Tag: 1983

The Fixx – Reach the Beach

ARTIST: The Fixx                                      220px-The_Fixx_-_Reach_the_Beach

TITLE: Reach the Beach



SINGLES: Saved By Zero (#20 US), One Thing Leads to Another (#4 US, #86 UK), The Sign of Fire (#32 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably not. I doubt many people listened to the second side.

LINEUP: Cy Curnin, Rupert Greenall, Jamie West-Oram, Adam Woods. Alfie Agius played bass on three songs (two of them hits and he wrote the bass line for One Thing Leads to Another). Dan Brown joined to play bass on one track.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Fixx, thanks to MTV and catchy new wave hooks, gain a US foothold as they were being ignored in the UK.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Barely getting any notice in their native land, the Fixx got a lot of traction in the US thanks to very MTV friendly (yet overly- arty and pretentious) videos for “Saved By Zero” and “One Thing Leads to Another”.

The hooks and videos hid a secret of the Fixx – they had designs on being progressive art rockers but also wanted to make hit records. The deep tracks here show more of this dichotomy. Cy Curnin’s lyrics are philosophical fiddle-faddle most of the time, and the music lets Rupert Greenall go nuts with his keyboards.

But the hits were insidious, and there’s enough glimmers in the deep tracks to at least keep this around as a whole album.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Alfie Agius recorded three tracks with the band, then left in a personality dispute. They did without a bassist until the last track they recorded, when they definitely needed one.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, two unneccessary remixes, and B-side, and a pretty decent song from a soundtrack (“Deeper and Deeper”)

GRADE: B-: Philosophy students should avoid the lyrics (ok, everyone should, really) but they do have a few decent moments after the hits. A few.


Butthole Surfers – Butthole Surfers / Live PCPPEP

ARTIST: Butthole Surfers                          220px-Butthole_Surfers_Front

TITLE: Butthole Surfers / Live PCPPEP

YEAR RELEASED: 1983 / 1984

CHART ACTION: #21 UK Indie (!!!!!)

SINGLES: None (these were two EPs)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey’s Grave, Bar-B-Q Pope

LINEUP: Gibby Haynes, Paul Leary, King Coffey, Bill Jolly. Teresa Nervosa is on the live tracks. Brad Perkins drum son two tracks.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The first emittance from these weirdos from Austin is chaotic, shambling, and yet after a while it makes sense, sorta. 220px-Butthole_Surfers_Live_PCPPEP_Front

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first rule of Butthole Surfers is to not take them seriously. That’s kind of obvious, but most of what they do are ingenious genre parodies with unexpected twists and turns (the ending of “The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey’s Grave where Paul Leary just keeps yelling “shut up” in a defeated way and some people may not get that and just hear chaos and noise.

There is definite some form and structure and some definitely advanced ideas here. It’s just sifted through a lens of demented weirdness. The live EP showcases the same kind of derangement, with more saxophone from Haynes that adds to the entire stew of madness and his golf commentary on “Bar-B-Q Pope” is pure genius.

It may take a while for you to grasp this. Heck, it took me a while.


NOTES & MINUTIAE: The band had a hard time keeping drummers and bass players until they found Coffey, and later Nervosa.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: There are a few bonus tracks – more live material and a demo.

GRADE: B+: I get what they’re doing, and it’s fun, but…it’s not for everyone

Depeche Mode – Construction Time Again

ARTIST: Depeche Mode             Depeche_Mode_-_Construction_Time_Again

TITLE: Construction Time Again



SINGLES: Everything Counts (#17 Dance, #6 UK), Love, in Itself (#21 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not over in the US, no.

LINEUP: Martin Gore, Alan Wilder, David Gahan, Andy Fletcher

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: An artistic turnaround, and the path forward for Depeche Mode.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Alan Wilder joined Depeche Mode as a full member for this album, and whether it was that, or Martin Gore’s evolution as a songwriter, Depeche Mode definitely moved in a positive direction.

The band was now adding depth to its sonic palette, with a darker mood, complex song structures, and samples of industrial-type sounds that helped add a more experimental edge to their sound. Vocals were also utilized as more than just a melody-carrier as well as the layered vocals with Gahan and the band added to the moody atmosphere.

“Everything Counts” got their first real notice in the US after their initial hit, even though it was just in clubs and dance floors. It also was a dance tune with a political message, which led the band to include more political and social messaging in its songs. More importantly, it had a hook to die for which got people moving.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Wilder wrote two songs on the album, and continued to contribute songs until his departure.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Originally the CD had a hidden track (a reprise of “Everything Counts”). In 2007, a deluxe version with their pre-album single “Get the Balance Right” (#13 UK, #31 US Dance), which set the stage for the album.

