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1981

October 26, 2021

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[Albums 959 – 963 / 1001]

Of the ‘1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die,’ 18 are from the year 1981.

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

The remaining non-reviewed albums from 1981: Black Flag – Damaged, X – Wild Gift, Siouxsie and the Banshees – Juju, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Architecture & Morality, Bauhaus – Mask.

Which 1981 albums are the most essential to hear again?

Ranked by their essential-ness, here’s how I’d prioritize revisiting these 18 albums, enjoy!

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18. Einstürzende Neubauten – Kollaps. I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard the band name said out loud, not sure how it would be pronounced.

17. X – Wild Gift. Not really an ‘X’ for incorrect, nor an ‘X’ for ‘X marks the spot of the buried treasure,’ somewhere in between.

16. Siouxsie and the Banshees – Juju. Their 2nd of 2 on the list.

15. The Gun Club – Fire of Love.

14. Tom Tom Club – Tom Tom Club.

Multiple ’81 Clubs, tie goes to da club with the better hooks (such as the one from Genius of Love)

13. Heaven 17 – Penthouse and Pavement. I don’t always want to hear synthesizers but when I do, I appreciate when bands go all in!

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12. Bauhaus – Mask. One that I feel might continue to grow on me with repeated listens.

11. The Go-Go’s – Beauty and the Beat. Our Lips are Sealed and How Much More in particular.

10. The Psychedelic Furs – Talk, Talk, Talk. Though I might be somewhat more likely to reach for something by the group Talk Talk.

9. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Architecture and Morality. Arguably the most pretentious name combo on the list, but far from the least appealing album.

8. Black Flag – Damaged. We’re gonna have a TV Party tonight!

7. Soft Cell – Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret. I often forget that their version of Tainted Love was actually a cover.

6. The Human League – Dare. I hadn’t realized how creepy the lyrics to Don’t You Want Me really were…

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5. Bobby Womack – The Poet. Although I can’t hear Bobby’s last name without thinking of Sean Connery in The Rock!

4. Brian Eno & David Byrne – My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Interesting collaboration by pair of artists that appear on the list several times.

3. Motörhead – No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith. Their 2nd of 2 on the list.

2. ABBA – Visitors. Slipping Through My Fingers might be my favourite ABBA track (and Head Over Heels may not be far behind).

1. Rush – Moving Pictures. With both the top album & top album art visual pun of the year!

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Verbalize the Positive

My family has been enjoying playing Super Mario Bros on a borrowed Nintendo Wii – it has all kinds of throwbacks to the NES Mario games, great fun!

From → 1980s

22 Comments
  1. Really happy to see Moving Pictures at the number-one spot. It’s on my top-20 list. Note that it is actually a triple pun.

  2. 1981 always seems really light on classic albums for some reason. I like Beauty and the Beat, but disappointed they missed Rickie Lee Jones’ Pirates.

    • I’m not familiar with that one – and it’s one of the lower #s in terms of quantity too.
      I don’t think any year will catch 1969’s 39 albums!

  3. 2 power trios in the Top 3! No Sleep I would imagine would be a great one to listen to when your running lol
    Also I think I know what the girls in the Stephen household will want for Xmas now!

    • For sure – I remember Ace of Spades being a good album for the jogging too!
      And I wouldn’t be surprised if Wii games end up under the tree this year!

  4. No doubt about Moving Pictures. Incredible album. My gateway in to Rush. Also, love the old Wii! We play Mario Kart a lot!!

    • We tried to buy Mario Kart at our local video game store last week – he says it’s still in demand, whenever he gets a copy it never lasts long!

  5. Sorry Rush. Top true three is: Black Flag – Damaged, then Rush, then Motörhead.

  6. Also, I got an old Wii from the thrift shoppe and the kids love it. We have a pile of games and they laugh and jump around. Good fun.

    • It’s funny thinking of the Wii as an ‘old’ system – compared to our NES, it feels brand new!

      • True, but the way tech changes so fast, it aged pretty quickly, though not in playability.

  7. The OMD album and No Sleep are essentials for anyone to hear at least once a year.

    • Hopefully given their placements on the list, a revisit-within-1-year timeframe should be do-able!

  8. A great year for metal.

  9. I asked Santa for a Wii when I was about 8-9 and I got it. But I haven’t used it in years, so I kind of regret it. But I have good memories playing ‘High School Musical,’ ‘American Idol,’ Wii Sports, and Wii Play.

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