Monday, March 19, 2007

5 best songs of the 80's (that you might have overlooked)

I was watching VH1's "Best Songs of the 80's", and with exception of a few tracks, I was quite unhappy with their choices (which should come to no suprise). Also, I could put U2 down here, but if you didn't already know that they put out the majority of the greatest songs of the 80's, then you gotta do your homework.

Most of those (non-U2) tracks really have no bearing outside of their time, and since most of our readers were born in the 70's and 80's, we weren't really listening to that stuff as it was going on anyway. I do know though of a few tracks that have really surpassed their time and that have become classics no decade can pin down, here are some of those songs:

The Replacments- "Left of The Dial" off of Tim (1985)

Finding a good performance of this on YouTube is near impossible, but it doesn't change the fact that this is an AMAZING song. I could have picked any other Replacements song and it would have been ok, but this song is near anthemic for any kid growing up and wanting to be in a band. Before the days of the net, finding a good place to hear music was few and far between. This song basically details the kinship we have from independently searching for the idetifiable in good music. In a way, it is the most and least punk song of it's time, and still resonates with people beyond it's genre today.

The Descendents- "Coolidge" off of All (1987)

You know how most punk bands will tell you how they were influenced by bands like the Descendents? Their album All is the reason why. If you have heard their newer stuff it isn't much different, but consider that it's time there really wasn't an album like it. The days before mixing skateboarding and punk rock like chocolate and peanut butter had not been cliche'd yet, this was a breath of fresh air from punk trying to beat on you. "Coolidge" was one of those songs that help punk grow up by coming from a band that was unquestioned in their status as a punk band. Some of the most mature and thought provoking lyrics to come out at the time, it still sounds through today.

R.E.M.- "Orange Crush" of off Green (1988)

I will find much resistance on this one... How can you pick one R.E.M. in the 80's over another? Such blasphemy! Maybe so, but Green was the album that transtioned them into the 1990's and brought both their older sound and newer sound together. "Orange Crush" may have been a huge hit for the band... but there was a reason behind it. R.E.M. had already cemented their stranglehold outside of the major labels but when they went to Warner, they came out with a set of mature, personal, and deeply amazing songs. "Orange Crush", not only rocked but it features everything that encompassed the band's sound at the time. Both low and high vocals, dark guitars that held some kind of hope, and the rythm to drive it through to you. This may have come at the end of the 80's but it certainly struck a nerve to many.

The Editors Cover:

The R.E.M. Video:

The Specials- "Ghost Town" off of the Ghost Town single (1981)

Holy crap, they put a ska song on here. Yes we did. Everyone who has ever paid attention to ska knows who the Specials are. Rude Boys, Two-Tone, blah blah blah ska. The fact remains that this song (written in repsonse to unjust political policy that might have cost thousands of people to lose their jobs) is meaningful, beat-driven, and one of the best ska songs of all time.

The Clash- "Straight To Hell" off of Combat Rock 1982

Man, I love the Clash. Combat Rock is huge mostly to due to "Rock The Casbah", but if you look at one song, you get lose out on a geat album. "Straight To Hell", is different than most Clash songs, slower and more storyline than anything else. It was the soundtrack and movie at the same time. Telling the tale of Vietnamese children who were fathered by American Soldiers that left them after the war. A good DJ will tell you how important this song is to their discography, but due to it's unique sound and difficult subject matter, it is rarely played.

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