Here are Numbers 61-70:
70. The Who, Who's LastI've written many times about how I discovered many of my favorite classic rock bands through their '80s work and then worked my way back through their catalogs to hear their earlier stuff. In the case of The Who, my task of discovering their classics was pretty easy. After Face Dances (1981) and It's Hard (1982) got me interested, the band decided to break up after doing a farewell tour (the first of many). The result was Who's Last which, for me, served as an excellent live introduction to classic Who, with 17 tracks that spanned pretty much their entire career. Although it's not always the case when I buy a greatest hits-type collection, Who's Last whet my appetite for more classic Who, and started me on a buying spree of Who albums so that I could hear what else they had to offer. If you're a fan of the band and you never got a chance to see them live (which I did, twice), you should really pick up Who's Last. It's the next best thing to being there.--Dave
69. Hooters, Nervous NightConfession: on my individual ballot, I put Nervous Night as my #1 album for 1985. I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved this album. From start to finish, it's one of the best albums of the '80s. Although it did spawn three Top 40 hits ("And We Danced," "Day By Day," "Where Do The Children Go") and one near-hit ("All You Zombies"), my favorite tracks were the non-hits: "Don't Take My Car Out Tonight," the title track, and Blood From A Stone, my favorite cut on the album. Another reason this album will always be special to me: one of the first bands I was in played a kick-ass version of "All You Zombies."--Chris
68. De La Soul, 3 Feet High And Rising3 Feet High And Rising was unlike any other rap album of its time. In a time when hardcore rap acts that told of life on the streets were all the rage (Public Enemy, N.W.A., etc.), De La Soul was a breath of fresh air, with an almost naivety to their sound. Set against the backdrop of a fictional game show, 3 Feet High And Rising was a collection of tunes that showcased the 3 MCs deft rhyming skills, playful themes, and inspired samples. But it was their themes that set them apart from the other acts: their songs were often fun and light and silly, having more in common with Fresh Prince than with Chuck D, while possessing all the talent of the latter. De La 101: "The Magic Number," "Jenifa Taught Me," "Eye Know," "Buddy," "Potholes In My Lawn," and the album's biggest hit, "Me Myself and I."--Chris
67. Rolling Stones, Tattoo YouTattoo You was the Stones' last masterpiece. The World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band had long since established their right to that title, yet there they were--as the last gasps of the '70s were being expunged by the Yamaha keyboards and skinny ties of the '80s--casually showing the world how the professionals rock. You could argue that the opening riff to "Start Me Up" is the definitive Stones riff, a declarative statement that disco, punk, new wave, and MTV were no match for balls-out rock awesomeness. They were bawdy ("Little T&A"), bluesy ("Black Limousine"), and boppy ("Slave"), and the album closes with one of the most affecting paens to friendship ever recorded, "Waiting On A Friend." They may seem like a band of old-timers, but when musicologists count the chips there are few that can compare to the Rolling Stones, and Tattoo You is one of their strongest hands.--CroutonBoy
66. Janet Jackson, ControlMs. Jackson was coming off a pretty successful TV acting career (Diff'rent Strokes and Fame), but her singing career was a dud. So she took "Control" of her life by firing her dad as her manager and the result is the album that made Janet go from baby sister of the Jacksons to one of the shining stars of the family. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, ex-members of The Time, produced this album which catapulted Janet Jackson's singing career. The album spawned seven hits including "What Have You Done For Me Lately," "Nasty" (and the video includes a quick cameo of Janet's choreographer, Paula Abdul), "Control," and the soft ballad "Let's Wait A While." The album was one strong statement for Janet Jackson where she literally took control of her career and got herself out of her family's shadow. When I think of "Control," I think of rollerskating on Friday nights. The rink played at least three of her songs every week.--Jay
65. Various Artists, Top Gun SoundtrackAbout a million years ago I used to work for Borders Books. I was the supervisor that came in at 5:00 AM with the inventory team and helped get the new books out onto the sales floor. We had total control of the store's overhead music system. We could open any CD in the store and play it; we could also bring in our own albums to listen to. One of my colleagues was in her 40s and was really into Rammstein. Now, I like Rammstein as much as the next girl, but "Du Hast" at 5:00 AM before you've had breakfast is incredibly painful and it kind of makes you want to torture kittens. I'm pretty sure they play Rammstein at Gitmo.
