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Digital Subscriptions > Classic Pop > FREE Sample Issue > TOP 100 ALBUMS OF THE EIGHTIES

TOP 100 ALBUMS OF THE EIGHTIES

A QUARTER OF A CENTURY ON, HAVING LISTENED, RELISTENED AND LOVED – AND ALL WITH THE BENEFIT OF 20/20 HINDSIGHT – WE CAN DEFINE THE BEST ALBUMS OF THE NINETEEN EIGHTIES. WE DIDN’T DEVISE THIS CHART: OUR READERS DID… CLASSIC POP READERS WHO, FOR THE LAST FOUR MONTHS, HAVE BEEN SENDING IN VOTES AND CHARTS IN THEIR THOUSANDS. THANKS EVERYONE – AND NOW, LET’S GO STRAIGHT TO THE COUNTDOWN…

1OO JOHN LENNON AND YOKO ONO

DOUBLE FANTASY, 1981

The perfect No. 100 (we couldn’t have planned it better if we tried!), this was the album that passed the baton from rock & roll to New Wave, from the Seventies to the Eighties, from childhood to adulthood. It was a call and response record: one song from John, one from Yoko and back again. And while John’s songs closed off the rock era, Yoko’s inspired The B-52s, Talking Heads and much of what was to follow.

99 BUGGLES

THE AGE OF PLASTIC, 1980

They may be regarded as one-hit wonders in some quarters, but Buggles had such an arch understanding of the possibilities of synthpop that this short but sweet album became a template for many that followed. It’s a slight anomaly that it makes our chart, as all recordings had been finished by Christmas 1979 ready for the album – with Video Killed The Radio Star and the singles Living In The Plastic Age and Clean Clean – in January 1980.

GREATEST MISSES

Some of the biggest-selling LPs of the Eighties don’t appear in our chart because we only surveyed original albums, so No. 1 compilations from the likes of Abba, Hot Chocolate and Bryan Ferry didn’t qualify. Abba enjoyed the first No. 1 album of the decade with Greatest Hits Volume 2, which hit the top on 12 January 1980. In March 1987, Hot Chocolate were No. 1 with The Very Best Of…, which went on to go platinum, as did Madness’ Complete Madness in 1982. And Ferry followed 1985’s Boys And Girls with the No. 1 Street Life: 20 Great Hits a year later.

98 SPANDAU BALLET

JOURNEYS TO GLORY, 1981

Surprisingly, Spandau’s million-seller Parade is nowhere to be found in our Top 100. The votes counted point to just two albums from their catalogue as having stood the test of time: this, their debut, which includes two Top 10 singles, To Cut A Long Story Short and Musclebound, and the also-ran-but-everlasting The Freeze. But it’s all about the look and the feel: a dark, brooding uprising from clubland that was all but forgotten come the souled-out Parade.

97 PETER GABRIEL

III, 1980

Three appearances from Peter Gabriel in our chart – it goes some way to reclaiming him from latter-day ‘prog god’ to modern day godfather of pop. By 1980 he was captivated by the New Wave and the possibilities of all things electronic, resulting in an album that runs the gamut from the intense, experimental Intruder and Lead A Normal Life to the intelligent yet hook-laden singles of Games Without Frontiers and I Don’t Remember.

96 WHAM!

MAKE IT BIG, 1984

Fantastic failed to make the final rundown but this was their defining statement, and one of the most confident albums of the first half of the Eighties. Make It Big was always going to be just that, with each side opening with a No. 1 single: Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go begins Side 1, and Freedom starts Side 2. There’s also Everything She Wants and… not much else: with eight tracks, this has to be the shortest six-times platinum album ever released.

95 XTC

SKYLARKING, 1985

Strange to see that none of XTC’s influential – and chart-based – early work didn’t make the Top 100, but then those were compilations of three-minute wonders, and this is their strongest album statement, their Sgt. Pepper’s. It’s more about life in an English settlement than, well, 1982’s English Settlement. Ballet For A Rainy Day, Season Cycle and Sacrificial Bonfire, The Meeting Place, Grass – all prime examples of how much they’d refined their songwriting.

94 R.E.M.

GREEN, 1988

Green was R.E.M.’s major label breakthrough and the LP that put them on TOTP with Orange Crush and expanded their fan base in Europe – which is probably why it made our Top 100 over other records a more US-focussed readership might have selected. Disparate but compelling, it’s a mix of pastoral, reflective numbers and the angular, pointy US indie of Stand and Pop Song 89. It’s the precursor to their finest statement, 1992’s Automatic For The People.

93 PAUL MCCARTNEY

MCCARTNEY II, 1980

When Paul McCartney gave Temporary Secretary its first ever live airing this year, he acknowledged his ‘sleeper hit’ and his contribution to synthpop. Recorded at home, in isolation, this was the album where he explored synths, sequencers and drum boxes. There’s still wistful melodies aplenty but this is McCartney’s Man-Machine, the sound of a man who’s never been averse to experimentation and who had access to the best machines of the day.

92 NEW ORDER

LOW-LIFE, 1985

They shed the skin of Joy Division by changing their name but it was with Low-Life that New Order turned from dark, guitar-led indie towards the light of computer-driven dance pop. The Perfect Kiss and Sub-Culture were the key singles but this one’s all about the album tracks, like the very Electronic (as in the band not the genre) Love Vigilantes, the studious NY disco of This Time of Night and the question/answer, bass/keys, Hook/Gilbert session of Face Up.

91 ERASURE

WILD!, 1989

Wild it was, but throwaway this fourth album was not, as evidenced by the stark instrumental opener, Piano Song. From there we go straight into two of their most enduring hits: Blue Savannah and Drama! Thanks to the enduring partnership of Clarke & Bell, Erasure’s unashamed synthpop and “just one psychological drama after another” held firm against the wave of acid house and dance that was washing over the UK at the end of Nineties.

9O DEAD OR ALIVE

YOUTHQUAKE, 1985

One of the very few Stock/Aitken/ Waterman-related entries in the Top 100, this is still a pivotal album both for the production trio and the group in question. For Dead Or Alive, their second album (and its singles You Spin Me Round, In Too Deep and Lover Come Back To Me) was their springboard to mass appeal. And for S/A/W, this was the moment their subversive, Hi-NRG disco work crossed over into the mainstream. All this, and a cover shot by Mario Testino.

89 THE HUMAN LEAGUE

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About Classic Pop

The results are in! The latest issue features the Classic Pop 'Top 100 Albums of the Eighties' - as decided by our readers - including the classics of the decade, some cult favourites and a few wildcards to boot. PLUS! We give the Classic Pop verdict on David Bowie's new album 'Blackstar'… Elsewhere in the issue we investigate the classic pop of Christmas, delve into Sparks' weird and wonderful back catalogue, survey Simple Mind's classic album 'Once Upon A Time' and take a closer look at the leftfield sleeve art of John Foxx. Interviews include Visage's Steve Barnacle, Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze, Susanna Hoffs, McAlmont & Butler and modern synthpop duo Hurts.