Tag: 1984

Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Rattlesnakes

ARTIST: Lloyd Cole & The Commotions           Rattlesnakes

TITLE: Rattlesnakes



SINGLES: Perfect Skin (#26 UK), Forest Fire (#41 UK), Rattlesnakes (#65 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Only if you were hip to him back then.

LINEUP: Lloyd Cole, Neil Clark, Blair Cowan, Lawrence Donegan, Stephen Irvine

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut from songwriter and his band shows his influences, and also shows that he’s almost equal to them.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s a spot of Dylan and Television in the songs, and some soul and R&B influences in the music, and some of the production is definitely 80’s, but this debut from Lloyd Cole and his band isn’t a period piece or a homage.

Cole’s songs are more than just an ape of his idols and inspirations. Cole’s songs have strong narratives, and the backing is tight and sympathetic. He and his band allow the songs to breathe, but the arrangements also display his band’s precision and musicianship.

This was a college radio favorite in the US, and thus not many people heard it. It’s our loss.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Cole’s father was the club master at a golf club in Scotland, and that’s where this labum was written.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yep. B-sides, live cuts, the usual add-ons.

GRADE: A: We should have been hip to it.

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

Prince – Purple Rain

ARTIST: Prince                             Princepurplerain

TITLE: Purple Rain



SINGLES: When Doves Cry (#1 US, #1 R&B, #1 Dance, #4 UK), Let’s Go Crazy (#1 US, #1 R&B, #1 Dance, #7 UK), Purple Rain (#2 US, #3 R&B, #6 UK), I Would Die 4 U (#8 US, #11 R&B, #50 Dance, #58 UK), Take Me with U (#25 US, #40 R&B, #7 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Darling Nikki, Baby I’m a Star

LINEUP: Prince, Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, Matt Fink, Brown Mark, Bobby Z, Novi Novog, Dave Coleman, Suzie Katayama. Apollonia and Jill Jones sing on “Take Me with U”

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A brilliant soundtrack to Prince’s star turn on film.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Even if it wasn’t a movie soundtrack, this would be an almost perfect album. Yet because it’s a soundtrack only enhances just how good this is. A regular soundtrack albums tends to have a flaw or two, with a song being wedged in due to the plot or licensing. Not here.

This is also the first true collaboration with the Revolution on most of the tracks. Just three of the nine tracks are Prince solo joints, with “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Purple Rain” being collaborations (and the Revoution gets songwriting credit as well).

The songs also link together, not just thematically, but on the album. It’s pretty near a seamless record, with no flaws. The album spawned a lot of cover versions for almost every song.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Prince had a couple of early versions, with longer versions of “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Computer Blue”, with two other songs in place of “When Doves Cry” and “Take Me with U”.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: YES! Brand new with newly released tracks.

GRADE: A+:  A fantastic album, and most incredibly, a soundtrack album that’s flawless.

Los Lobos – How Will the Wolf Survive

ARTIST: Los Lobos                                     howwillthewolfsurvive

TITLE:  How Will the Wolf Survive



SINGLES: Don’t Worry Baby (#28 Mainstream, #57 UK), Will the Wolf Survive (#78 US, #26 Mainstream)


LINEUP: David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano, Louie Perez, Steve Berlin

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut long-player showcases the versatility and chops of the East LA band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: A first-time listener to this entire album, thinking of just the radio cuts, would definitely be surprised by the breadth and depth of this album.

They know how to play rock, sure, and they can sling guitars. They also can play plaintive ballads. But they’re adept at a more blues based style, and most importantly, native Norteno that to the untrained ear sound like polkas. The accordion is just as important of an instrument to them as guitar.

Vocally, David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas are adept at all of the material, and their guitar playing and Higalgo’s mandolin are excellent. It’s a revelatory record and opened a lot of ears toward Mexican music.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Drummer Louie Perez co-wrote seven of these tracks, collaborating with both Hidalgo and Rosas.


GRADE: A:  Fantastic album that should open one’s ears at the versatility of the band.

