Rehabilitating the 1980s


As Gordon has started the process of claiming Thatch as an icon of the modern social democratic left I thought I might try and do the same for the benighted decade she is most associated with.

I’m sure its not an original thought that we look back with fondness on the decade before last while finding the one we’ve just left less attractive than it appeared at the time (anyone want my Oasis albums?). But the 1980s are a hard decade to forgive, as the recent attempts to revive the puffball skirt and Sloans have shown me.

Of course I am aware that Mojo did an excellent supplement a few issues ago, but you’ll have to believe me that my copy went into the recycling and is only a memory in this household now.

Anyway the idea is to try to identify one song for every year the decade – or at least those in my media player – and to try to make a case for the decade that fashion really ought to try to forget.


  • Geno – Dexy’s Midnight Runners

This song and album was an important part of my childhood. I got it on a tape that I bought from someone in my school, along Dexy’s it had This is the Modern World both of which I continue to love to this day.


  • Ghost Town – The Specials

I did love the early ’80s ska revival.  I’d guess by this stage The Specials were extending their sound, but it’s a fantastic song and potent reminder that Thatch wasn’t always as grannyish as she looks in that photo above.


  • Walking on a Wire – Richard and Linda Thompson

The end of their marriage delivered in heartbreaking detail.


  • We Could Send Letters – Aztec Camera

Roddy Frame may never have had a finer moment.


A very slim year in my record collection.


  • Tupelo – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Another important band for me. And although I’m sure I’ve read that Cave hates the album this song comes from I have a soft spot for it.


  • Kerosene – Big Black

One of my all time favourite songs from a fantastic album. I found Big Black a few years later, but once I did this album was played to death.


  • Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now? – The Wedding Present

The first gig I went to when I got to university had the Weddo’s playing. This single was, I think, the start of the second phase of the band’s career, when they came out from the shadow of The Smiths and became the indie band of the late 1980s.


  • Silver Rocket – Sonic Youth

Building on the potential of the Sister LP, Sonic Youth delivered their masterpiece, Daydream Nation. The album still sets my heart beating faster, and, if push comes to shove, is my favourite album of all time.


  • Trouser Minnow – Rapeman

Steve Albini again. I recall their gigs being picketed on the basis of the name. I think he also fell out with Thurston Moore at this point, something about a song he’d written about Kim Gordon’s panties.

So there we go a quick skip through the decade, with only one year not providing me with anything of any note, and that may just be because I’ve yet to get round to digitalising some of my vinyl, or filling the holes in my collection.

About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
This entry was posted in Music and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Rehabilitating the 1980s

  1. The decade that I forgot too!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s