Today is National Album Day and it is all devoted to the 1980s.
I was thinking about what my listening tastes were like during my early teens compared to now and looking back I didn’t buy a lot of records as it felt more like a treat at Christmas or birthdays to get albums.
My mum and dad bought me a record player for my 10th birthday. It was a second hand one but I was all bizzed at having my own record player as I was starting to take an interest in music, mainly what I was listening to either on Top of the Pops or Radio 1.
At a very young age my tastes were not quite sophisticated. Mainly drawing inspiration from what was on Top of the Pops but I remember liking Madness, The Police, The Specials, Adam and The Ants, Bad Manners, Ultravox, Depeche Mode and even Shakin’ Stevens! Well this was 1980-81. Sadly any of the 7″ singles that I have from this era I no longer have. Madness 7 came out in 1981 and I do remember that being one of the first albums I bought.
By 1982 I enjoyed hit singles from the likes of Haircut 100, Kraftwerk, Eddy Grant, Musical Youth, Captain Sensible, Fun Boy Three as well as Madness. The last Madness album I ever owned was The Rise and Fall which I got for Christmas that year.
I first heard U2’s New Years Day in 1983. Reason I remember this is because I was in the hospital for an operation at the time and I seem to remember that song very well. Again the year would introduce me to more new artists like New Order, Toto, Orange Juice and Men at Work to name but a few.
I can’t even remember what singles I owned from that year but it wasn’t many. The first U2 albums I owned both came from 1983 – War (which included the single New Years Day) and Under a Blood Red Sky which was a live album. This would begin my interest in the band.
1984 – George Orwell once wrote about that but when I hit my teens it definitely wasn’t his nightmarish prediction of the future. I was enjoying music by Nik Kershaw, Thompson Twins, Ultravox, ZZ Top, Nena and even liked Ray Parker Juniors Ghostbusters song! One of my favourite songs that year was Boys of Summer by Don Henly.
Most of my class mates at the time were listening to Big Country, Simple Minds, Duran Duran, The Cult and U2. For my 13th birthday my mum bought me a load of records. I made a list and gave it to her and she went down to Makin’ Tracks which was one of the many record shops in Belfast. So celebrating my 13th birthday I got the following albums:
ZZ Top – Eliminator, Daryl Hall and John Oates – Greatest Hits Rock n’ Soul Part 1, U2 – October, Nik Kershaw – The Riddle and Ultravox – The Collection.
1985 and I was listening to basically anything that I liked at the time. U2 were still my favourite band and they released The Unforgettable Fire. One of my favourite songs that year was Paul Hardcastle’s 19 which around that time sparked my interest in the Vietnam war which had ended 10 years previously.
Other favourites included A-ha, Tears for Fears, Marillion, Talking Heads, Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams. Yip, that one comes out now but back then I loved Reckless as an album but by 1990 my interest in Bryan Adams music went out window. I bought Born In The USA after seeing a documentary on Bruce Springsteen on BBC2. This was the year he played his legendary show at Slane Castle but I was too young to go to such an event.
Bruce Springsteen was becoming a new favourite of mine and I bought one of his earlier albums The River as well as the career spanning live album box set covering from 1975-85 which was one of my favourite live albums.
1986 strangely enough wasn’t a big year for me music wise. At the time I was taking an interest in computer games and when I was 15 one of my friends was listening to metal – Megadeth, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Metallica, WASP to name but a few but at 15 I didn’t dare even brining metal into the house.
I don’t think my mum would have approved. So the likes of Europe’s The Final Countdown and Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer were about as metal as it got for me. Maybe that was the start of the interest in the genre but it would be another couple of years yet for me to embrace it. So 1986 was just playing it safe with the likes of Berlin who had the hit Take My Breath Away from the Top Gun movie, A-ha, Level 42, The Bangles and Cutting Crew.
For my 16th birthday U2’s The Joshua Tree was released and quite possibly for the first time I was excited for a forthcoming release. I remember going into town to buy it and coming home and playing it to death on my record player. The old second hand record player was on it’s last legs and wouldn’t be replaced until 1989.
Radio 2 done a poll for the best album of the 1980s and it was The Joshua Tree that came out on top. There are quite a few albums on the list now that I liked but being a big U2 fan I probably would have voted for this too.
What I didn’t know when I got to school on Monday that tickets for their concert in Belfast later that summer also went on sale. I missed out on that and on my final year of school after finishing my O’ Levels I didn’t get to see the biggest band play Belfast! It would be a good few more years yet before I got to see them live.
By 1988, U2 still remained my favourite band. Rattle and Hum was the last U2 album I bought on vinyl. I was eventually moving from vinyl to CD. At this stage I was also starting to get interested in listening to metal and what a year it was for the genre.
One by Metallica was the first song of theirs that I liked and I bought …And Justice for All that year. At the same time I started to like Iron Maiden who released the epic Seventh Son of a Seventh Son and Queensryche’s masterpiece Operation Mindcrime. Living Colour’s Vivid was another favourite of mine that year.
The final year of the decade and metal is firmly coming up on top. Albums by Aerosmith – Pump, Faith No More – The Real Thing, The Cult – Sonic Temple were all favourites of mine that year. As well as listening to metal I also started to listen to Simple Minds when they released Belfast Child from their forthcoming album Street Fighting Years. They would be the first band I got to see live.
By the end of the year I would have no idea what to expect of the 1990s. On New Years Eve I stayed up late to record and listen to U2’s final night of the Lovetown tour from The Point Depot in Dublin. The 1990s would change my listening habits and I would end up revisiting the 1980s to listen to the bands that I didn’t hear first time like REM, Pixies, Husker Du, etc.