessfully for years, trying something like 70 cumulative takes at multiple different studios before landing almost accidentally on the final version.
Tattoo You marked an end of an era for the Stones. They haven’t had another No. 1 album since and no single has reached as high as “Start Me Up”‘s No. 2 showing. The tours got more massive, and more expensive, but the albums became more scarce as time went on (they’ve released only six albums since Tattoo You).
Guns n’ Roses, ‘Appetite for Destruction’
Guns N’ Roses’ debut album, Appetite for Destruction, was the darker, grittier response to Sunset Boulevard’s glam-rock scene. Released on July 21st, 1987, Appetite for Destruction features the bluesy hard-rock sounds of Aerosmith blended with an aggressive punk undertone and hints of metal and ’70s bar rock. The diversity of this album is no surprise considering the many voices and souls that make up this band.
Amazingly, Appetite for Destruction was not a huge success out of the gate. In fact, the album took more than a year to top the charts, only after the singles “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Paradise City”, and “Sweet Child o’ Mine” received heavy rotation on MTV and started to impact radio in 1988. It topped the Billboard 200 in August 1988 and has since become one of the best-selling rock albums of all time.
Tracy Chapman, ‘Tracy Chapman’
The dreams of social justice running through the entire album offset Tracy Chapman from its top-selling contemporaries. After its release, critics praised the album for its overtly political focus, hailing it as popular music’s return to authentic artistry. The only thing that critics struggled with as much as her unexpected success was uncovering how this plainly dressed, androgynous, black woman with a voice as warm and woody as a bassoon created one of the best folk albums in a generation.
Chapman received several honors following the release of Tracy Chapman, including three Grammy Awards in 1989—for best new artist, best female pop vocal performer and best contemporary folk album.
The Clash, ‘London Calling’
The album came out in England on December 14th, 1979, but didn’t cross the Atlantic to America until January 1980. That’s just a matter of weeks, but it’s the reason that NME has called it one of the single best albums of the Seventies and Rolling Stone labeled it the best album of the Eighties.
London Calling documents one of the mightiest bands in rock history operating at the absolute peak of its abilities. The double LP is a unique blend of punk, rock, reggae, R&B, and pop that’s unlike anything heard before or since. It also dated from a time when the group’s primary songwriters, Mick Jones and Joe Strummer, were working together seamlessly and bringing out the best in one another.
The band soon began to fall apart and would disintegrate forever after Combat Rock in 1982. Joe Strummer’s death in 2002 means that the Clash can never re-form in any meaningful way, but they left behind at least one flawless statement with London Calling.