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15 Great Albums Of The Eighties

The eighties were a decade of change in music. Popular thought states that the mainstream, under the influence of MTV, started to become more streamlined and less experimental, while underground or alternative music began receiving greater attention than ever before. Certainly, this is neither completely true nor is it without some substance. What is undisputed is that the perception of music changed due greatly to the aforementioned MTV. An artist’s success was directly tied to their image, which in many cases was more important than the music. It was no longer enough to have a hit song; you needed a hit video to go along with it. While this new dynamic led many artists to abandon the art of the album, many others became more attached to the idea in order to keep the album from dying. Here are some of the albums that kept the medium alive during the decade.

15. Back In Black AC/DCWikipedia

15. Back In Black

The ultimate party album; when this one goes on at get togethers, everybody enjoys it. While AC/DC has never been known for any lyrical or musical depth, they certainly can write catchy songs, and no where is this clearer than Back In Black. The album was the band’s first with replacement singer Brian Johnson. Johnson’s voice is remarkably similar to Bon Scott’s, and this allows the band to continue to develop their sound from 1979’s Highway To Hell. The album contained hits “Hells Bells,” “Back In Black” and “You Shook Me All Night Long,” along with popular tracks “Have A Drink On Me” and “Rock And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution.”

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14. Born In The U.S.A. Bruce SpringsteenWikipedia

13. Born In The U.S.A.

Famously misunderstood, Born In The U.S.A. is one of Springsteen’s most popular albums. The title track, which is the most famous, is a tale of Vietnam veterans trying to reestablish themselves in society. However, the song is often misread to be about simple patriotism. The most famous example of this was Ronald Reagan‘s use of the song as his campaign slogan. Those in the know have been laughing about it for years since.

13. 1984 Van HalenWikipedia

14. 1984

By 1984 (the year), Van Halen had become not only the biggest band in the world, but guitarist Eddie Van Halen had played on hit records for others, such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller. This work outside the band brought new influences in, and 1984 contains a big dose of synthesizer. Unlike many of other records from the period on which there is synthesizer, the record doesn’t sound quite as dated. Songs like “Jump” use the synth-line as the main hook, and yet it still sounds perfectly modern when played in sports arenas. “Panama” remains one of the band’s most rocking songs. However, none of those songs can hold a candle to “Hot For Teacher,” especially in the wake of its racy video.

12. The Stone Roses The Stone RosesWikipedia

12. The Stone Roses

Before there was Oasis, before there was Britpop, there was the Stone Roses. The band was led by dueling personalities Ian Brown (vocals) and John Squire (guitar). The band mixed electronica/dance music with guitar pop of the sixties and a big helping of arrogance. The band’s sound and image is captured in the first track, “I Wanna Be Adored.” The dance beat builds up to a crescendo, where Brown sings about wanting to be a star. The vibe continues through “She Bangs The Drums” and “Waterfall.” While not all the songs are dancy, such as “Elizabeth My Dear,” most of them are or at least keep up the positive atmosphere.

11. Surfer Rosa The PixiesWikipedia

11. Surfer Rosa

While the production of Steve Albini is severely overrated, the Pixies never sounded as alive as they did on Surfer Rosa. Black Francis (also known also by a plethora of other names), submits a batch of songs that he has never bettered. Movie fans will recognize “Where Is My Mind?” as it played in the closing credits to the popular movie “Fight Club.” The song plays through a simply, eerie melody before the music drops out and all that is left is the strange backing “vocals.” The majority of the remaining songs follow the Pixies trademark “soft verse/loud chorus” formula, a technique that was later picked up and popularized by Nirvana. Other album highlights include “Bone Machine,” “Gigantic,” and the lovable “Tony’s Theme.”

10. Empty Glass Pete TownshendWikipedia

10. Empty Glass

By the dawn of the eighties, the Who had already lost a member (Keith Moon, by means of overdose), gone through numerous financial/managerial problems, and spent nearly 20 years together (dating from their earliest days as the Detours). The wear was evident, and for the first time de facto songwriter Pete Townshend was writing material for things other than the band. While his first solo album came out nearly 10 years earlier in the form of Who Came First, this is Townshend’s real debut as a solo artist. The album is nearly his most confessional record behind only The Who By Numbers, and contains his best batch of songs since, well, The Who By Numbers. Some of the songs date back to the sessions for the Who Are You album (“Keep On Working” and “Empty Glass”), while others were more recent. For the most part, these are all songs that could have been performed ably by the Who. The Who’s trademark synth/keyboards are present in key tracks like “Let My Love Open The Door” as well as “And I Moved.” However, where Roger Daltrey tries to overpower vocally, Townshend uses more shades of his voice, and as such the record takes on a more mellow feel than it would have if performed by the Who.

9. The Joshua Tree U2Wikipedia

9. The Joshua Tree

The Joshua Tree is thought to be U2’s album about America. The Joshua Tree is the biggest selling album in Irish band U2’s catalog. The album is a bit of a departure from the sound of their earlier albums, as the rawer instrumental sounds are scrapped away in favor of more subtle spacey guitar. “Where The Streets Have No Name” kicks off the album by setting a cerebral mood. The outer stratosphere music is matched by Bono’s lyrics of nowhere-ness. The band tries out (to great success) gospel on “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” which pushes Bono’s voice to the limit of his range. This creates a feeling of desperation, which is exactly what makes the song a winner.

