Pitchfork's Top 100 Albums of the 1980s
November 18, 2002 6:36 AM   Subscribe

Today, the music critics at pitchfork.com posted the first half of their "Top 100 Albums of the 1980s" feature.
posted by Pinwheel (51 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Wow... nice list so far. Mission of Burma is playing here Friday. Nice to see them recognized.
posted by greengrl at 6:53 AM on November 18, 2002

All I can say is, they'd better mention Orange Juice in their second half or they ain't getting my respect. (Full disclosure: it would take Pitchfork a whole lot more than that to get my respect. Wankers).
posted by dhoyt at 6:57 AM on November 18, 2002

I don't care for the following reasons:

-there weren't 100 good albums out of the eighties;
-rock critics usually deserve no respect and are no longer necessary after the Internet;
-these list thing has been done before. It's dated and pointless.

Best albums of the 80's? See The Smiths' discography, add Morrissey's Viva Hate and there you have it.
posted by pupil1 at 7:11 AM on November 18, 2002

About P. Simon's "Graceland": Most of us, myself included, first heard this record around the house, that rare album our parents stumbled onto that we all could dig.
Too true in my house where there was precious little common ground between Judas Priest and Elton John.
Thanks for the link and the trip down memory lane/record shopping list. It'll, I'm sure, merit repeat visits throughout the day as spare time allows...
posted by chandy72 at 7:13 AM on November 18, 2002

Pitchfork news: interesting.

Pitchfork reviews: no thank you.
posted by Utilitaritron at 7:23 AM on November 18, 2002

Utilitaritron: I agree that the whole smarmy, meta-reviewing shtick gets old real quick, but I rely on pitchfork for exposure to new music, and the reviews offer that.

Recently, I really enjoyed Keith Fullerton Whitman's (aka Hrvatski) "Ten Nice Recordings and Their Corresponding Beverages"
posted by Pinwheel at 7:32 AM on November 18, 2002

I probably would have put R.E.M.'s "Reckoning" a little higher up the food chain. Hopefully "Life's Rich Pageant" or "Murmur" is in the top 20. "Document" wasn't that good of an album, I liked "Dead Letter Office" a lot better.

King Crimson "Discipline". Really interesting music. Great album, a lot better than that Graceland crap Paul Simon put out.

The Replacements "Pleased to meet me" was a good album, and I thought it would at least made the top 50.
posted by mkelley at 7:45 AM on November 18, 2002

Cabaret Voltaire's "Voice of America" better be in the second half. 'S all I'm sayin'.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:45 AM on November 18, 2002

So that means New Kids on the Block is in the top 50? I'm not sure if I would have put them that high, but anyone who disrespects their impact on the music industry (horrible impact as it was) needs to get their heads out of their asses.
posted by Stan Chin at 7:51 AM on November 18, 2002

Top three:
Swap "Purple Rain" in there for any of the three, too.
Anything less confirms the Stan Chin's Head=>Ass maxim.
posted by chandy72 at 7:58 AM on November 18, 2002

Regardless of who made the list, I sure would love to have all of those albums on vinyl.

I wonder if the top 50 will be predictable or contain some surprises ...
posted by jasonspaceman at 8:09 AM on November 18, 2002

in my top 100 albums of all time, you'll have to look hard to fidn any albums from the eighties.
posted by angry modem at 8:11 AM on November 18, 2002

Feh. I bet even in their second half of the list they'll still miss probably MY vote for best album of the 80's which would be Jane Siberry's The Walking.
posted by dnash at 8:15 AM on November 18, 2002

So that means New Kids on the Block is in the top 50? I'm not sure if I would have put them that high, but anyone who disrespects their impact on the music industry (horrible impact as it was)

I took this as a list of records worth buying from the 80's not a list of goups that changed rock as we know it from the 80's. Incomplete list too, wait until tomorrow....
posted by thomcatspike at 8:23 AM on November 18, 2002

It's good to know that I'm not the only person in the world that would include Big Black's "Songs About Fucking" and Springsteen's "Nebraska" in the same "best of 80s" list. On the other hand I have always had a very low tolerance for Duran Duran and Talk Talk.
I expect the Jesus and Mary Chain's Psychocandy in the top 10, and I second the call for Cabaret Voltaire's "Voice of America"... ah the memories...

angry modem: in my top 100 albums of all time, you'll have to look hard to fidn any albums from the eighties.
Then I'd wager you aren't between 35 and 45 years of age... right?
posted by talos at 8:24 AM on November 18, 2002

I can't speak for Angry Modern, but I'm 32 -- grew up on music from the '80s -- and my best-of-all-time list is awfully thin on the era. There are a few records in there that everyone should live or die by -- I think Let It Be, Thriller, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Licensed to Ill, maybe Swordfishtrombones and that's about it. Aside from those and the two or three I've forgotten you can leave it all to other eras.

