Thursday, June 20, 2024

McQ's Best Of 1983 Vol1 - Bestin'

Greetings once again dear friends. 

Another Fourth Of July weekend approaches, which means it's time for another McQ's Best Of... retrospective, and I've got to say, as far as augmenting summertime fun goes, there are few years better to dig back into than 1983 - one of the finest mainstream singles years of the last seventy-five.

And what caused this singles explosion? There's only one answer. 


With the three-year-old network now in early maturity, having amassed an enormous audience but still a hot, novel thing, it was now crystal clear to all in the music industry what an enormous sales driver a hit music video could be. 

Every artist wanted in on the game. 

And going as mainstream as one could artistically stomach became the only choice of the day. 

After fifteen years of album-oriented-FM-rock ascendence, a new singles dominant era had emerged, and acts young and old that fully embraced the new music video format like Madonna, ZZ Top, Huey Lewis And The News, Billy Idol, Lionel Richie, Culture Club, Def Leppard, The Police, David Bowie, Herbie Hancock, Talking Heads, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and the Eurythmics would earn enough royalties in just a few short years from MTV-driven sales to sustain them through the bulk of their creative lives.

But that's not to say this emphasis on commerciality led to a year utterly lacking in groundbreaking, album-focused work..

To the contrary, 1983 delivered several historically important touchstones (Murmur, SwordfishtrombonesViolent Femmes, Kill 'Em All or Power, Corruptions & Lies anyone), but it's crazy how even some of the least commercially successful albums to make this mix are still jam-packed with songs we all know. To put it in contemporary terms, we're talking Beyonce or Taylor Swift multi-song level chart dominance from not just from one or two 1983 releases, but dozens (not to mention some titles like Genesis or Stevie Nick's The Wild Heart or Yes's 90125 or Billy Joel's An Innocent Man or Alabama's The Closer You Get... that don't even land a track on this first fifty-one song mix).

Bottomline, 1983 was stacked. So let's get into it. 

If you want to take a glance at how Nancy and I rate 1983's releases today, click here.

And if you want to dive deeper into some top-tier nostalgia, including Nancy's full-fledged return to the process, take a listen to the other ten mixes of our 1983 mixes collection accessible here

Otherwise, kick off your shoes (or sandals), pull up a chair (or beach blanket), crank up that volume, and enjoy.

About the Artists, Albums, and Songs represented on this mix:

1. Vessels - Philip Glass: It didn't receive an Oscar-nomination, but American composer Philip Glass's score for the experimental feature documentary Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out Of Balance is now regarded as one of the all-time greats, quite possibly the most renown score for a documentary film ever. A fortuitous marriage of complimentary conceptual trends in two different art forms, Glass's aggressive instrumental minimalism - anchored in simple synthesizer and choral loops repeated ad nauseam with only slight variation - was the perfect accompaniment to director Godfrey Reggio's kaleidoscopic, dialogue-and-narration-free collage of slow-motion, speed-ramped and reverse-motion images. Truly a one-of-a-kind listening and viewing experience  - unless you've also seen the sequels :-). And now, with the most unusual selection of this mix (though not the last film score) out of the way, let's hit those hits.

2. Sunday Bloody Sunday - U2: By 1983, U2 was already a well-known commodity, but the simultaneously streamlined and bombastic War (Strong Recommend) would launch them to near stratospheric heights. As openly ambitious and hard-working as any act the decade produced, they would deliver even greater, richer triumphs in the years to follow with 1986's spiritual The Joshua Tree and 1991's phantasmagoric Achtung, Baby, but with surging, martial rockers like NewYears Day, Like A Song... , Two Hearts Beat As One, and Sunday Bloody Sunday they would never be as efficiently direct again.

3. Burning Down The House - Talking Heads: Time has been very kind to the Talking Head's fifth album Speaking In Tongues (Strong Recommend). When I first heard it back in high school, I was disappointed, the phrase "sell out" frequently on the tip of my (pun intended) tongue. Speaking just felt so much safer and MTV-targeted than the what had come previously, be it Fear Of Music's agitated paranoia or Remain In Light's ridiculously intricate rhythmic assault. Today, Speaking In Tongues still feels safe when compared to those two albums, but not when compared to 99% of what's dominated the popular charts in the forty years since. Be it biggest hit Burning Down The House here, whacked sing-alongs like Girlfriend Is Better and Swamp, twisted funk-outs like Slippery People and Making Flippy Floppy, or Nancy's all-time Head's favorite This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody), Speaking in Tongues today feels less like a sell out and more like the Head's second best album after Remain In Light, a packed, perfectly balanced marriage of finely honed commercial instincts and inspired, one-of-a-kind eccentricity.

4. Age Of Consent - New Order: BEST NEW ORDER SONG EVER! The interweaving of rock-bottom bass lines, icy rhythm guitars and new wave synths just doesn't get any better than this. And Age Of Consent was just the opening salvo on New Order's fantastic second album Power Corruption and Lies (Strong Recommend), which found the band finally breaking free (for the most part) of their dour Joy Division roots and entering new musical terrain defined by aching romanticism and wildly influential electronic experimentation.

