Friday, January 30, 2009

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of January 1984


With our current heat-wave, no doubt January 2009 will be remembered as one of the hottest and most uncomfortable on record. But as the beaches sizzle, and the sun burns, I'm taking this opportunity to celebrate the 25th anniversary of a time, when contemporary culture was at its peak.

January 1984 was a time when everything had so much meaning and vibrancy. Whether it was an interesting documentary on space, a television music program, radio announcers, music and record equipment, personalities, consumer products, venues with pop groups rather then pokies, and a time when you could walk through the local mull without being crushed by a thousand people. This is the point where I wished the world stopped turning. Everything seemed so perfect.

I thought I would start the sentimental time warp with the television programs I watched, which included the season two re-run of Knight Rider. Perfect Match with Greg Evans and Debbie Newsome; can you still remember the lyrics to the theme? The first show aired on Monday 23rd January. This was the same day when Sydney's 2UW radio station renamed itself to Magic 11. Simon and Simon got a few viewings, but Dynasty was more enjoyable. Tim Webster and Katrina Lee were reading Ten Eyewitness News (remember the helicopter at the start). Channel Ten had secured the rights to showing the Olympics that year, thus they were starting to show their new promos, with the LA Olympic theme. Can you remember the black and blue graphics, with the white and cyan running men graphics? The fourth season of Towards 2000 was being repeated on the ABC with Ian Finlay and Carmel Trevors, as repeats of Fame and Battlestar Galactica were on Channel seven. Molly Meldrum and countdown were on their summer break, however Donnie Sutherland was showing the best of After Dark from 1983.

When it comes to the radio scene, you would not know what stations were what, when compared to today. 2Day FM was an easy listening radio station that played music from the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Elton John, Billy Joel, and much of the current contemporary material in an easy format. The announcer line-up included Grant Goldman in the morning, George Moore, and Tim Webster in the afternoon. Can you still remember the lyrics to the 2Day FM promo; let me refresh your memory.

Out there, somewhere on that radio dial
There's an FM station, with a special kind of style
We play the music, just like you want us to
With an easy rollin' feelin' coming through

2Day FM..... listen easy all the time
2Day FM..... easy rollin', that's our style
2Day FM..... come on, stay with us a while
2Day FM..... we've got an easy rollin' kind of style.

Yes, this station did play good music back then, as unbelievable as it seems today, and better yet, they played records and CDs rather then MP3s. In a time when there was only two FM stations in Sydney, Triple M's line up included Doug Mulray, Paul Holmes, and Stuart Cranny as announcers, and Margaret Bates as news reader. 2UW grabbed Tim Webster from 2Day for their new Magic breakfast show with Glenn Shorrick, as after four years, Rick Melbourne left. Graham Stone and Trevor Sinclair were also on 2UW / Magic 11 at the time.

The political environment was a Labor one, with Bob Hawke (prime minister) and Paul Keating (treasurer) leading federally. In NSW, Neville Wran was leading a majority government with Ted Mack and John Hatton as independents. Nick Greiner was leading the Liberal National Coalition, and would gain more support with the next election, which at this point was only a few months away.

When it came to going out and about, we often went down the south coast to see family. When going shopping, Westfield at Hurstville was only one third the size. You could find what you want, with quality shops, rather now a days where there is a hundred shops, all selling the same "made in china" rubbish. When it came to spending my pennies, it was Leed Lemonade for my favourite drink, particularly the older two litre bottles with the black polypropylene bottoms. I would nag my parents to get the latest Intellivision cartridges, which in those days sold for $85 a pop. When we refilled the car, petrol was only 41.9 cents a litre.

Having my own amatuer radio station at the time, I would go through many cassette tapes. I remember rewiring one of my walkie talkies, then hooking it up on my radio, where pre-recorded programs were played. Though a signal went out, I'm not really sure how far it went. Kids at school said they were able to tune in, but somehow I found it hard to believe as they were 10 to 12 Km away. I mainly used Maxell UD tapes, but sometimes used the cheaper Maxell LN, if circumstances did not allow me to get the more expensive UD. These tapes were great, as they left no oxide shedding on the heads of my D8514 tape deck recorder.