GRADE: A-:  Depeche Mode moves from just a synth-pop band to something more ambitious.

Husker Du – Everything Falls Apart

ARTIST: Husker Du                     huskerdu_everythingfalls

TITLE:  Everything Falls Apart


CHART ACTION: Oh, heavens no


OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They cover Sunshine Superman

LINEUP: Bob Mould, Greg Norton, Grant Hart

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After their dizzying live Land Speed Record, Husker Du releases a full length album after a few singles, and starts to distinguish themselves from hardfastrules.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It’s not as breakneck as Land Speed Record. I don’t know how they could be that way in the studio. Still, some songs like “Punch Drunk” and “Bricklayer” have that vibe, but those are among the weakest tracks here.

The opener “From the Gut” rather much establishes things here – slower but not slow by any means, powerful, thoughtful, and uncompromising. “Afraid of Being Wrong” still has a whirring fast tempo but it’s slow enough to get the big message across. The side two opener, the title track, adds texture and other sonic dimensions that the rest of the tracks last – showing the way forward for the band as does the closer “Gravity”.

Of all the tracks, “Target” had the most staying power, for good reason. It’s angry and powerful and could fit in on almost every subsequent album.

This has its flaws, sure, but some tracks are definitely worth it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This isn’t streaming as far as I could find.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: The CD version has a singles and B-sides released around this era, including the fantastic “In a Free Land”

GRADE: B: The handful of blurry too-fast cuts diminishes it, but the highlights are fantastic.

Marillion – Script for a Jester’s Tear

ARTIST: Marillion marillion_-_script_for_a_jesters_tear

TITLE:  Script for a Jester’s Tear



SINGLES: He Knows You Know (#25 Mainstream, #35 UK), Garden Party (#16 UK)


LINEUP:  Fish, Steve Rothery, Mark Kelly, Pete Trewavas, Mick Pointer

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A throwback to prog rock from the 70’s, this record sounds like a long lost Peter Gabriel-era Genesis album.  

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Even with the punk explosion, the UK never lost its taste for progressive rock. Marillion was a definite throwback to the halcyon days of prog-rock, with longish songs and album length concepts.

Marillion’s lyrics are dense and full of metaphor, thanks to lyricist and singer Fish (Derek William Dick). They weave the words into songs and suites that do have some hooks and melody (they do surprisingly well in the singles chart), but at times wander on and on and cause the casual listener to lose interest.

Fish and company do sound like they’ve inhaled The Musical Box and Supper’s Ready, especially with the vocal work by Fish. But the seven tracks just seem to wander a bit too long, and are more mood music at times.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This was the first of a trilogy, which includes their next two albums.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, their debut single (including a 19-minute B-side) is appended.

GRADE: B-: It kind of bores me at times, but there are some interesting parts and pieces and melodies.

Robert Cray – Bad Influence

ARTIST: Robert Cray                             220px-bad_influence_robert_cray_album

TITLE:  Bad Influence





LINEUP: Robert Cray, Richard Cousins, David Olson, Mike Vannice, Warren Rand

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Bluesman Cray releases a contemporary blues album that showcases his smooth guitar playing and songwriting.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Cray’s second album for Hightone (the first seems to have vanished) was kind of a breakthrough for the bluesman.

Not only did it showcase his tasteful modern blues sound, but it also gave him a spotlight on his originals (8 of the 10 songs on the original album were new). The lead cut, “Phone Booth”, is one of those Cray songs that sticks with you. The rest of the album is tasteful. Cray doesn’t overplay and keeps everything in his vocal range.

Cray doesn’t take any chances either, but at this point he was trying to establish himself and that was probably a smart move. For all of the good, the production sounds muddy and flat, so that is a little detriment to the album.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Phone Booth” was covered by Albert King, and “Bad Influence” was covered by Eric Clapton. Good company.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Two extra tracks, including a cover “I Got Loaded”, made famous later on by Los Lobos.

GRADE: B+: It’s good modern blues, with the production letting it down a bit.

Savatage – Sirens

ARTIST: Savatage                  220px-Savatage_Sirens_original_cover

TITLE:  Sirens




OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Unless you liked underground 80’s metal, no.

LINEUP: John Oliva, Criss Oliva, Keith Collins, Steve Wacholz

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Straight forward no-frills metal album.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Savatage’s first album really flew under the non-metal underground radar, but there’s no reason for it to be hidden. It’s really just straight forward 80’s metal.