8. Master Of Puppets MetallicaWikipedia

8. Master Of Puppets

Before the psychiatric therapy, before the “Black Album,” and before Jason Newsted, there was Master Of Puppets, considered by many to be the definitive thrash metal album. Certainly it is the best album Metallica released during its “underground” period. The album follows the structure of its predecessor closely, i.e. the same types of songs are present and in a similar order. The band refines the art of the breakdown on “Battery,” which opens the album. Following on the heals of “Battery” is the title track; a song which musically and lyrically brings the listener to an understanding of powerlessness and lack of control. In fact, most of the album deals with these themes. Even the instrumental is listenable both initially and after considerable repetition. On top of it all, the musicians are on top of their game.

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7. Appetite For Destruction Guns N’ RosesWikipedia

7. Appetite For Destruction

Rock from the Sunset Strip was no longer legitimate by 1987, the year Guns N’ Roses changed the course of the late 80s with their ugly, bluesy brand of rock found on Appetite For Destruction. GNR were not nice boys, they were dangerous to you and themselves. Appetite is considered the last great album to be recorded in the “classic” method of piecing the tape together by hand rather than digital recording. “Welcome To The Jungle” has one of the great riffs, which is matched in quality by “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” The album will never go out of style, not as long as there are sporting events for which they will be played. Think of this when you hear the name Guns N’ Roses and not that album we’ve been waiting over a decade to hear.

6. This Is Spinal Tap (soundtrack) Spinal TapWikipedia

6. This Is Spinal Tap

This Is Spinal Tap was the soundtrack to one of the all time funniest movies (and certainly the best about rock and roll). In an attempt to mock the excess of rock, the “rockumentary” follows a band, Spinal Tap, on its 1982 tour and chronicle the moronic acts of a rock band. The biggest laugh however was that the soundtrack, on which the actors actually play, was better than many bands could ever dream of being. Anthems like “Big Bottom,” a song that does not stray from expectations, and “Stonehenge” both references and mocks Black Sabbath. At all times the songs are funny, and unrelentingly catchy. The soundtrack was so good many people actually believed Spinal Tap was a real band.

5. Pretty Hate Machine Nine Inch NailsWikipedia

5. Pretty Hate Machine

Nine Inch Nails did not become a household name until 1994’s The Downwards Spiral, although the band, or rather a name under which Trent Reznor operates by himself, has been in existence since the eighties. Pretty Hate Machine was the band’s debut, and what a debut it was. What separates Machine from any other Nine Inch Nail’s record is there is no broad concept for story which the songs progress, rather they are all songs about Trent Reznor at the time. “Head Like A Hole” shows Reznor’s belief in religion as a business, while “Terrible Lie” shares his thoughts on the promises of Christianity. His sexual side is also on full display in “Sin” and combinations of all of these appear throughout the other songs. While industrial rock existed before Machine, Nine Inch Nails first record gave the genre a face, and that face was Trent Reznor.

4. 1999 PrinceWikipedia

4. 1999

Prince had some hits before 1982, but his first real taste of stardom came with 1999. The apocalyptic title track contains one of the all-time great synth loops, as well as some truly thrilling vocals from Prince. Only Prince would view the end of the world as an opportunity to party, and he declares those intentions throughout the song. “Delirious” is another gem; the main melody of the song is carried on some distorted instrument which is unknown to this writer. However, the real prize is “Little Red Corvette,” which is just a perfect slice of pop so smooth and polished that once you get it in your head it may never leave, ever.

3. Thriller Michael JacksonWikipedia

3. Thriller

After the success of Off The Wall, Michael Jackson called in the big guns for what is one of the best selling albums of all time. The amount of copies of Thriller sold is a story on its own, the music is another. Paul McCartney, Eddie Van Halen and others make prominent appearances on the album, but that’s not to say that their presence alone is to be credited to the album sales. Seven of the nine tracks on the album charted… in the top ten! Songs like “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” have been covered by so many artists, oddly even by grunge veteran Chris Cornell and metal favorites Metallica respectfully. The album became the blueprint for mega-success for the ensuing ten years.

2. War U2Wikipedia

2. War

U2 aimed for greatness from the outset, but it wasn’t until 1983’s War that they actually achieved it. From the opening drums of “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” it’s clear that the band have brought new focus to their sound, and this time they are more than just politically conscious, they are politically relevant. Similar themes are continued in “The Refugee” as well as the popular “New Years Day.” While War is overlooked in the post-Joshua Tree world, it must be noted that at one point, U2’s sound was grounded in a post-punk world, rather than the outer space of their late decade arena rock.

1. Sign O’ The Times PrinceWikipedia

1. Sign O' The Times

Prince was a megastar in the eighties, greatly due to the success of the movie and soundtrack Purple Rain. As the eighties began to drawn to a close, Prince released the socially relevant Sign O’ The Times to mark the period. In the title track, Prince sings about everything from the aftermath of the decade’s drug culture to AIDS. However, the album is far from a one trick pony, as every song has at least a few indelible hooks to keep them from leaving the head for days. Prince’s legendary weirdness creeps its way into the album with “If I Was Your Girlfriend,” as does the beauty of “Forever In My Life.” What is just as astounding as the songs is the fact that the album is so consistent and interesting while being over an hour and 20 minutes.

Contributor: Jason Hirschhorn

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  • lydia

    Michael Jackson is my favorite.

    • jfauser

      I’m sorry

  • Yarr

    No good.
    An entire decade, with all the greatness and stupidity…

    This is not a good list.