During the summer days, I would often use the trampoline to exercise myself to a sweat, and then jump directly into our pool. As much as I loved it, my parents were very annoyed, as the prospect of me slipping and breaking my neck was a real one. As a fourteen year old, I thought of it as a boring nag, and admit that I never listened.

And now the most important part of this blog, the music. A time and place when there was so much to say, I thought it would be easiest to break it down into my favourite albums.

1. Flashdance - Original Soundtrack - Casablanca

Noting that most of the tracks were produced by Giorgio Moroder, one of the most interesting parts about this album is that their was a large contribution from Phil Ramone, who had also produced albums like Paul Simons "Still crazy after all these years", Billy Joel's "52nd Street", and the single, "Just the way you are", and on top of that, winning Grammy’s for all three projects. With two of the biggest known producers in the industry, "Flashdance" had the ingredients for success.

Aside from the Huge hit "What a feelin", other Moroder contributions included the cool silkiness of "Love theme" by Helen St. John, which for some reason has echoes of Midnight express, but in a new kind of way. Joe Esposito's "Lady, lady, lady" lyrically flows out of the speakers, like an aurora above the clouds. I never heard a ballad constructed so beautifully. It's another upbeat lap through the disco with Donna Summer's "Romeo" which had the unfailing reaction of wanting to dance, every time the song started, a case of being careful with my Inhibitions. Cycle V's "Seduce me tonight" is perhaps the song that would break the Moroder mould the most with a full-on rock feel, synths are not present, or barely noticeable. Despite being out of the usual, it's another feel-good song that keeps the feet tapping.

Phil Ramone, who incidentally is no relation to the late seventies punk group with the same name, produced two of the soundtracks cuts. The first being Karen Kamon's "Manhunt", a track which cleverly uses the 3/4 rhythm to give a flowing, drifting sound that carries you into a musically induced mood, one that's so deep that the songs end always hits like a splash of cold water. Laura Branigan's "Imagination" is frighteningly close to a Moroder sound. The track is a typical example of early 80's disco at it's best, with a melody that weaves it self around the beds of rhythm boxes and synths in a mystical kind of way.

"I'll be here where the heart is" is perhaps Kim Carnes most intense ballad. The smooth wandering keyboards speak the message of beckoning love, the waiting, and the desire for that distant love that wants to happen. Hell, the first few seconds already gives the mood, very impressive, not even one word was sung, and you know were this track is heading. This album's only slight disappointment was the album mix of Michael Sembello's "Maniac". Considering they played the single version in the movie, it was a little bit of a dampener to what was simply a "Desert Disc".

2. Irene Cara - What a feelin' - CBS / Network

Giorgio Moroder first appeared on the March 1972 hit "Son of my father", performed by Chicory Tip. He would then be the producer of much of Donna Summer's material during the late seventies and early eighties, much of the music for the Soundtrack of "Midnight Express" in 1978, and an off-beat Sparks song; "beat the clock" in 1979. Blondie's "Call me" would also be another highlight, but the shear presents of Moroder magic would embrace us by 1983, with both the soundtrack to "Flashdance", and Irene Cara's "What a feeling" album.

Perhaps the biggest charting single from my personal top 40, was "What a feelin", the title cut, which stayed at the top of my chart for eight weeks through June, July and early August 1983. It would eventually be knocked out by Mike Oldfield's "Moonlight shadow". "Why me" would appear in late November, reaching it's peak at No.1 during December. "Breakdance" was a dance anthem that bopped to the top of the charts during February 1984, followed by the soundtrack hit, "The dream" from the film "DC Cab". Though it only had modest success on the Australian charts, this track went into the top five portion of my charts during May 1984.