5. Mary Had A Little Lamb - Stevie Ray Vaughan: Along with his contemporary Robert Cray (also featured on this mix), Stevie Ray Vaughn, his unreal Hendrix-y chops and his blistering full-length debut Texas Flood (Solid Recommend) completely reinvigorated mainstream interest in the blues. The album produced multiple FM hits - the title track, Love Struck Baby, and biggest of all Pride And Joy - but from the day I first heard the album, my personal fav has always been the track with the greatest sense of cool - repurposed nursery rhyme Mary Had A Little Lamb. And Texas Flood wasn't Stevie Ray's only contribution to 1983 music. He played a key role in another of the year's most significant albums, as we'll read about in a moment.  

6. Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) - Eurythmics: Powered by a hip, off-kilter musical sensibility and one of the most distinct vocalists to emerge in the 1980's, Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox's second release as the Eurythmics Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) (Strong Recommend) was the new wave pop duo's commercial breakthrough. The title track here, the album's second single, was the first to chart, but it had long coattails, propelling a re-release of failed first single Love Is A Stranger near the top of the charts as well. As for the rest of the album, it's every bit as original and out of left field as its two lead singles, making Sweet Dreams one of 1983's most fascinating releases.

7. Seek & Destroy - Metallica: And on July 25, 1983, thrash metal was born. Other bands (Slayer, Megadeath, Anthrax) would soon join the party, but Metallica was first out the thrash gate with their landmark debut Kill 'Em All (Strong Recommend), and the record's impact on the world of heavy metal was enormous. Combining the instrumental precision of British new-wave metal bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest with the punkish velocity of Motorhead and then upping the ante on both fronts, there had never before been a heavy metal album as consistently fast or as virtuosically imposing as Kill 'Em All. More ambitious and stylistically varied Metallica releases would follow, making Kill 'Em All's unrelenting sledgehammer approach feel monolithic in retrospect, but there's just no understating the blunt force trauma with which the album and songs like Seek & Destroy here hit when they first landed in 1983.

8. Every Breath You Take - The Police: The best-selling song of the year, there was just no avoiding The Police's Every Breath You Take, or the album from which it came, the band's fifth and final studio release Synchronicity (Strong Recommend), in 1983. It didn't matter what kind of listener you were - home stereo, AM Radio, FM Radio, MTV - in 1983 the Police were there... waiting for you... every hour of every day. And while I still consider the album a minor classic and the band's best effort, it is dramatic just how unbalanced the sequencing is. The phenomenal original side two, which included Every Breath, King Of Pain, Wrapped Around Your Finger, Tea In The Sahara, and Murder By Numbers is non-stop mellow brilliance. But side one, oh boy! Sandwiched between the two solid Synchronicity numbers are some of the weakest songs - the likable but filler-y Walking In Your Footsteps, O My God, the almost unlistenable Andy Summers-penned Mother - of the band's entire career. 

9. Let's Dance - David Bowie: As stated earlier, by 1983, the economic boost inherent in landing a hit video on MTV had nearly every artist of the day looking to further commercialize their sound, and even daring, follow-their-own-muse stalwarts like David Bowie were eager to get in on the mainstream action. So for his next album, fifteenth release and first with a new label Let's Dance (Strong Recommend), Bowie enlisted two significant collaborators. First, to get that commercial sound, Chic producer, songwriter, all-around hitmaker and rhythm guitarist extraordinaire Niles Rodgers. Then, on Rodger's suggestion, to really amp up the guitar energy, an unknown cat out of Austin, Texas - blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn. Working with seven original songs and reworked versions of two previously recorded Bowie-penned tracks China Girl (originally Iggy Pop) and Cat People (originally of the 1982 horror film soundtrack), it would become the only album in Bowie's discography on which he didn't play an instrument, and over the years he personally came to hate it, viewing the record as the opening statement of the least artistically satisfying stretch of his career. Worse, Bowie's decision to pantomime one of Vaughn's guitar solos in the Let's Dance music video drove Vaughn to quit the album's supporting tour and permanently sever their professional relationship. But the record achieved exactly what Bowie originally intended. Let's Dance was a monster hit, got Bowie a ton of MTV airplay, and became the best-selling album of his career. And honestly, whatever Bowie's misgivings, the record (especially Vaughn's guitar work, which feels even more inventive than on his own '83 debut Texas Flood) holds up quite well today outside of a couple filler-y cuts. Going with the title track and its awesome, SRV-powered outro over Modern Love as representative song here. 

10. One Thing Leads To Another - The Fixx: Always loved this early MTV staple and lyrical takedown of transactional politics from London new wavers The Fixx's Reach The Beach (Mild Recommend).

