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Monday, July 21, 2014

ROLLING STONE: Best Albums of the Eighties

This has been the first rock & roll decade without revolution, or true revolutionaries, to call its own.

The Fifties witnessed nothing less than the birth of the music.

The Sixties were rocked by Beatlemania, Motown, Phil Spector, psychedelia and Bob Dylan. The Seventies gave rise to David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, heavy metal, punk and New Wave.

In comparison, the Eighties have been the decade of, among other things, synth pop, Michael Jackson, the compact disc, Sixties reunion tours, the Beastie Boys and a lot more heavy metal. But if the past ten years haven't exactly been the stuff of revolution, they have been a critical time of re-assessment and reconstruction. Musicians and audiences alike have struggled to come to terms with rock's parameters and possibilities, its emotional resonance and often dormant social consciousness.

The following survey of the 100 best albums of the Eighties, as selected by the editors of Rolling Stone, shows that the music and the values it stands for have been richer for the struggle.

10 Tracy Chapman, 'Tracy Chapman'
"There was a set of ideas that we wanted to communicate, and we felt if we were truthful and loyal to those ideas, then people would pick up on the emotion and the lyrical content that was there." The stark realism of Chapman's songwriting, combined with her warm, richly textured vocals, brought a refreshing integrity to the airwaves.

9 Richard and Linda Thompson, 'Shoot Out the Lights'
"Even in the best days of our marriage, Richard and I didn't communicate with each other fabulously well," says Linda Thompson. "I think that the reason the music was good was that we tended to save it for work." Perhaps that explains why Shoot Out the Lights is both the best and last album Richard and Linda Thompson made together.

8 R.E.M., 'Murmur'
"We were conscious that we were making a record that really wasn't in step with the times," says R.E.M.'s Peter Buck of Murmur, the group's enchanting first album. "It was an old-fashioned record that didn't sound too much like what you heard on the radio. We were expecting the record company to say, 'Sorry, this isn't even a record, it's a demo tape. Go back and do it again.'"
For the most part, I.R.S. Records liked Murmur a great deal, and so did an audience that embraced R.E.M. as one of the most significant new bands of the Eighties. From the mysterious photograph of a kudzu-covered train station on the jacket to the intriguingly off-kilter music within, Murmur quietly broke with the status quo and mapped out an enigmatic but rewarding new agenda.

7 Michael Jackson, 'Thriller'
"It felt like entering hyperspace at one point," says Quincy Jones about the phenomenal success of Thriller. "It almost scared me. I thought, 'Maybe this is going too far.'"
With Thriller, Jackson and Jones were aiming for a dynamic, balanced collection of potential hits. Jackson supplied many of the best songs on the album, writing "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," "Beat It" and "Billie Jean" (as well as the slight number "The Girl Is Mine," a duet with Paul McCartney). Jones went through over 300 songs in search of additional material. "I was trying to find a group of songs that complemented each other in their diversity," says Jones. "Give me a ride, give me some goose bumps. If 'Billie Jean' sounds good, it sounds even better followed by 'Human Nature.' 'Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' ' into 'Baby Be Mine.' I look at an album as a total piece."

6 Bruce Springsteen, 'Born in the U.S.A.'
Springsteen and the E Street Band had recorded seven of the songs on Born in the U.S.A. prior to the release of Nebraska in a three-week blitz in May 1982: "Glory Days," "I'm Goin' Down," "I'm on Fire," "Darlington County," "Working on the Highway," "Downbound Train" and — most crucial of all — "Born in the U.S.A."
Springsteen originally recorded the last of these on the acoustic demo tape that became Nebraska, but he quickly abandoned that version, feeling it didn't really work in that format. At the start of the May sessions with the full band, Springsteen revived the song in a new, electric arrangement. "Bruce started playing this droning guitar sound," says drummer Max Weinberg. "He threw that lick out to [keyboardists] Roy [Bittan] and Danny [Federici], and the thing just fell together.

5 Paul Simon, 'Graceland'
Released in 1986, Graceland matched Simon with a host of African artists — including guitarist Ray Phiri and his band, Stimela, and the vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The album's scintillating blend of lively beats and thoughtful lyrics, as well as its seamless fusion of the familiar and the exotic, restored Simon's career and brought African music, and particularly South African music, to a broader international audience.

4 Talking Heads, 'Remain in Light'
"A lot of people don't realize this, but Remain in Light was the worst-selling Talking Heads record ever," says drummer Chris Frantz.
"Financially, we took a beating on that one," says David Byrne. "At the time, it was a really hard sell. The reaction that we heard was that it sounded too black for white radio and too white for black radio."
Remain in Light may have been a commercial disappointment, but musically, the band's 1980 album — which combines funk, disco and African rhythms — was years ahead of its time. "It got great critical acclaim, and we felt that it kind of took popular music to the next phase," says Frantz, "which is what we always wanted to do."