Can you ever imagine lyrics like "Input output microprocessor delay VCR VCA modulation for decay DIN synch to control and invert over stereo Set mode channel two selectors audio schematic vectors"? The first time I heard it; I actually and totally cracked up. It was "Romance '83", a track on how computers and technology get in the way of modern love. Though it wasn't a single, "Talk too much" would be the albums best cut, (yes, I can still say that, despite "What a feeling" being at No.1 for eight weeks). It's a fun and enjoyable track to listen to. "Receive it" and "You took my heart away" were another two tracks that had strong potential for a single and a worthy chart run, but both remained excellent album tracks. "Keep on", "Cue me up", and "you were made for me" were perhaps not the best cuts on the album, but were all-important pieces to this particular Moroder project.

3. Billy Joel - An innocent man - CBS

"Nylon curtain" was Billy Joel at his lyrical peak with the impacting "pressure", the emotionally wrenching "Goodnight Saigon", and the industrial ghost-town gloom of "Allentown". After what was a rather serious album, it seemed that Joel wanted to let loose and the results of which are evident on "An innocent man", the point where he reaches his musical peak with a casual feel good mood.

The album's first single "Tell her about it" reached the top five portion of my personal top 40 during September 1983, a soulful ballad with an exuberant tempo. "Uptown girl" would be his follow up single in November 1983, and would continue in a "Four Seasons" style, a track inspired by his then partner Christine Lee Brinkley. The title cut, "An innocent man" enjoyed moderate success on my chart during January 1984, but dropped off rapidly as it soon wore thin. The a cappella rendition of "The longest time" was a nice break from a music scene heavily dominated by big synths and loud fashion, as for the album's last charting single; "Leave a tender moment alone" had echoes of country, with a strong AC poppy feel.

The opening song "Easy money" was an album track that sounded like a single, a common thing with many of the albums of the era. "This night" continues the throwback feel to the 60's, with a borrowed line from one of Beethoven's concertos. We are then taken back to the Motown sound with "Careless talk", with harmonies resembling mid sixties Temptations or Smokie Robinson. It's the Jerry Lee Lewis treatment all over with "Christie Lee". For an album that takes us to so many places of Joel's musical abilities, "Keeping the faith" brings a smooth close, to what was indeed Joel’s best record ever. 1986's "The Bridge” would come tantalisingly close to equal best.

4. The Moody Blues - The Present - Threshold

"Never dreamt I would hope I would count the miles
Through the wind and the rain I can see you smile
There ain't no turning back
I can see in the distance, got it in my sight

Like a vision, like a face coming out of the sky
You were there like a dream, you were right in my eyes"

Hell, those lyrics.... Strong echoes of Electric Light Orchestra's "Time" album?

In a ghostly similar way, it's "The Present" from the Moody Blues. Some of you may know that ELO's "Time" album ranks near the top of my desert discs selection. With an airy, mystical nature to the music, with production somewhat sentiment of Jeff Lynne, the album was an immediate hit for my liking. Though it rarely got any airplay on Sydney radio, aside from "Blue world", I would hear this album from a brother whose world was nothing but progressive rock. Upon his playing of the entire album, I was simply "blown away" that another group could carry the same kind of magic like ELO.

While none of the tracks from the album charted as singles in the Australian charts, "Sitting at the wheel" had a respectable chart presence on the Billboard charts during September 1983, the time when the album charted in Australia. "Sitting at the wheel" would reach No.10 in early October on my personal charts, "Blue world" reaching No.19 in January 1984, and "Meet me halfway" would reach No.9 in late March, which was the albums strongest cut. Like any good album, the material was diverse, and while not charting as singles, the tracks like "Going nowhere" and "Sorry" would carry emotional overtones of struggling love and hurt. Such tracks would be easy to dismiss as simple love songs, if not for the wonderful orchestral arrangements that are evident, particularly so with "running water".

5. Eurythmics - Touch - RCA

By the later part of 1983, The Eurythmics were already established as one of the decades staple radio groups. By September, they would score their third Australian chart hit, and forth on my personal charts with "Whose that girl", a hit that saw both Dave and Annie immersed in the groups developing sound of arty synth-strings. November saw the release of their next single, "Right by your side", a throw into a somewhat Caribbean feel, expressing the thoughts of co-dependency. One of the albums more impacting tracks, the breathy and luscious "Here comes the rain", made it's appearance in March 1984, "Talk to me, like lovers do, walk with me, like lovers do" encapsulates Annie's impressions on the difference between the rituals of love, and what real love is. Most inspiring are the incredible droning violins that give the illusion of doubt, wondering if real love ever exists out-there.

