1980 Mix

For me, the early 1980s was one of the greatest eras in popular “rock” music. It was as if the great tidal wave that was punk rock swept away all the rules about who could make music and what that music had to sound like. Once the flood waters receded a million flowers bloomed.

I write this with full awareness that everyone probably thinks that the music of their college-age era is the best. In spite of this obvious bias, I think I can make the case that the early 80s were pretty special. My intention is to create song mixes for each year of the early 80s to hopefully convince myself that the music was as good as I remember.

This first mix (in two parts) includes music released in 1980, which was by any measure an exceptional year. For example, this mix includes tracks from eight bands that released their debut albums in 1980: U2, The Suburbs, Rockpile, The English Beat, Bauhaus, The Pretenders, UB40, and X (as well as the debut singles from Hüsker Dü and Minutemen). Several veterans released music in 1980 that was as good as anything they ever put out, including David Bowie (Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)), Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel 3 aka “Melt”), Pete Townshend (Empty Glass), Joy Division (Closer), Rush (Permanent Waves), Tonio K (Amerika), and Talking Heads (Remain in Light).

And maybe best of all are the wonderful tracks from bands that never really hit it big, or lingered in obscurity for all of their (often short) careers. The Petticoats released one single. Manicured Noise released two singles. Stiff Little Fingers were a terrific band that never achieved anything like the prominence of their peers (especially in the US). 

Part 1: All Them Tiny Insects Look Like You

  1. Gotta Gettaway – Stiff Little Fingers
  2. Fashion – David Bowie
  3. Double Dare – Bauhaus
  4. A Forest – The Cure
  5. Delta Rain Dream – Jon Hassell & Brian Eno
  6. Final Day – Young Marble Giants
  7. When I Write the Book – Rockpile
  8. If I Didn’t Love You – Squeeze
  9. Kingdom of Love – The Soft Boys
  10. High Fidelity – Elvis Costello & The Attractions
  11. Girl Crazy – Tonio K
  12. Mirror in the Bathroom – The English Beat
  13. Cig Machine – The Suburbs
  14. Ace of Spades – Motörhead
  15. The Wait – The Pretenders
  16. Private Life – Grace Jones
  17. King – UB40
  18. Paranoid Chant – Minute Men
  19. Wardance – Killing Joke
  20. Komakino – Joy Division
  21. Crosseyed and Painless – Talking Heads

Part 2: Someday You’ll Meet Your Rocking Chair

  1. Are You Glad to be in America? – James “Blood” Ulmer
  2. The Man in the Dark Sedan – Snakefinger
  3. Lawnchairs – My Daughters Wedding
  4. Statues – Hüsker Dü
  5. Going Underground – The Jam
  6. I Don’t Remember – Peter Gabriel
  7. Rock ‘n’ Roll High School – Ramones
  8. Bad Reputation – Joan Jett
  9. Johny Hit and Run Paulene – X
  10. Interlude No. 2/Bill Lee – Warren Zevon
  11. It’s Her Factory – Gang of Four
  12. Dub – Pylon
  13. Bandrobber – The Clash
  14. Towers of London – XTC
  15. Another Day – U2
  16. When You Were Mine – Prince
  17. Power of Love – T-Bone Burnett
  18. Faith – Manicured Noise
  19. Dancing in the Street/My Enemy is a Bad Man – Fred Frith
  20. Normal – The Petticoats