Part Two of this 19-part blog on the year 1986 focuses on more albums released that year. As stated in the wonderful first part of this 1986 countdown, 1986 was the most important year in human existence, because I said so.
Fact is, I collected music because it was easier than making lots of friends. Music doesn't ask to borrow money from you. Music doesn't think your complexion needs work. Music doesn't wonder why you picked someone new.
Well, let's find more great music!
Talk Talk - The Colour of Spring: This is completely hindsight 20/20 here. At the time, I just figured Talk Talk were this Duran Duran cover-band without a sound of their own. Of course, now I know better. I've come to terms with synthesizers and realize now that they can be used in something other than a Cure album. It's just that pop music in the 1980s--as in what was actually popular--had horribly shallow productions, lots of gated snares and exaggerated reverbs and tons of new keyboards where no one had figured out the good and bad bits. It was a steep learning curve, much like trying to figure out where the future of technology is going today. It can get so confusing that you decide to sit things out until you're sure you're not stuck with a Betamax or an 8-track player.
24) R.E.M. - Life's Rich Pageant: I've never cared that much for R.E.M. Heresy, I know. The first EP was good because you had no idea what Michael Stipe was singing and the band came out of nowhere. But that mystery's been shattered. Surely, the Velvet Underground would've lost much of their allure if everyone knew their name. Some music is meant to be a sideshow and not the main event. It's what makes it special. Or maybe it's just my problem.
Big Black - Atomizer: I'm not a huge Big Black fan, but I do like "Kerosene" enough to list this album. Besides, it represents what a lot of college radio sounded like in 1986. Loud, brutal, impossible to dance to, deliberately sociopathic in a way that only privileged white males can be. Maybe the group would've been less angry if they knew how to sing. Or had girlfriends.
22) The Triffids - Born Sandy Devotional / In the Pines: It's said that In the Pines was recorded on an 8-track recorder in a wool-shearing shed in the Aussie outback. Who wouldn't want to hear that just on principle? Born Sandy Devotional is the "properly recorded" album. I'd love to be able to say that I was on top of these guys in 1986, but I'm not even sure if our radio station had these records.
Felt - Forever Breathes the Lonely Word / Let the Snakes Crinkle Their Heads To Death: If you think I listed these albums solely because of their names you're dead accurate.
20) Dwight Yoakam - Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.: I remember when Dwight Yoakam was new. It sounded like a good idea at the time. Someone in country music sounding like Buck Owens was surely a better move than someone sounding like Billy Joel playing country music. But I never made an emotional connection to Yoakam. It's like I didn't mind dating him once in awhile, but I could never commit to his lifestyle.
Run-DMC - Raising Hell: Here's another one where I completely understand the historical importance and appreciate that others get more mileage from it. It just didn't sound appealing to me. Much in the way that the dopey, brooding music I love sounds unappealing to many Run-DMC fans. I don't know if I've internalized the serenity prayer or what, but it's only taken me 25 years to accept that everyone has a taste of their own and I don't have to love everything. But everyone still must love me. Because that's what my mother told me. Who can argue with somebody's mother?
18) Steve Earle - Guitar Town: OK, I'm on a streak here. Steve Earle's Guitar Town was very well-received among people who were about ten years older than me. Which makes me wonder if albums are sometimes aimed at distinct audiences who respond to certain stylistic touchstones as secret pinky-swear code. I know I like music with lots of suspended 9th chords and major sevenths. How about you?
David Sylvian - Gone to Earth: Purely revisionist for me. As in this year. Embarrassing? I assume we're all behind in our listening somewhere. I listen to new things all the time. Just not necessarily things that are new new. But new old. Or is that old new? In any case, it will make you a more interesting person than someone who repeats themselves over and over. Or who likes the same junk as everyone else.
16) Pet Shop Boys - Please: Here's where I wander far off the garden path. I'm told the PSBs are a wonderful group by people I respect. But I still need the keys to get in. I'm told they're a bit disco in parts, which is likely my first roadblock, but one that I am trying to overcome in my weekly therapy sessions.
The Church - Heyday: The main reason people check out Steve Kilbey solo albums is because they hope that the albums will reveal something along the lines of The Church. It explains why people bought John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison albums. It does not explain the purchase of Ringo Starr albums. Nothing does.
14) Depeche Mode - Black Celebration: I'm heavily weighting this list with bands I do not personally understand. It doesn't mean I think they're junk. It means that I do not personally understand. I put the albums on--or, these days, listen to them on the internet--and I cannot make sense of them. It's like I'm deaf to certain tones or to certain aesthetics. Perhaps, I'm wrong here, but Depeche Mode always struck me as a band that could be likened to a Pontiac Fiero. Not everyone was meant to be seen behind its wheel.
Love And Rockets - Express: Guys that were in Bauhaus were like guys who were in The Sisters Of Mercy. They moved on to their own projects that gathered more fans and sales than their original bands. It's like people had to be warmed up to the idea of new bands before they could get into them. Or maybe it's all about lousy distribution.
12) New Order - Brotherhood: Someday someone will put together a psychological study as to why certain people will pull an album out of a new bin and be curious to its contents and others will not. For example, why would I be drawn to Joy Division but not to New Order?
10) Emerson, Lake and Powell - Emerson, Lake & Powell: Now here's an album I've never heard. ELP with Carl Palmer had gotten a bit long in the tooth. The idea of switching him out for Cozy Powell is rather humorous but not enough to investigate further.
The Smithereens - Especially For You: The Smithereens were from New Jersey, so, of course, college radio in NJ got behind them. But not as much as we got behind the punk rock warriors known as Bedlam!
Crowded House - Crowded House: Sometimes I'm a power pop person and sometimes I'm not. Why this band has never connected with me on the same level as Tommy Keene or Nick Lowe is another subject for my therapist to untangle. Do I have something against Australians?
6) Bad Brains - I Against I: Yeah, well, I always found the Bad Brains rather noisy as well and reggae has always been a tough sell for me, too. At this point, you may be wondering what do I like. Not much, I guess. Not much.
Madonna - True Blue: I worked with my father at his rubber stamp shop in Elizabeth, NJ. He listened to the local Elizabeth radio station for the traffic and the weather, not for the 258 records they had on hand, which mostly consisted of old one hit wonders like Oliver ("Good Morning Starshine") and Keith ("98.6"). For some unknown reason, they liked Madonna and played "Borderline" and "Papa Don't Preach" endlessly. It was better than "Let's Hear it For the Boy" or "We're In This Love Together." I grant you that.
4) Bruce Hornsby - The Way It Is: There was a certain class of people who enjoyed Bruce Hornsby. When you're 18 years old and looking to urinate on traditional values, Bruce Hornsby ain't it. Pussy Galore are. Despite the fact that PG were mostly unlistenable.
Violent Femmes - The Blind Leading the Naked: By their third album, the Violent Femmes were showing a bit of wear and tear. Their first album had been a declarative statement, their second a question. But this album is a fragment. Their future albums would be interjections. Careful where you dangle that modifier, son.
2) Cyndi Lauper - True Colors: When Cyndi Lauper released She's So Unusual in 1983, she was seen as the new woman artist who would have a long and commercially lucrative career. Especially after the hoopla over that Madonna girl had waned. However, it was the 1980s. All bets were off. Logic went the way of objective news sources in the 1990s. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
Rolling Stones - Dirty Work: Hailed as their worst album, Dirty Work still sounds better to me than what followed. Which is a bit like being graded on a curve in a class full of really dumb students. Which is something I approve us. Why push yourself to be the best you can be when you can settle for slightly above average?