My two favourite tracks on this album are ones that are worlds apart in their approach. "The first cut" would be an erratic twist of synths and guitars, tied to a rhythm somewhat nostalgic to James Brown, with synth rifts that would remotely resemble the later material of Kraftwerk. The killer track was, "No fear, no hate, no pain, no broken hearts". The lyrics; "Nobody told you it would feel like this", combined with the bone chilling arrangements of her vocals and strings, gives this album it's ultimate knock-out punch. Every time I hear this track, I literally feel that Annie is singing it as if her life was depended on it. "Cool blue" comes across as a moderately enjoyable poppy track. With its line of bight; "When my fists collide", the bold and spiteful "Regrets" is the only other remaining track worth noting,

6. Mike Oldfield - Crises - Virgin

For me, Oldfield was not an album extraordinaire, however he would make up with overpoweringly impacting tracks that still would make an album purchase from him worthwhile. During the 1970's, Oldfield's biggest climb to fame was his hugely successful "Tubular Bells", which after release in 1973, sold very strongly during 1974 and 1975. Many of his follow up albums would delve deeply into experimental music scores, which would feature everything from hard guitar rock, through to delicately crafted eastern European tunes, played with several flutes, violins, and any other instrument you can ever imagine.

It would be 1980's "QE2" which would see his music more focused, with a delightfully airy reworking of ABBA's "Arrival", and a very spaced out rendition of the Shadows early 1960's hit, "Wonderland".

Oldfield would obtain his biggest musical asset toward the end of 1981, when he started work with Scottish folk/rock vocalist, Maggie Riley, a voice that would float like clouds in the sky, or the drifting of an aurora at night, a sound that was eerie, yet very soothing. Oldfield released the album "Five miles out", the title cut of which would reach No.4 in late May 1982 on my personal charts. It was this track that revealed Riley's hauntingly beautiful voice for the first time. "Taurus II" would be a continuation of Oldfields 70's experimental style, but with more electro-guitar and vocoder tracks, the style was much fuller and richer then ever.

Though he never had a full album to my liking, "Crises" would come to be the closest, with a pleasant sequel to the "Taurus" legacy as "Part III". Maggie Riley would be at her stunning best with "Moonlight shadow", a tune that still gives me goose bumps after 25 years. She would also do the vocals to the tranquil "Foreign affair". The album would then close off with the track that sounded so big, you could just imagine a speaker the size of a skyscraper, but then it wasn't the volume. Rather more it was a guitar rift pushed through a huge reverb, with Roger Chapman’s mid-tone registry exploited to the maximum depth of the studio's abilities.

7. Elton John - Too low for zero - Rocket

I guess we come to a point again, where I'm out of sync with the majority of an artists fans, when speaking about when they had their greatest period musically. It seems that Elton’s early catalogue material is respected more from dedicated fans, however I would find the period from 1979's "Victim of love" through to 1989's "Sleeping with the past" to be his most exciting and interesting. It would be this period that brung various line up changes, thus adding more colour to his music.

