We have reached the end of a five-week dive into the albums of 1983, and I am more convinced than ever that this was one of the great years for popular music.
So many excellent artists and albums, so many important debuts. And I didn’t get to a host of other albums I considered for this series. Here’s a sampling of some of those titles: Jackson Browne’s Lawyers in Love, Ozzy Osbourne’s Bark At the Moon, Depeche Mode’s Construction Time Again, Tears For Fears’ The Hurting, New Order’s Power, Corruption & Lies, Duran Duran’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger.
I covered Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, and now you can add Annie Lennox to the list of remarkable women who helped define pop music in 1983. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) was not Eurythmics’ debut album (it was their second), but it was the one that catapulted them into popularity.
The duo (Dave Stewart and Lennox) had a string of successful albums through the 80s before going on hiatus in 1989. They recorded a final album in 1999.
As I reach my 23rd featured album from 1983, I’ve come to the conclusion that it was an exceptional year for new music. My Decades series always unearths gems, ones I was familiar with and ones I wasn’t, but 1983 has offered up a true bounty.
Add another album to the list of stellar ’83 debuts: Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual. This album landed four singles in Billboard’s Top Five, making it the first debut by a female artist to do so. Anybody who was alive in the early 80s can tick them off: ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun,’ ‘Time After Time,’ ‘She Bop,’ and ‘All Through the Night.’
I think the world is past due for a reappreciaiton of Men at Work.
The Australian New Wave band released three albums between 1981 and 1985, honing a supremely catchy and soulful sound, before breaking up. Their debut Business as Usual spent multiple weeks at #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200, while sophomore album Cargo peaked at #3. They scored four top ten singles, including two number ones.
But outside of an 80s nostalgia channel, when’s the last time you heard one of their songs?
The charms of Tom Waits have largely eluded me, though I can’t say I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure them out.
One of Waits’ most celebrated albums, Swordfishtrombones, was released in 1983. It marked a move for Waits from piano and strings toward more obscure and eclectic instrumentation, introducing the old-fashioned circus vibe for which he is now well-known.
I’ve written about a couple of important 1983 debuts already, so I guess I’d be remiss to leave out this one. Heavy metal pioneers Metallica released Kill ‘Em All this year, kicking off a career that would result in more than 125 million album sales.
Metallica is considered one of the greatest and most influential heavy metal bands of all time, which to me means exactly nothing. This is the genre for which I have the least affection or understanding.
Last week I wrote about R.E.M.’s Murmur, arguably the most significant debut album of 1983. But giving it a run for its money is the self-titled release by Madonna.
The 25-year-old Madonna started her rise to superstardom with an album that took a full year to climb into Billboard’s Top Ten. That happened just in time for her sophomore release, Like a Virgin, to dominate the culture.