11. Buffalo Soldier - Bob Marley & The Wailers: The first posthumous Wailers release following Bob Marley's passing on May 11, 1981, much of the credit for Confrontation (Solid Recommend) must be given to Marley's widow Rita, who not only ensured unfinished, top-flight tracks like Black Man Redemption, Rastaman Live Up, Chant Down Babylon, and Buffalo Soldier here saw the proper light of day, but also assumed full production duties on the project and did a remarkable job maintaining the Wailers classic sound.

12. Everyday I Write The Book - Elvis Costello & The Attractions: One of Elvis Costello's best second-tier efforts, Dexy's Midnight Runners and Madness producers Clive Angler and Alan Winstanly were recruited to smooth out Costello's sound somewhat without sacrificing the classy elegance of previous album Imperial Bedroom. True to mission, 1983's Punch The Clock (Solid Recommend) emerged as Costello's slickest record to date, front-loaded with likable, bouncy pop tracks like Love Went Mad, The Greatest Thing, TKO (Boxing Day), Let Them All Talk, The Element Within Her and especially the Prince Charles and Diana relationship commentary Everyday I Write The Book featured here.

13. Add It Up - Violent Femmes: Discovered while busking on a Milwaukee street by Pretenders guitarist James Honeyman-Scott, the Violent Femmes and their sensationally agitated eponymous debut (Highest Recommend), along with R.E.M.'s Murmur, helped define the sound of early alternative/college rock. While in spirit and lyrical bite right on point with the sensibilities of emerging hardcore punk acts across America like Minor Threat, The Wipers, Suicidal Tendencies and Social Distortion, in sound and feel the amateurish, entirely acoustic Femmes couldn't have been more different, making their debut, to this day, one of the most instantly recognizable and unique albums in all of rock. An all-time classic, personal favorite song Add It Up just barely edges out Blister In The Sun, Kiss Off, Prove My Love and Gone Daddy Gone as the record's representative track here.

14. Miss Me Blind - Culture Club: With much of the media attention of the day focused on Culture Club's - and especially frontman Boy George's - flamboyant androgyny, it would be easy to dismiss the band as music-video-targeting posers, but that would do a great disservice to their second album Colour By Numbers (Strong Recommend), which in retrospect has emerged as one of the better blue-eyed soul records of the 80s. Powered by radio-friendly singles like Church Of The Poison Mind, Karma Chameleon, It's A Miracle and Miss Me Blind here, the album had more than its fair share of top-flight chart toppers, but its real secret weapon was background vocalist Helen Terry, whose potent singing elevated every one of the half dozen songs on which she was featured.

15. Borderline - Madonna: Yeesh, did I miscall this one. The first time I heard Madonna was over the PA system of the local Walgreens I worked at for a stretch during high school. "Kinda catchy song," I thought briefly of Borderline while sweeping an aisle. "This Madonna's probably a one-hit wonder, though, too innocent and cheesy sounding to see her having much of a career." Wrong on almost all counts! Madonna the album (Strong Recommend) would elbow its way to the center of dance floors around the globe in 1983 and 1984 based on the strength of bouncy hits like BorderlineHoliday,  EverybodyBurning Up and Lucky Star, and as we all know, Madonna the artist would become one of the two or three biggest stars in the world for the next twenty years. The only part of my original prediction that wasn't completely off the mark: the cheese. Regardless of how much fun it is, no record represented on this mix sounds more dated today than Madonna, though much of this is because Madonna was a such an aggressive early adopter of the instrumental breakthroughs of the era - just off the shelves tech innovations like LM-2 drum machines, Moog bass and Oberheim OB-X synthesizers all played a huge part in creating the album's sound. 

16. In A Big Country - Big Country: Though viewed as a one-hit wonder in the states (In A Big Country here was their only US top 40 hit), ebow-loving rock quartet Big Country were just starting a seven year stretch atop the UK Charts with their 1983 debut The Crossing (Strong Recommend). Most notable for the heavy use of that ebow and an MXR Pitch Transposer to make the guitars sound like a variety of other more traditional instruments, be it fiddles, organs, or most prominently - in an ode to the band's Scottish roots - bagpipes, the band's first outing remains an impassioned collection of slightly folky, U2-ish rockers. So U2ish, in fact, that Rolling Stone magazine's Kurt Loder prematurely doomed the band's American prospects when he implied they were U2's heir apparent in his original glowing review of the album.

17. Rockit - Herbie Hancock: Though forty-three and deep into his career as a jazz pianist and band-leader, Herbie Hancock's twenty-ninth release Future Shock (Solid Recommend) was the first salvo in his electro-funk era, and thanks to the huge MTV success of the music video for Rockit featured here, landed Hancock a whole new audience.  As for the album in full, it's a blast, whip smart in its employment of emerging hip-hop scratching techniques and as funky as records of the era come

18. The Cutter - Echo & The Bunnymen: Savaged by critics when first released despite being the best-selling album in the band's discography, Echo & The Bunnymen's icy, self-reflective third release Porcupine (Solid Recommend) has undergone a positive critical reassessment in the years since, and is now considered one of the Bunnymen's best albums, even if lead singer/songwriter Ian McCulloch feels the songs, especially standouts The Back Of Love, Heads Will Roll and The Cutter included here, are too emotionally heavy for him to enjoy playing live.