3 U2, 'The Joshua Tree'
Bono wanted to explore rock & roll's American roots; the Edge wanted to continue the expressionistic experimentalism of The Unforgettable Fire. The creative tensions between them resulted in U2's best record, a multifaceted, musically mature work. "Two ideas were followed simultaneously," says the Edge. "They collided, and this record was born."

2 Prince and the Revolution, 'Purple Rain'
"Prince knew this was going to be it," says Susan Rogers, who engineered the 14 million seller Purple Rain. "He was ecstatic when he finished it."
Over five years later, the influence of Prince and Purple Rain is incontestable. He is one of just two artists (along with Bruce Springsteen) to have four albums among Rolling Stone's 100 Best Albums of the Eighties. And perhaps more than any other artist, Prince called the tune for pop music in the Eighties, imprinting his Minneapolis sound on an entire generation of musicians, both black and white.
Released in tandem with the film of the same name, Purple Rain was more than simply a soundtrack, and it stands as Prince's most cohesive and accessible album. "He envisioned the film as he made the album," says Alan Leeds, vice-president of Paisley Park Records, Prince's label. 

1 The Clash, 'London Calling'
London Calling was an emergency broadcast from rock's Last Angry Band, serving notice that Armageddon was nigh, Western society was rotten at the core, and rock & roll needed a good boot in the rear. Kicking and screaming across a nineteen-song double album, skidding between ska, reggae, R&B, third-world music, power pop and full-tilt punk, the Clash stormed the gates of rock convention and single-handedly set the agenda — musically, politically and emotionally — for the decade to come.

11 Elvis Costello and the Attractions, 'Get Happy!'
13 Midnight Oil, 'Diesel and Dust'
14 Peter Gabriel, 'So'
16 Prince, '1999'
17 The Police, 'Synchronicity'
19 Lou Reed, 'New York'
20 Pretenders, 'Pretenders'

Morrissey: Review 'World Peace Is None of Your Business'

By Rob Sheffield
Rolling Stone

Being misunderstood is Morrissey's great joy in life, as he keeps proving in World Peace – a much stronger album than fans were expecting at this point. The fantastic title song is a doo-wop rant against cops, governments, armies, etc. Moz doesn't fare as well protesting Beefaroni (rhymes with "Ah, but lonely") or mean professors.

But he saves two stunners for last: "Mountjoy" is his dear-hero-imprisoned lament for the late Irish writer Brendan Behan, and "Oboe Concerto" resembles the Smiths classic "Death of a Disco Dancer," as Morrissey mourns the dead companions of his youth, singing, "All I do is drink to absent friends."

ERASURE: NEW ‘THE VIOLET FLAME’ ALBUM AND TOUR

ERASURE have announced details of a brand new album, 'The Violet Flame', to be released on 22 September 2014 with a worldwide tour in autumn.

Recorded in New York and London and produced by Richard X, The Violet Flame is the band's sixteenth studio album release. The first single from the 10-track album will be released in mid July.


PET SHOP BOYS: PREMIERE ‘A MAN FROM THE FUTURE’ AT BBC PROMS

PET SHOP BOYS will premiere new music inspired by World War Two codebreaker Alan Turing at this year's BBC Proms which will take place at London's Royal Albert Hall on July 23rd.

'A Man From The Future' - which sees the duo backed by the BBC Concert Orchestra and the BBC Singers - will feature a musical 'evocation of the life and work" of Turing, who was granted a posthumous royal pardon for his conviction for homosexuality last year, although Turing committed suicide in 1954. The evening will also include an orchestral medley of Pet Shop Boys songs and
new orchestral arrangements by David Lynch's musical collaborator Angelo Badalamenti of music by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Morrissey: New Album Release "World Peace Is None Of Your Business"

Morrissey's new album, World Peace Is None Of Your Business, is confirmed for July release.

The tracks are:

WORLD PEACE IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS
EARTH IS THE LONELIEST PLANET
THE BULLFIGHTER DIES

The record will be released worldwide on the Harvest label through the Capitol Music Group in Los Angeles.

MARC ALMOND: RELEASES ‘TEN PLAGUES’

MARC ALMOND will release a special edition of his recent 'Ten Plagues' song-cycle album on July 7th.
The release will feature two CDs and one DVD featuring a brand new studio recording of the complete work alongside a live performance DVD performed at London’s atmospheric Wilton's Music Hall.
Marc Almond - To Dream 

HOLLY JOHNSON: NEW ‘EUROPA’ ALBUM AND TOUR

HOLLY JOHNSON will release a new studio album, 'Europa', on September 29th via his own Pleasuredome label. The album will be preceded by a new single 'Follow Your Heart' which is available as a one-track download and will be released as a digital and vinyl EP on July 27th.

Johnson has also announced a short UK tour for October, his first live shows since playing with FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD in 1987.