Allergies are kicking my butt and I've been sleeping a lot. But instead of leaving landscape photos up forever, I decided to talk about a few of my favorite albums of the 1980s (since I covered 3 from the 90s a few months back.) Yes, they may be bands that you haven't heard or been familiar with but I call each of them 'perfect' albums - meaning that I enjoy each of the songs and prefer to hear them straight through.
The first album may be one that you've heard of... or heard at least one song from. In 1987, Icehouse released Man Of Colours which would mark the apex of their career. The album showed maturity for a band that leaned heavily on synthesizers early on where a new emphasis on the songwriting became almost as important as the music. The album includes the Top 20 hit singles, "Electric Blue," which was co-written (and included background vocals) by John Oates of Hall & Oates and "Crazy." The album wasn't as critically accepted as the hit singles imply. The album boasts some gems ("My Obsession,") beautiful harmonies ("Sunrise") and sonic soundscapes ("Heartbreak Kid.") The lyricism and vocal strength of this album made it quite hard to follow up. Well worth giving a few listens to if you can find it (the album is out of print and I had to replace my old one with one from eBay.)
I fell into this next album thanks to a friend in Junior High named Phil Gelber. After reaching some success with the band Sheriff (minor hit with "When I'm With You" in 1982 which would become a bigger hit for them later when re-released in 1989,) the Canadian band split into two camps. Steve DeMarchi and Freddy Curci went and formed Alias (with former members of Heart) while bassist Wolf Hassel and vocalist/guitarist Arnold Lanni formed Frozen Ghost. The album had a chart single with "Should I See" but got little notice outside of Canada. The songs range from driving beats to the melancholy but never so drastic as to seem out of place. Lyrically strong tracks even when one of the songs is titled "Yum Bai Ya" - no relation to "Kum Bi Ya." This release is also out of print and had to spend over $20 on eBay to repurchase it. (Saw it as high as $50.) Oddly enough, the band recently saw some of their songs released in an Essential Frozen Ghost collection in Canada. (note - I actually used to use the name Frozen Ghost on BBS' after hearing this album and even ran my own Phantom Zone BBS under the name Frozen Ghost.)
And now for something a little darker. Fields Of The Nephilim released The Nephilim (their second independent album) in 1988. I saw the cover in a record store and purchased it right away (also noticing that the album was #1 on the U.K. Indie charts and had a top 40 hit single there with "Moonchild.") Haunting or country/metal/gothic are probably the best descriptions for this band and their guitar-work. Lead vocalist Carl McCoy has a gravelly delivery that ranges from whispers to roars to moans that takes some time to get accustomed to but very distinctive. I guess this would be the equivalent of stumbling upon a bunch of druids at a ceremony worshiping a lost pagan idol. It seems so out of place yet harmonic and deviant. The tracks run from blistering-paced guitars to the dark and sensual "Celebrate." This is an album to listen to in a dark room with your eyes closed.