|McQ's #1 album of 1980|
Hey music fans.
It's almost Fourth of July weekend, which means it's time for the latest annual installment in our ongoing retrospective mix series celebrating loaded music years of the past.
And boy, was this year's subject, 1980, loaded.
I had just entered high school in 1980, so many of the songs here touch a special memory nerve that still resonates deeply.
But even more surprising to me, as Nancy and I spent the last year and a half revisiting 1980's top albums and singles, was just how much of 1980's best music I flat out missed the first go round.
|McQ's #2 Album 1980|
Heavy metal was undoubtedly crazy popular at the time, but looking back, I don't think anyone realized just how grand or important a metal year 1980 would turn out to be, wowing with one great title after another, and laying the accelerated-tempo groundwork for the thrash scene to emerge just a year or two later.
|McQ's #3 Album of 1980|
And speaking of full-lengths, it is in this regard that 1980 seems most overrun.
|McQ's #4 Album Of 1980|
|McQ's #5 Album Of 1980|
But before getting started - one note. No individual mix write-ups for this year's retrospective. Nancy and I have some cool things going on this year that require most of our attention. But trust me, the music's all here, accessible on the Spotify links listed below.
You can also access them by following me direct on Spotify - David Francis McQuillen.
So strap in for over a day's worth of musical bliss, and enjoy!
With Vol 1 kicking things off in a relatively rough-hewn fashion, thought it made sense to dive into 1980's most popular mainstream hits next in the longest mix in this collection, an assortment of AM cheese, pop, country, and soul gems, and 1980 efforts from various 60s and early 70s legends who were settling into the slightly less adventurous second act of their careers.
The first of four mixes in this collection highlighting various niches in 1980s new wave/punk takeover, Vol 3 zeros in on the most synth-driven and radio-friendly efforts of the year. Acts such as Devo, The B-52s, Blondie, Adam Ant, The Go-Gos and many more figure prominently.
As already stated, 1980 was a phenomenal year for heavy metal, producing multiple all-time classics (AC/DC Back In Black, Motorhead Ace Of Spades, Judas Priest British Steel) and upping the pace just before thrash was about to break. Going double length here to fully capture the wide array of 1980 metal acts that all seemed to hit their creative peak at exactly the same time.
Contrary to Chicago DJ Steve Dahl's assertions at the time, disco didn't suck in 1980. It may have been losing steam, and definitely had its detractors, but overall, it was still thriving. What is interesting though in looking back, is that outside of Diana Ross's huge comeback album Diana, it's lesser regarded works at the time (Teena Marie's Irons In The Fire, Shalamar's Three For Love, and the Luther Vandross featuring The Glow Of Love from international outfit Change) that have emerged as 1980's finest dance-floor offerings, rising above the many efforts by the more established disco names also featured here.
Some of 1980s jazz, folk and non-reggae international pop highlights are featured here.
Lively efforts from the era's rich bar-band scene, simultaneously vital on three continents (North America - Bruce Springsteen, J Giels, Jim Carroll, Tom Waits. Europe - Elvis Costello, Nacho Pop, Dire Straits, Rockpile. Down Under - Cold Chisel, Squeeze, Split Enz), is the focus here, along with some energetic efforts by a few old-timers (Dylan, Van Morrison, Rocky Erickson, Paul Simon) that just fit.
Reggae, British ska, and soul-inflected new wave come together here, on this mostly light and playful mix. Includes efforts from The Specials, Madness, Dexy's Midnight Runners, Bob Marley, UB40, The English Beat, The Police and others.
Some last shouts of triumph from the 1970s soon-to-fade art rock scene are highlighted here, anchored by selects from Peter Gabriels all-time best effort (and it's not So), the last great album of the David Bowie's peak era, and The Talking Head's remarkable Remain In Light.
Some overlap in feel with Vol 5 - Dance Floor Denizens, but with an emphasis on the most aggressively funky or cutting-edge modern R&B releases of the year, along with a super fun assortment of 1980's nascent hip-hop releases. Acts like Prince, Defunkt, Kurtis Blow, The Sugarhill Gang, Was (Not Was), Spoonie G, and Grace Jones lead the way here in this long mix celebrating the 12" single vibe of the era.
As with her 2020 mix, Nancy's running a touch late closing out her 1980 mix, but as soon as she's got it dialed in, we'll get it up here on this board.