19. Union Sundown - Bob Dylan: Finally breaking free of his drecky born-again Christian period with a righteous secular fury, Infidels (Solid Recommend) is, along with 85's Empire Burlesque, one of Dylan's two best 80s albums, and maybe his most lyrically blunt ever.  Forget those wild metaphors, Dylan goes right after the bad guys - be they hypocritical preachers and empty religions (Man Of Peace / License To Kill), union busters (Union Sundown here), or - in a song that plays a little trickier today than when Dylan first wrote it - those that would deny Israel the right to defend itself (Neighborhood Bully). 

20. Overkill - Men At Work: Though it didn't have tracks quite as huge as Who Can It Be Now or Down Under, goofy, soulful Aussie pop-rockers Men At Work's sophomore outing Cargo (Solid Recommend) was overall a more engaging album than their debut Business As Usual, bolstered by dark, jammy tracks like I Like To and No Restrictions and appealing singles like It's A Mistake and Overkill featured here.

21. Sugar Hiccup - Cocteau Twins: As cavernous, gothic, murky and incoherently romantic (lead singer Elizabeth Fraser would randomly work foreign and made up words into the lyrics to create a more mystical feel) as any of 1983's releases, Scottish trio Cocteau Twins second release Head Over Heels (Solid Recommend) has come to be viewed as a touchstone in the ethereal wave genre, and a direct, highly influential antecedent to the shoegaze movement that would follow a half decade later. Going with the obvious choice, Sugar Hiccup, as representative track here, but this is a record that really needs to be absorbed in full.

22. White Lines (Don't Don't Do It) - Melle Mel: Melle Mel's first single after splitting with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, White Lines (Don't Don't Do It), rated the 55th greatest hip hop song of all-time in a 2017 Rolling Stone poll, was also one of the first attempts, along with Blondie's Rapture, to blend new wave and hip hop sensibilities.

23. Photograph - Def Leppard: For their third album, Sheffield-based heavy metal quintet Def Leppard hoped to create a slightly more radio-friendly commercial sound, but I'm not sure any of the band members realized just how radio-friendly Pyromania (Solid Recommend) would become under the shamanistic guidance of superstar producer Mutt Lange. Powered by three crunchy top-forty anthems - Foolin', Rock Of Ages, and Photograph here, Pyromania would go on to sell over ten million copies, and in effect, launch the pop-metal movement.

24. The Milkman Of Human Kindness - Billy Bragg: Chocking in at only sixteen minutes, Billy Bragg's lean and mean 1983 debut Life's A Riot With Spy Vs. Spy (Solid Recommend) quickly established him as a potent new voice in contemporary folk and as a regular on college radio stations in the states and UK. Equal parts heartfelt love songs (A New England, The Milk Of Human Kindness here) and pointed political diatribes (To Have And Have Not), the album's sound, comprised entirely of just Bragg's scratchy voice and his even scratchier electric guitar playing, is a direct reflection of Bragg's formative years as a street busker.  And the album's odd title; that's a reference to Bragg's busker days as well.  "Spy vs. Spy" was his alter-ego when performing on the streets.

25. Double Dutch - Malcolm McLaren: One of the most prescient releases of 1983, Sex Pistols manager Malcom McLaren's Duck Rock (Solid Recommend) was way ahead of the curve in its delightful merger of British pop instincts with the sounds of the emerging hip hop and world music markets.  Today, it's almost impossible to imagine Paul Simon conceiving of Graceland or The Rhythm Of The Saints or Damon Albarn conceiving of his Gorillaz side-project without having been exposed to Duck Rock first. But that's not to say McLaren was innocent of stealing liberally and literally from influences himself.  Though Duck Rock was met with universal critical praise and is now a regular on Top 500 all-time album lists, it also caught a lot of fire for not crediting many of the African and South American artists who contributed to and inspired its globe-spanning sound, especially on the hit Double Dutch included here, which became the focus of a protracted lawsuit over its similarities to the Boyoyo Boys' Puleng.

26. WIPEOUT BEAT - Alan Vega: Just like David Bowie in 1983, Suicide frontman Alan Vega was chomping at the bit for mainstream commercial success. And to achieve this he too brought in a pair of ace-in-the-hole collaborators. Handling production duties would be Ric Ocasek, instructed to give the songs as much gloss and sheen as the slickest Cars' recordings. And to give the synths a thrilling contemporary punch, Vega enlisted new-kid-on-the-block and future Ministry-founder/brainchild Al Jourgensen.  For his part, Vega reigned in his penchant for writing terrifying ten-minute art-punk excursions like Suicide's Frankie Teardrop and instead focused on crafting concise, melody-driven tracks with a Stooges-like simplicity. It all worked.  The critics rightfully loved Saturn Strip (Solid Recommend). Loaded with mutant, synth-powered rockabilly numbers like the title track, Angel, Every 1's A Winner, Goodbye Darling, and Wipeout Beat profiled here that fully achieved Vega's more accessible aims, the album was a success in every way but the one that mattered to Vega most: it sold no better than Vega's earlier releases. Over the course of his final thirty-three years, he would never release an album as mainstream oriented again.