So we started trying to find good music to get us going, music that wouldn't want us to go all kinds of crazy. One morning someone decided it would be '80s Day and kicked the day off with the Top Gun soundtrack. This was a team full of music snobs, who bickered every morning about so-and-so's crappy taste in music. But this day? This day we all agreed that the Top Gun soundtrack is epic and awesome and a great way to start your day. When the rest of the team rolled in at 9:00 AM, we were all fist pumping and singing and happy campers. That's the power of the Top Gun soundtrack, friends.
Incidentally, I asked a friend of mine, who's a total Top Gun fanatic, for some reasons why this album rules. Here's what he had to say: "It's got his Logginness, Eddie Van Halen, Cheap Trick, the make out song of 1986, and oozes freedom and sexuality. If someone calls me up and the anthem is playing, I know it's time to flight suit up. We could end the war on terror by playing the soundtrack on loop and broadcasting it to our enemies. They can't defeat awesome. When the zeds come, their defeat will be to the sound of this soundtrack. It's probably been the winning soundtrack at the air guitar world championships. Waldo is hiding because he heard the soundtrack and he's a freedom-hating hippie. To get the iconic carrier shot that leads into danger zone, the director wrote a check to cover the cost of fuel to turn it. How many civilians have told the navy what to do with their carriers? One, for Top Gun's soundtrack. "Danger Zone' is practically cannon at every sporting event. And in America, sports are religion. Ergo, "Danger Zone" is our "Ave Maria." So there you have it: Top Gun, best soundtrack ever.--Archphoenix
64. Michael Jackson, BadLove him or hate him, MJ is an icon, and if he released an album during a year, it's bound to be on some kind of top list. This was Michael's seventh album, but didn't come out until five years after the last one, Thriller. The accolades are numerous: 30 million copies sold worldwide, five consecutive Hot 100 number ones (a first), six Grammy nominations, with two wins. Aside from the numbers though, the album is just a great listen. Personally, my top favorite Michael songs come from this one are "Smooth Criminal" and "Bad," which are kickin' numbers that the whole world seems to know and love. "Man In The Mirror" is a reflection piece that leaves you with a call to action. My favorite MJ song of all time is here too: "The Way You Make Me Feel." Top it all off with equally great songs between these personal highlights, and you really have an album that's just an awesome experience in the Michael Jackson catalog.--J-Hawke
63. Billy Joel, An Innocent ManIt's hard for me to pinpoint my favorite Billy Joel album. Unlike so many of my (now) favorite artists, I didn't discover Billy Joel in the '80s. I was already a big fan of his work before he started his '80s album marathon.
Of his '80s work, though, Innocent Man is definitely the best. Six of the ten songs on the album were released as singles, and all of them were pretty popular. You can't think of Billy Joel in the '80s without "Uptown Girl" or "Tell Her About It" popping into your mind. For me, the best song of the album is "The Longest Time." The first time I heard the song, I was struck by doo-wop style, the cool harmonies and the fact that, other than a bass, no instruments were used. I later learned that all the vocals were done by Joel himself; he did the lead and 14 separate background tracks. Really cool stuff. --Dave
62. Yes, 90125I knew about Yes before 90125 was released, but I never really listened to them. The early '80s were all about pop music to me--I didn't get into my classic rock phase until around 1988 or so. My friends and I used to hang out in an arcade called Gadgets after work. The arcade had a laserdisc video jukebox in the corner--it was the first and only place I ever saw one. Before we started in on the video games, we pumped some money in the jukebox and got the videos cranking. One night, someone else got to the video jukebox first and cued up the a cappella version of "Leave It." It instantly caught my attention--I'm a sucker for great harmony, and Yes is among the best when it comes to that. As I recall, I went out and bought the album the next day.
I've since gotten into some of Yes's older stuff as well, but 90125 remains my favorite overall Yes album. Unlike most of the classic rock groups I discovered through their '80s music, I consider the '80s to be the pinnacle of Yes's work.--Dave