Joy Division emerged in the late 70s as a punk band but crafted a sound and mood that pointed toward the New Wave and alternative music that would dominate the 80s. They’re a fitting choice to close these theme weeks because they epitomize the shift from one decade to the other.
Rush is another band totally off my radar. The most immediate association I have with their music is its inclusion in the hilarious 2009 film I Love You Man, best captured in the immortal “slappin’ da bass” scene. Doesn’t hurt that the scene features my biggest female crush (Rashida Jones) and male crush (Paul Rudd).
Apart from that movie, I can’t say I’ve ever heard a song by the Canadian prog rock band in full. I know ‘Tom Sawyer’ by name but couldn’t hum its chorus if you paid me.
I’ve never paid much attention to The Pretenders, in part because my wife has a visceral dislike of lead singer Chrissie Hynde (to clarify, it’s Hynde’s voice she dislikes, not the woman herself). I’m not sure why that matters all that much, because my wife dislikes many of the musical acts I enjoy, but it’s one reason I’ve neglected to explore the band’s music.
Another reason is my own dislike for the song ‘I’ll Stand by You,’ one of those syrupy power ballads either speaks to you on a deep emotional level or makes you want to wretch.
Frequent commenter Dana suggested last week that looking at commercial hits rather than critically acclaimed albums might produce more palatable results. Several of the albums I’ve featured so far have been best sellers as well as critics darlings, but none to the degree of today’s selection.
AC/DC’s Back in Black is considered one of the best rock albums of all time, and has sold more copies worldwide than anything but Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Embarrassingly, I don’t own it.
Wild Planet and the band’s self-titled debut (released a year earlier) are considered The B-52’s best work, at least until 1989’s comeback album Cosmic Thing, which featured the hits ‘Roam’ and ‘Love Shack.’ The first two records established their flamboyant, retro style and put Athens, Georgia, on the musical map a few years before R.E.M.’s first record.