    I love you and all, but dude…


  • Yarr

    The Cure, The Smiths, Aerosmith, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Ozzy, Siouxie, Madonna, Eddie Money, Peter Gabriel, Tom Petty, Heart, Motley Crue, J Geils, Cyndi Lauper, Depeche Mode, Genesis… Even Weird Al!!!

    And somehow an unknown Pete Townsend album is on the list of best 80’s?

    Do we need to revisit the drugs list there Jaime?

  • Hey – it is a “great albums” not “greatest albums” – there could be a whole other list just for the New Romantics!

  • There was too much great music in the eighties to include everything in one list. I think it is a great list Jamie, cut em some slack guys.

  • YH

    argh! you have never heard of TOM WAITS!! otherwise he’d be on this list. Ever heard of Raindogs? Best album of the eighties. just to school you a bit, he wrote downtown train and appeared in several films like rumblefish and mystery men. but hes an amazing musician. check his stuff you jfreater when you get a chance.

  • Martin L

    Talk about a controversial list, JF. No Police? No Talking Heads? No Elvis Costello? And don’t just confine yourself to rock — Yo Yo Ma brought the cello into a rockstarish spotlight, Bobby McFerrin debuted some vocal stuff that was a lot more substantial than just “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” — actually a list of 30 Great Albums of the 80s ain’t impossible. Can’t argue with the Pixies and U2, though. Delete one Prince album and at least get Zenyatta Mondata up there, what dya think?

  • No Bon Jovi? Really, How?
    And Journey, they had some good ones in the 80s…

    I wont go so far as to say the list sucks, but, it could be really better…

    • asdf

      Of course this list sucks… But adding Journey would make it a billion times worse!

  • Rob

    An eighties list sans Cyndi Lauper? How can that be right?
    Martin L, right on…where is The Police?

    • Kim

      Or Madonna?

  • sarahj

    its certainly a look through one of the many windows of the 80’s. It was such a mixed era that I think it could not have all gone down in one list. ANd tell me you dont remember all of these albums anyway!! lol – Great list as usual!

  • FirstAmber

    What about a top 5 +/- for each year of the 80’s? With all the great albums produced during this decade, it wouldn’t be hard.

    Jaime, I sure wouldn’t want to try to come up with a “Top x of y.” Possibly a “My Favourite . …” Kudos to you for the effort.

  • AnotherEngine

    2 U2, 2 Prince, and no REM? Blaspehmous….

  • Kelsi

    Definately agree with a good deal of what you have on the list…but no Aerosmith really blows my mind. Come on. They’re amazing.

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  • Wowzer

    I LOVE Pretty Hate Machine (Well, I love all of the albums here, but that one in particular stood out.) Oh, I just thought it was worth mentioning as a fun fact that I am currently conversing with the son of Alan Wren of the Stone Roses. He’s good people.

  • I have asked Jason, who wrote this list, to come up with a much more specialized list for this decade – but in light of the comments maybe the best thing would be to make this a top 50 or 100. What do you think?

  • Angela

    I think many of the choices on this list are great. Maybe in the future you could extend it, perhaps? There are a few I might have included if this were a “greatEST” list but otherwise, I am really happy to see the likes of Van Halen, Prince, and Michael Jackson make it onto here.

  • Morgaine

    But why?? Why do you hate Queen? :'(
    By the way, what have I missed? :P
    what are those arrows for?

  • Morgaine: The arrows are for voting a users comment up or down. It is anonymous. At some point in the future it may be used to let you hide/show comments based upon how much “karma” it has. :)

  • Some good ones for me there – Master of Puppets was awesome…

  • Randall

    Who came up with this piece of crap list? Geared almost totally towards dinosaur “hard rock” of the period (with only a few exceptions) it TOTALLY and completely misses the truly GREAT, innovative, original and cool albums of the period—instead devoting itself to classic rock names of yesteryear and heavy metal know-nothingisms. Please. I was THERE in the 80s… and I was an adult at the time, not some unaware child or teenager… I entered college in 1982, and can tell you for certain what the really GREAT albums of the period were, and hardly any of them are on this list. I’d agree with placing the Pixies on there, U2’s “War”, and Prince’s “1999”… but where the hell is REM? Where’s the Go Go’s “Beauty and the Beat,” surely one of the greatest new wave albums of all time? Where, indeed, is NEW WAVE? Where’s Duran Duran’s “Rio”? You may chuckle at Duran Duran, but no one with an open mind laughs off that particular effort of theirs… it’s near flawless. Where’s Joe Jackson? Where’s They Might Be Giants? The Circle Jerks? The Jam? The Housemartins? The Rain Parade? I could go on and on. Please, whoever wrote this–either get some taste, or don’t offer your opinions about 80s music.

  • Randall

    I need to add also–this may be a “Great Albums” list as someone notes–not “the Greatest Albums”… but I take exception even there. Most of these are not by any stretch of the imagination “great” albums. Please… Guns and Roses? Metallica? Pure drek. Pete Townsend? COME ON.

  • soonerproud


    For many people groups like Guns and Roses and Metallica are great and the albums mentioned were ground breaking. Just because you do not like a genre of music does not mean the albums weren’t great in their own right. I can’t stand Michael Jackson, yet I can see it was a ground breaking album that had a huge impact on music and culture. Not everyone has your musical taste so this list is very relevant.

  • Jason

    The Pixies never sounded more alive, yet Steve Albini’s production is overrated? tsk, tsk. Might the production have had something to do with that?