The one thing that other John fans and I would have in common is noting that "Too Low for Zero" was one of his best albums. The tracks on this album moved so much with various emotions, that I somewhat weirdly felt it was music with legs. From pressing play, the immediate first chords of "Cold as Christmas" touched me with a moderately gloomy drone, but magically empowered melody, which lyrically was about a failing marriage. We are then thrown into one of 1983's biggest hit singles, "I'm still standing" which reached No.4 on my personal 40 during June 1983, an exuberant anthem of defiant survival. "Two Low for Zero" which reached No.5 in December 1983 on my personal charts, continues with a blend of percussion, keyboards, and synth tracks that mashes into an incredible array of harmonised instruments, something that I had never heard before. Again, we are treated to an album track that had all the qualities of a hit single, "Religion". "I guess that's why they call it the blues" was my favourite from the album, reaching No.4 in early August 1983. When arriving back in Sydney from Holland on Sunday 18th September 1983, this was one of the first tunes I heard out of the radio, when stepping off the plane. Stevie Wonder played harmonica, as the song is remembered as one of John's Taupin's best-written love ballads. "Crystal" was another hit single during October 1983, another classic that's withstood the test of time. As a Sydney sider, "Kiss the bride" had great significance, as Elton married Renata Blauel in our lovely city during the very time it was a hit, during February 1984. It would be this albums last hit, but definitely not the end of the good stuff. "Whipping boy" charged up the speakers with it's early 80's rock sound, as "Saint" came across as again, another potential radio single. "One more arrow" for me was the albums weakest track, coming across as a solemn tune about someone's passing, but never the less, still not a bad song.

This albums had two significant firsts, the first to feature his entire original band line up from start to finish, since 1975's "Captain Fantastic" with Davey Johnstone playing guitars, Dee Murray on Bass, and Nigel Olsson on the drums. It also was the first to be written entirely by John and Taupin since 1976's "Blue moves". Like many albums of the era, this was a CD that was playable from start to finish.

8. Michael Jackson - Thriller - Epic

For a moment, we take a look at Michael Jackson, the musician, a time when he was at the top of his game performing, before his major fall from grace, now nothing more then a messed up sad case.

Already with the credentials of 1980's "Off the wall", Jackson was set for another huge hit maker. With hits like "Don't stop till you get enough", "Rock the night", "Off the wall" and "Girl-friend", his chart presents was well established.

The first hit from "Thriller" was the McCartney penned composition "The girl is mine". I remember hearing this song for the first time, on the moment I got home from my last day of primary school on Thursday 16th December 1982. It was a threshold moment of my life, the point of moving from a child to a teenager, on the verge of high school. I still remember sitting in the lounge-room drinking lemonade, as Tim Webster announced the intro of the song on the then easy sound of 2Day FM. It was at this time, when "Baby be mine" also got heavy air-play, an easy going upbeat track that I liked better then the McCartney Duet.

"Billy Jean" started it's chart run in late February 1983, and would be the corner-stone track of the album, with it's unique humping synth beat motive, which received massive air-play for most of the year. Another of the album's biggest moments was "Beat it", again the power of a reoccurring motive used to it's best effect. Rather then being dubbed, every guitar track was recorded individually, resulting in the song's HUGE sound. Eddie Van Halen played the instrumental solo, as the single reached No.2 on my personal charts during June 1983, only to be held back by Irene Cara's "What a feeling" which sat at No.1 for several weeks. Heavy on the harmonies in a somewhat mystical way, was "Human Nature", his next single that would chart in October 1983.

It was then time for the landmark video project, the element that would push this albums sales through the roof. The single "Thriller" reached No.1 on several of the world's charts, and No.2 on my personal weekly 40. It is hard to believe that the entire rapping section by Vincent Price was written in the back of a taxi. Writer Rod Temperton efforts were put off that day, by an unexpected meeting with his publisher. He describes in an interview how he quickly had to write the lines on the way to the studio that afternoon. He felt very lucky that all the words were able to come out very easily.

"gotta get startin something" was a minor hit on my chart in late August 1983, reaching a modest No.38. After the title cut, the next hit would be "PYT (pretty young thing" which climbed up the chart in May 1984, and featured backing vocals by sister Janet. "The lady of my life" was unfortunately this album's disaster, and most probably should have just been left off. It just had bad echoes of "She's out of my life", the shocker from "Off the wall".

The 2003 edition of this album features some nice bonuses. Included are some studio demos and out-takes, with extensive interview sessions with producer Quincy Jones. This edition was also remastered in 24-bit sound, which resulted in some increased levels in the higher end of the frequency range, giving it a nice clean polished output. Some may find the sound quality a little too bright for their liking.