27. Deep Blue Day - Brian Eno: Now deep into his run of ambient albums, Brian Eno was commissioned by filmmaker Al Reinert to score a documentary history of the Apollo lunar missions. Teaming up with his brother Roger and fellow U2 behind-the-scenes associate Daniel Lanois, the three worked quickly and completed the soundtrack on time, allowing the corresponding album Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks (Solid Recommend) to be released on July 29, 1983 as scheduled. The film, however, would have a more problematic launch. Originally edited without narration or interviews, the first completed preview version of the film did so poorly with test audiences that a complete restructure was deemed necessary, leading to the very strange reality that the soundtrack ended up being available to listeners a full six-years before the new narrated version of the movie, For All Mankind, finally made its way into theaters in 1989. But whatever the film's troubled history, the album stands as one of Eno's most accessible ambient efforts. With Eno striving not to support the narrative with his music, but instead create an aural sense of how he imagined space might feel, most of the record has an obvious weightless quality to it, but the surprise, given the usual preconceptions of outer space as a cold, dark place, is how warm and comforting most of the music is, as if breaking free of Earth's gravity is what we've been meant to do all along. Going with the album's single Deep Blue Day here, but this is such a great background record, I hope every reader will take the time to give it a listen in full.

28. The Trooper - Iron Maiden: 1983 produced six heavy-metal albums of long-term significance, three of which are featured on this first mix. Last to make the cut, proto-thrashers Iron Maiden's Piece Of Mind (Solid Recommend), which gets the slight nod here over Motley Crue's Shout At The Devil, Dio's Holy Diver and Night Ranger's Dawn Patrol mostly because I like The Trooper better than any single song the other three albums served up, but, if I'm being completely forthright, also because I find championing someone like Maiden lead singer and true Renaissance man Bruce Dickinson (in his downtime he's been a commercial airline pilot, novelist, documentary host, screenwriter, microbrewery owner and competitive international fencer) more satisfying than prattling on about musically talented but otherwise run-of-the-mill metal-world party animals like Vince Neil or Tommy Lee (though all of these guys and many more are celebrated on our '83 metal followup mix Vol 6 - Thrashin' & Permin').

29. Within Your Reach - The Replacements: The last of "Mats" prequal albums before they would go on their extraordinary three album run of Let It Be/Tim/Please To Meet Me, Hootenanny (Solid Recommend) finds Paul Westerberg and his band of disorderly, hard-drinking louts beginning to consider the musical possibilities of calm, maturity and emotional vulnerability. While much of the record is as raucous and turbo-charged as predecessor Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash, slightly less breakneck Replacements classics like Color Me Impressed and Within Your Reach here point the way forward.

30. Phone Booth - Robert Cray: If Stevie Ray Vaughn was 1980s blues' pyrotechnic fire, Robert Cray, with his Al Green-ish croon, was its effortless smooth. Unlike Texas Flood, Cray's second album Bad Influence (Solid Recommend) wasn't a giant breakout (that would come three years later for Cray with Strong Persuader), but it did put him solidly on the blues-world map, best epitomized by tight singles like the title track and Phone Booth featured here.

31. Here Comes The Rain Again - Eurythmics: For many critics, Touch (Solid Recommend), the Eurythmics quickly assembled follow up to Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) is an even better album and the pinnacle of the act's electronic phase before they pivoted to more traditional rock and soul instrumentation later in their career. Containing three big singles - Right By Your Side, Who's That Girl, and Here Comes The Rain Again here - as well as compelling supporting numbers like Paint A Rumour and the lively The First Cut, it is every bit an essential title as Sweet Dreams in the new wave canon. 

32. I Want A New Drug - Huey Lewis & The News: An absolute hit machine, Huey Lewis & The News third record Sports (Solid Recommend) "sported" five top-twenty hits  (The Purple Haze referencing, Ghostbusters-suing I Want A New Drug here peaking at #6, Heart And Soul #8, The Heart Of Rock & Roll #6, If This Is It #6, Walking On A Thin Line #18) and would remain on the Billboard top 100 album charts for 160 straight weeks starting with its release on September 15 1983. Sales were so strong and steady, it trailed only Michael Jackson's Thriller for overall earnings in 1984. Fueled by Lewis and the group's fairly decent chops and admittedly square everyman charm (a charm that makes Lewis a standout character in Netflix's recent We Are The World documentary The Greatest Night In Pop), Sports stands right alongside the best efforts of American compatriots Journey, John Mellencamp, Billy Joel, J. Geils, and Bon Jovi as one of the most irresistible offerings in 1980's AM rock, some of which can be found on our Vol 9 - AMin'.