There are a few clichés, of course, and the lyrics aren’t always the best. Still, it’s nine pretty good metal songs for you to get your metal now.220px-SavatageSirens

The one weakness at times is John Oliva’s vocals, which at times seem a little pitchy or off tone, at times. Yet, that’s really a small-ish quibble. If you did 80’s metal, then check it out.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This was recorded in one day. The band name came from the fact they had to change it from “Avatar” and played around with something that they adapt their existing logo to.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes – some versions with demos.

GRADE: B: Good metal for metalheads.


Slayer – Show No Mercy

ARTIST: Slayer                                       220px-Slayer_-_Show_No_Mercy

TITLE:  Show No Mercy




OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Metal Storm / Face the Slayer.

LINEUP: Tom Araya, Jeff Hanneman, Kerry King, Dave Lombardo

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut album from thrash / death metal legends highlights the path that they would trod upon in their career.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Like most independently recorded albums in the 80’s, the sound quality here isn’t that great. This kind of metal needs crisp production, not mud (it’s the same problem that plagued early Metallica albums). Yet the content and playing shows Slayer already in decent form, ready to take on the world and scare the bejeezus out of those who don’t know or understand.

A few tracks definitely show the potential of the group, like “The Antichrist”, that is at a quite quick tempo, isn’t breakneck, and has nice solo passages and tempo changes that allow the listener to breathe and grasp what’s happening in the song.

The playing, the musicianship, and the arrangements would all improve, and become more consistent. “Metal Storm / Face the Slayer” is the signature track on the album (in my ears), and the big building block for the band to come. The production just makes some of it a slog through sludge.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: After this was released, they received a letter from the PMRC, asking them kindly to not release any more albums. Sigh.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, an extra cut and a couple of covers on several re-releases.

GRADE: B-: You can bang your head to it, it’s just muddy and a few cuts aren’t the best.


Martha & the Muffins – Danceparc

ARTIST: Martha & the Muffins              220px-Martha_And_The_Muffins_-_Danseparc_album_cover

TITLE:  Danseparc


CHART ACTION: #184 US, #36 Canada

SINGLES: Danseparc (Every Day It’s Tomorrow) (#31 Canada)


LINEUP: Martha Johnson, Mark Gane, Jocelyn Lanois, Nick Kent

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After more lineup changes, and a switch to RCA, the Canadian new wave band moves into more of a dance idiom and tries to change names to M+M.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After losing losing one Martha and their bass player on the way, the tour for their third album shook up the band when the drummer left and sax player Andy Haas split publically with Martha Johnson and Mark Gane.

Unbowed, those two, new drummer Nick Kent, and bassist Jocelyn Lanois (sister of producer Daniel Lanois) continued, got a record deal for RCA and tried (oh, they tried) to rebrand themselves as M+M. The result was much the same – a decent album with intriguing, literate songs and a limited fan base.

The music on this album is more dance oriented, and somewhat more mainstream radio friendly. It’s not quite as strong as their debut, especially on the songs Gane sings. Still, they probably deserved a better fate than being a Canadian footnote.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: As noted, two albums between their debut and this were released. They’re not streaming, but I’m not putting out an APB for them. The one song that’s missing that should be there is “Women Around the World at Work”.

They also released material after this as well. Lanois and Kent left after this album as well.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a remix, a b-side and a live cuts

GRADE: B: Decent dance-new have. It does scream 1983, but is fairly literate and sophisticated as these things go.

Madonna – Madonna

ARTIST: Madonna              Madonna,_debut_album_cover

TITLE:  Madonna



SINGLES: Everybody (#3 Dance), Burning Up (#3 Dance). Holiday (#16 US, #1 Dance, #2 UK), Lucky Star (#4 US, #1 Dance, #14 UK), Borderline (#10 US, #4 Dance, #2 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: There are only three other tracks on the thing.

LINEUP: Madonna, Reggie Lucas, Dean Gant, Fred Zarr, and many others

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut dance album from wanna-be pop star removes the ‘wanna-be’ from her label, though at times it seems the success is more production based than talent based.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: At the time, this was a record that fit in nicely with the other early 80’s dance floor new wave/pop/new romantic albums that were synth and electronics heavy. Madonna_The_First_Album_international

The singles are ear candy for sure, but no one would ever have guessed they’d have launched a career of an icon. Today, listening to them, you can hear the flashes of the attitude and her becoming Madonna, but right now she’s kind of along for the production ride.

There’s also filler, which takes away from the album as a whole. It’s a great snapshot of dance music in 1983, and definitely has some all-time classic songs. A classic album it’s not.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: In the US, they released “Borderline” as a single before “Lucky Star”, which is opposite of what they did in the UK.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Extended remixes of “Burning Up” and “Lucky Star”

GRADE: B: The filler drags it down, and the production is the star, but there’s no mistaking the exuberance of songs like “Holiday”.