Stevie Ray Vaughan – Couldn’t Stand the Weather

ARTIST: Stevie Ray Vaughan                        220px-srvcouldntstandtheweather

TITLE:  Couldn’t Stand the Weather



SINGLES: Voodoo Child (Slight Return) (#20 Rock), Cold Shot (#29 Rock), Couldn’t Stand the Weather


LINEUP: Stevie Ray Vaughan, Tommy Shannon, Chris Layton. Help from Jimmie Vaughan on a couple of tracks and Fran Christina on one.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  Second album by the now-star blues guitarist seems a little short on material.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There are some fantastic cuts on this album, don’t get me wrong. The title track is outstanding with its syncopated rhythm and difficult time signature. His cover of “Cold Shot” is also fantastic as is the slow burn of “Tin Pan Alley”.

Yes, he does cover Hendrix, who was an inspiration, and he does it pert near flawlessly, but it does sound a lot like the Hendrix version without the ultra-distorted guitar. While two of the songs break eight minutes, it still seems like a slight album and not one that’s packed with songs.

Still, it has enough good to great material to make this a must for blues guitar fans. After his first record, we wanted more, and this seems like a regression.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This time, the record took 19 days. There are more outtakes than the first album, but some of the spark and immediacy is gone.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with outtakes that wound up being remade for his third album, and later a live set.

GRADE: B: I wanted more than I got, I guess. It’s good, but it could have been great.

Voivod – War and Pain

ARTIST: Voivod                                    voivod_-_war__pain

TITLE:  War and Pain





LINEUP: Denis Belanger, Denis D’Amour, Jean-Yves Theriault, Michel Langevin

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  Quebecois thrash band makes a thrashy record.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The early roots of Voivod is pure thrash, and this debut record illustrates this. On original release there were nine cuts that all kind of bled together as one pummeling assault.

What separates great thrash albums from others is the change in textures and styles. This has none – it’s pure assault and that can wear on you for a long time.

Voivod would grow, change, mature past the simple thrashiness. Here, though, this is just too much blurriness.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Allegedly, they made only $1,000 from this even though it sold 40,000 copies initially.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Demos and live cuts and cuts for a compilation.

GRADE: C: I am exiling this. It’s just too much of the same thing.

Madonna – Like a Virgin

ARTIST: Madonna                                     220px-LikeAVirgin1984

TITLE:  Like a Virgin



SINGLES: Like a Virgin (#1 US, #1 Dance, #3 UK), Material Girl (#2 US, #1 Dance, #3 UK), Angel (#5 US, #1 Dance, #5 UK), Dress You Up (#5 US, #3 Dance, #5 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Teenagers in the 80’s know the album

LINEUP: Madonna, Bernard Edwards, Nile Rodgers, Nathaniel Hardy, Tony Thompson,l dave Weckl, Robert Sabino, Curtis King, Frank Simms, George Simms

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The album that launched the video star, the controversial icon, and, well, Madonna being all Madonna all the time.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Madonna, plus the engine behind Chic for most of the songs, equals a powerhouse album. The singles dominated the airwaves in 1984 and 1985 (plus two other non-album singles to boot). Yes, she was hyped. The music, though, was as good as the hype.

Nile Rogers’ production is top notch, and adds the right arrangement for all of the songs. The non-single tracks are maybe a bit under the singles in terms of quality, but they still have a good sound, a fun vibe, and Madonna doesn’t half-ass her vocals on them, either, especially since she wrote most of them.

What everyone remembers is her lascivious performance at the original VMAs, but the album was good; good enough that it’s unfortunate that everything else overshadowed it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Tipper Gore thought “Dress You Up” was vulgar. Whatever.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. The European version had “Into the Groove” as a track (not released in the US until later, for a movie) and there’s another version with two remixes.

GRADE: A-:  When you actually listen to the album, it’s good, and the sequencing is spot on.