33. Oblivious - Aztec Camera: Though highly regarded as a new wave touchstone, Aztec Camera's delightful debut High Land, Hard Rain (Strong Recommend) was really a backwards-looking album, as indebted to Elvis Costello and Graham Parker's first mid-70s releases and Love's acoustic efforts (band leader Roddy Frame admitted to straight-up copying Maybe The People Would Be The Times Between Clark And Hilldale's rhythm guitar progression for the band's biggest hit Oblivious included here) as the work of any of the act's 1983 peers.

34. All Night Long (All Night) - Lionel Richie: Keeping the good-time AM vibes going strong. Almost as big a hit as Huey Lewis and The News' Sports, Lionel Richie's second solo effort Can't Slow Down (Mild Recommend) also spent 160 straight weeks on the Billboard charts and also produced five hit singles, only this time all five songs, not just four, broke the top ten, and two - Hello and the joyous, redundantly titled All Night Long (All Night) featured here - hit number one. All good for Lionel, but bad unforeseen consequences can come with such successes, too, as the massive singles propelled the overall just decent Can't Slow Down into musical Dances With Wolves territory after it topped two vastly superior works - Springsteen's Born In The USA and Prince's Purple Rain - for the Grammy's 1985 album-of-the-year award. And if you interested in hearing the year's other top AM R&B efforts, as well as some great '83 funk and early hip-hop, be sure to click on the link here to Vol 5 - Rappin' & Tappin'.

35. Pale Shelter - Tears For Fears: The still-active synth rock duo Tears For Fears got started in 1983 after Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal's previous larger group Graduate imploded and the two decided to set off on their own with their 1983 debut album The Hurting (Solid Recommend), a bleak exploration of Orzabal's painful childhood. The release didn't do much in the US, but it was a number one album in the UK, producing three top-five singles in Mad World, Change, and Pale Shelter included here.

36. I And I Survive - Bad Brains: Accomplished young jazz virtuosos who had already grown bored with the genre, the members of Washington D.C.'s Bad Brains discovered The Sex Pistols, The Ramones and Bob Marley in the span of a few months in the late 70s, and one of hardcore punk's most exciting first-wave bands was launched. By 1983, the band had already worked through several momentous challenges, most notably having to leave D.C. for New York City because their hometown venues were no longer willing to deal with the band's unruly, destructive fans (an irony since few bands in punk history were more consistently positive in messaging than these devout Rastafarians), but they still hadn't fully established themselves on record. Enter producer Ric Ocasek, who helped clean up of the mix for the band's second album Rock For Light (Solid Recommend) just enough to crystalize their essence on vinyl, showcasing their penchant for whiplashing between blazingly fast, technically dazzling bursts and soothing, even better reggae and dub excursions in the best possible light. Going with my favorite of the album's reggae numbers, I And I Survive, as representative track here, but for those eager to catch the band's harder stuff, be sure to check out our '83 punk/post-punk mix Vol 4 - Whinin' & Grindin'

37. Cashing In - Minor Threat: It doesn't sound like it, but we're going back to back here with selections from Washington D.C.'s two most significant early hardcore punk bands, and while there were many similarities between Bad Brains and Minor Threat (the members of the two bands were actually good friends and shared a belief in D.I.Y. promotion and distribution), in other ways they couldn't have been more different. Where Bad Brains avidly promoted a Rastafarian lifestyle, Minor Threat were maybe the most straight-laced hardcore band ever, with lead singer Ian MacKaye repeatedly championing celibacy, a vegetarian diet and abstinence from drugs and alcohol in the band's songs.  Short-lived (when a fellow punker punched his brother in the face for no reason at a Minutemen concert, MacKaye abruptly abandoned the scene and the band, never to return), the group only produced one proper album, 1983's twenty-one-minute corker Out Of Step (Solid Recommend), but it is now regarded as an hardcore classic, informing the work of just about every punker to follow who embraced a youth-oriented and but less anti-establishment point of view.

38. Uncertain Smile - The The: The first song recorded for The The's proper debut Soul Mining (Solid Recommend) (frontman Matt Johnson's previously released solo album Burning Soul Blue would be reissued as a The The album to keep all of Johnson's albums on the same shelf in record stores), Uncertain Smile was a reworked recording of Johnson's previously released single Cold Spell Ahead, with that version's guitar and sax outro replaced with a new three-minute piano outro, courtesy of Squeeze's Jools Holland, that might be the most enjoyable instrumental highlight on this entire mix. And the album's excellence doesn't stop with those singing keys. Tracks like hit This Is The Day and the epic, ten-minute Giant established Johnson and The The as a force to be reckoned with in new wave music.

39. Undercover (Of The Night) - The Rolling Stones: As with Speaking In Tongues, the more that time passes, the more I find myself  enjoying the Stone's lesser 70s and 80s albums. The band may not have been as sharp or dialed in as in they were in their 60s/early 70s heyday, but Keith Richards could still craft a riff with the best of them. Case in point, the El Salvador-focused title track to 1983's Undercover (Solid Recommend) here, which became a regular live show highlight in the decades that followed.

