Believe it or not, but 1984 -- be it Orwellian dystopia, a lousy time for hair products and fashion, or a year forever linked with Van Halen -- was 30 years ago. It was also a busy year for music. There were hundreds of albums released as were a hefty sum of music-related films like the classic mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, Prince's Purple Rain, and that greatly adaptable punchline, Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo.
It was a great and turbulent year. Going back over the charts and jogging my preteen memory has uncovered the amazing staying power of some artists like Ted Nugent and Bob Dylan (Penetrator and Real Live respectively) and some who went the wayside like General Public (All the Rage) and Play Dead (From the Promised Land).
Here are 12 albums, month by month, that turn(ed) 30 this year that are worthy of your reconsideration.
Anthrax - Fistful of Metal
Love 'em or hate 'em, the thrash/speed metal of Anthrax has been around for quite some time and whether you subscribe to the Bush or Belladonna eras as a fan, this album, their debut, was vocalized by Neil Turbin. There's something cheekily naïve about this album that makes it incredibly fun to blast. It sometimes feels like he's about to tear down heaven's gates, his voice soars that high.
The Smiths - S/T
Oh boy, the debut album that started a thousand copycat pompadours and clumsily serious teenaged soul-searching. The cult of Morrissey starts here. The cult of Morrissey turned 30 years old this past February.
"Pretty Girls Make Graves" kinda forgives everything, doesn't it?
Minor Threat - S/T
Buried within the compilation album that would surface just a few years later, this combo platter of their first two EPs is ground zero for straight edge annoyances. Regardless -- the fury, the sheer balls of youth encased in these almost minute-long blasts are as good today as they were 30 years ago, even if you've since given into drinking, smoking, and fucking.
Slade - Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply
Slade's one of those bands that just doesn't get the necessary amount of props it should outside of the UK proper. This album, first released in the Queen's territories in '83 with the highly un-American title of The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome got some shuffles and new cover art for stateside appetites. Let's ignore "Slade II" and give these glammers the props they deserve.
Fat Boys - S/T
There is very little we can say at this point without sounding like assholes but we do believe in the power of pizza, and we also preach moderation. We understand the excessive nature of the '80s, but sweet Lord, can you picture a "Fat Boys" for the post heroin-chic generations and the "health" outlooks of today? That's for another day, this is always a fun listen. Buff Love, the Human Beatbox, unfortunately passed away in '95 at the age of 28.
Celtic Frost - Morbid Tales
Switzerland, the land of cheese and timepieces. The sworn protectors of the Pope. Paragons and stalwarts of neutrality through hundreds of years of white, European conflict. If you're not picturing yourself sipping on some nice cocoa while gazing at the Alps, something is wrong here. Oh, that's right, maybe the fact that "Into the Crypts of Rays" is fucking awesome!
The Minutemen - Double Nickels on the Dime
Most people today will not appreciate how incredibly hard and time-consuming the making of the cover for this album was. Look it up.
D. Boone, Mike Watt, and George Hurley made some of the most unique and defiant music associated with the punk rock movement of the '80s but this double LP is the crowning crown of all their crowns. The jackasses over at Jackass know a thing or two and have kept this flame fanned, even if peripherally. Go buy this. Now.
Menudo - Evolución
Menudo had already been setting quite the trail of panties on fire for some time before this album came out. Little did anyone know that back then, in 1984, the cult of Ricky Martin would begin with the one song he'd led here "Rayo de Luna." People under 30 don't know about Menudo, but they know who Ricky Martin is. It's time to jump into a DMC-12 and rectify that.
Black Flag - Family Man
There was something revolutionary and extremely punk rock about this album, Black Flag's third full-length. This is what the jocks of the time needed, this is what close-minded punkers required.
Sure, we can see now, through the Technicolor of hindsight that Rollins would be going one way and Ginn another. One thing no one knew with much certainty then is that some severe animosity would split this group into some bizarre camps of royalties and artistic rights. Oh well.
U2 - The Unforgettable Fire
Two things have come to light recently: a) during polite conversation recently, my friend and New Times' contributor Jesse Scheckner wondered at what point in time Bono became best friends, death-bed friends, with the original members of the Ramones, and b) how is U2 still a relevant outfit?
Well, we don't have answers for that but, as a band that has a history of releasing its music in tandem with portable devices (Walkmans anyone?) and their current nonconsensual takeover of the Apple iPhone 6, one has to wonder if its now almost four decade assault on the senses comes from decent albums like this or a secret pact with satan. We'll never know.
Hawkwind - This is Hawkwind, Do Not Panic
Recorded at the final Stonehenge Free Festival in the summer of '84, one should know, if one doesn't by now, that when Hawkwind's space/prog/heavy/jazz rock is in question, one mustn't under any circumstance, panic.
Let that be an Adams lesson if you so choose to seek the question that begat the 42 but while there may be varied musical disturbances during their long and often-times illustrious careers, this Ginger Baker-backed version of the band did a righteous rendition of tracks live that are thoroughly enjoyable today without lysergic assistance. Well, maybe a little tab won't hurt.
Soda Stereo - S/T
Ground zero for Latin rock, Argentina's Soda Stereo's debut album was proof positive for aspiring musicians throughout the Spanish-speaking world that it was okay to rock. Influenced by ska, punk, New Wave, and post-punk but with a cheeky twist of Latino humor, this is a flawless album. Longtime leader Gustavo Cerati passed away from respiratory arrest this month after being in a coma since 2010 following a collapse during a concert in Caracas, Venezuela.
A flawless album.