What better way to kick off 2022 than by going back in time nearly 40 years to 1984 for the latest installment of my Decades series?
First, let me recover from the stunning realization that 1984, the year I turned 12, was nearly 40 years ago. Wowza.
I wasn’t very invested in popular music back then, so none of the year’s notable albums meant much to me at the time. But I have come to know and love a few of them. Over the next four weeks, I will cover those as well as a sampling of celebrated records I haven’t heard much or at all.
To round out the third week of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame posts, I’m going to feature songs from three acts that have so far gone un-inducted.
In 2018, the Cleveland Plain Dealer compiled an ordered list of the 100 artists most egregiously overlooked by the Hall. In the three years since, six of their top 10 have been inducted, so either they had some sway, or they have their finger on the pulse of the nominating committee.
‘Panic’ is one of the better-known tracks from Louder Than Bombs, The Smiths’ 1987 compilation of singles and B-sides that hadn’t had a U.S. release. Pound for pound, this album rivals any of the band’s studio releases.
The story goes that Morrissey and Johnny Marr wrote ‘Panic’ after listening to coverage of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster followed immediately by a silly pop song. The opening verses describe a chaotic scene as people react to world events, before the chorus shifts to a call to arms against the DJ whose music choices are too frivolous.
‘Barbarism Begins at Home’ is a track from The Smiths’ sophomore studio album, 1984’s Meat is Murder.
It concerns corporal punishment, three years before the United Kingdom banned the practice in state-run schools. It seems many an English schoolboy who grew up before the ban went on to write songs about their experiences on the wrong end of the cane.
‘Still Ill’ is a track from The Smiths’ 1984 self-titled debut, one that was a staple of the band’s live shows throughout their existence. This is a prototypical early Smiths songs, with Johnny Marr’s intricate guitar pairing beautifully with the rhythm section and Morrissey’s yearning vocals.
I know, I know, most of you will absolutely hate it!