40. Frank's Wild Years - Tom Waits: My personal favorite in an expansive catalog of album-length oddities, Swordfishtrombones (Highest Recommend) is the record where Tom Waits became "Tom Waits." Having just switched labels from Asylum to the much more open minded Island Records, Waits found a production partner unopposed to the bizarro arrangement impulses he had been cultivating for years, finally allowing him to commit to his "junkyard orchestral deviation" aesthetic in full. The end result is one of the 80's most strikingly original albums, a masterpiece of dark, deviant wit, Tin-Pan-alley songwriting, and pre-rock stylistic deconstruction (or maybe reconstruction). And as a final coup de grace, amid all of Swordfishtrombones' memorable songs, was the hysterical interstitial feature here that brought Wait's future performance alter-ego, LA-sleazeball Frank, vividly to life for the very first time. And if you're interested in reacquainting yourself with other top '83 tracks from the era's more old-fashioned artists, be sure to check out Vol 3 - Creakin'.

41. Gimme All Your Lovin' - ZZ Top: As the decade turned, ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons grew fascinated with moody post-punk acts like Depeche Mode and OMD, and wanted to find a way to work some of their electronic textures and drum machine sounds into his own band's propriety boogie-woogie formula. Enter producer Linden Hudson, a former DJ, who suggested that to pull it off, the biggest change would need to be a significant increase in song tempo, up to around 124 beats per minute where most new-wave hits landed. Many of ZZ's southern-fried/blues-rocking peers predicted abject failure, but the shift to a faster, sleaker sound worked. Eliminator (Solid Recommend) was a gargantuan success, not necessarily beloved by older fans, but opening up the band to an expansive younger audience.  Going with flip-of-a-coin choice Gimme All Your Lovin' over other MTV staples Sharp Dressed Man and Legs and fav deep cut  I Need You Tonight as representative choice here.

42. True - Spandau Ballet: Inspired by the burgeoning unrequited love he felt for a new friend and artistic confidant, actress and Altered Images lead singer Clare Grogan, Spandau Ballet guitarist and principal songwriter Gary Kemp set out to make his feelings known in song, only to find himself as inhibited in expressing his longings in lyrics as he was when with Grogan in person.  So he bailed on the direct (and potentially embarrassing) approach and made his inability to articulate his love the subject of the song instead. The only clue that remained for Grogan to realize the song was originally meant for her; Kemp worked a few bastardized passages from Nabakov's Lolita - the book Grogan had just given Kemp on his previous birthday - into the lyrics.  Ultimately, the two never hooked up, but True, from the band's third album of the same name, would become the band's signature song, first UK #1 hit, and an iconic needle-drop moment on many feature film and television soundtracks, most notably John Hughes'  Sixteen Candles.

43. Girls Just Want To Have Fun - Cindi Lauper: I'm sure more recent albums in today's poptimist era have topped its chart accomplishments, but by the end of 1983, Cindi Lauper's quirky new wave debut She's So Unusual (Strong Recommend) had achieved a historic first, becoming the first album from a female solo artist to produce four top-five singles on the Billboard charts (Girls Just Want to Have Fun, She Bop, Grammy winner Time After Time, and All Through The Night). And this list of high charters doesn't even include what may be the album's best song, opener Money Changes Everything. But that said, Girls Just Want To Have Fun is clearly the iconic number, so it's the selection here.  Originally written by Robert Hazard, there's a great story behind how Lauper tweaked the lyrics to turn the song's original, misogynistic take on female freedom into the celebration it became, but as Pitchfork just did a great reassessment of the album in their Sunday retrospective series, I'll let them fill in the details.

44. Red Red Wine - UB40: UB40's aptly titled all-covers release  Labour Of Love (Strong Recommend) still stands as the Birmingham, England crew's crowning achievement. One of the most popular party albums of the 80s (or any decade for that matter), the ubiquity of Labour Of Love's light, airy songs would help cement UB40,  Madness, as one of the two bands to spend the most time on the UK singles charts in the 1980s (214 weeks each). And while most of the album's hits were passionate but straightforward redos of reggae standards like Cherry Baby, Johnny Too Bad or Jimmy Cliff's Many Rivers To Cross, the standout track none of us have been able to escape since was a clever reworking of the Neil Diamond's pop song Red, Red Wine, so clever in fact that Diamond would incorporate UB40 MC Astro's mid-song rap, a UB40 addition that had never been part of Diamond's original recordingin all his future live performances of the song.  And for more '83 tunage with an international flavor, be sure to check out Vol 7 - Always Be Travelin', which includes a good number of the year's biggest foreign language hits.

45. Rebel Yell - Billy Idol: Inspired by a wild night of partying with The Rolling Stones where all were downing Rebel Yell whiskey, ex-Generation-X frontman Billy Idol's second solo album Rebel Yell (Strong Recommend) is one of the more enduring guilty pleasures of the 1980s, a "gloriously, shamelessly tacky," (as critic Stephen Thomas Erwine put it) new-wave affair turbo-charged by Keith Forsey's crystal-clear production, Julliard-trained, oompa-loompa-sized guitarist Steve Steven's mega-sized riffs, and a trio of major MTV hits in Flesh For Fantasy, Eyes Without A Face, and the title track featured here.