9. Lionel Richie - Can't Slow Down - Motown

One of 1984's stronger album's is "Can't slow down", an incredible array of music styles and talent. It's unfortunate that Richie is quickly written off as a sleepy ballad performer, but it would be this album that showcased him at his peak. "Can't slow down" would rev the dance feel up, with an exciting mix of synth-beats and electro-guitar rhythms to get your feet moving. "All night long" would be the album's first major hit, reaching No.4 in my personal chart during October 1983, and would feature backing vocals from Richard Marx, who still had to wait another four odd years for his first hit. Though the dance beats are going, the pace is moved into a calypso mood. "Well my friends the time has come, to raise the roof and have some fun", lyrically you’re thrown into a summery feel, as your imagination takes you off into a street party on a barmy night. With many visits to my relatives and family over this summer, this song really hit a chord with me.

We then come to the ultimate eighties ballad, "Penny lover". Aside from Berlin's "Take my breath away", this song touches those raw sentimental feelings, a time when there wasn't a care in the world, when everything was so easy. A song that is of equal impact is "Stuck on you", where Richie explores the country sound, but not just the same old thing. Instead it's a stimulating mix of melodic strings, with a light whispering orchestra, that keeps the song center-field, without it being too country nor too poppy. "Love will find a way" washes over you with a fresh flowing adult contemporary dynamic, but unfortunately is followed by the somewhat dated "The only one". Though it's not a bad track, It's rather more or less a piece that belongs with the Commodores seventies sound. We are then taken into the multi talented efforts of "Running with the night". Again they are backing vocals by Richard Marx and a guitar solo from Toto's Steve Lukather. Released as the second single from the album, it reaches its peak at No.3 in February 1984 on my weekly top 40. Finishing off the album was another super-ballad, but was more of an impact on the Australian charts then mine. "Hello" went to No.1 on the National Top 40 in late April 1984, but would only get as high as No.7 on my charts. Though I like the track very much, it was just a little to slow for my liking.

10. Tim Finn - Escapade - Mushroom/Festival

Brothers Neil and Tim Finn were the driving wheels of Splitenz, being the main contributing composing force with most of their tracks. 1980's "True Colours", 1981's "Corroboree", and 1982's "Time and Tide" saw the enz at their peak. This was particularly so with the hit single "I got you" which went to No.1 on the Australian charts during April 1980, and would peak at No.3 on my personal weekly 40 at the same time. Splitenz's strongest track on my charts was "One step ahead in late December 1980, reaching No.1, however it would only get to No.5 on the Australian charts. With tensions forming between Neil and Finn, things would take a different direction by 1983. Though the group released "Conflicting emotions", the lack of Tim's contributions saw the albums sound pan off into a somewhat experimental electro-rock-synth direction, which affected the group’s output. Despite this, the album would produce another two high impacting hits, "Straight ole line" in December 1983, and "Message to my girl" in February 1984, the second of which reaching No.1 on my personal 40, while reaching only a modest No.12 on the Australian charts.

The driving energy that was Splitenz was now focused on one of 1983's biggest albums; "Escapade", the first of Tim's solo efforts. The exuberant "Fraction too much friction" was the album's first hit in May 1983, rapidly followed by "Made my day" which had a similar feel. "Staring at the embers" was the B-side to the double "A" side hit "Through the years" reaching No.2 in mid December 1983. This was kind of strange, considering his fellow group mates were a few notches below him with "Straight ole line" during the same weeks of charting.

Other highlights from the album include "Not for nothing", which hums along to a similar feel to "Staring at the embers". "Singing in a minor key" will always carry the memory of the 1983 countdown awards mishap, when Finn's live performance of this track was scuffled by a dud mike. The peaceful structure of the tune fits well into an easygoing AC format, and displays Finn's ability on performing such an array of music styles. "Wait and see" is another fine example of the album's softer side. "Grand adventures", "I only want to know", and "Growing pains" seemed somewhat panned out pieces of low significance, and somewhat dampen the feel of the album.

11. Paul McCartney - Pipes of Peace - Parlophone

There has always been great debate on who best played the part of James Bond, through the series over the years. Whether it is Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan or etc, the common consensus seems to be that you'll like the one from whatever era you grew up in. Though this has nothing to do with Paul McCartney, you'll soon see the parallel I'm drawing, which is that the James Bond Movie series has been around, for as long as Paul McCartney has.