  • Gr8flDdFn

    what about INXS kick?

  • Randall

    soonerproud: Tell you what. You tell me what was different and “groundbreaking” about Metallica and Guns and Roses. The sound of both groups was identical to the previous 20 years of crap rock, had nothing new to offer, and the only people either group was popular with were the stuck-in-the-70s types who disparage everything that’s not the Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin, or follows the lead of those two groups. Yup, I’ll admit, they sure were popular, G&R, and Metallica. But that doesn’t make them good. There was more energy and inventiveness and coolness in The Replacements “Pleased to Meet Me” album than in anything put out by these junior-league dinosaur groups you defend. And sorry, pal… when I was in high school and college, we mocked people who listened to stuff like Metallica, AC DC, Quiet Riot, etc., and we were right—they were ALWAYS the low-brow, jock-rock-listening types who were incapable of understanding that music needs to move on from the past, and that rock n roll isn’t about jerks with big hair and head-banging noise. It can and should have intelligence, wit, irony and fun in it. I’ll take Echo & The Bunnymen, The Smiths, Cure, Butthole Surfers, Agent Orange, The Replacements, The Church, Psychedelic Furs and Talking Heads (not to mention Nirvana et al) ANY day over empty headed crap like Metallica, Guns & Roses, Van Halen, Bon Jovi and their ilk.

  • soonerproud

    Randall: Metallica created a whole genre of metal that was completely different than the fluff coming from Van-Halen or AC/DC. It sounded nothing like the mainstream rock that was popular on the radio at the time. The lyrics were serious and socially conscious unlike the good time party music the other bands you lumped them with were putting out. Their music was not stuck in the 70’s and sounded nothing like any band before them had put out.

    Guns and Roses also did not follow the same formula as the 80’s hair band genre. They refused to dress up like women and put out music that took on serious subjects like drug addiction and living on the streets. They opened the door for groups like Nirvana, who had a more serious message and less fluff to get mainstream recognition.

    All you are proving by your post is you are a music snob who thinks they are superior to anyone who happens to disagree with you. You are also showing you lack of knowledge of music by lumping Metallica and GnR with groups like Van-Halen and BonJovi.

  • Randall

    You wrote that: (Metallica) “sounded nothing like the mainstream rock that was popular on the radio at the time.” Well to begin with, I’d argue with that, but leave that aside… the real answer I’d give you is, “so what?” Metal has never been considered “mainstream rock.” I’ve heard Metallica, pal. To me (and to everyone else I know) it sounds just like every other “serious” metal band you could name. In short, lowbrow junk that’s low on imagination and high on arrested adolescent testosterone-driven BS. Phony and execrable. Oh, and I may have lumped Metallica together with what you feel are inappropriate fellows, but the point is not that metal doesn’t have its own little sub-genres–of course it does–rather, the point is that phony-macho metal posturing is something all these bands more or less share.

    “The lyrics were serious and socially conscious unlike the good time party music the other bands you lumped them with were putting out.” Ewwwww…. always, always bad when bands are lauded for their “serious and socially conscious” lyrics… another huge failing of hard rock/metal… its earnestness. Please spare me. In fact, I did do Van Halen and AC/DC a disservice by lumping them in with Metallica. Most times, I’d take Van Halen or AC/DC any day, if I had to choose.

    Lastly… Guns and Roses opened the door for NIRVANA? What color IS the sky in your world? The punk and indie artists of the 80s opened the door for Nirvana… not some dumb-ass hair band. Oh, and the fact that Guns and Roses didn’t “dress up like women” doesn’t make them innovative or “groundbreaking.” Neither does their writing lyrics about “serious” subjects. Hard rock of the 70s was only occasionally glam-conscious, and Lou Reed was writing about the subjects you mention in the late 60s. Your statements only lend legitimacy to the idea that G&R were a little different from most of their hair band compatriots of the day—not groundbreaking or all that imaginative. All they did (maybe) was go back to a thread that had already been covered, years before.

    Call me a snob all you want. My peers and I were there at the time, (I doubt you were) and we knew the enemy. I refuse to give them the slightest shred of legitimacy just because they sold a lot of records and CDs.

  • soonerproud


    “Call me a snob all you want. My peers and I were there at the time, (I doubt you were) and we knew the enemy. I refuse to give them the slightest shred of legitimacy just because they sold a lot of records and CDs.”

    Yes I was there. This post proves my point that you are a music snob. Of all the bands you previously mentioned, only Nirvana has had as much success as both Metallica and GnR. This means there are a lot more people that will agree with me then you.

    Yes, GnR opened doors for Nirvana. GnR proved to the MAJOR LABELS that bands who do not follow trends can have mainstream success. It was not long after this that all of the Seattle bands were signed to major labels even before a single one had success.

    Just because you hate metal does not mean other people do not think it is artistic. In fact, Metallica and GnR were hailed by music critics early in their careers.

  • Randall


    Clearly we’ll never settle this old argument and we certainly won’t solve it here. I simply wish to point out (at the risk of repeating myself) that “popular” does NOT equal “good.” Enough said there. You want to call that snobbish, be my guest. Others call it having taste and standards. I refuse to look to the mere commercial to decide what has artistic value.