46. Shaking Through - R.E.M.: They weren't the earliest band to get hit with the label, and they were far from the last, but when I hear the term "80's college rock" thrown around today, R.E.M. always comes to mind first, and for most, that mnemonic connection all started with the band's mumbly, inscrutable and flat-out magical full-length debut Murmur (Highest Recommend), an easy call for the best album of 1983 despite the strong competition. The Athens foursome would go on to become one of the most revered rock bands of the 80s and early 90s, powered by a signature chiming, almost-Byrdsian southern gothic sound so easy to absorb in vast quantities it rendered almost every damn song on every damn album un-skippable, at least thru eighth effort Automatic For The People. But irony of ironies (given the band's unreal consistency), for all of Murmur's celebrated songs - opener Radio Free EuropePilgrimage, Perfect Circle, Sitting StillTalk About The Passion - Nancy and I have both settled on the same favorite track, the way-down-the-totem-pole deep cut Shaking Through included here, which for my money, sticks one of the most thrilling mid-song key changes ever at the 3:30 mark. And for more great '83 college rock, be sure to check out Vol 8 - Bookin' And Baggin'.

47. True Love Pt. #2 - X: Girls may just want to have fun, but no song on this mix is more fun (or funkier) than LA punkers X's True Love Pt. #2, excerpted here from their lively 1983 release More Fun In The New World (Solid Recommend). And if you just can't get enough of '83 punk, check out our Vol 4 - Whinin' & Grindin', which profiles several excellent punk & post-punk efforts not represented on this mix (Simple Minds, Jason & The Scorchers, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Wipers, The Chameleons, Social Distortion, Adam Ant, The Birthday Party, The Cure, The Fall, Mark Stewart & The Maffia, Suicidal Tendencies, etc.) as well as additional beloved tracks from many of the albums already celebrated here.

48. Blue Monday - New Order: Preceding the release of their 1983 album Power Corruption and Lies, New Order's 1983's standalone single Blue Monday is consider by many critics the best song of 1983, just edging out Every Breathe You Take, Sunday Bloody Sunday, R.E.M.'s Radio Free Europe, The Violent Femme's Blister In The Sun, and a handful of early singles from 1984 album releases we will deal with whenever we get around to doing our 1984 mix collection.

49. Pink Houses - John Cougar Mellencamp: For the early part of his career, John Mellencamp was a punchline. From the goofy hair to the jarringly plainspoken lyrics, from his ridiculous label-assigned stage name "Johnny Cougar" to the dreadfully cheesy album covers like the one pictured above, few early 80s artists were easier for rock snobs to laugh at that than the "Coug." But the tide had begun to turn in Mellencamp's favor with the chart success of singles Hurts So Good and Jack & Diane from his 1982 release American Fool. First, it gave him enough clout to finally demand future records be released under his real surname.  Second, through the American Fool sessions, Mellencamp found his band. Now, with things falling into place and backed by arguably the best rock drummer of the day in Kenny Aronoff, Mellencamp kicked off one of the most underrated album runs of the 1980s with 1983's remarkably well-aged Uh-HUH! (Strong Recommend). Uh-HUH! didn't employ the rich folk instrumentation that would begin to emerge on successor Scarecrow and come to fruition on 1987's The Lonesome Jubilee and 1989's Big Daddy, nor did it display the Rain On The ScarecrowJackie Brown-sized leap he would make as a political lyricist a few years down the linebut at that moment it did one thing better than any JCM release had before - repeatedly rock a nasty, almost Stones-caliber groove.  Going with biggest hit Pink Houses here as representative track, but for me, it's those Stones-y rockers like Warmer Place To Sleep and Play Guitar that really pop today.

50. Birds Fly (Whisper To A Scream) - The Icicle Works: One last memorable, new-wave single from Liverpool one-hit-wonders (at least in the US, they had additional charters in the UK) The Icicle Works. And if you're not ready to abandon those new-wave joys just yet, check out our Vol 2 - (I'm Pickin' Up) New viWavetions, which includes '83 cuts from several artists not listed in Vol 1 (Duran Duran, Corey Hart, Yahoo, Heaven 17, Fun Boy Three, Thompson Twins, Yello, The Motels, Howard Jones, Paul Young, Wang Chung, etc.) as well as additional cuts from many of the albums celebrated here.

51. 40 - U2: U2's go-to encore closer for years after the release of War, it felt right to close with this version from the band's first live album, 1983's Under A Blood Red Sky (Solid Recommend). And for those that want yet another glorious encore, might I suggest you immediately jump to Vol 10 - Nancy's Favorites which does repeat some of the songs here but also hits on many cherished '83 songs that won't be found anywhere else in this mix collection.