The honest truth is, that if you were a baby boomer, growing up with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, you'd be familiar with a certain rockier kind of sound McCartney had during his earlier solo albums. Like any artist that's been around for as long as Paul, exploring and experimenting with new ideas is to be expected, which is why "Pipes of Peace" is a very different sounding album to 1973's "Band on the Run".

Though many have written "Pipes of Peace" off as one of McCartney's pourer albums, from the view of an eighties junkie, it's got all the right elements, big productions, multi-layered instruments, and a number of exuberant tunes. Despite the embarrassment of Michael Jackson's involvement, "Say say say" stands out to be the album's best track, with its poppy all-hit feel. The title cut "Pipes of Peace", reached No.4 on my personal 40 in February 1984. "help them to learn songs of joy, instead of burn baby burn" are lyrics that drive a message of hope. You have to remember that this was post-Falklands, and the period just before Britain's darkest chapter in history, when Margaret Thatcher destroyed the heart of the countries mining sector, leaving many to live in poverty. The timing of this track just couldn't of been more incredible, as it stands out like a bright jewel between two of Britain’s darkest hours.

"The other me" is perhaps one of the lesser quality songs, but is worthy of a listen from time to time. The same could also be said for "Keep under cover". Free as the wind on a cool summer day, is what comes to mind with "So bad". A great easy flowing song I love with many great multi-layered harmonies. "The man" displays great guitar playing, and is a duet with Michael Jackson during his peak, (if you can say he ever had one). We then come to the part of the album for some more sing-a-long tracks to make you feel good on a gray overcast day with the "Sweetest little show", an upbeat acoustic number. We are then led into "Average person" which has the same feel with the aid of more keyboards and harmonies, and is somewhat reminiscent of the Beatles "Penny lane" Magic. "Hey hey" is a moderately enjoyable instrumental. We then come to a brief dip in the album with the somewhat boring "Tug of peace", sounding very much like a leftover session from his previous album. "Through our love" is the last song on the original vinyl album, an orchestral finale to end the LP on a pleasant note.

The special edition in my collection features some bonuses, "Twice in a lifetime", sounding suspiciously like a boring B-side, and the strange and enjoyable "We all live together" from the cartoon soundtrack "Rupert and the Frog Song". There is an absolute rarity for McCartney collectors, "Simple as that" from "The Anti-Heroin Project" album, which was released in Britain during 1986.

12. Donna Summer - She works hard for the money - Mercury

Donna Summer was selling well during the disco era, the time when I bought my first records. "Hot Stuff" and "Bad Girls" would be her signature tunes of the era, when she followed in 1980 with "The wanderer". She then released her Quincy Jones production "Donna" in 1982, which featured the hits, "Love is in control", "The woman in me", "State of independence", and "Protection", written by Bruce Springsteen. Summer had issues with her label during 1983, as they were pushing for a sexier raunchier image. It was this time that she wanted to move her music into a Christian direction.

Despite this situation, "She works hard for the money" stood well as a great album, considering that many people were in the throws of riding her off. Many felt that her day in the charts had come and gone, but others like me would disagree. The title cut charted well, reaching #3 on my personal top 40 during August 1983. The albums second single, "Unconditional love" also reached top five during late October, and had featured Musical Youth, who had the 1982 hit; "Pass the dutchie". "Stop look and listen" had modest success, reaching the lower reaches of my charts. "He's a rebel" and "People people" where potential singles, with a great dance beat. For the romantics, a ballad that got totally ignored, "Love has a mind of it's own", a duet with Matthew Ward. For some reason, my mind throws an image of standing on a tropical beach at sunrise, whenever this song gets played.