    As for G&R opening doors for Nirvana… please stop with that nonsense. You come off as absurd every time you repeat it. Kurt Cobain never listed (to my knowledge) G&R as an influence of his. I know it secretly galls metal types (which I presume you are) that Kurt was in fact one of US–not one of YOU–but nevertheless, it’s true, he was. And this laughable notion of G&R somehow proving to “major labels” that Nirvana, et al could find success–PUH LEEZE. No, pal, let me instruct you on what REALLY happened–though no doubt you won’t agree and will refuse to listen to the truth. By the end of the 80s and the early 90s, people who had, in their youth, listened to and loved underground music (i.e., the music I’ve cited–punk, hardcore, new wave etc.–Black Flag, Pixies, etc. etc. etc.) were beginning to step into positions of power in radio and record companies. They were the new guard who took over from the old dinosaur rock contingent that had ruled the mainstream all through the 70s and 80s. Guns & Roses, Metallica et al were a joke to a lot of these people. Rather, what they knew was that there were also a LOT of people out there who liked the same kind of stuff they liked–stuff that was fresh and new and energetic. The Seattle movement was already on, and it was an ideal place to grab a lot of new bands that could find a wider audience. Alternative came out of this, and its roots for success lay in the college radio circuit of the 80s, not out of some imaginary doors you think were opened up by the likes of Guns & Roses.

  • Jason


    While you were apparently alive during the eighties, you are definitely coming from a very limited perspective. While I agree with a large amount of what you are saying, you still come across as that A.V. nerd who was just all to happy to like music that none of his schoolmates had heard of. The Pixies were great (their production wasn’t), and so were many other underground bands, and yes, Nirvana really sprung from the underground scene in Seattle consisting of bands like Green River, the Melvins, and the Fastbacks (which included a future member of GNR mind you). However, to dismiss anything popular as bad is just as bad as assuming anything that is popular is good. Popular is not an indicator of quality in that popular music can be both good or bad. You apparently can’t wrap your head around this concept. We likely won’t agree on this, but that’s because you apparently have not re-evaluated music since the eighties.

  • Jason

    Oh, and Kurt liked the Beatles, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin and the Sex Pistols, but apparently he’s immune to any criticism of liking popular music.

  • Frankie

    REM and Talking Heads should be on this list. I also think Joy Division, the Smiths!, New Order,Meat Puppets, Nirvana! and Pearl Jam are worth mentioning. I think if you look into the eighties that alot of great bands that have been largely ignored like Pale Fountains, Echo and the Bunnymen, James, Sugar Cubes, Happy Mondays, Kraftwerk etc. Then there are the rap groups like Public Enemy, NWA et al. Oh and Madness were class. Lots of good reggae albums too. Why does it have to revolve around the American scene and British/Irish bands that madein the States. The Stone Roses a notable exception.

  • Frankie

    Oh and I’m sorry I forgot all the great punk bands that were still making great albums. Wire, Black flag, the Clash. Is this not a the top ten list of great rock bands of the eighties?

    Message to Mr Frater: I think the titles of lists like these should be more specific becacuse it is insulting to people who aren’t from the States (in my opinion).

  • Frankie: I understand what you are saying, but this is a list of 15 great albums – not THE 15 great albums. Oh – and by the way, I am not from the United States either :)

  • Gurgle Jerk

    Discredited by the absence of London Calling.

  • bucslim

    I’ve seen these types of posts on several of the lists here. And since I’ve said it before, you can shut me off if you like, but taste is something very different than impact or ‘greatness.’ Rush’s Moving Pictures blew me away. Pink Floyd’s The Wall blew everybody I knew away. Just about anything the Police did in the 80’s was worth mentioning. I am also fond of most of the punk stuff mainly the Clash. I thought Donald Fagan’s The Nightfly was pretty cool. So I’m a little puzzled as to why they aren’t mentioned until I remembered this is someone else’s impression of what was good.

    Folks, why bother with the pithy comments about what should be mentioned and try to understand it someone’s opinion? Lists like this are always going to piss someone off and then we have to endure reading ‘serious’ comments about the impact of Guns and Roses? Are you fucking kidding me? Move out of your parent’s basement and have dinner with a girl.

  • Travis

    Bucslim- I ensure you someone would not get away with naming for example Harry Potter as one of the greatest books of all time so why are so happy for to happen to music and for that matter film. Its annoying because there is so many great bands out there (and films) that nobody hears of because it is dominated by only a few people. And mostly because of advertising. Books have in many ways managed to duck under the advertising banner, but for fuck sake open your eyes. It’s even better when people link the word pretentious to taste in music and film whilst having a copy of Rimbaud on their coffee table.

  • Randall


    Was this, I wonder, directed at me? (I would hope not, and that it was rather directed at the metalhead I was arguing with… if directed at him, forgive me. If directed at me… see below).

    "Folks, why bother with the pithy comments about what should be mentioned and try to understand it someone’s opinion? Lists like this are always going to piss someone off and then we have to endure reading ’serious’ comments about the impact of Guns and Roses? Are you fucking kidding me? Move out of your parent’s basement and have dinner with a girl."

    To begin with, "buc," I'd ask you to tell me, then, what the hell comment sections are for, if not to offer one's opinions of someone else's opinions. Hmm?

    Secondly, woooooo… nice riposte there, the "parents' basement/date a girl" thing. Think that one up all by yourself?

    And… by the way, where I come from, yeah, we sometimes like to have "dinner" with girls, but see… it's more fun to have sex with them. You might try that out sometime.

    (The submitter, by the way, would like it known that in fact he got laid plenty in his youth, and has been married and divorced, with two kids… so there).

    • strungout

      randall seriously, shut up. your a fuckwit.

