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November 3, 2021


[Albums 970 – 972 / 1001]

Of the ‘1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die,’ 21 are from the year 1986.

I’ve reviewed all but three of them already (Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force – Planet Rock: The Album, Bad Brains – I Against I and The Smiths – The Queen is Dead are the last remaining non-reviewed albums).

Which 1986 albums are the most essential to hear again?

Ranked by their essential-ness, here’s how I’d prioritize revisiting these 21 albums, enjoy!



21. Sonic Youth – EVOL. Their first of five on the list.

20. Slayer – Reign in Blood. Being able to correctly identify a student playing Criminally Insane remains a highlight of my teaching career thus far.

19. Throwing Muses – Throwing Muses. Not to be confused with Throwing Muses by Throwing Muses (their 2003 album)!

18. Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force – Planet Rock: The Album. A bit of old school hip hop sounds good, better yet when it includes the original version of Renegades of Funk.

17. Bad Brains – I Against I. Widely influential, everywhere from Jeff Buckley to Sepultura to Degrassi: The Next Generation!

16. Elvis Costello and The Attractions – Blood & Chocolate. His 5th of 6 on the list.

15. Megadeth – Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying?. Their 1st of 2.

14. Run DMC – Raising Hell. Their 2nd of 2.

13. Beastie Boys – Licensed to Ill. A fun listen, both for the music & its inherent graphability!



12. Steve Earle – Guitar Town. Sounds like my kind of municipality.

11. Metallica – Master of Puppets. Likely my favourite Metallica album.

10. The The – Infected.

9. Talk Talk – The Colour of Spring.

If only Duran Duran had earned a list spot in ’86, it could have been a triple-double!

8. Nanci Griffith – The Last of the True Believers. But unlikely my last time listening to Nanci.

7. Anita Baker – Rapture. Having the LP helps the odds.

6. Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet. Was my album review #500.5/1001, the exact halfway mark of the project!




5. XTC – Skylarking. Their first of two appearances.

4. Billy Bragg – Talking with the Taxman About Poetry. Greetings to the New Brunette, a practically perfect opener.

3. Paul Simon – Graceland. His third of three solo albums on the list.

2. Peter Gabriel – So. Also his third of three solo albums on the list.

1. The Smiths – The Queen is Dead. Frankly (Mr. Shankly), it really couldn’t have been anything else!



Verbalize the Positive

Cheers to anyone participating in Movember this year!

From → 1980s

  1. I like how:

    #3 is PS – G and

    #2 is PG – S

    and both are former frontmen of groups that released their first album in the 1960s, exploring African sounds.

  2. The rock showed up on here. This a much better year for stuff I care about. I’ve never listened to the Smiths as I wasn’t depressed or felt I would be if I did hear them.

    • I believe Ozzy was once quoted as saying, “I’d do anything for a laugh, except listen to the smiths” – and he makes a fair point, not always the most cheerful lyrics!

  3. It’s your site and all, but you put the Smiths as #1 when you had Slayer and Beastie Boys and Metallica and Bad Brains and… to choose from? Fair play to you, and all, but I demand a recount! lol

  4. Ah, ‘Slippery When Wet,’ a classic!

  5. Some heavy stuff here for sure mixed with Simon and Peter! Nice mix tape this would have made back in 86!

    • It’s probably one of the more eclectic years, Beasties / Slayer / Simon, something for everyone!

  6. Plenty of variety there, Geoff. “So” and “Skylarking” for me.

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