May 252013

Picked up two CDs from the $5 bin at FRY’s today (which is HUGE and has many treasures), both from the 1980s.

Darryl Hall and John OatesVoices has been a favorite of mine since I bought it in 1980 at the age of 9.

The other, Stevie Ray Vaughan‘s Soul to Soul, which was a huge LP for me when it came out 1985 and my band I’m in now can play the whole LP as a set (see Electric Stevieland).

I love both CDs—they just didn’t make the upgrade to CD…or to the car once the cassette deck went away.

The liner notes from SRV are a celebration of the Texas guitarist hitting the big time as part of a blues revival (Cray, T-Birds, Thorogood, etc) and keeping true to Texas blues roots—the words “the ’80s” are never used.

In their liner notes, Hall and Oates on the other hand mostly apologize for all things 1980s. Not sure why, the ’80s were pretty good for them! Cause its dated? X-static from ’78 is way more dated sounding but ’70s—a time that we have forgiven for its sins.

Question: Is “well it WAS the ’80s” a legit excuse for any musician/band/song/album?

Do any artists get an “’80s pass”?

Is there such thing as a “’90s pass?” A “’70s pass”?

A crapbuger record is bad because its bad. (Loverboy is Loverboy’s fault, not the producer or stylist’s.) It’s not all trends, fashion and production is it? Knowing when to say when is part of your artistic (or at least stylistic) integrity, right?<

The ’80s did not force itself on you (or did it) any more than that bandana and parachute pants combination did.

PS – Hall and Oates did have a Bad and Dated release: 1988 Ooh! Yeah! Sounded like it was stuck in 1986!!! The next one they went back to early ’70s soul and it was like the 1980s never happened.


  12 Responses to “…well is WAS the 1980s! (I have my ’80s pass…or do I?)”

  1. ladymisskirroyale

    Ah, jungleland2, a post after my own heart! I fully appreciate your upgrading to cd’s, especially when they are cheap like that. We do the same thing at Amoeba Records and other stores, when we can find them. I’ve been slowly upgrading my “had it on tape” collection…too bad cds will be obsolete before too long.

    I’m a very hearty fan of 80’s bands, and my Holy Trinity of Rock represents this:
    – The Go-Betweens
    – Love and Rockets
    – Camper Van Beethoven
    I would nominate each of those 3 for an 80’s pass.

    I think that the 80’s bands and artists primarily show their decade in two ways: 1. Production. There are certain sounds, instruments, etc. that just scream 80’s. 2. Vocal stylings. What was it with the 80’s and all those Earnest Young Men? I’ve long considered writing a longer post about this, but in a nutshell, why did we have that subset of vocalists who had to sing big and bombastically (yes, this is you Bono, Jim Kerr, Big Country, Julian Cope, The Alarm, The Call, Killing Joke and even you, Ian McCulloch)?

    70s and 90’s passes – sure, but I have to think about that awhile.

  2. This may have been discussed earlier, but I think we can give Dave Edmunds an 80s pass for 1983’s “Information” and the Jeff Lynne influence on that record. At the time, I didn’t mind it and thought it was cool to see Dave on MTV. I even saw him perform on that tour, but just can’t put it on anymore.

  3. So a couple of things, j2, as I ponder your questions.

    The production style of the ’80s did force itself on musicians, just as the production style of previous decades forced itself on earlier generations of musicians. I can’t stand that production style. When it began to creep into the music of some of my favorite artists I’d grown up with in the ’70s, I found it highly annoying. It took a long time for artists who tried to make more “natural” sounding records later in the decade and even into the early ’90s to shed that ’80s studio sheen. I think of Elvis Costello’s King of America, with old-time, “pure” recording technology wizard T-Bone Burnett behind the board. Even listening to that album, with its Elvis Presley and Wrecking Crew-pedigreed backing band, requires me to wipe the fog of the decade off the bathroom mirror.

    The Hall and Oates thing has a different meaning for me, as a native of Philadelphia. I guess they didn’t break nationally until those ’80s singles like “Maneater,” but they were part of the fabric of our regional radio scene dating back to the mid-’70s. Their ’80s hits did suffer, at times, from the decade’s productions, but because they were essentially more of a soul than a rock act, the “progression” in terms of production felt a little more natural. Black musicians always moved with the times. When Marvin Gaye used synths and a drum machine on “Sexual Healing” I didn’t blink. Call the Cop-Out mobile if you must, but I give Hall and Oates a “blue-eyed soul pass.” 🙂

  4. misterioso

    Mod, H & O were part of the national radio scene (if New England counts as part of the nation) at least from the time of “Sara Smile,” “She’s Gone,” and “Rich Girl” around ’76-’77. Of course they went humongous in the early 80s but they were already a national act.

  5. Can we give Tm Petty’s Let Me Up, I’ve Had Enough go on a pass? He spent most of the 80’s fighting the good fight.

  6. jeangray

    If’n you consider being a hybrid Dylan/Byrds wannabe with a little New Wave thrown in for good measure, fighting the good fight…

  7. Well, they held down that traditional rock space in the through most of the 80’s while the classic rockers were all getting their music all buffed-up and their drums gated.

  8. misterioso

    Relative to the rest of the 80s, yes, I think that qualifies as fighting the good fight.

  9. BigSteve

    Don’t Come Around Here No More was Petty’s 80s move, right? What’s weird is that it was on the Southern Accents album, which presented itself as a return-to-the-roots move.

  10. YES! I love that record (and the Rock and Roll Caravan Tour w/ Del Fuegos and GA Satellites!)

  11. The only artist that I can give the FULL 80’s pass to (as it they are guilty but forgiven) is Peter Gabriel. His mid 80’s output is very of the time but still works in 2013.

    I’d give one to Van Halen if it was not for the drum sound and fashion (and lead singer change) of 5150

    It’s funny because the Prog bands were some of the worst offenders (ELP, ASIA, GENESIS, YES, ZAPPA, STYX)

    It was bad enough to be a dinosaur in 1978, but by 1982 every band was on MTV and the old bands just looked, well, OLD!

    Being 11 in 1982, I did not know how bad the early 80’s were treating these bands (quality, in many cases they were hugely successful) and it was not until later (and my uncle’s amazing LP collection) that I heard how much better my favorite bands had been (McCartney, Stones, Eric Clapton, Robert Plant, Yes, The Who, ZZ Top) pre-80’s makeover.

  12. I knew Rich Girl, She’s Gone and Sara Smile but nothing else when I got Voices in 1981 (at age 10). I picked up the 70’s cutout bin LPs but could not get into them at the time. I LOVED the early 80’s stuff when it came out and the 1985 tour was my 2nd concert (after seeing Springsteen a few months before) and I was blown away by how good they were as a live act.

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