13. Paul Young - No Parlez - CBS Records

Paul Young performed with the Q-Tips, before his more noted solo career. Though they were known of little down here, they were more successful in Britain. It would be the ballad "Wherever I lay my hat" that would break him worldwide. The single reached No: 5 on my charts during September 1983. He would follow with "Come back" in November/December, then "Love of the common people" in March 1984. All three singles showcased his talent at his peak. Upon listening to the album for the first time, the remake of Joy Division's "Love will tear us apart" initially sounded too loose and flimsy, but grew quickly to be one of the albums stronger tracks. The bitter sounding instrumentations on "No parlez" gave an interesting melody effect, whilst the speedily rhythmed "Sex" completes the album with a wide palette of styles. Overzealous rhythm-box work is apparent on "Behind your smile", but is more interesting rather then overdone with varying effects. The remaining highlights of this album include "The rough spots", and the emotionally charged "Broken man" which was also a minor hit during 1984. "Kukukurama", "Oh woman", and "Tender trap" could have been left off, nothing happening much here with these three tracks.

14. The Pretenders - Learning to Crawl - WEA

It was the point where any group would call it a day, but after a tremendously tumultuous period, The Pretenders had release the aptly titled "Learning to crawl". It was the time when James Honeyman Scott and Pete Farndom had both died within a very short period of time, both related to heavy drug use. It's this very grim backdrop that drives the ironic forces of "Back on the chain-gang", the album's first single release, which reached No.6 on my personal 40 during early January 1983. "Time the avenger" instantly grabs your attention with a driving guitar rift, to be one of the album's more lively tracks. Full-on reverbing pianos and harmonies take "Thin line between love in hate" to spars and empty places in your imagination. I guess this was my impressions of what emotions the group was experiencing at the time. It was a minor hit across the world, particularly in the UK. "Thumbelina" jumps along with an enjoyable feel-good hillbilly sound, with its brushy drumbeats and tappy guitar struts. "2000 miles" would be their Christmas 1983 hit across the world, and in my opinion would be the best all time xmas carole, I guess an equal tie with Emerson, Lake and Palmer's "I believe in father Christmas". The album's last note-worthy track was "Middle of the road", which rocked it self into my personal 40 around March 1984.

15. Midnight Oil - 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 - CBS

"10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1" made less of an impact on me then several of the other albums of this summer. Many of the tracks dealt with political issues, material that pretty much went over my head as a fourteen year old. Never the less the musical content was still both catchy and haunting, which is the case with the albums first cut, "Outside world". Sweeping synths and sudden drum beats give a rather eerie feel to this track, which in later years I would discover the subject matter to be about economic isolation, something very appropriate to ones life when suffering Asperger’s Syndrome. "only the strong" was for me one of the albums weakest tracks. The rhythm of "Short memory"' was different and interesting, a track that received strong airplay during the later part of 1983, and had the potential to be a strong selling single. The same was also evident for "Read about it" which would get regular airplay around the autumn of 1984. It's rapid beat and guitar rifts, made this one of the best tracks on the album. "Scream in blue" felt like album filler.

"US forces" and "Power and the passion" were the two killer tracks, charting in my charts in December 1982 and April 1983 respectively. At the time, I had some idea that "US forces" was about the United States Military power, but with it's acoustically powered chords, it would make it to be the albums best track, together with "Power and the passion". "Maralinga" carried a somewhat strange, but beautiful guitar presents, but dealt with a subject matter that's become rather tired and boring. This is where the album totally runs out of legs. "Tin legs and tin mines" and "Somebody's trying to tell me something", somehow feel like they were just added on to finish the album, with a rather directionless ending. Produced by Nick Launey, "10 9 8" boldly cracked new ground in its recording styles and compositions. With six solid tracks, the album is far from a failure, but in my opinion is not 1983's best, as others have noted.

16. Culture Club - Colours by numbers - Virgin

As a teenager at the time, I most probably heard the phrase "gender bender" and had absolutely no idea what it meant. However just like any kid, if seven or so songs that you like seem to be on the one album, then it basically was nagging the parents insane, until they gave the tiny bit of pocket money for that album purchase, though sometimes it would be misfired to such a tacky pop group. "Karma Chameleon", "It's a miracle", "Miss you blind", "Mister man" were all reasonably good tracks, however I wore the grooves out on "Church of the poison mind", and "Victims".