Top 100 Albums Of The '80s (31-40)

For this week's Ranked!, we've got one of our most epic editions ever: the Top 100 Albums Of The '80s. Did we get it right? Let us know!

Here are Numbers 31-40:

40. Phish, Junta

Who would have guessed that Phish, of all bands, would turn into the cultural behemoth it has become?  At the time I wouldn't have picked Vermont's greatest export as anything more than a college band with a quirky sound, but the roots of their future greatness are on brilliant display on Junta.  In fact, I'd argue that Junta is actually one of Phish' most accessible albums, owing largely to quirky but relatively digestible tunes like "Esther," "Fluffhead," and "Fee," the latter being one of my favorite songs of all time.  That doesn't preclude them from some of the experimental indulgences that have come to define their career.  "The Divided Sky" clocks in at a cozy 12 minutes and "Union Federal" is over 25 minutes, conjuring images of Spinal Tap's "Jazz Odyssey" phase.  But they never cease to be anything but fun, spinning a party platter that meanders from groove to groove, punctuated by moments that make you say, "Wait, rewind that. I want to hear that part again."  God knows there's a lot of Phish music out there to listen to (cloud-computing was invented to store their bootlegs), but if you're a casual listener who might want to check Phish out, Junta is where I would start.  It's where I did.--CroutonBoy

39. Guns N' Roses, G N' R Lies

Half live album and half acoustic, G N' R Lies is more than just a placeholder between Appetite For Destruction and the Use Your Illusion albums. The more restrained attack shows the transition between the two; there are echoes of "November Rain" in "Patience." But the anger is still there, all the more powerful for being straightforward. "Used to Love Her" lays things out plainly, "I had to put her six feet under, and I can still hear her complain." Talk about a breakup song. Lies also features an almost jazzy new version of "You're Crazy" that lets loose the wicked bassline. When Guns N' Roses held it together, they were really, really good.--Amanda

38. The Cure, Disintegration

South Park's Kyle Broflovski claims Disintegration is "the best album ever." While that's not true (hell, it's not even the best album of 1989), it is the best album The Cure ever made, containing classic tracks like "Plainsong," "Pictures Of You," "Lovesong, " "Lullaby," and "Fascination Street." This was a return to form for Robert Smith and the band, bringing back the gloomy, moody, and atmospheric music and lyrics that were so prevalent on the band's earliest works.--Chris

37. Run-D.M.C., Raising Hell

Make no mistake: Run-D.M.C.'s Raising Hell brought rap music to the masses. Sure it had been around for years, but it was the rap/rock hybrid with Aerosmith on "Walk This Way" that brought rap front and center and proved that it was no inner-city fad (and also resurrected Aerosmith's career). Because so much is made of "Walk This Way," you might think Raising Hell was just a one-sided 45. But no, there were many awesome tunes to be found on the album. "Peter Piper." "It's Tricky." "My Adidas." "You Be Illin'." "Dumb Girl." All classics. All made Raising Hell one of the most important albums of the '80s.--Chris

36. Dire Straits, Brothers In Arms

There are a lot of things people think of when they think of the '80s, but MTV is certainly near the top of the list for anyone who spent their formative years in that decade. Although today it has become something that is a far cry from what it was when it launched in 1981, back then it was THE place to see new bands and immerse oneself in music. It is only natural that, by mid-decade, the music was commenting on the medium.

All of this preamble is, of course, because Brothers In Arms will always be remembered first and foremost for the song "Money For Nothing," the song that echoed the sentiment of our generation: "I want my MTV." The video for the song was equally memorable, featuring some of the earliest computer animation seen in music videos. It's almost a shame that Brothers In Arms will be remembered almost exclusively for that song, though, because there are a couple of songs that are arguably better--both "Walk Of Life" and "So Far Away" are classics that can get a little lost in the shadow of "Money For Nothing." Overall, this is a solid album that has stood the test of time quite well.--Dave

35. Billy Idol, Rebel Yell

Even though he previously had two Top 40 hits ("Hot In The City" and "White Wedding") from 1982's Billy Idol, it was 1983's Rebel Yell that made Billy Idol a household name. The leather, Steve Stevens's guitar, and the sneer (oh, the sneer) made his music videos for "Rebel Yell," "Eyes Without A Face," and "Flesh For Fantasy" hourly plays on MTV and is the reason we still get excited when he pops up in cameos for films like The Wedding Singer, The Doors, and Bigfoot.--Chris

34. Cyndi Lauper, She's So Unusual

Quick! Name the first album by a female artist to have four Top Five hits. That's right, it was She's So Unusual. And in 1983, Cyndi Lauper was quite unusual to much of the US. She had bright orange hair, hung out with wrestlers, had a helluva thick New York accent (which has its own Facebook page), and also possessed one of the most powerful and beautiful female voices ever. While She's So Unusual was a big hit, she would never achieve that level of commercial success with future releases. Why, I don't know. But I do know that She's So Unusual might be the best solo female debut album ever. The album contained two awesome covers: Prince's "When You Were Mine" and The Brains' "Money Changes Everything." But it also contained "All Through The Night" the anthemic "Girls Just Want To Have Fun," the ode to masturbation that was "She Bop," and quite possibly the most beautiful song she ever recorded, "Time After Time." Admit it. You forgot just how damn good this album was.--Chris

33. They Might Be Giants, They Might Be Giants

TMBG has been a go-to favorite of mine, without ever really listening to many albums, for a long time now. It's the band that my entire group of high school friends used to go see when we could, largely just because one of them was a fan and sucked us all in. Those shows were always a good time though, and this album is where it all started. I chose this not for the songs, but for the legacy that was to follow from it. This band has done just about anything and everything they've wanted to, from crazy funny songs to kids' albums, in all sorts of different styles. Everyone I know knows who these guys are and I've never heard a negative comment about them or their music, and this is where it all started!--J-Hawke

32. INXS, Kick

This is my all time favorite album of '87. I actually had to buy the tape three times that summer; I kept playing it until it gummed up the works of my car's crappy cassette player. I'd just clean it out, buy it again, and pop the new copy back in.

From the first triumphant growls of "Guns In The Sky" to the melodramatic Romeo-and-Juliet balcony calls of "Never Tear Us Apart," Kick dug its hook into me when I was seventeen and didn't let go. It was one part party anthem, and one part after-hours backseat romance. Michael Hutchence's voice was a bullhorn in the danceable anthems "New Sensation" and "Kick," and sinuous through the undulating curves of "Devil Inside" and "Need You Tonight." INXS put out some awesome records before Kick, but this was the one that shot the band into orbit.

I'm told you can get this album on CD now, as well as in some sort of newfangled digital format directly from a store called "eye tunes." But I'm pretty sure it still sounds best when played on cassette, in a 1980 Buick Skylark, while driving around on a July night after curfew. Just saying.--Didactic Pirate

31. Billy Joel, The Nylon Curtain

I've said before that I thought that Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel were in some kind of competition to see who could release albums fastest in the '80s. In my opinion, Billy Joel had a slight edge in terms of quality--or, at least, popularity. Most of his albums in that decade had at least one hit. This particular one had three: "Allentown," "Pressure," and "Goodnight Saigon." All three are now considered to be among Joel's greatest songs, but the one that has always stuck with me most is "Allentown." For a couple of months in my senior year of high school, I kept track of songs that were stuck in my head every day, and there was a five-day stretch when "Allentown" was the only one. That is the definition of "catchy song."--Dave

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