Revisited

1983 Revisited

This was a fun year to revisit. 1983 was the year I got my first stereo, and one of the first batch of albums I got with it made this list. (I still think An Innocent Man is Billy Joel’s best album. Sorry, Metal Health and Pyromania.) Still, I think there are only a few albums on this list (Joel, Lauper, U2, Police) I heard in their own time. The rest came later, and most of them much later, well after I’d dug into the classic rock canon. And so the likes of the Talking Heads, Blasters, Marshall Crenshaw, Womack & Womack, and others still sound fresher to me than a lot of even more recent favorites. It makes me want to dive into 1982, 1981, 1980.

From an album perspective, it was an off year for black music. Mostly that’s because it’s the last year before hip-hop asserted itself as an album form (the first Run-DMC album changes that in 1984), but it’s also because Prince and Michael Jackson released mega-albums in 1982 and road their singles through 1983. They’re represented on the singles list.

1983

ALBUMS

  1. She’s So Unusual – Cyndi Lauper: How do people conceive this now? As a fluke? A pop-culture artifact of its time? A singles and filler record? Hopefully as a timeless pop masterpiece, which is what it almost is. In its own peculiar way, it’s as astonishing a match of interpretive singer to song selection as Sun-era Elvis or Muscle Shoals Aretha Franklin, mixing the visionary (“Money Changes Everything,” “When You Were Mine”) with the merely charming (“Time After Time,” “I’ll Kiss You”).  One of the greatest moments in recorded sound: Lauper’s voice reaching out on “I want to be the one to walk in the sun.” Why did she never again come close to it? Goes to show you never can tell.
  2. Speaking in Tongues — The Talking Heads: Their lightest, freest funk. This has always seemed like one of their more minor good albums, but it grows in estimation every time I let it spin. It opens with their biggest single, ends with their best song. (Ok, maybe minus “Once in a Lifetime.”)
  3. Field Day — Marshall Crenshaw: Ten tight little bundles of indelible melodies + hooks on the subject of doomed love.
  4. Odyssey — James Blood Ulmer: One of my very favorite hadn’t-heard-it-befores of this project so far.
  5. Jonathan Sings! — Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers: “Road Runner” was his greatest single, but this is probably his best, wisest album.
  6. Metal Circus — Husker Du: The best hardcore record, if it counts, unless the one they made after it also does. Featuring “It’s Not Funny Anymore,” Grant Hart’s life anthem. RIP.
  7. Love Wars — Womack & Womack: As couple albums with this title theme go, not as focused as Shoot Out the Lights, which is to their personal if not quite artistic benefit. But it’s damn good anyway, the more fraught material especially (title song, “Baby I’m Scared of You”). Near the end, they reverse the Rolling Stones’ relationship with R&B, stealing a Jagger-Richards title (“Angie”) and improving it. Related note: How did I not know Linda Womack was (is) Sam Cooke’s daughter?
  8. Murmur R.E.M.: This would have been higher without a re-listen. Captures a sound and feel, but maybe I do like Reckoning a little more. I already knew I liked Document more.
  9. Non-Fiction — The Blasters: “Americana” before it was so named, as drenched in R&B as country, as it should be.
  10. … And a Time to Dance — Los Lobos: A unique great American band introduces itself, in EP form, with truth in advertising.
  11. War — U2: Its relative tightness sounds even better in the wake of what followed.  
  12. More Fun in the New World — X: Ace Killer cover, silly anti-new-wave.
  13. Hand of Kindness — Richard Thompson
  14. Hootenanny — The Replacements
  15. Legendary Hearts — Lou Reed
  16. Synchro System – King Sunny Ade
  17. Greatest Messages — Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five
  18. You Shouldn’t-Nuf Bit Fish — George Clinton
  19. What Makes a Man Start Fires? — Minutemen
  20. Trouble in Paradise — Randy Newman
  21. An Innocent Man — Billy Joel
  22. In a Special Way — DeBarge
  23. Love Over & Over — Kate & Anna McGarrigle
  24. Synchronicity — The Police
  25. Under a Blood Red Sky – U2

SINGLES

  1. “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” — Talking Heads
  2. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper
  3. “Billie Jean” — Michael Jackson
  4. “It’s Like That”/“Sucker MCs” — Run-DMC
  5. “Middle of the Road” – Pretenders
  6. “Every Breath You Take” — The Police
  7. “Burning Down the House” — The Talking Heads
  8. “Little Red Corvette” — Prince
  9. “Holiday” – Madonna
  10. “Atomic Dog” — George Clinton
  11. “Time Will Reveal” — DeBarge
  12. “Lucky Star” – Madonna
  13. “Beat It” — Michael Jackson
  14. “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)” — Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel
  15. “Pills and Soap”’ – The Imposter
  16. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” — U2
  17. “Color Me Impressed” – The Replacements
  18. “Come On Eileen” — Dexy’s Midnight Runners
  19. “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” — Michael Jackson
  20. “Delirious” – Prince
  21. “Hard Times” – Run-DMC
  22. “Racist Friend” — Special AKA
  23. “Black Sheep” — John Anderson
  24. “New Year’s Day” – U2
  25. “Blue Monday” – New Order
  26. “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” — Culture Club
  27. “Gimme All Your Lovin” — ZZ Top
  28. “Looking for the Perfect Beat” — Afrika Bambaataa & Soul Sonic Force
  29. “Electric Avenue” — Eddy Grant
  30. “Don’t Cheat in Our Hometown” – Ricky Skaggs
  31. “All Night Long” — Lionel Richie
  32. “Amarillo By Morning” – George Strait
  33. “Beat Bop” — Rammelzee vs. K-Rob
  34. “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life” — Indeep
  35. “Let the Music Play” — Shannon
  36. “Modern Love” – David Bowie
  37. “Got Me Under Pressure” — ZZ Top
  38. “Tell You (Today)” – Loose Joints
  39. “Crumblin’ Down” — John Cougar Mellencamp
  40. “She Works Hard for the Money” — Donna Summer

MOVIES

A blend of multiplex stuff I saw at the time that’s held up well (at least in my mind) and more arty stuff I caught up with later on. As always, these film lists are pretty casual, not rooted in re-watching. I have many, many blind spots from this year. I know Cosby has been exposed as a criminal and a creep, but the art is what it is and Himself is good.

  1. The King of Comedy
  2. Videodrome
  3. The Right Stuff
  4. Valley Girl
  5. WarGames
  6. Local Hero
  7. Risky Business
  8. Bill Cosby: Himself
  9. Baby It’s You
  10. National Lampoon’s Vacation

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s