Or am I supposed to be so besotten with my own youth that I can't hear straight?
posted by argybarg at 8:38 AM on November 18, 2002

-there weren't 100 good albums out of the eighties;

There has never been a day, month, year or decade without plenty of good music, whether it remains underground forever or is dug up by critics and declared "seminal" later on.

Of course there was great music in the 1980s, you just have to look for it. If you're basing your assumptions on hair metal or bad pop, you're just lazy or willfully ignorant.

Tom Waits, The Birthday Party, Soft Cell, early My Bloody Valentine, early Flaming Lips, Felt, The Go Betweens, The Feelies, XTC, The Raincoats, Spacemen 3, Beat Happening, The Wipers, Half-Japanese, Durutti Column...........
posted by dhoyt at 9:04 AM on November 18, 2002

argybarg: taste is notoriously subjective, but the 80s wasn't just Huey Lewis and Michael Jackson (personally I avoided them like the plague), for me it was mainly about the Cramps and the J&MC, the Fall and the 3Johns, Green on Red and Big Black, The Gun Club and Tom Waits, Public Enemy and Iggy's second coming, Erick B & Rakim and the Birthday Party & Nick Cave, The Pogues and Sonic Youth... I could go on and on...
The music with which one grew up IMO determines one's future musical tastes and that's pretty natural. But as I said... there's no debating taste...
Oh and Let it be? You mean this Let it be, right? (which is indeed one of the greatest records of all times- and I'm not kidding)
posted by talos at 9:06 AM on November 18, 2002

Looking forward to seeing where The Minutemen's "Double Nickels on the Dime" ends up......as for obscurities that deserve mention, I'd also include The Silos "Cuba", "Locust Abortion Technician" by the Butthole Surfers, "Alice Comes Alive" by Alice Donut (just for the Linda Blair song), and some old chestnuts that still sound great, like Talking Heads "Remain in Light" and Sonic Youth's "Daydream Nation" (recently remastered and re-released, which begs the question: why? It sounded great the way it was).

I'd also include Metallica's "Master of Puppets"; and something by Slayer (pretty much anything, it all sounds the same), just to piss off the purehearted punks.

Oh, and the Angry Samoans. Can't forget the Angry Samoans. On second thought.....
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:45 AM on November 18, 2002

wow 2 cocteau twins records in the bottom 50. Amazing. I like this list so far. Any list like this is just ripe for huge arguments but their bottom 50 is pretty good.
posted by cell divide at 9:58 AM on November 18, 2002

Once again, no love for The Mary Jane Girls.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:59 AM on November 18, 2002

Master Of Puppets better be in the top 50, if they have Apettite For Destruction in the top 100. Metallica's record is not only far more influential, it's also aged better.
posted by jonmc at 11:38 AM on November 18, 2002

Pinwheel: I was harsh. I read the reviews---or at least what is reviewed---and along with Magnet and Radio K (local college radio) I hear of new things from Pitchfork.
posted by Utilitaritron at 11:55 AM on November 18, 2002

Duran Duran's "Rio?" Oh no. This is in the same Bottom 50 as "Pleased to Meet Me?" Damn. That's unspeakably uncool.
posted by raysmj at 12:06 PM on November 18, 2002

pretty good list...i admit to being pretty much stuck to the music i listened to from the 80's. some of my favorites represented . . . but Songs About Fucking is Big Black's worst record (tho still great) and placing Minor Threat below Rites of Spring in any list is a travesty. Wonder if Gun Club's Fire Of Love will be in top 50? and bitteroldpunk is rite . . . if the Butholes & Sonic Youth don't have multiple entries in top 50, the whole list needs flushing.
posted by danOstuporStar at 12:40 PM on November 18, 2002

dhoyt, dhoyt, your naiveté is moving. I won't elaborate but listen: pop music is 99 % garbage. It's laughable to talk about some three-chord punk band as if it were Bach or something like that.
This kind of list reminds me of Something Awful's "canadian candy bar review"-- except that pitchfork seems to take this kind of top 100 stuff seriously.
Like leftist tendencies and pc-speech, pop music is one of those stupid ideologies people catch while in college and have trouble shaking off later, because they invested too much of their personalities and time into it.
Don't believe the hype.
posted by pupil1 at 12:47 PM on November 18, 2002

there weren't 100 good albums out of the eighties
- Ha ha ha - whatever.

