Category: 1981

1981, Music

Mark of the Mole (1981) by The Residents

I read about The Residents as a teenager and thought their origin story was really cool and then later I fell in love with the cover of Third Reich ‘n’ Roll and so I thought I would get around to listening to a bunch of their records. Nearly two decades later this is the second …

1981, Music

Penthouse and Pavement (1981) by Heaven 17

This is on the funkier, more organic side of British synthpop in part because of the instrumentation but also because of the songwriting. As such, it almost feels somewhere on the spectrum between synthpop and post punk, even though the attitude of this band is very much not something you would associate with post punk …

1981, Music

Wanna Be a Star (1981) by Chilliwack

I came of age musically listening to Classic Rock Radio, specifically Q-107 in Toronto. And I came to loathe virtually all CanCon played. (Obvious exceptions: Neil Young and Joni Mitchell when they counted, Rush. No The Band doesn’t usually count.) And so I figured I loathed Chilliwack, though I couldn’t name a song. Another albums …

1981, Music

Happy Birthday (1981) by Altered Images

Post-punk was really evolving by 1981, and I think it’s safe to say that a number of bands were starting to realize they didn’t have to sound like Joy Division. Altered Images’ obvious influence is the Banshees but Grogan does not sound like Siouxsie Sioux (and she really isn’t on her level, as a singer, …

1981, Music

Private Eyes (1981) by Daryl Hall and John Oates

For years and years, I avoided Hall & Oates because I assumed they were yacht rock. I was only vaguely aware of their songs and sound – actually the only song of theirs I really knew was their cover of “Jingle Bell Rock.” I became vaguely interested in Daryl Hall once I knew about his …

1981, Music

A Taste of DNA (1981)

Like all No Wave this stuff is aggressively difficult. Lindsay’s guitar scratches and makes sounds some people probably didn’t no could come from a guitar. And his vocals are only a little more accessible, between yelling, shouting, speaking and yelping. The drums vary from being seemingly random to playing somewhat recognizable rhythms. As others have …

1981, Music

Dreamtime (1981) by Tom Verlaine

Marquee Moon is one of my favourite albums of the ’70s so this should be right in my wheelhouse. And it mostly is. Verlaine is a better songwriter than a lot of his contemporaries (with the notable exception of David Byrne), though he’s hardly an all time great. He has a good sense of melody, …

1981, Music

Beauty and the Beat (1981) by Go-Go’s

This is undoubtedly an important record. It is possibly the most successful debut album by an all-female band, at least to this point and history and it might have also been the first all-female band album to hit US#1 (though I’m not 100% sure where I read that and can’t find it now). It’s trailblazing …

1981, Music

Fresh Fruit in Foreign Places (1981) by Kid Creole and the Coconuts

Coincidentally, I am listening to the first Dr. Buzzard record. (If you don’t know Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band was led by Kid and some of the same people.) Listening to this record, it’s clear that a lot has been learned since that previous band. Nearly everything is better here than on the Dr. Buzzard …

1981, Music

East Side Story (1981) by Squeeze

Can I admit something to you? I thought “Tempted” was from the ’60s. Of course, if I’d really listened to it, I might have noticed it wasn’t. But I became familiar with it when I was young and before I had an ear that could spot time and genre differences. And I guess I just …

1981, Music

Computer World [Computerwelt] (1981) by Kraftwerk

There’s an argument to be made that Kraftwerk are one of the most influential bands of the 1970s, given how they are more responsible than anyone for the transition from the fairly abstract tone poems of ’70s German electronic to synthpop. That’s an argument I’m extremely receptive to on their pioneering mid and late ’70s …

1981, Music

Don’t say No (1981) by Billy Squier

I’m pretty sure the first time I heard “The Stroke” was in an arena. I had no idea what it was and I couldn’t figure out why half the audience (at least) seemed to know the song. Too recent to be “classic rock” when I was growing up and too “rock” (I guess) for those …

1981, Music

Street Songs (1981) by Rick James

What I know about Rick James can basically be summed up in two things: “Super Freak” and Chappelle Show. And I really know “U Can’t Touch This” much better than Super Freak. Oh, I know a third thing: he was once in a band with Neil Young. (That’s actually true.) So I had no idea …

1981, Music

Feels So Right (1981) by Alabama

Alabama are one of the few country bands I sort of knew when I was young. For some reason, my father had a few of their records (not this one as far as I know) and my dad would play them sometimes, so I was exposed to Alabama’s sound before CMT existed (or we got …

1981, Music

…And Don’t the Kids Just Love It (1981) by Television Personalities

There are some records which really depend upon context for them to be fully appreciated. And I think/fear that this is one of them. A record that is supposedly super influential on C86 specifically and the lo fi aesthetic in general. And that very well might be true, as I don’t know much about the …

1981, Music

Trust (1981) by Elvis Costello & the Attractions

Some critics insist this is the best of the early Attractions albums and among Costello’s very best work. I haven’t listened to any of the other records, recently, however, and so I have a really hard time judging whether or not that opinion is correct.

1981, Movies

My Bloody Valentine (1981, George Mihalka)

I had suspect tastes when I was younger and cannot, for the life of me, figure out why I rated My Bloody Valentine 3D 5/10. Because, though this movie is bad – and it’s quite bad – I have a hard time believing it is worse than its remake, which I somehow rated 5/10. Does …

1981, Movies

Die Fälschung aka Circle of Deceit (1981, Volker Schlöndorff)

This is an extraordinary movie, a little like a more cynical Killing Fields, or a less plot-driven Quiet American. A German journalist with marital problems is sent to cover the war in Lebanon. The film was shot primarily in Beirut, during the civil war, and the location shooting does a ton of the work.

1981, 2001, Books, Non-Fiction

When Bad Things Happen to Good People (1981, 2001) by Harold S. Kushner

I have been incredibly lucky in my life. I was born into privilege (middle class/upper middle class in one of the safest large cities in the world) and I have been very lucky in terms of personal tragedy: I have suffered few major injuries/illnesses, and my family has been pretty much free of them as …

1979, 1981, 1982, Music

Vox Humana? / Finale / Fürst Igor Strawinsky (1991) by Mauricio Kagel, performed by Ensemble 2e2m, Lyon National Opera Chorus conducted by Paul Méfano

This record collects three of Kagel’s longish “choral” pieces. Kagel was a weirdo is the best ways.