  • Randall

    Jason, re-read what I wrote. (Evidently people today don’t have the simplest comprehension skills). I was NOT saying that popular necessarily equals “bad”; I WAS saying that popular DOES NOT necessarily equal “good”. Sheesh. If you don’t get the difference, I can’t help you. It’s hardly a nuance.

    And I wasn’t just “alive” during the 80s… as I think I mentioned somewhere here, I graduated high school in 82 and was therefore in college during the height of the decade and was, therefore, an adult or nearly so throughout the entire period of new wave/college radio/alternative. Can you say the same thing?

    Furthermore, I wasn’t from some backwater, godforsaken zone of unhipness like middle America; I was and am from New York. It took the rest of the country about ten years to catch up to what we already were doing and listening to, back then.

    I suggest you lay off any further assumptions about what “limited perspectives” I’m coming from. The crack about the A/V kid was cute, but baseless. I’m guessing, in fact, that you were not of any appreciable age in the late 70s/early 80s (if, in fact, you were even alive then). What people who were not alive then do not understand is that the pop-culture scene, particularly as it pertains to music, was NOTHING like it is now or has been for the last 15 or so years. There was pretty much one, monolithic radio format which did not play alternative, underground, new wave/college music and was indeed openly hostile to such stuff. There was no internet then, no way of forging any “alternative scene” beyond what you could find in clubs and what you could hear on college radio—very nearly (except for a few adventuresome commercial radio stations in the big Eastern cities) and we, as such, had a much bigger fight on our hands. As Paul Westerberg said, we had sh*t like Nightranger and Quiet Riot shoved down our throats daily by the mainstream. I was part of a huge scene back then of like-minded people (all of us well-educated, snotty, we-know-better-than-you-do college kids, I freely admit… but that didn’t make us wrong) who knew that there could be better choices out there. And you have the choices you have today because of what we demanded, and got, back then.

  • Boxing gloves anyone? :)

  • Clues

    First off I want it to be known that Metallica and GnR screamed out the angst of my youth and I love them for it.

    Second Randall I think you are long winded and full of hot air BUT you make me laugh. Thanks!

  • Krullogd

    Although i kind of agree with randall, in the point that metal as a whole is kind of cheesy and bad music, there’s no way around the fact that metallica (along with slayer) were one of the very few metal bands that back in the 80’s were indeed a great band, right along with another great bands like the cure, smiths, depeche mode, talking heads etc. Randall, comparing metallica to AC DC or guns and roses is like comparing Nirvana to Korn. Still, lots of people like them both! By the way, i think beastie boys should be in this list (who, interestingly used the metal guitar from kerry king, just like public enemy – ironic , isnt it? :))
    Peace out!

  • I just want to thank you for including 2 Prince albums on your list ^_^

  • jbjr

    Let it Be or Tim or Pleased to meet me (kudos to Randall) by the Replacements.

  • Jake

    man im sick of seeing Van Halen , Metallica , Guns n Roses and ACDC on best of music lists . Those bands wouldnt know taseful if it bit em on the butt . Good to see the Stone Roses and the Pixies here , but what about THE SMITHS!!!!

  • SoCal Tom

    In light of what everyone has said, none of this would be possible if it wasn’t for commercial radio. Since then, radio has sucked tremendously.

    Oh, and my amps go to eleven. So There!

  • TheDragon

    *sighs* As I peruse these lists, one theme seems to be a common one in most if not all of them.

    What about this? What about that? I think you should of put this in your list, or maybe that. I am not satisfied with your opinion, I want to tell you mine instead.

    How about you stop whining, stop interjecting your own ideas about what you think should of been on the list…and make your own! Everyone and I mean everyone has the right to their own opinion and likes or dislikes, so enough childish arguing about their views…

  • TheDragon: The owner of this site prefers to hear what people think on the topic of the list. What people agree with and what they disagree with. He also appriciates the extra imput that the comments provide, as most of the time he just could not fit in all that he would like to or that he simply forgot about so and so item. (Not that forgetting actually happens to him ;) ) He likes the debates and to see what people argue for and against. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have a comments section as he says.

    Simply put… He wants people to voice opinion. That is what makes this site so wonderful.

  • TheDragon

    Ravyn: The problem is, that you could create a list of 1000 items and people are still going to argue about what they think should or should not be on it. They need to create their own list, and express their own opinion. Much simpler that way, instead of a hundred comments about what they want.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for constructive opinions and discussion about the list. Just not whining like a child because something you like isn’t on it…

  • TheDragon: I see your point in that. When I read through the comments, I tend to ignore the whining and see the point that is trying to be made. I guess it just comes naturally to me anymore though. tehe

  • IsmokeRocks

    gotta have def leopard, and the police. WAR and Sign of the Times, hell no!

  • Matthew

    Hmm, I love that smell Of misunderstanding, loathing, and righteousness. It smells like democracy.

  • zsasz

    very good selection, obviously not going to please everyone but a great range.
    excellent to see a man as talented as prince get some well earned credit, no other artist has covered the amount of ground he has. disc 2 of sign of the times is possibly one of the greatest discs of music ever.

  • Bobby the K

    ‘tattoo you’ is actually a pretty good record. love ‘slave’

  • rebel

    Bleach by Nirvana should be up there.

  • Ti

    I could’ve sworn Purple Rain was going to take the place of Sign O the Times. Either way, both great albums.
    Glad to see 9 inch nails on the list.

  • Josh

    I love Prince, but how can you list him twice?

