Each year makes its presence felt in its own peculiar way. 1981 apparently believed in the power of the terrible album title. Now, I will agree to do a second list that pays note to those albums released in 1981 with better album titles, but I thought it best to start with what was a big trend back at the beginning of the 1980s.
Styx - Paradise Theatre: Oh, let's face it, you put anything in front of the word Styx and it automatically sucks.
24) Olivia Newton John - Physical: I would've been more interested if she'd followed up this album of aerobic exercises with an album of brain-teasers called Mental.
The Knack - Round Trip: Nothing like an album title that concedes your entire career has been done. Now, I've always liked the Knack far more than the reviews they got at the time and I think they deserved better, but I guess I'm supposed to think that because a record is round, this experience is then a round trip. They should've called this album Art War.
22) Frank Marino - The Power of Rock and Roll: There was a time when it was said Frank Marino was the reincarnation of Jimi Hendrix. Now, no one says anything about him at all. This album could very well be great, but I'm not inclined to find out because it looks stupid.
The Who - Face Dances: It's a fair argument that the Who should've followed Led Zeppelin's example and folded once their drummer was dead. But, as the years ahead would tell us, Pete Townshend milks everything for all its worth. Not sure how many songs from this album went on to become regrettable TV commercials, but if anyone asked, I'm sure people responded with "Where do I sign?"
Van Halen - Fair Warning: Not such a bad album title. The album itself is killer. Seriously. Eddie Van Halen goes off the rails. The rhythm section pushes the groove away from itself and David Lee Roth rattles off like he's Meth-Man on a mission.
16) Def Leppard - High 'n' Dry: Their next album, Pyromania, would be their first breakthrough album, but this was the one when the metal kids still liked them.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Hard Promises: I liked it better when he threatened to call it The 8.98 Album to spite the record company that wanted to charge 9.98 for the album. Of course, Tom would've had to change the title to The $17.99 CD just a few years later anyway.
14) Billy Squier - Don't Say No: It's like Billy Squier already figured most people would reject him outright so he pleaded with us. OK, Billy, we'll listen to you this time. Now, what do you have to say? Your mother had a stroke? Sorry to hear that.
Journey - Escape: Journey liked to name their albums with one word titles. Another album released this year was called Captured. Maybe they thought they'd get better reviews with critics who would be thankful that they had less to type.
12) Joy Division - Still: I know it's Joy Division and they were always very minimal. And maybe Still is more eloquent than Cold or Dead, but it does come too close to Journey territory when you think about it.
The Joe Perry Project - I've Got the Rock 'n' Rolls Again: Do I need to explain why this is awful? Was Joe Perry really that important that no one could overrule him on this crap title?
10) Lindsey Buckingham - Law And Order: Who would've guessed it would become a successful television series with so many offshoots? See, a hack would've called their album Hill Street Blues.
Ted Nugent - Intensities in 10 Cities: This is the same guy who bragged to me that he was working on a song called "Bridge Over Troubled Daughters," so, of course, he thought this was clever. File under: forget about Frank Marino.
8) The Rolling Stones - Tattoo You: Yeah, yeah, it rhymes. So what?
Iggy Pop - Party: Naming your album "Party" is a bit like naming your album, "Lunch" or "Dance." Don't explain it. Just do it. And if you must explain it, "Raw Power" is far more enticing.
6) Genesis - Abacab: This album title worked just great when you were filling in the ovals on a standardized test you didn't study for. Except you needed to break it up with a little AC-DC from time to time, because D was a possible answer.
Phil Collins - Face Value: Why did people hate Phil Collins so much? Because he couldn't just let Genesis have their bland album of hits. He had to put out his own solo album that had its own collection of boring hits. He couldn't see how this would anger people?
4) Rick Springfield - Working Class Dog: "Working Class Hero" was this deep, insightful song by John Lennon. He died. This clown from soap operas comes around and strikes up Working Class Dog because he knows the 1980s are likely to be pretty meaningless anyway.
AC/DC - For Those About To Rock We Salute You: I guess it's fair to say that Rock 'n' Roll has lacked in recruitment anthems. But there are so few bands anymore. AC/DC should be respected. No one here left to form their own Army of One.
2) Bryan Adams - You Want It, You Got It: Another guy who sounds like he's working behind the counter at an audio store. What's that you want? Here's a box of it. I'll come by later to install it and sleep with your sister. No problem.
The Kinks - Give the People What They Want: From one of rock's most cantankerous souls comes this album title of pure cynical appeasement. If he really wanted to please his audience, this album would've come with a free car.