The previous two articles on the 1960’s and 1970’s were difficult but turning to the 1980’s brought on a new challenge. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t listen to a lot of 80’s music, so the number of albums I had to choose from was significantly smaller. However the following five albums are the albums I decided on as my favourites from that decade.
Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble – Texas Flood
The blues enjoyed a renaissance in the 1980’s partly down to the brilliance of Stevie Ray Vaughan. Texas Flood is one of four brilliant studio albums he released that decade but it’s the one that stands out the most, especially because it was his first studio album. There’s something about it you can’t describe, it hits the spot perfectly with Vaughan delivering a wealth of incredible guitar riffs along with countless top vocal performances.
Love Struck Baby opens the album but it’s perhaps the second song, Pride And Joy, where Vaughan is at his most brilliant best. That is until you get to Mary Had A Little Lamb and of course the magical Lenny, which is so Hendrix-esque it’s untrue. Absolutely gorgeous. In reality there isn’t a bad song on the album and it definitely makes my top five albums list from the 1980’s.
Eric Clapton – Journeyman
Clapton’s 1989 album Journeyman saw him return to his very best after what seemed like an age. A number of his previous albums up to this point were recorded while he had either drug or alcohol related problems but this album features a renewed Clapton, a clearheaded bluesman who had finally gotten back on the right track. From start to finish, the album contains a number of fantastic songs beginning with Pretending and ending with an incredible version of the blues number Before You Accuse Me, a song he would go on to recorded acoustically on his 1992 album Unplugged.
Just by listening to this album and comparing it to others from the early 80’s and late 70’s, you can instantly hear the improvements in Clapton’s guitar playing. His singing is a lot more composed and clear as well, something that really stands out on every single track. There’s even a duet with George Harrison on the Harrison penned track Run So Far. Superb.
George Harrison – Gone Troppo
Ok, it may not be George Harrison’s best album but it’s one I enjoy immensely every time I listen to it. It’s an extremely fun sounding album and it’s been one of my favourites from the 1980’s for a while, even though it’s widely looked down upon by Beatles fans the world over. I’ll never understand that because it’s such a great sounding album and George’s songwriting is on top form in my opinion.
The stand out tracks for me are Wake Up My Love, Gone Troppo, Mystical One and Unknown Delight but really I can’t fault any of the songs at all. The version of the album I have also features a demo track of Mystical One which is nothing but George on acoustic guitar and it sounds divine. The final album version is much different but manages to capture perfectly all of those George sounding moments only he could have in his songs. I love it.
Paul McCartney – Tug Of War
McCartney’s 1982 album Tug Of War is a masterpiece which saw him team up with Beatles producer George Martin for the first time since the recording of Live At Let Die in 1973. His second solo album since the breakup of Wings after the brilliant McCartney II in 1980 sees him return to his very best in terms of songwriting. There’s certainly a Beatles-esque feel to many of the songs helped of course by the presence of the great George Martin in the producers chair.
There are a couple of songs on the album I tend to skip occasionally but as a whole it’s a fantastic effort and probably his most consistent and enjoyable album since Venus and Mars in 1975. With songs like Here Today, Take It Away and Ballroom Dancing it really is a superb album and certainly makes my top five albums list from the 1980’s.
The Rolling Stones – Tattoo You
Picking a fifth and final album to make my list form the 1980’s proved to be a little difficult but I decided to go with the 1981 album Tattoo You by The Rolling Stones. Even though many of the songs were written up to a decade earlier it’s a beautifully executed album which saw the Stones return to their very best. They released a couple of other solid albums from the 1980’s but this album is by far the best.
The album begins with the now classic Start Me Up, a song which features one of the all time best guitar riffs. It’s a song that never fails to get you moving and is followed by a host of great songs including the bluesy Black Limousine and two songs originally recorded with Mick Taylor during the Goats Head Soup album sessions, Tops and Waiting On A Friend.
John Lennon – Double Fantasy, Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska, Paul McCartney – McCartney II, George Harrison – Cloud Nine.
Next week I will be sharing with you my top five favourite studio albums from the 1990’s.
In the mean time though, feel free to leave a comment specifying which albums YOU would have chosen from the 1980’s.