    Kraftwerk’s “Computer World” should’ve been somewhere in the Top 3.

  • Eric Gmeinder

    I think George Michael’s “Faith” is a good one. Were it not for the horrible “I Want Your Sex (Parts 1 & 2)” I think it might be up there with some of The Beatles’ better albums.

  • dustin

    bollocks. london calling should be top 3 along with dark side of the moon

  • poopymcpoopsalot

    How in the name of fuck isn’t number one or even on the list!!!!

  • poopymcpoopsalot

    I forgot to say London Calling in there some where…..

  • kiwiboi

    I forgot to say London Calling in there some where…..

    Yeah…in a list about the 1970’s perhaps; this list is about the 1980’s.

    London Calling was first released in 1979.

  • MT

    You must be a real Prince fan.

  • Ford

    Yep, Appetite for Destruction definitely should have been up there. And the pick for Surfer Rosa was excellent.

    Can’t forget these:

    Hüsker Dü Zen Arcade
    Living Colour Vivid
    Prince Dirty Mind
    The Police Zenyatta Mondatta
    Camper Van Beethoven Telephone Free Landslide Victory (“Where the Hell is Bill?” alone is enough to get this album)
    Run DMC King of Rock
    Dead Kennedys Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
    The Pogues Rum, Sodomy & the Lash
    The Beastie Boys Paul’s Boutique
    Butthole Surfers Hairway to Steven

    … that’s just to name a few. I could do my own top 200 great (not greatest) albums of the ’80s. There was a lot of great music during that decade.

  • Child_Abuser

    All those are good and all but very different from what mine would be like.

  • Ferret

    Thank you for recognising The Stone Roses’ brilliant debut. Astonishingly good album, in my opinion the third-best of all time. But The Smiths really should be on there. I have two of their albums and they’re both classics.

  • joelio

    Any Smiths album!

  • Paltsu

    It’s the decade of electric music, get out of here with your rock albums. I have to hear that lame shit too often nowadays, don’t try to mess with the greatest decade with it.

  • matt

    no order
    joshua tree – u2
    the queen is dead – smiths
    tim – replacements
    stone roses – stone roses
    sign o’ the times – Prince
    remain in the light – talking heads
    thriller – michael jackson
    back in black – acdc
    master of puppets – metallica
    sonic youth – daydream nation
    surfer rosa – pixies
    murmur – r.e.m.
    it takes a nation of millions to hold us back – public enemy
    3 feet high and rising – de la soul
    raising hell – run dmc

    tell me what you think.

  • ThatGuy

    you fucked up by not putting a replacements album on here. tisk tisk.

  • hippie

    i have to say that Metallica-Master of Puppets should be number 1. Period.

  • Akane24

    What about Moving pictures by rush that should be on this list.

    • I totally agree with you. RUSH should be up there for every album that they made in the 80’s !!!!!

  • javi

    mj should be the #1 on the list! prince sucks,lol

  • tom

    Mj Should be #1

    Back In Black is Quite possibly the best album ever

    RIP bonn.

  • TrixRabbi

    Generic and weak

  • natapillar

    i was born in ’82 and love the music from the 80’s. reminds me of the good times of being a kid. :)

  • Will Trame

    The eighties were a very bland decade musically in the wake of the seventies and especially the sixties. The rise of MTV effectively sealed the fate of TV rock programs such as "The Midnight Special" and "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert" (even though I wasn't fond of the latter). Still, the 80s did have some fine albums, few and far between as they may have been.

    Prince at number one? You must be kidding. If not, "Purple Rain" was a much better record than "Sign O' the Times".

    Pete Townshend's "Empty Glass" was a fine record. Check out "White City" as well.

    Notable omissions:

    "Moving Pictures", Rush. Perhaps their finest album, although it strongly initiated their computerized synth era. Rush closed the decade on a strong note with "Presto".

    "Synchronicity", The Police. An excellent, intelligent album; the group's swansong. I suspect Sting knew he could never follow this one up.

    Other records notable to mention:

    "Perfect Strangers", Deep Purple

    Asia's debut album.

    "Tattoo You", The Rolling Stones

    "Steel Wheels", The Rolling Stones

    "Pump", Aerosmith.

    The latter two, along with Rush's aforementioned "Presto", were the only albums that redeemed the turgid year of 1989.

    "Tattoo You" was impressive, aside from being the Stones' final #1 disc, consisted mainly of material from the vaults.

    Pink Floyd's "The Wall" could merit a mention as well. Even though released in late November 1979, it peaked in 1980.

    • Speaking of RUSH and “Moving Pictures”, if you were to ask me what the greatest live album ever put out is / was, then go back into the 1970’s (1976) and listen to their first live album “All The World’s A Stage” its beyond unreal !!

  • Angela

    I did NOT enjoy this album and it got on my nerves fast, as I was a Heavy Metal kid, but Huey Lewis and the New's album 'Sports' with "I wanna new drug' and 'heart and soul' were EVERYWHERE in the 80's…

  • Angela

    AND to leave off Motley Crue's "Too Fast For Love' or "Shout at the Devil"…, Judas Priest, "Screaming for Vengeance" or Def Leppards, "Hysteria" is a sin…

  • Boyle


    That is all.

  • fishgutmartyr

    Wow, did you give yourself an impossible task. I could think of 15 albums right now that would be worthy, and not on your list.