I'm so glad they included this group:

084: ESG
Come Away with ESG
If you ever get a chance to see them live GO! (*They just reformed and play at a WFMU benefit in NYC - it was so amazing)
posted by mildred-pitt at 1:02 PM on November 18, 2002

pupil, you might add condescension to that list as well.
posted by cell divide at 1:05 PM on November 18, 2002

Oh, for ...

Look. There's terrible pop music out there. There's also great music that happens to be popular. Anyone who believes music has to be obscure or unsuccessful to have value has issues of their own to work out.

On preview: right on, cell divide.
posted by Songdog at 1:29 PM on November 18, 2002

pupil1: the irony of ending a diatribe against pop music with a quote from a pop song... very nice!
posted by mr_roboto at 2:09 PM on November 18, 2002

I like the hubris/cheek of the whole endeavour. 'Top 100 albums of the '80s'? How about 'Top 100 albums of the '80s which I, a 22 year old from Chicago with a cushy writing gig who has been exposed to mostly US/UK music, have heard of, and like'? It'd be a lot more honest.

In a perfect world, Hunters and Collectors' Jaws of Life or the Headless Chickens' Stunt Clown might get a mention, but I doubt these guys have even heard of those albums.
posted by Sonny Jim at 2:39 PM on November 18, 2002

Damn you Bitteroldpunk, you made me go down to the basement and dig up an old copy of, well, I won't go into the title of the Samoans song, but the l.p. also has "Steak Knife" on it. Yikes.
posted by hobocode at 3:10 PM on November 18, 2002

Lights out!
Poke poke, poke your eyes out
Lights out!
posted by drobot at 3:18 PM on November 18, 2002

Wow, this list better have [some band that I like] on it or these reviewers really have their heads up their asses. I mean, even if you don't like [some band that I like], you have to admit that they altered the course of music history. I've seen [some band that I like] live four thousand times, and they just get better with every passing year.
posted by vraxoin at 3:31 PM on November 18, 2002

pop music is 99 % garbage.

I've always felt very sorry for people who feel they have to crap on 99% of the music out there, one can only presume to make themselves feel "elite" and "special" in their exclusivity. I think it the heights of arrogance to assume that all those millions of listeners who actually enjoyed a particular song or album and bought it, making it sell well and "popular" necessarily have inferior taste to their own. It's just different--they look for different things in music, and different things move them.

Me, I take a very different approach. I figure the only person who's missing out every time I can't appreciate what any given song has to offer (which may vary tremendously, 'tis true) is me. No one else could give a damn. Therefore I make a substantial effort to learn to appreciate all music on its own terms. Sure, I have my preferences and my own taste, but I'm not about to condemn what other people choose to listen to. I'd rather get a moment's pleasure from some fluffy pop tune than twenty-years' meanspirited glee from pissing all over it and those who genuinely like it.
posted by rushmc at 5:41 PM on November 18, 2002

I'd rather get a moment's pleasure from some fluffy pop tune than twenty-years' meanspirited glee from pissing all over it and those who genuinely like it.

Amen to that.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:09 PM on November 18, 2002

When you put together a list of records considered the elite of record-dom, I'm sorry, you're open to charges of being uncool or stupid. You're outright asking for it. The only reason, besides showing how cool you are, for Top 100 lists is marketing. Ask Rolling Stone or VH-1. The reason I hate the Duran Duran entry? It's not so much their music, as the fact that the writer's trying to show how the people at this mag are not being snobby. Oh, yes they are. Or they're just trying to get some unique page visits, which they have.