“Weird Al” Yankovic – In 3-D

ARTIST: “Weird Al” Yankovic          Weird_Al_Yankovic_-_In_3-D

TITLE:  In 3-D



SINGLES: Eat It (#12 US, #36 UK), King of Suede (#62), I Lost on Jeopardy (#81)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Polkas on 45, Theme from Rocky XIII (The Rye of the Kaiser)

LINEUP: “Weird Al” Yankovic, Jim West, Steve Jay, John Schwarts, Rick Derringer, Pat Regan. Don Pardo is a guest, of course.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The parodist hits his stride with great parodies and videos, and some of his originals are OK, too.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: When you think of Weird Al, chances are you first think of his iconic videos from the early days of MTV. The video for “Eat It” made him famous, as did the outstanding “I Lost on Jeopardy”. He wasn’t all video though.

The concept of “Polkas on 45” was genius here – pairing classic rock tunes to polka rhythms and melody tropes. He also hit at songs by Men Without Hats, Survivor and the Police, along with stylistic parodies of reggae and the B-52’s.

This time, a few of the originals are worth keeping around. His non-parody songwriting was improving, but a couple of cuts were exiled for being long and not that clever or funny.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: One of the backing vocals on “Mr. Popeil” is Lisa Popeil, the daughter of the famous inventor.


GRADE: B: A more consistent effort with some great, funny parodies..

R.E.M – Reckoning

ARTIST: R.E.M       R.E.M._-_Reckoning

TITLE:  Reckoning



SINGLES:  So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry) (#85 US, #43 Mainstream), (Don’t Go Back To) Rockville

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: 7 Chinese Bros., Pretty Persuasion

LINEUP: Michael Stipe. Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Bill Berry.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second full length from the Athens band moves a bit forward from their fantastic debut towards a more rock oriented sound, but the overall songs aren’t as strong.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: While Pavement once said “Time After Time / is my least favorite song”, I think that’s a matter for discussion on this album. Of all of the songs on Reckoning, that one seems to have most of the elements of their debut (that and “Letter Never Sent” could have fit in with Murmur, sound wise, but aren’t that strong).

This second album isn’t a slump from their classic debut, as the first side is fairly strong with some absolute REM classics. The second side wobbles a bit, with some secondary material that are either very similar to other songs or just not as cohesive.

Of course, a second-rate REM song at this time was better than almost every other bands top songs, so this is still a darn great album. Just not up to the standards of the debut.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: One of the iconic songs on the album, “Pretty Persuasion”, was an older tune that producers Don Dixon and Mitch Easter had to convince them to record.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a couple of editions featuring outtakes, alternate cuts, live tracks, you name it.

GRADE: A-: It’s no Murmur, but what is? There’s still a bunch of great, classic tracks here.


Mercyful Fate – Don’t Break the Oath

ARTIST: Mercyful Fate             220px-MercyfulFateDBTO

TITLE:  Don’t Break the Oath




OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Fans of black metal, thrash and extreme metal know this as a touchstone record.

LINEUP: King Diamond, Hank Shermann, Michael Denner, Timi Hansen, Kim Ruzz

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Danish metal band’s second album consolidates their view and vision – lyrics about the occult coupled with a cross between prog and metal that evolved into its own genre.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: With all of the more extreme metal genres that followed this album, Don’t Break the Oath sounds a bit…tame…in comparison. But tame is very relative.

King Diamond’s falsetto shrieks are like nothing in metal’s history, while the guitar assault of Shermann and Denner add rifftastic sections to some elegantly progressive leads. They weren’t the fastest band, they weren’t the ‘heaviest’ band, nor the most ‘satanic’. Yet they had all of those elements and made into something that was their own.

Diamond emerges as the main songwriter and visionary here – he wrote two tracks on his own and collaborated with Denner on three others, with the rest collaborations between Diamond and Shermann. His voice and lyrics shape the band into something that sounds other-worldly.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Metal-Rules.com says this is the greatest extreme metal album of all time. It’s up there, depending on your definition (of course).

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: One bonus track on a re-release.

GRADE: A-: The band keeps things from being too repetitive, though a couple tracks go on just a bit too long. This is highly influential and recommended for any metal fan.