    Spinal Tap? Really? When you have to leave seminal albums like Damaged, Murmur, Zen Arcade, and Nothing's Shocking off? Not to mention things like Argybargy (I still think that is the most perfect pop album I've ever listened to), Born in the USA, Brothers in Arms, Damn the Torpedoes (OK, that was released late '79), Days of Wine and Roses, The Las Vegas Story, etc..

    I don't know about having multiple albums from the same artist on a list this short, either. Not that they're necessarily unworthy, but variety is the spice of life.

    I'm not going to attack you about Empty Glass (it was an excellent album), or your choices of Metallica or Guns and Roses (whether or not I like them, they were both very influential in their genre); but again, I don't know if I'd keep Empty Glass in a list where so many other albums are left out.

    Heh. You were doomed the second your finger hit a key. So nice effort.

  • H

    The Replacements should be on here. That’s all I got!

  • H

    Also, any album by the Church.

  • 1986 was the greatest year in history, all thanks to Master of Puppets.

  • Eolra

    Just wanted to put Paul Simon’s Graceland out there. An amazing album from the 80’s

  • Music

    Why arent any rap albums on the list?You should have at least included Raising Hell by Run DMC,It Takes a Nation of millions to hold us back by Public Enemy,Straight Outta Compton by NWA,Licensed to ill by Beastie Boys.Pauls Boutique,and Paid in Full by Eric B. and Rakim.Those were all groundbreaking albums in the late 80’s,and you could have at least included Raising Hell,since it broke rap music into the mainstream

  • Nestor Alfaro

    Why didnt you include any hip-hop albums like Raising Hell by Run DMC,It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Public Enemy,or Straight Outta Compton by NWA.And for rock albums,why didnt you put Hysteria by Def Leppard,Peace Sells by Megadeth,Blizzard of Ozz by Ozzy Osbourne,The Number of The Beast by Iron Maiden,or Nothings Shocking by Janes Addiction.Those were some of the best albums I heard in my youth and I still own those albums.I thought you people were more open minded.

  • Zap

    I would have thought…. Bon jovi- slippery when wet or new jersey / def leppard- hysteria / duran duran – rio / motley crue – shout at the devil or dr.feelgood /

  • stan

    How the heck could you leave out “Hysteria” by Def Leppard? That album had many classics including “Pour some sugar on me” and many others. A true classic. Also missing Whitesnake, self-titled, “Love at first Sting” by Scorpions, “Moving Pictures” by Rush, “Number of the Beast” by Iron Maiden.

  • Dan

    HOWWWWWWWW could you miss off DOOLITTLE by Pixies?!?!?!?!!!!!!!!!!!! greatest album everrrrrrrrrrrrr

  • asdf

    NIN, Prince, and Michael Jackson are the only good ones here. I see you mainly focused on rock. Where’s the new wave? Where’s the synthpop? Post-punk, new romantic…even punk albums (although by the 80s they were scarce)!! Wow. I would make a much better list than this… And i’m only 17! At least there’s no Journey on here, I hate them so much lol. I won’t stop believing that they suck lol.

  • ghfdghrts

    Um… I just read this person’s review on Pretty Hate Machine…. WTF! What an idiot!! None of the songs are about Christianity! Trent is an atheist!! And there was absolutely NO apostrophe needed when you said “Nine Inch Nail’s”. Even if it did need an apostrophe, it would be “Nine Inch Nails'”, not “Nail’s”.

  • Okay, I agree that Spinal Tap was fun to listen to. But how do they make it onto a lost of great 80’s albums that DOES NOT include The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Police or Duran Duran. (I know that a lot of people dismissed DD in the 80’s, but “Rio” is a great album. And I would like to think that their longevity and continuous success has quieted doubters over the years.)

  • First, you forgot the album by RUSH, “Moving Pictures (w/ songs “Tom Sawyer”, “Red Barchetta”, “YYZ”, “Limelight” etc. but I have to agree with No.13 “1984” by Van Halen” with the video for “Hot For Teacher” which in my opinion is the best and funniest music video ever made !! (David Lee Roth didn’t do so badly as well in the video category as a solo artist with videos for “Yankee Rose” and “Just A Gigolo”)

  • RATT : “Out Of The Cellar” with “Wanted Man”, “Round And Round”, “Back For More”. RIP to lead guitarist Robin Crosby as he succumbed to AIDS using a dirty needle for his uncontrollable heroin use in 2002

  • g

    this list sucks. absolute list of shite. the moron who did it is a stupid motherfuckerwith shite mucis taste.

  • of


  • Dan

    I Only Agree with This is Spinal Tap. I am not sure I could get to 10 the 1980’s were so weak.

    Stevie Ray Vaughn- all 5 albums released in his lifetime
    Muddy Waters – King Bee and Muddy Mississippi Waters Live
    Bob Dylan – Oh Mercy
    The aforementioned – This is Spinal Tap
    Tom Waits Sword Fish Trombone

  • J-Kim

    Sonic Youth? Did you really forget about Daydream Nation?

  • # 8 and # 15 should be No. 2 and No. 1 in that respective order. But for me, My favorite album of the 80’s should be RUSH : “MOVING PICTURES” (1981). After all, look at the four digits of my username (2112) that should give it away as to who my favorite rock group is.

  • viktormagnusson

    London calling should have been #1… it came out like 24 days before 1980

  • Kooth

    Im an old 80s metalhead…but even i know that Thriller is the greatest album of the 80s. Having it 3rd behind an over-rated Prince album and a the over-hyped War album is just bad listing. Pathetic actually…

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