The final year of the decade was a pretty great one on the album front if a rather miserable one in reality as the woman who had taken away our daily milk at school (not actually a bad thing in my experience as it was usually a bit off due to our school not having a fridge big enough to keep it cool) became British Prime Minister. This was probably the first General Election I remember and certainly created clear divisions in the play ground as we cheered on either Red or Blue with the same type of gusto we normally reserved for our football teams. In keeping with my lack of football success I was on the losing side with politics too.
In music news Iron Maiden, Samson, and Angel Witch shared a bill at the Music Machine in Camden, London, following which rock critic Geoff Barton coined the term "New Wave of British Heavy Metal" (this will be important knowledge should I continue this theme into the Eighties). Also the Sony Walkman went on sale for the first time in Japan.
1. Stiff Little Fingers "Inflammable Material" - The debut album from a brilliant yet under appreciated band. I discovered SLF thanks to a BBC drama called 'Iris In The Traffic' which was about a teenager growing up amidst the troubles in Ireland. It featured backing music and a live performance by the band as well as, lead singer & guitarist, Jake Burns in a cameo role. This would be both his first & last acting role. Inflammable Material is full of excellent song writing, taking punk to it's catchiest limits. It also includes two of my absolute favourite songs in Alternative Ulster & Suspect Device.
2. The Specials "The Specials" - An album I first discovered at my best pal's Blue Peter bring & buy sale but was unable to afford the £3.00 price tag! I tried haggling but seller wasn't interested in £1.48, an old pencil and a bit of string. It took me far too long to eventually buy it but having rectified that it has lodged itself as one of my all time favourite albums.
3. The Undertones "The Undertones" - Having described the SLF album as the catchiest limits of Punk was perhaps underestimating how ridiculously catchy The Undertones debut is. An instant shot of happiness. It's packed full of pop crackers and is an album for which almost every track could have been a single.
4. Motörhead "Overkill" - The second official album from the classic Motörhead line-up which nailed their sound and, I think, is the best of their career. Heavier than most Heavy Metal & punkier than most Punk.
5. The Fall "Live At The Witch Trials" - It took me ages to get into The Fall properly and I'm not sure I'll ever catch up with their complete catalogue but this debut LP is a great place to start. They have a fairly epic discography with as many difficult albums as brilliant ones but it's definitely worth the effort picking your way through them.
Near misses; AC/DC "Highway to Hell", Pink Floyd "The Wall", The Damned "Machine Gun Etiquette", Joy Division "Unknown Pleasures", The Clash "London Calling", Wire "154", Buzzcocks "A Different Kind of Tension", Magazine "Secondhand Daylight", Motörhead "Bomber", The Pretenders "The Pretenders", and Van Halen "Van Halen II".
Albums to try; B-52s "B-52s", Blondie "Eat To The Beat", Crass "Stations of the Crass", Gang Of Four "Entertainment", Magazine "Secondhand Daylight", Neil Young "Rust Never Sleeps", Nick Lowe "Labour Of Lust", Richard & Linda Thompson "Sunnyvista", Stranglers "The Raven", Swell Maps "A Trip to Marineville", Talking Heads "Fear of Music", The Jam "Setting Sons", The Only Ones "Even Serpents Shine", The Ruts "The Crack", The Slits "Cut", Throbbing Gristle "20 Jazz Funk Greats", Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers "Damn The Torpedoes", XTC "Drums and Wires" and, just for my pal Ian's benefit, The Pleasure Principle & Replicas by Gary Numan.