Also, I agree with at least one other person on here who noted that the selections reflect a limited exposure. But then again it seems tailored to a certain audience. Why is Prince's mostly-funk "Controversy" included while R&B is notably absent from the rest of the Bottom 50? Let me guess: Because a large swath of Prince's audience was white and college educated? Of freakin' course.
posted by raysmj at 7:59 PM on November 18, 2002

You know, I grew up in the eighties, and most of these albums were discovered by me long after the eighties were gone. Fact is, only a few of them were on my shelf as a teen....
perhaps it's where I grew up, but..... most of these bands would have gotten you beaten up for admitting you liked to listen to them. I mean, come on... The Smiths? I can appreciate their music now, but if I had tried to listen to Death of A Disco Dancer back in the eighties, my friends would have looked at me funny and whispered amongst themselves, you know?
So to look back on this kind of music and admire it.... I don't know if it shows we have progressed in our appreciation of music... or just got soft.
Picture this. You and your friends are in a 68 Mustang, heading toward the beer store, windows down, long mullets flapping in the wind, smokin on a big wolf-turd of a joint.... and then you pop Judas Priest out of the cassette deck and start singing
I've come to wish you, an unhappy birthday, because you're evil, and you lie....

The outcome would not have been good.
posted by bradth27 at 9:28 PM on November 18, 2002

Daydream Nation deserves to be #1. At the very least, it should be in the top 5.

And there needs to be Pussy Galore.
posted by Fahrenheit at 9:47 PM on November 18, 2002

And there needs to be Pussy Galore.

And Einstuerzende Neubauten, Swans, maybe one Slint, Breadwinner, and I'll probably think of half a dozen more as soon as I post this.
posted by hama7 at 11:19 PM on November 18, 2002

Well, the have the rest up... and Farenheit: Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation is indeed No1... Impressive. They got half of SY's discography in the top 50- which is fine by me. I'd figure we like listening to the pretty much the same kind of 80's music with the reviewers, but for the fact they have R.E.M's Murmur at No3...
posted by talos at 7:55 AM on November 19, 2002

Any top 100 list that fails to include the Lemon Kitten "(the mouth that bites the hand that feeds it must one day meet) the Big Dentist" isn't worth the paper it's written on (or whatever the internet equivilant is) Or maybe just wasn't compiled by me.

What I'd be more interested in seeing would be a list of the 100 worst albums of the eighties. Now that would be worth debating.
posted by ciderwoman at 10:02 AM on November 19, 2002

What's really curious (to me, anyway) is that the staff members of Pitchfork have linked, from their super secret staff forum, to my essay about 'Til Tuesday's Welcome Home album. I wonder if that means that Welcome Home is going to make the cut. Of course, since it's a private forum, I have no idea whether they're talking about 'Til Tuesday, or about what a jackass I was in high school.
posted by vraxoin at 10:05 AM on November 19, 2002

Although a Top 100 of just about anything would be cause for smart-ass comments and bitching, I at least applaud the effort.
I've been making a conscience effort to find all the great records of the 80's (and despite what pupil1 says, there were a lot) and beefing up my CD collection. To me, the 80's represent a time when music had it's most viceral impact on me. When I could listen to "Start Me Up" over and over, air-guitaring like a madman! There are some bands on the list I've never heard of and would like to check out.
I'm glad to see Elvis Costello's "Trust" made the list. Although not one of his best albums, it is the one that I bought first and it contains my favorite song of all time, "New Lace Sleeves"!
Thanks for the link!
posted by black8 at 10:28 AM on November 19, 2002


Did I nail it with Remain in Light and Daydream Nation or what?


Guess I'm just perfectly attuned to the sensibilities of pretentious white college boys with cushy record-reviewing gigs.

posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:19 AM on November 19, 2002

It would be more accurate to describe this list as an 80's college radio retrospective.

Back when college radio was great, these days it's blah. Yeah, I'm older now.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 11:50 AM on November 19, 2002

May I be the first to say...

"I welcome our new BitterOldPunk OverLords!"

May their rule never end!
posted by dash_slot- at 3:46 PM on November 19, 2002

Downloading S.Y. now...
posted by dash_slot- at 3:48 PM on November 19, 2002

you mean there are albums that pitchfork thinks are good?
posted by kevspace at 12:13 AM on November 20, 2002

what! three sonic youth albums and no mention anywhere of the other experimental double-album enigma released with the word "nation" in the title -- game theory's lolita nation? granted, it didn't take the world by storm like sonic youth ::yawn:: but it was strange enough (and copies still go for $80+ on ebay) that i had hoped it would at least make the bottom 50...
posted by pxe2000 at 5:20 AM on November 20, 2002

how can there possibly be no butthole surfers? seriously. the fact that they've now had a hit record and have always been clowns destroys their legacy?
posted by danOstuporStar at 8:43 AM on November 20, 2002

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