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October 23, 2021


[Albums 954 – 958 / 1001]

Of the ‘1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die,’ 24 are from the year 1980.

I’ve reviewed all but five of them so far.

The remaining non-reviewed albums from 1980: ACDC – Back in Black, Adam and the Ants – Kings of the Wild Frontier, The Cramps – Songs the Lord Taught Us, Talking Heads – Remain in Light, UB40 – Signing Off.

Which 1980 albums are the most essential to hear again?

Ranked by their essential-ness, here’s how I’d prioritize revisiting these 24 albums, enjoy!



24. Circle Jerks – Group Sex. I did appreciate their efficiency, running through 14 songs in 15 minutes.

23. Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. If given the choice, I’d choose the Fresh Fruit. Then the Dead Kennedys. And as a distant third option, the Rotting Vegetables.

22. Killing Joke – Killing Joke. Another self-titled debut that made the 1001 list.

21. Adam & The Ants – Kings of the Wild Frontier.

20. The Cramps – Songs the Lord Taught Us.

19. UB40 – Signing Off.

In an alternate timeline, I sometimes wonder how my reactions would be different if I’d approached the 1001 albums in the complete opposite order.

Such as for these three albums: instead of being reviewed as one of my final 100 albums, what if I’d heard them as one of the first 100 albums?

Would I be more enthusiastic about them, given that I had just turned 30 and the project was still new and exciting?

Or would I be less open-minded to these ‘not-really-my-traditional-cuppa’ albums, as my musical tastes were still relatively narrow?

18. Steve Winwood – Arc of a Diver. Though I think I prefer his work with Traffic (the band, not the phenomenon)!

17. The Specials – More Specials. On par with The Specials.

16. Motörhead – Ace of Spades. With bonus marks for the umlaut & for referencing the most powerful of playing cards.

15. Tom Waits – Heartattack and Vine. I had forgotten I’d called Waits “the pickled ginger between pieces of sushi.” I meant it as a sincere compliment and I stand by it!



14. Teardrop Explodes – Kilimanjaro. I’m not sure I’ll ever visit the dormant volcano in Tanzania, but I know what I’ll bring to listen to if I do.

13. The Soft Boys – Underwater Moonlight. Or in the somewhat more probable event that I find myself under the moonlight & swimming underwater…

12. The Undertones – Hypnotised. Like their tune, Nine Times Out of Ten, that’s about the ratio I think I’d be in the mood for listening to this again.

11. Talking Heads – Remain in Light. Will remain in one of the middle rings of the listening rotation.

10. Echo & The Bunnymen – Crocodiles. Terrified of actual crocodiles, no worries about enjoying these ones again in the future.

9. Joy Division – Closer. Among the bleakest records on the 1001 list.

8. The Cure – Seventeen Seconds. Nowhere near my favourite Cure album but still…it’s The Cure, I’ll be back soon enough.

7. The Jam – Sound Affects. Their 2nd of 2, bridging the gap between 60s & 90s British Guitar Bands!



6. Judas Priest – British Steel. It was a pleasure to help graph the Top Judas Priest albums on The LeBrain Train.

5. Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden. And it was a pleasure to help graph the Top Iron Maiden tracks on The LeBrain Train as well!

4. Dexys Midnight Runners – Searching for the Young Soul Rebels. I couldn’t have been more wrong about them being merely a 1-hit wonder. At the very least, they’re a 3-solid-album wonder!

3. Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel III. Games Without Frontiers is surely a Top 5 Whistling Interlude contender.

2. AC (Lightning Bolt) DC – Back in Black. I had the privilege of seeing them in Montreal a few years ago with my friend Andy, 5 of the 10 Back in Black tunes made the set list (including my personal favourite, Shoot to Thrill)!

1. The Pretenders – The Pretenders. An all-timer of a debut…



Verbalize the Positive

…and Lovers For Today might have my all-time favourite guitar tones!

From → 1980s

  1. Yep, 1980 was a big year in music!

  2. So cool Adam Ant is on here!! Man, now we are getting in to my music developing years!!

    • I used to think that 77-83 was a bit of a low point era for music – but I’ve been pleased to be repeatedly proven wrong by the 1001 list, every year has plenty of good stuff!

      • There are always a handful of good ones I believe in every year. Some just more so than others.

  3. Priest and Maiden top 6 around these part! Horns Up Mr. Stephen!

    • Horns up indeed, Deke!
      And it was neat being a part of those Maiden/Priest shows & hearing about the standout tracks + albums from longtime fans.
      Encouraging to learn that these Maiden & Priest albums are only a taste of lots of greatness in the rest of their catalogues!

  4. Top 5: Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Circle Jerks, AC/DC, Judas Priest. Dead Kennedys at 6.

    • We had some nice Top 6 Venn Diagram overlap this year, Aaron – 3 outta 6 ain’t bad!

      • Well, in baseball .500 is amazing. Anywhere else, half score ain’t gonna cut it lol.

      • I always find that fascinating about baseball – where failing Only 6 out of 10 times at bat is the elusive target of excellence!

      • It gets better. It’s the only game where you can be successful 3/10 times over your career and be in the hall of fame lol

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