Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time
[Welcome to Thirty Year Thursday, the weekly series on my favorite albums of 1986]
These are the final four albums celebrating their 30th anniversaries that I’ll be highlighting.
Artist: KATE BUSH
Album: THE WHOLE STORY
A rare best-of to appear in this series but I couldn’t resist including it because it’s an essential collection of the best-known songs from her first five albums (including ten UK Top 20 hits). Also, she’s already been mentioned here twice before, in my posts about Peter Gabriel’s So and Big Country’s The Seer, so she managed to stay in the public eye even without a new album to promote in 1986. Her unique artistry has resulted in a discography that’s often hard to penetrate, but once you enter her world it all makes sense. Pretty much every song on this compilation is a work of art, with “Wuthering Heights,” “The Man With The Child In His Eyes,” “Hounds Of Love,” “Running Up That Hill” and “Babooshka” being particular favorites.
Artist: PAUL McCARTNEY
Album: PRESS TO PLAY
This is far from McCartney’s best work but it’s also not the career nadir that so many fans suggest. Yes, Hugh Padgham’s production and the proliferation of programmed drums and other typical ‘80s sounds immediately date-stamps it to that era, but his voice was still in its prime and there are a number of excellent songs (many of them co-written with 10cc’s Eric Stewart). Highlights for me include the melodic “Stranglehold” (not a Ted Nugent cover), the pretty piano ballad “Only Love Remains,” the bouncy ‘80s pop of “Press” and the propulsive “Angry,” with Pete Townshend on lead guitar and Phil Collins on drums.
Artist: DARYL HALL
Album: THREE HEARTS IN THE HAPPY ENDING MACHINE
With the help of producer Dave Stewart (of Eurythmics), Daryl Hall continued the huge production sound of Hall & Oates’ previous album, Big Bam Boom, for his sophomore solo release. Both records suffer from inconsistent songwriting but there’s still plenty to enjoy here, like the Top 5 smash “Dreamtime” (his highest charting single), the jaunty Top 40 hit “Foolish Pride,” “I Wasn’t Born Yesterday,” “Someone Like You” and the brooding, powerful album closer, “What’s Gonna Happen To Us.” Even the lesser songs are worth hearing with Hall still at the peak of his vocal power.
Artist: THE FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS
Album: TUFF ENUFF
By 1982 The Fabulous Thunderbirds had released four albums of blues-rock that slipped under the radar of most music listeners. The quartet fronted by singer/harmonica player Kim Wilson and guitarist Jimmie Vaughan (by then best known as Stevie Ray’s older brother, but a great player in his own right) finally had a brief brush with mainstream success via the Top 10 single “Tuff Enuff” and its parent album. That title track remains one of the great songs of that era, adding pop elements & synths to their signature style. Other standout tracks are the Huey Lewis-esque “Two Time My Lovin’,” the fun, bouncy blues cover “Why Get Up” and their rendition of the Sam & Dave classic “Wrap It Up.” With 10 songs in 32 minutes it’s a record you can play over & over and never grow tired of it.
(These albums, in no particular order, didn’t quite make the cut. Which ones do you think deserved to get their own posts, and what other albums from 1986 did I completely overlook?):
Jackson Browne – Lives In The Balance
Ozzy Osbourne – The Ultimate Sin
Bob Seger – Like A Rock
Judas Priest – Turbo
Lou Reed – Mistrial
Bob Dylan – Knocked Out Loaded
Neil Young – Landing On Water
Van Morrison – No Guru, No Method, No Teacher
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Kicking Against The Pricks and Your Funeral…My Trial
Camper Van Beethoven – Camper Van Beethoven
Alice Cooper – Constrictor
Frank Zappa – Jazz From Hell
General Public – Hand To Mouth
Joe Satriani – Not Of This Earth
The Housemartins – London 0 Hull 4
Brian Setzer – The Knife Feels Like Justice
Megadeth – Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Live/1975-85
Talk Talk – The Colour Of Spring
It’s been so much fun looking back on 1986 for the past 12 months. When I started this series the purpose of these weekly posts was to keep me writing & chatting with my fellow music nuts (er, I mean enthusiasts) while still posting about some other subjects whenever I had the time. I had ideas for a few brief series that I know my readers would enjoy as much as I do, but those stayed on the back burner all year as my schedule barely allowed me to keep Thirty Year Thursday going each week. It looks like the first half of next year will be the same but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I will eventually get back to “business as usual.” Until then, thanks for reading, commenting, sharing and keeping this music alive. As time permits, be on the lookout for a similar series in 2017.