The 80s Underground - 20 Essential Underground Albums of the 80s
20. SPLIT ENZ -
Time & Tide (1982)
Song played: "Take a Walk"
19. THE FALL -
This Nation's Saving Grace (1985)
Song played: "Bombast"
18. BILLY BRAGG
- Talking With the Taxman About Poetry (1986)
Song played: "Greetings To The New Brunette"
ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK - Architecture & Morality (1981)
OMD are the undisputed ground-breakers of modern synthpop, and they operated with more precision and panache than most bands up to this point early in the decade. Taking the all-electronic aesthetic of Kraftwerk mixed with unmistakable melodies, Architecture & Morality is an undisputed synthpop masterpiece.
Song played: "Georgia"
CHAMELEONS UK - Strange Times (1986)
The Chameleons were a pivotal 80s band that never quite got the praise they deserved - even in the indie circles. Their engaging blend of sharp, post-punk song structures and dark, expansive melodies was breathtaking. This, their last official release before briefly reuniting in 2001, is an 80's Underground masterpiece.
Song played: "Inside Out"
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN - Ocean Rain (1984)
They came in with a bang with Crocodiles in 1980, yet this 1984 release showed Echo's magic coalescing into a singular modern rock masterpiece. A perfect blend of post-punk adventurism, strummy Brit Pop and psychedelia - not to mention some of the best songs in the band's catalog!
Song played: "My Kingdom"
JANE'S ADDICTION - Nothing's Shocking (1988)
While the true influence of this band was not felt until the 1990's, they were preparing to turn the LA metal scene completely on its head in 1988 with this enourmously different and influential album. It took a few years, but they eventually succeeded!
Song played: "Had a Dad"
X - Under The Big Black Sun (1982)
Unlike alot of bands in the early LA punk scene, X could actually play their instruments - and play well! The combustible impact of all four members, each with a unique gift to the world of punk, made them one of the most memorable and beolved bands of the 80s. This 1982 release (produced by Ray Manzarek of the Doors) is classic american rock n roll, played with fury and precision.
Song played: "The Hungry Wolf"
MINUTEMEN - Double Nickels On The Dime (1984)
Very few bands in the indie punk scene epitomized the DIY ethos quite as seriously as the Minutemen. Even though this album was a response to Husker Du's double album Zen Arcade, it was quite unlike anything to come before - or after. Forty-plus shotgun blast songs of spontaneous punk combustion and profuse, unbridled creativity.
Song played: "Political Song For Michael Jackson to Sing"
SONIC YOUTH - Daydream Nation (1988)
This classic 1988 album is the boilerplate for the noise rock genre. No other band in the underground scene could craft such a beautiful cacophany of guitar chaos, feedback, and urgent angular punk rock as Sonic Youth.
STONE ROSES - s/t (1989)
Had this album been released a few months later than it was, it still would have been one of the best albums of the 90s. This classic release is essentially ground zero for the Manchester scene and the explosion of Britpop in the early 90's. Every Britpop band to follow - from Blur to Bloc Party owes a debt of gratitude to the Stone Roses.
Song played: "She Bangs The Drum"
NEW ORDER - Power, Corruption & Lies (1983)
The stellar output of this band in the 1980's in undeniable and this 1983 release shows them finding their voice for the first time - blending stark, post-punk guitars with synthesizers and ultimately laying the foundation for modern synth pop as we know it.
Song played: "Age Of Consent"
JESUS & MARY CHAIN - PsychoCandy (1985)
Like the Velvet Underground two decades before, JAMC proved the psychedelic synergy of noise, and music could become something truly special. It worked! This phenominal album from 1985 is *the* base of the noise pop family tree.
Song played: "A Taste Of Cindy"
KILLING JOKE - s/t (1980)
The fact that this album was recorded in the same year that gave us Air Supply and Christopher Cross is astonishing. 27 years later it still sounds fresh and exhilarating. This is the starting point for modern Industrial music as we know it.
Song played: "Complications"
HUSKER DU - Flip Your Wig (1985)
A questionable pick over Zen Arcade or New Day Rising? Well, when you think about the fact this album was released within 12 months of the two forementioned classics, but melded the same impeccable intensity with some of the best songs of Mould/Hart catalog, it's an undeniable pick.
Song played: "Makes No Sense At All"
THE PIXIES - Doolittle (1989)
This album was undoubtedly a pivotal launch pad for indie rock in the 90's and beyond. While Surfer Rosa the year prior was a brilliant, un-tethered exercise in absrasive punk, Doolittle ushederd in the Pixies' knack for songcraft - without comprising any of their creativity or enthusiasm.
Song played: "Debaser"
THE REPLACEMENTS - Tim (1985)
While Let It Be is often the choice for indie purists, it's this 1985 release from the 'Mats that really completed the package - with a raw, unfiltered, uncompromising approach to American rock n' roll. From beginning to end every song flows with confidence and passion.
Song played: "Bastards Of Young"
THE CURE - Pornography (1982)
Like the Smiths, it took the Cure a few records under their belts to come into their own. 1982's Pornography sealed the deal - melding classic post-punk minimalism with their unmistakble goth-glam uniqueness. An undeniably influential band and one of the 80's most original.
Song played: "The Hanging Garden"
REM - Murmur (1983)
REM were the flag-bearers of the American DIY ethos and probably the most formidable college rock band of the 80s. Hell...they practically invented the genre! Their 1983 full-length debut is an absolute stellar blend of post-punk minimalism and melodically charged jangle pop that laid the foundation for countless bands to follow.
Song played: "Catapult"
THE SMITHS - The Queen Is Dead (1986)
This landmark album, released at the apex of the Smith's brief career, is the gold standard for modern Britpop and most of modern indie rock, for that matter. The musical chemistry between Morrissey and Marr is unparalleled on this classic 1986 release. The influence of the Smiths is unmeasurable, so much so in fact - it would be hard to imagine the course of modern indie rock without them!
Song played: "Bigmouth Strikes Again"
U2 - War (1983)
Song played: "Two Hearts Beat As One"
For those of you wondering...
"Where are The Clash...The Jam...or Devo?"
Answer: Their best albums were released in the 70's. Nuff said... BACK TO THE PODCAST PAGE